Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

Our Seattle ferry cruise had taken us from Elliot Bay in downtown Seattle, up along the Puget Sound Coast to Shilshole Bay where we entered Lake Washington Shipping Canal.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 6.06.27 AM.png

Now we had to get through the Chittendon locks to raise our ferry up to the level of the lakes. Our final destination for this day was the docks at the south end of Lake Union.

P1150460.JPG

I always have a sense of anticipation when approaching locks. These locks were built in 1917 … at the time creating the largest locks in North American enabling passage between two bodies of water of different levels.

P1150461.JPG

When given our all clear, we sailed into the lock, tied off, water was pumped in through tubes at the bottom of the lock as we gradually rose to the lake water level… a difference of about 20 feet. The ship canal project began in 1911 and was officially completed in 1934.

P1150465.JPG

Gate opens, ferry unties and we sail on through to the next stage of our cruise. It all takes about 15 minutes. It’s somewhat amazing to think that something like this stills exists in this day and age, but it works as it has done for a hundred years.

P1150468.JPG

And on the other side we came to a busy small shipping area.

P1150469.JPG

All types of marine transport were tied up in the safety of the canal.

P1150474.JPG

Another bridge across the canal.

P1150476.JPG

One of the many dry docks used for ship maintenance.

P1150478.JPG

A newly painted fishing boat ready to go back out into the sound.

P1150479.JPG

Tug boats to assist the bigger ships negotiate the canal.

P1150483.JPG

And yet more bridges… the higher traffic bridge and a colourful train bridge.

P1150484.JPG

Not all homes along the canal are inviting! This reminded us that in every city, there are those who do it tough in whatever shelter they can find.

P1150489.JPG

Its always fascinating to look up to the superstructures of bridges, built to take millions of cars and trucks a year safely across the canal. Spare a thought for those who built them.

P1150495.JPG

Gas Works Park is a large public access space on the northern side of Lake Union. It contains the remnants of the sole remaining coal gasification plant in the US… a plant that operated from 1906 to 1956. In 1962 the City of Seattle bought the plant and opened the park to the public in 1975.

P1150497.JPG

As we cruised up the length of Lake Union, several sea planes flew overhead. They are an important link between Seattle and the islands including Vancouver Island in Canada.

P1150504.JPG

A fascinating feature of Lake Union are the number of floating homes.  They come in all shapes and sizes, some virtually indistinguishable from those built on land. While these home owners don’t pay real estate taxes, they do have to pay pay dock fees.

P1150505.JPG

This floating home community is one of only a few in the United States… I know of one across the bay from San Francisco.  Floating homes evoke a sense of romance and these, along the banks of Lake Union and Portege Bay, do offer a unique lifestyle. We were told that here, for the most part, neighbours are friendly and community minded and there’s a never ending kaleidoscope of things to watch such as wildlife, boats and seaplanes.

P1150513.JPG

As we approached our dock at the end of our cruise, a seaplane prepared for takeoff.

P1150515.JPG

Maybe it was going to Vancouver Island… that’s where we will go in the next post.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Seattle was having its hottest start to July ever (2015) so we took to the water as a somewhat cooler alternative to walking the hot streets.

P1150431.JPG

As the ferry left the terminal we looked back on an area that is being reconstruction to connect the city back with the waterfront… for too long divided by a fast and busy highway and much of the water’s edge was not available to the people of the city.  After much consultation with the community, the dream is to make a vibrant waterfront for all to enjoy. The highway will remain but the waterfront area will be much more people friendly with boardwalks, parks and amenities. And the ferries that leave from here join that area to the small islands and also link the harbour via a canal to large lakes within the city.

P1150434.JPG

Seattle has a large, very busy working port area that is vital to the economic health of not only Seattle but to the whole of Washington state. I read that four in ten jobs in the state are tied to international trade, driving job growth and economic prosperity.

As ever-larger container vessels ply the seas, the port has seen dramatic changes to accommodate such vessels. The port has needed to install not only heavier cranes with a longer outreach but also provide deeper drafts.  An ongoing task.

P1150437.JPG

A view back to the city and the space needle.

