Published: December 7th 2009December 7th 2009
Art on the Balcony
Morning coffee on the balcony became a ritual with Art
In July of 2006 we joined several of my husband’s cousins on the Carnival Spirit for an Alaskan cruise. What a great trip! Once again we failed to click that button on our cameras many many times as we were in absolute awe of what we were seeing. An Alaskan cruise is something everyone should experience so they can truly appreciate nature and our country. This was our first cruise, to anywhere and it was worth every single penny. No one in our group had been to Alaska before so it was going to be a new adventure for everyone in our group.
Each day was amazing and starting each day’s adventure by sharing breakfast with people we have known and loved for years made our cruise so much more fun.. We even had special ‘neon colored’ shirts made for us to wear so we would be able to spot each other in the crowds. We quickly found that wasn’t necessary but it sure made us laugh when we’d spot one of the cousins on the ship or in one of the ports wearing one of those shirts!
As we broke into smaller groups each day to go off
Neon Clad Cousins
Here they are, didn't I tell you the shirts made us hard to miss!
and see different things, we felt guilty at times…our thinking was that perhaps we should all go off and explore together as a ‘herd’ so to speak. But each of us had different goals for our Alaskan experience.
So we settled for meeting for coffee each night to share each other’s experiences -this was great and had such fun as we laughed and talked over each other, all excited about what had been seen that dayand wanting to share.
There is so much to see in Alaska. We only had a day in each of the ports, Skagway, Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau, Whittier, and Anchorage. My husband and I decided we wanted to see wildlife more than historic sights when there was only time for one or the other.
We went on a small wildlife boat tour while others in the group took a bus trip and we were glad we did. We saw seals, sea otters and yes, a hump back whale rose up in front of us, slapped his tail and then disappeared in a matter of seconds, the waves he created rocking our boat…I was paralyzed , in shock at what I had just witnessed.
Helicopter to Heaven
Here's the copter that is going to take us to the top of a glacier!
When I realized I missed capturing that photo I thought- it doesn’t matter!! I will never forget being that close to a whale if I live to be 100. But next time I promised myself I would be quicker to click!
Three of us decided we had to walk on a glacier---that day, the others went on yet another bus tour of the land, but for my husband, his brother and me---we headed for the helicopter pad!
The helicopter ride to the top of a glacier was one of the best decisions we made (not withstanding the decision to go on the cruise in the first place!). Looking at the helicopter that was to take us into the mountains was a bit disconcerting. None of us had ever been in a helicopter. As we flew over the mountains, snapping photos as our eyeballs nearly popped out of our heads, I swear at one point on one mountain top I saw Big Foot!! It was probably just a pine tree but I was in a surreal state of mind at the moment and was ready to see everything I had never seen before.
Then, we landed on the
View from the air
Glacier view as helicopter approached
glacier—the sights were breathtaking. Walking about on that glacier, looking down holes filled with glacier blue water and breathing the pure air stopped our hearts. In every direction there was beauty that our cameras tried to capture. The single thought I had was, I could die right now without complaint, I am seeing heaven. I kid you not!!
The Rainforest - Ketchikan
While others in our entourage chose a bus tour of the Ketchikan area, we chose a guided hike through the Rain forest. Yes, Alaska has a rainforest and it was beautiful. At every turn of the trail we saw ancient trees, evidence of bears , eagles, plant life that exists no where else in the United States. Moss dripping from the trees thrives there because of ZERO pollution.
Eagles everywhere and the answer to the question about what bears do in the woods was all seen first hand. We saw our first bear wandering at a distance and we wanted to keep him at a distance too!
My husband’s grandfather had been part of the Alaskan gold rush. He had traveled from Belgium to Alaska looking for gold, leaving his wife and 6
Glaciers from the air
More mountain views from the air
children on their own back in Belgium. We don’t have a lot of information about his life in Alaska, we do know that war broke out in Europe while he was in Alaska and he was unable to return home until after the war. He had tried to join the US military in the hopes he could get back to Europe that way but was told he had too many dependants, so he had to wait out the war in Alaska. Grandpa never struck it rich in Alaska, though he made it back to Belgium after the war long enough to collect the family and return to the United States, this time to Michigan.
As we walked the streets of Skagway, we felt history wrap itself around us, thinking /feeling that we were walking on the very streets he had once walked before heading for the Chilkoot Trail which was the way to the Yukon for 400,000 thousand plus prospectors back then.
As we stepped into the Red Onion Saloon in Skagway we imagined Grandpa had spent time there tipping a few drinks before heading for the Chilkoot Trail.
We walked the streets of Juneau,
Closer up-Tried the Zoom
Photographer flunkie that I am, here's a zoom shot from the air
and who can visit Juneau without stopping in the famous Red Dog Saloon. We had a great time there, meeting up with some of the cousins for lunch. Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau was amazing and the little church there with its spectacular views was worth the bus trip there. Everywhere we went, the views were overwhelming. It was amazing how many tourists were walking the pathways at the Mendenhall Glacier and yet all spoke in hushed tones, quietly snapping photos while trying to capture the beauty of Alaska on film…not possible.
One of our days at sea took us into the College Fjord. This is a fjord located in the northern sector of Prince William Sound .. The fjord contains five tidewater glaciers (glaciers that terminate in water), five large valley glaciers, and dozens of smaller glaciers, most named after renowned East Coast colleges—sailing through ice fields and holding our breath as the big cruise ship made a U-turn was something we will never forget and we remembered to click that button on our cameras at times! Going through Prince William Sound , our ship was escorted at times by several Dall's porpoises who are fast swimmers and avid
Landed on the Glacier
Time to walk around heaven!
"bow wave riders." They often catch free rides on the bow-waves of passing boats and they were out having fun the day we were there..
A tender port and a very small settlement with lots of history, we toured a Russian church and walked the streets, again, wandering around in the history of this wonderful state.
What can I say about Alaska to someone who has never been there? GO!! Whatever it takes, GO!!!
There are more photos below