Rough Waves & Sea Planes

We took an early morning flight from Vancouver to Prince Rupert Island, Canada. Upon arrival, a bus took us down a road and onto a ferry which crossed over the sea to the main part of the island. A large amount of the population of 12,000 people own boats as their major source of transportation. Prince Rupert is one of these towns that peaks my curiosity. I often wonder how people can live in such small and remote towns. Prince Rupert’s only industries for quite some time were fishing and mining. However, they now have plans to expand the shipping port and related infrastructure. If all goes according to plan, they will be one of the largest ports in the northwest. Apparently, the in the winter, when there is light only from 11-3pm, people in the town read a lot or become really good at video games. Because of a performing arts center installed in 1987, the children of the town have become experts at dancing and several of them have gone on to make careers out of the sport years later. The common sentiment is that in a small and remote place, a person tends to become really good at his undertaking because there is little to distract and plenty of time to truly learn your particular interest.

Ray and I took the morning to walk around the town a bit. After exploring the Museum of Northern B.C., we headed to the Crest Hotel for brunch. I had a Canadian breakfast, which consists of the same things as an American breakfast, but I guess you can label it according to the country you are eating in!

After brunch, we met the 10 other people that would be on the yacht with us, consisting of a very interesting group of people: a lawyer, doctor, liquor distributor, voice teacher, physicist, oncology researcher, candy packager and us! We drove around the town a bit and visited a home of two people named Gunther and Lucinda who recue and take in injured animals on a volunteer basis. We had a chance to see rescued bald eagles(by the way, I think it?s hilarious to see bald eagles walking, they look like they?re sneaking!) and owls. Just to nurse the eagles back to health so they are able to continue their lives in the wild costs the couple around 40,000$ a year and that doesn’t include the costs of the 750 other animals they take in throughout the year. The two rely completely on their own pensions and donations. They said, you know we have enough to get by on our pensions and donations, but don?t tell the city they?ll have to pay to bury us!?

At that point, we learned that our boat never made it to Prince Rupert because of 12 foot crests and we would be taking a sea plane to Ketchikan. We were pretty excited about it because when we had flown into Prince Rupert, Ray and I talked about how great it would be to try flying on a sea plane at some point in our lives. Only a few hours later, our wish became reality, though we had no immediate plans to do so. IA sea plane has an incredibly smooth take off. I didn?t even feel a change at all. The landing was rougher, but not nearly as rough as a land plane. It really is part plane and part boat! The pilot was a bit crazy, telling us how he does BASE jumping and likes taking risk, so I was wondering how the landing would be, and it was a little like a roller coaster when landing, but not nearly as rough as a land plane. I really enjoyed being low enough to see things I wouldn?t have seen on a regular plane and low enough to see the incredible rock formations and patterns that I wouldn?t have seen on our yacht.

The sea plane flew us into the very beginning of Tongos National Park, which is the largest national park in the country, consisting of 17 million acres. We flew into a rainforests and sure experienced it! They apparently get 24 feet of rain a year, which means it has to rain 200 days out of the year.

In Ketchikan, customs officials came to our plane and checked us in after a quick phone call. Then, Ray and I walked around the downtown area. Our first order of business was to go to Dolly’s , a museum made out of a prostitute’s home. What I found rather amusing was that my style was similar to this brothel, which was kept intact from the depression period. There were several hidden doors that Dolly kept alcohol during prohibition where a male patron could pay 50 cents for a teaspoon and a half of some sort of spirit.

We eventually exited through the married man’s trail, which was a back entrance into the woods, so no one would know who visited Dolly, which was important since Dolly never closed her doors for the day unless she made at least 75 to 100 dollars! She would charge 3$ a person. You can do the accounting on that one!!

After that, we watched thousands of salmon fighting their way upstream, went to the Discovery Center, which is my favorite style of museum – it looks like a big interactive collage, not just a few artifacts behind glass cases.

We then hopped into a cab with our group to check out an area where brown bears were feeding on salmon. This is the last week of the salmon run, so the bears are working hard to fill up on the fatty salmon(not very delicious for human consumption, which is why we don’t fish for these types during this part of the summer) before hibernating for the winter. A few bears jumped around the white waters attacking the fish, but there were several lazy bears that got tired of the river, walked up to a hatchery, undid the lid and grabbed the fish out of there. I suppose it’s like bobbing for apples if you are smart enough to find the hatchery!

After a full day of traveling, sea planes and visiting two towns, we were exhausted! We had an excellent dinner with prime rib, white salmon and strawberry salad. With our tummies fully satiated, we climbed into our private sauna in our cabin and then enjoyed a restful sleep on the waters of the Inside Passage of Alaska.