Weds. May 29, 2013 – Depart ship in Whittier, Anchorage, float plane

Left the ship at 8 am to go from Whittier to Anchorage. Whittier is a tiny town with 300 residents who all live in a large condominium. There is a one lane tunnel that services the train as well as buses and cars. We had to wait about an hour for our turn in the 2.5 mile tunnel.

We arrived in Anchorage about 11:45 having seen a moose and a black bear. Anchorage is large with 300,000 people, about half the population of Alaska, Our bus driver was kind enough to drop us at Rust Flight where we had chartered a float plane to fly us up to the glaciers in the hopes of flying over Danali with a view of Mt. McKinley the highest peak in North America at 20,000 feet. It was 80 degrees of clear sunshine. Our flight was amazing. The plane was a little Cezna 206 with just the pilot, Ralph and myself. Feel the fear and do it, I thought as I crawled over the seat and turned the latch closing me in. Bruce lifted the plane off the lake quickly and we listened through our tight headset as he pointed out different mountain ranges. Alaska is mostly roadless and as we took off we could see the lake was circled with float planes each at the end of a short dock. Bruce explained that planes are the means of transport for most of Alaska. We flew over lots of little lakes. The closer we got to the glacier area the lakes soon appeared more ice covered. As we got to the glaciers flying over Danali we had a good look at the summit of Mt. McKinley above the fog. Flying through the white snow covered mountains and around the glaciers was amazing. Small ponds of aqua ice. Just spectacular. In about 2 1/2 hours we were landing back on Lake Hood.

We took a shuttle downtown, had lunch and shopped and then headed to the airport for our red eye flight home.

This was another trip of a lifetime. Over the top wonderful. No way to say what was our favorite as it was all just lovely. What a blessing!

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013 – at sea – College Fjord

Last day on ship so lots of packing up to do. We needed to leave our packed bags in the hallway before 8 pm for them to be picked up and shipped to our destination. During the day I took part in a book discussion of Until we say Goodbye. It was a good discussion. Our friend Donald sang in a chorus in the ships atrium. Some toured the galley area. In the afternoon the naturalist on board guided us through College Fjord with its 37 freshwater glaciers that were charted by Edmond Harriman of railroad wealth. Their names came from the alma maters of the men who traveled with him. A peaceful visit.

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Monday, 5-27-13 Memorial Day At sea – Glacier National Park

What a beautiful day. We were up on deck early as a ranger came on board to talk with us about what we were seeing. The glaciers were amazing. Marjorie is 1 mile wide and 250 feet high. The glacier runoff makes for good reflections. It was silent on the ship as we were in awe. I lay on our balcony with the sun shining on my face, listened to the sea lap against the boat and felt the breeze. It was peaceful with the fresh smells. There were humpbacks and harbor seals playing in the area.

The ship provided Taste of Alaska on deck. I had reindeer chili, octopus, salmon, dried fish, crabcakes and salad. It was all good. In the evening our travel agency treated our group to dinner at the Italian specialty restaurant. It was very nice of them to gather us together and we had a good time, including the lobster dinner. The evening show was a dance group that was good. The costumes and staging of the shows has been great.

I heard taps played sometime during the day which reminded me to take a breath and thank those who have passed for all they have left us.

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Sunday, 5-26-13 Skagway, Alaska

I was awake at 3:30 so watched the sunrise with its magnificent reds and greens behind the white mountains. Amazing.

Left boat at 7:30 and returned at 3. Another picture perfect day. We did a train ride tour up to the summit of White Horse Pass and then into the Yukon of Canada. This was the area of the Klondike gold rush of 1896. The steep mountain area was potentially passable to the 2885 summit, but I can’t imagine how hard it must have been. Pretty rugged mountains. When they reached the Canadian border they had to prove they had a year’s supplies, 2000 pounds of stuff, so it might have been multiple trips up the pass.

Once in the Yukon we visited an area where there was a suspension bridge over the gorge. It was fun. We rode back down the mountain on a bus and visited Jewell Gardens which was fun. Sustainable organic fruits and veggies and lots of lovely flower gardens. There was a glass blower there who trained with Cholie whose wonderful exhibit we saw in Seattle. You could really see his influence.

