Saturday, July 27, 2013

Alaska Cruise tour on the Sapphire Princess, Anchorage, Denali National Park, Mt. McKinley, Glacier Bay, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchican and Vancouver

OK everybody, Alaska is one of the COOLEST places on earth! It was so gorgeous and so much fun I am going again! In fact I will keep going until I see a bear with my own eyes out in the wild. Zoo's do not count for me after my safari at Kruger National Park. I also want to get some great whale shots which I did not do. I fell in love with zip lining, glaciers, deep sea fishing and train and helicopter rides though among other things.

Flying into Anchorage was an amazing sight by itself 

It's not a huge city and you can easily walk all to tourist areas

I call this my "Where's Mom" photo

Mostly just Ma and Pa shops everywhere. Not a McDonald's in sight

I went on the tour part of the trip with my Mom and Dad, my son Rex and my sister Lolly and her husband Doug from Ohio

We had to try the reindeer hotdogs!

They were delicious! (Actually they tasted like regular hot dogs to me)

My reflection shot for the day. This is where we ate breakfast. Lolly and Doug are still in there eating their reindeer sausage. Yes the reindeer is a domesticated animal just like cows.

This is the only Moose I saw on the whole trip even though they are said to be quite a menace

After Anchorage we took the bus to the McKinley Princess Lodge just forty miles from Mt McKinley. This is about as much as we saw of the mountain the whole day and a half we were there. It rained some of the time but apparently that is not usually the case. They had just had 90 degree weather for a month just before we came. Just our luck, but watch and you will see that persistence pays off!

My dad has neuropathy in his legs and it's like walking on tree stumps for him. But he hates wheelchairs. He told us absolutely not to bring it. It's a good thing we did though. He even learned to like it. They got the best seats on the bus every time!

The next day we boarded the train in Talkeetna to head across Denali Nation Park to Denali. It was a beautiful train and ride!

Rex was a great traveling companion. Wouldn't you know it that the people sitting right behind us live like two minutes away from us in the same town! It's a small world! Maybe we will go to Disneyland when we get back!

The views from the train were astounding. We were on a huge bridge at this point

Mom and Dad were in the car behind us but I figured out how to go visit them

It was a 4 hour train ride through incredible country

Again it rained some of the time but that made it even more beautiful

The front of the train

Then we get into Princess Denali Lodge in Denali which is not a very large town

Very quaint though. This place is locked up during the winter and opens up just for the summer. They bring in a lot of kids from the lower 49 to work the summer months. A lot of them were from Utah. One tour guide told me 1 in 6 are from Utah alone

Across the street from the lodge. This is pretty much Denali

We sure ate well though

Rex- "Mom stop taking pictures of me" Me- "Who do you think you are my Mother? I can take as many picture of you as I want"

I may have to sneak around to do it though!

We took a nice walk up the river 

That's my dad. He loves maps and geography and geology in general and he is always teaching. Maybe that's why I graduated with a bachelors degree in geography and became a Travel Agent. Maybe that's why I like photography now. He always said he could see around corners and over hills 

Yummy, I love salmon anyway

I took a helicopter ride from Denali. It was the best thing I could have spent my money on. 

It was about $350 and I was with 5 other people. At least I got a window seat

There is only one road in and out of this place and this is it

It was incredible!

We saw some Caribou and some Dall sheep but my picture wasn't very good of them. We were moving so fast and they were a long way down

And there she is. My persistence paid off. We saw Mt Mckinley (or now Mt Denali as they have changed the name) from the other side  

And oh was she beautiful!

I have never seen anything quite so spectacular in my life! The highest mountain in North America

The trip back was spectacular as well and very different

Coming back into Denali 

The next day we road the bus all day to get to the cruise ship at Whittier. It was the most beautiful scenery of the trip but I was sitting on the wrong side of the bus and couldn't get any good pictures. It was the Turnagain Arm where the tide comes in so fast it's an extremely dangerous place. The mud flats are perilous and you would sink into them if you tried to walk on them. It was the same with the mud beach at Anchorage. People die trying to do it all the time

This river coming into Turnagain was bright blue because of the glacier it came from. Others are different colors depending on the glacier

