2011: Joel and Elaine take their family to Alaska
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Here is Joel and Elaine's Alaska trip report:
Saturday, June 11,
2011 - Helen's Graduation:
8th grade graduation from St. Luke was on Saturday in Woodburn, OR.
There was a mass and presentation of diplomas. We went to lunch in
Barbara, Helen, Philip
Joel, Helen, Elaine
Ben, Barbara, Helen, Andrew, Marina,
Saturday, June 18,
2011: Departure from Seattle
We had an uneventful day yesterday getting
parked and checked in. It rained all the way. The Golden was berthed
alongside and has been following us all the way. Busy afternoon and
everyone was very tired by the time midnight came—not too tired to
go upside to get a snack. Helen was hungry again by that time and
had a plate of spaghetti while the Andrew found pizza. Growing as
fast as they are, they’re bottomless pits.
Sunday, June 19,
2011 - Day at Sea
This was the
conversation this morning at our table: “And where are you from”,
“near Portland”, “so are we, Canby”, “We’re Molalla”, “We’re between
Woodburn and Molalla”, “Oh, do you know Irene Schriever, my aunt.”
It was Dolly’s daughter, Jeri. Small world!!
This was our first full day and it was at
sea on our way to "Southeast Alaska".
The kids are enjoying the video games and
activities in Club Hal. They are very independent and each has his
own key to the room so they can come and go pretty much as they
wish. They have learned their way around the ship better than some
of us old folks. There are about 200 teens and preteens to
participate in the various activities.
We had a little sun this afternoon and
during dinner. Helen was watching a movie this evening at about 10
pm and looked out the window and saw a whale. Bae and Marcus saw
some earlier when they were out promenading around the deck.
Tomorrow we arrive in Juneau around noon and
will be in port until 9 p.m. or so. We have tickets to go up a
tramway, and Marcus and Bae are taking a helicopter ride up on the
glacier. There was talk about a zip-line, but it was sold out.
June 20, 2011 -
Monday we sailed into
Juneau about noon. Expecting rain, we were pleasantly surprised to
find partial sun. We had purchased tickets for the Mt. Roberts
Tramway so we gathered our coats, caps and mittens to disembark by
tender. There were two other cruise ships ahead of us, and after we
arrived, our sister ship sailed in and took the position at the
At the top of the tramway, we were able to
see a show with a smaller version of the Van Trapp family who showed
beautiful pictures of SW Alaska, and sang and played a variety of
music. They were dressed in typical native costumes-somewhat at odds
with their blond hair.
There are wonderful hiking trails with
spectacular views at every turn. As we were coming down the trail,
someone shouted bears. We heard there was a mother with 3 cubs
ripping up the hill. Andrew was ahead of us and saw them, but they
were going so fast, we didn't. We heard people on the upper trail
shout as they went past. Later we saw the sign: "Rarely, you will
see a bear."
Back down at sea level, we walked by
numerous shops, all new since our last visit, I think. Marcus and
Bae left us for a ride on a helicopter over the Mendenhall Glacier
where they were let of to walk around. They made it back in time to
join Elaine, Philip and I for dinner in a largely deserted dining
room. The kids were on their own.
Mt. Roberts Tramway
At the Red Dog Saloon
Today is again partly sunny and we are
sailing on glassy sea to cruise past the glaciers later in the
Tuesday, June 21,
2011 - Hubbard Glacier:
Some enterprising young people
in our room ordered wake-me-up coffee and juice. Ben was ready to
serve Grandma at the rail, followed by breakfast in the dining room.
Elaine and ben
After a leisurely morning, we turned right into Yakutak Bay to
cruise into the Hubbard Glacier, one of the few that is actually
growing and advancing. We heard along the way that our ship had been
hit by an iceberg the size of a bus as it was parked in front of the
glacier a few weeks ago, so we were concerned that the captain would
be "berg-shy" and unwilling to venture very close in. Also, a couple
of weeks ago it was so foggy that the glacier couldn't be seen. The
gods were with us and neither rumor proved true. It was a beautiful
afternoon. We learned later that our captain and ship had the
previous record of getting close to the ice-400 meters. Yesterday it
was broken at 399.5 m. They lie a lot, too.
The day was partially clear adding to the contrast of the snow
against the trees and rocks reminding Elaine and I of what we had
seen in Antarctica a few years ago. We were lucky to hear a big boom
and see a huge chunk of ice break off the glacier and tumble into
the water. After the evening show, we went back the room via the
promenade deck in balmy sun. Later, Helen and I went up for a late
nite snack and saw the sun setting. She ran down and got Elaine and
Marina to come and see the sunset at 10:25 with the luminescent
mountains to the side.
Helen, Marina and Elaine
This morning, we anchored at Sitka. It's Ben's birthday, and he
received a card from the captain and crew. (For balloons, we would
have to pay for the birthday package.) Philip's have left the ship
for a morning of kayaking and we will disembark soon. It will be by
tender. It was fun to sail in this morning as we were eating
breakfast. There are many small islands with beautiful houses.
Elaine, Marina, Joel and Helen
We understand that Sitka has opted out from
the chain gift shops largely funded by the cruise lines. They
decided that they would only have locally owned stores, and it
definitely shows. There is no Diamonds International, Tanzanite
International, Venetian Jewelers, Treasures of Alaska, or Blue
Diamond like you will find in any other port in Alaska, the
Caribbean, or Mexican Riviera. Consequently, not as many cruise
ships anchor in the old Russian settlement, the capital prior to
Juneau. Sitka was where the Russians took down their flag after
Seward's purchase in the 1860's. Several people asked about where
the film "The Proposal" was filmed. Maine was the answer. Sitka
would have had to forgive all kinds of taxes and stop cruise ships
for a year to do the filming. They declined.
Bae, Marcus, Elaine, Joel
As the ship sailed into the area, it passed
numerous tiny islands, most with a single house. They would only be
accessible by boat. I don't know if they were vacation houses or
not. Some had very large yachts docked alongside. It was not hard to
spot eagles along the way. Yesterday was Ben's 10th birthday and we
looked around to find some decorations at Ben Franklin. I found a
bear bell for him to wear when he goes hiking. He thought it would
work for coyotes, too. It was another formal night and the waiters
brought a cake with Happy Birthday Benjamin" on the top, finishing
off his surf and turf with lobster. Most at our table didn't try the
Happy Birthday Ben!
Later there was the dessert extravaganza
with ice sculptures, carved watermelons, etc. and the chocolate
fountains flowing. It was fun to look at, but I couldn't think of
eating even a truffle. I was almost revolted to see people with
plates piled high. Ben and Andrew were playing chess and ping pong
until nearly midnight. Everyone slept in this morning as we glided
I think we were last here in about 2005. I
couldn't believe how much it has changed. Tourist shops are built up
all over the place. It's amazing how many restaurants are nearby
that the cruise passengers flock to. This morning there were about
5000 passengers flooding the streets buying their diamonds,
tanzanite, and Alaskan art treasures.
We have just returned from the Great Alaskan
Lumber show and watched log rollers, tree climbers, etc. The kids
enjoyed it. We sail about 1 and will be making our way to Victoria
by evening tomorrow. Then it's Seattle and home on Saturday.
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