Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Day 16... Museums

After our exciting day yesterday, today was a quiet day spent in Anchorage.

Slept in and enjoyed a slow morning.   We walked to a local Carl's Jr. for a light breakfast.  Then about noon we used the GPS on our phone and drove to the coast to find the Earthquake Museum.   It is outside in the area when a 9.1 earthquake happened on Good Friday, March 27, 1964.    
Many homes were destroyed and the city of Anchorage, along with several others were severely damaged. 

In the area we walked this morning, a sharp cliff still exists where a portion of the shoreline literally dropped into the sea.  Spaced along the trail were displays telling the story of the worst earthquakes in North American history.  Very informative and makes us think about more preparation in our own home.

We then drove back into downtown and found the new Anchorage Museum.  Spent two hours walking through the various exhibits.  The portion of painting was only a very small part; they were very good and we really enjoyed the many paintings of various views of Mt Denali.  A large portion of the museum was dedicated to the historical Alaska Indian tribes. 

Back  to our Hostal where we enjoyed our almost daily game of cards and meeting new guests that just arrived from France. 

And so another comes to close.  This time next week we'll be home.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Day 15 Brook Falls - Bears

Well our biggest adventure happened today and was everything we dreamed it would be.  We'd made the reservations months ago.

Up early, we were began our day at 6:30 am when we arrived at the airport for our trip in a float plane for 2.5 hours south to Katmai National Park to view bears catching migrating salmon as they are leaping up Brook Falls.

This was our first time ever taking off and landing on the water. And because we stopped for gas coming home, it was three ups and downs.  Very exciting.   We flew in a six seater Cessna plane with attached floats; the pilot,a single man and a grandfather with his eleven year old grandaughter were our companions.

We arrived about 11 am after flying over mountain ranges and large lakes for 2.5 hours.  We each wore headphones so that we could hear the pilots taking over the radio and also helped lookout for other small planes.  We flew very near to several active volcanoes.

After a short lesson on bears from the ranger about sharing the forest with bears, we stored all of our food in lockers and began our 2 mile walk to Brook Falls along wooded trails that are shared with bears.  There were several wood elevated bridges over the river that were  gated and only used by humans.  

It was a wonderful experience and we saw at least twenty bears at various times.  There were never any barriers separating us.   Bears had the right of way on the paths.  We were told Never To Run, but to slowly back away until you can  move off of the path and let them pass.  

The largest group of bears was at the falls where they had several viewing platforms where we could take photos.  We have way too many and even three videos of bears actually catching a salmon to eat.

We spent nearly fours at the park  including time to eat the delicious hearty lunch the tour company prepared for us.

Then back on the plane for our flight to Anchorage on a totally different route where we saw many glaciers on the mountains that we flew between.  And a fun stop for gas where we all got our feet wet getting off of the plane on the beach.  Everyone had to get off before they filled the gas tanks.  And then with the added weight of the gas, we had trouble getting off the beach.  Lots of fun moments.

Arrived home about 6 pm.  GPS wasn't working when we got in  the car and we had to get a paper map out to find our way home.  A truly memorable day.

Monday, July 29, 2019


Slept late and had a quick breakfast at McDonalds before starting our day's adventure about 9 am.  We drove 114 miles north to the very old town of Talkeetna.

Two hours plus and our first stop
was for a water closet for me at the beautiful local library.  Then we stopped by the local tour company to find out if there was a possibilty ofgetting a tour  by air of Mt Denali later today... at that time there was nothing but clouds.   They were booked solid today but they had an opening on Thursday.   Decided to see how today went before committing to a return trip.
Drove on into the small tourist town and finally located what they said was the best views of Mt. Denali, the tallest mountain on the USA .  Jim had done his research to find the viewing spots.

Parked and walked a short distance to the shoreline.  Here we had an added bonus that there are three separate rivers that all merge  here. The view we found was only a tiny peek of the peak.

BUT, we joined the chorus with those around us snapping many photos as we exclaimed:  we've finally seen Mt. Denali!  We don't have to spend $$$ to see it after all .

