Our first big trip since I retired, a visit to Alaska is the fulfillment of one of my wife's lifetime dreams
  • Day11

    Journey's End

    September 17, 2012 in Canada ⋅ ☀️ 68 °F

    On Monday September 17 I woke early to take some early morning pictures of the Vancouver sunrise. It was as beautiful as the sunrise on the first day of the cruise. Leaving the ship, our home for a week, was hard. The bus driver taking us to the Vancouver airport tried to be funny. We boarded our plane and set off for a bumpy flight to Chicago, and then on to Charlotte. Glenda’s mother picked us up at the airport, and we returned home to Asheboro about midnight.Read more

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  • Day10

    Winding Down

    September 16, 2012 ⋅ ☁️ 66 °F

    The next day we were at sea, headed for Vancouver. Since I did not have a map, I could not identify the many picturesque little islands we passed. I assume all had names, but some were so small I would not be surprised if they are nameless. In the clouds and mist, they were ethereally lovely. Even though at sea, we had one of the most interesting excursions of the trip, and we did it onboard. The “Ultimate Ship’s Tour” takes one from the engine room, to the laundry, to the food preparation area, to the housekeeping areas, to the theaters, all the way up to the bridge, showing the inner workings of the Coral Princess. We finished with canapes and champaign, and even received a complementary bathrobe from the laundry. The group even had its picture taken with Captain Fabio Amitrano.Read more

  • Day9

    Misty Fjords

    September 15, 2012 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 52 °F

    The morning of September 15 as we were about to arrive in Ketchikan, we saw our most exciting whale viewing yet. Naturalist Kathy Slamp came over the ship’s loudspeaker to point out some humpback whales at the ship’s eleven o’clock position. Actually, Glenda and I had already sighted the spouting. As we were watching, we saw several simultaneous spouts, and Slamp said that she though that this might be a sighting of the whales “bubble netting,” forcing fish into a concentrated area with exhaled bubbles. Suddenly, all of the whales surfaced at once. They were indeed “bubble netting.” Glenda was overcome with joy at the sight. A boat soon took us up Rudyerd Bay, past New Eddystone Rock, to the Misty Fjords National Monument. The scenery was spectacular. However, rather than appearing as misty fjords, the air was clear and the sun was brilliant the day we visited. They were, nevertheless, indescribably beautiful.Read more

  • Day8

    Whale Watching

    September 14, 2012 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 50 °F

    At 6:00 am on September 14 we docked at Juneau and had a few minutes to cruise downtown. We spent most of our time on the second floor of the Tongas Trading Company it its outdoor provision store. Glenda was looking for some earmuffs to replace the ones she lost. I joked with her that they must have fallen overboard because we were both very careful to make sure that our stateroom stayed neat with everything it its place. I told her that a whale had stolen her earmuffs and must be wearing them for his trip to Hawaii. I brought my old binoculars on the trip, the 7x50’s that I bought at K-Mart in Raleigh when I was in seminary. It seems that a lens or a prism has been jarred, because they are no longer properly aligned. I saw a pair of 16x50 Bushnell binoculars at the Tongas store, but they are asking $100 for them. I thought the price to be a bit high. (When I returned home I found an identical pair that Amazon.com is selling for $60.) Returning to the ship we boarded a bus that took us to a smaller dock where we boarded the whale-watching boat. We spent most of the morning on the bay, and in fact, did see a few humpback whales spouting and surfacing. I got a few decent pictures of some flukes and of one “spy hop.” Back on land we got some excellent hands-on photographic instruction as we hiked the East Glacier Loop Trail. Finally we were at the Mendenhall Glacier itself, which afforded ample photographic opportunities. I think our guide’s name was Scott. He is a former National Park Ranger, and an extremely knowledgeable naturalist and photographer. At about four o’clock in the afternoon, we left Juneau for Ketchikan.Read more

