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Travel with me ... NORTH TO ALASKA!! Options · View
snoop
Posted: Sunday, October 22, 2017 6:59:47 PM

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Joined: 11/29/2012
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Location: Piedmont, United States
I will be adding / posting daily narratives every few days to this thread, until complete. I hope you can enjoy this. ... Rick / Snoop!!

EDIT: Nov.2, '17 : I just realized that some of the links are not doing what I had hoped when clicking on the "highlight" portion. You may have to do a copy/paste thing to include the entire link and not just the highlighted portion. Sorry for that.. And thanks for reading.

NORTH to ALASKA !!

Preview … the rush is on!

Join us as we recount our 13 day adventure in August, 2017 when we went to Alaska. As many of you already know, Carol does a wonderful job with her scrapbook documenting our holiday adventures. Me …?? … I just use her scrapbook as a guide for my written narrative.

She has written: “2017 was going to be the year with no vacation because of the expense involved with redoing our driveway last summer. However, a good friend and scrapbook buddy and I had been talking for months about going to Alaska. I thought we might plan for 2018 until she saw an ad on TV for a trip promoted by our local Winston-Salem NC TV station WXII, to begin on August 11. The tour included our flights and many activities and sights in Alaska (my last state) AND part of the Yukon Territory of Canada. This was followed by a 4-night cruise along the inside passage. The cost seemed high until we checked with other sources which came in higher than WXII’s all-inclusive rate. Thus, we bit the financial bullet and placed our reservations on March 4. This will probably be my only trip to Alaska, so I wanted to include as much as possible.”

And thus the “rush” began with preparations and research about what we were about to see. The tour company … Holiday Vacation … started sending us brochures and other information about the planned itinerary and Carol started her “research” about what we were going to see. The excitement level in the house steadily increased with each passing week. We had done a couple other commercial tours in the past and remembered the good and the bad parts of being in a group. I will say this … Holiday Vacations did an outstanding job with this one.

Our tour was to begin and end in Greensboro, NC and we were met at the airport by our tour guide, Diane, who flew in from Wisconsin to meet us and conduct the tour. She stayed with us until we returned home to Greensboro at the end. Diane was always smiling and really looked after the 46 other people on this tour. One could NOT have asked for a better guide!!

Carol has done a fantastic job over the years in her preparations for our various vacation trips. She has accumulated a bare minimum of a travel wardrobe for the both of us AND got everything needed condensed down to a single “carry on” piece of luggage for each of us. We don’t have to worry about checked luggage getting lost and its much lighter in weight!! Our bags were packed and sitting by the door on July 30 !! THANK YOU, CAROL!!

Tomorrow starts our trip North to Alaska, the rush is on!!
snoop
Posted: Monday, October 23, 2017 7:33:45 AM

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Aug. 11, 2017 … Day one (Friday)

Our daughter Charlotte and her service dog, Kima were here at the house around 7:30AM to take us on the 45 minute drive to the airport. We were there around 9:45AM for our 11:35AM boarding time. The first leg of this journey was south to Atlanta!! There’s nothing quite like being early for an adventure to start. We each had our Holiday Vacation name badges around our neck!!

As other folk came in, we were able to recognize them by their name tags and quickly became friends with the common bond of excitement and the adventure ahead of us. Our trip also included Wanda Starke and her husband Ron Fisher. Wanda is a well known TV personality for WXII and was in the promotional ads for the trip. We all found Wanda to have a warm and friendly personality. Her husband Ron … well … he’s a great guy too and very funny and quick with a quip.

Our flight to Atlanta was about an hour and 15 minutes … then we had a long layover and boarded at 2:35PM for the long flight (nonstop) to Anchorage. That was about a nine hour flight. We flew Delta Airlines to and from Alaska.

We arrived at 7:00PM Alaska Time (4 hours behind NC) and were met by Jesse, our bus driver just for the day. He loaded our luggage under the coach and then took us on a mini motor tour of Anchorage and pointed out restaurants, gift shops, and places of historical interest. We even had our first moose sighting. It was a mother and her baby.

