Posted in 2018 Alaska trip

Home Sweet Home

Friday, June 15

Since most of our stuff had to be packed last night and set out for staff to take, we had a small case for last minute items and the clothes we’d worn yesterday.

Made it to breakfast before the dining room closed then it was sit and wait. We went to the wrong room but Jim and Barbie were there so we visited with them until it was time to move to the correct waiting room. As we walked toward the correct room, Wayne and Tony hailed us. We all went to wait together.

Our color and number was called so we were released to leave the ship and go find our luggage.

In order to get out of San Fran before traffic got worse (it was a Friday remember), we decided to all walk with the luggage to the car park. Got lost along the way but eventually found the correct garage and the vehicle.

Made it home without too much traffic delay. So nice to be back.

Friends with us on our journey:

Wayne, Tony, Barbie, Jim
Todd, Yvonne, Darlene, Frank
Posted in 2018 Alaska trip

Another Day At Sea

Thursday, June 14

The penultimate day is here. I had another bad night so really felt beat up this morning. In spite of that, I got up and did our laundry. Then Dan and I went to the buffet for breakfast. I wasn’t too interested in eating but did have some granola and a carrot muffin, ok I had two muffins but they were small.

Then we sat on the upper deck and watched the ocean hoping to see whales, dolphins, or some other sea critters. Thought we saw some spouting but didn’t see any animals. Today’s weather was sunny and pleasant. I soon started to fade so left Dan and went to take a nap.

The nap helped. I felt better and we went to our last dinner with our new friends. Several people ordered the baked Alaska and the entire wait staff, cooks, etc did a parade carrying some of the whole dessert on plates with candles.

We’ve become friends with our waiter, Carlos, and his assistant, Herman, too. Goodbyes and hugs.

Jimmy, our room steward, has been so positive and pleasant. Another friend to add to our list.

We have packed and our luggage is waiting in the hall for the staff to take it away for tomorrow’s departure. Hope I sleep well tonight.

Posted in 2018 Alaska trip

Victoria, Canada

Wednesday, June 13

Victoria from top deck of the ship
Yup, we’re in Canada.

This morning we  got out fairly early, bought a bus ticket and took a ride into downtown Victoria. Someone said its a rule that these cruise ships must go into a foreign port on each trip so this was it for us.

We were dropped off right by the Empress Hotel so we walked through and admired the architecture and the grounds. 

The Empress Hotel

I saw several dolphin sculptures. Some were plants trimmed to look like dolphins. Others reminded me of the frogs stationed all through Calaveras County.

Mother and baby sculpted into the shrubbery.
One of several dolphins decorating the area.

Since we hadn’t had breakfast before leaving the ship, we stopped at a little coffee shop for a bite. I ordered the Earl Grey tea and was very pleasantly surprised at how good it was! I should have asked if I could buy some tea but didn’t think of it until later. Sigh.

Right across the street from our breakfast spot, there was a Giant bicycle shop. Of course, we went it to look. The young salesman was very chatty. So he and Dan jawed while I looked around.

They sold Giant brand cycles here.

We wandered down to the harbor and, lo and behold, there was a seaplane base! A sailboat happened by too. It turned out to be a nice day with sunshine so several folks were out enjoying it.

Planes and boats share the same waters.

The day had started with drizzle but that ended, the sun came out and it must’ve warmed up to 50 degrees. The wind never died down but as long as we stayed in protected areas, it wasn’t too cold.

Finding the bus stop for our return trip concerned us a bit because the bus driver gave us one set of instructions but the man at the visitor’s center said something different because of construction that was going on in town. Fortunately we walked down the correct street at the correct time and caught the correct bus.

Returning to our room, there was a “Happy Birthday” sign on the door with balloons. The room had also been decorated. It was fun seeing Dan surprised. Princess Cruises had given Dan a $50 gift certificate to be used in the spa. So he decided to get a haircut. He ended up getting that, a facial, a shave, and an arm and hand massage. Now he looks younger than me.

Happy Birthday!
Nautical birthday decorations
Birthday boy

Since there were two birthday boys in our group, we decided tonight would be the celebration. Turns out there is another couple that live in Pine Mountain Lake who are also on the cruise, Rich and Marsha. So they joined us and that made three June birthday boys: Todd, Dan, and Rich. The travel agent gave us this evening’s special dinner as a gift which was very nice! Our waiter, from Serbia, was a hoot. He told us his name but said to call him Mr. B as that would be easier to remember.
We were all able to sit at the same table and we all had a fun time teasing one another, telling jokes and enjoying a delicious meal.

