Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bon Voyage! Day 6 - Ketchikan Alaska

The next day we stumbled up to the Lido deck and ate breakfast at 7am so we could get ashore for our early excursion. It was a gloomy rainy day but we were all too stupid rugged to bring our umbrellas or rain ponchos (which we had bought and brought SPECIFICALLY for this trip).

Our first stop of the excursion was the Lumberjack show, which was a quick walk from the dock. We headed over to the Lumberjack show store, where you wait til you get to be seated in the (thankfully) covered little bleachers area where the show is held.

Hey! Stop prospecting for children, creepy guy!

The store sold a bunch of really amusing stuff, like:

Beans and beer cans! Now that's taking Green to a whole new level!

Finally, time for the show! Unfortunately I somehow forgot to charge my camera battery the night before, so I didn't take too many pics of the show to save it for later. Plus they were moving so fast I couldn't get many good shots anyway in the rain.

They had two little shacks with the two different "group" names that were competing. One was of course representing the US, and the other Canada. They split up the audience into two groups so each side could cheer for "their" team, and taught us all how to yell, "YOH-HOH!!" really loud to egg them on. Our side (US) had a bunch of fuddy-duddy's so Canada always got more yells.

Getting ready to chop a log, super fast


Axe throwing, you could kinda tell when one guy was "messing up" on purpose to keep the teams even in score til the end:

The Harley of chainsaws. Fully mod'd, it was LOUD and viscious. Lem was making Tim the Toolman grunting sounds.

Chainsaw carving, silly-style:

The show was fun to watch, with log rolling, pole climbing, and a relay race, and of course US won! Then it was head over to the bus to get to our next stop - Totem Bight State Park.

This park is actually a place where the government went out in 1938 out and gathered up all the remaining totem poles made by the two native tribes (Tlingit and Haida) after they had abandoned their villages to move to places with more work. Since totem poles only last 70-80 years (which I didn't know) almost all the totem poles in the park are actually replicas, carved from cedar wood. There is a few restorations.

The forest is vast here, it starts out as a new growth forest:

With some seriously funky looking trees:

That then changes to an old growth forest. There were quite a number of cedar tree stumps, that now have hemlock trees growing up out of them using the stump as nutrients:

After a period of time the cedar stump breaks down, and the hemlock tree is left standing with it's roots forming a cage, sometimes so dense bears or other animals use them for shelter:

Once we reached the cleared area where the totems and Clan house is, the pathways were surrounded by HUGE bushes I'd never seen before, which millions of still-ripening berries:

They're called salmon berries (Megan: EWW!), because as they ripen and darken they look like little clusters of salmon eggs. This one wasn't quite ripe, but I eated it anyway and it was a little bitter but still yummy.

Now, for totem poles! Each pole tells a story, but interestingly enough ONLY the tribe who "owned" that story was allowed to tell what it meant. That means when the non-natives moved in, and asked what they meant, if they asked the wrong people then they'd just get a "shrug: it's a totem pole" answer and a lot of stories were lost as people and tribes died out. The guide told us some of the stories, which the living descendants of those tribes have given permission for them to share.

Neat Raven on the top.

This tells the story of one clan that slaughtered another one by luring them into their clan house, but then the wounded tribe got revenge. It's amazing how something little on the totem can mean so much, like the smile (which is hard to see here) on the top bear means they got revenge.

The guide talks about the Clan house. It was really big and had an area in the center floor for multiple fires - one for light/warmth and a different one to cook on. The two tribes were led by men, however bloodlines were passed on through the women. They had to marry outside the clan, which means if an Eagle man married a Raven woman, then her children were considered Raven and their father couldn't even teach them because he was an Eagle clan. Uncles and other relatives in the tribes were very important for this reason.

The door in/out. It's actually been enlarged by about double, it was made small on purpose so visiting clans would have to enter one at a time with their heads down in case of treachery (Boot To the Head!).

Top of the clan house. One of the tallest totems in existence.

This is a Potlatch totem pole. A potlatch is when they would all get together for a festival. They would carve rings on the top figure's hat to show how many potlatches they had held. They wouldn't add rings as they had more potlatches, instead they'd let the totem eventually fall, and then carve a new one with the correct number of rings.

