Posts Tagged With: totem poles

The Inside Passage to Ketchikan, Alaska

On the second day of our Alaskan cruise, we enjoyed a full day “at sea” sailing up the inside passage from Vancouver, B.C., to Ketchikan, Alaska. We were hoping to see wildlife along the way but with such dense woods, that was probably an unrealistic expectation. There were wildlife sightings in the water such as humpback whales and the captain would announce sightings from the bridge but it always seemed we were in the wrong place at the time. So we focused instead on the breathtaking scenery all around us that we would later learn was nothing compared to what was ahead.

Cruising the Inside Passage

Cruising the Inside Passage

View from our ship along the inside passage

View from our ship along the inside passage

Inside Passage View

Inside Passage View

Sunset along the Inside Passage

Sunset along the Inside Passage

Cruise Day 2 ends beautifully

Cruise Day 2 ended beautifully

The next morning (day 3) we arrived in Ketchikan, Alaska. Jim had arranged a private fishing charter with The Alaska Catch, so he was up and off the ship early to meet Captain Mike. Be sure to read Fishing for the Halibut in Ketchikan next Tuesday featuring Jim’s guest blog post about his experience.

Meanwhile, Sheryl and I explored Ketchikan. Imagine our delight to see blue skies and sunshine when we’d heard it always rains in Ketchikan. After noting that Ketchikan was Alaska’s first city and the salmon capital of the world, according to the welcome sign, we headed to historic Creek Street.

Welcome to Ketchikan, Alaska

Welcome to Ketchikan, Alaska

Creek Street was built literally on Ketchikan Creek.  The wooden boardwalk built on pilings driven into the banks of the creek was home to Ketchikan’s red light district from 1902 until prostitution was outlawed in 1953, and the scene of bootleg liquor sold in speakeasies during Prohibition. Today, there are shops and restaurants lining the boardwalk and Dolly’s House, where the famous madam had her lucrative business, is open for tours.  The tour guide at Dolly’s offered us a rock bottom price of $5 so Sheryl and I did a walk through.

Creek Street

Creek Street

Creek Street on Ketchikan Creek

Creek Street on Ketchikan Creek

Dolly's House on Creek Street

Dolly’s House on Creek Street

After checking out a couple of shops, we headed to the Totem Heritage Center. This museum is the repository of a priceless collection of Tlingit and Haida totem poles. The red cedar poles, carved by local artists in the 19th century, were rescued and salvaged from Tongass Island, Village Island, and Prince of Wales Island with technical assistance from the Smithsonian Institution and U.S. Forest Service.

Totem Heritage Center

Totem Heritage Center

Totem Heritage Center

Totem Heritage Center

Totem Heritage Center

Totem Heritage Center

Totem Heritage Center

Totem Heritage Center

The $5 admission price was well worth it to see these original totems that are so culturally significant to the Northwest Coast Native peoples.

The Totem Heritage Center, located along the Ketchikan Creek, was the starting point for a lovely walk along the creek to Salmon Row where the hatchery is located, and ending at the Salmon Ladder.

Ketchikan Creek

Ketchikan Creek

Ketchikan Creek

Ketchikan Creek

Pacific salmon are anadromous, that is they hatch in fresh water, migrate to the ocean to spend most of their life, then return to the area where they hatched to reproduce and die. When they leave the ocean, they stop feeding and their stomachs disintegrate to provide more room for the developing eggs and sperm. The appearance, flavor, and texture of the flesh isn’t very good for eating at this time so if you want salmon to eat, you fish in the ocean. The rapids in the Ketchikan Creek is an extreme challenge for the salmon to surmount to reach the spawning area upstream. The Salmon Ladder on the creek assists thousands of salmon to reach their spawning area by allowing them to use the ladder which is essentially like stairs in the water rather than face the rapids. Unfortunately, we didn’t see it in action because although we were in Alaska at the beginning of the spawning season, we were a little too early to see any fish in the creek. Read more about the life cycle of Pacific salmon here. 

Ketchikan Creek

Rapids on Ketchikan Creek

Salmon Ladder, Ketchikan

Salmon Ladder next to the rapids on Ketchikan Creek

After a little more shopping and halibut fish tacos at Annabelle’s, it was back to the Oosterdam in plenty of time to set sail. I would call Ketchikan a good cruise port with plenty to keep a cruise ship tourist interested and engaged.

Based on events of June 2015.

