Thursday, November 15, 2012

Alaska - #49 is my #50

With our Alaska cruise in October we were able to accomplish some goals we've had.  To name a few:
1.  Go on a trip together with Ann and Armond again (Julie's sister and her husband).  We went to New England last fall.
2.  Visit the state we have heard so much about being worth seeing
3.  And for me, a visit to the 49th state admitted to the Union and the 50th state I have visited in my lifetime!  Ta-Da!

The cruise line: Royal Caribbean "Radiance of the Seas"
Getting there: Book with "Fun for Less" Tours out of Salt Lake City, fly to Seattle, bus to Vancouver, BC
Who else: There were about 100 people in the "Fun for Less" group and a large majority were LDS.  Loved it!.

DAY 1 - Vancouver and board the ship
Stay overnight in Richmond, BC. Bus tour around Vancouver.  Board the ship in the afternoon.
This picture is while we were on the bus tour.  Low tide.  Vancouver skyline in the background.

Getting ready to board this floating hotel.

Waiting for the "Sail Away" party at 4:30 PM

The Windjammer Cafe.  Always plenty to eat any time you want.

Some great sculptors on board; beautifully carved fruit .

An 8-story atrium lobby/lounge right in the center of the ship (covers decks 4 to 11)

Outdoor pool: too cold for our blood and it looks like everyone else's, too.

Indoor pool

Hallway to our stateroom

Our stateroom

Found cute little animals in our stateroom every night made out of towels like this hanging monkey

They were made by our stateroom attendant named John.  Very friendly and happy.  He is from St. Vincent.

DAY 2 - At sea the whole day.  Gave us a chance to explore the ship
This brother and sister played quite often in the Atrium area.  Very talented.  A wide variety of music.  Ann loved to listen to them.

The stairway in the center of our "Cascades" dining room.

Our waiters: Benzley and Deb.  Both from India.  They worked so hard for us.

Sample dinner menu.

Deb taking orders.  Julie, Ann and Armond.  There were 10 people at our table, all with Fun for Less.  Love the view with the sea and mountains "floating" by.

Had to laugh at Deb's pronounciations.  These are "Pork meda-LIONS".  Sure were good tasty   Don't know what that is growing out of my mashed potatoes.

DAY 3 - Ketchikan - The salmon capital of the world
"At the eagle." Our designated "meeting place."  Our ship in the background

Pretty long narrow town.  The hills, then mountains rise up just past the lowland.

A burl like piece of wood and a dolphin along "Creek Street."  Used to be a "questionable" part of town (red-light district and bars) after it moved from the dock area when tourists started visiting.  Now there are just museums to the decadence.

An eagle at the top of a tall tree.

A salmon swimming upstream.

A seaplane tour to Misty Fjord.

I got to sit in the back and could look out both side of the plane.  Really Cool.  Only 6 passengers and the pilot.  Earphones so we could hear what the pilot was saying.

Our ship as we took off

About a 45 minute flight to Misty Fjord, straight east of Ketchikan.  Breathtaking scenery like this all the way

Landed on the fjord.  A stretch break on this floating dock.

Later, back at the Windjammer Cafe, this monkey made out of fruit

And entertainment nightly.  This is Kerry Summers doing an Elvis impersonation.  He was with Fun for Less and kept us entertained while on our various tours.  That's his real hair.

A sample of some of the other entertainment each night.

DAY 4 - Icy Strait Point - an old "First-Nation" fishing village, now a tourist attraction.  There was a long zip-line ride here that started at the top of a mountain in the clouds and came right down to sea level.  We didn't do that.  You can see some kayakers in the water headed toward Hoonah.

A walk in the nature park.

Another eagle in a tree.

In the village of Hoonah, this group of totem pole carvers telling about their trade.  They had been commissioned to carve the huge plaque in the background and several totem poles for Glacier National Park.

At a "witch doctor's" stand in Hoonah.  It's Skookem Ointment for me.

DAY 5 - Juneau - the capital of Alaska
A stuffed grizzly.

Whale watching.  A humpback.  We also saw one Orca (killer whale) but they surface and then dive so fast I couldn't get the camera turned on them fast enough.

Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau.

Glacier runoff.  Notice the size of the people.

Rode the tramway in Juneau to the top of Mr. Roberts (almost 4,000 feet up).  A view of our ship from the tramway.

At the top we discovered we were just in time for the last performance of the season for the Alaska String Band (free).  A local family with two daughters and a son who make great music together.

This is a screen capture from a video I made of them performing.

A rescue eagle in captivity.  Blind in one eye and can't be set back into the wild.

DAY 6 - Skagway - entrance to the gold fields in the Klondike (Canada) in 1899
Maybe you've seen the pictures of the long line of gold seekers climbing over Chilkoot Pass in the dead of winter.  This is the town they had to land in and were required to buy 2,500 pounds of survival goods or the Canadians wouldn't let them into Canada for fear of them getting stranded there and the RCMP having to rescue them.  A very rough and tumble town in it's hey-day now it's just tourists.

Our tour bus driver in Skagway.  She joined the Church a couple of years ago in Florida.  Her summer job here. Getting married in the San Diego Temple soon to her fiance who is also a tour bus drive for another company.

A picture of one of Skagway's greatest folk-characters (Jefferson R. "Soapy" Smith) in a shootout with Frank Reid (trying to clean up the town).  They both died.

Soapy was so bad they wouldn't even bury him IN the cemetery.  This is his headstone OUTSIDE the cemetery walls.

We took the tour bus into Canada across White Pass.  Our group here at the top.  We have passed the US customs checkpoint 12 miles ago.  We are standing in Canada but the Canadian customs office checkpoint is still 12 miles more into Canada.  It's kinda line a 24-mile-wide no-man's-land in between two checkpoints.  But who would want to be out here in the cold, foggy area but these crazy tourists?  This is part of our group.  I drew in the black lines pointing to Ann, Armond and Julie.