This is a bear at the top, with bear foot prints going up both sides like it climbed up it. There was a big long story attached to this about a man who fell in love with a female bear, and they married and had a cub, but then the man and female bear were bantering back and forth one day pretend fighting and the bear cub, who was very protective of his mother, misunderstood and killed his father in rage. The female bear climbed up to the top of the highest mountain and cried and cried forever more, which is why the water runs from the top of the mountains down into make rivers and streams.

There were HUGE skunk cabbage along the edge of the forest. That's my foot at the bottom:

The guide said skunk cabbage are one of the first plants to bloom in the spring when the snow is still on the ground. They have a yellow pod that sticks up above the snow (that stinks), and the freshly awakened bears from hibernation come out and eat it because it's a natural laxative, and after being asleep for months they need to get things movin!

Back to the docks, we ran around to the various stores we wanted to visit.

No Lem, we're not getting that for our house.

Then got in line to get back on the ship. The line was super long and it was POURING rain, so we were soaked by the time we finally got on board.

Dinner Time!

They had paper chef's hats at each place setting. This was the night all the wait staff sang songs and did the "napkin dance" (ie: enter the room in a line waving our napkins around before they stuck them on our laps). They had a woman singing with a mic somewhere but she apparently was hungry too because she was trying to eat it so it was hard to understand her. Next time maybe they can feed her a snack first so she can take the mic out of her mouth.

GAAH!! The appetizer is looking at me with it's eye stalks!

Megan helpfully finishes off my Oxtail soup. It was either that or Lobster Bisque (YUCK!), I was the only one at my table to get the Oxtail soup (which I thought sounded equally repulsive). It arrived and looked like a little shepherd's pie with a golden brown pastry top, and the soup did NOT have a big ole cow tail stuck in it like I imagined, but did have little shreds of beef and vegetables and was DELICIOUS. Enough so that Megan would eat it, which is saying something. Everyone at my table was jealous, because apparently the bisque was inferior even for bisque.

Matt models his hat.

Grandma Wittman sparkles once again. It was cute all the waiters called her "Grandma" too!

After dinner we went by Kim & Joel's cabin to take a look at the set of formal pics they had bought of us. We got various pics taken after both formal nights. It was REALLY funny one night because that was one of the few times the ship was experiencing a lot of motion back and forth, and all of us women in high heels looked like drunken sailors trying to walk down the corridors. We all got positioned on the stairs for pics and the ship would pitch back and forth and all of us would lurch back and forth giggling and clutching each other.

Hey! Looks like Kim & Joel's room steward left them a present. Aww I was so jealous he was so cute. Til we went back to our room!

Aww he's got his tongue sticking out!

From 11pm - midnight this night there was a Dessert Extravaganza on the Lido Deck. Apparently this is some super secret spy thing, because they have very few LIGHTS so you were kinda bumping into people and it was really hard to actually see the desserts they had made. Then again this probably hid a bunch of imperfections.

Megan was annoyed that they wouldn't let her eat the decorative bread animals.

What the offspring of the Chiquita banana lady and a Dalek would look like:

An amazingly beautiful carved watermelon:

This one's actually a little creepy looking

Earlier that afternoon there had been an ice carving demonstration (presumably carving for this event), and Megan was watching it sneaking the carved ice chips to eat. Having seen some master ice sculptors' work, I can safely say these are cruise ship quality carvings.

WTF is this thing?? A peacock? A phoenix? Michael Jackson with his hair on fire???

There were a bunch of cakes that had these for decoration, made with white chocolate:

Also some that had some basic sugar work. I'm sure they couldn't do very tall poured sugar, the ship's vibration would shake them to pieces (see, all those Food Network Challenges learned me good!)

Look! A big stack of heart attack! Really it tasted as bad as it looked:

Ok.. why the chefs thought a bread SPIDER (on the right) would be cute is beyond me. I just wanted to step on it.

Formal night for the vegetables. The white carved turnip is rather lovely.

Megan's night is redeemed when she finds out she can charm the chefs into giving her the dragons from the cakes.

FYI poured sugar (at least theirs) doesn't taste as good as it looks. It tasted vaguely like blue kool-aid.

We headed to bed after this since it was midnight *YAWN*. Thus ended Day 6!