The last stop on our cruise was Icy Strait Point. Unlike the other places we visited, Icy Strait Point isn’t in a borough (county). About half of Alaska is not contained in any of the 19 boroughs, but is instead located in what is just referred to as the Unorganized Borough. That territory is broken up into 10 areas that were set up to facilitate census-taking. The yellow show the 10 census areas in Alaska.
The cruise ship port at Icy Strait Point is about a mile north of the village of Hoonah, the largest settlement in the Hoonah-Angoon Census Area. The weather on the day of our arrival was wet. Low clouds and persistent drizzle caused the cancellation of some of the shore excursions (those involving helicopters or small aircraft). Fortunately we had done those types of activities earlier in the trip. Instead, we were off on a small (43 ft.) boat to go whale watching. Good thing whales don’t care about rain. In addition to humpback whales, we spotted more sea lions, and of course, the ever-present bald eagles (sorry no pictures of the eagles as they were too far from the boat).
The sea lions were content to swim alongside the boat for a while giving us the opportunity for some great photos.
After leaving Icy Strait Point, we headed for the Gulf of Alaska and on to Seward where we would disembark. On our final day at sea, right around breakfast time, we cruised into Yakutat Bay for a close-up view of Hubbard Glacier. Some guest opted to board a small boat for an even closer view. Since we had done a Glacier cruise last summer out of Whittier, we preferred to stay on the ship and watch from the top deck. It is certainly one of the more impressive glaciers in Alaska.
The cruise ended in Seward where we boarded a motor coach for Anchorage. Since our flight home didn’t depart until 6pm, we had a few hours to wander around the city. The trip home included an overnight stop in Seattle and the Sea-Tac Marriott. I don’t have much to say other than the lounge breakfast was good.
Over the course of the cruise, I added 4 more counties (boroughs) to my list and even ‘collected’ one of the 10 census areas within the Unorganized Borough. Our journey took us across the boundaries of 3 other boroughs and 1 additional census area. Those are reflected on my “after” map in the lighter blue color. I plan to get back to them at some point when I can visit the borough seat or in the case of the census area, the largest city/town.
Alaska’s size, plus the difficulty of getting from one place to another, makes the state the most challenging when it comes to county collecting. I’m pleased that in 2 trips I’ve been able to ‘collect’ 8 of the 19 boroughs and 1 of the 10 census areas. It could easily take 4 or 5 more trips before I’ll be able to complete Alaska. Based on my first 2 visits, I have no doubt each of those trips will be memorable.
Next up will be a weekend in Minnesota in mid-August. If all goes as planned, I’ll collect the last four counties in Iowa on my drive between Minneapolis and Sioux Falls. While it will be a quick trip, it should be productive.