After several days at sea it was very exciting to disembark finally. The first port was Haines, Alaska, a sleepy, small city (number of graduating high school seniors in 2015: sixteen) with plenty of natural beauty and wildlife. The kind of stuff people come to Alaska for. The port only gets one cruise ship a week during the summer tourist season, in contrast to nearby Skagway–which gets 4 cruise vessels a day. Upon our arrival it was a bustle of tour pick-ups. Its location makes it an ideal stop. Haines is located on the Chilkat Peninsula on the other side of Glacier Bay National Park, sharing some glacier spillover in its borders. Though the breathtaking views of the Lamplugh, Johns Hopkins, and Margerie glaciers that maxed out my camera’s memory card will be forver ingrained in my memory, Haines would allow me a more intimate experience with a glacier. So let’s get going.
To start our adventure, we headed out on an expedition boat into North America’s deepest fjord, through the Chilkat inlet next to the Chilkat mountain range. Next, we geared up and boarded a large voyager canoe for a quick paddle to Glacier Point, at the face of the stunning Davidson Glacier.
Glacier’s really throw off your sense of scale, both distance and size. As I admired the Davidson Glacier from across the water, it seemed to be right there, a very short distance away. But it was over a mile away. Catching sight of its amazing turquoise cave, I was sure it was just a small chip in the glacier face. But the cave, whose pictures are completely untouched I must stress, the gorgeous, bright blue cave—quite possibly the most gorgeous part of the natural world I’ve ever seen—was no small chip. It was 60 feet wide. (!) The pictures below track its gape as I walked towards it. And I’ve included others to show the human scale—people and the voyager canoes—to show the mighty glacier’s size.
The Chilkat Range
On the way back towards our expedition boat, I spotted a hawk. This would be the first hawk I’d see today.
The boat ride back to the bigger boat. I did enhance this one a bit to better show the rainbow.
Back near the cruise ship, one of many totems in Haines.
A quick lunch back on the boat. I was happy to see Vietnamese options at the buffet. And pearl cous cous.
The second adventure would be also be very memorable, rounding out a fantastic day off the ship. We headed to Kroschel Wildlife Center–a sanctuary, a film shoot, a wildlife information center, a study in Alaskan folk art and design: the life’s work of naturist “hillbilly” Steve Kroschel, a true Alaskan character who’s worked with wild animals since he was a boy—with film and television credits to boot. He and Mario, the bearded benevolent man in many of my pictures to follow, do a tremendous service by providing care to orphaned animals while entertaining their way into the hearts and heads of all who visit. Both Steve and Mario are the voice of the furry residents who live on the premises.
Wolves played a key role in eliminating certain diseases. But populations are decreasing drastically.
Mario and his hawk.
A black Red Fox, yes.
Another beautiful fox.
A breathtaking Lynx.
Look at those paws.
Yes, a Lynx kitten. One of two taken in. They were survivors of a wild fire. The fire fighters said to just leave them there.
Makes me miss my buddies at home.
A pretty darn cool porcupine vegging out.
The vicious weasel.
The first moose I’ve seen in Alaska!
Beautiful velvet-horned reindeer…
…who I got to feed.
and what a treat to see a wolverine! Thee most vicious carnivore of all.
And my first Grizzly Bear. This girl’s mother was accidentally killed by a hunter who did not know she was a momma with two cubs. Here she feeds on primate biscuits, made mostly of baboon.
What an amazing opportunity to see this very special place!
My awesome keepsake from the Kroschel Wildlife Center, a felt bear mesh hat crafted by hilarious tour guide bus driver Joe. He has a website if you want one yourself!
And finally, my dinner for this evening:
A sushi roll ￼filled with cucumber, red pimento and green pepper rolled in toasted sesame seeds, served with soy sauce. (missing ginger garnish)
A roasted Butternut Squash Soup, a thin soup ￼with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg. (missing cranberry drizzle)
Sweet and Sour Vegetable Tempura–Crispy fried and served with a chili sauce and steamed jasmine rice. This was a lot of fried-ness.
And my dessert option… as always, a fruit plate.
Goodnight from Alaska! Much more tomorrow…
58° 51.55’ N