Monday, June 29, 2009

June 23 - Cruising to Vancouver

Tuesday was a dark, dreary day, with intermittant rain throughout. We did a lot of stuff onboard the Volendam, but I didn't make a single, solitary picture. We stayed inside the whole day.

There was a disembarkation meeting held, which at least one representative from each cabin was supposed to attend in order to ensure that we encountered no problems leaving the ship after docking in Vancouver on te 24th. Anita ably represented our cabin at this meeting while I caught up on some much needed reading.

We enjoyed a sit-down breakfast in the dining room, with two couples from Australia. They will be visiting the daughter of one couple, who is teaching school for a year in Calgary, Alberta.

We had a sit-down lunch with three folks from Saskatchawan and a couple who, like us, are from eastern Tennessee. Had an interesting conversation about socialized health care.

We spent happy-hour with Tony and Sandy Vetter, new friends from Albany, Minnesota who've been our tablemates at dinner for the entire cruise. With the weather as foul as it was, we looked for whales as we sailed through the foggy fiords. Afterward, we had a special dinner as our waiters and stewards put on a special presentation.

OK, I lied. Anita had her camera at dinner and we made a few pix. Here's Tony Vetter and myself.

Here are Anita and Sandy Vetter.

And here's our talented and versatile waiter, Prima. He's a native of Indonesia and has been working on cruise ships for nearly ten years.

June 22 - Out of Ketchikan

Each evening, when we returned to our cabin after dinner, we would find another of these "Towel Pets" that had been fashioned by our cabin stewards. One time it was an elephant, another time a whale, an octopus, a dog. This time we found this funny monkey. Guess which is which ;-)

Once when I was on deck with my netbook computer, waiter Val asked about it and we talked "geek" for a while. This evening, he made me a very nice Flaming Spanish Coffee drink. Cocktails and a show for $6.50 - what a deal.

After the late stage show, the culinary crew displayed their talents by presenting a special arrangement of deserts, highlighted by decadent chocolate confections.

Here is one of four ice sculptures created for our late-night desert.

More of the tables full of delicious deserts.

June 22 - Ketchikan

We sailed into Ketchikan under dark and heavy skies, sometimes including sprinkles. Since I didn't need to be on shore immediately, and not wanting to fight the crowds of folks who thought they did, I repaired to the upper deck for a few shots of the city.

We were the third ship in port today. Already berthed as we arrived were the Norwegian Star and the Diamond Princess, seen here behind our ship.

This shot was made from the upper observation deck, looking south. When we leave later this afternoon, we will sail out the inlet seen directly above the end of the pier. There will soon be a fourth ship in port, docked just ahead of ours.

A shot of folks leaving the ship for their shopping trips ashore. One lady made a joking comment about buying "jewelry and tee shirts" at every port...more than a little truth to her humor.

June 22 - Ketchikan II

Some of our Florida friends had flown to Fairbanks and taken the Alaska Railroad south through Denali National Park, and then sailed south from Anchorage. When we found out that we would be in Ketchikan at the same time, we made arrangements to meet for lunch at Annabelle's Restaurant. I made this picture as their ship came around the point headed for Ketchikan.

Here's a closer shot of their ship, the Carnival Spirit, arriving. Our ship, Holland America's Volendam, was about an hour ahead of the Spirit.

Here are Carolyn and Weldon Holland, Bob and Lynn Burnet, and Anita Kohlin after lunch.

A favorite of tourists here in Ketchikan.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

June 21 - Glacier Bay

The mountains around Glacier Bay were clothed in lovely clouds as we began our journey into the bay. Although it was quite cool, the day held promise for sunshine later in the day.

Contrast between the trees on some of the banks and the snow covering others of the mountainous terrain.

This is the first glacier we encountered.

It's hard to explain the beauty of this cruise to someone who hasn't been on it. These poor pictures can't express the wonder of God's creation.

June 21 - Glacier Bay II

The sun was more evident as we approached this glacier.

The top of the mountain is still clothed in clouds.

A relatively small sailboat cruises near the base of the glacier.

Can you see the two Brown Bears in this photo? There looks like slim pickings for these big bruins in this barren landscape.

This black apparition is a glacier! Working its way down the valley, it had picked up a lot of dirt, rocks, and sediment.

June 21 - Glacier Bay III

We had hoped that we would see one or another of the glaciers as they "calved" off some icebergs, but nothing major happened. This was one example of a small berg coming apart from the parent berg.

We had a wonderful day, and as the temperature improved, the pool on the Lido deck was exposed to more and more of the sun.

What a contrast! Beautiful snow-covered mountains and a tropical pool.
Anita enjoys the pool from the upper promenade deck.

A crowd gathered to spend the afternoon on deck.

Friday, June 26, 2009

June 20 - Skagway

As we left Skagway, the sun was setting in the west and highlighting the beautiful, snow-covered mountains ahead of us. Anita sent me out onto the wind-swept deck to grab this shot.

As long as I was there, I took the opportunity to make a picture of this little waterfall as well.

June 20 - Skagway

Several of these interesting vehicles were available to transport tourists around the city. I understand that the young ladies who drive them and tell about the various points of interest are very knowledgeable. They also dress in period costumes ;-)

This interesting building, housing the Alaskan Brotherhood, is covered with pieces of driftwood picked up from the local beaches.

This is the interior of a Saloon Museum.

I found it hard to believe that this establishment knew I was coming and yet was closed on a warm Saturday afternoon. What were they thinking?

This building, now housing the gold rush museum and city offices, was once a private school.

June 20 - White Pass & Yukon Route

After cruising all night from Juneau, we docked early at Skagway and prepared for our rail excursion to White Pass summit. After a quick breakfast, we disembarked and found our way to the train, parked just feet away from the gangway. Once all their passengers were aboard, the train crew had us on our way out of town, up the mountain.

Even this railfan had to admit that the fantastic scenery eclipsed the marvelous old narrow-guage trains that carried us on our journey.

Had we arrived on Friday or Sunday, we would have ridden behind vintage steam power. As we were in port on Saturday, we had to make do with these three Alco diesels. They were more than up to the task.

Across a trestle, and into one of several tunnels we would travel through on our trip today.

Before the rails were laid, prospectors had to travel on foot over the summit, carrying enough supplies and provisions to last them through the winter. Can you make out the path they used, just below the sign?

June 19 - Juneau

The Mendenhall Gardens were fabulous. Inside a hothouse at the entrance were countless pots of many different varieties of flowers. Like these lovelies...

One of the most interesting features of the gardens are these "Alaskan Palm Trees." The owners of the gardens formed them by inverting complete trees and using the exposed root systems as bases for lichen, moss, dirt, and lovely flowers.

How about a closer view of the fancy flowerpots?

My lovely bride shares this exposure with more of the Alaskan Palms...
Being somewhat thirsty after our excursion to the gardens, we decided to stop at the Red Dog Saloon for some sustenance. Here's a pic I made of the interior.

June 19 - Juneau

After cruising up the Tracy Arm, we found ourselves approaching Alaska's capitol city of Juneau. Beautiful scenery wherever you look.

A sightseeing aircraft takes off from Juneau, flying past the tramway that goes high up the mountain near our ship's berth.

As we approach the harbor, we notice another cruiser is in port. The Volendam will dock right behind this boat.
A Bald Eagle circles near the the tramway.

Once on shore, we caught a city bus to the Mendenhall Glacier Gardens. This photo of Juneau looks back down the inlet we came in on.