Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Victoria, BC


Our 6th day of sailing was a "sea day" so we just occupied ourselves on board.  
Mark saw the acupuncturist out of curiosity and I got my nails done and let me tell you it was not cheap, but neither was the acupuncture. I got the gel nails and they are still looking decent after almost three weeks so I suppose it was worth it.  
  

There were two formal nights.  One on Saturday and the second one this sea day. 
See how cheap we are?  Mark had a great idea to take a picture of the TV screen as these were scrolling by and that's why you see lines and words. 

Now it's Thursday and we are heading for Victoria.
 Breakfasts were mighty tasty. My favorite thing was the french toast.  You spooned canned pie filling  on top and then topped it off with real whipping cream.  So easy and so good and so many calories! 

 So dreamy!  I really could get used to this cruise stuff. 

 We really could not have asked for better weather.  The forecast was for cloudy, rainy weather most of the time, but man oh man were we lucky. We only had one day like that and that day ended up with a rainbow so really we had spectacular weather. 


 This is what I do best.  Take pictures with my eyes closed. 

 And I also do this.  

 So this was a weird deal going on here.  This table is covered in charm bracelets and on sale for a really great price apparently. Just a few minutes before a lady on the mic was talking these bracelets up and making a real big deal about them.  Everybody was standing back away form the table until it was time, then you hear, "1 2 3 Go!" and everybody lunges towards this table like vultures.  It was the weirdest thing. They are only bracelets and most of these bracelets were available for purchase throughout the day with no crowds.  
 I have to admit that our next cruise I want to but one. It's the souvenir thing right? 
Mark and I did buy matching cruise windbreaker type jackets that we love.  

 Before reaching Victoria at 6pm there were shows going on.  This was a Top Chef competition like they have on TV.  The master chef of the ship was the chef host guy and then they had volunteer cruise people perform cooking skills and then there was a taste test and a winner and all that.  Mark was not too interested and fell asleep.

 Downtown Victoria.  We only had about 4 hours and so we opted for just walking around town and not do an excursion although Mark was interested in doing one.  I just didn't want to use all the time on that and not see the city, but then a city is a city in a way, right?  


Sidewalk chalk art. 

 Kinda fun huh? 

 You forget how nice an evening can be with warm weather and no wind until you are there. 
Such a treat for us! And on the ocean to boot. 



 And this right here is so sad. Our last night on the cruise.
Tomorrow we pull into Seattle. 
Highlight of Day 7- The weather would have to be a highlight and meeting up with a friend from the first day just before boarding the bus back to the ship. Her story: Michelle had been right in front of us as we went through security on our first day.  She was walking slow and seemed to be by herself. I overheard her tell someone that she really didn't want to do this cruise because she was by herself and that she should never had done it.  We happened to run into her before the ship set sailed and chatted with her.  She had been her mom's caretaker before she passed away.  Her mom had made her promise that after she had her knee surgery she would go on this cruise because she knew her daughter really wanted to go. So here she was all alone and wishing she wasn't on that ship. We talked to her for awhile and told her we would keep a look out for her during the week and she thanked us for helping her feel a little better. 
Anyway.... we ran into her at the bus stop on our last night.  She was a trooper.  She enjoyed the cruise and even got to know a couple whose husband wasn't too excited about shopping so Michelle and the wife went together and had a great time during the week. Michelle was really glad she came on the cruise, had a good time and we had a real nice visit on that bench. Mark and I really enjoyed meeting new people.  We met a couple of older ladies from Arkansas who were a hoot.  Personality plus! Met a young couple who are both chemical engineers with a small baby who want to move from Florida to Wisconsin to be closer to family for their little boy. We enjoy living here in Leavitt with so many members of the church, but there is something about mingling and getting to know people from different walks of life.  We do miss that from our time in California.  
Lowlight of Day 7- I had some money in my front right pocket of my jeans along with my little camera and decided that I had better move my cash to my back pocket because I was afraid when I pulled out my camera the money would come out.  And that's exactly what happened.  I put a street map in that same back pocket and it must have fallen out on the street corner when I pulled out the map. It was only $15 so it could have been much worse.  Hopefully it helped someone. 




