Saturday, June 30, 2007

Icy Point Strait

Icy Point Strait was an amazing stop. We didn't have any planned excurisions for the day and weren't sure what was ahead of us... but it didn't take us long to realize this would become a favorite stop on our trip.

This was the only tender stop for us. And being Conceirge Class, we got preferencial treatment when disembarking onto the little boats to take us to shore. Once on shore we made our way to the the tours building and booked a tour for the Tribal Dancers. With a few hours to kill we made our way on the beach path that took us to a fire where we were each given the opportunity to make a wish and add our wood chip. This was a wonderful hike that circle around the beach and then into the rainforest. There is no other word than magical to describe the forest. The trail twisted and turned and we once again saw the wonderful rainforest that we had been learning so much about in earlier tours. I could have stayed there all day. While on the beach trail I couldn't help myself but to run down to the water and stick my toe in "Alaskan Water" Kinda a tradition thing for me... loving the water I seem to find a way to get a toe in everywhere we go....

The end of the path was a short walk to the Cultural dance center.
This was a production put on by natives living in Hoonah, the village right down the road. In true dress they explained their history, And what the tribe names meant that we saw on totems all over alaska. I even volunteered to get up and dance with them at the end of the show -- dressed in a cape I put my best moves out there doing a dance they taught us.

The old cannery (for Salamon) was now a museum and of course gift shops--- they gotta get their tourist dollar... we spent alittle time wandering through and I bought a wind chime made from Sitka Black deer hoves. The lady I bought it from actually killed the deer and made the chime... that is after eating venision all winter. Her little shop was filled with herbs in plastic bags that looked interesting but I wasn't sure how the customs agents would upon little baggies of green herbs in my suitcase so I passed on them--

In the cannery we learned exactly how a turn of the century cannery operated and even the marketing secrets-- did you know the labels changed frequently but the contents remained the same? They tried putting pictures of families on the cans at one point so people in the lower 48 would see the product as something the whole family would eat... just alittle factoid!

Because there was plenty of time left before the ship left at 4:30 Mike and I decided we wanted to once again do the nature trail again (I told you we love it!) This time we went through the forest first and then back to the beach trail...

Back on the ship it was another formal night-- The last of the cruise-- The staff puts on a great show bringing out dessert-- and then later at midnight they do a buffet-- its all sculpted food and Ice carvings... I was tired and the ships rocking had got to me so we didn't stay to eat-- but it was an incredible to see the artistry....

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


So where did we leave off?? Skagway I beleive--

Skagway is a town that was best known for being the enterance for those seeking gold many many years ago... Thus it has this magnificent railroad-- which is what we had scheduled for the day. We were greeted with a blustery kind of day-- sun was out but it was alittle more breezy then we would have liked.

The boat dock was alittle walk from the town proper. Unlike our other stops where we had door to door service and literally got off the boat smack in town... Skagways peir required alittle jaunt that would have been ok if a) the wind wasn't blowing and b) we weren't tired.

Going into town wasn't too bad it was coming back that was the chore... regardless we had some time to kill before our tour so off we went. Skagway is literally a one horse town... Main street and thats about it-- but the Park service has done a wonderful job of upkeep-- After alittle wandering we signed ourselves up for a free town history/walking tour with the Park Ranger. Very informative. We learned that many of the building we see today are original but might not necessarily be in the same place... seems moving the historic buildings is something they do alot! And in partnerships with local businesses.. the park service will help with restoration and a shop will set up inside... kinda cool...

While wandering town we actually found the coolest Rock store on a side street... little sign with an arrow pointing to Dr. Rock... it was there we saw a guy doing rock carvings... very cool-- and in the back yard of this little place there were a ton of finished carvings.. I actually bought some jewelry there... rocks-- pretty rocks..

