Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day 496: College Fjord

A “Pastry Extravaganza Buffet” is a good way to start the day. The ship had a block of time when folks could take pictures of the desserts (no eating), but that picture taking time is a bad thing when you have a sweet tooth. I snapped pictures of the desserts I thought were the most spectacular and just knew I would be back to have some desserts later. When I returned the line was huge, snaking back and forth. I stood in line for a few minutes and gave up, figuring it would be slower later. Not 30 minutes later the line was gone. Hooray! Except…

The desserts were gone. Everyone had their fill and there was no more. And my oh-so-ready-to-be-satisfied sweet tooth was disappointed. Thank goodness we’ll be seeing another buffet like this one for our next 7 days. In the meantime, I can dream of good things to come.

And a great way to end the day? Cruising College Fjord. About every space between the mountains is filled with an overflowing glacier, all named after colleges. Glacier after glacier after glacier. Too many to get into the same picture, but I captured some. Many, many more are not pictured.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Day 495: Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay National Park is over 3.3 million acres of forest, inlet and shore, mountain peaks, and glaciers. Wildlife is abundant, and I just barely found myself a grizzly (or is it a brown?) bear on shore.
But we’re here for the glaciers. Unlike glaciers in the lower 48, those in the park are retreating and advancing. One of Alaska’ most photographed features is the Margerie Glacier.
Why does the ice look so blue? When light hits highly compacted ice, long wavelength colors (reds) are absorbed and short wavelength colors like blues reflect back through the ice to our eyes. You might even catch some black. Makes for an interesting look.
The glaciers can move over five feet a day so seeing a glacier calving is common. It sounds like the crack of a bat when it’s about ready to fall. You have to be fast to snap a picture, but I did manage one.
We also viewed the Lamplugh Glacier. This one even had caves in it.
When you get a close up look at icebergs, they're pretty darn amazing. One might be a big chunk and the next one a group of pieces that have found their way to each other.
Even more amazing is that a cruise ship can pass through this:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Day 494: Skagway

The population of Skagway is 968. During the summer season it doubles, but back during the height of the gold rush the population of Skagway was as high as 30,000.
In comparison to Ketchikan’s 152 inches of rain a year, Skagway averages 27 inches.

The White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad – built during the Klondike Gold Rush – is an “International Civil Engineering Landmark” and shares honors with the Eiffel Tower, the Panama Canal, and the Statue of Liberty.
Since we’ve ridden the railroad more than once we skipped it this time around. We did lots of other things. I went swimming again, all alone in the deserted pool. We went into town to find the quilt shop.
When I walked in I realized I had been in there on my last trip. That didn’t stop me from buying some penguin fabric at 50% off.
We hunted down a Thai food place that was supposed to be delicious (and devoid of tourists). Several of the ship’s crew members were eating in there. While I snapped a picture our egg roll appetizers I neglected to take one of our sweet and sour chicken as we dug in before I even thought about it.

But the picture that did me in? It wasn’t the beautiful view on the way up to the Yukon Territory.

It wasn’t the bear that was so close to the window that I couldn’t get a picture of the whole thing.

It was this one right here. Oh God. Take a step. Oh God. Take a step. Oh God. Take a step. But boy, such a beautiful picture!

Why all the Oh God-ing? Well it would be because that picture came from standing in the middle of this bridge:

This afternoon was the time to overcome my fear of heights. I walked all the way to one side of the suspension bridge and all the way back across the same bridge. No one to hold my hand, no one to cheer me on. Just me and my fears. (Did you know suspension bridges move when people walk on them? Yikes.) But whew, check that one off my list!  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Day 493: Juneau

Juneau, the capital of Alaska, is only accessible by land or water. You can’t drive to get here! It’s the largest state capital by land area and the only one that borders a foreign country.

Today we originally planned on finding a quilt shop and riding the Mt. Roberts Tramway. But with today being a rainy, cold day we decided to not go ashore. (Knowing we’re coming back this way next week made the decision easier.)
Instead, yesterday’s pool again called my name, and the library has some very comfortable chairs.

