Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Oregon, Washington, and Alaska Cruises

In my last post, Aug. 13, I indicated that we had been staying with Mike & Marilyn Harrison for a week, and having a grand time.  They always allow us to park in their driveway and we enjoy Happy Hours with them, joint meals, and daily walks at the nearby wildlife refuge.  Here is a picture of Marilyn and Elaine on one of the walks:
One of the other delights of staying with them is that they have rhubarb growing in their yard and they don't eat it (unless we make a rhubarb crisp), so Elaine cut it and we had a nice dessert with them.
After a week with them, we left our RV there and drove our car up to Seattle, where we stayed with Vicky and Terry Webb in their large home in Brier.  They are RV friends, and they left in their 5th wheel for a few days after we arrived, but we did have some time with them before and after their camping trip.  This is their picture:
They are always a lot of fun, as you can tell by their big smiles.  Another reason we went to Seattle for a few days was to have a visit with my oldest granddaughter, Paige, and her fiancee, Allison.  They live in Ballard, which is an area of Seattle near the locks.  Sunday, we went for a day hike with them at a local park, which is where this picture was taken:
After the hike, we went to Snohomish, a quaint little nearby town, where we had a nice lunch and visited some antique stores.  It was a fun day with the girls.  The fun continued the next day, when we brought some food over to their house, and Paige cooked dinner for all of us.  She is a good cook!!  They are renting a little house, which is long and narrow, so it is called a "shotgun" house.
The last time we were here, they were in a different place, so it was fun to see it.  Plus we got to see all their pets:  a cat, a dog, some fish, and a bearded dragon lizard!  It is very tame and loves to be held.  It is on Allison's shoulder in this picture:
The girls are very thrifty and also talented, so they managed to acquire some free pallets and make some backyard furniture with it:
Paige also made a bookcase out of the pallets.  Such a clever girl!!
     Another visit we enjoyed was driving our car to the Edmonds-Kingston ferry, then driving across the Olympic Peninsula to Port Angeles, where Elaine's sister Penny had recently purchased a home.  Prior to this she was a long time resident of Tucson.  This is a picture of Penny & Elaine (they are the 2 youngest of 6 sisters):
And this is the cute little house she purchased:
Her furniture hadn't even arrived yet!!  The house is located in an older part of town, so it is not that far from the waterfront and the port.  By just walking down to the end of her street, and down a wooden walkway, we were just 3 or 4 blocks from the waterfront.  We went to the Downrigger Restaurant, where we had a really delicious lunch out on the deck overlooking the water.  It was to celebrate Penny's birthday, and her new home.
One reason she wanted to move here was because her daughter, Suzanne, with her husband, Tom and their 2 children live right across the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Victoria, Canada.  Penny can easily walk to the ferry in Port Angeles, take it across, and then walk to their home there.  While we were having lunch, the ferry arrived and here is a picture of it at the dock:
The next day we managed to connect with a school friend of Elaine's who lives in Edmonds.  They have been friends since kindergarten in Illinois!!  Her name is Linda Lightfoot, and here is a picture of her with her partner, Greta, in front of their RV, which they use for camping trips.  Linda is the one next to Elaine.  We had a nice dinner at Anthony's, on the waterfront in Edmonds, and took a walk along the shore because it was an unseasonably warm day, and hardly anyone has air conditioning.
Then we drove up to Vancouver, Canada in our car and stayed overnight at the Travelodge in Richmond.  They have a stay and cruise package, so we could stay one night and then leave our car there for 14 days at no charge.  The next day we took the shuttle to Canada Place, where we boarded the Radiance of the Sea.  There was a nice view across the bay to north Vancouver:
We were delighted to see a cruise friend, Linda Taylor, when we went up to the Concierge lounge.
Since we were cruising up to Alaska and back, we were visiting the same ports twice.  The way things worked out, we managed to have at least one night day in each port.  It was sunny in Ketchikan the second time we were there, so I was able to take this picture from the ship:
We also walked through town and up to Creek Street, which was the street running along the creek, famous at the red light district during the Klondike gold rush days. 
One of the houses, which is now a "museum", is Dolly's House, and was a well known house of ill repute.  Today it has this sign on the side of it:
We walked all the way up the side of the creek to some stairs running up the steep side of the hill which took us to the Cape Fox Lodge at the top.
Right in front of the lodge there is a circle of totem poles, carved by the local Tlingit tribe, which are somewhat different than other totem poles in the area.