Categories: cruise, History, inside passage, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Cruising Through Stanley Park

Vancouver’s premier park bordering the downtown area was established in 1888 and has attracted residents and tourists ever since. When I first visited Stanley Park in 2010, we walked for hours through the park. There are many other ways to enjoy this 1000 acre park, including by car, bus, trolley, horse-drawn carriage and even by roller blades but this time, we rented bikes. There are several bike shops directly outside the entrance to the park and miles and miles of bike trails within the park to explore. We rented one-speed cruisers with helmets and a map from Spokes. Sheryl and I selected bikes with front baskets to hold our backpacks and we each had a bike lock for parking the bikes, but we didn’t use them. In retrospect, Jim thought we should have rented bikes with more speeds because he had a hard time with the old-style coaster brakes in place of hand brakes. When he tried to stop, all he accomplished was ringing the bell which happened quite often. Frankly, the wide comfy seat on the cruiser and the low price tag dictated my choice.

Sheryl and Jim with their cruisers in Stanley Park

Sheryl and Jim with their cruisers in Stanley Park

Because our time was limited, we rode along the Seawall, the main route around the perimeter of the park, but we saw a lot in just a couple of hours. The Seawall is 8.8 km and then with the distance to and from Spokes, we probably rode about 11 km or almost 7 miles.  It was the perfect distance on a perfectly glorious day.

Our first stop at the First Nations totem poles is the most visited tourist attraction in all of British Columbia. Totem poles carved from red cedar trees are unique to the Pacific Northwest and a must-see on any trip to British Columbia or Alaska. They are not idols for worship, as once thought, but rather storyboards with recurring themes. The eagle represents the air, the whale represents the sea, the wolf stands for the land, and the frog links the land and the sea.

Totem Poles in Stanley Park, Vancouver

Totem Poles in Stanley Park, Vancouver

I love lighthouses and Brockton Point Lighthouse is a charmer. Built as a replacement in 1914 with an automatic light, it’s one of the well-known landmarks in the park. It’s small, almost dainty, but I’m sure the light does its job welcoming ships into the inlet and warning them where the land begins.

Brockton Point Lighthouse in Stanley Park, Vancouver

Brockton Point Lighthouse in Stanley Park, Vancouver

Our next stop was to get a photo of the inlet with a view of iconic Lion’s Gate Bridge in the background. This suspension bridge connects Vancouver to North Vancouver along a major artery through the city.

View from Stanley Park

View from Stanley Park of Lion’s Gate Bridge

Nearby, the sculpture Girl in a Wetsuit perches on a rock. Designed to represent Vancouver’s dependence on the sea, she’s been sitting in the same spot since 1972 when the sculptor, Elek Imredy, gifted her to the city.

Statue of Girl in a Wetsuit in Stanley Park

Statue of Girl in a Wetsuit in Stanley Park

The Empress of Japan Figurehead is a pleasant resting place with benches and great scenic views. The masthead graced the container ship RMS Empress of Japan until the ship was scrapped and the masthead was rescued, restored, and displayed in Stanley Park in 1927. This figurehead is actually a replica; the original is on display in the Vancouver Maritime Museum.

Empress of Japan Figurehead in Stanley Park

Empress of Japan Figurehead in Stanley Park

The day was warm with bright blue skies and every view was photo worthy. We stopped often for views and photos and while others joined us along the Seawall route, it was never uncomfortably crowded.

Seawall, Stanley Park

View from the Seawall, Stanley Park

We had been advised by our host at the B&B that on warm sunny days, everyone in Vancouver stops what they’re doing, strips off their clothes, and heads to the beach. Sure enough, the jumble of bikes and sunbathers at the Third Beach confirmed his warning.

Third Beach in Stanley Park, Vancouver

Third Beach in Stanley Park, Vancouver

When we spotted cairns built all over this rocky bit of shore, we couldn’t resist a photo. Since these cairns clearly weren’t here to mark a trail, I assume they are a bit of art created by passersby to announce “I was here, but I won’t permanently affect the environment.”

Cairns along the Seawall in Stanley Park

Cairns along the Seawall in Stanley Park

And further along the Seawall at Second Beach, there’s even a swimming pool.

Pool at Second Beach, Stanley Park

Pool at Second Beach, Stanley Park

There is so much more we didn’t have time to see or do in Stanley Park. The Vancouver Aquarium, located in the park, is Canada’s largest with over 70,000 creatures. Several restaurants located inside the park provide varied dining venues. Many more trails, lakes, and even a miniature railroad offer additional experiences to the visitor.

But what we enjoyed most were the scenic views all around us while riding on our cruisers.

Seawall, Stanley Park, Vancouver

View from the Seawall, Stanley Park, Vancouver

Based on events in June 2015.

Categories: Canada, cruise, History, Travel, Vancouver | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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