Alaska Cruise – 08/06/95

May 11, 2011

SUN. 8/6 This morning we will tour Anchorage,stop at the Anchorage Museum, and the largest float plane anchorage in the world then on to Seward for our ship. It is a beautiful, clear day. No traffic as it is Sunday so we had the streets to ourselves.

In 1964 the earthquake literally destroyed downtown Anchorage office buildings and many others. The quake was 8.5 to 9.2 on the Richter scale. The Hilton somehow survived but the ground in front towards the water sank. In rebuilding they learned what to do if this should ever happen again. There are many earthquakes as there are three faults in the area.

They had 100 plus inches of snow last year. The temperature can go to minus 70 degrees with wind chill. Alaska RR started in 1915. It was narrow gauge at first.

One can pay up to $10.00 a gallon for milk. They heat with electricity. The bill can run $600 to 700 a year. There are many beautiful flowers everywhere. There are hanging baskets along the streets as there are in Victoria. They are attended by residents who water and trim. Some go along with small tractors with trailers behind. Housing is high. A house the size of ours can go for 200-300 thousand dollars. In one area you would see no two houses alike. Their high school; some damage during the earthquake. The ground dropped around that as it did in many places. One class wanted to paint an eagle on the side of the auditorium with their class number. This was not allowed but they cleverly hid the numbers “71” in the talons.

We went thru Earthquake Parkon our way to the Airport Museum. One in thirty people fly and one in 50 own planes. At the museum we saw a film on the recovery of a PBY Catalina from the Alaskan bush. It is now on display at the museum as are many vintage bush planes. The airport here was utterly destroyed during the earthquake. I didn’t realize how bad the quake was until I saw some of the affected area. I remember seeing pictures of Lowell Thomas’ house sliding into a crack in the earth.

The Iditarod Dog Race starts in the beginning of March on 4th Ave. in Anchorage and then the dogs are shipped to Wasilla on Sunday. Susan Butcher won the race 4 times and is now retired. The best time was 9 plus days. The race is from Wasilla (Anchorage) to Nome, a distance of about 1,049 miles. It commemorates a 1925 race to rush serum to Nome to thwart a diphtheria epidemic.

We then went to the Anchorage Museum of Art. A tremendous amount of History is recorded here, the families who settled here, the Pipeline, animals, the ways of life here in the wilds over the years. You could spend hours here as in any museum. The totem pole in the museum was done in the late 19th Century, displayed at the Fair in 1904 in St. Louis and in the New York’s World Fair in 1964. A totem pole is “read” from top to bottom always. Usual symbols are a raven, a dog fish (shark), wolf or fox and a bear. The raven stands for the Kingdom of the Air – the shark, Lordship of the Seas – the wolf, the Genus of the Land – and bear, link to man.

After exploring the Museum we went on to the Reception Center. This is a huge place for meetings and also used as a bus center for tourism. Great idea..The buildings here are beautiful, very modern, as most are thanks to “1964” disaster.

Buses leave here every 15 minutes for tours such as ours. Such efficiency. Heaven help you if you are late. Well managed.

We are now on our way to Seward our embarkment port. It will take about 3 1/2 hours. We have a great driver. He is a teacher, you might know. So many tour buses seem to hire teachers for the summer. This one teaches Special Education.

Headlights must be on at all times, a safety precaution.Alaska had lots of money in the eighties so spent a lot in improving the state. Economy is declining now like “the lower 48”.

Down the highway to Seward the Chugach Mtns. are on the left and the Gulf of Alaska on the right. This is the Kenai Peninsula: Lots of marshland with high tides as in Nova Scotia. This is the highest. They advise not to get caught in low tide. The tide is fast and that glacial flow can get like cement. You must pullover to let traffic by if there are more than 5 cars behind you. Good Idea!!!

It was said that as much as 75,000 acres dropped down, thus becoming a salt water marsh from the tsunami caused by the quake. We passed the Aleyska Ski Resort which produced the Olympic Skier, Tommy Mo,in the 1992 Olympics. His house is built with double walls (insulation) and 5 cables over the house to stabilize it. Many others do the same.

The hotel in Anchorage, the Hilton, was here during the quake but sustained no damage and it is high-rise built deep into the ground aware of what earthquakes can do.

At a rest stop high in the mountains we all got out to see the view. John and Doris had a bad fall in trying to go up a bank. John was hurt when his camera went into his chest. He had had plastic surgery to correct that flesh-eating virus which had invaded him.