Our tour with Chilngot tours-- was a Van ride up to White Summit pass and then a train ride on the way back.. Lots of scenery-- waterfalls, snow capped mountains, eagles etc. It was enjoyable-- and again lots of history about the gold rush--It was amazing to think that people hiked up and back to White Pass in search of Gold. This trail is still lined with artifacts-- people dumping possessions that they just couldn't carry.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Mr. & Mrs. David Jackson--- The wedding was beautiful, the JP did a lovely job of officiating, Jackie found the perfect verse to read... The food was great, the guests were alot of fun.... long day even longer night
Family, Friends, the new relatives from across the pond---I think everyone had a great time.
Willow Grove Inn was simply an amazing place to share the day-- the weather was perfect for an outdoor wedding. Low humidity-- Bright skies-- It was so nice that both David and Ruth were surrounded by family & friends from all over the world--It takes special people to pull off such a wonderful day. So glad I got to meet Ruth and her family-- truely nice people and Davids friends were just as I imagined... and just as nice.
Now its off to Richmond-- to move Christopher in to his new place.... being tired will have to wait---

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Its a dogs world

Taking a break from Alaska for a moment... Last night was a mix of dog park meets Birthday Party and BBQ-- Friday night's BBQ had been planned weeks ago to Celebrate Ruths Birthday and get the whole family together before the wedding.. but as happens with weddings plans changed. However with things set in motion the only thing left to do was change gears and move forward. The kids were coming home.. christopher took off work and why not just enjoy the evening? We figured just invited friends over.. but last minute that didn't work so we ended up with just us-- Corey invited Tommy and Mike over and that began the night!

I came home from work to be greeting in the kitchen by Madison, Bonnie and Zoey--- HAHA no one mentioned we were having a house guest.... Zoeys an old girl full of personalaity who doesn't get out much... shes a good friend of Madisons and was very excited to be able to trot out in the open.
The boys were way too excited about playing ladder ball... They each told stories of counting down the hours to get a new game going... yes ladder ball is alittle addicting.. and for me... I found an "sport" that I can excel at! Dinner had to wait a bit so the games could begin...

Mike out did himself with a new batch of home made BBQ sauce... Hot, Spicy and sticky!

The night took a turn-- Tommy arrived -- with Buster and Macho-- (and Mike too) These are the most unlikely pair-- Buster the largest Lab you have even seen... 2 years old and every bit a puppy still... and Macho-- A chiauwa (ok I can't spell and I am not even gonna try) ---

Bonnie took it all in stride-- looking at me like I lost my mind... 4 dogs in her yard that didn't belong... she took a nap--

Buster never sat down... would run chasing balls far into the woods... down the hill, up the hill... out in the back woods.. you name it-- Buster was a machine-- funniest moment... Tommy threw one ball far into the front woods.. and Buster came back with two.. Thanks Buster for finding a long lost tennis ball...

Busters only "lil" problem... he likes water.. Tommy was worried with our two ponds that the tempation would be two much for Buster... and he was right... in a blink of an eye Buster was in the water garden... and no sooner was he dragged out that he would gallop right back in... Mike wasn't laughing but I couldn't see straight it was so funny----

More ladder ball. Horseshoes... and Birthday cake... Yes the boys sang wonderfully as Amanda attempted to take pictures... retakes were necessary as she barked orders (no pun intended) Try and look cute... don't look fat... Christopher and I couldn't get it right... even with "face wipes" and deep breathes....

A night to be remembered... fear of dogs conquered... and yummy BBQ--

Friday, June 22, 2007

remember Ketchican?

Remember Ketchican? and the totems??? as the ship left we passed them from the water-- grabbed a few photos there too...

I do have lots of totem photos... my computer at home just hates me right now-- hopefully the comcast guy will fix that tonight!

More pictures -- just because!

Just a few more pictures from Juneau-- from the millions I took... hopefully one of these days I will actually have time to work on them and do some cropping and enlarging etc...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Day 4- Juneau

