Monday, June 15, 2009

Lots of tours! 6.13.09

How is it possible it’s been two weeks since I last updated?! Time sure flies when you’re working! Haha… And we have been WORKing! We have been very busy. We are scheduled to have one day off a week and though we have gotten them, it sure feels like we’re working every day! The days can be long….if we have ‘doubles’ where we work two tours a day, it easily mounts to 11-12 hours. And we don’t turn down any work that comes our way. Just yesterday, I was released to go home after my morning tour so I took the Hummer back to the barn and caught a ride to the boat so that when Michael ended his tour, he could use the van to get back. I was called as soon as I put on my sweats & a pot of tea and asked if I could come back! Without any wheels my only option was to walk….which I did. We have been lucky we haven’t had to work on the docks for a week or so – there are enough Hummer tours sold to keep us working. Working for tips is sure a humbling experience for me. We have both been stiffed now and we wonder for days what we did to deserve it. I had one couple that spent over $1200 shopping for gifts for the family….and didn’t manage to get a one dollar tip from. What on earth could I have done to improve that tour?! And we even saw BEARS!!! But we continue to roll with the punches and hope for the best on the next tour. Tomorrow we get another rare day off together though I will more than likely go into the office and help the office manager with some projects. We’ve had people from all over the world and from all walks of life! All over the U.S., Holland, Egypt, Japan, Australia, plumbers, doctors, truck drivers – you name it!!

The wildlife has began to show itself more and more – I saw two bears just yesterday, some deer, pods of Orca whales (killer whales), salmon spawning upstream, and the ever present bald eagles. When I saw the bears, I’m pretty sure I was more excited than my passengers. Haha!!

We haven’t had much time to explore the area the past couple weeks as we have been so exhausted in the evening. It’s amazing how much energy we use on a 4 hour tour. One tour we had been looking forward to taking is the horse drawn trolley tour and we were able to jump on one this week. We enjoy learning what is being told on the other tours. The narrator on the tour was very informative and we picked up a couple of tidbits to use on our tour. I have been hearing all about a local jelly called Spruce Tip jelly and wanted to learn how to make it and it just so happened that the narrator had just made some so she told me the recipe and gave me a jar! The next day off, we went spruce tip hunting and once we get enough of them, will make our own. The spruce tree grows bright green ‘tips’ on the end of it’s branches that must be picked before they get too old, then boiled, and the juice is made into jelly.

The spruce tip for making jelly

I’ve never before made jelly so I’m excited to try. The Salmonberries have just started growing too, so in a few weeks we’ll be making salmonberry jelly & jam! The salmonberry looks just like a raspberry and has a little blander taste. We found a couple ripe berries the other day and ate them – yummy!! There are salmonberry bushes everywhere! The salmonberry has a bright pink flower on it that is edible and it’s fun getting the tourists to eat them. It has the taste of sweet grass….haha!!

The edible Salmonberry flower

The flowers are blooming in the area and are stunningly beautiful!

Beautiful flowers everywhere!

There are some bright orange California poppies that are as big as a softball, Bleeding heart flowers in City park, and lots of color everywhere!

I worked on the morning shift of my birthday and we had a very nice evening. No big parties this year! We went to dinner at Cape Fox, one of the higher end restaurants in the area.

Michael & Rene at Cape Fox Restaurant

The meal was just so-so and was very expensive….and the mixed drinks were too small. I wouldn’t recommend the restaurant but after eating dinner, we rode the funicular down the hill & walked all around town until dusk.

Riding the Funicular down from Cape Fox Restaurant

It was a lovely evening. I wanted something special for my birthday – a necklace that reminded me of the area and was unique. We scoured the town, checking out each and every store looking for that special necklace. Finally, just yesterday, I spotted it. It is a circular pendant with a native carving of the Raven. My favorite legend is of Raven stealing the Sun and this pendant reminds me of the story. It was well worth the wait. I have received numerous comments about it already.

Rene's new necklace - the Raven Stealing the sun

I’ll tell you my rendition of Raven stealing the Sun, which is a Haida story. In the beginning the world was in total darkness. The Raven was tired of groping about and bumping into things in the dark. Eventually the Raven came upon the clanhouse of a powerful chief. Through his slyness, the Raven learned that he had a great treasure. This was all the light in the universe, contained in a tiny box concealed within many boxes. At once the Raven vowed to steal the box. He thought and thought, and finally came up with a plan. He waited until the chief’s daughter came to the river to gather water. Then the Raven changed himself into a single hemlock needle and dropped himself into the river, just as the girl was dipping her water-basket into the river. As she drank from the basket, she swallowed the needle. It slipped and slithered down into her warm belly, where the Raven transformed himself again, this time into a tiny human. After sleeping and growing there for a very long time, at last the Raven emerged into the world once more, this time as a human infant.

Even though he had a rather strange appearance, the Raven's grandfather loved him. But the chief threatened dire punishment if he ever touched the precious bent wood box. One day when the chief was out hunting, the Ravenchild went to the bentwood box and opened it. The first things to escape were the moon & stars, setting the land in a beautiful twilight. The chief began to run back to the clanhouse but before he could get there, Ravenchild changed himself back into a raven and pushed the sunlight out of the opening in the clanhouse. And that is how the sun, moon, & stars came into the universe. When you hear Raven calling in the forest, it's because he's still laughing about how clever he was

I have to tell you about a gift I received from a visitor the other day. I was working at the ‘Quack Shack’, attempting to sell myself a Hummer tour, and was chatting to everyone as they walked by. Now it’s a bit difficult to chat with folks because they don’t want to be propositioned and I get a lot of ‘no, thank you’ even before I can say anything. So I always just say “hi”, “How are you doing, sir”, etc just to get people to look my way. One man in particular walked by and I asked him how he was doing & he paused a moment to answer so I asked him what he was planning to do in town. He told me he was just going to walk around so I told him about my favorite ‘must see’s’ in Ketchikan – all within walking distance. He listened intently and I told him to make sure and stop by Dolly’s house and tell her I said hi. Dolly is the famous ‘madam’ of the area and her house is now a museum. He thanked me and went on his way. About 2 hours later, he showed back up and asked for me and told me to give him my hand. Then he slipped an origami dollar ring on my finger that he made and said it had an inscription that said ‘A dollar for a real doll’.

An origami dollar bill ring given to Rene by a tourist

How cool is that?! It was incredibly nice and unexpected! Just a little perk of working with the tourists!!

I even had a group of geocachers in the Hummer this week! We were talking about what we would do that day and explained every stop we would make when they interrupted and said ‘we have one special request….have you ever heard of geocaching?’ HAVE I!! It was incredibly fun. It was a couple with a 6 year old daughter and we had fun finding 5 caches while they were here. Michael is working on a flyer to send to the cruise ships promoting the Hummers as geocaching friendly.

Not too much to report, but I'll update when I get a chance!!

Need some rubber boots?! Tongass Trading company has every size imaginable!! haha...

Rubber boots in every size available...


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