Alaska, We Miss You!

In late May, Jay and I rendezvoused with my parents in the Pacific Northwest for an Alaskan cruise. Looking at the pictures now, it is hard to believe we were really there. Alaska is truly wild, beautiful and unspoiled and is right up there at the top of the list of my favorite places. I have never breathed in air so clean, or sat in front of so many breathtaking views all in the same week. For a moment I was pondering picking up some real estate magazines, but that was before I got bitten by mosquitoes the size of small birds and subsequently learned that every place Jay and I fancied disappearing off to in our great 49th state is only accessible by boat or floatplane. Ahhhh...but a girl can dream, right?!

Our cruise was on the Holland America Westerdam and we left out of the Seattle port on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend for a 7 day sail. Mom and I learned a good lesson after some high seas on Monday (my birthday), which is that we will never book a cruise again that leaves land and doesn't dock anywhere for 3 whole days! We were quite ill on my birthday, but it was all resolved after a few miserable hours for both of us. Thank goodness for sea sickness patches, armbands, green apples and ginger ale! As you can tell, we tried everything!

Leaving Seattle Port:

Sailing away on Mom & Dad's balcony:

Getting further away (water is changing colors):


Fortunately the meds kicked in Monday night and by Tuesday we were back to our normal selves, just in time for our cruise through Glacier Bay National Park, which was stunning. The sun was out and the skies were blue, but not as blue as the magnificent tidewater glaciers. As we drifted by, we were surrounded by chunks of ice and some harbor seals here and there. We sat in front of Marjorie Glacier for quite a while watching it "calving" into the bay. It sounds like thunder when the ice breaks off and falls into the water below. It is one of the most surreal things I have ever seen. We felt like we had stepped inside the Discovery Channel!

Heather & Jay, waking up to calmer waters on Tuesday:


Me & Mom, looking very cold:



On our way into Glacier Bay:


Glacier Bay National Park:











Our first land stop was in Juneau on Wednesday. After Mom and I skipped off the boat and kissed dry land, we headed up to the top of Mt. Roberts via the tramway for a spectacular view of the Gastineau Channel. We were blessed again with gorgeous weather, with temperatures climbing into the eighties and the sun shining down on us all day. After taking the tramway back down, we lunched on the deck of the boat where Mom and I saw a bald eagle in flight that came right over the deck of the ship. Jay and Dad missed it, because they had already left for their floatplane glacier tour. While they were off flying the friendly Juneau skies, Mom and I made our way to a musher camp to meet some sled dogs and take a ride through the woods on a wheeled sled. Our sled driver was Iditarod musher Ryan Redington, whose grandfather founded the Iditarod race. Ryan competed in the 2007 Iditarod and finished 18th out of 82 participants. We got to experience firsthand the speed of his dog team--and we were happy the sled had seat belts!
Juneau Port:
View of our boat from Mt. Roberts tramway:
View of Gastineau Channel from top of Mt. Roberts:

Gastineau Channel:

The tram:


Musher Camp:


Some dogs from our sled team:

Our sled (it was led by 15 dogs):


Mom and I in the sled (all buckled in!):

Me with one of the puppies:

Another one of the puppies:
Want to share the experience of a wheeled sled ride through the woods with Mom and I? Click here:

Our next land stop was in Sitka, and boy was it cold that day! Chilly and overcast as it was, we really loved Sitka. It is a small island with about 9,000 year round residents and a lot of Russian heritage. Jay and I went on a bike and hike tour in the morning and then met up with Mom and Dad for some lovely fresh fish and chips in town. It was between that and the reindeer hotdogs and let's just say I couldn't talk Mom into eating the reindeer!
Our ship cloaked in fog:
Sitka harbor:


Salmonberry Lake Trail Hike:




Totem Square:

On Friday we docked for half a day in Ketchikan. Jay and I had a zipline tour booked so while we were off on our adventure Mom and Dad spent some time shopping in the downtown area. The zipline tour was so much fun. We were like little kids climbing trees again, except for normally you wouldn't jump off of a perfectly good tree and fly through the forest at high speed, but you know what I mean! After we safely completed our zipline activities we got to try our hand at a rock climbing wall they had on site too. Now, this is a lot harder than you would think when you are staring up at the phony rocks from below. Especially when your first time up is on the intermediate wall. However, I pushed through and rang the little bell when I reached the top, then repelled down to give Jay a turn. With his much longer arms and legs, it went faster for him, but still we both did it. Go us! It was a good thing we booked this excursion with Holland America, because our bus was the last one to make it back to the boat before we disembarked from Ketchikan. We high tailed it up the gangway for a nice long nap after all that hard work.




Getting ready for the zipline tour:
I don't care who you are, a helmet will always make you look dorky:

Jay getting ready to jump:


Here he comes!

My turn!

Jay on the rock climbing wall:

Last formal night on the ship:


Our waiter bringing us giant baked Alaskas:


Saturday was a lazy day because we weren't due in port at our last stop, Victoria, BC, until 6pm. We decided to find an old world style pub in the city and eat more fish and chips, because, well why not?! After dinner and some pints we strolled through town, taking in the sights, and then headed back to the boat to make sure we didn't get left in Canada, because, well it's Canada. Victoria sure was pretty though, especially all light up at night!

Anyone for fish & chips?
Victoria Harbor:

The Empress Hotel:

Courtney Street!


A pretty pink house:
Parlaiment building all lit up:


Sunday morning we were back in Seattle bright and early. We had breakfast with Mom and Dad who then had to book it to the airport to catch their flight. Jay and I stayed in Seattle for 2 more days. Why come all the way across the country and not go up in the space needle, right?! We also took the Underground Tour, which we highly recommend if you ever find yourself in the Emerald City. And to top off the trip, we got to visit with good friends Tisha and Rob and their new baby boy, Nate! After our long boat journey, Tisha and Rob made us feel at home, even though we were 4,000 miles from home. Many thanks for the hospitality!

Needle from below:

View from the top:
Downtown Seattle:


Doc Maynard's Underground Tour:



Historic trolley stop in Pioneer Square:

Heather & Tisha:

Nate!


Pike Place Market:


Chinatown:


Now that we've been home for a few weeks, we are ready to do it all over again. Stay tuned for the next trip!

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2 comments:

Ashely said...

I wanna go!

Tisha said...

How did we not get photos of our basement jam session? It was so good to have you here and I loved seeing you so happy! Next time we'll come your direction.