A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: dasafish

The Museum of Flight

Our last post for this adventure

Tuesday morning, after we picked up our rental car, we drove over to the Museum of Flight. It's not far from SeaTac, adjacent to the King County International Airport in Tukwilla, WA. The websites say to allow for 3 hours. They lied. We got there about lunch time and hadn't come close to seeing everything when they announced closing time. We were almost the last to leave as they locked the doors behind us.

I'm writing this a couple months after we were there, so I don't remember a lot of details, but the next time we are in the area, I want to go back and see the parts we missed.

Some details that I do remember:
They had some interesting displays of the "space race" with both US and USSR hardware and mini-biographies of some of the important but not necessarily famous people who contributed to both the US and USSR programs.
They had an enormous floor (and ceiling) dedicated to WWII airplanes, a wing for WWI, a mezzanine for the early spread and establishment of aviation in the Pacific Northwest, including Alaska.
They had an M-21 and its D-21. The M-21 was a variant of the SR-71 Blackbird; it's purpose was to carry and launch a reconnaissance drone, the D-21. Since the M-21 is a variant of the Blackbird, it looks like the Blackbird. The D-21 looks like a miniature Blackbird, but since it's a drone, it needs no cockpit. Its cockpit area was replaced with its jet engine air-intake that looks like the intake of an SR-71 jet engine.
Across the street was a covered, fenced-in outside display of large airplanes, including the Air Force One that was used by J F Kennedy. There was also a Boeing 787; it was their test bed and wasn't "decked out" for passengers, but was still interesting. They had a Concorde you could walk through. Boy, it's cramped!

From Seattle we drove to Ellensburg to visit with Sandy's dad and his wife, Lois, for a few days. One of the days we were there, we drove up to Leavenworth, WA (a Bavarian-style mountain tourist venue) for a lunch of tasty-but-tough sausages and some excellent gelato.
We spent some time with Sandy's nephew Nathan's family who also live Ellensburg (they have two sweet, cute pre-school daughters), and took Sandy's dad out for an early Father's Day breakfast before we left town on Friday.

We stayed Friday night at the Coast Gateway Hotel again (when you find something that works, you might as well stay with it) and flew out early on Saturday morning for Atlanta.

I realized today that I've never mentioned our travel agent who helped us arrange this most excellent vacation/adventure. If you want an individualized, well-planned, carefully-thought-out vacation, call
Sue Picken, of Sapphire Travel and Tours
[email protected]

Posted by dasafish 19:58 Archived in USA Tagged seattle ellensburg museum_of_flight leavenworth_wa sapphire_travel sue_picken Comments (0)

13 June – Ketchikan – Seattle

totems and guns and cars (and other stuff)

Last night after supper of fish and chips at a the Alaska Fish House, I went to our B&B's back yard to look around. There I saw our Wilderness Explorer sailing north through the Tongass Narrows on its reverse voyage with passengers to Juneau.

Upon the recommendation of our host at the Black Bear Inn, we spent the morning exploring the Totem Bight State Historical Park north of Ketchikan. The park features 15 re-carved/recreated totem poles and a “Clan House” built in the '30’s by local artisans using only the primitive hand tools and paints that were used by the first peoples to live in Alaska. The precision with which the huge beams of the clan house were cut and fitted together reminded us of the woodworking skills that would have been necessary to build a very large boat.
The park also had several "nursery trees," where a tree has died and other trees started to grow from it as it decays.

Just outside the park is a private exhibit with an obligatory gift shop. We went into the gift shop and discovered that the owner was a collector of antique cars and guns and had his collection on display. The collection of antique firearms was amazing with Russian, English and American weapons dating back to the 1700’s. Of particular note were the 0.12 caliber revolver and a 1.0 caliber rifle that was described as having a recoil almost as deadly as the 1” projectile it fired. He also had a very early model of a Gattling gun (see picture) and a Moose head mounted at the height it would be if it were still attached to a moose – very tall.

After "playing tourist" in at the totem places and Ketchikan, we bought a picnic-style lunch at Safeway, dropped the car at the Ferry-to-Airport parking lot, and took the 2.5 minute ferry across the Tongass Narrows to the airport. While we waited for our plane, we ate our lunch, and saw 3 other couples from our "un-cruise" that were heading back to the "lower 48" that afternoon. I did have some stress going through the TSA check-in. Turns out that luggage scanners don't like bags of coffee beans or boxes of tea. They tore through my carry-ons, finding the coffee and tea and nothing else to interest them. The coffee and tea were returned to my bags and I got to repack them.

We returned to the Coast Gateway Hotel for the night. Our plans are to spend the rest of the week with Sandy's sister and dad, but first we are going to an aviation museum in the morning.

