Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tracy Arm Fjord and Sawyer Glacier

After leaving Juneau early afternoon, we went by cruise ship very slowly up the Tracy Arm Fjord to the Sawyer Glacier, not wanting to hit icebergs in the water. The captain wasn't worried about the ice piercing the hull of the ship but rather that an iceberg could damage a propeller and then we would have been in trouble. We were told that this fjord is the longest navigable fjord in the world. The scenery was beautiful. We eventually reached as close as we could go to the glacier, then the ship slowly turned around and we were able to see the area from all angles before going back. It was daylight until after 9:30 at night so we were able to spend many hours in this fjord before finally reaching Skagway the following morning.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Port in Juneau

After leaving Ketchikan, our next stop was Juneau. Because all the ports are at sea level (obviously) they are in what is called a temperate rainforest, which means that even though we were far north, there is very little snow during the winter but they can get lots of rain. Ketchikan is one of the rainiest places on earth with over 160" of rain per year. Juneau gets quite a bit but not that much. The day we were there it rained, not 'misted' which was again unusual but it wasn't as cold as the day before. We were able to take a tour of Glacier Gardens, a privately owned property that had been developed a few years ago from land that had had a huge landslide and took down a lot of tall Fir and Cedar trees. The man was trying to reclaim the land and restore it and got the idea to take all the dead, uprooted trees and put them in the ground up-side-down with the roots on top. You can see the results. He uses them as hanging gardens with all kinds of exotic plants such as fuscias and begonias as well as petunias, ferns, etc. He has created by hand by himself about 50 acres of beautiful gardens, built ponds, planted each bush and plant that's in the ground as well. He certainly took a lemon and made lemonade. He has 3 huge greenhouses where he overwinters plants for the local people plus grows any kind of plant you'd want for sale. This garden tour was really the highlight of my trip. I think I could live there! We were taken by a 20 passenger golf cart 600 feet to the top, to an awesome view of Juneau.

We also went to the Mendenhall Glacier which is the only one that you can drive to by car. It was really awesome. The ice has been under pressure for years and years of snow piling on and as it comes to the bottom, it is crystal clear ice and very blue and melts about 1/4 as fast as regular ice. The parts of the iceberg in the water you can see are only about 1/10 of its actual size. We were told that the glacier is actually receding at a rate of about 60 feet per year although last year it receded 200 feet!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Port Juneau

Port Ketchikan

The storm followed us as we entered Ketchikan early Monday morning and it was very cold, windy and the rain blowing horizontally. People said it was very unusual to have more than a 'mist' at this time of year in their city. We heard that often the next few ports. However, undaunted, we bundled up and headed for the town and and an excursion to the many totem poles in Totem Bight Park and learn of their history and legend. We then found our way to the shopping district right by the harbor. We were one of the first cruise ships of the season and of course the locals were happy to see their business swell after a long winter. With a coupon book given us on the ship, we found lots of bargains (and otherwise), but a lot of fun. I noticed almost all the native Alaskan souveniers were 'Made in China'! Whatever did we do before China knew exactly what we would want to buy?

Boats in Ketchikan harbor and a few of the many totems in Totem Bight Park

Rainy, windy and COLD in Ketchikan

I found Santa in the Christmas Store in Ketchikan along with many beautiful decorations.

Monday, May 19, 2008

North to Alaska

After spending a wonderful week on the beautiful peninsula of Olympia,Washington we returned to Seattle where we boarded our cruise ship, the Norwegian Star, a huge and beautiful ship with more than 3000 passengers (including crew) and headed for Alaska. The main dining room where we ate many of our sumptious meals was the elegant Versailles. Sometimes we went to the buffet for more casual meals. We enjoyed watching first class shows in the Stardust Theater in the evenings which included a magic show, singing, Chinese Acrobats, a singing and dancing troupe and others. At times it was fun listening to all kinds of music from the Blues to Easy Listening to Classical in various lounges and in the Atrium. My favorite combo was a 3 member band with instruments consisting of a violin, a guitar and a flute. They played almost continuously every kind of music from Country to Jazz to Classical or whatever. As the cruise got underway, a nasty storm came up which traveled with us most of the week. The waves were high and the sea rough; I woke up Mother's Day very seasick and nauseated. Ugh! Motion sickness pills helped but I spent most of the day in bed. Monday morning we arrived at our first port: Ketchikan, with the rain blowing sideways. Nevertheless, we were not deterred on our adventure. Pictures to follow. . .

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Discovery Bay

We had a wonderful time on our trip north. Everywhere we went looked like the Garden of Eden. We spent several days at a resort near Port Townsend in Washington. It was cloudy most of the time but only 'misted' occasionally. Our friends, Truman and Jeanette Jepson, were wonderful, picked us up at the Seattle Airport on Monday, greeted us with candy lei's and took us to the resort, crossing on a ferry, car and all. On Saturday they returned us to Seattle to the port where we embarked on our cruise. Later they again picked us up at the port and took us to the airport. We saw many wonderful towns that looked very inviting, drove into the beautiful Tongass National Forest where we saw deer, spawning salmon and other amazing and beautiful sites and then went on a cruise to the San Juan Islands where we saw many whales. We enjoyed the hot tub at night and had a delightful time with the Jepson's. This will be continued. . .stay tuned :)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Down and Gone Ahead of the Wind

As you can see, our greenhouse is gone. We got Les Parham with his backhoe and truck to come and in a few hours he had the whole mess down and gone. Good thing we decided to take it down when we did because the very next day we had ferocious gale force winds that would surely have blown the whole thing up to Joe City or beyond! We're still debating on what kind of greenhouse we will put in its place, probably a smaller one from a kit.
All week we have been trying to get ready to head north for an exciting adventure. Early Monday morning we will leave from Sky Harbor to fly to Seattle where we will meet friends and travel to the tip of the penninsula in Washington to a Trendwest resort in Discovery Bay. We will stay there all week and then next Saturday we will return to Seattle and embark on a 7 day Alaskan cruise. I'll post again when I get home, hopefully with pictures of whales, glaciers, totem poles and the usual touristy things.