Go See Do Photography

A Lot of Travel, A Little Bit of History, and a Whole Bunch of Photos

Wordless Wednesday: Flying Above Mountains

Sunset from the Plane

Alaska Raptor Center

Quigiq the Snowy Owl

After our time at Fortress of the Bear, we headed to another wildlife rehabilitation center in Sitka, the Alaska Raptor Center. Where Fortress of the Bear takes in orphaned bear cubs, the Raptor Center focuses on rehabilitating birds of prey: eagles, owls, and falcons. Many of the birds in their care eventually are able to be released into the wild, but some have injuries that are too severe and they get to live out their lives in the center, educating guests about these magnificent creatures and the work of the raptor center.

Raptor TalkWe started our visit at a raptor talk where we met Owlison (left), a great horned owl, and Hannah, an avian care specialist. Owlison came to the Raptor Center with a fractured wrist bone and possibly some damage to her wing. Through Owlison’s rehabilitation, she is now capable of flight but not well enough to hunt on her own, so she is now a permanent resident at the Raptor Center.

Volta the Bald EagleAfter the raptor talk, we got to see the Flight Training Center where rehabilitated birds are able to practice flying from perch to perch as they would do in the wild. Rehabilitators watch the birds in the training center to determine if they are able to fly well enough to survive in the wild and be released. When we visited the birds weren’t very active but it was very good to see the steps the experts at the Raptor Center take to make sure the birds will be able to survive on their own once they are well enough to leave the center.

While many of the birds at the Raptor Center have sad stories, it is good to know they have a place to live out the rest of their lives (many of which are longer in captivity than if they were still hunting for themselves in the wild). Volta (right) has one of those sad stories. He was found electrocuted, most likely from stretching his wings between two power lines. His carocoid bone was fractured in his fall and without that, he is not able to take flight.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about their raptors in residence, plan your visit, or donate to their cause, visit AlaskaRaptor.org. To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: Black Bear

Black Bear

Fortress of the Bear

Black BearWhen planning a visit to Alaska, a bear sighting is usually high on the list of things people want to experience. But, any wildlife sighting is hard to plan, and seeing a bear in the wild can be dangerous. Fortress of the Bear in Sitka, Alaska is a bear rescue that allows visitors to view native brown and black bears from a safe distance while giving orphaned bears a second chance at life.

The state of Alaska has no rehabilitation program for orphaned bears so for years, when a mother bear was killed, fish and game rangers had to kill the cubs because without the mother they would starve to death. One ranger got really sick of having to shoot baby bears, so in 2007, he opened Fortress of the Bear to take in orphaned cubs. Since then, they have sent bears the zoos around the country and is currently home to 7 brown and black bears. Fortress of the Bear is currently working with the state of Alaska to change the law and allow bears to be rehabilitated and released.

I was surprised to learn that the trainers at Fortress of the Bear taught the bears to sign. Just like people have taught monkeys to do, the bears put their paws together in front of their chest to signal they want more food. It was fun to watch the bears at feeding time! You can watch the video above!

Brown BearFortress of the Bear is a nonprofit that does important work in Alaska! The money for their mission comes from admissions and additional donations. If you are in Sitka, I highly recommend a stop. It is not a big place, the hour they gave us on our tour was more than enough time. It was fun to see the bears and it was good knowing the admission supports Alaskan wildlife. If you want to know more about Fortress of the Bear, read about the bears, or donate to their cause, check out fortressofthebear.org.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: Sitka

Sitka from the Water

One Day in Sitka, Alaska

Cruise ships in Sitka Sound

Cruise ships in Sitka Sound

After our day in Vancouver, we got up the next morning and boarded the Serenade of the Seas, and headed to Alaska. Sailing out of Vancouver Harbor was beautiful and I was excited to snap some photos as we headed up the Inside Passage but at that moment I realized I left my camera batteries at the Airbnb in Vancouver. Since our first two ports were islands (Sitka and Juneau) with no road connections to the mainland and lithium batteries cannot be shipped by air, there was no way to order a replacement and get it by the time we were in Alaska. If we were still Nikon shooters, the pharmacy in Sitka sold Nikon batteries, but that was no help as we had our Fuji camera with us. While we still had cell signal we did some internet sleuthing and found a Fuji photographer who used to have a store in Juneau. We sent him an email and were able to meet up with him and buy a battery when we were in Juneau. All that to say that my photos from Sitka and the first half of our day in Juneau were all taken on my phone as we had a camera and an expensive rented telephoto lens, but we had no way to turn it on.

So, after all that stress, we arrived in Sitka. After doing all my research before we left, it seemed that Sitka is a pretty easy port to explore on your own without an excursion. Our ship docked at what is known as the Old Sitka Dock and is a few miles outside town, but they offer a free shuttle to take you downtown. Once we were dropped off at Centennial Hall, we booked a $10 per person shuttle that would take us to Fortress of the Bear, the Alaska Raptor Center, and from there we could walk to the Sitka National Historic Park and back to downtown.

Alaska Pioneer's Home

I quickly fell in love with Sitka. Sitka is located on the west side of Baranof Island on the Gulf of Alaska. Because of its location, the island is a temperate rain forest with the temperature varying between 33 and 62 degrees throughout the year with the temperature rarely dropping below 22 degrees. I don’t know about you, but that’s not really what I think of when I hear Alaska weather.

