September 2018
  • Day13

    Journey home

    September 15, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    BA - In economy (us), 2 of the 4 “washrooms” unserviceable, headphone socket not working, people allowed to bring on more than one case and some with ones so big they took up the whole overhead bins.

    Before boarding, Andrew got a call from the desk agent- “great”, we thought, “maybe an upgrade!”. Nope, they just wanted to tell him that he wouldn’t get a pillow. Laughable.

    The good thing has been that the tailwind has been massive and we’re going to land 35 minutes early - so, just 8 1/2 hours.

    And, to finish on a positive note, it’s only 30 minute so nice touchdown, we’re through passport control (no queues for us, despite it being Heathrow and much better than Manchester).

    Bags quickly too, in the car, and home by 1025 - faster than if we’d got the connecting flight!

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  • Day12

    People

    September 14, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    We’re off the ship, waiting in departures to board our return flight, so this may be the last Footprint.

    People - we’ve met LOADS. The ship was full, and it was overwhelmingly US people - after all, they didn’t actually leave the USA! All shapes, sizes, fashionwear (loose description!), and boisterous - as we think they are, they really are! And so many families and travelling groups - there must have been many good deals out there.

    We chatted to people like this: a Delta Airlines pilot (we were looking at sea planes landing - we said “would you fancy that?”. He said that he was on holiday, to get away from flying); Gerry and his wife from Edmonton Canada - his website is gerrys.ca; an Irish descended builder from Virginia; semi-retired insurance broker from Kamloops, Canada; a night club owner from Nevada; a Brit from Folkestone who said he hadn’t enjoyed the cruise (?!) - we don’t think he left the ship; a gentleman from Boston who helped to clear the mystery of the circular plaster behind the ear (it’s to alleviate sea sickness, btw); a Part 91 pilot (whatever that is), who seemed boring; two recently married male realtors from Las Vegas one of whose mother was a retired professional golfer; a family group who had a “companion dog” with them. It goes on

    And finally, the crew. Different from last year in NZ (except for a small few), but just the same quality, attentiveness, and ability to remember names (ours, at least). The Captain wasn’t Tasos and that was noticeable in the approachability of the officers.

    The ship’s off to San Francisco today, back in a week, then to Honolulu, Hawaii, ultimately Sydney for the Antipodean summer. And so, the cycle restarts.
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  • Day11

    Aurora "smudge", more and more whales

    September 13, 2018 ⋅ 🌧 14 °C

    Coming to the end of nearly 2 days at sea, we got all excited on Tuesday night, as we’d been told there was a high chance of a Category 6 (?) Aurora Borealis between 11pm and 3 am.

    So, after a beautiful sail away, down the fjord from Skagway, we ate, watched a show, wrapped up and sat at the back of the ship and waited. We saw a glow in the sky for an hour or so, then gave in and went to bed.

    “Bing bong” at 2 am - “Northern Lights seen”. And we saw them, as a distant curtain of green glow - too faint for photos (at least on our camera), but there nonetheless.

    Another talk by Brent Nixon this morning, this time about Orca. 2 resolutions:

    (http://www.naturetalksbybrentnixon.com/brents_bio.html)

    - never again to be called “killer whales”
    - boycott anywhere that keeps them in captivity.

    (Oh yes, update to an earlier post on being chased by porpoises - Brent told us that porpoises don’t jump out the water: they must have been dolphins)

    He also said that, as we cruise up the Strait of Juan de Fuca this lunchtime - “of you don’t see whales, you’re dead!” And was he right! Dozens of hump backs, spouting and fluking, and, in the distance, jumping out of the water!

    About to dock in Victoria for our last stop. We probably won’t go ashore - instead, a relaxed final dinner, get packed by 10 pm and prepared for disembarkation and off to the airport for the 1330 flight.
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  • Day9

    Canada again, then W P & Y R

    September 11, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

    After the dogs, the bus took us over the White Pass at 3200’ to Fraser. So, we left the US and entered Canada (briefly).

