Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hoosier Girl – Alaskan Memories No. 5

Wednesday, September 23rd. Today would have been my dad’s birthday – and today, his children are going on a wildlife excursion in Sitka, Alaska.  My dad was an avid fisherman and hunter, so this day would have been memorable for him.

Sitka, Alaska is a fishing village – pure and simple.  I even saw an ad on television (after I got home from the cruise) and it was filmed in Sitka.  Something to do with dry, winter skin. 



We had to tender here – which means that there is not an area where the ship can dock.  So, the small boats come out and meet the ship and we walk down a flight of steps and onto a smaller boat to be transported to the port.  For us, we had this excursion booked – so our boat picked us up at the ship and we headed out to see some wildlife.

See how the steps just open up in the side of the ship?


… and there’s our ship, as we’re sailing away from it.



Now, this excursion was titled “Sea Otter and Wildlife Excursion”.  In the small print on the brochure, it stated that we were guaranteed to see EITHER a sea otter, a bear or a whale.  If not, they would refund $100 cash to each person on the tour.  Now, let me just say that they had their butts covered, because sea otters in Alaska are like squirrels in Northern Indiana.

The trip started off with rain and rough seas.  We were enclosed in the cabin of the boat, so were warm and dry, but the windows were fogged up and covered with water.  One of the deck hands would walk around the outside, using a squeegee on the windows. I have to admit that at first, I was discouraged.  It wasn’t long and they had spotted the sea otters.  The rain and rough seas didn’t seem to bother these little guys one bit.  These photos aren’t the greatest because they were taken through the window of the boat. 




Finally, the rain subsided, the seas calmed down a little and we continued along the shore in search of other wildlife.  Our guide pointed out a Bald Eagle Nest.  I swear, this thing was the size of a bushel basket!!


We had a wonderful guide, who really new her business.  I tried to take in all the information she shared with us.  We were sailing along, our guide was talking – when suddenly, the captain cut the engine and circled back around.  We were told that we should grab our cameras and go out on deck, but to be very quiet.  Our guides were as excited as we were.  They told us that they’d only seen ONE all summer and now on this tour – TODAY.  I almost got teary…..



We stood there on the deck for probably 15 minutes, watching him walk down to this little stream, grab a fish and walk back to the grassy area to eat.  He did this at least three times. 


After seeing this bear, I couldn’t imagine that the tour could get any better.  We were now told that they were going to start back toward Sitka, because there had been a whale sighting.  We’d just have to wait and see.

As we sailed along, our guide pointed out an immature bald eagle.  We learned that this eagle was under the age of five, because they don’t get the beautiful “white crown” of feathers until they reach the age of five. 


As we headed out into the open waters, our guide asked that everyone start watching the surface of the water.  She explained that the first thing we’d see would be the water spout as the whale started to surface.  In a matter of minutes, the spout was sighted – and my day was complete!!



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We watched this guy play around for about a half hour before finally heading back to our ship.  And what a beautiful site it was.


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