Friday, August 26, 2011


Today was our day in Ketchikan - also a nice little Alaskan community built into the rocks I think by the looks of the stairs to get to some of the homes. The view from the ship was pretty nice but a close up was much nicer.  We walked around town visiting some of the historical sites but after a couple of hours, even jewelry stores could not tempt me to stay longer because my foot (yes the same one that I have been dealing with for 7 months) was hurting so badly that the thought of walking another few feet was enough to make me stop in my tracks. 

As an aside, I am trying castor oil therapy on the cruise.  The heat and oil seems to be soothing my foot but there is definitely something amiss.  I would love to be able to walk freely without pain, but I'm despairing that I am not going to find a solution for my problem.  Okay enough of that.  Now let's get some pictures of Kethcikan!
City of Ketchikan


Stairway to heaven

Built in the rocks

Enjoying life

Ketchikan harbour
We made it back to the ship, had a great dinner and went off to the theatre for the third night in a row.  Great day. 


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Whale watching in Juneau

Today was exciting.  I bought tickets prior to going to Alaska to go whale watching and the visit the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. 

The ship docked in the harbour at Juneau so we could just walk off.  First we had to go to a store to buy some batteries for Izzy's camera because by now, all 6 (or was it 8?) were all used up. 

We boarded a bus to take us to the Mendenhall Glacier and I'll let my pictures speak for themselves - abundant salmon, porupine, beautiful glacier, waterfall and lovely vegetation, whales, seals, (no pictures for these two), and sea lions!
Salmon spawning ground

Salmon swimming against strong current

Porkepin (Sahana's spelling)

Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier

Cuties in front of Mendenhall Glacier

Waterfall backdrop

Waterfall next to glacier

Close-up of glacier

Ice floes

Northern vegetation

Waiting for the bus to whale watching

Beautiful Alaskan vegetation and glacier
Alaskan skies
Sea lions

Anticipating the next event

This was a very exciting day for the kids and They thoroughly enjoyed all that they saw.  They also had a chance to call home and talk to their parents. 

We went back to the ship and had a very nice dinner.  In fact, the food on the entire cruise so far has been very tasty and there is such a huge selection, that we are not missing anything so far.  We even have curry, dhall and roti - although the comments from my two grand daughters, are that it's okay but ti doesn't taste like Nani's.  And I didn't even pay them to say that!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hubbard Glacier

Today was a cruise day but not just any cruise day. We saw the Hubbard Glacier. It is estimated to have an altitude of about 11,000 feet and the captain said that it was one of the few glaciers that are growing rather than melting.  It is also moving quite a bit. It was quite spectacular to see.  Before arriving, there were lots of ice floes in the water.  If anyone has seen the Red River in Winnipeg in the Spring, you'll appreciate the ice chunks. It looked like an ice breaker had been up stream from us and broken up huge ice jams. 


Hubbard Glacier

Near the glacier

Small iceberg

Skyline near Hubbard

Piece of an iceberg brought onto the ship
By the time we arrived at the glacier, the water was covered in huge ice chunks - mini icebergs really.  The ship got as close as it could but not too close which was a very goo thing.  As we were watching the glacier (you know that expression about time flies like watching an iceberg melt?), a huge chunk of it broke off and fell right into the water making a giant wave enough to move our ship!  It was quite something to see.  The announcer's voice got very high pitched so that the experience was even more heightened. 

What an experience eating lunch and watching a huge glacier rip right off an ice mountain and plummet into the water.  I'm not sure what would have happened if we were any closer but I'm glad we were not. 


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First stop: Icy Strait Point

Today we ordered room service for 7am but when it came, the kids were not quite ready to get up but they did anyway.  They each had a bowl of rice krispies and some juice and about 8:30am, we went to the Island Cafe for a second helping of breakfast before they went to the Fun Factory on Deck 4.  These are scheduled and supervised activities for different age groups of children.  Sahana and Izzy were in the group where they could be together so that was good.  While they were there, a mascot came to visit and of course if there is one thing that Hana does NOT like, it's mascots.  She got an instant headache and had to lie down for  a bit so that by the time I picked them up, she was relieved. 

We had lunch and they went back to the cabin to watch a part of a movie and by that time, we arrived in Icy Strait Point.  The harbour is not deep enough so the ship had to anchor away from shore and we had to be tendered by several of the ship's lifeboats to the shore.  It was raining quite heavily and I despaired that we would get so wet and cold, that we would not have a good time but as if someone was looking over us, as soon as we went down to board the tender, the rain stopped and the sun shone brightly.  It was glorious after all!  We walked off the tender and walked around the cannery (now a tourist attraction) and checked out some of the displays and museum pieces.  Izzy was so busy clicking her camera prior to getting here, that her batteries were low - that is - her third set of batteries! 

Here is a bit about Icy Strait Point taken from their website:  

Icy Strait Point, owned by Huna Totem Corporation, is located 35 miles west of Juneau in Hoonah, Alaska. The Tlingit people settled Hoonah two thousand years ago when they were forced to abandon their original village because of advancing glaciers. Translated, it means, “Where the north wind doesn’t blow”.

The Tlingit – always respectful of their environment -- lived a subsistence life, surviving off the bountiful waters and lush forest. Many also became very accomplished as weavers, carvers and artists -- developing the unique stylized designs you see throughout Tlingit communities today. Fur traders arrived on Hoonah shores in the 1880’s. Schools, churches, and stores were soon to follow. 

