Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Alaska Vacation - Day Seven

Thursday morning dawned a beautiful day in Ketchikan, Alaska. This is the place that it rains 364 days a year and they get an average of 13.5 FEET of rain a year. Dang, that is a lot of rain!

No rain on this day and I was so very thankful because our excursion adventure here is to kayak in Eagle Pass in two man kayaks. I had a little bit of a "What in the world was I thinking?" going on...based mostly on the fact that there are some BIG creatures in this water.

We had to meet our excursion guide at 7:00 a.m. You don't get to sleep in while you are in Alaska!

The little town was picture postcard pretty.

In this picture, Harry just found out he was going to have to partner with mom in the two man kayaks. He looks happy doesn't he?

Chip is gloating because he is going with dear old Dad.

I told Harry that when Chip turns 10 years old then he can start being paired with the weakest link in the family.

All the fishing boats are heading out for the day.

Pretty as a picture.

Arriving at the Kayak barn.

This is Matt, he is one of our guides. He lives here year round. He also leads kayak expeditions into remote locations. Like Mystic Gorge or something where you take everything in your kayak that you need to survive for eight days. That is hard core. He must be weird.

Geared up and ready for action. I particularly liked my rubber boat skirt. It was lovely and very slimming.

From the water. I am already sweating about getting into the kayak. I can totally see me flipping that sucker right next to the dock and getting soaked right from the git go!

They are used to rookies and talked us through the whole process. Not as hard as I thought. Bonus, I was still dry. I told our guides that I was certain I would be their biggest nightmare tourist of the day. Matt looks at me and says "Are you from Jersey?" I said "No". He said "Then you won't even be close to my worst nightmare. People from Jersey....they are a nightmare."

Chip getting excited because he thinks he is in the cool boat with Dad.

We get underway and start to make our way across the inlet. Me and Harry had a nice rhythm going and we are gliding across pretty effortlessly.

Then it happens.

Me: Chad, I need help...my foot came off the rudder.

Chad: It did? Already?

Me: Yes, it did. Can you help me get it back on?

He pulls up next to me and has to reach down by my feet to re-hook the rudder controller around my foot.

Chad: You have to keep your knees bent all the way against the outside of the kayak and don't move your feet around too much or it will keep falling off. It is really just a string.

Me: Ok, even though that is awkward and uncomfortable I will do that. Thanks.

Then he sits up and smacks me square in the forehead with his paddle.

He was mortified.

Chad: OMG, I can't believe I just hit you. You signed the waiver. It said I could hit you in the face with my paddle. Did you read that part? It was fine print. Honestly, I am so sorry. I can't believe I did that.

Me: Chad, getting smacked in the head is the least of my problems. Are there any whales in this water?

Chad: Oh yeah, we get humpbacks all the time. Even Orcas some time.

Me: Aw crap, are you kidding me?

Chad: Not kidding you at all. They almost never get near kayaks though.

Me: Almost never. Harry, point this kayak that way and let's get busy rowing.

We were moving. Right past Chip and Dad in their boat. Dad was busy taking pictures and not rowing. Chip was really miffed.

Everything is a race or competition to boys and in his mind they were behind us, so obviously they were losing. He didn't know I was in survival mode.

We paddle over to Eagle Island and as we get closer we see a Bald Eagle on the rocks.

It was so exciting. Chad said that there was a nest on the island with two baby eaglets in it. He said the same two eagles had raised babies in this nest for the last five years.

Here is the Daddy landing on a tree.

Mom and babies were up in the nest.

They were calling to each other with this really cool cooing sound. More like a pigeon that the traditional screeching you hear in the movies.

In the water we could see jellyfish. Some were clear, blue and red. And starfish. Big starfish! Purple and orange. So cool. Salmon were jumping out of the water. It was so calm and lovely.

Chad said the day before the kayak excursion went out in driving rain, freezing temps and 40 mile an hour winds. No joke. We were in t-shirts with no coats and it was getting pretty warm with all the paddling. I thanked God profusely for the lovely weather!

As we were paddling over to another island we spotted a Sea Lion. Matt says "Sea lions are like gorillas in the zoo. Don't go near them, because they are aggressive and they weigh 600-700 pounds. They will jump on your kayak and they will not be happy. Steer clear."

He didn't have to tell me twice. I was ruddering that boat away in the opposite direction.

A picture of a jellyfish.

Family picture. Who gets to kayak in Alaska? How lucky are we? Just so supremely blessed I can't stand it. What a thrill to experience this!

Hubby had Chad reenact the paddle to the face move because he had missed it the first time. Isn't that fun? Chad seems to really be enjoying himself.

We won. Me and Harry smoked them. We got back to the dock way ahead of Chip and Dad's boat. Chip was ready to turn around and take Dad's camera from him so he would stop taking pictures and just concentrate on rowing.

Harry told me that being my partner wasn't as bad as he thought it would be. I think that is a complement. I am taking it as one.

On the way back to the bus we took a little stroll through the rain forest. This tree is 750 years old. Is that cool or what?

Back in town, we walked around Ketchikan for a little bit.

Really pretty place. Remember the McDonald's story from Juneau. Well in Ketchikan they have a tiny Wal-mart. First day it opened, it sold out. Wal-mart sold out. Had to close for three days until they could restock. Isn't that hysterical.

Ketchikan is the Salmon Capital of the world, which means they are also rich with an abundance of Bald Eagles.

Interesting Trivia: How do most Bald Eagles die out in nature?

Answer: They drown in water.

Matt and Chad explained that the salmon get so big that sometimes an eagle will swoop to get one. It's talons go into the fish and do not let go. If the fish is too big for the eagle to fly away with the fish pulls it down under water. There were a couple of pictures of an eagle swimming that we saw that was fascinating. They use their wings to try to make it to the side of the water and get out. Imagine trying to swim with a giant salmon struggling on your feet. Hard.

There were so many water planes in Ketchikan it was incredible. They were everywhere.

These were two bald eagles dogfighting in the air. I wanted them to stop. The boys wanted them to come closer.

Back on the boat. Guess what we did? If you guessed Ping Pong you would be correct.

We also swam. We were heading to Victoria, British Columbia for our last quick stop before returning to Seattle.

Fastest week ever.

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