Friday, July 16, 2010

North to Alaska

It’s hard to believe that just a week ago we were enjoying our last day aboard the ms Zuiderdam and somewhat reluctantly anticipating our return to real life. 

We set sail last Saturday afternoon from Canada Place in Vancouver.

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Some of my nieces and nephews came to bid us bon voyage.

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There were many surprises awaiting my parents in their cabin, including balloons, flowers, champagne, and various other anniversary gifts.  All twelve of us squeezed into their tiny stateroom and watched them open their cards and packages.

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The anniversary celebration continued the next night when the dining room staff sang to them and presented them with a special cake.

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On Monday we sailed up Tracy Arm and saw our first icebergs

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and numerous waterfalls gushing into the glacial-green waters.

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Before arriving in Juneau later that day the whole family ate together at the Pinnacle Grill, a gift from our travel agent.  My lunch was almost too pretty to eat.

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In Juneau we joined up with Alison and Stan and did a bit of shopping.  Afterwards we checked out the beverages at the Alaskan Hotel.

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Then Cameron and I were off on an evening whale-watching tour.  Although we did see two humpbacks they moved too quickly to capture on camera.

The next day we arrived in Skagway, where we had arranged a bus and train trip along the White Pass & Yukon Route. 

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We took the bus to Fraser, BC, which boasts a whopping population of 14, all Canadian Customs officials,

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then boarded the train for the return trip to Skagway,

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Despite the fog we took in some beautiful sights.

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Once in Skagway, we had lunch at a local pub and did some shopping.  Do you detect a pattern here?

Wednesday was undoubtedly the highlight of our entire cruise. 

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In the morning we entered Glacier Bay and cruised right up to the Margerie Glacier, where we remained anchored for about an hour.

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Even when you get up close, it’s hard to believe that this glacier is over a mile wide and about 25 stories high. 

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The Margerie Glacier moves about seven feet a day, continually calving huge chunks of ice into the water.  We were lucky enough to see it calve twice before we headed back out of the inlet.

The rest of the day was one picture postcard moment after another, as we sailed past more glaciers, snow-capped mountains, and rugged shorelines.  We even saw a brown bear walking away after lunching on a beached whale. 

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Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better several pods of whales were spotted as we made our way out of Glacier Bay.  They were spouting and breaching all around us.

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Most were quite far away but one pod came close to the ship and put on a show.

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Our final port-of-call was Ketchikan, where it was hot and sunny.

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We spent our time there much as we had the other towns, wandering in and out of shops and checking out the local pubs.  The whole family met for lunch at Fish Pirate’s Saloon where we enjoyed some cold drinks and delicious fish and chips, while listening to live music.

We spent the last day at sea under mostly overcast skies but the weather didn’t stop some of us from participating in a 5 km on-deck walk to support breast cancer.  My mom, a fifteen-year breast cancer survivor, was thrilled to be walking, accompanied by four of her five daughters.  Even the captain participated and unexpectedly popped  into our group photo.

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The final night featured the Master Chef’s Dinner and everything was beautifully presented and delicious, just as it had been during the entire trip.

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That evening the sun came out and highlighted the beautiful British Columbian coastal scenery as we cruised past.  The feeling was bittersweet; our cruise was coming to an end but we all looked forward to returning to our homes and families and a more familiar way-of-life.  The next morning Vancouver looked stunning in the sunshine as we sailed into Burrard Inlet, past Stanley Park, and back into Canada Place.  Within just a few short hours of docking, we arrived home.       

Now, I can imagine you thinking, “That’s all wonderful but what about the yarn, the knitting?  That’s what we really care about.” 

The truth is that despite my best intentions I did very little knitting on my trip, less than twenty rows of ribbing on a sock cuff.  But I was thrilled to spot this large and beautiful sculpture in the ship’s theatre.

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It made me feel right at home. 

And in each port I picked up some sock yarn, each dyed by a different Alaskan hand-dyer.

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From left to right: A Tree Hugger’s Wife “Sturdy Sock” purchased (and dyed) in Juneau, two skeins of Rabbit Ridge Designs “Soxx” bought in Skagway, and Raven Frog Fiber Arts “Bear Feet” from Ketchikan.  Alison and I also each bought a skein of Noro “Kureyon” in Ketchikan.  It was Buy 1, Get 1 Free—how could we resist?

I think yarn makes the very best type of souvenir, don’t you?  You can knit your memories into every stitch. 


Anonymous said...

Simply beautiful and stunning. I love the colder regions of the world most.

Jessica said...

That picture of the statue would have only been made better if you were standing under it (or sitting beside it) and knitting as well).

Beautiful pictures!