Friday, September 12, 2008
North to Alaska - Monday
Ketchikan - Little homes stuck up in the middle of some very beautiful islands.
First of all I need to go back to Sunday morning - we went to a meeting where they talked about all the different tours that were offered through the
ship - we listened to all the different activities and
then the three of us talked it out and decided what sounded like the most interesting. We headed down to the tour office and ordered tours for Ketchican, Juneau and Scagway.
This is a view of Ketchikan from the ship as we were 'pulling into' the harbor. It is amazing the control they have with that huge ship. They could (and did) turn on a dime.
We could have gone snorkeling (!) in Ketchican but we "settled" for a trip to the Saxman Indian Village and a Lumberjack show. For Tuesday, in Juneau I wanted to go on a boat out to go whalewatching and then see the Mendenhahl Glacier but Ed wanted to go see the Glacier and then go to an outdoor Salmon Bake. For Wednesday, Skagway, I really pushed for the train ride up over White Pass into the Yukon. We chose a tour that combined that with panning for gold. Within an hour of dropping off our requests (and our credit card numbers) we had our tickets in hand for all three days.
Also on Sunday, after we took Ed to the doctor I took the prescription he wrote out down to
the tour desk and got Ed's first day (in Ketchikan) reimbursed with no problem at all. So Ed stayed on the ship that day and didn't go to the Indian village and lumberjack show with us.
Here you can see we have docked - there is a second cruise liner just behind us. Plus all the local fishing and tour boats at the pier. Ketchican is an Island and has lots of mtns and hills. Not a lot of shore space.
Ketchican gets 166 inches of rain every year, and outside the city center itself that is what the people
use for water - they catch and use the rain. They
said if it goes seven days without rain they think
they are in a drought! Though the day was over
cast, the rain did not fall and everywhere we went
the islanders all commented on how rare it was not to have it raining!! It was cool but not
uncomfortable. We wore sweaters and light coats
- layers - easy to remove if it got too warm (it didn't get too warm). There are lots and lots of forests and waterfalls and mtns.
The areas we went on our cruise were all temperate rainforest areas (as compared to tropical rainforest from our previous cruises). But they were soooo green and beautiful. Lots of lacy ivy growing . This is a picture I took of grandpa as we walked down a pathway to the Skagway Klatch house.
For a very accurate video of Ketchican go to
http://www.visit-ketchikan.com/and click on Highlight watch a video of Ketchikan highlights. It is very accurate and you can get a good feel of the area.
This is the authentic building where the Indian held their welcome potlatch. The Indians of the village put on a welcome dance for us. They explained that totem poles don't tell a story but rather describe their genealogy to visitors. For instance if their mother was of the bear clan and their father of the fish clan they would be carved largest at the bottom of the totem pole. Then if their grandparents clans were different they would be added also. I suppose as people married into their family additional animals would be carved on the totem pole. That way, as canoes of
strangers came down the river they would immediately know if they were in friendly or dangerous territory. The totem poles would tell them that.
Here is a picture that I took inside the potlatch building showing the dancing that was taking place. Most everyone were in black and red capes but the white colorful cape with fringe on the bottom was really gorgeous. I wish they had explained the difference. I got the feeling that the white was more true to original.
Ketchickan is 500 miles north of Seattle and is the first city you reach as you cruise up the coastline past Canada. Ketchikan has the world's largest collection of standing totem poles and is the major cannery for salmon in Alaska.
Totem poles are also used to honor people. In the late 1800's the Klinglit Indians were fighting with the Chewbash Indians from the North and it was a hard and vicious battle. They literally were fighting for their lives and it wasn't looking really promising for them.
The Chewbash were winning, when the USS Abraham Lincoln came steaming up the river. The sailors saw the battle and went to help the Klinglit people, in fact, winning their battle for them and saving the Klinglit Nation from extinction. Since they couldn't put a ship on the top of a totem pole (only items with souls can be placed on a totem pole) they were at a loss as how to honor the ship when one of the sailors gave them a picture of Abraham Lincoln. Unfortunately the picture was only from the chest up so here we have the shortest (tallest :-)) Abraham Lincoln the world has ever seen!!
Another fascinating totem pole was the one they raised to honor William H Seward when he came to Alaska to see what he had actually purchased from the Russians. When he reached Ketchikan the Klinglit Nation threw the biggest potlatch ever to honor Mr. Seward. They gave him beautiful furs and all sorts of wonderful gifts. They built this totem pole to honor him. The problems came when he left - and didn't realize that he was supposed to honor them with a potlatch in return. They waited for years for him to return and honor them with a potlatch and lots of gifts but he never did. After his death they climbed the totem pole and painted his ears and nose red showing SHAME! And that is how Wm Seward is remembered in the Saxman Village.
We got to go to modern building where totem pole making is still going on today. They talked about the types of trees that made the best totem poles.
Then we headed to the gift shop where I bought a can of salmon for Ed since he was missing this fun day back at the ship. I also bought me some really pretty earrings - Alaskan pearls they are called. Dad and I got back on the bus and headed back to Ketchikan where we were dropped off for a fantastic Lumberjack show. The show was put on by Stihl and Cabellas and was really well done. The bleachers were heated which we really appreciated even though the sun was shining nicely by then. There was a cute little gal decked out in 1800's style clothing that would be appropriate for a lumberjack cook and she was the MC. They split the audience into Canadians and Americans and we got to cheer for the side we were assigned to. Luckily we sat on the US side! Then they introduced the lumberjacks and amazingly enough three out of the four of them were college kids going to school on a lumberjack (!!!) scholarship!! They were also top knotch in their field plus pretty good actors too. They all knew how to bring audience participation to a roar and we were all totally cheering for our teams. Booing the other side and stomping our feet and cheering for our teams. It was fun to see them chopping logs and climbing poles and walking on logs in the water. Towards the end they came out with a yellow Cabela's hat and said that Cabela's said it was supposed to go to the most excited member of the audience. He walked back and forth and finally stopped right in front of dad and I although we were about ten rows back and I started yelling and cheering and jumping up and down....I wanted that hat for ED!!! Just before he tossed the hat our eyes met and I knew he was throwing it right to me~!!! AND I CAUGHT IT!! I think dad felt a little disappointed that I didn't give it to him but I had missed Ed all day and I knew it had to go to my sweet sick husband!
We had been picked up as the dock and driven the three miles out to the Saxman village and then back into Ketchikan and dropped off at the Lumberjack show. Sad to say though, we had to walk BACK to the ship about a good half mile and by that time dad was running out of steam. We made it though. If it had been Ed and I we would have wandered through some of the cute touristy stores but this was our first day in port and I figured I would have plenty of chances to find fun stuff. So we went back to the ship. That was about 2 pm so we found Ed and went and had some fish and chips at the Blue Lagoon and then we went and had a nap! The ship pulled out about three. About 4:30 Ed and I went back to the doctor's office when the doctor checked him out and announced that he wanted to remove the catheter and then if he got bad again he would reinsert it. Poor ED - a look of pure fright went over his face and then he agreed. Not a really fun day for Ed but he was feeling alot better by the time we headed back to our staterooms to get dad and go to dinner. Wonderful food at the Versailles as always but they seemed awfully slow as everyone came to eat at the same time so we could make it to the 7 pm magic show. We made it and it was good. Not as good as the magician on Holland America but he had a cute sense of humor and it was a fun fascinating show. I always expect to hear horrifying screams and blood spurting out when they shove those huge swords through the box with the gorgeous attendant in it.