Free room service and lots of newer movies on the television made for a nice afternoon since the view out the balcony wasn’t so warm looking.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Day 492: Ketchikan

Some facts about Ketchikan:
  • It’s known as Alaska’s “First City” because it’s the first stop when cruising the Inside Passage.
  • With 7,000 people it’s Alaska’s sixth largest city.
  • It’s the “Salmon Capital of the World” with five different species of wild Pacific salmon found in the surrounding waters.
  • Ketchikan is home to the largest collection of totem poles in the world.
  • It receives over 152 inches of rain a year.
Having visited Ketchikan several times before, we didn’t feel the pressure of having to get up and off the boat immediately.  We had a beautiful early morning look out our door.

Everyone else left the ship right away, leaving the pools completely deserted. Lucky me, getting to have this gorgeous place to myself! 

We did venture into town for a Lumberjack show. I snapped several pictures but the best one was of the log roll. What looks like snow really is water splashing.

But the even better picture occurred while I was sitting there. Look to the sky, grab the camera and hope for a good shot. I think I got it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Day 491: At Sea

Today was our first full day at sea. What does one do when you are on a cruise ship all day? As you can imagine, it had something to do with food.

It started with a beautiful morning on the balcony and some room service. I've never seen melons chopped so small!

Then we headed out to watch a fruit carving. What talent! But I kept thinking, I could use those in my juice.

Today was a special British pub lunch. Bangers and mash were on the menu but we opted for the fish and chips with mushed peas. It was all so delicious - even the peas. I cleaned my plate.

It was formal night for dinner. Since we ate in the main dining room it was a four course meal. My choices:

Appetizer - Crabmeat quiche.
 Soup - Chicken wonton.
Main entree - Seared halibut on a bed of swiss chard.
Dessert - Strawberry cheesecake.
I made sure I did not clean my plate. What a load of food!

We then stopped by as they were putting the finishing touches on the champagne waterfall. We passed on partaking.
I did partake in their Mai Tai drink special of the day when we attended the comedy show.
Then as I was loading all the pictures into the computer tonight, hubby spied a humpback whale right off our balcony.
A very full (and filling) day.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Day 490: Island Princess

You can follow our cruise with the Island Princess webcam.

The first cruise we ever took was for our 20th anniversary. Only rich people cruised but we wanted to celebrate right for a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Except the once-in-a-lifetime trip has become a once-every-few-years trip. Our favorite cruise line is Princess and we're back with them again.

Island Princess to Alaska. Two weeks of rest and relaxation. And not just in one of the tiny inside cabins we usually book. We got a call a few days ago that we were being upgraded to a balcony cabin at no extra cost.

We feel so lucky that we're able to be here on this Independence Day. Happy 4th of July!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day 489

I thought today I'd get an amazing picture. Remember all those windmills from Day 24? I'm kind of obsessed with those wind turbines. I've seen them being hauled down the road in pieces for years now. I've always wished I could catch one of the pieces stopped at a rest area so I could snap a picture, but they have always eluded me. But at Grouse Mountain in Vancouver, British Columbia they have a turbine tour. That tour goes into a glass viewing station at the top of the turbine!

But hubby still isn't doing much but sleeping so we didn't go. Maybe I'll get to do the wind turbine when we return.

My fear of heights might get me anyway. Just standing on the balcony of our Vancouver hotel room is enough to give me the heebie jeebies. 27 floors from the ground is plenty high.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 488

So I thought the excitement was beginning.

The plan was to drive to Seattle and spend the night. In the morning head to Pike Place Market with all the great fruits, veggies and flowers. Chase down a juice bar up the street. Hit a Starbucks for hubby and La Panier (my favorite french bakery) for me. Go back to the hotel for the afternoon and rest up until the evening Seattle Mariners baseball game.

That plan didn't happen.

Hubby hasn't been feeling well so we only made it as far as Yakima. He's had plenty of time to rest but now we'll be missing the Market. We will be hitting the baseball game tonight, though.

So instead of an exciting day full of pictures of flowers and fresh produce in Seattle, you get to see a picture of what I stared at for a chunk of the day yesterday. It'll have to do until I can (hopefully) take exciting pictures at tonight's game.

The texture of the ceiling in the hotel room is something I've never seen before. Bigfoot must have been the one assigned to the job.
Okay, it's post game and I do have some more pictures.
A couple of Safeco Field...
 The Mariners Moose

 See the ball in this one?


And of course we can't forget the guy selling hot dogs...

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Day 487

July 1, the self-imposed quilt deadline. Despite all the grumblings this week about math class, work-related phone calls and e-mails, and too much chocolate, four quilts are headed out the door.

Now the excitement begins.