We finally walked a bit further along the rivers and found a much better view.  Suddenly we
saw the clouds begin to move.  Slowly, but surely, God gave us a gift and cleared the entire mountain top.  Truly a magnificent view and we've many photos to share.

Hated to leave but finally returned to our car and a short visit to the town and the Historical Museum.

The best part of the museum was the 45 minute talk by the ranger who took us day by day through the 21 day hike that you can do with the park service rangers to summit the 29,700 ft. Peak.   I was exhusted by the time we finished our imaginary  adventure.  FYI ... I showed the ranger one of my photos and he said we truly had an unusually great view today.  He said only about 30% of the visitors ever see the mountain during their visit due to the convergence of the Serbian and the Pacific weather systems that create almost continual storm systems
and the saying that Denali creates it's own weather.

We are driving back to Anchorage now ... feeling very good about today's adventure.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Day 13. Arrival in Anchorage

We were up early and enjoyed breakfast in the dining room before departing the cruise ship in Seward.  There we boarded a bus for nearly three hours.  The driver kept up a running dialogue describing the history and stories about the route we traveled to Anchorage.   The reason that cruise ships do not take us to Anchorage  is that they don't want to deal with the tide fluctuations that vary up to 27 feet during the day.  We passed glaciers, villages that housed gold miners, and a long stretch along the river that the explorer Cook thought could be a northeast passage for a shortcut from China to  England.  But it didn't.
Arrived at the Anchorage  International Airport at 11 am and picked up our Chevy Impala auto. 
While we were near the airport we checked out our reservation for Tuesday to fly into Brooks Falls to see the bears catch salmon who are swimming up the rapids to spawn.  Hopefully both bears and fish will be performing when we arrive!
Then headed to our home for the next 10 nights in the Arctic Adventure Hostel in a private room.  Very reasonable and fun to "camp". 
Off to explore the city after putting our things in our room.  Anchorage has a population  of 300,000 and has a very modern downtown that we enjoyed this afternoon.  The lady at the tourist office was very excited about our plans and we walked out with volumes of materials to read. 
We enjoyed a late lunch/early dinner at Applebees and headed home to relax and settle in.  Discovered we have access to laundry facilities at only $3.00 for wash/dry; so we have clean clothes again.  And reasonably good wifi.. 
Last night we had our first storm, it began in the afternoon and lasted most of the night.  So glad that  neither  of us suffer from seasickness!
Weather prediction is good for the rest of the week.


Day 11 Glacier Bay National Park

This National Park is larger than many of our states and also the country of Portugal. When we purchased Alaska for two cents an acre from Russia, it was consider a fool's folly by many.  But when gold and other minerals were discovered; Americans moved here by the thousands.   When the minerals were gone they discovered oil fields.  This land continues to bring benefits to our country.
John Muir was very instrumental in keeping Glacier Bay in its natural state.  In 1925 it was declared a National Monument and 1980 it was made into a National Park.    The massive glaciers are rapidly disappearing.  In 1750 it was at its maximum.   In 45 years they had melted back five miles. Ten years ago there only 12 glaciers that touch the ocean,  today there are only 4 still calving into the ocean and it is predicted that most of these will disappear in another 4 or so years due to global warming.

Today I was up before 6 am and on the walking deck by 6 am.  At 6:30 I filmed the arrival of the National Park Rangers who will be with us all day. Only two cruise ships per day are allowed in the Park.  They pull up to our ship which has slowed down but not stopped, and climb up a rope ladder to board our vessel on the first deck.

Then I went up to the Crow Nest Lounge to watch for wildlife with other passengers, some who had began arriving there at 5 am to garner the best seats.  The hardy ones bundled up in coats, hats and gloves plus sunglasses and their cameras and binoculars to brave the elements for the mornings adventure.  Being outside also gave you the cracking of the ice when we reached the glaciers.