We arrived at the Hilton and then waited on the coach while Diane, our guide, checked us in and then came out with our room assignments and keys. After telling us what time to assemble in the morning, we were set free to find dinner on our own. Most folk went out, but the four of us ate in the hotel.

The big cafe in the lobby was closed but we were able to get seats in the Bruin Sports Bar on the other side of the lobby. Even though we had been warned about the cost of everything in Alaska being expensive, it was shocking to pay $34.50 for a burger and fries for me and chowder for Carol … and two ice teas !!

Our room was very nicely appointed and we felt quite comfortable. This will give you a little bit of info about the Hilton, but keep clicking until you find a picture of who was watching us while we ate … those cuddly bears are BIG and tall … easily 8ft. Plus tall!! https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g60880-d124692-i17480503-Hilton_Anchorage-Anchorage_Alaska.html

Its been a long, tiring day and our bed sure felt comfortable. We will see you around 8:00 in the lobby. ZZZzzzzz!!
Guest
Posted: Monday, October 23, 2017 10:34:52 PM

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Joined: 7/1/2010
Posts: 25,639
I have cheated. I already have the WHOLE blog of this awesome trip. Everyday is a treat to read. Places I haven't even been to. This was a VERY fun and interesting read.


snoop
Posted: Tuesday, October 24, 2017 6:47:33 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 11/29/2012
Posts: 1,724
Location: Piedmont, United States
EDIT: Nov.2, '17 : I just realized that some of the links are not doing what I had hoped when clicking on the "highlight" portion. You may have to do a copy/paste thing to include the entire link and not just the highlighted portion. Sorry for that.. And thanks for reading.


August 12 … Day two

After a quick breakfast, we all met and boarded our coach at 8:30AM. We were on the second coach parked on the street as there was another Holiday Vacation tour group there also. We quickly became the “red tour” and the other group was the “yellow tour”. (Both tour guides knew each other well and there were a lot of humorous quips back and forth between the guides.) Our driver for the day was Kevin. He is a high school science teacher and was able to share a lot of good information about the history and geology of the area and he was FUNNY!! He was also a darn good driver of that coach. (Even though I never drove a coach, I’m a retired commercial truck driver …. 18 wheeler … with nearly 1.75 million miles. I have a special admiration and appreciation for a “good driver” and I let Kevin know that at the end of the day.)

Our sightseeing highlights today included (1) Bird Point on the Turnagain Arm, (2) Girdwood Bakery, (3) Mt. Alyeska Tram, (4) an “included lunch”, (5) the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center. (6) an unplanned roadside stop to see salmon on their trip upstream to spawn.

Unfortunately, we were pestered all day with light rain on and off and fog and a heavy atmosphere of varying density but we traveled on and just accepted that not all days could be bright and sunny,

The 50 mile fjord was given the unusual name of TURNAGAIN ARM by the explorer Capt. James Cook in 1778. He had been trying to find a sea route to the Northwest Passage and had to “turn again” when he found there was no outlet. The view from the top of Mt. Alyeska includes the fjord, the Kenai and Chugach Mountains as well as the forrests of Chugach State Park. This has some typical views that we saw as well as a bit of info. Note … we did NOT see the hotel, but it obviously was somewhere along that stretch of the Seward Highway. https://onelongdrive.net/turnagain-arm/ An interesting factoid from our science teacher, Kevin was that the tide there would rise / fall nearly 20 ft. and the big Alaskan earthquake of 1964 affected the topography.

Always interested in something sweet to eat, I was happy when we stopped at The Bake Shop (est. 1973), Girdwood, Alaska. Since our breakfast at the Hilton tomorrow morning was NOT included, Diane encouraged us to make our sweets purchase for breakfast here. Most of the group bought huge cinnamon rolls to take with us (complete with a huge slab of butter!!). While Carol did the deed on purchasing goodies to eat, I stayed outside and marveled at ALL the colorful flowers hanging around the place. Personally, I don’t ever remember seeing any orange flowers before. See if you can find some orange flowers (or YOUR favorite color … maybe blue) while thinking about some of the baked creations inside.
https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g31000-d532491-r471513045-The_Bake_Shop-Girdwood_Anchorage_Alaska.html

