S: North to Alaska
FC: North to Alaska
1: Let the adventure begin May 13 - May 22, 2011
2: It all began in the hilly city of Seattle. Arriving from Fishkill and from Buckeye, we set out to see some sights. Pike's Market was spectacular!! The sun was shining (a blessing) and a cheese festival, what more could you ask for? The flowers provided an explosion of color and the seafood everywhere had us longing for a bib, drawn butter, and some cocktail sauce. We did indulge in some ceviche and crab cocktail - yum, yummy. | Amazing | PIKE PLACE MARKET
4: While at dinner the first night we learned that the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's mobile HAARP facility had pulled into a Seattle shipyard. People were not allowed within 100 yards of SBX while it was in navigable U.S. waters and moored at Vigor Shipyards. The 280-foot tall SBX is a floating, self-propelled, mobile radar station designed to operate in high winds and heavy seas. It is part of the Defense Department's Ballistic Missile Defense System. It roams over the Pacific Ocean to detect incoming ballistic missiles. | Remember having lunch on the wharf and creating our own lost at sea scenario worthy of a Spielberg production? Then we caught site of the " Boat Parade" poster. I still think our story was better! | TOP SECRET SPY STUFF
5: Totems, totems everywhere. We were fortunate to be able to watch carvers hard at work on a new creation. | From the bay to the Pacific Science Museum where we took in "Born to be Wild" at the IMAX, saw beautiful butterflies, and tested some skills. Tom may have drank too much water! Then the monorail back to town.
6: The Space Needle Built for the 1962 World's Fair, it stands 605 feet high and 138 feet at it's widest point. It was constructed to withstand earthquakes up to 9.1 in magnitude and winds up to 200 miles per hour. At 500 feet the revolving restaurant offers diners the best views in town. | They said it couldn't be done but thanks to photoshop those tiny people made it into the shot!
7: We got to watch the city go round and enjoy a superb dinner. Remember reading all the notes stuck to the outer wall? | Great Food | Great View
8: All Aboard | Gross tonnage ..........93,000 Overall length .........965 feet Beam ....................105 feet Draft ......................27 feet Engines ..........Diesel Electric Cruise Speed ...........25 knots Guests ...2,380 (double occupancy) Crew ........................1,154
9: First order of business was to indulge in some cruise cuisine , then off on a tour of the ship where we immediately signed up for the spa. Of course some began by planning while others began by scoping out all the comfy locations. Guess Tom wanted to take this cruise lying down! | The Bliss lounge complete with bowling alley (decor early bordello) | The Spinnaker lounge had fantastic views (drinks weren't bad either) | Saw this on the tour but not sure any of us found it later
10: Tom discovered he can be a "spa guy" | Looks like the bubbles have created a little friskiness! | RELAX | Life is Good | THINK SPA The perfect escape. Massages, facials, heated lounges, and lots of bubbles.
11: After our active day we would return to our lovely cabin eager to see what cute little pet would be waiting for us. | CUTE
12: JUNEAU | After a day at sea we arrive in our first port of call, Juneau. There is just one majestic vista after another. Truly the last frontier. One interesting fact we learned is that Juneau is the only state capital that is not accessible by road.
13: Here we are beginning our first adventure on the catamaran that will take us into Stephen's Passage in hopes of seeing whales. | Auke Bay
14: Thar she blows | The humpback whale migrates from tropical waters to Alaska and can travel over 3000 miles in 30 days. Adults can eat a ton of food a day. That is even more than what is eaten on a cruise ship! | HUMPBACKS SIGHTED!
15: Junior gives us all a splashy wave | Holy Orcas Batman! Unlike the humpbacks the orcas didn't seem to be too concerned about the boats proximity. The Daddy, however, did make sure he kept himself between us and his family. You couldn't help but be thrilled to see them so close and in their natural habitat.
16: The Steller sea lions were great fun to watch. They could have been George Lucas' inspiration for Jabba the Hutt in Star Wars! We watched the one in the foreground push his weight around until he cleared a pretty big swath of property for himself. Actually, the orcas were headed in their direction...mmmm, maybe dinner?
17: Sunset over Juneau | Could be the next DiCaprio and Winslet!
18: SKAGWAY | Population 862 and in the winter only about 300. Complete with boarded sidewalks and a train headed for the hills, it truly is reminiscent of the gold rush days.
19: Off to do a little shopping and then enjoy some lunch at the local brothel, The Red Onion Saloon. Rick seems pleased to meet the acquaintance of one of the Madams. Good food, good music, good looking women - what more could you ask? Tom took some time to get friendly with Sarah. Looks like some fishy politics to me!
20: Our ride is here, we are suited up, and ready to explore. | The flight provided magnificent views of the glacier and surrounding area. We could clearly see just how the glacier is receding. It is a powerful example of the force of nature with a thickness of over 500 feet in areas. Streams, crevices, and debris littered the face of it. Just to think we were walking on it was amazing! | Approaching the glacier | MEADE GLACIER
21: A safe landing on what looks like a different planet. Ice melt creates perfect heart in lake. This beautiful blue hole seems to have no end. Streams flow across the glacier with the blue ice glittering beneath. | We're going to land on that?!!!
22: Low hanging clouds hovered over the bay as the ship slowly approached Margerie Glacier but nothing could obscure the magnificent sight of this frozen wonder. When pieces of the glacier crashed into the bay it sounded like thunder on a stormy summer night. All around the ship chunks of ice floated by bringing to mind visions of the Titanic. So much so that the ship could not proceed as planned into Hopkins inlet. We will forever be in awe of the blue ice. | THE BLUE ICE
23: Straight from the spa in time to see the glaciers. | Now this is absolutely the proper glacier observing technique! | BURRRRR | Margerie | Lamplugh
24: KETCHIKAN | Located on Revillagigedo Island and is known as the salmon capital of the world. The Forest Service in Ketchikan administers the nations largest national forest, Tongass National Forest, at 17 million acres.
25: Wanna race, Rick? | Helmets? Check Seatbelt? Check Camera? Check Spouses? Check | START YOUR ENGINES Tongass here we come!
26: Tomcars are fun, fun, fun. Lots of dust and mud. Thankful that coveralls were provided. View from the top was awesome. We could see Back Island which is the base for the Southeast Alaska Acoustic Measurement Facility(SEAFAC)- hush, hush submarine stuff. Didn't get to see any bear not even the local "Harry". But we did see a beautiful waterfall and enjoyed the ride.
27: Talk to the finger
28: VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA | Butchart Gardens When Robert Butchart exhausted the limestone in the quarry near his home, his wife, Jenny, began to create this wonderland. The sunken garden began in 1909 and was completed in 1921. It is told that Jennie would hang from the sides of the quarry in a bosun's chair in order to plant. Over 1,000,000 bedding plants in 700 varieties are used each year ensuring constant blooms. It definitely brings new meaning to the expression "explosion of color".
29: Another beautiful blossom sitting among all the other flowers | Breathtaking Beauty
30: Rick's fantastic shot of the marina
31: And when we were not out exploring the rugged countryside the theater offered some talented performers (the Frankie Valle tribute was a favorite) and the restaurants provided us with delectable meals. (Where was that fitness room again?) We even got a few of those trivia questions correct. | Really, Tom, that's your answer? | GOOD FRIENDS