Vacation Sagas

2005 Alaska Cruise

A Chilling Summer Vacation

Pre-Cruise College Fjord / Glacier Bay Skagway Juneau Ketchican At Sea / Post-Cruise

Thursday, July 21, 2005 Ketchican

Ketchican seems to have one of the largest collections of totem poles.

Totem pole

In the morning, Mary Ann, Donna, and Jane saw Ketchikan by Horse Drawn Trolley. It toured Ketchikan's most historic areas, passing the bustling waterfront and picturesque Whale Park with its pioneer clock and totem pole. They saw the wooden staircases that served as streets in old-time Ketchikan.

Steve and Rudy got up very early to take their Ketchikan Sportfishing Expedition and the thrill of fishing in the "Salmon Capital of the World" aboard a comfortable modern vessel. They successfully tested their sportfishing skills in the calm, protected waters of the Inside Passage. Rudy caught 2 large salmon and Steve caught one larger salmon that they were having shipped home.

Rudy describes the experience as, "Steve and I went fishing with four other people. It was drizzling when we started but it cleared up and we had a great time. I was the first to catch a salmon (Silver). The rest were Pink. I caught two. The boat trolled with six rods out and we rotated each rod every 30 minutes, so we were not stuck with the same fishing rod. Everyone in the group caught at least one fish. We shipped the salmon home to our friends who plan to invite us over when they cook it. But you know me—I like to fish but not to eat them."

Steve's fish. Rudy's fish.
Steve (center) holds up his catch.
Rudy grinning ear to ear.

Meanwhile, Bonney, Sherry, and Linda experienced the wonders of the Alaska wilderness from the driver's seat of a specially designed, off-road adventure go-kart. They learned about the history, culture and economy of Ketchikan as they were transported on a long bus ride to a privately owned rain forest preserve. At the expedition's assembly area, they received a brief safety orientation in preparation for their exciting, one-hour guided trek. Then, their caravan of go-karts set out to explore the remote, back country logging road that threaded its way along the scenic shoreline of George Inlet. Glacier-carved Mahoney Basin, surrounded by sheer cliffs, dense forests and waterfalls was their destination. They spent time investigating the grandeur and mystery of this rarely visited gem, known for its unique and awe-inspiring beauty. Then they just relaxed and soaked in their surroundings in view of Mahoney Falls. They enjoyed what was called a healthy snack, a Snickers bar, and beverage (water), then drivers and passengers switched positions for the return trip.

Kart ride Kart ride Kart ride
Kart traffic jam.

On the road again.

Linda takes a break.

Kart ride Kart ride Kart ride
Sherry, Bonney, and Linda.

Bonney at the river.

Sherry at the river.

Kart ride Kart ride Kart ride
Bonney, Linda, and Sherry at the river.
Linda wants the camera.
Sherry and Bonney in the kart.

Next, they boarded a custom-designed jet boat to return. Rich in history and wildlife, a one-hour cruise through George Inlet and back to town perfectly completed this one-of-a-kind excursion. Half way back a 4 inch stick the size of a thumb got caught in the jet engine. It took 5 to 10 minutes to get it out. Fortunately, they didn't have to get in the water, just reach into it. The water temperature was 39°.

The jet boat. Bad stick. Jet boat captain.
The jet boat.
Bad stick.
Jet boat captain.

At the same time their jet boat pulled up to the pier, Steve and Rudy's fishing boat docked also, with them flaunting their catch—bragging rights specimens.

In a second tour Bonney, Linda, and Rudy, Sherry and Steve saw the same sights of Ketchikan By Horse-Drawn Trolley that Mary Ann, Donna, and Jane had seen earlier.

The consensus was that the horse-drawn trolley was the least exciting of the shore tours. It was somewhat informative from the standpoint that many of the stairways up the slopes were actually considered streets. The guide said that local firemen had to be able to run up those steep stairs in case of fire.

The trolley driver looked like a man captured from the "gold rush" days, with his long gray beard and crumpled felt hat. When the trolley stopped for a break, he proved to be an excellent story teller when he related the meaning of a totem pole nearby.

Ketchikan trolley. Ketchikan trolley.
Mahoney Street.
Totem pole.

