“Happy Alaska Day! On October 18th, 1867, Russia formally transferred the Territory of Alaska to the United States.”
Saturday, 16 July 2016
Our very last morning aboard the Wilderness Discoverer. We were all sad to see our adventures come to an end, but everyone knew it was time to get back to work, to school, and to our pets. I thought Lou was pushing it when he organized a full two weeks on a small ship – turns out he made the right call, and the time was perfect. Long enough to relax, short enough to never get bored.
Here we are cruising into Ketchikan at 7am … we could not have had better travel partners for our family than Kathy and Steve. Always willing to try something new, always ready to laugh, and just a lot of fun to be around.
Now comes the really sad part. It is time to exit the ship, and this time it is for good. No secretly feeling superior like the previous week, when we knew we would be getting back on at the end of the day. Lots of hugs with the crew, and with fellow passengers.
I believe we all headed up to the hotel on the hill – the Cape Fox Lodge, where the kids could grab their luggage and catch transfers to the airport.
The California Crew all had reasonably short flights, compared to the Mainers. The older folks were staying an extra day to rest up for the rigors of the cross country flights.
I think I can speak for all, and say this was a dream vacation. Lou and I were delighted to get to share our previous UnCruise experience, and the wonders of Alaska, with family and friends. Now we just have to figure out when we can all go back again!!! It would also be amazing to have Todd join us.
I would be remiss in not saying how pleased we were with the UnCruise Crew. It was a treat to sail with Captain Dano, and the expedition guides and skiff drivers went out of their way to make the activities work for all fitness levels. The hotel/food service staff were helpful and friendly – being with the same crew for two weeks is a plus. We would definitely sail with UnCruise Adventures again.
This finishes up the story of our Family & Friends UnCruise Adventure. I’ll come back to add some photos from our extra days in Ketchikan (5 years later and I still need to do this!) And, of course, additional commentary from the rest of the travel crew is always welcomed.
Whacking and Yaking Alaska Style Today the Holmes crew decided to take on the Wilderness “Whack and Yak” challenge…an all day excursion that involved kayaking to a remote location (yes…remoter even than our normal remote) and then “bushwhacking” into the wilderness for a hike.
Bushwhacking is hiking without any trail – you literally find a hole in the vegetation and start walking. If you encounter a lake or a cliff or other impenetrable obstacle, you turn around and go a different way. Our guide had an emergency phone and gps so we weren’t too worried about getting lost! Having to yell “Hey Bear!” every few seconds was a little more troubling, especially after we stumbled across fresh droppings and “bear sleeping beds” of tamped down grass. In the end, that was as much bear as we saw on our bushwhacking and no one from our party was either lost or eaten!
Our kayaking out was beautiful and easy…we realized later that we were going with the current (more on that when we talk about the return trip…)
Once we were sufficiently remote, we beached our kayaks which made us all really appreciate the easy launcher and helpful hands on the boat.
Tory poses with a giant wall of mussels, and adds her own!
For some reason we have no photographic evidence of our bushwhacking hike – probably too concerned with avoiding bogs and bears. I do recall eating a lot of wild blueberries and several very sketchy cliff climbs!
After lunch, it was time to try to get back into the kayaks and head alllllllllllllll the way back to the boat.
Did I mention that we were now heading back against the current? It was quite a long distance and we were all pretty worn out from our days exercise already.
It was an awesome day and a great workout but it proved to be my last Whack and Yak although Tory and Mark ventured out again the next week while Olivia and I snorkeled again.
Thank you, Catherine, for another entertaining look at our adventures.
Many thanks to Kathy and Catherine for searching their photos to help me out with my missing day.
First, Kathy supplied some more nice scenic shots showing just how beautiful it was cruising through the fjords.
Catherine found a few more from the morning as well, including a few shots from the polar plunge. She also found this one of me. I don’t know how I could have forgotten what looks like my own private Skiff Tour, up close and personal with that waterfall.. Thank you, Catherine, I owe you one 😏
Thanks, gals, for rescuing the day!
Catherine even has some videos.
Thanks again to Kathy and Catherine, for helping to bring our last full day to life! Beth has helped me in earlier sections of the blog as well, but her hard drive crashed so she couldn’t easily check her photos. I’m sure she also had many awesome ones, as she did very well with her new camera. And, of course, Lou always comes through with some classic shots.
We woke up – always a good thing – in Walker Cove, a beautiful and serene body of water where the reflections were mesmerizing, especially when the water was totally calm.
My photos for this day have gone missing, but fortunately Lou saved the day by capturing the morning activities. Kathy has supplied some shots from the afternoon, and I’ve got Catherine & Beth scouring their archives.
Perhaps an 8:30am start was too early for these two sleepy heads, but they soon recovered and were off for a long kayak paddle.
It is impossible to capture a photo of all four of the Holmes family looking ahead and smiling:
The afternoon was all about hanging out in the cove and paddleboarding and kayaking. We saw a bear, and two crazy girls who couldn’t get enough of splashing around.
There go Olivia and Tory … wayyyyyy far away. Watch out girls, there are bears out there.
We enjoyed a nice dinner, and had a seat where we could look out the window … and sure enough, the bear came back to check things out.
Another Alaska day done. The girls spent the evening with new friends they’d made this week. The rest of us may have attended a presentation by an expedition guide, or we (most likely) went to bed early!
We were getting closer to Ketchikan, but still had two full days left. I imagine there were some folks out doing longer hikes and kayak paddles, but we did a skiff tour, then mostly hung out near the boat watching the girls have fun on (and in) the water.
Traitor’s Cove is one of the places where people fly in to see bears. While we weren’t in the prime bear viewing area, we did see a couple of bears – or maybe the same bear twice.
The people in the kayaks were not quite as close to the bear as it looks in the photos, but I remember thinking they were crowding the bear. It did not, however, seem stressed or bothered by humans floating in bright colored tubes.
As an aside, Lou and I paid about $750 each for a one day fly in trip to see bears in 2013. We saw no bears. We would have been ecstatic to see even one bear on the edge of the creek. It has been somewhat commonplace on this trip.
Folks from one of the early Skiff Tours zipping back to the boat:
Our group was called for our Skiff Tour and we set off. It was … interesting. We saw beautiful scenery, of course. Lots of eagles, and some very creepy seal skulls 💀
Kinda creepy, huh. Zombie seal skulls coming after us …
More beautiful scenery:
Back to the boat well before lunch, so time to play with kayaks and paddle boards. It certainly was a very pretty area, and we were enjoying some overcast skies, after having all that sunshine the past two weeks!