I just had to see what is billed as one of the most photographed streets in America, Creek Street. We just happened upon Emily and Zach as we got there.
The street is built on stilts along a creek that is apparently full of spawning salmon at certain times of the year. We were about two weeks too early for the big salmon run...but the creek is beautiful, anyway.
Back in the Gold Rush days, Creek Street was a hopping place filled with lonely men with gold in their pockets...
...and the green business establishment on this end, Dolly's House, was especially notorious.
I think we even saw Dolly (she dropped a blue feather right in front of Kenny!)...perhaps the "rush" is still on...
Ketchikan is also known for its totem poles, and we had some time to kill before our big late-morning adventure. There wasn't time to wait for a shuttle to the big, famous totem pole park near town...
...so we decided to take a taxi there instead. But the taxi driver, a friendly one-eyed man named Billy who wears a pirate eye patch, talked us into a different destination. Billy's wife is a full-blooded Native Alaskan from the Tlingit tribe and apparently the native people HATE the touristy totem pole parks. He wanted to take us to a much more authentic place, privately-owned by friends of the family. Why not?!
Here's a not-so-great photo of Billy, who turned out to be one of the best tour guides we had on the entire trip.
This is an old, restored Tlingit village with the totem poles exactly as they were when they were erected. The big thing the native people despise is the repainting and repairing of totem poles...they were meant to be left to age naturally...
...and when God determines it, to fall down and lay unmoved to become earth once again.
The totems are huge, as you can see how small Kim looks horsing around beside one.
Each totem pole has its own tale associated with it. Some tell stories while others are more of a family "tree" with the ancestry recorded through the carvings.
I told Kim I'd love to have a totem pole at the cabin...maybe that could be my Alaska souvenir? But when Billy told us that the wooden log itself cost about $100,000 and it takes years to carve one, I quickly realized it wasn't going to happen...so I got a little 10" one for my fireplace mantel instead.
There is a new reproduction of the village meeting house, where tribal councils were held. Beautiful!
We had a great time there...no one else was around, and Billy was an excellent tour guide and lots of fun!
On our way back into Ketchikan, he took us to a tree where he knew eagles were nesting. See the nest in the fork of the tree? And luckily Mom & Dad Eagle were hanging around too!
While we saw lots of eagles from afar, this ended up being the best bald eagle photo I got on the whole trip. They look like grouchy birds!
After Billy dropped us back off at the dock, we headed out for our next adventure...this was our ride for the next couple of hours!
None of the three of us had ever ridden in a seaplane before. The goal was to fly into a secluded cove on Prince Wales Island and watch bears.
We were pumped!
It took some acrobatic skills to maneuver us into the tiny plane...Kenny as co-pilot and Kim and me in the back seats...we were crammed in there like sardines! It was hard to take photos without pulling a muscle, but I did manage to click off a few of the absolutely breath-taking scenery below us.
All the while, our pilot was looking for bears. Although I really, really wanted to see some bears, there were a couple of times that I wished he was paying more attention to the flying part. I thought our wings were going to clip the trees a few times.
He sat the plane down in this beautiful, quiet little cove...
...and we squeezed ourselves out and watched for the bears that were supposed to arrive.
Apparently no one told the bears that they were expected to make an appearance here. After 15 minutes of quietly waiting and watching (I'm sure the bears were just inside the treeline waiting and watching us too!), we never spotted one so we climbed back into the plane.
We were a little disappointed that we didn't see the bears we had hoped for (we did spot one from the plane, but I wasn't able to get a photo...my body doesn't pretzel-ize like that!), but it was a magnificent trip anyway! Such incredible pristine beauty...
A view of the Coral Princess as we flew back into the dock....
The kids each did their own excursions and by the end of the day, we were all tuckered out...
...from our Ketchikan adventures.