Sunday, September 30, 2012

Alaska - Ketchikan - Days 1, 2, and 3

A kind invitation to join my Uncle Durward and Aunt Bonnie in Seattle while they visited my cousin, Tonia (their daughter), turned into a two-week trip for me since I decided to take an Alaskan Cruise while in the area.  Additional posts will come from my time in Seattle and also the Olympic Peninsula.  I jotted notes along the way and will share them here.

Friday, August 31, 2012:  arrived in Seattle safe and sound. The hotel only had a smoking room available.  It's amazing how used to a non-smoking environment I've become (thanks Asheville!) that I don't even think to request non-smoking anything when making reservations.

Saturday, September 1, 2012:  shuttle to pier, checked-in and went out on deck to enjoy the fresh BBQ cookout and take some photos leaving Seattle.  The breathtaking Mt. Rainer made an appearance as you can see here:


Sunday, September 2, 2012:   This was a day at sea.  Very grateful that I had the anti-seasick patch today.  It was a very windy, rainy day which created 6-8' waves.  Feeling somewhat medicated, I used this opportunity to rest.  I didn't realize how tired I was. The ship's nautical information was broadcast on the in-room TV and I was able to keep up with the weather, location of the ship, and more importantly - how much further to our first port.
Monday, September 3, 2012:  The ship arrived in Ketchikan, Alaska to rain and fog.  Typical "Alaskan" weather I suspected.  I was up in time for the sunrise, only that I couldn't see it.
Ketchikan was the 'Bear Expedition and Rainforest experience." The guide was not keen on me dragging all the camera equipment through the rainforest, but I wasn't leaving my tripod behind.  She also didn't appreciate my wanting to photograph every little twig in the forest.  In fact, we had a special talk about the importance of me sticking with the group.  All it took was me seeing a bear in an open environment to get the message (loud and clear!)
We were on a swinging suspension bridge roughly 20 feet above the very active bears.  Here's an area where we viewed and photographed the bears:

Here are a few shots I managed to get even though I was shooting in the rain/fog, was shaking from nerves, and had 10 other people on the swaying bridge with me <insert disclaimer for unclear photographs.>  These are my favorites - shot with Nikon D5100 70mm-300mm:

All said and done we saw about 12 bears total (several small cubs, and plenty of adults.)  They seemed content to focus on the salmon in the river instead of the group of people above.  Have you heard the saying that you don't have to be the fastest runner, you just can't be the slowest to avoid getting eaten by a bear?  Well, I was staking out my competition on this excursion for sure!
The next stop was at a 'petting zoo' for lack of a better term.  We were introduced to reindeer (a.k.a. miniature caribou.)  Even typing the word reindeer feels make-believe.  Santa had reindeer in the Christmas books, and we all (or most of us) know about that.  So, in reality I guess no one ever clued me in that reindeer are real creatures.  I thought *until this trip* that reindeer were made up in the books.  Boy was I surprised.

Next was a walk by the salmon hatchery.  Did you know that salmon 'born' at the hatchery still swim back upstream to the hatchery to spawn?  The workers create a make-shift spawning course for the fish.  Once they arrive, the hatchery collects the eggs, and begins the process of raising them until release.  The spawning course begins with a drainage pipe from the river (it's the same river that the bears were in.)  If the salmon don't land in the pipe they hit the wall and bounce back into the river to try again.  Here are two photos: one shows a successful jump, and the second shows a salmon hitting the wall.
This one made it:  

This one didn't make it (ouch!):


Headed back toward the ship.  Had a few minutes to shop in the little town before departing.  Of course I snapped photos as I went along.  Creek Street was really pretty, but due to the rain/fog, my photos weren't so impressive. 
Saw a seal munching on a salmon near the ship.  Life is pretty tretcherous for salmon around here.
Made a few acquaintenances throughout the day.  Adjusting well to no internet service.  The salad bar on the ship is really yummy.  Sometimes the hot food reminds me of hospital food.  The ship is clean, and everyone gets hosed with sanitizer before entering the ship and restaurants.  They squirt and say, "washy, washy, happy, happy."  Passengers laughed, but we were all glad for the germ control.  Thanks Norweigen!


Welcome to my ramblings about photography.  Being a photographer is something we all possess, right?  I mean aren't we all photographers on 'some' level?  Cameras are so accessible these days that almost everyone has snapped the button at some point in their lives.
Remembering back to Christmas 1981, I was so excited to have received my very first camera: a Kodak 110.  It was the wide, 'thin' pocket camera of the times and used an enclosed film canister with easy one-touch rewind. I thought I was "The Shit."  Really, what other 12 year old had such a fancy camera?
I began my quest to be a photographer at that moment.  I told myself that I was going to take some amazing pictures.  Low and behold, photos of the carpet, my bike, my brother, and my folks didn't quite seem to be amazing on the output.  Plus, my mother put me on a 'film budget' due to film developing costs (with no great results on my part), and the high purchasing costs of film turned film-getting into birthday presents, or saving up my $2.50/week allowances.
Over the years, the cameras improved, but my photography didn't.  I wanted to learn about photography; however once I began to read photography books, the overwhelming information about ISOs, Aperture f-stops, and varying shutter speeds were too daunting to this beginner.  I soon became the regular 'take your camera on vacation and/or special events' type of photographer that encompasses most of us.
In 2010, I began noticing people with nice cameras.  I still wanted to learn what all those buttons controlled, so I started asking questions.  Soon after, I began browsing cameras to purchase.  A friend suggested the Nikon D5100 as a good starting point for a beginner.  So, I set my sights on studying the D5100, and began dreaming.
On Christmas Eve, 2011 - my camera dreams came true.  My Dad gifted me with a Nikon D5100!  WOW-what a gift! (Thanks again, Dad!)  It was a kit that included two lenses: 18mm-55mm and a 55mm-200mm.  I was ecstatic, and could barely wait for the battery to charge.
And once again I heard that little voice in my head chattering about the amazing pictures I was going to take.  And so the journey began.