Monday, September 2, 2013

Drowning in Green

The morning of our day in Ketchikan, Alaska, was cold and rainy.  Fortunately the rain stopped before our shore excursion started.  Sue and I took the Alaska Rain Forest Sanctuary, Raptor Center & Totems tour.

Our guide, Noah, who grew up in the area and was very knowledgeable, took us through the nature preserve at Herring Cove and pointed out everything from an eagle's nest and a bear's den to a banana slug and the fungus bears eat to induce constipation before hibernation (thus answering the question, do bears poop during the winter?  Apparently not.).  I have never seen such a GREEN place in my life.  Trees, ferns, moss, lichens - the entire rain forest was drenched in a vivid, saturated green.  It was especially startling for my sister and me, fresh from the Arizona summer.

After the trek through the forest we met (and fed) a herd of rescued reindeer, which by the way are much smaller than I thought they'd be.  Did you know the male reindeer shed their antlers earlier in the year than the females do?  Santa's team must all be female because the males are no longer wearing antlers at Christmas.  In addition to a red nose, Rudolph may have some gender identity issues.

We also saw rescued birds of prey, a historic (decommissioned) sawmill, and a Native Alaskan totem carver who showed us how he hollows out new totem poles with hand tools and described the rest of the process.  He looked about 50 but apparently this is young for someone in his craft; he still works with his teacher.

Here are some of the photos I took during the day.  Sadly, the moose pictured below was the only live one we saw during the entire trip:

The pink building in the middle rear is city hall; locals voted on the color, which is technically "salmon."

"Alaskan tree monkey" - aka zipliner overhead

^Note south end of black bear going north

"Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal." ~ Edward O. Wilson

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