Thursday, October 25, 2012

skagway to haines ~ eagles and whales

dear friends, you may be wondering why there is a large boat parked behind my sister and i...that is our cruise ship and we were in alaska still! this is part five of our epic trip (one more post should do it!) if you would like to see where we have gone so far you can go here here here and here...i did not know alaska would take six posts to share, i now think our 49th state is more of a ten poster. it's that grand.

we'd just spent the night sailing through north america's longest fjord, the lynn canal, now arriving in skagway...

at the visitors center, rugged charm...

these backpacks repurposed as planters made a lovely first impression (and so did the dock for our giant ship, can you see how incredible it is here?!)

places to eat in skagway

though no time just yet, we're boarding another boat for an adventure to...

haines, 'the adventure capital of alaska'. we are taking an excursion, we're going to look for wildlife and american bald eagles on the chilkat river!

motoring down the taiya inlet we saw humpback whales!

they were so close!

haines, alaska

oh so picturesque. and even in summer, snow

we disembarked (i speak ship now! hee hee)

and climbed aboard a bus for the chilkat bald eagle preserve

 totem pole!

according to wikipedia, there are only 752 households, and 505 families residing in the town, wonder what it would be like...

here we are! we were warmly welcomed and handed a stick with which to cook our lunch over coals, before we set off on our eagle preserve wildlife river adventure

there was a cozy place to eat, either outside, or in, where there were heaters

then it was time to suit up! we were encouraged to take any outerwear we might need to keep comfortable on the boat. there were waterproof jackets, gloves, ear warmers and lap blankets, the chilkat river is glacier fed and very cold

here are the jet boats we took ...

to see the beauty

of our surroundings

we also saw black spruce and cottonwood, a lesser yellow legged sandpiper and a kingfischer

we saw queen's anne's lace, red tailed hawk and trumpeter swans

 the last of summers blooms

sierra, our lovely and knowledgable guide, turned off the boats motor

and with only the sounds of nature

we floated

and then, we saw one!

an american bald eagle!


we saw six in all, and a few nests, one with a eaglet in it

here is sierra, our jetboat captain and guide! she really likes what she does, and she made our experiance fantastic, thank you sierra!

we're back where we started, another amazing adventure to write in my journal! if you'd like to learn more about the jet boat tour, you can read the blog here and the chilkat bald eagle preserve, here (i'm dreaming about returning in winter to see the thousands of eagles that come, the largest gathering in the world)

we returned our borrowed gear, said goodbye to our guide and the chilkat river

and hopped back on the bus to take us

back to the boat and back to...

oops! my sister and i have a lot of 'camera face photos' (taking photos of each other simultaneously, i do not know why we do this)

on our way back up the taiya inlet, we counted three waterfalls

many seabirds

skagway harbor

now it was time to discover the town

we made the most of our limited time (you have to be back to the ship by a specific hour)

things to love about small town alaska.... a bus driver had left her hat on her seat, and  the door ajar,  colorful historic buildings at every corner, and peeking between them, the stunning mountains...only in a small town, an incredible alaskan town


driftwood building

hi sis!

hee hee

gardens in their final bloom

we stopped for alaskan blonde ale and tater tots, which was a yum combination

only in alaska. these are flavored vodkas... there was frostbite, permafrost, rhubarb, smoked salmon and fireweed (which we did not try)

the streets began to empty, shops were closing up, and we, after consulting a clock, did a fast walk
back to our ship

we may have been among the last before it sailed! and guess what? they really do shout, 'all aboard!'.  next juneau!

* if you haven't yet entered to win melissa's beautiful yarn giveaway, go here. a name will be drawn this sunday!