Time for bed. Tomorrow is another day at sea but we should have tail winds and not such a wild ride as yesterday.

Posted in 2018 Alaska trip

At Sea

Tuesday, June 12

Full day at sea with gale force winds. Needless to say, we were tossed about. Strange noises made me wonder if we were going to arrive on land ever again. (We did.) I decided I do not want to die by drowning in the ocean (or any other body of water). I’ve always thought, if I get hurt or killed, it’d be while biking. Therefor, I have not tempted fate by riding the stationary bike in the gym aboard ship. (I expect I’ll pay for this in other ways…gaining weight on this trip and having to start again on my training for my week long bike ride in July.)

This turned out to be a nap day. Took two long naps (how did I get so tired doing nothing?)

Spent the evening watching Nathan Foley. Good entertainer! Was his second show on board. We’d seen him before so were sure it’d be a good show.

Then, for a total change of music, we went to the classical music presentation by a trio from Hungaria. They are excellent musicians but the violinist! Wow!! The trio, Rhapsody Strings Trio, have played many times during the cruise and they are GREAT.

Paid for the naps later as I couldn’t fall asleep. It was well past midnight when I did and then it was the sleep where you don’t feel like you’re really sleeping. But I woke up at 6:30…half an hour before the alarm was set to go off.

Posted in 2018 Alaska trip

Sitka

Monday, June 11

The largest in land area and the first town in Alaska settled by the Russians. Of course, the Tlingit had been here for thousands of years before the Russians showed up. We were only given half a day to explore the area. Took a bus into town which would have been a five mile walk. This really is a large town, all the others have been about one mile from end to end.

Waiting for the bus

Dan wanted to sit in an Alaskan bar and order a beer. So we found one but couldn’t stand the smoke. We went to another which also was a restaurant where there was no smoking. I’m guessing the rules here are smoking allowed in bars but not in restaurants. Then he ordered a gin and tonic. (Has to try to stick to the “no bread” diet as much as he can – wink, wink).  Turns out our bar mate was another passenger from our cruise.

There was a bar here. That counts.

We stopped at a fur store. Wow! They are sooo soft. Thought about getting the dolls dressed up in native attire for grandkids but don’t think they are old enough to appreciate them. Maybe next time.

Stopping at St. Michael’s Cathedral was almost a requirement. It is the first church built in town, Russian Orthodox.

Although it was small inside, it was VERY ornate.

Got some photos of the Alaska Pioneers Home with statue of prospector out front.

The Alaska Pioneers Home
The Prospector

Then we headed for the other end of town and enjoyed the “sea walk” which took us along the harbor where we heard song birds and saw some interesting flowers.

Enjoying walk by the sound.

At the end of the walk was the Sitka Sound Science Center. Not sound as in hearing but sound as in a harbor. I had to have that explained to me. Doh!

We visited Sitka National Historical Park with its totem poles and museum.

Other visitors were by the pole which provides good perspective on its size.
Photo of the Tlingit native to the area.

I was attacked by a bear in the downtown area!

Posted in 2018 Alaska trip

The Glacier

Sunday, June 10

Woke up anticipating the visit to Tracy Arm Fjord and Glacier. The area is spectacular.  The mountains remind me of Yosemite. Aha! The area is nicknamed Little Yosemite according to the info received from the cruiseline. Granite with greenery and lots of waterfalls were what we saw.. As we got closer to the glacier, the ice flows got heavier. I was disappointed we did not get very close to the glacier and did not see any calving. Very disappointed as this was the main reason I wanted to come on the cruise. 

The ice field begins
Tracy Arm Glacier in the distance
Using camera zoom, got this “close up” of the glacier
Some of the waterfalls

We did sign up for a wine tasting class which was this afternoon. Guess I’m not really that interested because there was lots of information provided along with five different wines. Meh.

Wine menu – my favorite was the Chianti. Dan preferred the Cab.

Down time again until dinner. I’m beginning to wonder why people are so enamoured of cruises.

We signed up for a special dinner at the Crab Shack. “Special dinner” means you pay extra for it. Dan is the Crab lover so I hope it meets his expectations.  (It did and I even got dirty wrestling with crab legs.)

The entertainment at night is very good. Enjoyed a singer and a comedian this evening. That’s a plus for the cruise.

Posted in 2018 Alaska trip

Second Stop

Saturday, June  9

The ship left port around 10 last night. We were watching another show and didn’t even feel the ship moving. Dan is feeling worse so we went to the cabin and crashed.