In 1912, the Hoonah Packing Company built the first cannery in the area. Ownership traded hands several times before the Icy Strait Salmon Company purchased the property in 1932. When a fire destroyed the town on June 14, 1944, many residents made the cannery their home while the city was rebuilt. In the mid 1990’s the Huna Totem Corporation bought the cannery and created what you see today. Currently 85% of the staff at ISP are local Tlingit from Hoonah.

Tender to take us to shore

Waiting to get off the ship

Sitting by the warm toasty fire in Hoonah
  We walked around on the outside of the cannery and watched the zipliners taking a Zipride.  Then we walked all of the nature trail (on the left hand side of the map).  We found amazing vegetation - different shades of mushrooms - yellow, orange, red, purple - and some the size of a huge sunflower.  The kids loved it and every few steps, they reminded me to take a picture.  Needless to say, I have dozens of pictures of mushrooms!  The nature walk though was amazing.  It was a rain forest in a temperate climate.  There were the tallest sitka pines that formed a natural umbrella and shelter for the dozens of kinds of ferns and mushrooms that we saw.

Devil's claw is used by Native Americans to make salves and ointments which the store in Hoona was selling.  But once the plant is finished flowering, it is quite toxic and can cause a great deal of grief if you happen to get caught in it.  The undersides of the leaves have tiny little claws that hook up and have toxins in them.  A plant that is healing and toxic.  Imagine that. Kind of like rhubarb or castor oil. (more on my castor oil treatment for my foot later).

Purple mushroom
Yellow mushroom
Red mushroom
Orange mushroom
Icy Strait
Beautiful totem pole

All together, Icy Strait was a beautiful first stop to enjoy walk in a temperate rainforest.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Cruise day

Today was a cruise day.  We got up about 7am but had ordered room service for 8am.  We decided to cancel it as we were all hungry from going to bed early last night.  We went to the Island Cafe but Sahana wasn't feeling so well and neither were Robin or Izzy.  They all had a mild case of motion sickness but as soon as they had a bit to eat, they were all fine.  We wandered around the ship and the kids decided that they would like to go into the pool so they did that.  It was heated but only by Alaskan ocean standards - meaning that the water was still cold.

Vancouver skyline

Vancouver skyline

Vancouver skyline
It was funny to see Izzy trying to swim for the first time in salt water.  I think it caught her by surprise because she let out quite a few "yuks" and "blahs."  We then went for lunch and did some window shopping in the perfume and jewelry stores.  Like my co-worker says, he's never seen someone who likes shiny things as much as I do - even body glitter.  We didn't buy anything but there were some cute and interesting pieces of jewelry. 

Tonight was formal night so we all got dressed up and went to the formal dining room for dinner.  I told the kids that they had to be on their best fancy restaurant behaviour and were they ever co-operative!  They had their two bread sticks each, a bowl of lobster bisque each, a pan-fried tilapia dinner each. Sahana had a piece of cheesecake and Izzy had creme brulĂ© for dessert.  I was so happy to see them eating so well and I didn't have to badger them to eat at all. 

We went to the Crystal lounge and listened to some entertainment before retiring for the night.  It was a pretty full day and they were tired.  I continued reading my 4th Harry Potter book for a while before tiredness overtook me too.
Getting ready for bed

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cruise travel day!

This is the day we start our cruise.  Sahana slept over last night so Sharm and Trent did not have to go to the airport too early in this morning.  We got up at 4am and got dressed and within 15 minutes Sahana was up and ready to get dressed and go.  The taxi came at 5am and be the time we arrived at the airport, we were wide awake and ready to go.

We arrived in Edmonton and met Sunita, Mike, Izabel, Ronin and Subhadra and we all had breakfast there. We spent some time visiting and then we took went through security with Izabel.  The kids were pretty excited to be going on their cruise.  They were asking lots of questions about what the ship would look like.

We arrived in Vancouver at about 11:15 and have a little snack at Tim's.  Then we got a taxi to the cruise ship terminal and after several long but relatively quick check-in lines, we finally arrived on the ship.  

The kids were awestruck and Izzy was taking lots of pictures with her new camera.  We entered on Deck 6 close to the shopping area and everything looked shiny and beautiful.   We found the Island Cafe on Deck 11 and perused the restaurant before deciding on what to eat for lunch.  

After that, we walked around for a bit and then went to our room and unpacked.  We had an inside cabin that sleeps 4 so it was surprisingly generous in size and storage space.  After that, we went to Deck 11 and watched the ship sail away. We spent a couple hours there and then wandered around the ship - checking out the other floors to see what kinds of activities were available.

We went back to the island Cafe for dinner and dessert.  The kids were amazed at all the different options that were available for dinner so their choices were very eclectic by the time they finally selected.

We went back to the cabin, decided what we wanted for room service tomorrow morning and went to bed around 9pm.  That was really 11pm Winnipeg time and we had already been up since 4am.  When we turned off the light, Sahana said "Oh, it's pitch black in here" and do it was!  so we turned on the bathroom light and closed the door so that some of the light could escape at the bottom of the door.  I think we must have all fallen asleep within minutes of our head hitting the pillow.