For years now, Kyle and I have said that we would wait till we got old to take the Alaska cruise. We like warm weather and sunny climes. Well, I guess we're old now. Dear Lisa put together an Alaska cruise for her Hawaiian friends, and we decided to go along. It was a cruise. What's not to like? The weather was predicted to be cool and rainy, but we know how to deal with that.
So we rolled out at five in the morning to catch the early train to Seattle. Train travel is so comfortable. We pay a bit extra for Business Class and get the big, comfy seats and the free Wi-Fi, then just sit back and enjoy the ride.
The Carnival Legend was our destination and floating luxury home for the next seven days. We had time to explore before the ship left the dock. Here are my favorite traveling socks, enjoying the view from the the adult-only lounge area.
The evening clouded up and our trip through the
strait of Juan de Fuca got a bit rough. Then, we emerged onto the open ocean to travel North up the outside of Vancouver Island. It got quite rough, and many people spent the day in bed. It was cold, windy and rainy, but I enjoyed all the amenities of a luxury hotel. There was TV and movies in the room, and free room service. Lisa and I got together for breakfast and talked until the waiters almost had to throw us out of the dining room so they could set up for lunch. Then we found a quiet place and talked until lunch time. Gosh it's good to catch up with the people you love!
That night was the first formal night. Kyle got up and put on his tuxedo and looked so handsome, but between his vertigo, and the motion of the ship, he couldn't stay through dinner. The waiter very kindly plated it up and sent it back to the room with me. Our waiter this trip, Ricky, was one of the best we have ever had.
So after I had eaten, and delivered the food to Kyle, it was still early and I was all dressed up. I went back out and took advantage of all the photographers. The cruise always hires numbers of photographers who set up lovely backdrops after dinner, and take your photo if you wish. Then, if you love your photos, you may buy them. I posed with abandon. I smiled and twinkled and pouted and grinned. I practiced my sultry sidelong glances and my regal profile. People watching me loosened up and got much more natural-looking pictures for themselves. It's a great time to let your inner ham get smoking.
By the time we got to Juneau the next morning, the seas had quieted considerably. However, the rain was going sideways, and the temps were in the lower 40s. I tucked up with my embroidery and a recorded book, and smiled beatifically as Kyle geared up for the weather and headed out. He had a good time, and tracked down some awesome deals. This is the last week of cruise-ship season, so everyone was marking down their remaining merchandise. 50 to 75% off in some cases. Such a deal!
The next day we were in Skagway. Again, it was cold and wet. The bay was cafe au laite colored, and the clouds were thick and nervous. I finished my embroidery, and got started on some socks. Kyle, again, braved the weather and explored the town. He's such a hero. I had a lovely nap and savored the 3 o:clock tea onboard.
And then, on Saturday, we cruised into Glacier Bay and picked up three park rangers who pointed out wild animals as we passed, told us about the ecology and geology, explained the hows and whys of glaciation, and very graciously answered all our many questions. After breakfast, Kyle and I went back to our cabin, pulled the curtains wide, and watched the scenery glide past. It was glorious! We got to Margery Glacier, and paused. I put on a coat and stood on our veranda, smelling the cold and basking in the realness of it all. You see two dimensional pictures or even tv shows, and you think, "Well, that's lovely." Then you get there in the flesh and the third dimension of it smacks you upside the head and you are awed by the grandeur and magnificence of the reality. As I watched, I saw two little bits of ice "calve" off the glacier into the ocean. There's a flicker of movement that draws your eye, then an explosion of fracturing ice, and a chunk plummets into the water, throwing up great white splashes. And THEN the sound hits you! The rifle-crack of the break, the roar of the fall, the rumbling crash of the waves as they swallow down another sliver of the past. Chunks of ice floated all around the ship, chuckling with the wave action and melting away. Icebergs must be at least 18 feet long, and nothing around us was more than maybe five feet. Mere puppies.
The original glacier that formed Glacier Bay has been melting since its largest extent, recorded in the 1700s during the little ice age. Now there are many "arms" of the original glacier that are still collapsing into the bay. This is John Hopkins Glacier. The dark stripes show where two smaller glaciers came together to make a bigger one. So you can see that John Hopkins will melt back to at least six smaller glaciers in time. This is so cool!! On one of those pads of ice is a family of otters. The biggest zoom I could bring in made them look like a cluster of dark patches. I didn't bother to save that photo. But there were folks on board with lenses as big as my thigh, and I bet you could count the whiskers on the babies with those!
Sunday we stopped in Ketchikan. MJ's sister Lallette lives in Ketchikan and showed up to give us the tour, but Kyle was afraid we would do all girl stuff and got sorta shy. So Lallette gave me the full Ketchikan Tour! We drove all thirty miles of paved highway! We climbed the narrow twisty road to the landfill! We drove on the bypass that is suspended like a bridge off the side of the hill. Ketchikan is all hills and bays and big mossy trees. We drove up to the lake and walked around it. The salmon are running right now, so the crick out of the lake was full of salmon trying to get home, spawn, and die. It was fascinating to watch them climb up the rapids! Lallette does an awesome tour, and I enjoyed myself vastly!
Sailing away from Ketchikan and into the sunset.
We never did get to see the Aurora Borealis. Evidently it was active, but the clouds closed in once we were out at sea.
The last day, Monday, we cruised the inland passage on the East side of Vancouver Island. It was so beautiful. The channel is fairly narrow, so we sailed between lush, wild green islands all day long. The water was calm, and the sun shone through puffy clouds. It was idylic!
Tuesday we docked in Vancouver, BC, bussed to Seattle, took the train to Portland, and got home about 11pm. It's over a week later, and I still haven't got everything put away. sigh.