Here we stopped to wait for our turn to drive on the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. It's only one way and it switches direction every 30 minutes

Going through the tunnel

And coming out on the other side it was foggy and rainy. I guess the clouds build up against the mountains here and it's always rainy

And there was our boat- the Sapphire Princess

Rex was so excited to get on the boat. The only other cruise he's taken was to Mexico and he did miss the heat but he thought it was all pretty cool anyway

We met Monica and Doug on the ship- another sister. They were quite enjoying themselves. The pools were heated and we used them and the hot tubs more than I thought we would

Hubbard Glacier was our first stop

We saw a seal pup laying out

This was the best I could do for a bear so I am really not counting it. It's in the grass and you can only see the top part of it. There were two actually but not in this picture

We went into Glacier bay and saw two different glaciers. This one was Marjorie Glacier I think

It's cool because the ship goes right up to it and then sits for awhile and then turns around and sits so the other side of the ship can see it

Glacier Bay

The glaciers boom and then you will see a little something fall like in this picture. Right after I left my sister went out and a huge section came down. Just my luck

My beautiful Mom

We hung out a lot at the buffet so that Dad could see everything without going up on deck.

We also saw an eagle sunning himself

First stop Skagway

Getting off the boat there where these painted logos for retired ship captains with their ship and their name. There was this funny guy behind me. I can't remember the first funny thing he said but the second thing he said was "hey where is the Titanic? Oh yah it didn't make it" and then he said "Look there's Carnival, it's clear down at the bottom". I thought he was pretty funny

Skagway was a quaint little town. I guess there are only a handful of year around residents. Most of the people are summertime residents

This famous building was made entirely out of driftwood

We stopped at an international market to enjoy some South African treats. I got the passion fruit juice. So delicious! 

Standing on the railroad tracks that go up to the Yukon

I didn't take the train, I took the bus

It was a pretty little drive with this suspension bridge

We actually went into Canada

There wasn't much to see when we got there so we turned around and went back. The tour guide was great though and we learned lots of nifty things like nobody is famous for finding a gold strike and becoming wealthy, but there were plenty of people who got wealthy catering to the miners such as Alexander Trump who started restaurants and a guy by the name of Nordstrom.

We stopped at a pretty little waterfall


The next day we came into Juneau

Rex, Doug B and I took a boat over to do some zip lining

We all bought matching coats but I am kicking myself for not getting a picture of us all together

Doug B taking off

Rex on one of the longest zips

We went over some suspension foot bridges

"Look mom no hands"

"Look Rex, only one hand"

Our guide had to bring in a couple of ladies because they were to light to make it all the way

Unfortunately that was never my problem

When we got back from zip lining this is what I saw on the pier. I am still not sure what they were looking at

Then Doug B and I went up in the tram

It was the coolest thing ever!

I love a good vista!

On top was pretty too

A little HDR magic

Dinner of course is the best part of any cruise and this one was no exception

I loved having Rex there and he was adventurous

I tried some of his escargo 

Ketchican was very pretty

This is where we went deep sea fishing and I fell in love. I don't really care for other kinds of fishing but something happens to you when you catch big fish!

I didn't notice the no banana's allowed sign until after the guide made Rex through his half eaten banana overboard because they are back luck to fishermen. Never mind Rex caught the most fish of anyone!

And he caught the first. It was a pacific cod

We caught a lot of trash fish that we had to throw back

I caught the first Rock Fish

The Rock fish were pretty awesome looking

Rex caught a rock fish too. Our guide was pretty surprised that we were catching these kind. He said he hadn't ever seen them here and they were supposed to be some of the best tasting fish

Rex caught the first Halibut too. That's what we went fishing for

Then mom caught a nice sized one

Then Rex caught a huge one but had to throw it back because you can only catch one per day

Doug B caught one that was medium sized and then Doug C caught the biggest of all!

It was so great I am already planning my next trip to Alaska and it's going to be a fishing trip!

Put deep sea fishing in Alaska on your bucket list

We spent the last day as we were moving south laying out and sitting in the hot tub. That last day on the boat was sunny and warm

In Vancouver we took a city tour since our flight wasn't leaving until the evening

It's a great city

I love the Chevron station out in the middle of the bay