Wednesday, August 5, 2009

kodiak to duch harbor....9 starting dutch

a few last shots of the day. below we watched the tustemena head off back to kodiak without us. we were now dependant on the weather to get out of dutch. above is some old relics from wwII that are seen all over and it also gives you and idea of how beautiful and green it is here. the island is draped in this lushness.

here we are tidepooling around what i believe is called little priest rock. i guess there is a bigger priest rock, but i believe it's a ways out. funny, i watched the "deadliest catch" last night and they were talking about a grounding in a bad storm near akutan and then about passing priest rock and knowing they were almost done with the season..almost to dutch. always fun to have been the places that they talk about.
above is tanya, sandra and suzanne.

after getting settled into our hotel and getting the rental car squared away we followed maria's friend, suzanne, and her friends to local beaches. the rental car was left for us at the dock with the keys in the cup holder and our name on the dash. anyway...we started to see the extent of the eagle population. i thought ketchikan had loads of eagles...i've never seen anything like this place. they were everywhere. they were often a dirty lot and i guess they have been known to attack the locals. in ketchikan it was usually just small pets that need be worried, here it's children as well.
of course we had to stop and take a zillion photo's of eagles. no real trees so it was odd to see them just on the ground, but they were on every building, light, wouldn't believe it.

so above you get a feeling for what i'm talking about. i could look out my hotel window and easily spot 5-20 eagles hanging about.
sandra and i stayed at the Grand Aleutian hotel. took this picture sunday. our room was on the ground floor facing this little bay. considering the remoteness this hotel is pretty classy. it's not comparable to a 5 star in new york, but i've stayed in many smaller communities and this is quite impressive. the food at the restaurants was quite tasty and reasonably priced as well. the hotel is costly, but i was happy to stay there. our other 2 friends stayed at the local nurses place which was in an area of high fisheries activities and bunk houses. meaning it was smelly, dirty and noisy. it was great to have a nice hotel after 3 nights on a boat.

the brunch at the hotel sunday was fabulous. we sat there for 3 hours and ate all that we possibly could. it was wet, rainy and foggy outside anyway...may as well dine on the all you can eat king crab and other delicacies. cost was less than $30/plate too. i'll post those pictures later. i start back to work tomorrow so it may be a few days before i really finish dutch.
here we are approaching our final destination dutch harbor/unalaska. i believe that dutch harbor is really the name of the main harbor and unalaska is the name of the island and the community. they have 2 seperate zip codes, but i suspect that is because dutch has many fisherman coming/going and it's easier to just mail to the dutch zip code.

for those who love "deadliest catch". this is the place. those big crab boats do thier thing in the winter months so those ships aren't in town right now...the crab pots are though. i suspect they store a great deal of gear here, easier than hauling it back and forth. luckily we didn't see any of the worst weather that can be found and we were on a pretty big vessel so felt it less than others would.

amazingly to me, unalaska island is only the second island on the great aleutian chain of islands...which tells you we barely touched the aleutians on our voyage. still much to explore. alaska is a huge place and so much of it remains wild and free. it took us over 3 days to boat from kodiak to here and 3 hours to fly back to anchorage.

population is over 3000 with a large transient population. it's known as the "cradle of the storms". it's where the warm water of japan current meets the cold air and currents of the bering sea. lots of wind and rain and fog in the area. the biggest concern is when and if you will get out of dutch harbor. a few flights were canceled due to weather sunday, but we got lucky and got out almost on schedule monday. the runway is very short and ends in the water so it felt like being shot out of a canon.

the russian church is prominent in town and there are dirt roads that lead out of town. it's actually a much cleaner town than i had expected.

when the light arrived i emerged from my cabin and walked out on the deck behind our rooms...this whale was the first thing i saw and luckily i had the camera out and ready. it's probably a humpback, but hard to tell. the spray of the humpback and fin whale are different and this whale was taking a dive. these pictures are flipped. whales do that deep arch before they go deep below the surface.

so we made a very brief and early stop in akutan. there is a dock there, but no airport and no harbor. this is remote. i guess float planes land in there and you can take boats out of there. around 100 people live there year round and another 500 may join in the fishing seasons. i really didn't see much float plane activity the entire trip. not like southeast alaska which is so dependant on float planes and boats.

it was about 5:15 am when we came into this tiny town. we were slated to only stay 30 minutes max. i again woke to the changing rhythm of the boat sway coming into port. i came on deck, attempted to take the photo's above and below and then crawled back into my bunk. i was sure we were pulling away from the dock and then i felt like we were tying back up again. i wasn't sure if i was dreaming, i wasn't. apparently a few people did decide to get off and were late getting back. happy i didn't attempt to get off the boat. there was a cute church down the road. you can almost see it below with it's cemetary. of course, road, is a misnomer. i saw not much for roads. they were large enough only to accomadate 4 wheelers, not actual vehicles. it was raining as well which further hindered my photography attempts. oh well. i guess it stopped back after the stay in dutch so if you took a round trip you may have been able to see it, though they spend very little time in any port en route back to kodiak and then homer.
below are a few parting shots of false pass to move us forward on the trip. first is a picture i took at the dock from the tustemena. i love all the fishing/crabbing gear that is everywhere. i thought this picture looking down on the crab pots came out pretty cool.

above is a salmon shark we watched swim back and forth near shore. i'll have to look up more info on the salmon shark. not sure that alaskan waters have too many sharks. just odd to watch this guy.

below appears to be tracks of one very large bear. as i said false pass is very close to the mainland and probably the island is actually an extension of land rather than a totally independant island.
rainy day here. dogs got walked, we got wet. chatted with a few of my siblings, tom and linda which is always fun. seemed a good day to load a few more pictures. almost done blogging about this wonderful trip..hope this is enjoyable. i know i had a great time and it's been a blast reliving it via the blog.

1 comment:

  1. Hey - what a great blog! im currently working on a film about alaska's volcanos for National geographic and we really want to film salmon sharks - i heard that false bay is the place to see them - any advice on where they are reliably seen/who might be able to help would be great - my email is Thanks,