2022 Alaska and the Inside Passage – Part 3 – Whale Watching and Brown Bear Search in Icy Strait Point

August 25, 2022 – We had a full day of wildlife excursions in a new to us location – Icy Strait Point, the only privately owned cruise ship destination in the United States. This former cannery and packing station is located near the town of Hoonah on Chichagof Island, the fifth largest island in the United States. The two cruise ship docks, a museum, restaurants, shops, and excursions are all owned and operated by the local Tlingit people.

We started our day with a whale watching expedition. Our Tlingit captain Drew sped through the water to get us to a good whale watching location. Everyone was on the lookout.

Thar she blows!

Our first sighting was a pod of about five humpback whales. I tried but I could never capture all five of them on the surface at once.

We witnessed a type of feeding behavior called bubble-net feeding. The whales all dive at once. When they all surface at the same time they are in a circle with their heads up and their mouths wide open. It’s hard to predict where they will surface and when they do, they only stay on the surface a few seconds. Sadly, I never could capture them all at once.

It was an amazing to see how the whales work together to feed this way. Captain Drew kept moving the boat so everyone could get a better look. The whales continued to feed the entire time we were there – almost two hours.

As these whales headed straight for our boat I heard the captain say “I think we’re going to need a bigger boat.”

I could have stayed on the boat watching the whales all day but the captain had a schedule to keep and we had a bear search to get to. In the gallery below, the green walkway led us from the cruise ship dock to Icy Strait Point. We checked in for our bear search at the Adventure Center and had about an hour to explore before boarding a shuttle to take us to the trail. The Orca statue was the only Orca we saw the entire trip.

It was fun wandering through the museum and gift shops. I love the totems.

Our Tlingit bus driver told us about the area as he drove us through the beautiful Tongass National Forest and through the town of Hoonah. He was very knowledgeable and I really enjoyed hearing his stories about the Tlingit people.

He dropped us off at the trailhead where we met our guide for our trek through the forest. We stopped at the boardwalks beside the Spasski River where we hoped to see Coastal Brown Bears feeding on the salmon. There were salmon in the river, but no bears. Despite the fact that there were no bears I really enjoyed the walk through the forest.

After an exciting morning we arrived back at the ship with a big appetite for lunch. We just barely made it before they stopped serving hamburgers at the pool bar!

Up Next – Alaska’s capital city and the Mendenhall Glacier.

2022 Alaska and the Inside Passage – Part 1 – Anchorage and Seward

August 19, 2022 – Our latest Alaska adventure began when we flew from Savannah to Atlanta and then to Anchorage for a two night stay in Anchorage. We made it to Atlanta on time but sadly the flight to Anchorage was delayed for 7 hours. We landed at the Anchorage airport about 2:00 am, took an Uber to our hotel and tried to get some sleep.

View of Anchorage from our hotel room on the 13th floor

August 20, 2022 – After a few hours sleep we spent our day in Anchorage exploring the downtown area and enjoying two delicious meals of fresh Alaska seafood. The Aurora Show with fantastic photographs and narration about Aaska’s Great Northern Lights was wonderful. There was a park with a beautiful garden nearby. A grilled cheese and King Crab sandwich at 49th Street Brewery and dinner of Alaskan halibut and chips at Humpy’s satisfied our longing for some fresh Alaska seafood. Alaskan beer went great with both meals. Did I mention it was raining most of the day and night?

August 21, 2022 – We woke up to another rainy day. After breakfast we boarded a tour bus for the scenic drive to Seward where we would board our ship the Viking Orion.

Along the way we stopped to see some bears, musk ox, and other wildlife at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Seward. From their website: “The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) is a sanctuary dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, education, research and quality animal care.”

Once aboard the ship in Seward we enjoyed the first of many delicious meals, unpacked and wandered around the ship before dinner.

August 22, 2022 – After a leisurely breakfast we sat on our balcony enjoying the scenery. A bald eagle was perched on a light post close by. If you look closely at the header photo at the top of the page you can see the eagle on top of the light pole.

Bald Eagle perched on lamp post in Seward Harbor

Later we rode a shuttle bus to the Alaska Sea Life Center, a nonprofit organization that has an aquarium and also does marine research, education, and marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation. This stellar sea lion was as interested in us as we were of him.

Stellar Sea Lion – Alaska Sea Life Center, Seward

If you are interested in reading about our 2013 stay in Seward please visit Glaciers and Wildlife in Seward.