P1150438.JPG

Several restaurants now use the older pier areas. This one is the iconic ‘Waterfront Seafood Grill Pier 70’ which has received recognition many times as one of Seattle’s top dining destinations.  As you would imagine, the menu incorporates the wonderful bounty of fresh seafood of the area, as well as the fresh harvest from the farms in the surrounding countryside.  During summer, guests can enjoy waterfront dining on that long deck.

P1150439.JPG

I’d seen these silos from the space needle and wondered what they contained. The answer is grain. It’s a completely automated facility moving grain efficiently from trucks and rail cars to silos and then to ship’s hold.

P1150449

A massive rock wall surrounds a marina filled with some very expensive yachts.

P1150448.JPG

Just before the ferry turned from the main harbour area into the canal, we passed West Point Lighthouse, sitting, as it has done for many a long year, at the end of a low, half-mile-long, sandy point that extends into Puget Sound. The lighthouse still sends out alternating red and white flashes, even though from a modern beacon within the tower.

Light houses are usually built on rock. But, to support this lighthouse built on sand, a grill of timber was first built three feet below the ground before adding the brick foundations. The brick tower and and an octagonal iron lantern room were then built on top. They must have done something right, it still stands today, albeit with a surround of added rocks to keep both the lighthouse and the sand spit safe from lashing storms.

 

P1150455.JPG

Along the canal, many houses are built on timber piles. Safe from storms, this would be my choice of place to live in Seattle… if I could afford one of them…. but probably not!

P1150456.JPG

Other places are built on the shore line rather than over the water.

P1150457.JPG

Salmon Bay Bridge, (or Bridge no 4) is on the northern rail line between King Street Station in Seattle and Everett (where the Boeing factory is situated). It’s called a single-leaf bascule bridge, built in 1914, and has two rail tracks. It has a span of 61 mts (or 200 ft).

So what is a bascule bridge?  In simple terms its a draw bridge that uses a massive counter weight to continuously balance a bridge span, or leaf, as it swings upwards to allow clearance for boat traffic. As we were to see later, largish ships use this canal.

The concept has been used since ancient times. But it wasn’t  until the introduction of steam power in the 1850s that long, heavy spans could be moved quickly enough to make their use practical for more modern day usage.  I guess this is electrical these days.

P1150458.JPG

I liked this house near the bridge… solid foundations rather than timber poles that have a habit of rotting over time…and lots of balcony to sit out and watch the bridge in use!

P1150459.JPG

More houses along the canal. It was very pleasant sailing passed these canal side homes as we made our way to the locks that lift the ships from the ocean level to the lake level.

More of that anon.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

Read Full Post »

After quite a long day out, and an evening visit to the Space Needle to come, we decided to stay around the area for an evening meal. We checked out a few fast food places but were not impressed with what we saw on offer… or they were closing up for the day.

P1140861.JPG

Wandering back near the glass exhibition we noticed another building that houses the Chihuly Collections Cafe. We ventured inside and we were so glad we did.

P1150207 © JT of jtdytravels

P1150207 © JT of jtdytravels

The restaurant was an excellent choice for good fresh food and also for something quite different from blown glass…. Chihuly’s other addiction, collecting things! As David is an avid collector of stuff, it didn’t take much persuasion to get him to have a meal here.

P1150186 © JT of jtdytravels

P1150186 © JT of jtdytravels

As soon as you walk into the long, narrow room, you can’t help looking up into the high-ceiling adorned with accordions… just one of Chihuly’s collections.

P1150192 © JT of jtdytravels

P1150192 © JT of jtdytravels

One wall cabinet is filled with transistor radios… quite nostalgic.

P1150187

P1150187 © JT of jtdytravels

Thirty six of Chihuly’s colourful drawings are back lit on another wall… looks like he’s a big kid at heart and I guess he is.

P1150195 © JT of jtdytravels

P1150195 © JT of jtdytravels

A window box is filled with coffee jugs.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 5.22.44 PM.png

And that’s not all. The centre of every table is fitted with a glass topped box, each one containing a selection from Chihuly’s personal collections of nostalgic Americana.

(Photo from the brochure we were given.)

P1150201 © JT of jtdytravels

P1150201 © JT of jtdytravels

  We shared our table with citrus juicers.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 7.44.43 PM.png

But we might just have easily been given a table that sported dollhouse furniture, inkwells, shaving brushes, metal toy dogs, christmas ornaments or little masks like these.