Here is a wikipedia listing that tells more about Girdwood and how the entire town was moved after the 1964 earthquake. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girdwood,_Anchorage


There is a resort hotel in Girdwood and also a tram lift up the mountainside for skiers. At the top facility of the tram is a nice restaurant and that is where we had an included lunch. We weren’t rushed in eating a nice meal, but were reminded that the “yellow tour group” was right behind us and waiting for us to finish. We were all served the same dish … a nice cut of steak along with fish (not salmon) and finished with a delicious fruit tart for dessert. There maybe more pictures here than you want to see, but look at the first few for the restaurant and the tram.
https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=tram+lift+and+restaurant+girdwood+alaska&qpvt=tram+lift+and+restaurant+girdwood+alaska

Our visit at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center was informative and impressive about the needs of the varied wildlife living there. “The mission of the 200 acre AWCC is to provide refuge for orphaned, injured, and ill animals that can not survivr in the wilderness. If an animal can not be returned to the wild, it is given a permanent home here.” AWCC website. People that want to go to Alaska, generally want to see a lot of varied wildlife. That doesn’t happen always as sometimes it is just the luck of the draw. So, in its own way, this Conservation Center was an opportunity to see a great many different animals in a reasonably natural setting. Of course, there were some that were caged, but in humane conditions … especially birds such as Adonis, the Bald Eagle (that had been shot and only had one wing), Snappy, the great horned owl that was also a gunshot victim in 1999, and Chena, the lynx who faces a daily struggle to survive after being kept in a very small cage for a long time (many years..??).

From a more cheerful standpoint, there is a growing herd of Woods Bison and some will be reintroduced to the wild. These are slightly larger than the Plains Bison ( isn’t everything LARGER in Alaska..?? lol!!) of the “lower 48”. This herd is the only herd of Woods Bison in the US and started in 2003 with 13 animals and now has approx. 135. They were on the extinction list for 17 years.

We also saw some elk, both grizzly and brown bear, and Snickers the porcupine. We were on an elevated viewing walkway and watched the bears playing in the water and using a tree for a good old back scratching. Be prepared for a big chuckle watching this Snickers video. He is absolutely adorable !!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5I5H7EeC8k

We’ve probably all heard of the howling of wolves … and maybe have heard our own canines tip their head back and howl. There were three Gray wolves there and in response to the sound of a siren out on the highway the male started howling and soon had the two females howling also. It was a mournful, eerie sound to my ears.

Here is the website you’ll find interesting: https://www.alaskawildlife.org/animals/ Very near the top, you’ll find a dark brown strip with “visit” being the first choice. Click on this for a drop down menu, choose “animals” and then scroll down to a grid of animal pictures. You can then click on each animal and it will tell you that animal’s “story” including a bit about Snickers.

On the return trip to the Hilton, Kevin took us on his version of a downtown tour of Anchorage. My “sense of direction” was seriously flawed as I had no idea which direction was north. This was because of the cloudy and semi-foggy conditions all day long.!! I rested while Carol and our friends went out to find a whale mural on the side of a building that was visible from our hotel room. She then found … “5 blocks away”... a large, three story tall … sculpture of “The Last Blue Whale” that was made in 1973. It depicted the blue whale diving and its flukes (tail) upsetting a couple of boats with three whalers on the surface of the water. The whale’s expression seems to say it is pleased with itself. Here you’ll find a “whale” of a lot of pictures of the mural: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=whale+mural+on+side+of+building+anchorage+alaska&qpvt=whale+mural+on+side+of+building+anchorage+alaska Also, you will find more whale pictures here, but the first few are of the statue: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=statue+the+last+blue+whale+anchorage+alaska&id=F0C35E575AFF95F7D6C3616D6320A216A6B2B188&FORM=IQFRBA

Dinner was at the Hard Rock Cafe, Anchorage and gave us another lesson in how expensive it is to eat in Alaska.

