Alaska Inside Passage : 2019 Trip Report

Old Oct 9th, 2019, 09:11 AM
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Dog sledding on the glacier
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Old Oct 9th, 2019, 09:12 AM
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With the newborn puppies
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Old Oct 10th, 2019, 08:24 AM
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Indiancouple--enjoying your trip report, esp. the photographs.
You are indeed adventurous. Loving all the details and the fun stuff you all did and also had opportunity to spend quality time with son. What a blessing!

So where is your next trip? Have you considered a Round the World trip. For you and your wife, it will be really a great experience.
Looking forward to more reading about your adventures. Have a wonderful weekend and a great Indian holiday season.
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Old Oct 10th, 2019, 09:43 AM
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Thanks everyone for your kind words. Travelling today, so will finish the final installment of the TR tomorrow.
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Old Oct 10th, 2019, 06:43 PM
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Day 7 : Wednesday July 10th :
Today was once again essentially a travel day. We had an afternoon flight to Sitka, and not much to do in either Skagway or Sitka on that day. So we got up leisurely, had a nice breakfast somewhere outside, and spent the morning doing some shopping for odds and ends in the local shops. Whiled away time, had an early lunch, and reported at the airport for our 2:15 pm flight on Alaska Seaplanes. Small aircraft, which went first to Juneau, and then again from Juneau to Sitka, reaching there at 4:30 pm. Took a taxi from the airport to the Aspen Suites serviced apartments, where we were booked. Nice apartments, very conveniently located next to downtown.

Today was a much clearer day, with the haze having substantially lifted. The sky was clear, and the visibility was unhindered. Walking through the town felt pretty, and the waterfront area was extremely picturesque. Very quiet town compared to Skagway, with much fewer people. Small downtown area with lots of interesting shops. We generally strolled through the town shops, walked a bit on the waterfront, and cannot remember where we had some drinks and dinner. More quality time with our son, before we called it a day.
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Old Oct 10th, 2019, 07:05 PM
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Day 8 : Thursday, July 11th :
We got up early and had a nice breakfast in a cute café across the street, which served nice fresh bagels and coffee. We had booked a private whale watching tour with a local guide named Jim Phillips (Annahootz adventures) well in advance. He came and picked us up from the hotel, and drove us over to the marina where his boat was parked. It was a smallish boat, with an inside covered seating area, and off we went.

It was a 3-4 hour trip, starting 9:30 am. He was confident of spotting whales, as they are supposed to be plentiful in this region. But despite all his efforts, and sailing in multiple directions, the whales eluded us. We saw tons of otters, puffins and even sea lions basking on rocks, but no whales. It was a cloudy day, and the weather was not its best. The sailing was fun for the first two hours, but then it got a bit monotonous. I guess we were disappointed in not seeing whales. Of course we had seen lots of whales in our earlier Alaskan trip in 2012, when we took a cruise out of Seward, but our son was surely disappointed in missing out on his first opportunity to spot whales. However, the guide did cruise around a very pretty uninhabited island for us, which was very beautiful, and turned out to be the high point of the adventure. At about 1 pm, we decided it was not our lucky day, and sailed back to shore. Jim was very apologetic, as according to him this was an extremely rare day when he could not spot a single whale – we assured him that we understood that there was not much he could do about it. Nice guy, and he dropped us back at our hotel.

We had lunch somewhere nearby, and rested for a few hours at our hotel. Late afternoon, my wife embarked on a solo shopping expedition in the local shops, while father and son whiled away time in coffee shops and beer pubs. We booked ourselves at a very nice restaurant for dinner, which Jim had recommended. Turned out to be a very popular place with locals, and excellent food – although I cannot recall its name. Clicked a lot of pictures of Sitka town, and retired to bed in the evening.
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Old Oct 10th, 2019, 07:09 PM
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Trying to spot some whales
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Old Oct 10th, 2019, 07:10 PM
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Sitka town waterfront
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Old Oct 10th, 2019, 07:38 PM
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Day 9 : Friday, July 12th :
This was essentially the last day of our vacation. We once again had breakfast in the bagel café across the street from our hotel. We took a long walk across town to the Raptor Centre. This is a very interesting place which any Sitka visitor must go to. They collect injured bald eagles, and nurse them back for release. Excellent guided tour of the premises, along with some audio visual explanations. Not only do they repair injured bones of these majestic birds, but they have elaborate flight chambers where the birds can train themselves to start flying again, before they are ready for release. Of course, some birds can never become fit for release, and they are housed in separate very large natural habitats, which are covered by a thin net. They also have a great collection of some owl species, and the overall centre is very well organized.

