I have been to some of the finest galleries and museums in the world. I have been incredibly privileged to see works of art by Da Vinci, Monet, Michelangelo, and Picasso up close and personal, and I have reveled in the beauty and the artistry. But all of it pales in comparison for me to seeing wildlife in their natural habitats. The photos, paintings, and poetic descriptions simply cannot adequately do justice to the sight of a bald eagle in flight or a sea lion basking on the rocks with her pups.
Those were just a few of the spectacular visions we were privy to today in Ketchikan, our first port in Alaska. Once again blessed with outstanding weather, we boarded a small vessel in order to fully capture the natural beauty of the southern part of the state. Armed with my fleece, earmuffs, scarf, and gloves, we were almost immediately treated to eagles, immature and mature, as well as eaglets high up still nesting. My emotions swelled to the point that I just could not help myself from humming a John Denver melody. I am fairly certain that I understand him and his music much better today. I could have gone to sleep happy right then and there, but more was still to come.
As we came around the back side of the Ward lighthouse, we were gifted with the joyous sight of sea lions fishing and several pups sunning themselves on the rocky islands. According to our guide, Captain Obvious, (dressed exactly for the part) there are humpback whales in these parts, but even my begging and pleading couldn't coax them to the surface. But that is the unpredictability of nature and I will accept the flakiness of that whale any day, if I could once again experience the loftiness I felt when witnessing that eagle take flight. I almost didn't mind the cold.
**Photo credit to my heart, Barry Bernstein