Its been a long, full day today and we are to board the bus at 8:30AM. Good nite !!
elizabethblack
Posted: Tuesday, October 24, 2017 1:42:24 PM

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Joined: 1/12/2014
Posts: 1,278
This is so well written and exciting and most of all funny and interesting. Great writing and researching all the places so we can just click and follow along. Hope you remembered to be VERY careful...........






snoop
Posted: Wednesday, October 25, 2017 8:00:08 AM

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Joined: 11/29/2012
Posts: 1,724
Location: Piedmont, United States
EDIT: Nov.2, '17 : I just realized that some of the links are not doing what I had hoped when clicking on the "highlight" portion. You may have to do a copy/paste thing to include the entire link and not just the highlighted portion. Sorry for that.. And thanks for reading.

August 13 … Day three

Today started off sunny with temperatures in the 60 – 65F range. We had our “luggage” (two carry-on sized pieces) ready to be picked up outside our hotel room door. We also had time to eat and enjoy the cinnamon rolls purchased yesterday. And we boarded the coach at 8:30AM and met yet another new coach driver … Larry. He was to be with us for the rest of the trip until we got to Skagway for the cruise portion of the tour. Larry was kind enough to play the song, “North to Alaska”as we headed toward Wasilla and the Iditarod Headquarters.

I think all in our group were genuinely impressed with the Iditarod Headquarters and the story behind this famous race. Carol writes in her scrapbook / journal about the significance of the race and its famous dog, Balto: “Balto and the serum run” … IN 1925, SEVERAL Inuit children in Nome, Alaska were very sick with diphtheria and an epidemic was feared. The only anti-toxin was in a hospital in Anchorage, 1000 miles away. Pack ice closed the port of Nome to ships, and a train could only take the serum to Nenana where the tracks ended. A relay of dog sled teams carried it the remaining 674 miles. Balto led his team the final 53 miles through a heavy blizzard and temperatures of -50F to deliver the serum.

“Beginning in 1973, the Iditarod Sled Dog race has been run yearly to commemorate this serum run and the role of sled dogs in Alaska’s settlement. The grueling race now covers the full 1000 miles from Anchorage to Nome.

“The heroic story of Balto touched the whole nation. The people of New York City raised funds to have a statue of Balto erected in Central Park … it is still there.”

One thing we all learned is that these dogs are not forced to run … its in their blood to want to run. They are well cared for and much loved by the mushers. During this race … and other races also … there are vets stationed about ever 10 miles or so and each dog is thoroughly examined for foot / paw issues as well as sore muscles. All dogs wear boots for protection and a team may go through a 1000 boots per race!! These dogs are well cared for … petted and babied and loved by their owners and trainers. We were supposed to be given an opportunity to pet the puppies, but Mother Nature had other wet ideas. I’ll have more to say about dogs later on.

Other than a stop for a meal, our next point of interest was the ALASKA VETERANS MEMORIAL . It is a quiet place dedicated to the rememberance of the veterans of Alaska who served their country throughout the world. There were six veterans in our tour group and we proudly recognized their contributions as we made a picture of them in front of this memorial. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Veterans_Memorial This memorial was inside the boundaries of Denali Park.

Our destination was the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. https://www.princesslodges.com/princess-alaska-lodges/denali-lodge/photo-gallery/ As you can see in the photos, its NOT too terribly shabby!! I do believe all of us would have enjoyed a second night here, but the costs would have been prohibitive. The grounds were lovely and well cared for and the rooms were quite comfortable. After settling in our rooms, we went to the Grizzly Bar and Grill. My burger and Carol’s fish and chips came to $43.00. Did I say already that everything is expensive in Alaska?
snoop
Posted: Thursday, October 26, 2017 7:47:31 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 11/29/2012
Posts: 1,724
Location: Piedmont, United States
EDIT: Nov.2, '17 : I just realized that some of the links are not doing what I had hoped when clicking on the "highlight" portion. You may have to do a copy/paste thing to include the entire link and not just the highlighted portion. Sorry for that.. And thanks for reading.

August 14 … day four

Carol writes: Our LONG day began with breakfast in the theater from 4:30 to 5:15AM, and we had to have our bags outside our door before that for Larry to oad onto our coach. The coach opened at 5:15 for any incidental carry-ons. Dana D. , the Park Ranger who would drive us through Denali National Park today, met us outside the hotel with an old (converted) school bus. We left at 5:50 for our all day Tundra Tour on the only road in the park. It is closed to private cars and large motor coaches in summer.”