Heading back to the US, we stopped at the Welcome sign for pictures.  That's about all the time we could stand out there in the biting cold.

DAY 7 Hubbard Glacier
The only day it rained on our trip.  Poncho's were in order.  The glacier is behind us.  The ship is about 1/4 mile away for safety reasons; one of those chunks could calve off the main glacier and cause a bit of havoc.  No major calving today but but we could hear the cracking of the ice periodically.  Sounded like thunder.  I did see one minor chuck break off and fall into the bay.

Ann and Armond had umbrellas

Part of the face of the glacier.  Total of 6 miles across and something like 74 miles long (into Canada).  Glaciers have this eerie blue color but very beautiful at the same time.  Water has been trapped in these glaciers for thousands of years and finally makes its way back to the sea for a fresh new life.  BTW, there are 616 officially named glaciers in Alaska with an estimate of over 100,000 total.

Grabbed this shot of Ann eating a plate of fruit as she looks out the window just one deck above the water line.  Very spectacular.

Our last night on board was Lobster Night.  I ordered one.  Very delicious.  Then Deb (head waiter) came by and said, "Would you like another one?"  Of course.  I had just popped it out of the shell and ready to eat it when he put another one on my plate.  So, three lobster tails in one sitting.  No extra charge.  The cooks had extra and they can't serve them again.   So cool.

This guy is from the Philippines creating an ice sculpture in the Atrium Lounge.  Start with a big chunk of ice and big chisels.

Hack away for a few minutes.  People guessing what he was carving.  It is taking shape.

Less than 15 minutes and he is done. And happy.

Finished product.  Excellent work/.

OK... More artwork in the Windjammer Cafe.  This is all out of balloons.

And this hat.

DAY 8 - Seward to Anchorage by bus
Beautiful scenery along the way but this is after we got to Anchorage at a local park.

DAY 9 - River boat on the Talkeetna River (a glacier-fed river)
Took a high-powered river boat up stream to see some wild life

Beavers have gnawed this tree

An eagles nest.  The birds add to them every year.  Probably weighs 700 pounds by now.

And this may be the eagle that lives in it.  They are territorial and chase others eagles off when they come near.

Stopped at a replica of a trapper's cabin.

Pelts from various animals

About half the 100 people went on this river trip in front of the trapper's cache.  It has been animal-proofed..  Julie and I are in the back row about 3rd and 4th from the left.

On the way back to Anchorage from Talkeetna, we stopped at the eastern terminus (beginning) of the Iditarod trail in Wasilla (Sarah Palin's town).  This annual dog sled race in March goes from here to Nome (west coast).  About 1000 miles over a 9 to 15 day span; very grueling race.

No snow this time of year so we rode on a wheeled-sled pulled by the same dogs that pull the dogsleds.  What fun!  The guy with his back to the camera (Raymie) is the son of the Iditarod founder Joe Reddington, Sr..  Raymie's son did the Iditarod this year and came in 6th.  Listen carefully in the 23-second video (below) and you will hear him say that.

The dog sled run

One of the dogs just had puppies.  Julie's got one of them.

Day 10 (Sunday) - Anchorage and church
Due to a mix-up on travel arrangements we stayed just one more day in Anchorage.  Rented a car and went to Church on Sunday to a nearby meetinghouse and found put it was a Samoan Ward.  Half the meeting in Samoan and the other half in English.  They have their own "green" hymnbooks with some of their songs in them.  We sang right along.

Later, we found where the Anchorage Temple is.  It's located in the back corner of the church parking lot.  You can see the temple spire in this picture.

And a closer view here.

Went to a wilderness area (they call it a "park") to look for moose but there were too many people around and probably scared them away.  But we found this young man fly-fishing.

Saw a warning sign.  I like the last paragraph:
"A Word to the Wise.  Your goal is to see the moose long before you violate its space.  Yield to the moose: go around, go back or wait.  Avoid a confrontation, since a half-ton moose with four slashing hooves could stomp the living daylights out of you.  By staying where you are, you can peacefully coexist with these humongous herbivores."  (Funny)

Back to to the airport by 8:00 pm Sunday evening to turn in our 24-hour rental car and waited until 1:30 in the morning on Monday for our flight.  Asked at the Cinnabon counter how late she  She closes at 3:00 AM.  And then she added that they re-open at 4:00 AM!  Don't know the reason for that but there are quite a few flights out of Anchorage during the night as it take most of the night to get to even the closer locations in the lower 48.  I asked at the ticket counter if there were any earlier other flights out of Anchorage so we didn't have to wait so long.  "We'll there is a flight to Minneapolis an hour earlier if you want to get that one."

We took a picture of this stuffed grizzly and elk while we waited at the airport.

Saved this picture until the end.  It's a sunset somewhere in the Gulf of Alaska when we sailed from the Hubbard Glacier to Seward.  A fitting ending for as good vacation


Lindseys said...

Thanks for the detailed account of your trip and the outstanding photos. I had several thoughts while looking at them:

Contrats on having been in all 50 states
Ryan would love the wild life - we will have to take him someday
Lauren would love the puppy
The scenery was awesome
I thought the picture of you in the ponchos was hilarious
I liked devils ointment and sourdough bread on the same sign
Loved the "stomp the living daylights" comment on the moose sign. Reminds me of Junie B. Jones and ponies.
Great pic of the kid fly-fishing - you could enter that into a photo contest
Same with the sunset pic at the end.

Kristen said...

so fun to see some pictures from your trip. See you next week!

Stefani said...

How funny I was going to pretty much say all the same things as Dee. I will add though that I love that first picture of mom, AND that I have very awesome, very cool parents.