    On the vintage train back - the W P & Y R (White Pass & Yukon Route), we more or less followed the White Pass route which was the final breakthrough for the hopeful (but mostly hopeless) tens of thousands who tried to bet to the Klondike in the last years of the 19th century.

    The scenery was absolutely spectacular (at least up with the Glacier Express), and photos really couldn’t do it justice - we have had atypically settled weather and fantastic visibility. Here’s a link for more:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Pass

    Maybe we’re getting lazy with these links...nah, we’re on holiday!
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  • Day9

    Skagway and the Iditarod dogs

    September 11, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    A very small town with an interesting history and pivotal role in the Klondike gold rush:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skagway,_Alaska

    Our first stop if the day was to the Iditarod sled dog demonstration: the dogs are Alaskan Huskies - not an official breed - it’s “a mutt that will haul”

    Iditarod? https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iditarod_Trail_Sled_Dog_Race
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  • Day8

    Retreating glacier and WHALES!

    September 10, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    23C in Juneau today - unusually warm and sunny, and we’re so far North!

    The Juneau Ice Field feeds a number of glaciers, and the tourist attraction is Mendenhall Glacier, about 5 miles out of town. When we were visiting, there were 15 coaches from the 4 ships which were berthed up today. This glacier has retreated by 9,480 ft since 1957 - it’s a sign of something!

    Out on a large whale watching catamaran today, and, hurrah, we had several hump back whale sightings. With the beautiful weather and the fantastic, clear views, it was quite spectacular.

    Fewer pictures to upload today (the data connection is slow), but took less anyway - it’s much better to see a sight like a whale with you own eyes, rather than a viewfinder - and they always look further away in a photo than they really are!
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  • Day8

    Spectacular light and ice

    September 10, 2018 ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

    Well, we were unlucky last year when we sailed up Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound in NZ: it rained and rained, we didn’t see anything of Doubtful, but we did see the waterfalls in Milford.

    Not unlucky this time! Crystal clear viewing all up the Tracey Arm to the Jarvis glacier. Bright blue icebergs, sun coming over the mountains, and the ship being put through 360s so we could all see the glacier. On this trip last week, they had fog, mist and low clouds, so it’s our turn for good views!

    All that happened before 9 am this morning, so we’ve now had breakfast and coffees, and we’re seated on our balcony, rugs on our legs, watching more beautiful scenery slide by as we sail to Juneau.
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  • Day7

    Ketchikan - salmon & seals

    September 9, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

    14,000 year long population, swelled by cruise ship passengers. Our trolley bus guide told us that, last week, there were 4 ships in and the visitors almost outnumbered the residents. Today there are 4 ships in..

    It’s been raining this morning - in a typical year, they have 15ft of water (so, 180”). By comparison, Glasgow, which is at the same latitude has 43”, but the total is similar to the highest peaks in the Lakes.

    There’s so much salmon and great feeding for seals and black bears. In The Creek, which runs through the old town, it was like “shooting fish in a barrel”.

    They’re 90 minutes by air from Seattle and over 2 hours from Anchorage. With only 60 miles over road on an island 100 miles x 60 miles, they rely on air, but mostly tug towed barges to bring all their supplies (including fuel) from Seattle. We saw a couple of these near the islands around Vancouver and wondered what they are. Now we know!

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketchikan,_Alaska
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  • Day6

    Porpoises at 10 o'clock!

    September 8, 2018 ⋅ 🌧 15 °C

    So, a day at sea, and a fascinating talk this morning by marine researcher, Brent Nixon. He said: if you see birds, then there’ll be whales nearby!

    As the day went on, we looked for signs of animal life and eventually, Pauline saw what looked like birds. No, it was a massive school of porpoises, rushing along, trying to keep up with the ship!Read more

  • Day5

    Home of Microsoft, Boeing, Frasier, ...

    September 7, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    ... Starbucks, and now, the shopper’s friend, Amazon!

    Arrived in the city at 9 am - learned a lot about paramedics (that was our driver’s full time job) - and he said that the principal cause of call outs is seniors (!) falling - keep up, or start the Tai Chi, Yoga, Pilates.

    Drove past landmarks from our last visit (in 1996).

    Just waiting to board
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