Monday, October 6, 2014

Adventures On The Last Frontier

You knew it was coming and now it's finally here - time for the Dowell Alaskan Travelogue! I'll try not to bore you with too much detail but I do want to hit the highlights if only to fix this amazing trip to memory for myself. Chris and I sailed on the Holland America ship Statendam out of Vancouver. Now, we have never been on a cruise before and so had no notion of what that experience might be like. I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable we were, I could certainly get used to being pampered 24 hours a day I can tell ya.

Chris, Carol & Jay on deck, day 1
Happily, we were joined on our adventure by good friends Jay & Carol and Bill & Marsha. I can highly recommend a group of like minded travel companions to make for a good time. As you can tell Vancouver graced us with perfect weather to start our trip and really the weather cooperated the entire trip - how lucky can we be?

Sailing away from Vancouver.
We got started right away planning our activities for those days in port. As you can see Marsha came armed with guide books and notes as did we all. We had plans, BIG plans.

First stop -

My quilting buddy Kathy spent most of her life in Ketchikan before moving back to Sacramento and so I had the inside scoop on where to go and what to see here. What a pretty town this is and we lost no time exploring on foot. Most everything is within walking distance from the port.
This beautiful sculpture on the outskirts of town commemorates the salmon run and we got to see salmon spawning in the streams which run through town a truly awesome sight. It was the end of the run so I'm glad we didn't miss it.
Ketchikan is famous for displays of totem art so of course we headed to the Native American Totem Museum just outside of town where we could see their collection of totems saved from the destruction of weather and encroaching population. Ketchikan Alaska has the largest collection of totems found anywhere in the world –over 80 poles scattered throughout the city.

Totem poles were not worshiped by the natives or considered religious in any way. They were built to tell stories, myths & legends and to commemorate events including births, marriages, anniversaries, death, or a shameful act.
Totem Poles were never fully painted, only details that helped bring a figure to life were painted - ears, eyebrows, lips, & feet. The reason was that the paint was a very labor intensive process! The female tribal members would chew on salmon eggs and spit them into a bowl. The salmon eggs were the base to an oil-based paint, the saliva was the binding agent, and then powders were mixed to create the four main colors found on a Totem Pole:
  • Black came from charcoal or lignite

  • Red came from iron ore

  • Turquoise was copper oxide

  • White was from clam shells
Beautiful and inspiring with a very spare and modern sensibility. Lots of quilt inspiration here I wished I'd brought my sketch book thank goodness for my camera. Be sure and check out the website to learn more. 
The once infamous red light district has been turned into a shopping district with lots of little galleries and small eateries.
 Since there were three couples traveling together with diverse interests we spent some port days on our own meeting up for dinner to sharing our day's discoveries.
Time to get back to the ship and set sail for another port.

Until next time,


  1. Replies
    1. There's a fine line between sharing and boring you stiff we'll see how you feel later. ;-)

  2. Such a beautiful place! I have not been, and hope to go one day!!!! Love the pics!
    xo Kris

    1. When I first met my husband 50 years ago *gasp* he said he wanted to LIVE in Alaska! Thank goodness that was only a youthful fantasy but I'm glad we could get there finally at least. His comment was beautiful place but I wouldn't want to live here. Whew, I dodged that bullet all those years ago! :-0

  3. It will be very interesting to follow your trip. It is a part of the world I have not seen much of. Beautiful houses!

    1. I'm slowly going through photos and as I do I'll post about our trip. I wish I were faster or life were slower but stay tuned because this place is fantastic!


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