Life

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
- Helen Keller

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

5th Wheel on its way!

Got word today that our 5th Wheel is on its way! Thought I'd stand in for John tonight and let you know our great news. Now the interesting part It won't be ready until the day before Thanksgiving. Not sure how all that is going to work but we've changed our plans so that we will be here and ready. Since I don't have photos of our actual rig thought I'd give you a couple from the website for now. Enjoy the preview.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Victoria & Vancouver


Our cruise ended at Vancouver, which was why the cruise required passports, but we had signed up for an extra day in Victoria and a couple of extra days in Vancouver before returning home. Before leaving the ship, they delivered our bill for our drinks, the pictures we had purchased from all those evenings we had dressed up, and the gratuity for all of the above (remember that handy credit card they gave us at the start of the trip?). Uffda. We had a fine time.
Our trip through Canadian customs was expedited because we had to catch a bus to Victoria. That worked out well. Victoria is an island, so we got a ferry ride also. Our first stop was Butchart Gardens in Victoria where we spent a few hours wandering around in an amazing botanical garden. The weather was back to being perfect again, so it was a very pleasant visit. The bus then dropped us off at the Empress Hotel, right down town Victoria.
The Empress is an old restored hotel, so the rooms are large with high ceilings and you can open the window. No air conditioning, but we had a nice ceiling fan. Right after we checked in, we had our fist visitor; a rather large sea gull. He tapped on the window a few times but we just laughed at him so he left. I kept the window closed

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ketchikan

Next stop was Ketchikan, where of course the weather was perfect. More shopping, but we took advantage of the weather to walk around the town. There’s a salmon stream where a lot of the shops are (former bordellos that serviced the miners during the gold rush days) , that provided a great view of the salmon. This stream was more like a series of cascading waterfalls. The salmon would queue up waiting (resting?) for their turn to try to jump from pool to pool as they attempted to get past the waterfalls. It looked like a lot of work to me, and a lot of them ended up back at the start where I suppose they rested up for another try.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Juneau




Turns out we didn’t have to wait until Ketchikan for the rain because our next port was Juneau, and it was raining. Juneau was our first scheduled excursion; a “bike and brew” where you tour some of the local scenery on a bike and end up at a local brewery. The group that put it together also provided rain gear and since we were in a costal rain forest, I suspect most of their trips were in the rain. It was a lot of fun. We not only got to see a glacier, but we were able to sit on one, or at least a piece of one. Our guide was a young man who had just graduated from the local high school and was looking forward to attending the University of Alaska. The glacier we were admiring had dropped chunks of ice into the lake we at and someone had talked him into retrieving one of the ice chunks as it floated by. Which he was able to do without getting too wet, so we took turns getting our picture taken with a piece of ice.
The brewery was for the Alaskan beer we had at the Seattle airport coming in. We sampled a few beers and picked out a couple of favorites when we learned you could bring beer back on board the ship. Good to know. Cheaper than ordering beer from room service.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Skagway



The time line for the cruise is already getting blurred in my mind. I remember Glacier Bay National Park. Did you know we have a national park that is a huge bay surrounded by glaciers? It even has park rangers who were nice enough to join the cruise (they tool around in their own boat) while we were in the park. Most nights we dressed for dinner and had our picture taken. Part of the entertainment is to get your picture taken by the ship’s photographers and then try to find your picture among hundreds of others the next day when they were posted on these big boards. There were also live bands, comedians, gambling (when the ship is at sea, and you can gamble with your ship credit card) and just hanging around the ship kept us entertained. We were having a great time, but still welcomed the chance to get back on land when the ship docked for the first time at Skagway.
Skagway, as you might expect for a cruise ship port, has a lot of tourist shops, restaurants and bars. I understand the shops, but why would a bunch of tourists who have already paid for all they can eat onboard the ship immediately head for the restaurants when they get off? Maybe they were thirsty. We found a microbrewery at the end of the street with a long line waiting for tables but we were able to get a couple of seats at the bar right away. Perfect. The local beer was great, and a good change from the ship which only has beer in bottles (I wonder why that is?).
We checked out the salmon trying to swim up every stream in sight, even the ones that didn’t appear to have enough water for such a big fish. It’s an amazing sight, and the weather was great for walking around gawking at the salmon and acting like tourists. We heard it would be raining for sure in Ketchikan.