As the trolley passed the former Ketchikan "red light" district overhanging the river, a famous madam's house—Dolly's—was pointed out. It was revealed that (married) men who couldn't come to the front door could access the building via an entry from the river below the house floor.

Ketchikan trolley. Ketchikan trolley. Ketchikan trolley.
Red light district.
Bonney and Sherry on the trolley.
Our horses.

While the others were there, Mary Ann went to the Rain Forest Wildlife Sanctuary, a pristine, protected environment for a chance to view wildlife in their natural habitat, interact with live reindeer and observe a totem pole carver at work. She learned the area's history on a coastal drive to rustic Herring Cove. A naturalist guided her along improved trails into the dense forest and pointed out wildlife along the way. She strolled through tall stands of hemlock, spruce and Alaska cedar, stopping at viewing platforms to photograph this natural wonderland where mink, marten and wolves also frequent the area.

Cypress tree. Carving a totem pole.
Cypress tree.
Carving a totem pole takes a while.

She had the opportunity to feed Alaska reindeer and take pictures with these gentle creatures, and watch a master Native carver at work on a totem pole, walk through the Herring Bay Lumber Company sawmill and explored this historic site. A sample of aromatic Alaska cedar was a lasting memento of her visit.

She browsed through the Rain Forest Interpretive Center and enjoyed a snack before her ride back to town.

Alaskan reindeer. Alaskan reindeer.
Alaskan reindeer in their off season!

Thursday afternoon was bingo time again. Part of the group went early to find a place to sit. As it happened, the dance lessons were in progress. Mary Ann and Rudy participated in the salsa lessons. It was fun watching them do the "twist, twist, down, down" moves. They were both "pooped" when they finished, but they had enough energy left to punch their numbers on their bingo cards. This time Jane won the last blackout, another prize of a $500 jackpot! Cha-ching!


Before the fancy dinner, Rudy, Linda, and Bonney managed to hit the hot tub, then Linda and Bonney swam some laps in the pool. It was time to soak away the pain and bruises from falling during dog sledding.

Right before getting ready for dinner, Mary Ann and Bonney were talking with Sherry, who has a touch of rosecea. Realizing the time, Sherry said, "I need to go put some makeup on. Ever since I ate that reindeer stew, my nose has been red!" Hysterical laughing here.

This was the night for our second formal dinner. More pretty food. More yummy food!

Sherry and Steve dressed up. Linda's lobster. Linda's lobster.
Sherry and Steve are ready for dinner.

Mary Ann and Linda.

Rudy and Linda.
Sherry and Steve dressed up. Linda's lobster.
The gang's all here.
Linda's lobster.

This time when the maitre d' visited the table with his napkin folded into another pet and moved close to Mary Ann, she quickly grabbed the pet from his hand and slung it, whacking it three times on the table. Everyone there got a hearty laugh as the maitre d' tried to recover...himself and his pet. The rest laughed so hard!

They served Bonney's favorite dessert, Baked Alaska. All the waiters paraded flaming ice cream and meringue around the room before taking it to the tables to be served.

Baked Alaska. Carmen with baked Alaska.
Baked Alaska.

Assistant waitress Carme brings in the Baked Alaska.

After Baked Alaska, an anniversary cake was brought to the table for Sherry and Steve who were on this trip to celebrate their 37th anniversary.

Sherry and Steve celebrate. Anniversary time for the Steiners.
Happy Anniversary to Sherry and Steve.
Let's eat cake!

Following dining on the second formal night, Rudy, Linda, Mary Ann, and Sherry attended the Champagne Waterfall Party where a cascading waterfall was built with champagne glasses. Bonney returned to her cabin with a headache. The others had one glass of Champagne and photos were taken of Linda and Mary Ann while they poured champagne into the fountain. They joined a conga line and did the hokey pokey. It's amazing what a little champagne can do. Linda and Mary Ann also danced with Stefan, the waiter from their dinner table!

Champagne fountain. Champagne fountain. Dancing with the waiter.
Linda at the fountain.
Champaign toast.
Stefan and Linda.

Continue for more of the saga...

Pre-Cruise College Fjord / Glacier Bay Skagway Juneau Ketchican At Sea / Post-Cruise