Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cruising to Alaska

We finally got out of the South Carolina heat and headed for a cruise to Alaska.  Our first stop was Charlotte where we spent the night with Brett's sister and flew out to Seattle the next morning.  Seattle is a beautiful city and the Captain and I had never been there before so we had a few hours to explore the city.

Along the way we saw major development going on in this vibrant city.

The city is resplendent with beautiful flowers.

A view of the city and Puget Sound from Pikes Place Market. 
The local ferry, one of several means of transportation for visitors and the locals who live on nearby islands.

Heading down to the market.

Lots and lots of fish for sale.

In the middle of the afternoon the market was jammed with people.
The next morning we boarded a train from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia to board the ship.  At King Street Train Station we met up with more members of the family heading for the cruise.  The total headcount for this trip was 21.

Brother-in-law and sisters-in law, nieces and nephews, and many more were coming.

The train station was beautiful in Seattle as we waited in line to show our passports and other forms of identification.

Climbing aboard the train with my sister-in law, Debra.

Great-nephew, Benjamin, three years old.

Owen, 5, older brother of Benjamin.

And baby, Ila, one year old.

Are we there yet???  Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Gary helping out with the little ones.  It was a four hour trip and the little ones were very good.
The Captain up and about entertaining the family,

We got to view beautiful scenery along the way,

Traffic heading into the United States through the border control as we headed into Canada.

Coming into Vancouver. We were all so excited.

Debra and I on the cruise ship where we met up with more of the family.
Here I am with grandson, Lee, daughters, Lynn and Beth, and youngest grandson, Dane Matthew.

Finally got the Captain into the picture, too.
 The ship left Vancouver with our first stop in Ketchikan.  While in route we had the first of many good meals on the ship.  Each evening we met in the main restaurant, and thanks to Debra's planning, our party of 21 had the same three tables reserved each night.

Benjamin had his own plans for dinner. To his right is his dad, Russell.

Our room steward created wonderful decorations for our bed most evenings.  He really took good care of us.

Coming into Ketchikan.

The Captain and I had planned a four-person inflatable boat trip while there but the weather was gloomy and rainy all day.  According to the locals, Ketchikan gets 236 rainy days each year.  Because of the nasty weather, our particular excursion was cancelled but others in our group were able to go on theirs.

This was probably for the best because the Captain came down with a major viral infection and spent the next several days in bed in our stateroom.

Our son-in-law, Anthony, and daughter, Lynn, enjoying another dinner on the ship.

Newlyweds Katelyn and Cole were having a great time.

Our niece, Sarah, mother of the three youngest, enjoying a quiet meal while Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Gary helped with the little ones.
Poor Benjamin, this became a running theme for him.  Too much to do and little time for a nap.
All along the cruise there was magnificent scenery.

Our next stop was Icy Point which is a cruise-ship owned destination point.  The weather  was great!

There were lots of shops so I checked them out with daughter, Lynn, after she and her family took their excursion for the day.

More pillow art, I think this is an elephant.
Juneau is the only capital in the United States that cannot be reached by land.

The Captain was a little wobbly but back with the family on the cruise.  Since most of our excursions were kayaking or biking many miles, we gave that up and spent the day looking through some neat shops in town.  I wound up with an Angora sweater and a few pieces of jewelry which was very nice :)
There were several other cruise ships in port with many people speaking in European languages.  The shop owners were glad to see us coming.

And then we were off again for the town of Skagway and some adventuring since the Captain was feeling much better.  The first thing we did was join Debra and take a ride on the White Pass &Yukon Route Railway.  It's a 3.5 hour, 40 mile round trip from Skagway to the summit of White Pass at 2,885 foot elevation. Built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush, the route is a marvel of engineering despite the harsh weather and challenges to the thousands of railroad construction workers.

Waiting to pull out of the train station we saw these little white flowers called Yarrow.
We rode in refurbished turn of the century railroad cars with cast iron burners to keep us warm.  

In the background is the Gold Rush Cemetery, a resting place for early Skagway residents.

This WP&YR railroad caboose near the Denver Glacier Trail was donated to the U.S. Park Service and can be rented out to hikers. 
A man by the name of Brackett built a road for the miners advertising it as an "easy" through route across White Pass.  The toll was a high 2 cents a pound for freight, a $1 for each horse and $10 per wagon.  The miners were incensed at the price and after less than a year boycotted the road and he went out of business. 

"On to Alaska with Buchanan" has been a sightseeing attraction for over 70 years.  The sign was painted by the Buchanan Boys Tour Group, brought from Detroit each year to visit Skagway, circa 1920-1930. The building behind the sign is the U. S. Customs point.

On August 3, 1898, a blasting accident buried two railroad workers under a 100 ton granite rock.  The black cross marks their resting place since it was impossible to retrieve their bodies.
This river flows into Bridal Veil Falls which cascades 6,000 feet from the glaciers on Mt Cleveland and Mt Clifford.

