Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bear Island - North Carolina

We recently visited Hammocks Beach State Park and took a ferry out to Bear Island.  The ferry service runs from the Hammocks Beach State Park headquarters on the mainland to Bear Island via Cow Channel. While the ride, which some 200,000 people a year take, is only 15 minutes long, it is narrow and winding.  It offers a great spot to launch kayaks so we will be returning with our kayaks once the weather is cooler and no hurricanes are in sight. 

Due to its location, Bear Island and nearby Huggins Island have often played a role in the protection of the mainland. During the Civil War, Confederate troops on Bear Island defended it against Union forces.  

We also had the rare opportunity to view loggerhead turtles making their way to the surf.  This was truly a rare event to witness such a sight.  Our photos were requested to be provided to the state of North Carolina for education programs.  We obliged.  

FYI...Loggerhead turtles are the most abundant of all the marine turtle species in U.S. waters. But persistent population declines due to pollution, shrimp trawling, and development in their nesting areas, among other factors, have kept this wide-ranging seagoer on the threatened species list since 1978.  Mature females will often return, sometimes over thousands of miles, to the beach where they hatched to lay their eggs.  

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Memphis vs. East Carolina University (ECU) Football Game

Last Saturday we attended the University of Memphis vs ECU game in Greenville, NC.  Some friends of ours are alums with season tickets so we tagged along.  The folks in east carolina take their football seriously.  There were 50K people in attendance.  Sadly, the game was not very good as ECU scored 28 points in the first quarter before Memphis woke up from the plane ride.  Better luck next time for Memphis!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Victoria, British Columbia

We visited Victoria, British Columbia on our final stop before heading back to Seattle.  Victoria was a beautiful town with lots of shopping, restaurants and beautiful architecture.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ketchikan, Alaska - Salmon Capital

Ketchikan relies on tourism and fishing, and the city is known as the "Salmon Capital of the World."  For those interested in politics, the ½-mile-wide channel called the Tongass Narrows separates Ketchikan from Gravina Island (where Ketchikan International Airport is located) is now famous. In August 2005 the 2005 Highway Bill provided for $223m to build the Gravina Island Bridge (nicknamed "the Bridge to Nowhere" by its critics) between Ketchikan and Gravina Island. Ketchikan also hosts members of the "The Deadliest Catch" crew regularly.

On our day in Ketchikan, we took a short bus ride at 6AM through town and out to another bay area to go out salmon fishing.  We were accompanied by a man and his son who were visiting from the Caymans.  We caught about a dozen salmon (king, pink, silver).  We witnessed many eagles and even trolled past a lighthouse on our trip.  Our captain offered to smoke/ship the salmon to us back home, albeit for a hefty fee, but we declined.

We returned and did some shopping in town before heading back to the ship to head to Victoria, British Columbia.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Glacier Bay National Park - Alaska

We spent nearly an entire day cruising through Glacier Bay National Park viewing glaciers and wildlife.  Photos cannot do this day justice but we provide a sample here.  We got up at 5AM and claimed a prime table/chairs on a back deck of the ship.  The temperature was in the 40's so we put on layers and hit the coffee machines pretty hard.  We stayed outside for about nine hours so we were very glad we had packed some warm clothes.  The unfortunate part of having a great photo spot on the ship was constantly being ask to play photographer for the 3,000 others that woke up at 10AM.  At any rate, the scenery was unbelievable and we even witnessed some small brown bears eating a beached whale carcass.  Rangers from the park boarded the ship and narrated the major glaciers/attractions.  We would highly recommend this park (and the cruise for that matter) to anyone that loves the wild outdoors and raw natural wonders.