Next up – exploring another port and a day of scenic sailing.

Wandering in the Last Frontier

We fell in love with Alaska nine years ago when we traveled from Georgia to Alaska and back towing our fifth wheel trailer. We’ve been wanting to return to the Last Frontier ever since.

Our wish finally came true at the end of August this year. This time we flew to Anchorage, took a tour bus to Seward and boarded the Viking Orion for a 10 day cruise ending in Vancouver. We returned to a few places we had visited by RV and saw some amazing new places. The scenery was stunning and there were many wildlife sightings.

These are just a few highlights of our journey.

Turnagain Arm between Seward and Anchorage
Brown Bear at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center on the Seward Highway in Portage, Alaska

Seward, Alaska
Leaving Valdez
Hubbard Glacier, Yakatat Bay
Humpback Whales bubble net feeding – Icy Strait Point, Alaska
Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau
Coastal Brown Bear, Haines
Sea Otter Cub on Mama’s stomach – Sitka, Alaska
Bald Eagle – Sitka, Alaska
Black Bear in Eagle Creek – Ketchikan
Inside Passage somewhere between Ketchikan, Alaska and Vancouver, British Columbia

Lens Artists Photo Challenge # 211 – What’s your Photographic Groove

In this challenge host Anne asks us “What is your Photographic Groove? What type of photography do you truly enjoy? “

I enjoy the challenge of photographing birds and wildlife in their natural habitat. The header image is of a bugling Elk in Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in North Carolina. One fall we traveled there in hope of seeing the magnificent elk herd that lives there. We weren’t disappointed. I posted about our experience at Cataloochee Valley Elk in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

The following gallery contains some of my favorite wildlife images from our travels around the United States and Canada.

This next gallery contains some of my favorite bird images.

Many thanks to Anne for this Lens-Artists Challenge #211 – What’s your Photographic Groove?

Caribbean Islands Adventure 2022 – Part 5: Barbados

January 17 – 18, 2022

It was an dreary, overcast morning when our ship docked in Bridgetown, Barbados for a two night stay.

Our excursion the first day was a photo adventure guided by producer/director and award winning photographer Ronnie Carrington. His photography tips and interesting commentary about Barbados history and culture made for a wonderful experience.

As we passed through several villages we learned about the history of the island. He told us the history of Chattel Houses in Barbados and stopped the bus so we could take photos up close. These houses were small wooden buildings set on blocks so that they could be easily moved from one location to another. The homeowners did not own the land so if they changed jobs and moved, they took their house with them.

Chattel house, Barbados

Our tour continued through villages with colorful homes to the Scotland district on the Atlantic coast. We stopped for a look at the Atlantic Ocean where the only thing between us and Africa was the ocean and clean, fresh air.

Scotland District, Barbados
Nothing between us and Africa except the Atlantic Ocean and good, clean air
Wandering Dawgs in Barbados

Our journey continued when we stopped at a park on one of the Atlantic Beaches. I don’t remember the name.

Beach on the Atlantic Ocean in Barbados

Bathsheba Beach is lined with huge coral rocks. The header image at the top of the page and the next one were taken there.

Bathsheba Beach, Barbados

As we traveled to our next destination there were Barbados Green Monkeys beside the road and this one looked like he was posing for me.

Barbados Green Monkey

The best rum punch of the entire trip was at the Atlantis Hotel in the fishing village of Tent Bay.

We had heard that Barbados is THE place try a flying fish sandwich so when Henry asked Ronnie if it would be possible to get a flying fish sandwich he answered “you can’t leave Barbados without eating one.” He pulled out his cell phone to call ahead to order one from this little beach restaurant. He went inside and brought back this delicious Barbados treat. We enjoyed every bite! Ronnie wanted everyone to taste a fresh Barbados banana so he bought a bag of bananas at a fruit stand and passed them around the bus. So delicious!

Ronnie has published a book of his photography and poems. I bought an autographed copy.

Back on board the ship we watched another glorious sunset before enjoying another fabulous dinner.

Sunset in Barbados

The next day Henry went for a ride in the Atlantis submarine. I’m claustrophobic and opted out of the tour but I enjoyed hanging around the marina until the tour returned to the dock. While I was watching the boats going in and out at the marina Henry was watching schools of small fish through the submarine windows.

This boat took the passengers to the Atlantis Submarine
This is the kind of submarine used in the tour, Barbados

Our two days in Barbados were filled with adventure. Where will we be next?