The views were staggering.

We could see the front of the train as we went around curves.

The pink flowers are called Fireweed.

Glaciers on the mountain.
Heading through one of two tunnels.  Notice all the photographers standing between cars taking pictures.  The Captain was doing the same thing and it got pretty cool as we got closer to the top.

Most of the trees weren't very tall but they told us even small trees were over 100 years old.

This railroad trestle stands at 2,613 feet elevation and was constructed in 1901.  It is the tallest cantilever bridge in the world and was in use until 1969.  The bridge was built in three months, December through February and is still considered one of the engineering marvels of the world.

Hard to believe but this is one of the trails that the miners used to walk up to the Yukon.  The trail is very narrow and miners leading horses and mules would often have difficulty passing each other on the trail.  We were told that if a miner stepped off to the side it might take him a half day or longer to get back on the trail because the other miners wouldn't stop to let him get back on. 
Look real close and you can see the trail.

At the Canadian/U.S. border mounted police waved on stampeders with a ton of supplies needed for one year in the north.  If the mounted police felt the miner did not have enough supplies they made them turn back.

The flags represent the United States, Alaska, British Columbia, Yukon Territory, and Canada.

These are telegraph poles that are no longer in use.

This lumber was used as a snow block to try and keep the tracks cleared.

Frasier, British Columbia.  After Frasier the train turned around and started heading back down.

On our way back down to Skagway we saw a helicopter circling for a landing.

Local art in town.

I love this shot of downtown Skagway with a cruise ship looking on.

Right after this picture was taken we saw a gentlemen riding down the road on the same type of bicycle.

Lots of furs for sale.

The facade on this building was made out of twigs.

While in Skagway we stopped at the museum and saw this duck neck quilt. A woman named Jennie Olsen came to this area in 1901, married, and over the years learned how to preserve feathered skins of birds from the local natives.  She created a keepsake quilt out of the necks of mallards, goldeneyes, teals, canvasbacks, and pintail ducks and lined the quilt with peppercorns to discourage moths.  Most outstanding is the iridescent feathered skins of the birds they hunted for dinner.  In 1961, she helped establish the Skagway Museum.
 Our last day was spent on the ship heading towards Seward.  Too bad there wasn't much to do.  LOL!!!

The casino was busy.  Note that everyone at this table was family.
Was that the right number?

Hit me again.
Nephew Russell looking for change while his wife gambles.

Dane climbing a rock wall on the ship.

Sister, Madeleine, trying to beat him to the top.
Older cousin, Lee,surprised at how fast the younger ones could go up the rock wall.
Panoramic views of the Hubbard Glacier from our ship.

Tourists on the ship looking at the glacier.

The water was so blue coming from the glacier.

Pieces of ice were floating in the water.

When pieces of ice fall away from the main berg it is called calving.

We left the ship in Seward and had a day of sightseeing before going to the airport.

Cole and Katelyn waiting with us for the bus.

Seward was very cloudy and we had some occasional rain.

Local artwork on the homes.

We went to a park and climbed up to Exit Glacier.  What a gorgeous picture.

The rocks had amazing striations.

Our second stop was at an Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center.  Many of the animals are here because they were injured and this is their permanent home.

Very large elk.

Mature bull elk. 

This beauty is a muskox.  Underneath the long guard hair is the warmest  fiber in the world called qiviut.  The Alaskan natives used it to make clothing.  An adult muskox can produce 5-7 lbs of qiviut each year.
A baby muskox.

Black-tailed deer.

This brown bear was having a good time in the water catching a fish.

A big bison enjoying the sun.

An injured bald eagle who is missing one of its wings.

A beautiful bobcat watching something up high.

The view from this animal reserve was peaceful.

Feeding a porcupine.

He knew who had the food.
For lunch we stopped at a ski resort called Aleyska where we could take a tram ride to the top.  This was a view of the resort from above.

They were preparing for a wedding that day.

Debra said no it wasn't her getting married.

Downtown Anchorage.

In downtown Anchorage we got to see a local river with dozens of fishermen at work.

The salmon were heading upstream to spawn.  They are very hard to see when you are standing right in the water.  This salmon is in the center of the picture.

From above on a bridge we watched a man give his son directions on where to cast his line.  He caught a fish, removed it from the line, and then his father told him to release it, so he did.

Near the airport as we headed for our flight home we saw rows and rows of small planes used by the locals to get around.
And finally all of us headed back home on different flights to different places with a world of memories and beautiful sights.  Alaska is truly a beautiful place and the Captain and I hope next summer will be our year to take the rig and the pups back up there to view it again.  We were blessed with sunny skies most days and the cruise ship took wonderful care of all of us.  The last picture was taken from the ship one evening by our grandson, Lee, and words cannot come close to expressing the beauty of that sunset.   Peace!