11 Aug 2006 Friday

This morning was very foggy.  We’ve talked with lots of people on boardthe ship.  A few from Oregon, Washington and, of course, Alaska.  Butwe’ve also talked with a couple from South Africa and another fromAustralia.  

We grabbed coffee and breakfast in the ferry this morning and our 9am port ofcall is Sitka, AK.  The town has several tour buses lined up waiting for us(for a fee, of course).  Sitka is 7 miles from the ferry dock, so, for ourconvenience, we have a choice of buses.  It’s also overcast andrainy.  For $8 we can catch a bus to downtown and the Visitor’s Center ofAlaska’s oldest national park, Sitka NationalPark.  Or we could chose a tour of Sitka for $10.  We took thetour of Sitka.  I remember why I don’t really like tours.  Everythingis rushed and all the photos have somebody else in them.  Our guide was a native of Sitka for 15 years, moved away andhas now returned.  He knew quite a bit of Sitka’s history, the natives thatfirst inhabited this area and the Russians that later claimed it as theirhome.  In the park, we saw several totems, including one that was currentlybeing carved.  It will take two brothers several months to hand carve thistotem.  Our tour guide also sang Alaska’sstate song and told us about the historyof the state flag.  The flag was designed by a 13 year old Aleut nativeorphan, the blue background representing the sky, the sea and the state flower,the Blue Bonnet, the stars in the form of the Big Dipper, or Ursa Major, theGreat bear to show strength and the North Star to show the most northernterritory in the Union.  Alaska became the 49th state in 1959.  Ourguide got us back to the ship in time to leave port.  

The day is overcast, foggy and rainy.  Our captain pointed out a flockof "migrating" pink flamingos that were "nesting" in a tree on a small island.(wink!)   These are rare birds for this area, he continued, and theyhave acquired a unique plastic sheen on their feathers.  They are about 40feet high in one tree.  Our captain inquired to the Coast Guard who couldneither confirm nor deny any knowledge of such a flock of flamingos or how theycame to be here.  The sure have fun on the job here!

We got some bad news this afternoon from my sister Dianne, who is keeping ourdog Simon with her three dogs in south Florida.  Her dog Lexie, her baby of12 years, died in the night.  Simon and Lexie had "words" when hefirst went to stay there, but they’ve worked it all out and were now greatbuddies, always playing together.  Simon’s going to miss his playpal.  We were in an area with a very sketchy cell signal, so we couldn’tcall her back for quite a while.  When we finally were able to call herback, while I was talking to her, our captain reported a whale breaching (comingabove the water) off thestarboard (right) side of the ship.  It was jumping out of the water andcrashing back over and over, the entire time the ship passed.  Our sincere condolencesto Dianne.  We’ll try to call her again later.

The day has been foggy and rainy.  I think Andrew and I are ready to getoff of this ship and be travelling on our own again.  

We have an evening port of call in Juneau, but for only an hour.  Wedecided not to go into town, because we really had no time to seeanything.  Andrew and I just stayed on the ship and got to bedearly.  

Our final port is Haines, AK and we arrived at 3:45am.  Our wake up callwas around 2:30am.  We have a hotel room reserved for two nights in Hainesat the Fort Steward Lodge,so we have a place to get some rest.

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