On exiting the Raptor Centre, we walked through the nearby Sitka National Historic Park. The park has a very rich collection of Totem poles, with explanations of what each totem pole signifies. Nice walk through this park, and clicked pictures of virtually every totem pole we could spot (there are plenty !). Finally, we ended up at the Visitors Centre on the other side of the park, where we watched some audio-visual displays about the history and culture of the place. We slowly walked all the way back to our hotel, had an average lunch, and took some rest.

Late in the afternoon, we called a taxi to take us to the Fortress of the Bears – another must see in Sitka. This is an impressive facility where they house a large number of grizzly bears and black bears, either orphaned or injured, and rear them before either transferring to a zoo or release back in the wild. There are several large enclosures, where the bears of different age groups can live in very natural surroundings. Food is never given in an artificial manner, but always concealed at various places, which the bears have to forage and locate ! They are allowed to go through their natural cycle of hibernation and awakening, and the bears seemed to be enjoying themselves. The viewing galleries are great, and offer excellent photo opportunities. We were so captivated by this place, and watching the bears playing around was so much fun, that we ended staying here much longer than what we had planned for. Finally, we called a taxi, and drove back to town. A nice dinner, and then to finish our packing for the departure the next morning.

Day 10 : Saturday, July 13th :
We had a 10am Alaska Airline flight to Seattle, reaching there at about 1:30 pm local time. Here we parted company with our son, who flew on to New York. Wife and I met up with some old acquaintances at Seattle airport, before taking a 5 pm flight back to India, via Dubai, reaching India in the wee hours of 15th July morning.

This brings me to the end of a very delayed Trip Report. We enjoyed our trip; it was very relaxed and unhurried. In terms of overall beauty, I would rate South Central Alaska much higher, as there is greater natural beauty in Seward, Matanuska, Denali etc, and more “action” for those looking for hectic schedules. South-easern Alaska is slower, quieter, and very different. Would certainly recommend people to do both in their lifetimes, as they are Heavens on earth.
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Old Oct 10th, 2019, 07:41 PM
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Sitka Raptor Centre
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Old Oct 10th, 2019, 07:42 PM
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Sitka National Historic Park
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Old Oct 11th, 2019, 02:30 AM
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oh no, over much too soon. I greatly enjoyed your writing and your photos, thank you.

Where are you taking us to next???
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Old Oct 11th, 2019, 03:57 AM
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Hi annhig. We connect together again. Thanks for the encouragement.
Have not decided on the next trip as yet. Will keep things posted on this forum as and when plans materialize.
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Old Oct 11th, 2019, 08:25 AM
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Thanks for the rest of the report. I truly wish we had been able to "do" Alaska the way you. did. The pictures were great too.
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Old Oct 13th, 2019, 02:55 PM
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Wonderful report and photos, thank you.

Your experience whale-(non)watching reminds of a trip I took to a camp in a very remote part of Tsavo East in Kenya. The gentlemen working at the camp told us that there had just been a group staying at camp who had come to that part of Tsavo specifically to see snakes. While they were there, nary a snake to be seen. Of course while we non-snake-seekers were there, we had snakes, big snakes, little scary snakes, snakes in the rafters above our tents, snakes everywhere. It's always something!

I look forward to reading about your next trip.
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Old Oct 14th, 2019, 01:18 PM
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>

I will certainly look out for them..
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Old Oct 14th, 2019, 11:53 PM
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I love your trip reports.. thanks for sharing. my son lives in NYC too, and we are planning to visit next year. You have me thinking I should look into Alaska.
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Old Oct 15th, 2019, 10:21 PM
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Thanks everyone for the encouragement
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