P1140894 © JY of jtdytravels

P1140894 © JY of jtdytravels

Even the cutlery was a bit out of the ordinary… nice to handle, though.

P1150196 © JT of Jtdytravels

P1150196 © JT of Jtdytravels

Much of the lighting in the restaurant came from flickering candles diffused behind textured glass… probably those modern electric candles, but the effect was good.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 5.20.08 PM.png

And after dining on our delicious meals, created with local, fresh ingredients, and thinking that we had seen it all, we discovered that we hadn’t!

P1150202

P1150202 © JT of jtdytravels

The walls of the entrance hallways to the toilets are covered with many hundreds of bottle openers. Interestingly, these were ‘caged in’, probably against any light fingered person who just might decide to start their own collection!

Quite some restaurant! So, if you ever get to Seattle, we can recommend both the glass exhibition and the restaurant. We hope you’ve enjoyed this visit to the Chihuly Glass Exhibition and Gardens… and the Collections Cafe.

Next post we’ll visit another fascinating place in Seattle… the Aquarium.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

 

We thoroughly enjoyed wandering in the old town of Sitka on our own, at our own pace, stopping to talk to the locals and trying to get a feel for this outpost of civilisation.

P1140587

P1140587 © JT of jtdytravels

Most of the old town consists of just one street; clean and tidy. Time to check out the windows and stop for a chat with the shop keepers. A very pleasant afternoon.

P1130037 © DY of jtdytravels

P1130037 © DY of jtdytravels

Two old men sat outside a shop filled with bric-a-brac and Tlingit souveneirs. There was a third chair; vacant. So where was the third of this trio? …. gone fishing, of course! As soon as we told them that we were Australian, they warned us that we wouldn’t be able to buy anything from them as we wouldn’t get it through customs back home. True. But they invited us to go in for a look anyway and went back to watching their ‘world’ go by from their plastic chairs. Such friendliness! And trust!

P1140698 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140698 © JT of jtdytravels

Their office was a bit higgledy piggledy… to put it mildly.

P1140697 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140697 © JT of jtdytravels

Many artefacts were made from whale bone or walrus tusks; fascinating but certainly not for taking back to Australia.

P1130036 © DY of jtdytravels

P1130036 © DY of jtdytravels

More carved and painted tusks.

P1140700 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140700 © JT of jtdytravels

A stylised symbol made from shell buttons.

P1140701 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140701 © JT of jtdytravels

An embroidered Tlingit raven symbol… loved the eyes! But you wouldn’t want to have this on the wall at home… you’d feel those eyes watching you all the time.

P1140702 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140702 © JT of jtdytravels

I think this is supposed to represent a baby seal.

P1140703 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140703 © JT of jtdytravels

And would you want this on your lounge room wall?

It was a delightful visit to an unusual shop.

P1140715 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140715 © JT of jtdytravels

A little further down the street, I saw this sign… a very true saying!

P1140704 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140704 © JT of jtdytravels

And this bear shows why! David was glad that it was a stuffed version.

P1140710 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140710 © JT of jtdytravels

I believe this was the fur of a wolf but am not certain.

P1140711 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140711 © JT of jtdytravels

David ‘ummed and ahhed’ over this but decided not to buy!

P1140707 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140707 © JT of jtdytravels

At the end of the main street was a hedge of roses.

P1140708

P1140708 © JT of jtdytravels

And behind the hedge, was an inviting path that lead to ‘The Pioneer Home’, one of Sitka’s many historic structures. It’s an aged peoples home. I found notes about it on the site of the Alaskan Department of Health and Social Services. It’s an interesting story. I quote:

“The Sitka Pioneer Home has a rich history that is woven into the state and territorial story of Alaska. The home had humble beginnings as a log barracks that had been built by the Russians in the 1800’s.

A contingent of the U.S. Marines was stationed in Sitka in 1879, and until 1892 the men were quartered in the Russian built log barracks. Buildings were added in subsequent years. The base had expanded, but was closed in 1912 and the buildings stood idle. The people of Sitka were anxious to have a home for the increasing number of pioneers, prospectors, and others who were no longer able to care for themselves.

Alaska became a Territory in 1912 and in August of that year a bill was introduced by Sitka’s Representative, Arthur G. Shoup, to appropriate $10,000 and establish the Alaska Pioneer Home at Sitka. The Navy Department gave permission to use the old barracks for that purpose and the Home opened in September 1913.

