Sunday, July 07, 2013

Alaska Cruises June 2013

7/6/13 We have been back from our 2 Alaska cruises for a week now, but haven’t had much time for blog posts. Like all the rest of you, we have had to deal with the details of everyday life – darn it. Quite a shock after all the pampering on the cruise ship! On June 13 we left our RV at the SKP park in Chimicum, WA because the promised parking spot at the Elks Lodge in Port Townsend had become unavailable without a hefty daily fee. Luckily, the people at the SKP park allowed us to keep it in the boondocking area. We drove our car to Vancouver, BC where we stayed at the Best Western Abercorn Inn in Richmond. They have a package allowing people one night’s stay, breakfast, a shuttle to the ship, and 14 days of parking during the cruise. Our friends, Jo & Lynda, who live in Richmond, drove over and joined us for a nice dinner at Moxie’s, a nearby restaurant.
Lynda has been a friend of ours ever since we met her in Hawaii in the early 1980’s! The food was delicious and we had a delightful time with them. June 14 we took the shuttle to the Radiance of the Seas at Canada Place and boarded the ship. We had been “upgraded” from an inside room to an outside room on the second deck, which had a very tiny porthole. Actually, for this cruise, this was a downgrade, because it stays light so late at night and the sun rises so early in the morning in the north, that we would have been happier in the darkness of our usual inside room! When we went to the Diamond+ lounge at Happy Hour time, we were delighted to see some people we had met on other cruises: Alvin & Janice Vidrine, and Phil & Georgia Wiseman. This is Alvin & Janice:
On this ship, there is also a Diamond lounge, and there are better views out the front from there, so we spent time in that lounge also. Within a short time we had become fast friends with Kay & Hank Habenicht and we all ate together at some of the specialty restaurants. Here we are with them in Giovanni’s:
The scenery on the Alaska cruises was absolutely fantastic, partly because it was so warm and sunny most of the time.
In fact, on the way up to Seward the first week, it was over 80 degrees in every port!! One of the ports was Icy Straits Point, where we hiked into the nearby town of Hoonah. There were lots of eagles flying around and we caught a few good pictures of some in a tree:
And there was a nest in a tree in town that had an eagle sitting in it, probably on an egg:
In the town there was a carving studio where native Alaskan artists were carving some totem poles
and a huge motif for the front of a clan house
for Glacier Bay National Park, all carved in red cedar harvested from that site. This picture shows us, with the ship moored behind us, and you can see it was so warm that we couldn’t wear our sweaters.
At the next port, Juneau, Hank and Kay joined us on the public bus to go to the Alaskan Brewing Company for some free beer tasting:
The following week, in Juneau, Elaine and I took the bus to the Mendenhall Glacier where we explored the site and enjoyed the new National Park building. This is a view of the glacier, and one of the waterfalls created by the melting of it:
Skagway was one of the ports but we have been there often and didn’t take many pictures. This one shows that cruise ships park right at the end of the main street, and just tower over the old wooden store buildings:
At the Hubbard Glacier, we had fog problems early on but managed to get these pictures: The glacier itself:
One of the ice floes near the ship:
Lots of ice fragments in the water:
Back on the ship, we finally were invited to have dinner at the Captain’s table, but he was busy so our host was the Executive Housekeeper, Clifton Anthony. Here we are with some of the other people who were at that special dinner:
Our first cruise ended in Seward, where we were picked up by some RV friends, Jack & Robin Ross, who had moved up to Soldotna when they retired and sold their home in California. They drove 90 miles to pick us up. They showed us around Seward and then we all drove out to the Exit Glacier on the edge of town. This picture shows where we started the hike to the glacier:
This is a closeup of the glacier when we got there:
Then they drove us back to Soldotna so we could see where they live and we could have lunch at one of their favorite places. On the way, we passed the Kenai River where Jack likes to fish, and it was lined with fishermen standing very close to each other – it is called “combat fishing”. He couldn’t stop for us to take a picture, so later at the visitor’s center, we took this picture to show the situation:
Also at the visitor’s center, was this model of the largest rainbow trout ever caught there:
The four of us had a delicious pizza lunch with good beer at the St. Elias Brewing Company, which was located near their home.
Then they showed us the home that they had built several years ago when they first moved there. It was wonderfully light and open, and delightfully decorated:
Jack and Robin are both members of a quilting group where they live and Jack showed us the beautiful quilt he had made entirely from mens' ties:
On the way back to the ship, we passed some beautiful scenery.
They dropped us off at the ship after a very full day. Just imagine, they drove 90 miles to Seward, 90 miles back to Soldotna, 90 miles back to Seward, then 90 miles back home, all to show us around and give us a nice experience in their part of Alaska!!! Great friends! On the cruise back, when we stopped in Ketchikan, we were able to meet up with another RV friend, Betty Prange. She is there for the summer, working as a naturalist for a company that takes boat trips out to Misty Fjords National Monument. We were able to spend 2 hours with her to have coffee and pastries in a local bakery, then walk around and share each others events since our last time together. Fabulous.
Betty told us to visit the Cape Fox Lodge where they have lots of authentic native Alaskan artifacts, so we hiked up there to see them. Delightful. They had about 6 totem poles in the front, and here is a picture of me with one of the unusual ones:
Back on the ship, Hank and Kay joined us for a special dinner at the Chef’s Table because we got a reduced price due to being Diamond+.
The menu includes 5 courses of gourmet food and each course is paired with a special wine. This is a picture of the food and the wine:
The chef gave us copies of some of the recipes later on when we ran into him in the buffet. Haven’t tried any of them yet. The cruise ended in Vancouver on June 28, so we took the Skytrain back to our hotel and picked up our car. It was a Friday so we hit lots of traffic at the border, and also had to wait for a while at the ferry which took us across Puget Sound to Port Townsend, but we made it back to our RV by dinnertime. It was the end of a very nice vacation. Yes, I know that I haven’t written or posted the promised blog entry about our trip to Myanmar and SE Asia in Feb. and March, and I still am promising to write it as soon as I can find a little more time. Tomorrow we are going hiking in the Hoh Rainforest, and Sunday we will be moving our RV down to Gig Harbor to stay on Chris Christensen’s lot and have a visit with her. I am also hoping that Paige, my granddaughter who lives in Seattle, and her partner, Allison, can come for a visit or that we can go over there one more time before we head for Oregon.


CaliforniaGrammy said...

This was such a fun post to read, and the pictures are fantastic. I have the one of the bald eagles sitting in the tree right on my desktop, I love it! And such great friends to drive back and forth, putting on nearly 400 miles to host you . . . You guys really know how to travel and have fun!

Chuck and Jan Moore said...

Wonderful! Loved hearing about the Alaska Cruise! It's just a different 'trip' than being here in an RV! Sending hugs, J&C

Betty Prange, Nomad, from somewhere on the road said...

It was great having you for a visit in Ketchikan. Great that my schedule and yours worked for some time together. Been busy...but finally a day off for me to get caught up on my blog.
Hope to see you this winter .Betty

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