Sunday, September 28, 2014

Skagway

We booked a hiking excursion in the Tongass National Rainforest.  I have to admit we were a little on the cheap side when it came to excursions.  I also have to admit that about 2 weeks before the cruise I called to try and cancel our cruise.  We really were only going because of Brad and Kelly and then when they couldn't go we had a hard time getting our heads around it. But all's well and end's well and we were/are so happy we just bit the bullet and did it.  
Now it's, oh my gosh, I can't believe we even considered cancelling. 
Like I said in the first post, this is the only cruise Mark and I had ever wanted to go on so who knows where all these silly thoughts were coming from. So dumb really. 

 The 5 mile hike started at 7:30 am which was really 8:30 because we had to turn our clocks back for a 1 day time change. I had been getting up around 6-7 ish every morning so this was going to be fine. All I had to do was make sure we changed our clocks.  Ok, done.  
We get up and all is good.  I look at my iPad and the time is fine.  I look at my watch and it says something different. And then, oh my gosh again.  We have like 1/2 hour to get to the meeting spot.  We quickly get dressed, grab our layers of clothes and a couple of apples and get to level 2 where you leave the ship.  There is no one around except 2 crew members who say to us, " wow, you guys are the first one out."  Yah, we were an hour early.  It was 6am.  I figured my iPad would correct the time itself and when I realized it wasn't connected to the internet I was all confused.  Good news was that we were ready to go with lots and lots of time to eat our little hearts out before the hike.  

 Here is Nita, our guide.  She was so knowledgeable about the area and the "flora and fauna" on the hike.  Both her and her husband do guides.  They moved from Anchorage I believe, a few years ago and they are having the time of their lives.  Nita has worked for the forest service for years and her one piece of advice is to never move up in the ranks because once you do you are stuck in the office.  The reason you work for the forest service is because you love the outdoors right?  So now she leads hikes and loves it. 

 We took the White Pass train to the head of the trail, about 6 miles.  


This was the starting point, the Denver Glacier Trail. 

 We were too late in the season for wildflowers, but the greenery was so pretty. 


Most of the trees were Western hemlock and were red like cedar and tall like pines. 

This is a nursery log.  You can see the little trees growing from it because the weather and surroundings are perfect for new growth.  

Sawtooth Mountain 


This is Elway Falls, the end of our hike before turning back.  The glacier water is so creamy because of the silt.  They have soap with silt in it so that was my souvenir for Skagway. 


This little caboose can be rented. Not too sure it would be very private since this is at the trailhead.  

We took a peek inside.

 And here's our train, right on schedule. 


 " All Aboard!"

Gold Rush Cemetery
Think Find A Grave.  At least that is what I was thinking. 
I took this picture while standing between two train cars while it was moving. 

 After our hike we decided to have some yummy food.  This place was recommended so we gave it a try.  We split a clam chowder and salmon burger. 
See the ladys' legs?   

 Downtown Skagway. 
It looks like the ship is gonna plow right through. 

 After talking with our room attendants we found out that Skagway has the best ice cream around.  
Gosh, had we known......
  
 
The ship sailed around 5pm (Tuesday) or so.  We had to "get back on the road" to make it to Victoria, BC by Thursday.  
Mark and I look at this picture and just sigh........
Highlights of Day 5- The magic show, a singer who sounded just like Neil Diamond and the new dessert I discovered, bread and butter pudding with vanilla sauce. 
Lowlight of Day 5- Banana Foster dessert.  It was awful. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Juneau

So here we are in Juneau, Alaska. 

 I'm not sure what this is all about, but I had to really zoom in on this with my camera to make sure I was really seeing what I thought I was seeing. 
Maybe all cruise ships have a personal protection boat. Yep, that is a machine gun. 

This is a tender.  It held about 100 or so and it took us to the dock in Juneau for the excursions and shopping.  The ride was just a few minutes. 

Looking from the tender to our ship. 

 Drinking seems to be a big deal on cruise ships so there is always a shout out to the passengers where the favorite or best places to drink are.   The Red  Dog Saloon is famous so I thought I would take a picture of it, why not. I was a total tourist and that's what tourists do. 