Unlike Ketchican which was cloudy and overcast-- it actually rained on us in Juneau-- but we met an amazing family running a small business-- Harv and Marv's-- They are two friends who have known each other since high school who 4 years ago started their whale watching business. Jay (Harv) was an amazing man who lives "off grid" meaning he lives on an island --uses solar energy, collects rain water, catches fish and canoues to work each day (to the marina). Now I know what your thinking... but no he's not crazy-- he's not happy about living in poverty (this will be the first year his business will make a profit) he just made a choice to live a different lifestyle... along with the 39 other families that live on Shelter Island. Anyway we were picked up at port by his father in-law-- Sandy was a nice older gentleman who took us to the marina where we boarded a small metal 6 person boat and met Jay-- Jay took us out to find Whales-- we laughed as he told us about his money back guarentee if we didn't see a whale.. he was holding a plastic toy whale... thus we wouldn't get our money back... seriously he said he has been lucky that they have always found them... And we did that day... along with seals... and a huge Eagle's nest. We could have spent all day with Jay-- he was smart and entertaining. Shared his views on politics and turmoil cruise ships caused in Alaska.. the good for the economy and the bad for locals. I like him.. I like what he stood for. And could have talked to him for hours... As for the whales-- they are huge creature.. and you find them by scanning the water looking for the blow-- and Eureka when you did you knew you were in store for a show.. over and over they surfaced.. and then finally when you saw the tail you knew they would be gone soon... Jay took us to multiple spots and at each one we searched and luckily we saw multipe whales...
After our Whale watching adventure -- Sandy met us back at the dock. Our next item of the day was to go to Mendenhall Glacier. Sandy gladly said he would drop us off their.. What we weren't expecting is that he said if we would meet him in two hours he would gladly take us back to town.. WOW that is customer service at its best. We took him up on his offer and hiked down to see the Glacier.
Just as we arrived a broken peice floating glacier started turning in the water.. pretty amazing. -- Seeing glacier was an unbeleiveable sight.. monsterous peice of ice. And the color-- the bluest blue... we were told that on a sunny day we wouldn't have seen the color as easily-- ahh bring on the rain!!!
After our hike down to see the glacier we headed to the visitor center-- learned more about glaciers and how how they have moved and receeded over the years.
My Dad had seen the Red Onion Saloon on our way out of town and really wanted to eat there.. what a fun place.. a piano player who got the crowd singing -- and by that time any food was a good thing! He decided he had enough day and headed back to the ship... but we had heard of a Jewlery exhibit at the State Muesum so we headed off in the rain to walk about 6 blocks.. probably not what Mike needed to do... but he insisted on Joining us. It was a great exhibit and the Muesum had alot of historical memoriblia that told the history of the state. Glad we went.. but we sure were tired.

Again back at the ship we raced for dinner... hahaha seemed to be a pattern.. we skipped the show and headed back to our room after alittle window shopping....

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

ReCap: Day 3 Ketchican

Today I scheduled an independent tour-- well really all of our tours were scheduled independly-- tours through the ship were too expensive and were a cattle herd of people. So I spent the time before we sailed and researched what was available and made our reservations with smaller companies. Todays tour was to Totem Bight Park. Here we learned about Totem Poles and how native americans lived. Once again the scenery was mind-blowing.... the walk through the forest amazing and the history we learned about clan housing informative. did you know that when they moved from summer housing to winter housing that they dismantled their clan house? Each family member was assigned boards to carry??? or that because the area was all rock that the dirt the trees had to grow in is only about 5 inches deep--very spongy to walk on? The trees actually wrap their roots around rocks.
After Touring we spent some time walking the city-- We went to Dollys house-- a famous madam who lived in town-- highlight of the tour?.. silk condems made into flowers on the shower curtain! hahaha ask me about it later!

It was behind Dollys house that we met an Eagle on the back porch-- Who realized how big they actually were? This one was injured and the Raptor center was trying to get him accustomed to people in small doses-- Great photo op!
Then it was on to Creek Street-- a few stores-- the local museum and then back aboard the ship--

We rushed to get ready for dinner and then went shopping in the mall on board the ship. I didn't buy anything but had a great time window shopping... unless you count buying cigarettes for $14.99 a carton..hey they may be bad for you but at half price who can resist? and they came in cute packaging.

After shopping we went to the celbrity theatre to see the comedy act of Michael James. Funny-- family fummy--

And then you know what we did next.... spent an hour or so on our veranda-- our favorite hiding place!

Monday, June 18, 2007

ReCap: Day two

Overcast and about 55 degrees
A day at sea-- Day two was spent traveling to Ketchikan. It was the first of two days spent at sea. We wasted little time eating breakfast in the main dining room-- The time zone changes had apparently got to us and we woke up around 5am-- but that was ok because laying in bed we could see the snow covered mountains as we sailed by.

Every night after dinner we found a newsletter on our bed that told us of the events to come for the next day, a history of where the ship was headed & other little news worthy items. Today was jam packed with events because we would have no where to go.

With highlighter in hand We all made our choices and planned out our day. I made the executive decision that Mike and I would go to a cooking demonstration. It was entertaining and tasty-- This was also our first time to meet Puto the bartender.. he put on a little cocktail making demonstration ala Tom Cruise-- again entertaining and tasty!

