9/05/2011

Day 5 - Ketchikan, AK


The first half of today was actually spent at sea as we continued working our way toward Ketchikan. This was a nice little respite from feeling like we had places to go and things to see, so we slept in (til a whopping 7:30, so it's not like we were living la vida loca or anything), lolled around in the cabin for another hour or so before taking ourselves up to the breakfast buffet. The doodle had stopped eating eggs for some reason at home recently, but he rediscovered his love for them on the cruise and today gave me permission to make him eggs when we get home. Honestly, I'm rather glad about this - not having eggs in my basket of breakfast choices for him was a pain.

After breakfast we made our way down to peruse the various character photos that we had taken the day before. Then we verified the running length of the Alaskan Lumberjack Show (our port adventure for the day) and confirmed that we would not miss out on pirate night at dinner. So we went to the store to get a few pirate accoutrements to make the evening a bit more fun. (Tim got Goofy ears on a pirate hat, the doodle got Mickey ears on a pirate hat, and I got standard mouse ears with a pink pirate bandana on them that says Pirate princess. Also I have pink and silver sparkling skull and crossbones on the ears.

Shopping complete, the boys headed to the Oceaneers Club to play (it was open for families this morning rather than just as a drop off) and I stayed out on the balcony to get caught up on my school (or try to -- thankfully it worked as I'd had such lousy Internet yesterday that I couldn't post to my class.) When I was finished, I went and joined them, but the doodle was about done. He really wanted to swim, so we suited him up and took him up to the pool. He had a ball zipping around in the Mickey pool and went down the slide a few times as well. He was probably out there for about an hour - they must keep the water pretty warm, because Tim and I both really needed our windbreakers on top of long sleeves to be comfortable watching him.

At this point it was lunch time, which we ate on the deck at the doodle's request. Then we headed back to the room for a little resting time until we docked in Ketchikan.

We headed ashore around 2 and looked around a few shops on our way to a fish ladder. We watched salmon swimming upstream to spawn (and either seals or otters getting tasty snacks in the process. I feel like I should be able to definitively identify if they were seals or otters, but honestly I have no clue. I lean toward otters, but....well, no clue. I need to google.) Then we hopped aboard the funicular, mostly because it's simply fun to say funicular but also because we didn't fancy walking up the incredibly huge number of stairs that was the alternative, and trekked to the eagle sanctuary, fish hatchery, and totem museum.

The walk was nice, but through what I would consider perhaps the less prosperous part of town (not scary or anything, just really, really run down looking with lots of condemned and half falling over houses). There were two eagles (both female) in the sanctuary - they had been rescued after falls that had broken a wing that then did not set correctly, rendering them flightless. Both are classified as un-releasable because their wings can not be fixed well enough to enable them to fly. So they have a very cozy looking aerie and seem incredibly well taken care of. The fish hatchery was surprisingly fascinating (honestly, I wasn't sure about the whole visiting of a fish hatchery - but I figured the kiddo would enjoy seeing fish. As it was, he was half interested but Tim and I were fascinated.)

They described the process of taking the salmon (they raise both King and chum salmon -- I'm sure about the King, only half sure about the second type) from roe to releasable sized fish (which is about a 2 year process). Once they're released, they are considered "wild salmon" - so that wild Alaskan salmon you eat may well be from a hatchery originally. During spawning season they have a funnel that they place across the stream to allow their fish to return back to the hatchery. They don't allow all of them to actually spawn, but they do separate out some to use for breeding stock. The rest they either freeze to feed the eagles or process for canning. Pacific salmon spawn and then die, so the fish were going to die either way - so they're making good use of the returned fish.

After that we walked across the river to the Totem Heritage Center. Honestly, I expected a bit more from this, but it was still interesting. There was a native woman making baskets in the traditional manner of weaving. She went into incredible detail about the process - I found it interesting, but the kiddo was getting more and more restless so we had to excuse ourselves and semi-rush through the rest of the museum to get him back out into open air and something more interesting to him.

We walked back into town and browsed the shops along the way to the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. This was about what I expected it would be and all I can really say is that if I'd known there was a free one at Grouse Mountain (well, included in the cost of admission), I wouldn't have bothered with cruise ship prices for this one. The kiddo was tired and pretty much disinterested. Tim and I enjoyed the various chopping, climbing, and log rolling competitions they did, but would have also been just fine if we'd skipped it. I don't regret going, but I don't think I'd recommend it for kids that are younger than 8 - it's just not interesting enough for their gnat-like attention span.

When the lumberjack show was done, we returned to the ship, donned our pirate duds and headed down for dinner. Tim had a mushroom and bacon tart, tomato basil soup, and aged beef tenderloin followed by a creme brulee. I had the tart, french onion soup, sea bass with mushroom risotto (super yummy), and a souffle with an orange flavored sauce.

After dinner we stood in line to get photos with Captain Hook, Stitch (dressed as a pirate), and Captain Jack Sparrow. Then we went to the show for the evening who was a man who does funny songs/parodies with his guitar. I can't recall his name and can't put my hand on the newsletter for today. Regardless, he was very amusing. The doodle made it about 3/4 of the way then asked to go to bed. Tim took him back and I stayed for the end as I was enjoying it quite a bit. Tim is getting ready for bed less his pajamas and is then heading out for the 11pm showing of the most recent Pirates of the Caribbean movie in 3D. I suspect I'll be turning out the light before much longer.

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