Icy Strait Point/Hoonah

June 16

Overnight we anchored at Icy Strait Point. The village of Hoonah there is so small that they don’t even have a deep water dock, so our ship lowered lifeboats to tender us to shore. That’s when we learned that apparently when push comes to shove, you can shove a whole lot of people into a small space. Used as a tender, the lifeboat had an occupancy of 125 but when it became a lifeboat, it would hole 150! On shore we found something unusual–NO jewelry and fur stores! Minimal tourist shops made it a much more restful stop.

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The building you come to first on shore houses 13 shops and also a cannery museum. Salmon is a big industry all over Alaska and this museum shows how they are caught commercially as well as the cleaning and canning process. I’m not sure if the process is still the same or if that was just the history but we did see the historic machinery.

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An interactive set of signs inside made me think of my friend Karen back home.

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There was a crane on a barge in the harbor ready to create a deeper harbor with a pier to let tourists on and off their cruise ships without the use of a tender. Near it we saw kayakers from our ship on an adventure of their own making.

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Any trip with us includes food and Alaska provided a wide variety of foods, good but out of the ordinary for us. In Hoonah we had reindeer sausage with sauerkraut and grilled salmon. Crab was available, too. This was the first place we had been where we found fountain drinks. Everywhere else we had to buy cans or bottles, including on board our ship.

Probably the most peaceful part of the day at Icy Strait Point was watching the eagles. On our train ride to Seward we had seen a few eagles and watched one flying away with a fish it had caught. This time we watched from a much nearer vantage point as  seven eagles did some fishing. Their outing was about as successful as my experience with fishing has been, though. We didn’t see any successful catches during lunch.

There was a zipline trip that we didn’t do at Hoonah, but we did watch people at the terminus and it must have been an amazing ride. We asked one of the gentlemen who came down how they got to the top, remembering LeRoy’s 40-foot climbing wall to get to the top of the Golden Bell zipline last year. This is a much longer cable from the top of a mountain to the shore. As it turns out, it took a 45 minute van ride and a 5 minute walk to get to the beginning point for a 45 second zip down. That man said that the door opens and you say a prayer just before you fall away. He said he wasn’t sure how he was going to be a saint for the rest of his life but he promised he would if he just got back down safely!

We haven’t seen any whales on the cruise but several others on board saw whales there. The waitress at the restaurant at noon told us that they used to see whales right out their window before the crane came. Whale watching was one of our short excursion options but we chose not to pay the price. We could easily have doubled or tripled the cost of the cruise with those excursions!

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