By 7 am I was back in the room and then Jim and I headed for the dining room and another fabulous breakfast before again joining those passengers in the crowd nest for the magic deep in the park.  I got another great photo when I was trying to catch the calving action and they announced a rare event. There was a bald eagle on a small iceberg directly in front of the ship.  I moved my lens towards the bird and captured its flight as it headed towards the sky.  Took way too many photos but had a once in a lifetime experience.

We took time for a light lunch before heading to the theater for a ranger talk and then one by a Tlingit woman, a member of the tribes that have called Glacier Bay their home for hundreds of years.

Tonight is a dress up Gala Dinner and then classical  music concert for Jim and I'm going to the singing and dancing group in the theater. Hard to believe tomorrow is the last day.  We'll be at sea all day and arrive in Seward on Sunday morning.  Then we will take a bus to Anchorage for the third portion  of our trip.  I'll  post this on Sunday.

Day 12 At Sea On Way to Seward

Today was the last day of our cruise.  Early tomorrow we pull into Seward and get on a bus for a three hour drive to Anchorage.  There we have rented a car for ten days of fun. And hotel reservations.

Today was  great... we expected breakfast at 7:15 as usual but it was 8 am to the surprise of many of us.  We didn't check the schedule.

We played a full game of cards while we waited for the special lunch with the captain.  Passengers who have been on more than one cruise on the Holland American cruise line are invited.  Those with more than one hundred days received recognition.  We have a ways to go for that.  But we enjoyed lunch with two couples, strangers .. but not for long.  One from Canada and the other  couple from Kansas. 
After lunch we spent an hour in the Lincoln Center Stage in a Q and A with the musicians and then they performed Schumann Masterworks.

Spent a couple of hours organizing the packing.  At 5 pm we are going to Mass and then dinner at 6 pm.  Tonight we are going to enjoy a performance by both of the comedians from earlier in the week.

We'll finish packing and hopefully get a good night's sleep.

Thursday, July 25, 2019


Last night we attended the main show together. No classical music scheduled and we were in port until 9:39 pm.  The title was about Alaska.  Low and behold..
The classical musicians plus the regular musicians combined their talents to  accompany a beautiful film about the wildlife in the four different seasons.  Another great program enjoyed by everyone. 

This morning I woke at 6 am and enjoyed warmer weather in the harbor at the base of tall mountains in Skagway  for my six loops around the deck.   Soon we were off to breakfast in the dining room before walking off of the ship to discover the town.

At the end of the dock we found the city shuttle bus that took us throughout the town.  Only $5. each for all day.  At first we thought about visiting the cemetery and a 100 ft waterfall, but discovered it would be over a mile walk each way; too much for Jim.  So we stayed on the bus  until it arrived back in the area of the shops.  There  we walked in and out of the various stores.  Found my perfect soveriner of the trip; a  tiny bear for the curio cabinet.

Back to the bus for the ride back to the ship.   Up to Lido deck for four hands of hand and foot card game while enjoying the pool area. So nice, we don't keep score so everybody is a winner.  People stop and ask where did we get the cards?   Yes, we always bring our own.  Plus an extra two decks incase we find someone who would like to play with us.

Jim is enjoying a presentation  about the wildlife in Alaska,  while I'm sitting in the dark, away from people, typing away. 
Tomorrow we will all be on the ship as we enter Glacier National Park.  Hopefully we'll  see some glaciers calving.  And maybe some more whales.

Jim had fun yesterday,  he got a great photo of the lifesize whale statue breaching  and sent to our kids who thought it was real. Such a trickster!

So not sure if we will get wifi again before we reach Anchorage.   But we'll  have 10 days there.  Thanks so much for tuning in for our story.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Day 9 Juneau & Mendenhall Glacier

Up at 6 am , I was able to walk 2 miles on deck three before Jim woke at 7 am.  We enjoyed breakfast in the main dining room at the same table for 2 that we have each evening.   I had Belgium waffles and Jim enjoyed eggs benedict.    Then we walked around the port waiting for our tour bus to depart.   Some rain drops  but not many. 
Jim and I did go to the show at 9:30 pm last night and we really enjoyed the show.   I didn't give away any of the special moments so everything was new for Jim.
We had about half an hour bus ride through town.  Juneau is the state  Capitol  and is not accessible by land.   