Sitka was home to one of the first European settlements in Alaska being settled by Russian explorers in 1799. In 1802, the native Tlingit destroyed the original settlement killing many of the settlers. In 1804 Russian forces returned and bombarded the Tlingit fort causing the Tlingit people to leave under cover of darkness. The Russian influence in Sitka can still be seen today with the Russian Bishop’s house and St. Michael’s Cathedral still standing in downtown Sitka.

Boats in Crescent Harbor

In August of 2015, heavy rains triggered a series of 60 landslides in Sitka, one of which killed three people. The US Geological survey did a landslide assessment of Sitka and determined that the entire island is a landslide risk. Now, the USGS has installed a first-of-its-kind landslide warning system to notify residents of landslide conditions so evacuations can occur.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to stop back next week to read about our time at Fortress of the Bear in Sitka! To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: Vancouver

One Day in Vancouver

View from Vancouver Lookout

The city from Vancouver Lookout

We started our one day in Vancouver nice and early being that our bodies were still in Eastern Time. We left our Airbnb in a beautiful North Vancouver neighborhood and spent several hours at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. From there we took a bus and Sea Bus (what Vancouver calls its fery) to downtown Vancouver.

JapadogWhen planning our day in Vancouver, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to eat at Japadog. I have no idea where I had heard of Japadog, but the concept intrigued me: Japanese flavors meet an American staple. I can’t tell you enough how delicious these hot dogs were! I wish there was a Japadog in Michigan!

Cruise Ships at Canada Place

After lunch, we headed to the Vancouver Lookout to get a bird’s eye view of the city (top). Built in 1977 by Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, the Harbor Center Building that houses the lookout was the tallest building in the city at the time. Nowadays, a glass elevator takes guests 168 meters (553 feet) up to a viewing platform with a 360-degree view of Vancouver from the 6th tallest building in the city. The Top of Vancouver revolving restaurant is also in the Harbor Center Building for visitors looking for a fine dining experience with an unbeatable view. As a cruise nerd, I enjoyed seeing the ships at Canada Place (left)!

Stanley Park Seawall

From there we took a bus to Stanley Park and walked around enjoying the beautiful day. With over 1,000 acres, there is a lot to explore in Stanley Park. The park first opened in 1888 and was named after Lord Stanley, the 6th governor general of Canada. Construction of the Seawall (above) began in 1917 and took decades to complete. There is much to do in Stanley Park including 27 km of trails, a waterpark, beaches, the Vancouver Aquarium, or ride a horse-drawn carriage, trolley, or train. You could spend a whole day exploring the park!

I definitely feel like we barely scratched the surface of Vancouver! One thing I wanted to do that we just didn’t have time for was a culinary tour of Chinatown. I guess Vancouver will have to go on the list of places to return to!

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to stop back next week as we board the Serenade of the Seas and head to Sitka, Alaska! To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Wordless Wednesday: Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Exploring Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension BridgeWhile planning our one day in Vancouver, the one thing I knew I wanted to see was the Capilano Suspension Bridge and since we were not going to have a car for this day, we decided to rent an Airbnb in North Vancouver. The area was very nice and we enjoyed walking past all the beautifully manicured gardens to a nearby coffee shop for breakfast. We were even able to walk from our Airbnb to Capilano Bridge Park.

Since it was so close to our Airbnb and we were still adjusting to Pacific Time, we got to the suspension bridge shortly after they opened and I was glad that we did. You can see in the picture (left) that the bridge was busy even at 9:30 in the morning.

Treetops Adventure

Treetops Adventure

The Capilano Suspension Bridge was the first tourist attraction in Vancouver, with the original hemp-rope bridge built in 1888. The current bridge is 140 meters (459 feet) long and is suspended 70 meters (229 feet) above the river. But, there is more to the park than one bridge. A series of seven smaller suspension bridges take you high up in the tall douglas fir trees for a “squirrel’s eye view of the forest”. Interestingly, the platforms in the trees were designed to allow for the continuing growth of the forest using an innovative tree-collar design without any nails or bolts in the trees. While the big suspension bridge is more exciting, I really preferred the bridges in what the park calls “Treetops Adventure”.

Cliffwalk

Cliffwalk

The Cliffwalk walkways jut out from the granite cliff suspending trekkers over the rushing water below with open grates in some parts allowing you to see just how far up you are. To me, this wasn’t as scary as the big bridge. Where the suspension bridge moves with each step and sways with the breeze, these walkways aren’t going anywhere.

Capilano Raptor Talk

American Kestral at the Raptor Talk

One of the first areas of the park you see is the Kai’Palano which celebrates the area’s First Nation cultures by showcasing several Totem Poles surrounded by educational signs. Many of the totem poles become the first photo opportunity for families in the park.

We happened to stumble into a Raptor Talk at the Raptors Ridge area of the Park and besides the fact that it seemed like the featured birds weren’t native to the area, it was very interesting. One of the biggest takeaways for me is that one of the biggest killers of bald eagles and other raptors is ingesting poisoned food (i.e. mice and rats) and that is 100% preventable. There are other ways to deal with an infestation in your home than putting out poison which has a much bigger effect than just killing the mouse in your house.

Extreme Nature AheadOverall, we spent several hours exploring all the trails, bridges, and viewpoints in the park and even though the entrance ticket is pricey (C$62.95 for adults) we thought it was totally worth it and would probably return on our next visit to Vancouver. If you are on the fence about visiting Capilano Suspension Bridge, I highly recommend it!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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