Today’s tours were split between the men and the women. The women went on a bear walk, which had a minimum age requirement of 12, so the men got to herd Nola for the day. The bear walk started later, so we did a little wandering around Ketchikan and, after seemingly running out of town, stopped at a local bar for a quick cider. We later found out that if we had walked in the opposite direction, we would have encountered a lot more town. Oh well.
We took a short bus ride to the bear walk. Ironically, there wasn’t a whole lot of walking involved in the bear walk. Essentially, you traverse a boardwalk at a safe distance above the area where the bears hang out. The guides warned us that any items dropped over the side would be considered a “donation” to the bears, including people. I hope they were kidding about that part. Also ironically, the name of the location is Herring Cove. It’s a salmon hatchery, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to see bears when the salmon are spawning.
The bears did not disappoint us. We saw two walking through the brush almost immediately and then a third one napping under the boardwalk, right at our feet. We might have seen a fourth one later on, but it could have been a reappearance of one of the first two. Not that it matters. Bears were seen lumbering about and everyone was happy. The salmon were so plentiful, they were “boiling” the water. The bears all looked pretty stuffed. The air was heavy with the stench of dead salmon.
In addition to the bears, we saw a number of harbor seal feasting on the salmon in the bay, as well as a great blue heron and a pair of eagles at the top of a tree. The tour ended with a visit to a totem pole maker and a wildlife foundation that rescues and rehabilitates raptors. The finale was an obligatory stop at a gift shop. I bought a t-shirt and a a bag of popcorn, as it was late into the afternoon and I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. They also provided free hot chocolate, which goes surprisingly well with cheese popcorn.
After our tour ended, we met up with the men and Nola at a tavern in town, where my husband was consuming a giant crab leg, thus achieving his goal of having an authentic crab meal in an Alaskan restaurant. We had a round a drinks and then headed back to the ship for cocktails and trivia in the forward lounge followed by dinner in the dining room. Unfortunately the dinner was no match for the previous night and the service was positively abysmal. Not that it stopped us from having a good time.