Only indigent men were admitted to the Home in the early years. By the early 1930s, in addition to being something of a fire trap, the buildings were becoming dilapidated and expensive to maintain. Congress enacted a law granting the former Naval Reserve to the Territory of Alaska.”

P1130038

P1130038 © JT of jtdytravels

 

“It was at this time that the present concrete building was constructed. The new building housed 170 men but there were no facilities for women. The 1949 Legislature provided funds for a women’s Home, and a former church, adjoining the Pioneer Home, was purchased for that purpose. The arrangement was not wholly satisfactory and in 1956 the new North Wing was added to the main building. It housed women and married couples at first, and later was occupied by single men and women, as well. The building has since undergone remodeling and renovations. The most recent renovation was to add a living space in the North Wing to provide care for residents with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia.

Today’s Sitka Pioneer Home has a capacity to serve 75 men and women and provides care at three different levels:

  • Level I (independent)
  • Level II (basic assistance)
  • Level III (24-hour care for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders and comprehensive services)

The Sitka Pioneer Home is an Eden Alternative® Registered Home. The home is committed to providing compassionate care to residents, staff, family and community in a home that nurtures the human body, mind and spirit while preserving dignity and individuality.” ​​

P1140692

P1140692 © JT of jtdytravels

The garden there was bright with flowers. A nice touch.

P1140705 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140705 © JT of jtdytravels

Wandering back up the other side of the street, we noticed this jeweller’s shop display… crystals representing the water drops off a whales tail… very effective.

Several of the shops here had a very Russian ‘flavour’; many people are descendants of those early Russian settlers. Our Christmas baubles from here were very Russian.

P1140712 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140712 © JT of jtdytravels

An example of modern art in an old town.

P1140691 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140691 © JT of jtdytravels

We loved these no smoking signs… first noticed them in Juneau. It appears that they have had a development in style over the years. This one’s copyright date is 1983.

P1140696 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140696 © JT of jtdytravels

And this is a 2006 version.

P1140714 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140714 © JT of jtdytravels

But this was a real no nonsense sign!

P1140716 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140716 © JT of jtdytravels

I liked the message on this sign… one we can all take heed of no matter where we live.

P1140589

P1140589 © JT of jtdytravels

And so almost back to the hotel and time to try out the Sitka coffee and cakes! We sat in the bay window in old well worn arm chairs and had our turn at watching Sitka go by! And very relaxing it was too… not a lot to stress about here.

We had time to muse about our fantastic experience in this part of the world, exploring the Inside Passage and the Tongass National Park aboard the good ship ‘Sea Lion”. But, as usual, holidays and good times have a habit of coming to an end. We would soon enough trade this quiet little town for the bustle of Seattle. But first we had to get there and that meant hoping that our plane would not be fogged in, rained in or otherwise have a reason to not depart on the morrow! Nothing is ever certain in Sitka. More of that anon.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

The next stop on our ‘Tour of the Town’ of Sitka was at the Raptor Centre. Here, up to 200 injured birds a year are taken in for treatment. The aim is to restore the birds, if possible, to the wilderness.

P1140592 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140592 © JT of jtdytravels

Raptors are meat or fish eating birds that hunt for their food. They need to be healthy to hunt and survive on their own in the wild. Some of the birds being treated are kept in this large room where they can safely begin to learn to fly again. They may have had broken wings or other bones, gunshot wounds or have been poisoned, usually unintentionally.

We were told that about 85% of the injuries treated at the centre are due to human  intervention in the natural habitat of the birds. Most injuries are caused by collisions with power lines, cars and other man-made objects. Poisonous chemicals at dumps and those used on lawns and gardens can cause poisoning if what the birds eat is polluted. Birds become scavengers… its an easy way to hunt! Others are caught in fishing lines and tackle left lying around. One of the centre’s aims is to make us all aware of the consequences of our actions, on birds in particular, and the environment in general.

P1140597 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140597 © JT of jtdytravels

The Raptor Centre’s symbol is the American Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus Leucocephalus, the bird adopted as the national bird symbol of the United States of America in 1782. It was chosen for its majestic beauty, great strength, long life, and because it’s native to the USA. This symbol is on many of the gift shop souveneirs, the sale of which helps pay for the recovery of the birds. We chose a glass bauble with an eagle for our Christmas tree collection.

