Alaska

Alaska

Fraser & Barbara's trip to Alaska

This blog contains details of our cruise to Alaska and trip to Denali National Park to celebrate our Ruby wedding. If you have any comments please make them to any of the posts. If you want to get in touch then email fraser [at] cairntoul.net

Flightseeing

TalkeetnaPosted by Fraser Smith 2013-06-11 02:15:19
Well, we are having another wonderful day. We keep thinking we can't keep having "better" days but today, so far, has once again been exceptional. After breakfast overlooking the mountains, we drove into Talkeetna to find a thin shirt for Barbara and a sun hat for Fraser, neither of which we thought we would need. Hector seems to be coping ok with just his feathers although even he is feeling the heat at times.
At 12.30 we went on a 1hr.45min flightseeing tour of the mountains which was amazing (when you click the link, click "Map" in the top right of the map and select "Satellite" to get a better idea ot the terrain).Hector got so excited when he was allowed to help fly the plane. When we landed on the Glacier he rolled around and made a snow angel. It was so warm up there we were in short sleeves. We have some great photos which you can see once we come home. (if we do!!!). The views up there were spectacular.
We have come back to the lodge for a cuppa and a quick blog after which we are going to get the courtesy bus back into Talkeetna and go to the "brewery" for our dinner. We already sampled some beer with a couple from USA who were on the plane with us.
Hope you are all well and enjoying our blog now we are back in action. Talk soon.
Fraser, Barbara and Hector x

Whittier - Anchorage

AnchoragePosted by Fraser Smith 2013-06-10 18:08:41
The ship arrived in Whittier in the early hours of Saturday. We disembarked at 8.45 am (very sad) but our train to Anchorage was not until 6.40pm so we had a few hours to kill. We spent the morning looking around Whittier which is not very big so didn't take long. We had booked a trip on a catermaran leaving at 12.30 so didn't have too much time to fill. The trip was great. The cat. travelled at up to 40 miles an hour and promised us 26 glaciers in a day which they achieved. Again the weather was good. The route of our trip can be seen by clicking this link (when you click the link, click "Map" in the top right of the map and select "Satellite" to get a better idea ot the terrain).and we saw an abundance of sea life. The cutest were the sea otters. There were lots of them and many with babies.

We also saw humpbacks and seals which were sitting on the ice floes (not the whales). The glaciers were great and we got up really close because the boat was an ice breaker in disguise and was able to get through the brash ice which most of the other boats are not able to do. We again saw some of the glaciers calving. The train journey was lovely with most of it following the coast (when you click the link, click "Map" in the top right of the map and select "Satellite" to get a better idea ot the terrain).
The scenery was lovely but there were many places where all the trees had died. This was after the earth quake in 1964 where the ground sank about 12 ft and allowed the sea water in which has gradually killed a lot of trees and shrubs off. They say it will take about 100 yrs for the ground to recover. Well, will finish now. Hope you enjoy.

College Fjord

Cruise day 7Posted by Fraser Smith 2013-06-10 18:03:21
Another day at sea looking at glaciers and wildlife. Of course it started with breakfast.Another lovely day as you can see by the blue sky. The pools were lovely but we never had time to use them. Most people were just too busy looking for wildlife and scenery to spend time in the pools.We did take time out to go and watch the Head Chef and the Maitre d'hotel doing a cookery presentation which was very funny. They were a good double act.After the show we were shown around one of the galleys. It was enormous but immaculate, as one would expect. There is one member of staff on the ship to every 2.58 guests which is pretty impressive. Here is a picture of Barbara with the dynamic duo getting her cookbook signed so look out for some exciting dinners from now on.A picture of Hector admiring the view from our balcony. We spent all afternoon and evening on our balcony as we were on the right side to see the glaciers close up and also had the full sun. So it was out with the recliners and the wine. Hector was quite safe on the rail as there was a balcony below which stuck out further than ours.This is the Harvard Glacier on the right. We are still about 5 miles away as it was too icy to get any nearer. It is 2 miles wide and quite impressive.This is looking down the corridor of our ship. You really couldn't see the other end. As I said in an earlier blog if you walked round the deck 3 times you had walked a mile. This was the night before disembarking and they collected the cases by eight in the evening to save time the next day. All very organised.This is Barbara saying goodbye to Marc who had been our waiter in the evenings all week. He and Vic the other waiter were really good fun. This was our last dinner on the ship which was sad but probably a good thing as far as our waistlines were concerned!

Glacier bay

Cruise day 6Posted by Fraser Smith 2013-06-10 17:22:24
This was a day spent at sea in Glacier Bay. Stunning scenery as you can see from the photos below. That is once Hector and I had had a bit of a nap on the balcony!There was some cloud around but it stayed dry all day. Still a bit chilly as you can see but most of that was wind chill due to the speed of the ship. Note my new Alaskan hat!The Margerie Glacier was awsome although we couldn't get too close as there was still a lot of ice around. This Glacier advances 7 feet a day so we saw lots of calving. Barbara managed to capture some on the camera.We were about half a mile away and it took a while for the sound to get to us which was quite weird. The cracking noises were amazing.This is a humpback whale's tail as it did it's final dive to feed. It was quite a long way off and this is on full zoom so doesn't look very big but it was a great sight,
The day, inbetween sightseeing of course, was spent sampling the delights of the galley and restaurants.