“Alaska’s ATHABASCAN indians called the mountain my several names, but they all mean essentially the same thing: “The Great One”. Denali was the most common and popular of these names. However, the mountain was named (by the hubristic white invaders) “Mt, McKinley in 1896 in honor of the US President. The name stood until 2015 when President Obama officially renamed the mountain DENALI, It is north America’s highest peak at 20,320 ft.” (as of 2015, 20,310 ft….??). This taken from Insight Guides Alaska.

Now … this is MY feelings about the day. The park was rugged and wild and we did see some few animals off in the distance partly due to Dana’s keen eyes spotting them.

I don’t like school buses … they ride too hard and the seats are too cramped for my long legs. The ONLY savings grace … in my humble opinion … is that there were drop down video screens. Dana had a good video camera with a telescopic lense that was connected to the videos screens. She would periodically stop the bus and show us something via the video system. What I did NOT like about the day (other than being on a school bus) is that this woman started talking when she picked us up at the lodge and did not really cease until we returned to the lodge over 8 hours later. The road we were on is a narrow gravel road and had no guard rails and she was all over the road while driving … talking … and looking for some tiny, tiny speck of something she said was a bear, or wild sheep, or maybe a deer. I felt the bus slip a few times when she got close to the edge of the roadway. In other words … SHE SCARED ME TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG!! They really need two people on these buses … one to do nothing but drive and the other to look for wildlife and do the talking etc.

We stopped at a “rest area” in the park for a break before proceeding to our turn around area. We had gone maybe a mile when Dana stopped for some wildlife observation and somebody on the bus let us all know that there was “smoke” coming up near their window. The bus was on fire and we had to all quickly get off. Fortunately it was an electrical issue with no flames, but we couldn’t go anymore in that bus. After several two-way radio calls, there was another bus sent up from the rest area that took us back to the rest area to wait for a replacement vehicle. It was another “tour bus” and that driver just came to our rescue before collecting his group and proceeding. We had about a 90 minute wait before the replacement bus arrived and we were all ready to return to the lodge. NO!! Dana continued on (over our protests) to make sure we got the whole package tour before returning to the lodge. We were NOT happy.

Explore this website for some pics or the park and some animals: https://www.nps.gov/dena/index.htm You’ll see some spectacular scenery here … and it WAS spectacular when the clouds or fog lifted briefly: https://www.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/denali-national-park-and-preserve

After the wild experience on the Tundra Tour, we were all pleased to see Larry and that beautiful, luxurious, motor coach. It felt almost like a castle on wheels. We still had 135 miles to go to Fairbanks. Included in out itinerary for the day was a stop off at the “Salmon Bake”. The food was grilled outside but due to a light rain / mist we ate inside. The entry to this was made like a mine tunnel. The food was good and especially the desserts. We didn’t see the theater program, but the little video on this site shows a bit of what this place does. Filling meal: http://www.alaska.org/detail/alaska-salmon-bake

After our filling meal, Larry took us to the Westmark Fairbanks Hotel that would be our home for two nights.

When we arrived at the Westmark, one of our Vietnam vets looked ghastly as he and his wife got off of the coach. He sat on a bench near the door and two of the other vets who had EMT training assessed Jim. After the rest of us went to our rooms on the third floor, Jim and Jean came up with the two vets to the room next to ours and found that someone else (not with our group) already had their room. They came to our room where RC called the desk to ask for another room for Jim and was told they could have room 736. Jean was very apprehensive about being four floors away from friends, so Carol went to the desk with RC and Diane. Carol asked if we could give Jim and Jean our room and that we would take 736.. This turned out to be a good solution. It seemed even more so to our benefit as the new room was a mini-suite. We were also able to do a bit of laundry in the sink of the kitchen portion of the suite.