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Saturday, 5-25-13 Juno, Alaska

Juno is the capital of Alaska and is very small, accessed only by boat or plane and the road is only 37 miles long. We did a whale watch and a nature hike to Menden Hall Glacier. It was in the 70’s and sunny and a glorious day, we saw lots of eagles, quite a few humpback whales, and a porcupine. It was a wonderful day. The hike was great as our guide was a botanist and a good teacher. Getting to the lake where the glacier was was amazing. Lots of chunks of ice in the water. Again the color was a beautiful color blue from the glacier silt. You could put them in your mouth and feel the bubbles pop. Memories of the tv show Northern Exposure. McDonald’s came to town a few years ago and people lined up for miles. The mayor of Skagway sent a plane to pick up lots of food and the restaurant sold out in a few hours and could not get more supplies for another two weeks. This is a remote area to say the least, with just 33,000 people.

Late in the day I went to a talk by Libby Riddles who was the first woman to win the Iditorade. She was interesting. Moved to Alaska alone when she was 16.

It has been light at 11 when we go to bed and the sun rise is about 4 am. It is energizing to have so much light.

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Friday, 5-24-13 Ketchikan, Alaska

My 49th state :-))

50 degrees and drizzle. This town is in the rainforest, so no surprise that it was wet. We did a tour of totem poles, nature trail and long house with native dancing. I was able to put on an eagle robe and dance with the natives which was fun. One of the totems was in honor of Seward for his idea to purchase Alaska. His nose and mouth are painted bright red and we were told it was a “shame” totem. He visited the Ketchikan area and the natives held a potlatch for him. A several day party with lots of fun and food. Etiquette dictates that within three years the recipient will reciprocate. Due to poor health Seward was never able to return the potlatch and therefore the shame totem. Years later his family visited and wanted to rectify. After several days of evaluation the natives came up with a figure for the cost of an equal potlatch along with interest. It would have been several million dollars and the Seward family declined.

I went to the second part of the photography class and all in all got lots of good tips. The mountains and cliffs are beautiful to watch. Dinner and an illusionist show.

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Thursday, 5-23-13 at sea

Clouds, drizzle and around 50 degrees. At sea all day. Went to a digital camera class which was great and helped me begin to find my way around my new camera. Read and listened to music in the atrium. Went to a class on whales. Talked to interesting folks around the ship went to dinner with the group of 12. It was formal night and people watching was great fun. Lots of gowns and tuxes, not us, but fun to watch. We again ate with the group and then went to a show.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013 – Vancouver, BC

We left our motel a little before 8 this morning and arrived at our hotel in Vancouver at around 4. Everything went smoothly. Dropping the rental car and transferring to the quickbus to
Vancouver was quick and easy. Passport check before boarding bus and then at border everyone had to de-bus with ALL carryon and luggage and then through customs, load it all back on the bus and continue on our way. Our hotel here is lovely. It has been a rainy day. We walked a block or so and had Chinese food. Stores and restaurants will not take American money, credit or debit or Canadian. the exchange rate is not good.

We had intended to tour a bit but it is too wet and we are ready for a bit of down time. We will meet up with our friends the Blake’s tomorrow.

Tomorrow we board the ship and I will have little or no Internet. I will be keeping my journal but won’t likely be able to post until later.

Monday, May 20, 2013 – Whidbey Island, WA

It was clear and sunny today and in the 60’s. This is our last night at the Flagship motel and it has been great with a wonderful view. We were on the balcony this morning listening the seagulls really squeal wheat an eagle flew out of the tree.

We took two ferries over and one back from Whidbey Island. What a picturesque place. Lots of lush green fields leading down to the ocean. Lots of wild lupines. A few large towns and some charming artist towns. We took a short hike hoping to see Mt. Olympus from the distance. We saw it on the drive back from our last ferry ride tonight and it was most impressive.

I love to ride the ferry. It is wonderful to be on the water and it is great people watching.

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Sunday, May 19, 2013 – Seattle

A beautiful day, mostly clouds but some sun, temperature in the upper 60’s. We went into center city to see the Needle and Pike Place Market. Neither of us had a desire to go up in the Needle but it was fun to see it. Beside it was Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit. It was amazing. His glass sculptures are in several large cities, including several in Venice. I am wondering if our friends and family who have been there recognize his work. It was so colorful and spacious it just made me happy. From there we went to the Market which was mobbed but fun. Loved seeing all the flowers. I could not resist a steamed Dungenus crab and it was delicious. Ralph passed although there was really some nice Looking shrimp. We are back at our motel overlooking the water and I am doing laundry. Tomorrow we will take some ferries and go east of Settle. Tuesday we will turn in our car and get a bus from the Seattle Airport to Vancouver and Weds. we will board the ship for Alaska.

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