Wednesday, October 6, 2010

North to Alaska (Part 3)

The next day was on the drizzly side as the ship travelled up Endicott Arm. The day was also rather chilly, as we discovered when we ventured outside to take pictures. Ice chunks - some quite sizable - floated lazily in the water. The brilliant blue of the piece below suggests it calved off the glacier in the not-too-distant past.

What glacier? you may ask. Well, Endicott Arm dead-ends at Dawes Glacier. Our little ship, combined with relatively good weather, allowed us to get within a half-mile of the glacier. That was a sight worth shivering over. The channel was just wide enough to allow the captain to safely pivot the ship 180 degrees and we sailed out again, on our way to Ketchikan.

Ketchikan, which, as the photo below indicates, is the self-proclaimed Salmon Capital of the World, is also Alaska's fourth-largest city with a population of a whopping 14,000. Still, the town had more to it than tourist shops and looked lively, even in the light rain.

The day's adventure was taking a float plane - a 1958 de Havilland Beaver - to the Alaskan mainland, into the Misty Fiords National Monument, and landing on a lake. (Island Wings, owned and operated by Michelle Madsen, is the only tour operator in the area that actually taxis to the edge of the lake and lets passengers out. Just in case you're interested. :) ) We first saw the area from the air...

...and then from the ground.

While we were there, our streak of good weather ended, and the rain started down in earnest. This dampened (ha ha) interest in sloshing about Ketchikan, though we did see much of the downtown area.

After another day at sea, the last port was Victoria, B.C. The town had grown so much since my previous visit that it was unrecognizable.

Back in Vancouver with a day to kill before the plane flight home, we rented a car and drove to Whistler, where some the skiing events of the 2010 Olympics were held. It rained the entire time, which cut down on visibility and scenery. Ah well. Whistler Village was something of a disappointment to me as well.

However, the highlight of the Whistler jaunt was this enormous waterfall, just off the highway in a small provincial park:

Normally one has to really work to get a look at a waterfall, but Mother Nature was kind and set this one less than a half mile of easy walking from the road!

Of course, then it was back to cold, hard reality.


HeadBurro Antfarm said...

Whistler is a funny old place - it feels like a movie set to me. I was there last August when (by chance) a mountain bike event was on and the sheer number of people made it feel wonderful, but I imagine when empty it lacks any sense of soul and heart...

Rhianon Jameson said...

It does have the feel of a movie set. I'll admit to being grumpy about the cold rain, the fee to park a mile away from anything, Canadian drivers who seemed to have taken lessons from rude Americans, and the fact that my return to work was looming.

But if you made it to Whisler, I won't complain any longer about the length of my plane ride!