The Glacier was  wonderful .  Jim enjoyed it from a distance and I walked a mile each way to get closer.   A the base of the falls but a short distance to the actual Glacier which is rapidly melting.  Walked back and then Jim and I went to the Museum together.   We're on the way back to the cruise ship  now. Wifi is EXCELLENT.   Except I shall cannot get day 6 to post.  It was a travel day so think I'm going to forget that one. 
Day is still young,  so stayed tuned.   We enjoyed lunch on board ship at the taco bar. Then headed back out for the Red Trolly Tour.  We only got off twice.  For an hour to tour the salmon fish hatchery.  And again to see the lifesize whale  statue.  Back on board just in time for dinner at 5 pm.
We depart at 9:30  tonight but are not leaving the ship again.  Gray skies and a few sprinkles but overall fabulous  weather.

Day 8 Ketchikan, Alaska

The third day of our cruise through the Inside Passage began early.  We'd set the alarm for 7 am and were wide awake by 6 am.  We had scheduled a tour with the ship for today.  Leaves at 9:30 am by bus from the dock. 
Went up to breakfast about 8am.. hard to find a table as everybody was getting ready to get off of the ship.  Shared a table with the same couple that I sat next to at the amazing show  last night.  They have brought folding bicycles with then and rode them to the village where we visited.
Found a table and played the first hand of our daily hand and foot card game. About 9 we put on our heaviest jackets and checked off of the ship.  As soon as we got on the docks we began attempting to get the wifi working to pick up emails and send the 3 blogs I wrote during the last two days.  Success but had trouble with the blogs.  Finally, by the time we returned from the tour 2 of the 3 had published.  I rebooted my phones several times.
The tour was terrific.  Large bus took us eight miles out of town to the Saxman Village if the Tlingits tribes.  The oldest surviving tribes in alaska.  They told us their history,  taught us some words and did several of their tribal dances.  Near the end of the show they invited some tourists to join them for one of the dances.  No, I didn't volunteer.  Then we visited the  totem poles, listened to the stories about their history and went into the carving shop for a demonstration.  Soon we were on the bus to town where we walked to the red light district that is built on stilts along the river. 
Back on the ship we enjoyed lunch and then finished our card game before dressing for dinner at 5 pm.  This evening I went to the show and Jim did the classical music again.  The comedian was so good I'm hoping to talk Jim into going to the 9:30 show.  Another great  day.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Day 7.... Crusing The Inside Passage

Slept in until after 9 am.  Breakfast in the Lido Market before heading to Deck 3 and the walking path.  I pushed 1.5 miles and Jim did 1 lap... his heel is giving him trouble .  Three laps equal a mile.  We then went to the presentation of the various tours off ship that are available on three of the days.  We'd planned to just walk the towns but by the end of the program we'd enrolled in two of them.  From there to the gym.  Jim rode the bike and I used the elipticle machine.   While on the machine I saw 2 whales above water. Exciting, they even announced the sighting on the loudspeakers.
Time to eat again... this time on the Lido deck at the taco bar.  No window seats so we asked to sit with another couple,  and stayed for an hour before heading to the room to get ready  for the gala dinner tonight.  Dressy clothes were the order for the evening.   At four pm we headed back to the Lido deck with binoculars in hand to again watch for Whales.  Found window seats and were joined by a couple from New York.   Saw lots of forest and mountains, the shadow of a whale underwater but that was it.  Dinner was special... I had escargot  and rack of lamb and Jim so enjoyed his duck!   Always his favorite meal.  After dinner Jim went to the Lincoln Center Stage  for classical music and went to the theater for the musical performance.  It was so good Jim went with me to the 9:30 show.  We set the clocks back an hour tonight.  The weather has been beautiful sunshine.  I wore shorts and no jacket when walking this morning.  🤗