P1140599 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140599 © JT of jtdytravels

One eagle, which can’t be returned to the wild because of his injuries, has been trained to be the ‘meet and greet’ bird at lectures given at the Centre. He was so well behaved!

P1140606 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140606 © JT of jtdytravels

It was amazing to be able to get up fairly close and personal with such a bird. He showed off the main characteristics of all raptors; sharp eyesight, a hooked, sharp beak and strong feet with sharp talons. They are not birds to be played with!

P1140608 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140608 © JT of jtdytravels

Even though the bald eagles are a well known symbol of USA, they were for many years on the list of endangered US birds. Why? In the ‘lower 48 states of the USA, the bald eagle populations were almost wiped out by DDT, heavy metal poisoning and loss of habitat. By the time DDT was banned in 1972, there were fewer than 450 breeding pairs left in all of the continental United States. It was on the Endangered Species List from 1978 until July 1999 when it was down listed to ‘threatened’. Now, the bald eagle population is estimated to be about 100,000. Half of those are found in Alaska.

Although never a threatened species in Alaska, there was a bounty on bald eagles from the early 1900s to 1950. As a species of sea eagles, the main diet of bald eagles is fish; salmon and herring in particular. The bounty was placed because the birds were thought to be in competition with local fishermen for the live salmon. They were! But the fishermen have had to learn that they must live with the wildlife of the area and that includes eagles, seals and whales. It is we who have invaded their habitat.

P1140615

P1140615  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

The bald eagles, like these two, that have been treated satisfactorily at the centre, go through various stages of rehabilitation until they can be released back into the wild.

But some cannot be released for a variety reasons. Those birds may be placed in captive breeding facilities around the country so that their offspring can be released to help restore wild populations. Others are placed in zoos and other educational organisations to help educate the public about raptors.

P1140620 © DY of jtdytravels

P1140620 © DY of jtdytravels

This bird, in an outer enclosure, showed off its extremely sharp talons and its not so pleasant personality. ‘Leave me alone, or else…’ seemed to be the message! It’s a sign of good rehabilitation as it needs to be wary and wild to survive in the forest. The white head and tail mark this bird as an adult. Immature bald eagles are a mottled brown.

P1140623 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140623 © JT of jtdytravels

A bald eagle has about 7,000 feathers, fluffed out here for our closer inspection!

P1140624 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140624 © JT of jtdytravels

An even closer look at those head feathers.

P1140627 © DY of jtdytravels

P1140627 © DY of jtdytravels

And that’s some wingspan!

P1140626 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140626 © JT of jtdytravels

The large outer forest area of the Centre is the final stage in rehabilitation where the birds practice life ‘in the wild’ before being released to fend for themselves. Eagles can live for thirty years or more… so, hopefully, these birds will survive for many years to come.

P1140638

P1140638 © JT of jtdytravels

This Red Tailed Hawk, Buteo Jamaicensis, was one of the raptors in the rehabilitation area. These hawks are found in every US state except for Hawaii. They play a very important role in the management of the rodent population. That beady eye can spot a mouse more than 30 m (100 ft) away. One hawk can eat more than 1,000 mice a year. That makes these birds more efficient than pesticides and far less harmful to the environment and other birds.

There are two main groups of raptors. The diurnal raptors, like eagles, hawks, falcons and kites, hunt during the day. But nocturnal raptors hunt at night. These include most of the owls. In the USA, there are 34 diurnal raptor species and 19 species of owls.

P1140633 © JT of jtdytravels

P1140633 © JT of jtdytravels

One of the owls being cared for at the Centre was this Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus. It’s common name is a bit of a misnomer! The tufts on top of its head are not horns, just feather tufts. This is one of the largest owls in the USA and can survive in habitats as vastly different as the hot, dry, desert canyons of Arizona or the cold, wet rain forests of Alaska. Like most owls, their feather design allows them to fly almost silently, enabling them to stealthily hunt for prey such as mice, squirrels and frogs.

P1140645.JPG

P1140645  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

My favourite owl was the the Great Grey Owl, Strix nebulosa. How could you not fall in love with that wonderful face? I was keen to learn more about this bird.