I thought this was funny.  This crosswalk is on a narrow road so I'm not sure what this is about and because I was a tourist I took a picture of this too.  

After we walked around the streets of Juneau for an hour or so it was time for our first excursion in Alaska.  We decided on the Gold Creek Salmon Bake.  It was an all you can eat salmon dinner with all the yummy carb filled trimmings and it was delicious.  

 You just grabbed a plate and loaded it up.  They had a really good glaze on the salmon which took it over the top.  

See?  Carbs.  Corn bread.  Baked beans. Wild rice. Couscous. Shredded scalloped potatoes.  Green salad and of course salmon. While we were eating on picnic tables a guy was playing guitar.  A little bit of James Taylor and other mellow artists.  It was a neat little place. 

The Gold Creek area is part of a rain forest and was a gold mine years ago. It mined gold ore, but there is no record on how much gold was mined. It's probably top secret, right?  or maybe gold was never found here.......

 See the carved baby bear in the tree? 
Cute necklace right?  It's bamboo and it was free if you went into one of the stores that sold bamboo products.  There were a ton of them hanging on a rack/sign as you walked in.  I looked around for an employee and they were all busy so I grabbed one.  It felt kind of funny to just take it but the info. we got about our shopping in Juneau said all you had to do was walk in and it was yours.  The whole cruise felt free.  It was a weird feeling to eat your meals and then walk away.  You get used to it though. 


 Salmon Creek Waterfall and below is the opening to the original mine.  The mill generated electricity with water from the creek for the miners. 


So after our long (100 yards) hike we picked out our marshmallow roasting stick and some marshmallows from this sweet vintage tin and roasted marshmallows to finish off our excursion.     
BTW  Lou Lou and I made this marshmallow creme recipe and it was delicious.  I would suggest refrigerating it so it doesn't separate. We would for sure make it again. 

Just some friends we met at the fire pit.  They were from Florida, I believe. The cruise was only part of their vacation because they took the train cross country for the first part of their journey.  

 Told you we were being tourists.  
Me with the "catch of my life". 

 After our dinner we did some more shopping.  We decided that since we were tourists we would try and get a souvenir from each port to remind us of our trip.  


In Ketchikan we bought a sweet totem pole. When my parents were in Ketchikan they bought a totem pole mug that I have and can remember it from when I was a little girl.  I looked all over (3 ports) for a similar mug ( 3 dimensional) and we could just not find one that even came close. Anyway, we searched the stores in Juneau for something and were pretty decided on a wood carved eagle until we found out the wood was from Arizona.  Time was running out for us to buy a souvenir. We had gone to a photo studio earlier and had loved the photography prints so we decided to see if it was still open.  The guy said he would stay open till 8pm so we dashed to the store and it was closed!  What? It was 10 to 8.   I could see that he was still at his desk so I waved my arms and he let us in.  He said he didn't think we were coming back. Whew!  
We had our eye on a print with a glacier, a fishing boat and a whale so we zipped over to pick a size.  We weren't sure if we wanted the 5x7 or the 11x14.  The manager asked us which one we would like.  Mark and I were discussing which one we would buy, you know, which one we wanted.  He asked us again which one we would like. He was so determined to find out which one we liked, not wanted or which one we should buy, but which one we would like. Jeepers.
   We picked up the 11x14 because that was the one we liked and wanted and then
 he said, "it's yours".
I couldn't believe it.  Has that ever happened to you before?  
It was an interesting moment for sure.  He was a complete stranger and we were just cruise people.
I have to say I got a little teary eyed.  I shook his hand to thank him and he said the only thing he wanted us to do was watch for the northern lights that night.  I got up in the night around 1:30 or so and looked out from our balcony, but because of the full moon I couldn't see anything.  
When we go back to Juneau sometime we will have to go back in the studio and buy a print. 
The photographer is Daniel Buckscott. (you can find the print we bought in his collection) 

 Heading back to the ship for another spectacular meal, entertainment, time on our deck, new friend making and whatever else we wanted to do.
Double Highlight of Day 4-  our time at the art studio!