  • Day7

    Skagway and the Eagle Preserve

    September 13, 2012 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 46 °F

    On the morning of September 13 we docked at Scagway. I got a beautiful picture of the Star Princess tying up on the dock behind us. We had some time to tour the town before a ferry took us to Haines. The guide humorously described his life without Taco Bell and McDonald’s. We went out from town about half an hour’s drive to our excursion to the Eagle Preserve. We fitted up with boots and wet gear, then boarded inflatable boats for a trip down the river. We saw several juvenile and adult eagles, and passed a modest Tlingit village. Our oarsman, Elise, was able and affable. We were able to board the inflatable with Mollie and Will, our new friends from Charlotte. He is a retired police officer. After the ride we were all treated to hot chocolate as we divested ourselves of our rubber boots and pants. It was interesting that we saw quite a few juvenile eagles, and a few adults. It is remarkable, though, that one sees as many eagles on telephone poles in the cities as in the eagle preserve.Read more

  • Day6

    Glacier Bay

    September 12, 2012 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 52 °F

    On September 12 we had a day at sea and a presentation by the ship’s naturalist, Kathy Slamp, before the ship sailed into Glacier Bay National Park to view Johns Hopkins, Margerie and Lamplugh and other adjoining glaciers and saw some majestic scenery. We also had a presentation by one of the Park Rangers before entering Glacier Bay that put most of the audience to sleep.Read more

  • Day5

    First Glaciers

    September 11, 2012 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 50 °F

    Upon arriving at the ship, we went through the safety drill, then went to dinner. We found our dinner companions to be very interesting people, including two homosexual Roman Catholic priests. I rose early, about 5:00 am on September 11 to learn my way around the ship. Very few passengers were awake to see the glorious sunrise I photographed. I attended a photography class. We saw the Hubbard and Reid glaciers.Read more

  • Day4

    First Sight of the Coral Princess

    September 10, 2012 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 48 °F

    The next morning, September 10 we boarded a train near the Denali Princess Lodge for the trip to Whittier, where we would meet our ship, the Coral Princess. It is amazing that we had already done so much, and had not even yet officially begun our cruise. As we traveled South, our guide, Matt, gave a wonderful narrative of the natural history of Alaska. Mount McKinley (I prefer to call it Denali) remained clear, and Glenda and I both got some excellent photo shots. As we turned southeast of Anchorage, we saw the site of the town of Portage, which was destroyed in the earthquake of 1964. Only the roof of one building remained. Looking south across Turnagain Arm, I was impressed with one mountain, which, when viewed from the northwest looking southeast, resembles a truncated pyramid. It kept my attention for several minutes. There in the water we made our first significant sighting of aquatic mammals, a pod of belugas. A trip through the one-lane tunnel soon gave us our first view of our ship, the Coral Princess waiting for us in Whittier.Read more

  • Day3

    Denali and the Nenana River

    September 9, 2012 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 32 °F

    In the morning we were scheduled for a nature trip into Denali National Park, but an unexpected snow storm had closed the roads into the park. The scene in the lodge was pandemonium, as guests crowded the front desk waiting for information about their delayed or cancelled excursions. Ours got underway around 11:00 am, and while we were in the park, it started to snow again. We were only able to go into the park about fourteen miles, but what we saw was magnificent. That afternoon we were taken in a bus south, near Panorama Peak, where we were taken on a jet boating excursion on the Nenana River. There was also a nature education element which taught us about trapping and gold prospecting in Alaska. Our boat captain’s name was Scott. It seems that everyone in Alaska who pilots a boat or an airplane is named Scott.Read more

  • Day2

    Four-Wheeling in the Wilderness

    September 8, 2012 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 43 °F

    That afternoon we took a bus up to the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. Besides the extravagantly glorious scenery, I found it especially interesting that there is a bush pilot airport which used to be a P-51 Mustang base during World War II. When we arrived at the lodge, we enjoyed an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) adventure in the rain on beautifully remote trails west of Healy, Alaska. Glenda was a bit afraid of the ATV’s, never having ridden one, so she and I got a tandem ATV, which drove just like a golf cart. Ours had a windshield and the rain on it made visibility almost impossible. I was exhausted when we finished, so we returned to the Denali Princess Lodge to a hearty supper.Read more