Inside the lodge, there are museum quality displays of aboriginal artifacts from a number of different tribes, and good photographs with explanations about the lifestyles.  There is no charge for this and it is a fun place to visit.  On the way back to the ship, we looked in some of the stores (lots of sales because of the end of the season), and Elaine found a new friend too:
The next port was Icy Strait Point, near the town of Hoonah.  It was somewhat overcast the first time we were there.  We walked into town and had this nice view of the ship:
We like to walk into town because it is a 4 mile round trip, and there is a carving center in town which is carving totem poles and a carved front for the tribal house to be installed in Glacier Bay National Park in 2016.  You can go in and see the carvings in progress for no charge, and they are excellent:
On the way back to the ship, we stopped at the newly opened Icy Strait Brewing Company, which is located in a small renovated property right on the water.  We had 2 samples and then shared a full beer out on the back deck, where there were sightings of whales right off shore:
The next port was Juneau, where the sun was shining and it was a glorious day. 
Juneau is kind of in a bowl, so there were towering green mountains with waterfalls easily seen from the ship.  We walked through the town and caught the local bus to the Alaskan Brewing Company.
They used to offer a chance to sample 6 of their beers; now it is 3 - but it is still free.  Getting there on the bus costs $2 but you have to have exact change.  We did a little exploring of the town when we got back near the ship.  The second week we were in Juneau, it was pouring down rain, so we stayed on the ship.
    The next port was Skagway, where we had nice weather again.  We have been there many times, including spending a week there when we were in Alaska in our RV for a whole summer, so we decided to do a hike.  We went out to Yakutania Point, an easy 2 mile hike from the ship.  Here is Elaine, out at the point, with the ship behind her:
There were great views from the ship as we sailed out of this port:
After Skagway, we stopped to see the Hubbard Glacier, but it was a very overcast day and the views were terrible.  The next day we sailed into Seward, where most people were supposed to get off the ship and a new batch of people would board.  However, it was so windy that the port was closed.  They kept giving updates on when we might be able to dock, but it took until 1 PM for that to happen.  Of course, people were still using their rooms, so the attendants couldn't get started on cleaning everything up for the next people.  The cruise director and staff did a great job of quickly setting up some things like entertainment, trivia contests, etc. to keep people occupied.  Once we docked, Elaine and I took the shuttle into town just to get off the ship for a while.  But it was so windy and cold that we didn't last long out there, and took the shuttle back.  The last passenger didn't get off the ship until 4PM!!!!  Of course, they couldn't start boarding the new people for a while either.  The ships dinner seatings were all screwed up, as was the evening entertainment.  We were supposed to leave at 8PM but when we went to bed at 10:30PM, we were still in port.
     The next day we sailed into the bay where the Hubbard Glacier reaches the water.  This time it was a nice day and we got very close to the glacier, and had nice views:
This was Aug. 29, which was my 71st birthday.  Robert Taggert, the Hotel Director, and Beth Van Zant, the Human Resources Director, took us out for dinner at Izumi, the Japanese restaurant on the ship.  Debbie, the Loyalty ambassador,and 2 of Beth's friends from Dallas also joined us.
They also arranged for a beautiful and delicious cake:

Another treat on this cruise was the company of Vance and Andrea Guerena, a couple we cruised with for 44 days on the Rhapsody from Sydney to Istanbul this Spring.
Additionally, we met many nice people in the lounges who will no doubt be with us on future cruises.
Because we were one of 10 Pinnacles on the first cruise, and 8 on the second one, Robert Taggert had everyone attend a special cocktail party in his quarters each week.  He has a very nice set of rooms located right next to the Captain's quarters on deck 9 in the front of the ship, under the bridge. 
I didn't get any very good pictures, but this gives you an idea of the size of his living room!!!
     At the end of the cruise, we easily got off the ship, caught the shuttle to the hotel, retrieved our car, and drove back to Seattle to stay one more day with Vicky & Terry.  That evening we took them out to dinner at the Mazatlan Mexican Restaurant, as a thank you for their hospitality.  Had a delicious dinner and we would recommend this restaurant highly.
The next day, Saturday, we had a last breakfast with Paige and Allison in Ballard. It was great to see them and sad to say goodbye.
Our drive back to our RV was horrific.  It was Labor Day weekend and we kept hitting backups on I-5.  We finally arrived 10 hours later - a drive which should have taken 6.  The next day we left and headed for Sacramento, where we are now parked on Carol & Ron's Leonard's property.  We are having a nice visit with them, and last night we had Linda Taylor over for dinner.  It was a nice reunion.  Tomorrow we head for the Bay Area, to visit Elaine's daughter Tarra, my brother John, and check on the Collinwood House.