When we finally climbed out of bed, we were in Skagway. Weather today, overcast and drizzly. After a light breakfast, we wandered into town searching for WiFi. Found it at the local library but many, many others were using it too so it didn’t work well. I still cannot load my pictures onto this site so no publishing yet.

Dan wasn’t doing well so he went back to the ship while I stayed at the library.  

Before Dan went back to the ship, we stopped at a few stores. Saw some beautiful knives. The handles were made from mastodon teeth. Who would have thought a tooth could be so pretty.  Also stopped at Sockeye Bicycles. They not only sell bikes and bike related items but also run tours. I thought I’d seen the name before. They advertise in Cycle California.

Evidence we were there (see Dan in reflection)

Mountains around Skagway were trying to hide in clouds but I got a partial peek

After hiking back to the ship, did lot of nothing waiting for the dinner hour. Most of our group was there so we caught up on the various adventures.

A new comedian kept us laughing for awhile. That was all Dan could take so he went to lie down. I wandered off to watch Girls with Guitars. A decent show. After that I stopped in to listen to karaoke. When the first singer got up to try it again, I was outta there. The ears can only take so much.

Posted in 2018 Alaska trip

First Cruise on a Cruise Line

Tuesday, June 5 to Friday, June 8

eft home with Wayne and Tony. Their bags were larger than ours. First worry…did I pack enough? What else should I have brought? 

This is an unusual worry for me as I have packed for lots of adventures but not a 10 day ship cruise.  I mean, they expect one to dress up for dinner for Pete’s sake! Dan and I have relaxed into a VERY casual lifestyle. We really don’t have “dress up” clothes and really don’t want any. Conundrum.  Thank goodness for friends who loaned Dan a suit jacket. I do have some old clothes from when I was working.  However, I felt very underdressed the first ‘formal’ evening. The next one won’t be any better. Guess I’ll live through it. I feel like the wait staff are better dressed than we are. Live and learn.

The arrival in San Francisco was great. Wayne dropped us  at the pier and went to park the car.

Dan and Tony waiting for Wayne to arrive after parking car

Weather was perfect. Just after passing under Golden Gate, we saw whales! No pictures, they weren’t posing that day. In a hurry to get wherever they were going I suppose.

Our first night the dinner was dressy casual so felt comfortable with that. We have five couples at our table. Met Jim and Barbie for the first time. They came from Texas. The rest of us have homes in Pine Mountain Lake: Wayne and Tony, Frank and Darlene, Todd and Yvonne and Dan and I.

Dinner is the only time we are all together. We are a raucous group- lots of teasing and laughter.

Since it took two plus days to arrive at our first port, Juneau, we did a LOT of walking…up and down stairs, around various decks, trying to learn our way around.  Day four and we still don’t agree on which way to turn. Sometimes Dan gets it right, other times it’s me.

We have seen Mike Wilson, comedian/impersonator/singer, twice. Enjoyed both his shows very much. Also have seen several shows done by the Princess singers and dancers. There were also a couple of shows by Sonia S. (don’t remember her last name). Would like to hear her again but she’s done for this cruise.

As we arrived in Juneau, there were many, many bald eagles in the area. It seems the ship disturbs the marine life which brings the birds to feed. There were also seagulls. Great to see the eagle dive, grab food and then fly off.

We have met several people who have heard of Groveland. Small world! There are also lots of folks from various parts of California.

Many take excursions at the ports. We chose to wander the city. Went by and saw the Alaska  State Capitol building.

Also went to the city museum and the state museum which is only two years old. There were some hand made guitars in the gift shop of the state museum so Dan got a small guitar “fix.” He enjoyed playing one of the electrics…glad he didn’t buy it.

Statue of William Seward who negotiated transfer of Alaska from Russia to U.S.

Four story totem

I was also on the lookout for some WiFi! What we get on the ship doesn’t work well. I was able to get a few fb posts done.

We also saw a seaplane base. Dan went over to talk with the pilots, of course. 

Otter flying into Juneau

While he was doing that, I was able to watch some of the native tribes perform several of their dances. Since we’d seen a totem pole carver do a presentation on the ship, I had a better understanding of what it all meant to the people who were dancing and chanting/singing.

Haida dancers
Haida dancer’s costumes

Saw another fun show by the Princess singers/dancers this evening. They sure get a workout and are very athletic.

One last photo from the day…

Holding hands with local bear in Juneau