Posted by dasafish 20:37 Archived in USA Tagged ketchikan totem_bight_park Comments (0)

12 June – Ketchikan

no bears, but one bear's den

semi-overcast 50 °F

After another hearty breakfast and a fond farewell to our new friends, we disembarked from the Wilderness Explorer and took a shuttle bus to the Cape Fox Lodge. There, we picked up our rental car and found our way to the Rain Forest Preserve and the Kawanti Rainforest Zip, Skybridge & Rappel Adventure; it had 8 ziplines, 135’ above the rainforest floor, the longest of which was 750 ft. b551f1d0-f755-11ec-81f1-ada4ba968b15.jpgb54d8500-f755-11ec-a533-af4f77369aa5.jpgbc61ce50-f755-11ec-81f1-ada4ba968b15.jpgbc4cbfb0-f755-11ec-a533-af4f77369aa5.jpgbc351900-f755-11ec-81f1-ada4ba968b15.jpgbd09ce20-f755-11ec-97b8-bdb89d4bc8d2.jpgInterspersed among the ziplines were three swinging rope suspension bridges high in the trees and finally a vertical rope descent of 55’. This area is prime territory for Bald Eagles and Bears. We saw many eagles, above and below us, but it is too early in the spring (June is early spring in Alaska) for bears to show themselves very much. We had a great time zipping through the tree tops and later exploring a waterfall.

Then it was off to the Black Bear Inn (https://www.stayinalaska.com/), a B&B on the outskirts of town where we stayed in the room named the Bear's Den (its decor included the only bears we saw that day). The woman who runs the Black Bear with her husband is an artist, formerly director of the Chicago Institute of Art and she decided she was tired of 2-dimensional art and decided to make her B&B a living work of art. We’ve never been a part of an art exhibit before. We enjoyed our stay and would recommend it for anyone who wants a beautiful place to stay in Ketchikan with warm, wonderful hosts.

Posted by dasafish 02:48 Archived in USA Tagged ketchikan the_black_bear_inn kawanti_zipline Comments (0)

11 June – Misty Fjords National Monument

Water above and below

rain 50 °F

This morning we sailed through part of Misty Fjords National Monument. It was very rainy in the morning, thus the water above and below.

This place is renowned for its spectacular scenery and majestic waterfalls. It did not disappoint. After lunch, the ship anchored in a protected cove and the rain let up. We did a “free paddle” where we could take the kayak anywhere we wanted as long as we could still see the ship. We spent a couple hours paddling about enjoying the scenery. We encountered a few seals but did not see any bears or other land dwelling creatures.

Pictures from Misty Fjord -

A last picture from a kayak -

A photo of some "Polar Bear Plunge" participants, who were jumping off the kayak-launching platform. (In case you were wondering what the kayak-launching platform looked like.)

Posted by dasafish 02:02 Archived in USA Tagged alaska misty_fjords_national_monument Comments (0)

10 June – Vixen Inlet

zero day

rain 51 °F

A dreary, blustery day even by Alaska standards. Our morning activity is cruising through Misty Fjords National Monument. Most of us sat in the lounge (in the forward part of the ship with a glass wall to see ahead). We all enjoyed the many waterfalls and cliff faces we passed. We went into the fjord for about 90 minutes, then turned around and came back out.

Our afternoon anchorage was Vixen Inlet and skiff rides and kayaking were planned. The seas and weather were too rough for kayaking but they did offer the skiff excursion. It was cold, very rainy, and visibility was poor, so we opted to have a “zero day” and stayed on the ship. The small group of intrepid explorers that braved the skiff excursion were treated to encounters with large numbers of seals and sea otters.

We were given tours of the galley and engine room. The galley was about 10’x20’ and prepared 3 meals each day for 100+ people. Very compact and efficient. Rather than take up space with steam tables to keep the food warm until it was served, they heated bricks in the oven and laid them on the stainless steel prep counters and put the food on the hot bricks. The engine room was very cramped and noisy. In one small compartment there were two Caterpillar 5-cylinder diesel engines for propulsion, two smaller 4-cylinder Caterpillar diesels for electrical power, one 2-cylinder diesel to power hydraulics, a reverse osmosis water filtration system and all the controls and instruments to monitor the machinery. Each of the main diesel engines has a 110 gallon oil supply.

Here's a floor plan of the ship.
the lounge (2nd deck, bow)
dining room,

Much to Dan’s chagrin, we discovered that pollen season in Alaska is every bit as intense as it is in Atlanta, and we were there at its peak. The yellow lines in the water are made up of pine pollen, just like back home.

Here is a photo of the map posted outside the dining room of our route and stop each day (except day 7).

Posted by dasafish 01:23 Archived in USA Tagged pollen misty_fjords Comments (0)

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