Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tourist season has started! 5.30.09

We were complaining just one week ago that we didn’t have enough work! How times change!! Since then we have worked almost every day. If we don’t have a tour, we work down at the dock ‘selling ourselves’ and if we were needed for our sister company, the Ketchikan Duck Tour, we were there in our yellow t-shirts with a smile on our face! :-) So far, we have both had about 12 tours. Each one is absolutely different! Some are better than others, some folks we ‘click’ with, others we don’t, some we get good tips from, others not so much! Haha… The tour is typically 4 hours and they pay around $600 for it. We go to some fun places – out to the waterfalls, out to a spot we usually see several eagles, an eagle rehabilitation & fish hatchery, totem poles, hikes, you name it! We always joke about funny questions that were asked but I was told by a guide today they were asked the best one this season: Does it rain saltwater or freshwater here?! Yep, that beats my best hands down. Haha!!

We’ve been keeping busy when we’re not working too. There are lots of things to keep us busy! Ketchikan has lots of places to hear music and one evening we went to the Ketchikan Community Concert Band’s performance of A Celebration of Fifty Years of Statehood. It was a wonderful performance! There were about about 50 people in the band and they performed 12 songs including Alaska’s song, A tribute to Elvis, Semper Paratus (Always Prepared, the USCG official march), & others. It was at the High School auditorium, a nice uphill walk for us and we enjoyed the walk both there & back in the twilight that is here until around 10pm. I’ve decided I really like the extra hours of sunshine – it makes the 4:45 mornings not so hard to bear when it’s already light outside! Of course it is weird going to bed at 10pm when it’s still light outside.

We have placed a total of 3 geocaches in the area already, and another one will be placed on Monday for my birthday. We’ve enjoyed getting to know other folks in the area, hiking the area, and looking for new places to stop & show others on the island. We continue to learn lots about the area, spending time in the library and talking to folks who have been here for years. There are things that interest different people and you have to know about lots to prepare yourself for the different questions that are asked! And things that are amazing to me may not interest others! For instance, I was out with a tour and we saw two deer grazing down the road from us. I was so excited! It was my first spotting of deer that weren’t running for the hills and when I pointed it out to the folks, they just shrugged their shoulders and said ‘we have deer back home’. WHAT?!? But they are WILD deer! Haha… Oh well, different strokes for different folks. Michael spotted bears! He was training some other tour guides and they rounded a corner and there was a mom & two cubs right in the middle of the road! COOL! Of course I was so jealous that he saw them and I didn’t!! And yes, you read that right – Michael is providing training to backup guides for our company. Haha!! The owners of the company have been impressed that we have learned so much about the area – we even got a raise that we were not expecting.

It has rained almost every day this week which makes for difficult tours. I usually wear my hair up in a French braid on rainy days as I typically get soaked to the skin but I’m starting to think I get smaller tips on French braid days so I’m going to try it down next time and see if that’s true. Haha!! I also had a tour the other day where one of the occupants was in a wheelchair. That was difficult! Getting the chair in & out of the hummer, and it was raining that day (of course!), and had been for several days so the ground was saturated making it difficult to get around. As I said before, every day is something a little different!

We had a rare day off today so Michael made arrangements to go on the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour for my birthday which was EXCELLENT!

The Aleutian Ballad on the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour

It was aboard the Aleutian Ballad, a boat that was on the Deadliest Catch TV Show, the one that took the rogue wave while out fishing. Three guys on board were well seasoned fishermen in the Aleutian Islands/Bering Sea who were on a boat featured on the Deadliest Catch. Terry, Kiwi, and Chief were amazing guides – explaining everything we wanted to know about fishing in the area.

Rene with Terry, Chief & Kiwi from the Aleutian Ballad on the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour

They had some amazing stories to tell! We went to about 5 different traps and checked out the catches of the day – a longline that had some spiny rockfish (also known as red snapper) and traps with Alaskan King Crab,

Rene with Kiwi and a King Crab

Dungeness crab

Chief showing off some Dungeness Crab

Snow crab

Michael with a Snow Crab!

Box crab,

A Box Crab!


Kiwi with an octopus

& others. They went through the motions – tossing the grappling hook to grab the trap, placing the line in the winch block, pulling the traps up into the boat and back off again. Each trap they pulled crab out of the inside and let us check them out up close & personal and even getting to hold several of them. I loved seeing the different types of crabs and hearing the stories. Michael’s favorite part was when we got to see eagles. We went to a corner of Annette Island where the deckhands threw out the rockfish they had caught along with some herring, and the eagles in the area all came a running and would fly around and skim the water, snapping up the fish.

Rene with Kiwi and a King Crab

It was a sight! There were probably 20-30 and they were maybe 10-15’ away from the boat. They were beautiful – we never tire of seeing them.

I will update more when I can! In the meantime, check out the beautiful photos of the area!

A spectacular rainbow after a rainy day in Ketchikan



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