(The next morning, Jean would tell us that Jim has PTSD and having to get off of the smoking bus made him think he was going to die. He was able to sleep and felt much better the next day. Also, Jean soon found out that there were several sets of eyes watching over Jim for the balance of the trip. After that, I found several excuses to sit and visit with Jim … he talked about his military service and I was “watching” him.)

This was a tiring day and fortunately we could sleep in as we were told to be ready to board the coach at 9:50 the next morning.

ZZZZzzzz!!
snoop
Posted: Friday, October 27, 2017 8:16:30 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 11/29/2012
Posts: 1,724
Location: Piedmont, United States
EDIT: Nov.2, '17 : I just realized that some of the links are not doing what I had hoped when clicking on the "highlight" portion. You may have to do a copy/paste thing to include the entire link and not just the highlighted portion. Sorry for that.. And thanks for reading.


August 15 … Day five

We actually got to sleep in a bit late this morning and had breakfast at 8:00AM in the hotel dining room.

As we were leaving the dining room, we noticed a small table beside the dining entrance that was formally set up and had a single chair tipped forward in a “reserved position”. Across the plate was an American Flag in the triangular folded manner designated for a deceased military person. Also on the table was a Bible, a single red rose in a bud vase with a red ribbon, and a card with the following explanation.

“The table is round – to show our everlasting concern.

“The cloth is white – symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to service.

“The single red rose reminds us of the lives of these Americans, and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith, while seeking answers.

“The red ribbon symbolizes our continued determination to account for them.

“A slice of lemon reminds us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.

“A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families who long for answers after decades of uncertainty.

“The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return – alive or dead.

“The Bible represents the strength gained through faith in our country, founded as one nation under God, to sustain those lost from our midst.

“The glass is inverted – to symbolize their inability to share a toast.

“The chairs are empty – they are missing. “

(I’ve searched for a web based photo of this, but am unable to locate one.)

We boarded the coach at 9:50 to go see an informative display and presentation about the Alyesko (Alaskan) Pipe Line … The Gold Dredge #8 … and a cruise on a riverboat on the Chena River.

At the pipeline, we were able to see a cut out cross section of the pipeline and a couple of the “pigs” used in the movement of the petroleum through the line. One pig is used to separate the products being transferred by the line and then there was a “smart pig” that is periodically used to detect and clean out any impurities. This is done about every 12 – 14 days or sooner if needed.

The narrator of the pipeline presentation then took us on an open car train ride that wound through a small tract of land. There were several stops along the way where we could see different facets of the history of “gold dredging” and he got off at several of the stops to demonstrate the equipment. At one of the stops, several folk stepped up to the cars and demonstrated the process of “panning for gold”. Also, we would have the opportunity to actually do some gold panning for ourselves. “… the RUSH is on!! “. Here you’ll learn a bit more about our day: https://www.travelalaska.com/Partners/GoldDredge8/Displays/17DO30_Fairbanks.aspx As we got off the little train, we were each handed a small leather bag of soil / dirt and shown to an area that had rows of benches facing a water trough where we could start our panning. This will give you a few more photos : https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=gold+dredge+%238+fairbanks+alaska&qpvt=gold+dredge+%238+fairbanks+alaska

So, we did do some panning for gold and between us we had just pennies less than $25.00 worth of gold flecks collected. We combined our treasure and Carol had a pair of earrings made showcasing the gold flecks. That cost us $30.00 !! I got amused at the guide when we boarded the train for a ride back to the parking lot. He asked: “Do any of you gents actually have the gold you panned? Show of hands please. I see three hands up, so you guys are ‘single’.” Yes … the rush is on!! It turned out to be a fun experience. LOL!!