The view was beautiful. As we went down the road we encountered construction which went on for 6 miles. DUSTY. That road is very crooked but it is very pretty going down from Turnagain Pass. We went over Johnson Pass which is along the Iditarod Trail. Lots of fire weed around Moose Pass which is a check-point for the race.

We arrived in Seward on time at 5:30. Hurried to dinner. We have a nice cabin, lots of room and closet space. Next was the compulsory life boat drill. We had signed up for 4 trips.


Alaska Cruise – 05/10/2011

May 11, 2011

Day 1 – A Travel Day

At Oh-Dark-Hundred Tuesday, May 10, 2011, (actually 4:45am) the Big Man Limo picked up the 5 of us, 9 bags to be checked plus 2 carry on’s for trip. Probably 10 camera’s and batteries to last a week.

Uneventful flight from Philadelphia to Chicago. Short layover in Chicago for our L O N G trip to Vancouver.

While we were in Chicago, there was a little young lady, obviously going to be on Our Cruise, so i have her two pictures of Duffy the Disney Bear. She was so excited. (have seen her many times since)

After a 40 minute ride from the Airport to the Disney Wonder.

Pictures will follow.

Lifeboat Drill completed, food, a walk around while they finished loading passengers and luggage.

Got underway On Time and we are underway.

A couple of crashed and a couple of us watched a show.

Really cool.

Long Day, be, WE ARE ON VACATION.


Alaska Cruise – 08/04/95

May 11, 2011

FRI.8/4 Up at 5:30. Rain. Bags were out and would go on to Anchorage. We had breakfast and out by 7.Waited a while for the bus. Lots of confusion as to who was to go on first. We had one voucher for all of us so we boarded first.

Rain, rain, rain, oh, well. We were on the train, Chena. Got started at 8:30. It is a four-hour ride to Denali, traveling at 47 MPH. Coffee is served in the observation car. You sit.up high and grand views in spite of the rain. At Saulich the sun is trying to come out. At Nenana was the center for the construction co. of the Alaska RR.

There are a lot of birch trees along the roadway. We pass Clear which is the site of the Early Warning Ballistic Missile Sites, one of three in the world (England and Greenland, the others) We pass lots of dark coal seams on our way to the Park. A lot of the coal is shipped from Healy to Seward to Korea. We go through a narrow canyon, very crooked and through tunnels to reach our Lodge for the night.

We are at McKinley Lodge at one. We have a nice chalet. We have lunch at the Lodge at 2 and then meet the bus for a ride through the Park at 3:20 The trip here was 122 miles in about 4 hours. We get off for the Park at 3:30 for a Wildlife Tour. We also picked up some people at the Denali Hotel which is in the Park.We saw the kennels of the Patrol dogs that the Park uses in the winter. They give demos in the summer. The dogs are more economical to work in the winter over the motorized patrols.

John, our driver, told us to watch for moose in the spruce trees. He is funny but very knowledgable. This is a long ride but we have two or three pit stops. We look for and found caribou,3 rainbows, lots of Dall sheep. Ptarmigan are running along the road beside us. We saw brown bears (Grizzlies), a sow with three cubs, golden eagles and Jaegers (a large white and black bird) At Sable Pass there were many Dall sheep nearby. The weather is not good but good animal weather.

The Park was called McKinley, opened in 1917, changed to Denali in 1980. We went up and up to Polychrome Pass. It is now a gravel road to East Fork River. We crossed several rivers, called braided rivers because their stream-bed is not constant and they look “braided”. We had hot chocolate before heading back and have the cups to prove it. We got back at 10:30 and it is still light.


Alaska Cruise – 08/03/95

May 10, 2011

THURS. 8/3 Up at 6:00 for trip on the sternwheeler, Discovery Ill. on the Chena River. It was still light at 2:00 A.M.Could almost read the newspaper. I had gone to bed early. This hotel is used in the winter for long stays – service people, business people, etc. There is a jacuzzi,  stove,refrigerator, micro-wave and a large room.

Our trip on the sternwheeler was cool and cloudy. It was an interesting trip. The houses are right along the bank. There is no flooding any more. We were on the Chena River which flows into the Tanana. They are glacial and very fast moving.

Saw fish wheels along the shores. Stopped at Susan Butcher’s. She has run the Iditarod 1,000 mile race. She talked about her dogs and the race. There were several pups with her. She now has a 2 month old son.

We went on to the “village” where we saw the dog-sleds and the cultures of the natives. Their use of the different skins of the animals and their beaded garments. Most of this was demonstrated by the natives,several of whom were graduates of University of Montana, U. of Alaska etc. They are mostly Athabaskan Indians. We were back at the dock at one. We were to take a tour of Fairbanks at 2:30. This proved interesting.

