Monday, July 9, 2012

I'm Back..............................................................

Well, I am back physically, but mentally I find myself daily thinking back to Alaska! I returned home after my first ever cruise to the beautiful, breath taking state of Alaska. We experienced 50-70's degree weather up there, and when I got home it was a 108 degrees, but it was a "dry" heat. I was so sorry that I had complained about the cold all week. The total distance that I travelled by cruise ship was a whopping 2,270.1 statute miles. Half of my family members were sea sick the first 24 hours. We were awakened to the "gentle" swaying of the ship, at 1AM. Our stateroom was up on the 14th floor(of 17) and with the high winds, it was like "crack the whip" up there. My brother commented to his then green wife, "didn't you just sleep great, it was like being in a hammock all night". 

Well,in defence of the cruise ship, I must say that after that rough part, the ship was fairly steady and no further sickness.
Here is a picture of our cruise ship the Star Princess.  950 feet long, 118 feet wide.  Max number of passengers 3100, maximum number of crew 1205.  We averaged 16-19.6 knots per hour.  And enough life boats for all of us!!!!!

Our first port of call was Ketchikan, the salmon capital of the world.   
5 salmon are fished out of these waters-chum, sockeye, king, silver and pink salmon. It is the "Banana Belt" of Alaska noted for temperate temps and a whopping 152+ inches of rain per year. They are noted for their totem poles, from the Tlingit tribe of Indians that inhabited the area.  Did you know, it is not always bad to be the low man on the totem pole.  There are life sized totem poles throughout this port, but I saw this nice little grouping in a souvenir shop.

 Noted for Creek Street, (pictured above) "Where both men and fish head upstream to spawn", the booming red light district back in the day, but now there are delightful little shops along the streams where one can shop til you drop!
  We had a great time shopping. I ended up having to purchase a warmer rain coat with fleece lining. With all my preparation for this trip,I was not prepared for the damp bone chilling winds.

  Next we did a cruise thru the Tracy Arm Fjord Glacier-Alaska has 90% of the glaciers with 100,000 in the state covering 30,000 square miles. The ice was a aquamarine blue color, very pretty. I saw harbor seals perched atop the floating bergs. When an ice berg falls off a glacier into the sea, it is called "calving". The naturalist on board stated that the seals look like little brown speckled sausages, and the Killer Whales think that also,and find them quite tasty. Could not shop here as we were on board.

On to Juneau! The capital, it is the only state capital in the US with no road access. Only accessible by sea or air. The town of Juneau is built atop mining tailings from the old mines.   I also had my picture taken with Sara Palin while I was there.
  Red Dog Saloon is a must stop and see place for all its history and ambiance.  I think the sun rose at 3 in the morning and was still lite at midnight while we were docked there.
While leaving Juneau, I spotted my first humpback whales, and not just their spouts.  One had a baby.  These whales are 50 feet long, and weigh in at 1 ton per foot.  The naturalist said they never sleep, just rest at the surface.  If they slept they would drown.   The whales did not look that big from atop the 17th floor.  The shopping was great!

The gateway to the gold rush.  There were two ways to get to the Yukon territory through Skagway, The shortest trail was the Chilkoot trail and was only 33 miles, but had a hellish 1/4 mile climb 1000 feet up. This had to be scaled 20-40 times as the Canadian government made it mandatory for each person to carry with them and have in their possession 1 ton of goods to survive in Canada.  The second route was longer the White Pass and was 10 miles longer, but did not have the vertical climb that the Chilkoot trail had.  Dead horse trail is in this pass where 3000 horses died along the route.  The horses were worked to death and then left, also if a dog could not carry its own weight it met the same fate.   They have a scenic train ride through this pass. 
Many of the men who went prospecting, by the time they made it to the Yukon, the gold was all gone.  Jack London partook in this journey.  He did not strike it rich in gold, but struck it rich in memories and wrote books of this journey.  One that I recall was "Call Of The Wild".  A book much loved by me.
Also my friend Sara Palin came with her family at 6 weeks of age and was raised here.
I did not do much shopping here, as frankly, I ran out of suit case room.  But I did manage to visit a very nice quilt shop while here.  Busy street scene of Skagway.  All the sidewalks in the historic section were plank. 

Sad, but this was our last stop on our trip. "The town of the newlyweds and the nearly deads" is what our tour guide said. Allot of young people live here, and allot of retirees. due to the temperate climate, with winter temps in the 40's.What impressed me most was the vegetation and the architecture. Beautiful flowers and gardens, and the British influence of the buildings. We only spent 5 hours here in the evening.

Craigdarroch castle. Owned by the Robert Dunsmuir who discovered the richest seam of coal in Vancouver island in 1869. His lavish home with 39 rooms is considered to be one of the finest in North America. The tour through this castle ended at 7 pm so we were unable to go through it, as that is when we arrived. It supposedly has priceless antiques, intricate woodwork and exquisite Victorian-era stained glass windows.
Bottom picture is a street scene of the Irish Pub in downtown Victoria. You can see my mom and dad in front. My dad has on the white cap and green coat, and my mom is to his left.
I have tried to highlight my trip, but I took 139 pictures and can't get them all in my blog unfortunately.  It was the end of another chapter of my life, and a big one. 
Oh, I forgot to mention the FOOD.  I can't say enough about it.  The chefs were great.  I had seafood every day, sometimes twice daily.  They say one puts on 1# per day when on a cruise, well in a few more weeks, I will weigh myself and check out this fact.  Also, another thing about this cruise, they have everything imaginable to do when you are stuck on board ship.  I took a few line dancing classes, saw Broadway comparable song and dance programs, they had bingo, movies, swimming pools , hot tubs, a library.  If you wanted to listen to a live string quartet, or jazz they had that.  Something going on every hour of every day.  You can go through this vacation brain dead, or really come away with learning something about the area.   A once in a lifetime adventure, but I hope that I can do it again someday.  Thank you Mom and Dad!!!
The poppies in the top of this blog are the size of coffee cup saucers and were growing in Ketchikan.  The flowers at the end of this post were in someones front yard in Victoria.

More later..............................................................................................

No comments:

Post a Comment