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Day 5 Concert, getting lost and St. Patrick's

Awake early at 6 am gave me quiet time to write and post yesterday 's adventures in Victoria.   Today didn't start until noon.
We walked to the bus stop and after a short wait in the hot sun we boarded our bus for the short ride to St. Mary The Virgin's Church.  Oops... had not planned well and the bus whizzed by  our planned stop; before we realize it we were a mile down the road!
So glad we'd worn our tennis shoes as twice today we had to walk a distance because of errors in bus routes. The bonus for this mistake was the doe we saw within ten feet of us as we rounded a curve while we were walking.  She saw us and walked away, crossing the road as we held our breath for fear a car would come by; but luckily that didn't happen. 
Good news we arrived two minutes before the classical  concert began in the small chapel with 50 seats that were filled.
The opening and closings were performed by a string trio, bookends for an outstanding trio of flutists with five different flutes, including a base flute, the first I've ever seen.  It was used to perform a Japanese piece of music.  So enjoyed the entire performance and chatting with fellow members of the audience during the intermission.
Back home on the bus for dinner and then a three block walk to St. Patrick's church for 6 pm mass.  The priest asked if there were visitors and we were the only ones.  The parishioners warmly welcomed us.  The gospel and sermon were about Mary and Martha.  After mass I told the priest my name was Martha and I had a twin named Mary. He laughed and said and I also have a twin named Mary.  Great experience and then we walked home to pack our bags for today's  trip to the northern tip of Vancouver Island to Swartz Bay.  There we will cross by ferry to Vancouver City and by taxi to the Port of Vancouver. 
We will board the Noordam, a cruise ship with the Holland American Line, for a weeks cruise to Alaska.  Not sure how the wifi 's going to be but will post as often as possible.


Today we ventured out about 10 am and headed Downtown where we spent the day.
There is a car show in town this weekend called Deuce Days.  We began seeing the cars parading up and down the streets yesterday, but today they took over the town, especially near the major hotels.  The ann

ual event began some twenty five years ago and is held in Victoria every three years.   It has grown to  1400 + vehicles, hot rods and restored oldies from nearly every state in the USA, Canada and around the world.  Jim was in 7th heaven... reliving his childhood.  He could name every make and model we saw!  Nothing wrong with his memory today.
But, before we began walking through the cars, we visited the Craigdarroch Castle.  Located near the downtown,  built in the late 1800's by the coal barron Robert Dunsmuir for his family.  They arrived penniless from Scotland and after discovering a rich deposit of coal, became one of the riches and most influential people in BC.  After both the husband and wife died the property was sold and later used for Veterans in WWI, a music school, a college and government offices until it was finally restored to it's original condition in 1890's and became a tourist destination .  The views from the 4th floor are of all of Victoria and the bay.  Truly a walk back in time.
Walked to the nearby Art Museum of Greater Victoria for a selection of work by  artists, mostly modern.  The museum is attached to another old home that gave us another glimpse  of the past.  The woodwork in both of these homes was amazing.   I enjoyed the yard the most. I would say very Japanese in design with a Japanese  Shinto Village Shrine as the focal point. 
Caught a bus to Douglas, the main street in the downtown . Grabbed a late lunch and then another bus to the Royal BC Museum and their IMAX Theater to watch the Story of Bears in Alaska, narrated by Ryan Reynolds.  We hope to see this scene in real life when we fly into the backcountry in Alaska.
The rest of our day was visiting the port of Victoria and walking among the cars lining the streets near the Government  buildings and taking hundreds of photos.  Arrived home by bus about 6 pm .  Cooked our dinner at home and enjoyed... what else.... a couple of hours of "The Good Wife".  Hope you've enjoyed our day in Victoria on the Southern tip of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Day 3 Butchart Gardens

