Alaska Cruise – 08/11/95

May 15, 2011

FRI. 8/11 We arrive about noon. We tour the town on foot. They have 200 to 250 days of rain here. It was cloudy but no rain. Ketchikan is a salmon capital, has two fish canneries and huge pulp mills. We had a tour to the Totem Bight Park where we saw a number of poles and the Clan house. All the poles tell a story. We then went back and walked to Creek Street. This used to be a street for brothels. It is now full of shops. The houses are on stilts. One is called Dolly’s House which is now a museum. We even had an ice cream cone while strolling along the board walk.

The show Fri. night was called a Sentimental Journey. Before we went in we were out on Upper Promenade deck looking for whales. We did see two orcas near shore away from the ship. You could see them with Binos. Very few whales on this trip. Tomorrow we start for Canadian waters and home. We will cruise the Inside assage all day,


Alaska Cruise – 08/10/95

May 14, 2011

THURS. 8/10 Juneau, the capital of Alaska, again an isolated city except by plane and boat. The Gastineau Channel runs through down-town. There are boroughs in Alaska, no counties, no sales tax, became the capital in 1906. Fairbanks is the center of the state and Anchorage is the center of the population. Juneau is nestled between Mt. Roberts and Mt. Juneau. It was established in 1888. Large lode of gold found here in 1880. The mine closed in the 1940’s.

We will be going on a helicopter ride this morning. We will be going to Mendenhall Glacier, about 2 hours. It is pouring rain but that is nothing unusual and will not stop the flight. The views were fantastic in spite of rain and fog. We flew close
to the Juneau Ice Field. It was some sight to see the crevasses you read about. The blue ice and the depth of them is scary. We were given special boots to wear. They seem to have a special sole that gripped the ice when we got out of the chopper onto the glacier itself. What an experience that was. Of course it was raining. We had on our raingear, but guess what out came yellow slickers for all of us. As we walked across the ice pearing into holes for the blue color, we looked like the commercial that McDonalds had a while back with the school kids going to McD’s single file in their yellow slickers and boots. We wouldn’t have missed this for anything. I am sure some people thought we were crazy, but you only go this way once.

When we got back after flying over the V.C. below and following the Gastineau Channel and seeing Juneau from the air, we took a walking tour of the town in the rain. We saw the Red Dog Saloon, had a big Mac and coffee. We saw the capitol building, Alaska State Museum, court house and an old log cabin (the Davis Cabin) now used as an information center. We saw a number of eagles both in going to the airfield but also coming back. At 6:00 PM we set sail for Ketchikan.

Alaska Cruise – 08/09/95

May 13, 2011

WED. 8/9 CLEAR and off to Sitka by tender. We took a tour of historic Sitka and the Raptor center. Our driver, Duane Pierson, also a teacher, took us to the center first. We didn’t have much time here. Here they re-hab injured birds of all kinds from hummingbirds to eagles. Any critters are cared for if needed. About 50% are released into the wild. They come from everywhere. Those that can’t be released are sent to breeding centers allover the country. One eagle was sent to Millington, N.J. There are 4 species of eagles and 19 species of owls.

This center was started 15 years ago. It is supported by donations and cruise ship visits. No Federal money is available. U. S. Fish and Game does give support.
There were owls and eagles there being cared for.

Sitka has 9,000 people, 26 churches, average age of pop. is 25 to 30. There are 18 miles of roads and 17,000 registered vehicles. No way in or out except by boat or
plane. There are 3 high schools. 30% are Native Americans.

They get 100 inches of rain and 20 to 30 feet of snow. They have had 8 clear days including today, since May 23. The tide here is a 16 foot one (Pacific Ocean).

There have been as many as 6 Cruise ships in at one time. Sitka was the capital at
one time. It is an isolated town but does have a branch of the University of Alaska. st. Michael’s Cathedral is a focal point of the Russian influence when the town was the capital of the Russian territory.

We were lucky when we got on the tenders to see Mt. Edgecumbe. They have up to 90 inches of precipitation and occasional snow. On Castle Hill in town you can see both the Russian and American flag flying. We went to see the Russian Dancers (all women).

From here we went to Sitka National Historical Park where there are many totem poles which were a part of the Tlingit native tradition. Lots of fishing in the area and most of it goes to Japan.

There is a story which the “natives” like to tell. It seems that there a young man back in 1974, now a contracter, decided to play an April Fool’s joke on the town. Mt. Edgecumbe is a volcano. This young man gathered a bunch of old tires, took them up the mountain and set them on fire. The townspeople thought the mountain was erupting. He had to confess to his joke.

We arrived back at the ship at 3 and went to the Upper Promenade deck to loaf in deck chairs. What a life. We had hopes of seeing whales tonight but no luck. We did see a great show, featuring Chris Archer, a banjo player from Branson, Missouri. He was fabulous.

We are under way to Juneau to arrive around 5:50 AM.

Alaska Cruise – 08/08/95

May 12, 2011

TUES. 8/8 We are in the waters near Hubbard Glacier. This glacier was named for the founder of the National Geographic magazine. This glacier made the news back in 1986 when it “galloped” across Russell Fjord blocking it and trapping sea creatures from June until October when the dam broke releasing them. Graham Sunderland, our Naturalist aboard, narrated the trips to these glaciers, also telling us about the geology and natures of glaciers. It has been a beautiful and exciting day. On to Yakatat Bay and Sitka. We anchored at 2 AM. What a racket!!!

Alaska Cruise – 08/07/95

May 12, 2011

SAT. 8/5 Easy morning. Saw the light show at 9 A.M. across from the chalet. Rainy. Got the bus for the train at noon. Sun came in and out. We had a late lunch on the train. That was fun. The sun finally came out to stay. Saw a real moose near the end of the trip. We were in Anchorage at 8:30. Our bags were in our room. Had to re-pack for the ship. We are at the Anchorage Hilton Hotel after about 8 hours on the train.

Alaska Cruise – 05/11/11

May 12, 2011

Disney Wonder

Day 1 at Sea aboard the Disney Wonder.

Well, it doesn’t get any better then this. Day 1 first thing in the morning, we have already seen whales. At a distance, but with each of us “experienced” Cape Cod and Cape May Whale Watches, we knew what to look for. And we had an escort of dauphins, a bunch of them. No, we aren’t going home yet, but that is what we came to see.

After spending 39 months on board a ship, and having done a number of Underway Replentishment (grocery shopping at sea), I now know what is feels like to be on the Big boat, like an aircraft carrier. The Wonder is 3 times as big as the US Coast Guard Cutter Halfmoon (WHEC-378), which I served on, including a trip to Vietnam. Those of us on the Halfmoon knew we were small against the USS Annapolis, which who brought us groceries, ammo, fuel, mail, and movies while we were in Vietnam.

Carrie went on a boat tour and the newest Disney Ship is 4 times the size of the Halfmoon. But, I had to keep reminding the family was that “when you are at sea, you will be painting”. Yup, the Wonder was getting some new paint, and some cleaning of some of the railing. Maybe they’ll believe me now. (have pictures).

We have had a great day. Doing nothing, great food, just “hanging out”. And near the end of today, we saw more whales.

As I mentioned earlier, we had a birthday today. It’s Patti’s birthday. Didn’t celebrate too much, but the week is early.

We wondered how quickly someone would recognize Jennie’s sweatshirt. It is a pink one, with Ort Farms, on the back. It’s where she works. Well, it didn’t even take a day before someone came up to Jenn and said “I know Ort Farms.” We’ll send her boss a bill for  a week of free advertisement.

Carrie and Patrick

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.

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