The Great Grey Owl is one of the world’s largest owls and has the largest facial disc of any owl. It has asymmetrical ear openings that are surrounded by feathers which help to funnel sound towards the ear. This allows the bird to detect the slightest noise made by prey such as voles and mice (This is another bird that is rodent destroyer!)

Great Grey Owls are forest dwellers and have a circumpolar distribution ranging from Alaska to Easter Canada and across the northern forests of Europe and Asia. They are very reclusive and rarely seen in the wild so it was special to see one up so close.

Like most owls, Great Grey Owls don’t usually build their own nests. In Alaska, they often use abandoned Northern Goshawk nests. The success of the owls raising their clutch of one to nine eggs is highly dependent on food source that year. In low food years, no eggs may be laid at all. The male provides food for the female during the 30 days that she sits on the eggs, and also for the nestlings for three weeks after hatching. It surprised me to learn that the young owlets are proficient climbers! They leave the nest and climb around in the trees for several weeks before they learn to fly. Even after they finally fledge at about eight weeks, they may stay near to the nest for several months.

I spent so much time learning about this owl that I almost missed the bus! So whatever was left for me to see at the Raptor Centre will remain a mystery to me. We were soon on our way to our next centre of interest, the Sitka Totem museum.

But, if you’d like to learn more about these magnificent owls, follow this link!

http://www.coniferousforest.com/great-grey-owl.htm

There you’ll find some really great photos. I can’t compete with them! You have to be a dedicated, professional bird photographer with excellent gear to get shots like these.

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 11.50.07 AM.png

Great Grey Owlets on a twig nest.

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 11.50.30 AM

Female Great Grey Owl with young on nest.

Isn’t it great that, via the web, we can see such excellent nature photography.

More anon

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

 

 

Read Full Post »

Our last afternoon in the Inside Passage was spent in a delightful bay… waiting. Our destination for the day was the town of Sitka out on the western coast of this part of Alaska. And to get there, we had to negotiate Peril Strait. As it’s name suggests its not the easiest place to navigate with tide changes up to 7m through the narrows.

P1110917

P1110917 © DY of jtdytravels

So we waited for the right time to sail towards the narrow passage and had an interesting afternoon checking out each others photos. Everyone was asked to add three photos to the pool and it proved to be fascinating to see what each person added.

P1140539  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1140539 © JT of jtdytravels

Later, as we moved towards the passage, we did a side trip into a wide bay which seemed to be full of whales. Having taken many whale photos, this time we just enjoyed them. One or two performed amazing breeches right out of the water, but most were just feeding.

P1100262.JPG

After a while, I decided to get my camera. Lucky! As I left our room, a whale came right up beside the ship and gave me a wonderful wave of the tail. Then it, and most of the other whales, seemed to vanish. It was as if this one was saying good bye.  We sailed on.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110906

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110906

Dusk was gathering as we entered a more narrow passage of water. All seemed very still.

BUT the water way ahead of us was treacherous; the tide coming in and going out very rapidly and all ship’s captains have to be especially vigilant in these waters.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140543

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140543

The ship glided slowly towards our appointed time to go through Peril Strait. There is a definite process to be followed and our Captain had applied for our specific time.

The Tlingit natives had a name for this strait- Haat xhishxhaak.  Haat meaning tide, rapids, whirlpool or back-eddy; and xhishxhaak meaning, appropriately, to sit down! They would pull there canoes to the bank to wait for the tide to be just right.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140550

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140550

The view back from the rail outside our room. Night approached.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140551

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140551

There was a strange eeriness about these waters. And many have perished here. One story tells of some native Aleut seal hunters who pulled in here to await the tide change. While waiting they had a feast of shellfish. Unfortunately for them, the shellfish were poisonous and about one hundred and fifty of these men died. Where they died is now called Poison Cove and Deadman’s Reach.  Not the best of bed time stories!

P1140547  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1140547 © JT of jtdytravels

After watching the moving shapes in the waters for some time, I finally turned in for some shut eye, trusting the Captain and his crew to get us safely to Sitka.

map of trip

The map shows where we had travelled on this wilderness adventure.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140555

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140555

I woke to the sound of the engines slowing down. We had arrived. Dawn was breaking.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140557

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140557

The clouds were mirrored in the still waters of Sitka Harbour.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140558

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140558

Looking out from our room was our first sight of a Sitka residence.

