Part 3, First Glimpses of Alaska

Golden morning light bathes the docks and the town of Ketchikan. We decide to do a walking tour of this first stop in Alaska. We’ve escaped—from the contiguous states and the rocky seas. Turning onto Creek Street, the famous historic red light district of old Ketchikan, the stench of dead fish pierces our nostrils. It’s salmon spawning season. In this salmon capital of the world, countless fish thrash against the rushing rapids to end up in their ancestral waterways. We also visited the Totem Heritage Center. In St. John’s Episcopal Church, the ladies allowed me to play on their pipe organ.

After a late lunch, we set sail through the Clarence Strait. Master of Illusion, Alexander Great, performs a pre-dinner show. Through Snow Passage, the full moon rises while we have dinner in the Canaletto Dining Room. Overnight, we cruise through Summer Strait, Chatham Strait, Frederick Sound, and into the Tracy Arm. Kathy Slamp, the onboard naturalist, begins her introduction at 5:45. She explains how Sumdum Glacier, at the junction of Tracy and Endicott Arms, carved away the mountainside. We pass countless waterfalls cascading down from tall cliffs and soon reach Sawyer Glacier. The St. Nicholas catamaran, which had trailed us earlier, now ventures out toward the glacier face where icebergs are calved. Turning around, we head back out, and near the entrance, we have to circle back into Tracy Arm, where the St. Nicholas developed a mechanical failure.

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