Tuesday, August 30, 2011

the rest of the story...

After Ketchikan, our next port was Juneau.  Another pretty coastal town, as well as the state capital for Alaska.  And more rain.  But that's okay, because it wasn't bitter cold, just wet.

We started out with the Glacier Gardens, and it was my favorite part of the whole trip. I didn't realize that the second largest rain forest in the world is right there in Alaska...the Tongass National Forest.  If you see nothing else, see Glacier Gardens.

The last one is a bit blurry, but I wanted to include it because it shows the upside down tree planters.  The trees came down in a storm, and in the clean up process, the owner did some damage to a rented crane.  Upset with himself, he (with the help of the crane) hoisted a tree, and slammed it down.  Buried as deep as is tall, with the roots on top, he decided to put a planter in it.  He liked it so much, there are a lot more around.

Next is the gift shop at the Garden.  Very pretty.  I picked up 3 bottles of blueberry honey to bring home for me and the kids.  Sad to say, I put it in my carry-on bags to bring home, and it was confiscated at the security gate.  Sigh.

From there we went to the Mendenhall Glacier National Park. It has a scenic overlook to the Glacier, as well as several trails in the area.  Tammy went down one of the trails and managed to see a bear.  I chose not to do the trails, so I missed out.
Not the best picture, but the glacier is off to the right, and you can see some of the ice that has broken off.  I got a 2012 calendar in the gift shop full of wonderful scenic shots, and the photographer, Mark Kelley, was there to autograph it.  Follow the link to the calendar, and you can see a true picture of the majestic beauty of the glacier (I think it's the May photo).

The next day was Skagway, and we rode the White Pass Yukon Route train 20 miles inland and back.  More beautiful scenery!   This was a terrific way to get a somewhat up close and personal look at Alaska.  The construction of 110 miles of track started in May, 1898, and was completed two years later.  I can only imagine the hardships they must have endured.
After the train ride, Tammy did the walking tour, and I did the tour from a street car.   Very informative, and lots of fun. Skagway's a small community in the winter with a population of about 850.  My guide said they haven't had a baby born there in years because the mothers-to-be leave so they can give birth in an area better equipped to handle it.  They have a new clinic, but the nearest hospital is 45 miles away.

The next day we stopped at Prince Rupert in Canada.  I really don't know why this was even on the itenerary.  We were the only ship in port, and the tour consisted of driving around the neighborhoods and going to a museum.  The museum was nice, but could easily have been accessed from the ship.  The highlight was seeing an eagle swoop over us to land in a tree across the street.

So there you have it in a nutshell, my trip to Alaska.  Circumstances probably won't bring another visit to this great state, but I'm certainly glad to have made it this time.  :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

the beginnings of the 2011 summer adventure!

Just got home from my vacation to Boise, Idaho, and Alaska.  We'll cover this in increments, it would take forever otherwise!

I flew to Boise on a Wednesday to spend a few days with Carl and Billie.  Carl was busy getting his 4-wheeler ready for an upcoming adventure, and here he is on it.
He has a trailer he can pull behind it, and it all fits into the trailer in the background.  Pretty nice setup.  He was scheduled to go this past Saturday, so I imagine he's out there having a grand ole time.

He went with Billie and I to visit a few garage sales, and we all found little treasures.  Carl grumbles a bit about going, but he managed to snag some good finds.  ;)   We got home, and Billie fixed up some tuna sandwiches.

That night she made some enchiladas (I got the recipe and made some yesterday), and Rich and Leeann came over to join us.

  Leeann brought some hot brownies, so our dessert was hot fudge brownie sundaes!  Yum!

Saturday morning I left Boise and went to Seattle, meeting up with Tammy to start our cruise to Alaska.  This was my first-ever cruise, and I was impressed with how smoothly everything went on getting everyone on board.  Especially after we got off the next Saturday morning and realized they would be loading up again that afternoon.

After our introduction to the world of hand sanitizing (upon entering the ship, and on entering any eating area) we enjoyed a late lunch buffet, and later our safety drill prior to departure.  Then the cruise got started!  On the top deck, there was a party underway as the ship took out of port...music, swimming, dancing, a nice breeze swirling around.  A nice taste of things to come.  :)

And this was our first sunset at sea.

We were at sea all day Sunday,  We went through the inland straits, so there was always land in sight on one side or the other, if not both.  I'm thinking that helped make the ride smoother, and neither one of us had any problems with sea sickness.  The scenery was beautiful, always something to ooh and aah over.
Then Monday morning we pulled into port in Ketchikan, Alaska! 

I liked all of the 4 ports we pulled into, and since Ketchikan was the first, it all looked so amazing.  I've never spent much time around cities on the coast, so seeing the boats was a novelty that I enjoyed.   As soon as we docked, we made our way to the pier to begin our first excursion.  A tour bus took us down the road a bit to see the lighthouses, eagles, and totem poles from a small boat.  Nice little side trip, my only disappointment was that we didn't go to shore to see the totem poles.  But, Pollyanna that I am, the eagles were plentiful and the lighthouses were nice.

This is the pier where we boarded for the tour.  As we walked down the plank and looked into the water below, there were huge starfish, though I didn't get a picture of them.

In this picture, the bare tree has an eagle almost half way down.
And these are houses built on logs in the water.  They're no longer occupied.

Guess you can tell it was raining.  Ketchikan was the area with the most rain.  But at least it wasn't cold, just wet.  :)
Back in town there was a neat little quilt shop among the tourist shops, and naturally I paid it a visit and contributed to the local economy.  I picked up 12 fat quarters which will work nicely into this year's vacation quilt. 

That's it for now.  I'll be back in a day or two and the adventure will continue.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

what???? it's August already!!!

"Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future".  Yep, the songwriter got that one right.  But that's part of life, the days slipping on by.

Robert had a birthday yesterday, so I went over and watched the kids while he and Angela went out to dinner.  Those 38 years seem to be a blink of the eye.  Now we're blinking and his kids are growing!  Here's birthday boy with his kiddos.

I got to meet my 2010 secret sister and her husband, Audrey and Chris.  They live in Kentucky, and came through my area on the way west.  We had a good visit, and I fixed them some tacos for lunch, as well as some chocolate chip cookies for the road.   Such a treat to meet them, and one of these days I hope to make it to Kentucky and see them on their home turf.   Here's Quilty Gal and her hubby.
Haven't got any quilt projects to show this month, but trust me, something's in the works.  One of these days I'll be able to show it, but for now it's "sh-h-h-h-h-h".  There's a challenge going on over on the HGTV message boards, and the vote on all entries (anonymous) will be mid-October.  Wish me luck!

Take it easy everyone, and stay out of the heat.  And if it means going to Alaska to keep cool, well, do what you gotta do!