P1140559  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1140559 © JT of jtdytravels

We made our way under the bridge to the dock. This is a big bridge that takes a road to almost nowhere. Fir the only way into Sitka is by sea or by air. There are only 22.5 km or (14 ml) of road in this town; half go east-west and half go north-south. We had chosen to stay here for an extra night. Was that wise in such a small town of only 9,000 people?

P1140564  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1140564 © JT of jtdytravels

It’s always hectic when a ship comes into its final port. Bags have to be out by 7 am; breakfast is earlier than usual; everyone must leave the ship by 8am. But while I waited, I took some time to check out the harbour around us. It’s a busy fishing port.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140562

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140562

Fishing boats of all sizes were moored near the fish co-op.

P1140561  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1140561 © JT of jtdytravels

In deeper water, a larger ship unloaded its cargo. These ships are the life line for the townspeople bringing in cargo from the larger cities.

P1140563  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1140563 © JT of jtdytravels

The tide was well out. Its just as well they have variable gangways up to the docks.

P1140566  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1140566 © JT of jtdytravels

It was time to farewell our good ship ‘Sea Lion’ and our Captain and crew. They had all been wonderful.  What would we find here in Sitka? We had read that in March 2013, the Smithsonian Magazine named Sitka as #9 in its top ten towns in the USA! That’s quite some call… so we looked forward to exploring here for a couple of days.

And we’ll share that with you all anon.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

 

 

.

 

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

 

 

.

.

.

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

The morning of our last day in the Tongass National Park wilderness was overcast and misty. There was talk of rain. We hoped not.

P1140473.JPG

P1140473 ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

After breakfast, the clouds began to rise revealing the mountains.

P1140469.JPG

P1140469 ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

The crew dropped the kayaks into the water and everyone geared up for our last day in this pristine, wonderful part of the world… walking, kayaking or floating about in the DIBS (inflatables known as Zodiacs in Australia).

P1140474

P1140474 ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

What a beautiful place! There was great anticipation amongst the walkers (David included) that this might just be the day that they would encounter a bear on their walk. The area is known for its bears and the salmon run was about to start in streams around this bay.

P1110775 © DY of jtdytravels

P1110775 © DY of jtdytravels

Several interesting jelly fish floated by as we were preparing to climb into the DIBs to go ashore. This one was the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, Cyanea capillata.

Like all jellyfish, this one is ‘diploblastic’ which means it has two primary layers: the ectoderm, the inner layer of tissue associated with the gut, and the endoderm, the outer layer, which includes the nervous tissue.  The animal’s radial symmetry allows it to reach out in all directions from the centre, assisting their feeding.

But this jellyfish has some specialised characteristics. It doesn’t have a brain or eyes so it has to rely on nerve cells to sense and react to either food or danger. Some of its eight lobes have organs used for sensing odor and balance. And at the end of some of the lobes there are primitive light receptors!  It’s understood that these sensing organs tell the jellyfish whether they are heading up or down, and into the light or away from it.

Most of us know to beware of jellyfish and their stings; and the Lion’s Mane jellyfish is no exception. As you can see in the photo, there are many tentacles. In fact these animals can have up to 8 clusters each with 150 tentacles; Now, how’s your maths? I make that add  up to  1,200 tentacles per jellyfish… AND… one researcher recorded a  Cyanea capillata‘s tentacle at almost over 6 metres (200 ft) long… AND every single one of these enormous tentacles are lined with large amount of cnidocytes, the stuff that stings if you touch it. That’s impressive! One of the effects of the venom of the Lion’s Mane is ‘hemolysis’; the destruction of red blood cells. So stay well clear of these beauties.

And we did; we watched and waited until they floated by. But they don’t really float. They propel themselves using special muscles called coronal muscles which are embedded on the underside of the bell. These muscles push water out of the hollow bell. Then, as water is pushed in one direction, the jellyfish moves in the opposite direction.

Learning about them from our marine biologist was fascinating.

 

 

P1110780  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110780 © DY of jtdytravels

By the time we got to shore, the kayaks were lined up ready for those wanting to paddle their way around the calm waters of this bay.

P1110782  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110782 © DY of jtdytravels

David and his group began their walk, going by this tree that was just clinging to the rock face.

P1110787  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110787 © DY of jtdytravels

Another tree had a squirrel’s cache of pine cones in a hole at its base.

