Monday, January 2, 2017

Alaska - Days 3 & 4

Day three was spent chugging along at sea. 


For the cruisin' crowd, it was a day for shipboard activities.   Our group was the Stich -n- Sail gathering from Debbie McComber's fandom.  My sister worked for her at her shop in Port Orchard, and she was one of the instructors for classes.  I am not a knitter (I've knitted, but it's not my thing), but we did drop in on her "how to cast on" class.



I don't have many photos from that day.  This piece of cake from dinner that night was the most exciting photo I took for this day.


And so we find ourselves on Day 4.  It was a lovely morning...


and then we entered a fog bank...


which made for a nifty-looking morning sun!


As the fog cleared, we found ourselves surrounded by beautiful mountains.  Islands, I presume, although some of them could've been mainland.



The captain kept us informed of all wildlife sightings, like these whales.  The dark spot just left of center is a fluke as the whale dove, and up and to the left of that is a spray from a whale spouting.

This was the largest grouping of whales we would see on this trip.

 This one jumped right next to the ship, but of course, by the time I got my camera ready for it, the ship had moved quite far past it.  Thank goodness for zoom lenses and photo zoom and crop!


A daily treat was coming back to our room to see what fun animal had been made from the towels for us.


Finally - a day on land ahead of us as we pulled in to Juneau.


Juneau is the capitol city of Alaska.  Small by comparison to other state capitols...and only accessible by water (or air).



My land excursion was a trip to the Mendenhall Glacier - wanted to see it before it completely melts away.  Here is our first glimpse of it from the bus.


For someone who works in parks and interpretation, I have been to very few national parks.  


Probably more impressive to me than the actual glaciers we saw this trip were the floating chunks of ice that had previously broken off.  Amazing shapes and colors.


Once at the park, we had just enough time to take the walk down to the glacier...or near it, at least.


Those who did not want to walk the trail could visit the visitor center, which also had a spectacular view of the glacier.


I, of course, was very interested in the plants along the way.  Many were old friends from the Adirondacks


like this pink pyrola!

 
Lupines were also familiar.
 
 
Many, however, I did not know.  And just try finding a flower field guide!  I had no luck.  I guess there aren't too many tourists interested in botany.  :(
 
 


Evidence of the glacier is written in the rocks.  No surprise there.



I tried to upload the video I took down at the glacier and the waterfall, but it is apparently too big for the blog.  So, you will have to do with still photos instead.  Not the same, I know.



 This is the view from the visitor center:


On the way back to the ship, our guide pointed out the hanging glacier in the saddle between these peaks - one of the few hanging glaciers left, according to him.


 And so Day 4 drew to a close back on ship.

Alaska -Day Two

My goodness - it's been a year and a half since I last posted!  Not having ready internet access has made it difficult. 

But now that I am unemployed (long story - laid off Dec. 21, 2016, last day Dec. 30, 2016), I should have nothing but time, in between searched for employment.

So, I am going to finish posting about my fabulous trip to Alaska in May/June 2015.

So, Day Two - Leaving Port Orchard and Getting onto the Cruise Ship in Seattle

After breakfast, we all piled into the van and drove to the ferry station in Port Orchard.  There we rolled aboard and parked in line with all the other commuters.  Because it was a lengthy ride, we got out of the van and walked around the ferry - nice views from on top.  Saw some pelagic birds, but no whales.


They are very serious here about keeping birds from perching everywhere.


Once in  Seattle, we had to drive from the ferry dock to the ship dock.  And there she was, the Norwegian Pearl, our home away from home for the next week.


Some views of the city from the ship.



I had a shot of the huge YELLOW oil drilling platform that was being built here and later that summer was towed out to see to head up to the Arctic.  Do you remember that?  Hundreds of kayaks and other small craft tried to block its progress.  Well, at the time, I did not know what it was - it was just this huge yellow thing.  I asked around, but no one knew what it was, so I deleted the photos.  Ah, hindsight - it is indeed 20/20.

Soon we found our room.  There were three of us (were supposed to be four).  Here you see the beds my mother and sister used.  I am standing in the doorway to our balcony.  To my left, which you cannot see, was a "sofa," which folded out into the bed that I used.  And were was #4 supposed to sleep?  Over my head - a shelf pulled down and #4 would have to climb up onto that ledge to bunk down.  Good thing her family decided to come along and they all got their own room!


There were plenty of whimsical decorations on board, like these fun fishy carpets,


and this crazy Dale Chihuly glass sculpture.


We walked around the ship, getting our bearings and checking out the "welcome aboard" doings.  There was a "BBQ Cookout," which we mostly missed.  We got there just in time to get one of the last cold burgers.

Here we see the entertainment folks trying to entice visitors into a group dancing thing.


We found the important part of the ship:  where the captain and crew did the sailing proper.


Very few of the shipboard entertainments, however, held much appeal to me.  Yeah, it takes a special type of personality to be into cruising.  I am not that person.  So, I spent a lot of my on-board time on the deck watching the scenery pass by.


And so, here we were, out to sea as the sun sets on Day #2.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Alaska, Part One

This May, my folks treated me to an Alaskan cruise.  Woo-hoo.  My sister, who lives in Washington (state), works part time in Debbie MacComber's yarn shop (yes, that's the author, Debbie MacComber), and they hosted a "Stitch -n- Sail" cruise, so my mom and I went along.  I am no longer a knitter (although seeing all the lovely yarns in the shop, I am tempted to dig out my needles again), so I was going along strictly for the opportunity to see Alaska.

I spent two and a half months in Alaska nearly 25 years ago (it was 24 years and 8 months) - I was in Ketchikan and lived on Prince of Wales Island in the booming metropolis of Craig.  Hard to believe it was so long ago.  Anywho...I wanted to see more of the state, and hopefully some great wildlife. 

We arrived in Washington two days early:  here are some highlights of our brief stay in Port Orchard.

First we went down to the bay to take in the Farmer's market.  They have a number of really cool woodcarvings by some of the shops (and one shop is an amazing candy store - GREAT fudge).


Niece, Gordon Fisherman, Sister, Mom


 Pelagic Cormorant - watched a pair catching (and eating) fish.



Skull of a wee dragon?




Bird (raven) on a bird (statue).


This just amused me.


 Apparently it was Pirate Weekend.


Next we visited Debbie MacComber's shops.

 Debbie MacComber's Tea Shop (above) and Yarn Shop (below)


Isn't this great?  It's a squash my sister made for the shop's mammogram promotion!


 From there, we headed over to Theler Wetlands, so I could take in some of the local nature.

B-i-L with a big leaf maple.  New species for me!


Great gate!


Squirrel Corn


Devil's Club


Thimbleberry


A buttercup (never did get a plant ID book)


 A raspberry past blooming and getting ready to set fruit.


Banana Slug!!!


Apparently a young grey whale washed up on the beach a few 
years ago.  The skeleton is at their visitor center.


They have some really cool art around, too.


The tide was out, so water was low in the wetland proper.


No idea what tree this is.  Interesting fruits, though.


Savanna Sparrow. 


A lesson in the language of the local native people.


Great photo of Mom.




Horsetails...very large and beautiful!



 
Another mystery plant/tree.  

Loved this little bumblebee with a yellow stripe on either end.

Some plants were familiar - like miterwort,

 and this bedstraw.

It was well into evening (but still light out), when we returned to my sister's home and had dinner.  The next morning we would head for the Seattle and the cruise ship.