There are about 33% government employees here. We stopped at U. of Alaska Museum. A question was asked about the aluminum foil on lots of the windows of the homes. This is to keep out the daylight in the summer (24 hr.) There are 9,000 students at the University. Beautiful buildings and more going up.

Our next stop was a visit to the Trans-Alaska pipeline. It is 800 miles long,48 inches in diameter and was started in 1974. Oil was discovered in the Prudhoe Bay in July 1968. Humble Oil Co. (Exxon) and ARCO pursued this discovery and in 1977 the first oil began to flow to Valdez.420 miles are above ground and 376 below. The Pipeline has a “visitors space” where you can get up close to the line and observe some of the construction. It must have been a tough job in all kinds of weather and impossible conditions to get the job done.

We then stopped at Gold Dredge #8. It was built in Bethlehem, PA. and shipped in pieces. Environmentalists shut it down in the fifties. It was so noisy it could be heard in Fairbanks 14 miles away.

We had soup and salad for dinner 17.00.

The buzzer was ringing when we got to our room. No one knew why. It was the micro-wave. No one had been near it. They finally had to disconnect the whole thing. Our bags had to be out by 6 and we were to be downstairs by 7. Pack overnight bags for our overnight at Denali.


Alaska Cruise – 08/02/95

May 10, 2011

WED. 8/2 Cloudy. Up early as usual. Our internal timers are still on EDT.

We are to take the bus to the airport across the way at 10:30. Breakfast was 16.00! !!. Got to the terminal at 11:00. Take off at 12:30. Clearing above the clouds. Did see Mt. Rainier again and the Olympic Penisula. Got into Fairbanks at 3:20 ADT. Beautiful flowers around the terminal. Going to the Regency Hotel-Fairbanks. Dinner 35.00 Breakfast. $l5.00


“Are we there yet?”, was heard from the back seat

May 9, 2011

How many times have I heard that one? What about you?

Haven’t heard that for years, but it was good to hear. This was from the daughter who worked for the past 20 something days in a row, trying to get the farm ready for Mothers day. About 9,000 flows (plugs) were planted and were in full bloom for Mothers day.

Ort Farm – Ready for Mother’s Day

We are all gathered in South Jersey, where we will be picked up at Oh Dark Hundred in the AM. All clothes are packed, cameras packed, batteries charged, passports ready, Boarding Passes printed. Oh yeah, the cat has a cat sitter, and the Grand Pups will be very well taken care of. (grandparent approval)

When I started to do this revisiting my parents trip to Alaska, two things dawned on me. 1) my mother was a blogger, and 2) the 1995 trip and our 2011 trip will hit a couple of the same “ports”.

It seemed appropriate to help honor my mother, as this is our first Mother’s Day without her, and the journey’s are close enough “for government work”, that I will be posting the 1995 and 2011 journeys together.

I am realizing why I am (sorta) comfortable in Blogging, as I now know where I got it from, and have a number of large notebooks of my parents adventures to prove it.

So, in 2011, my family are following in the footsteps of my parents to Alaska, though they were there again in 2000, but in 1995 they followed me through the Panama Canal. I have been through it in 1967 and 1968, but not for a vacation. They camped for years and camped in 48 of the 50 states. I have a few more to go.

So, bear with me as I share our trip to Alaska from 1995 and from 2011.

The Disney Wonder, here we come.


Alaska Cruise – 08/01/95

May 9, 2011

As we are preparing for OUR trip, these next blog posts will be from a log that my mother recorded in one of her many notebooks of stories.

This first entry, begins on Tuesday, August 1, 1995. Interesting note, that our Disney Cruise will begin on a Tuesday and that someone in the family celebrates a birthday.

TUES.8/1 Beautiful clear day. Up at 4:15. Bus leaves AAA at 5:30. Left the little car in the AAA lot under the shade. Flight 1543 to Chicago flying at 8:00. Off on time on a 757. Cloudy at O’Hare. Got right into the terminal in spite of heavy traffic. Our next flight is 10:00 CDT. Sun is out now and we take off at 10:10 into a cloud cover. Out going traffic heavy as we are air-borne at 10:20. Land in Seattle at 11:55 PDT. We arrive at the Seattle Airport Hilton 1:10.

Clear and 75 degrees. Saw Mt. Rainier 100 miles away. I took a nap. Dinner of soup and sandwich 20.00 !!! Wine and Cheese party at 7:30 to 8:30. Appears to be a fun group about 38 if they all get to Seattle.

Note: Some pictures of this cruise were posted here: Pending Cruise In Alaska


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