Monday, August 27, 2018

Cruising in Alaska

From Whittier we sailed South.

Glacier Bay did not disappoint.

The Hubbard Glacier thundered and rumbled
and gave us the first tastes of these icy Alaskan wonders.

But Margerie Glacier stole the show!

Below is the link to a youtube video I took of the glacier calving.
"" did not allow me to upload it - file too large I guess.
Hope you can open it.
What a beautiful sight!

Our staterooms were across from each other and near the back of the ship.
We literally ran back and forth to each other's rooms
and to the back deck to view this
magnificent glacier as the ship turned in the bay.

Basking in the sun on a glacier ice float.

All dressed up for the "fancy" night - making good use
of all those extra clothes that were packed and sent ahead to the ship at the
beginning of our tour!
These dear forever friends have stood beside us for many decades,
through all of our ups and downs.

First Port - Skagway, AK

We visited the Kroshel Wildlife Refuge and were surprised
to see some "tamed" wildlife.
These injured or rescued animals were handled with so much skill
by Steve who together with his wife Laura have worked on
several documentaries including "The Grounded" and "Heal for Free".

Downtown Skagway reminded me of an old Western movie set.
I found a fabulous fabric shop there and purchased a kit to make a quilted row.
Could have spent hours in that store but alas, too little time!

If you've ever been on a cruise,
have you ever wondered who buys all that art at the art auctions while cruising,
or who buys really expensive jewellery???
There were jewellery stores all over the downtowns of our ports
with coupons from the ship etc. - we must be farmers and don't "get" it?
It just seemed weird to us all.

Next port was Juneau, the state capital.
A picturesque and friendly capital city.

We rode the sky tram to the top of Mt. Roberts which overlooked breathtaking views
of Juneau and surroundings.
The Nature Center there featured a rescued bald eagle - amazing!
Many beautiful hiking trails to discover as well.

The Alaska State Museum was a great place to visit on this sunny and hot afternoon.
So many interesting displays and a special exhibit on the famous Titanic of the North
Ship Wreck - S.S. Princess Sophia in 1918.
Our travel mates did other excursions here:
One couple did the helicopter ride to the Glacier for a dog sledding experience and
the other went to explore the Glacier Gardens.
They both really enjoyed the day!

Next port was Ketchikan (love saying that word)

A beautiful walk about the city, salmon ladder, Creek Street
and an unexpected Lighthouse, Totems & Eagles tour
made our day complete.

Captured some of my best Bald Eagle shots here ...

The 5:15 p.m. All Aboard call came much too soon.

This was our last night on the ship as we cruised further down the inside passage
on our way, silently towards Vancouver ...
I shall miss my comfortable bed and oh those lofty pillows
on this lovely Coral Princess.

We were SO fortunate to have had the best weather possible
on this voyage.
The days were clear and afforded us the very best views of all the sights.
Would highly recommend doing this cruise in mid July to early August like we did!

Next chapter - Vancouver Island ...

From home - looks like someone else was "cruising" as well ....

Till next time ........ have a wonderful last week of August!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Sunny days in Alaska!

Alaska seems like a distant dream/adventure/memory!

The day before it began,
our little love turned 3 - she is getting so big.
We celebrated with a wee cake and ice-cream party at one of her favourite
parks in Stratford.
So glad our travel plans allowed this celebration ...

Noa, you are the sweetest little thing,
you delight us in so many ways,
with your tender heart, your joyfulness,
your sincere warm hugs and cuddles,
your sunny disposition, and gentle spirit.

So blessed to be your Nammie!

Oh how I missed you ... while we were gone!

It seemed like sunny days were waiting for us in the far North!

A well organized and escorted Princess Cruises land tour,
began in Fairbanks and took us to Denali National Park,
and then to Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge near Talkeetna.

So many WOW moments on this 7 day land tour!

Narrated train ride carried us to Gold Dredge 8

We panned for gold and actually got some (as did everyone else too). It was exciting none-the-less.

An up close and personal look 
at the Alaskan Pipeline.
Very informative and interesting presentation!

Following a delicious beef stew "miner's" lunch we boarded an
authentic sternwheeler for a narrated cruise along the Chena and Tanana rivers.
We were a floating audience to the home of the late Susan Butcher,
a four-time Iditarod champion, whose husband Dave Monson gave
The puppies were adorable and the excited dogs ran their hearts out.
They absolutely love this sport and are born to run!

The sternwheeler cruised us to the old Chena Indian Village where we
disembarked for a tour of this Athabascan village museum.
Native guides gave us a glimpse into local life and history.
I was enchanted by this tour ...

The beauty of this young native interpreter dressed in the fur, took my breath away!
The next sunny day 
(why did we bring so much warm clothing?)
we travelled by coach to the beautiful 
Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge - the perfect base camp
for exploring Denali National Park!

The evening dinner theatre meal and performance "Music of Denali"
gave us a delightful depiction of legendary adventures of the first men
to scale North America's highest peak, The Great One!

It was after the show that we climbed into a waiting van to take us and
our dear friends, Stew and Karen on a midnight sun tundra golfing adventure.
The sun just kept shining ...

So bizarre to be on the golf course
so late in the evening (8:30 - 10:30ish).
The scenery was beautiful.
Thanks Stew and Karen for encouraging us
to do this!

Sunny faces under the midnight sun!
I learned this selfie technique from my blog friend Lovella! She does it better than I do.
Fireweed was everywhere - we learned that once the buds at the top of the flower open
winter is very close behind!

Thankfully there were "black out" drapes on our lodge windows,
giving us a refreshing sleep in preparation for the next fantastic,
and yet again, sunny day!!!

High hopes were that Denali - The Great One - would be out today.
The five-six hour tour through the park in a school bus
was well worth it ....

Here's why:

Apparently only about 5% of visitors get to see this magnificent view.
Denali (formerly named Mt. McKinley) just doesn't "come out" every day.
It creates it's own weather and is usually shrouded in a thick cloud cover. We felt so lucky!

This National Park is stunning.
It is 6 MILLION Acres of wilderness!
We experienced a small piece of this unspoiled treasure.
We saw moose (with two calves), Grizzly bears basking in the sun,
Caribou (hot and uncomfortable from the heat and bugs),
a Golden Eagle, Willow Ptarmigan (the state bird), but not the elusive
Dall Sheep (teeny white specks high in the hills may have been some?).

From Denali we travelled to Mt. McKinley Lodge.
We enjoyed an afternoon of gliding in tandem kayaks on Byers Lake.
My favourite shot of our travel mates on this tranquil and scenic lake.

Now it was All Aboard on the "Direct-to-the-Wilderness" Glass top Rail
for the journey to Whittier - where our ship awaited!

This was the first and only day we saw rain - can you believe it?
I finally got to wear my new rain coat and a warm sweater ...

We boarded the beautiful Coral Princess and were joined there by another couple of our friends,
Ralph and Yvonne.
We could finally unpack in our state room and be rejoined with the suitcase
that needed to be sent ahead (the one where we should have kept
back some summery clothing - lol).

Stay tuned for the cruise portion of this adventure ... where the sun continued to shine.

In the meantime, we received some sunny pictures from home ... to keep us from getting too homesick.

Till next time ...... enjoy these last few shorter August days.

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