Monday, May 18, 2015

The Hoonah Plunge

Cannery Museum, Hoonah
We spent the day at Cannery Point with other tourists off the cruise ship which had come into Hoonah for the day. We visited a few shops in the Cannery and the small museum demonstrating the canning process through exhibits and displays of old machinery.  First in line was the Guillotine or Index Machine which removed the head of the fish.  Workers were required to push the fish into the path of the blade to ensure an accurate cut since salmon vary in size and type.  
The Filler, Hoonah Cannery
After the salmon were chopped at the Chopper Station, can-sized portions of salmon were fed into the Filler and loaded into cans.  Each can of salmon was given a calibrated amount of salt for taste and preservation.  Next was the weighing machine, cans not meeting the proper amount of salmon were kicked out to a slower conveyor belt and sent to the “Patching Table.”  Cans weighing the correct amount were sent on to the Curler Clincher which formed a loose seal between the lid and the edge of the can.  
The Curler Clincher, Hoonah Cannery
The lid was “curled” to loosely hold the lid so air could be removed from the can.  The Vacuum Sealer then extracted all air to ensure longevity and freshness and also provided the proper pressure for cooking the salmon once sent to the Retorts.  
Retort (steam cooker), Hoonah Cannery
The cans were placed in racks inside a steam cooker called a Retort.  The size of the can determined the temperature and the time of cooking.  One-pound cans were cooked for 90 minutes at 240 degrees.  After some hearty crab bisque for lunch, we walked over to the end of the Zip Line where folks can watch the thrills of zip-lining from park benches.  There’s a nice pub style lodge along the shore, outdoor concessions, and restrooms.  
World's Largest Zip Line
Leonard joked that there is a reason bathrooms are located at the end of the Zip Line, the ride looks scary and quite intimidating.  
Zip Line Riders
Multiple lines run over the valley floor then sharply pitch up to a mountain top; we could barely see the top from below.  After watching people of all ages screaming down the mountain on the Zip Line, we decided that one of us should “pay the price” to go.  After all, it’s the World’s largest Zip Line!  Leonard was more than happy to let me take the plunge, literally.  The Zip Line is 1300 feet high, taller than the Empire State Building, and is over a mile long.  
Lorena on the Zip Line
Participants are assigned a time slot and ride up the mountain with their group in a bus.  After a short hike down the trail, a narrow platform hanging over the precipice awaits the thrill seekers.  As the seats/harness come back up from the bottom, attendants hook a toe-line on the back of the seat so it doesn’t get away; then you are asked to step up and get strapped into your seat;  the ready position is feet up on the gate.  There are gates in front of each seat/harness, like horses ready to be released for their run.  
Coming in for the Landing
Getting ready at the top of the cliff is actually the most scary part, the ride wasn’t so bad; it’s the anticipation that gets you.  
Lorena preparing for the Jolt at Landing
The last words you hear are “have a good ride”, the gates open and your body weight drops you over the cliff’s steep pitch downward, approaching speeds of 60 miles an hour.  Once you reach the valley floor the speed significantly decreases but there is still a jolt at the bottom.  
Attendants spacing out the Springs for the next Riders
A system of springs around each line acts like a shock absorber; you are instructed to lean back, feet out, and hold on.  I honestly can say the ride was fun; the most unnerving part is getting ready at the top.  In all life's journey's, taking the first plunge is always the hardest.

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