P1110789.JPG

P1110789  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

Nearby was a lovely example of the Narrow Beech Fern;  Thelypteris phegopteris.

P1110794  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110794 © DY of jtdytravels

This Coralroot Orchid, Corallorhiza maculata, is named the spotted orchid for its spotted lip. But it’s named coral root because it has no roots; it has, instead, hard, branched rhizomes that look like coral. It’s a parasitic orchid deriving its nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi in the deep, damp humus and soils in the understory of coniferous forests.

P1110812  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110812 © DY of jtdytravels

An Native of the Alaskan mountain forests,  Clintonia uniflora is a member of the lily family. It’s common names are bride’s bonnet and queen’s cup… neither of which seem to be very apt to me. 

You have to look in the understory of the coniferous forests to find this delightful small white flower.  Two or three long, wide leaves are located at the base of the stem.

P1110808

P1110808 © DY of jtdytravels

This flower will be replaced by just one round, blue berry, up to one centimetre wide.

P1110862.JPG

P1110862  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

Dying petals look very delicate, almost translucent, adorned as they are with raindrops.

P1110863.JPG

P1110863  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

The forest canopy reflected in a raindrop; one of the joys of a walking in the rain!

P1110814  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110814 © DY of jtdytravels

As usual in these forests, fungi abound, some like this one are very ‘architectural’.

P1110815  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110815 © DY of jtdytravels

A rain collector!

P1110821  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110821 © DY of jtdytravels

While David wandered on his flower spotting way through the forest, I was meandering in a DIB around the streams that run into the bay.

P1110837.JPG

P111o837  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

Every now and then we spotted each other through the trees. These streams are spawning grounds for salmon and I was enjoying Jason’s stories of the salmon as we floated along.

P1140513.JPG

P1140513  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

It was a delightful way to spend my last day in the Tongass National Forest.

P1140516

P1140516  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

The reflections were perfect… if we sat still enough in the boat.

P1140499.JPG

P1140499  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

We found a pair of eagles to watch. They were watching for salmon!

P1140528

P1140528 ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

After a dive into the water (no fish on this occasion) it dried its wings.

We watched it… it watched us. We wondered what it thought!

They are such a magnificent birds !

P1110825  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110825 © DY of jtdytravels

David walked on further into the forest but still following the stream.

P1110831  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110831 © DY of jtdytravels

The delightful red paintbrush flower; we’d seen it several times before.

P1110833  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110833 © DY of jtdytravels

Always well worth a closer inspection.

P1110839  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110839 © DY of jtdytravels

We had seen many example of the Black Lily or Chocolate Lily, Fritillaria camschatcensis, on our forest walks. The name denotes that it is native to Kamchatka on the far east Russian Peninsular where David had trekked a couple of years before. (Those stories are written up on www.dymusings.com)

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that this lily looks lovely but it has a really bad smell which it uses that to attract flies as pollinators. Before rice became available in quantity in these parts, the local native people of Alaska used the plant’s clusters of rice like, tiny white bulbs as food hence the other common names of Indian Rice or Eskimo Potato. Nowadays, the art of harvesting and cooking the lily roots has all but disappeared.   

P1110887  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110887 © DY of jtdytravels

A good example of bracket fungi, a woody fungi that grows on tree trunks.

P1110886  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110886 © DY of jtdytravels

Further upstream away from the larger pond, the walkers had to cross a stream.

P1110891  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110891 © DY of jtdytravels

And not long after that, they were stopped in their tracks. What are they looking at?

P1110895  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110895 © DY of jtdytravels

A bear! Yes, they actually came across a bear. Stand still. Don’t move. That’s the rule.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 7.51.52 AM

But the bear was not interested in them. It was looking to see if any salmon had come up the stream yet. The salmon spawning run was about to begin and this bear was ready!

And you can imagine the excitement back on the ship. Last walk. Last chance. A BEAR!

And so the forest walks ended on a very high, very satisfying note. But once the bear was seen, it was not wise to stay in that part of the forest, so it was back to the ship- quietly.

But once on board, the lunch room was a buzz of excited bear chatter. And after lunch, it was time to weigh anchor and sail for Sitka, our final port of call on this adventure through the waterways of the Tongass National Forest and the Inside Passage of Alaska.

More of Sitka anon

.Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass this site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »