The Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Thu, Jul 27, 2017

Yesterday was our last in Victoria as we boarded the ferry for the short ride to Port Angeles, Washington.  Our Alaska adventure is winding down.

We drove south and I took the route over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge as I’d never seen it before.

I don’t recall how old I was when I first saw the video of its collapse but it’s really stuck with me.  Why?  Perhaps because I couldn’t believe that they’d build a suspension bridge that would collapse barely four months later.  Or because of the horror of the guy who was able to get out of his car and crawl to safety.

The replacement bridge is on the left and the new one, to double the capacity, is on the right.  I wasn’t able to get a picture of the narrows itself.


Last Ferry on the Inside Passage

Sat, Jul 22, 2017

We arrived Prince Rupert, BC last night and then were up early for a 16 hour ferry ride to Port Hardy on the northern end of Vancouver Island.  Unlike Alaska’s 50 yr old ferries, this one belongs to BC Ferries and was commissioned in 2009.  It was nice and our berth was very comfortable.  A necessity for a 16 hour voyage 🙂

More cloudy weather hid the Inside Passage mountains but it was still a treat.

This shot off the stern gives an idea of the width of the passage.


One of the many fjords along the route.


And finally one of the lighthouses.


Goodbye Alaska, Hello BC

Fri, Jul 21, 2017

Today was an early one as we had a 6:45 departure from Ketchikan, AK to Prince Rupert, BC via Alaska’s ferry.

They wanted us to be there two hours early.  Sorry but our arrival at 5:45 should be sufficient.  And it was as we didn’t get loaded until 6:30 😦

This was out fourth ferry ride as we’re working our way down the Inside Passage.  The weather has been cloudy so the scenery has been rather bleak.  Wish I could have seen it on a clear day.

Here’s Ketchikan’s waterfront on our way out.  And of course the ever present cruise ships.


Prince Rupert is in Canada so we had the pleasure of being the last off of the ferry and then a two hour wait to drive through customs.  Yuck 😦

Clover Pass Resort

Wed, Jul 19, 2017

Today was a six hour ferry from Wrangell to Ketchikan, both Alaska cities on the Inside Passage.  Ketchikan’s main businesses are fishing, tourism and logging.  Here are some examples.

We’re camped at the Clover Pass Resort that also has a very nice RV park.  Wifi speeds of 30 mbps that is unheard of in campgrounds.  We can even stream our favorite shows.  The Open Championship early this morning for me, at least until Carol got up.

Clover Pass’s main attraction is fishing and they have a really nice dock.  Plenty of boats for rent and all the fishermen I talked to came in with limits (6 salmon and 1 halibut).  One guy went out with his wife and 8 yr old daughter and came back with 18 salmon and 3 halibut 🙂

Here’s their rental fleet:


And some of the bounty.  The staff was cleaning all afternoon and evening.


Tourism in Ketchikan means cruise ships.  Big ones.  What makes it possible is the deep port along the city’s front street.

They aren’t the biggest cruise ships in the world.  Just the biggest ones that can fit through the Panama Canal.


And finally logging.  I’m told that industry isn’t doing well but there’s been plenty of logging over the years.  Here’s what it looks like as we were approaching town.


Gill Netting for Salmon

Tue, July 18, 2017

We were cruising back from Anan to Wrangell when we came upon a fleet of ships that were gillnetting for salmon. The way it works is to drop about 100 yards of nets in a straight line and the fish will swim alongside looking for a way around. Apparently, the gills become entangled in the net and the fishermen pull them in.

Here’s a salmon about to tumble into the ship.


And I’m told this is the prettiest gillnetter on the waters.  She’s friends with Brenda, our guide from Alaska Charters and Adventures who’s piloting our boat.


The Ravens of Anan

Tue, July 18, 2017

The ravens may be near the bottom of the food chain but they do very well.

The bears, after all, have it so easy that they’ve become picky eaters. Some will just open up the belly of a salmon and eat the roe and then go get another fish. And the eagles and ravens are the beneficiaries.

Here’s a spot where we watched a bear munch four fish in a row.  By the last, (s)he was just taking the good stuff and then he waddled away. Good news for the ravens.


And a close-up of one with a meal ready to eat.


The Eagles of Anan

Tue, July 18, 2017

Eagles like salmon as much as the bears and there are a lot of them at Anan.

Here’s a baldy that gave us a nice flyby.


And another:


With eagles, piracy is a way of life. So when one gets some scraps, others move in for the kill. Here’s one with a bit in his talons and another in close pursuit. In this case, the owner held on and didn’t lose his food (of course, he might have stolen it from another eagle).


Bald eagles don’t get the white feathers until they’re four or five years old. Here’s a juvenile with some salmon scraps.


And finally, coming in for a landing.


The Black Bears of Anan

Tue, July 18, 2017

Viewing the black bears at Anan is awesome as the park service has done a great job of building an observation deck and blind.

Here’s a sow with her cub and they were only about 20 ft away.  That rail is part of the observatory deck.


And a close up of the cub.


The main attraction was watching the bears fishing for the salmon. Some of the older ones were really good and could catch one within a minute. Others, especially the juveniles, had a much harder time and could take 15 min or more.


Here’s one of those juveniles fishing in fast moving waters. You can just see the frustration as (s)he would swipe at the fish.


And success. Sushi doesn’t get any fresher than this 🙂


Because of so many bears along the shoreline, the bears would take their fish up the trail to get away from other bears. This particular bear was kind to us as (s)he decided to eat about 8 ft from the rail. Nice.  Notice the ever-present raven in the background?


Brown bears (grizzlies) rule but for whatever reason, they don’t feed here otherwise they’d boot the black bears. But these two juveniles, likely just kicked out by their mom, made a cameo appearance.  And then turned around when they saw all of the black bears.