Skagway

Cruise day 5Posted by Fraser Smith 2013-06-10 17:11:24
Skagway of course was the bike ride down the mountain which, much to her surprise, Barbara really enjoyed (when you click the link, click "Map" in the top right of the map and select "Satellite" to get a better idea ot the terrain). Hector too, of course. It was a nice day although a bit breezy at times.Once kitted out we had a bit of a practice around the layby before setting off down the mountain.
We stopped several times on the way down to look at the views which were really nice.Hector of course made many new friends during our trip and people love having their photos taken with him. This is one of the guides.This was our visit to the Red Onion Pub which was Skagway's version of the Red Dog in Juneau. Great fun. The menu had things like Trollop, Menage a Trois and Strumpet. This is a photo of Fraser and Hector getting to know one of the "waitresses" who happened to come from the south of England. In the evening we took the train back up the mountain (when you click the link, click "Map" in the top right of the map and select "Satellite" to get a better idea ot the terrain). This took us further up than we had gone on the bikes. We saw 2 of the 3 black bears that were sighted on the trip. Wonderful. Then it was back onto the boat for dinner and setting sail for our next adventure!

Juneau

Cruise day 4Posted by Fraser Smith 2013-06-10 16:43:08
We spent the morning on a boat on a wild life cruise and then visiting the Mendenhall glacier. This was a later start as we didn't have to be there until 08.30am. Again we had a great time. On the way out we came across a large pod of killer whales. Even the crew were excited as there is only a 10% chance of ever seeing these. We had a couple of showers whilst out but never when we were trying to film the wildlife, which was good. As you can see from the pics below we also saw sea lions and humpbacks.
Once we got off the boat we were taken by bus to the glacier. Fraser and I walked out to the waterfall and bottom of the glacier to get a closer view. It was very dramatic. We were hoping to see a bear but none appeared.When we got back we went back on board for lunch and to pick up Hector for his Juneau adventure. He met a bear who looked very startled when a duck sat on his head. We looked in a few of the shops before ending up in the Red Dog Saloon where he had a great time. It was packed with people from cruise ships as there were 4 of them berthed there today. There was a country and western singer performing and a good time was had by all. Good beer as well. Hector was soon behind the bar helping out and you can see him checking up on Wyatt Earp's pistol. Then it was back to the ship before sailing time and off to have dinner, of course.

Ketchikan

Cruise day 3Posted by Fraser Smith 2013-06-10 16:38:48
We arrived in Ketchican about 6.00am. We had an early start today as we had booked a coastal wildlife cruise which left at 6.45. The breakfast room started serving breakfast at 5.00am. The cruise was really good. We had not gone far when we spotted our first bald eagle but we were to spot even more further into the cruise. We saw our first humpback after about 20 minutes. The highlight though on this trip were the eagles. We came up towards a beach and there were at least 6 of them eating a salmon. The boat managed to get really close and we got some wonderful photos as you can see below.
This is a photo of our boat as we came back into dock after the trip.Once off the boat we went back on the ship for morning coffee before heading back into Ketchican with Hector for a look around. The ship was leaving at 1.30 so we didn't have a lot of time. Hector was desperate to go on the Duck tour but he had to make do with a photo shoot instead. We managed to have time to walk to the totem pole heritage museum for a look around before getting back on board for a late lunch. We did a lot of eating whilst on our cruise! The rest of the day was spent exploring the parts of the ship we had not yet found, having afternoon tea with Fred and Erma our American neighbours, which they served everyday from 3.30 to 4.30, scones and everything, and of course eating dinner at night. You get the picture!!!

All at sea

Cruise day 2Posted by Fraser Smith 2013-06-10 08:46:22
This was our first full day at sea. As you can see it didn't take Hector long to get comfortable.
Our state room was really nice with plenty of room and a nice big balcony. We have a steward who will look after us all week whose name is Jun. We can have room service whenever we like which is nice but I don't think we will be using it very often. They will bring a bowl fresh fruit to us daily if we wish.
We spent most of the day exploring the ship which was lovley. Fraser went for a 12 mile bike ride in the gym before I woke up. We discovered that if you walked round the deck 3 times you had walked a mile so that was one way to exercise and burn off a few calories. It was formal night tonight as you can see. We had a champagne fountain in the midship lounge before dinner which was good fun. We went for dinner in the Santa Fe restaurant. There was a choice of 4 restaurants for those of us who didn't want set time eating. We liked the waiters so much we ate in there for the rest of the week.

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