Yesterday we took two buses and arrived at Butchart Gardens at 1 pm.  Because of waiting for the buses it was a 2 hour journey.  Crowded but due to our age and the generosity of the people we both had seats .
Every time we spoke to people who had visited Victoria they always said "be sure to visit Butchart Gardens" and now we know why.  It is truly breathtaking!  You walk up and down concrete paths from one amazing vista to another.  Our first view was the sunken gardens that eventually arrived at the view of the pond far below.  There you enjoyed a fountain  that could only be compared to the fountains at Bellegio in Las Vegas. 
We continued our visit by walking slowly back towards the Rose Garden building that houses a merry go round full of animals to ride,  including a garriffe.    Took a break for a late lunch before continuing towards two huge totum poles that were well over 20 feet tall.  Then we in the forest... which surrounds the whole park...   walking among Giganta Sequoia trees .
Amazing Japanese gardens, stately Italian gardens, rose gardens and more.  Many fountains and ponds. This property is still owned and run by the family who created it.
By  3 pm we had reached Jim's limit of walking and headed back to the entrance and our bus.  We could have stayed until 10 pm for the evening concert and visit many more areas but we knew when to quit. 
Back to the city by 4 pm, we enjoyed a light and early dinner before catching  our second bus home and a relaxing evening.  Today is a castle and two museums!  We had about two minutes of sprinkles today at the park but otherwise the weather has been perfect today.

Thursday, July 18, 2019


July 17th was a predicted rainy day so we slept late and combined breakfast and lunch for our first meal of the day at noon.  By mid-afternoon the weather had cleared so we ventured out to explore again.

Walked first to find St. Patrick's church for Saturday evening mass, and then to the local mom and pop grocery store and discovered it is a "gem" with just about anything we need and most importantly, they sell bus tickets.  Purchased 10 of them and crossed the street where we caught the #7 Downtown bus.  We rode to the end of the line , all the way through the downtown .  Beautiful city, both modern and traditional.   The bus became crowded when we were downtown but thinned again as we drove into the suburbs west of town.  One thing we noticed was that nearly all of the passengers called out a friendly  "thank you" to the driver as they departed through the back door. 
The people are helpful and easy to converse with.  And, everyone speaks English!  We had a 10 minute wait at the end of the line (the bus driver took a break) and then we headed back over the same route... all on one  bus ticket of $2.50.   Along the way we found the stop where we'll need to get off for our concert on Saturday afternoon.  Also where to transfer tomorrow for our trip to the Butchant Gardens.  Other passengers were happy to answer our questions about using the bus to get around.

Three hours later we got off the bus at our street and walked two short blocks home.   Dinner was the pizza and potato salad that we'd purchased yesterday.  A very enjoyable day.  We ended the evening with more "Good Wife" on TV.  They were so good we never played our game of cards.  And so ended another day in Canada.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Victoria. Canada

Our long awaited trip to Alaska started today  with an airplane trip to Victoria Canada where we spend five nights before boarding our cruise ship on Sunday.  We had a jet from LAX to Seattle, and then a thurbo-prop airplane with an exciting and bouncy ride to Victoria.  It was reminiscent of a flight in 1992 from Paris to Rennes on our way to visit St. Michele for the first time.
We decided to take a taxi to our airbnb in Victoria, an effortless way to travel.  We are in the first story of a private home with our own separate entrance.   Nice family with 3 children, we can watch them play in the backyard and hear them above our heads.  Its okay...  we're getting a kick out of sounds.
We walked half a mile to the Save-On Grocery store. Bought some ready made hot food and enjoyed a light dinner before shopping for our breakfast meals and a frozen  pizza, wine and potato salad for dinner tomorrow. 
While we were at the airport we used the ATM for C$100. and used some for $5 for bus fare back to our apartment.  Missed the closest bus stop and got to do another walk before arriving home.  But we did find a little corner store only 3 blocks from our house.
  Figuring out the Firestick TV..   have discovered netflick and binge watching "the good wife".   About 10 pm we turned off the tv and enjoyed a game of hand and foot without worrying about scores.  Fun evening.  Our bed is a lovely queen size and we slept well.