Even though we had just eaten breakfast... it was off to lunch... yes a 4 course lunch-- we ate with some lovely folks from New Zealand & Mississippi

Unfortunately events overlapped and I missed out on my next event on my list-- a binocular seminar... instead we headed to the Celebrity Theater for part one of the enrichment series with the Naturalist onboard- Graham Sutherland-- he gave a great talk about Alaska and the wildlife and terrain we would be seeing in days to come--- after that it was off to the night club for a Anniversary party-- got some champagne-- our pictures taken -- passed on the cake. The view from the front of the ship -- lets just say panoramic windows.

Exhaustion had set in by now.. we all headed back to our rooms in time for a quick rest before dressing for Formal night... Mike and my dad were none to happy about putting on a suit and tie for dinner... but hey thats the fun of a cruise right??

Its not often anymore that you go to dinner dressed and everyone around you is dressed. It was kinda fun. And to add alittle more fun.. it was off to a Show in the Theatre-- "Thoroughly Broadway"-- singing and dancing from decades of popular broadway shows.
The sunset tonight at 10:13-- something that we never got used to.... I mean really at 10:00pm it was still LIGHT outside... not dusky but light!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

ReCap: Day one

Our first day was Seattle & Vancouver where we boarded the ship- Unfortunately we did not have time to sightsee-- it was all we could do to get off the train with all the luggage--At the train station in Seattle we made our first true count of luggage-- Yes we had 11 pieces to transport with four bodies! 8 real suitcases, 3 large carryons, & one camera bag- that never left my side so it didn't make the official count... the rest of the trip it was that magical 11 that my mom was in charge of making sure we had.
Amazingly-- we came home with the same luggage we left with-- 2 train trips, 4 taxi rides, 8 flights between the four of us-- and no lost luggage!

The Train from Seattle to Vancouver was amazing-- The train itself was an Amtrak train-- very roomy with Seats that laid back and had recliner style leg rests-- fold down trays to put your stuff on-- Certainly a relaxing way to start out our vacation. And the scenery was like out of a picture book-- the pacific coast is beautiful with rocks, large trees, flowers and it was where we saw the first of many eagles we would see on our adventure.

Boarding the ship was an easy process-- security was much like the airport-- everything is screened as was everyone. Once we were on the ship they handed out Champagne- certainly a nice way to be greeted! And then we took one of the many glass elevators up the Waterfall Cafe (buffet area) for lunch-- It was amazing the choices of food available. From there we went outside on deck to see the Vancouver skyline. Much like any big city-- but it was Canada--so for me it that was enough to keep me busy looking!

Then we finally made our way to our rooms. We booked the concierge class- which included little special items like champagne, appetizers each night, special room service, nicer towels, bathrobes and a staff that was at our call-- literally if you stepped out into the hall they were there! Oh and a veranda that Mike and I practically lived on.

And if you didn't get enough to eat-- Dinner was at 6pm! Main dining room-- each night 4-5 course there were other places to dine onboard-- the buffet, the grill (hamburgers and such) the spa (healthy food) but we choose the Main dining room-- Seriously our waiter Ian took good care of us... but unlike other times you eat in a restaurant-- We had our waiter, his assistant, a bartender waiter, the sommelier and the maƮtre d' all tending to us each night! Dinner was more like an event than it was a time to eat. And we enjoyed every moment of it. By luck the table we were assigned to was Table 506-- it was Aft (the back of the ship) right by the largest window on board. Our table mates were great -- they seemed to be down to earth people -a husband and wife, her sister and his Aunt- like us multi-generational- and we all agreed that rotating seats each night was the thing to do so everyone had a chance to stare off into the boats wake and see the mountains go by each night. That way no one spent the whole cruise with their back to the grand window. We truly felt lucky to have that table and spend our week dining with wonderful people.

After dinner there were shows, activities and such but we did alittle exploring and went to our room. Not the most exciting thing to do I am sure-- but we had unpacking to tend to-- and our first real chance to sit outside on our veranda.. a place we would retreat to quite often on this cruise. It was like our own private sancutary-- the ever changing view was better than tv-- theatre shows etc. We embraced each chance we got to just sit and stare off into the wilderness.