After the “rigorous” task of panning for gold we re-boarded the coach and Larry drove us to Steamboat Landing for an ‘included’ lunch before we were to board the Riverboat Discovery. Lunch was miner’s stew, roasted veggies, rolls, and dessert and it was all served family style. The wait staff kept our tea glasses full and brought any needed extras like rolls, etc. I have a gut feeling that there were probably in excess of 1000 folk in that dining room at one time and the staff made pleasant quick work of serving such a large crowd. This may explain a bit more about what kind of fun experience we had on this riverboat even though it was misty raining part of the time. BTW, plastic ponchos were passed out to help keep folk dry. Be SURE to see the short video in this site. You dog lovers be prepared for a big dose of puppy love and cuteness:
http://riverboatdiscovery.com/

Shortly after boarding the paddle-wheeler for the river cruise … and getting started … we were surprised that a small float plane “buzzed” the boat a couple times and then landed alongside us on the river. It was after this that the announcer aboard the boat began a two way conversation with the pilot of the plane. They talked about the weather, etc. and then the pilot did a couple takeoffs and landings along each side of the boat to demonstrate the aircraft capabilities. Here are several videos of float plane in action … take your pick: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=float+plane+chena+river+fairbanks+alaska&qpvt=float+plane+chena+river+fairbanks+alaska&FORM=VDRE and enjoy the ride.

Continuing our sedate cruise we stopped along side a home with a bunch of barking dogs! This was the TRAIL BREAKER KENNELS that was started by a woman named Susan Butcher and her husband David Monson. These folks were dog mushers / racers. Susan passed away at age 51 in 2006 and this kennel is continued by her husband and two daughters. When we stopped,Tekla (one of her daughters) told us a bit about her remarkable mom and the kennel. She explained how the dogs are raised with love and affection, and that they begin learning skills very early. While she was talking to us, one of her assistants was playing with some 6 – 8 puppies that she said were 5 weeks old.
The pups were playing / learning to follow a leader and to overcome obstacles. In this case, they were climbing over logs. This would be a “dream job” if you loved playing with that many squirming, climbing, kissing puppies!! Please take a few minutes to meet Susan Butcher and discover what a persevering woman she was: http://www.themarkofaleader.com/susan-butcher-champion-musher/ You’ll find several videos here, but the second one “playing with the puppies” is perhaps my favorite: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=trail+breaker+kennel+videos&qpvt=trail+breaker+kennel+videos&FORM=VDRE

I was thoroughly (and very favorably) impressed with the way the river tour attractions were presented. Our guide on the boat was able to easily carry on a conversation with the folk on shore via radio headsets when we stopped at each attraction. The thing that really impressed us was this steamboat excursion wasn’t just “touristy” but was actually well presented and quite educational. We passed a herd of reindeer or caribou and marveled at their impressive racks. We did learn the difference between reindeer and caribou. Are you ready ?? … wait for it !! … “only reindeer can fly!” lol!

The boat paused at the confluence of the Tenana and Chena rivers while our announcer pointed out that the Tenana River was a “glacier sourced” river and that the Chena was not. The Tenana water was cloudy from silt from the glacier. (It may also be spelled correctly as “Tanana”) What you are seeing here is the glacial silt suspended in the water (appears white in the video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG15aib0gzQ

At another stop along the river, we disembarked at the Athabascan Indian Cultural display. This stop proved to be very informative and the young people at the display were especially delightful and both were very well spoken and knowledgeable about their material. This site explains about the Athabascans and some of the efforts being used today to retain their heritage and culture: http://www.explorenorth.com/library/aktravel/bl-atha.htm The young man was a rising junior in high school and the young lady will be a freshman in Arizona this fall. The boy is full blood Athabascan and the girl is half Athabascan and half Navaho. We were able to speak to them individually and they were both friendly kids. Let me share this site with you:
https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g60826-d255215-i160347601-Riverboat_Discovery-Fairbanks_Alaska.html. This day’s experiences will be highlights in our memories.

After we returned to the hotel … tired but very happy with the day’s activities … Carol and our friends walked some nine blocks to the Golden Heart Plaza. There she found a Malcolm Alexander statue of “the Unknown First Family” … “a monument to the unwavering spirit of the families past, present, and future who endure in this great land with pride and dignity.” http://www.explorenorth.com/alaska/images/unknown_first_family-4486.html

I’ll see you tomorrow … I’m tired!!
elizabethblack
Posted: Saturday, October 28, 2017 7:16:20 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 1/12/2014
Posts: 1,278
[quote=snoop]August 15 … Day five

As we were leaving the dining room, we noticed a small table beside the dining entrance that was formally set up and had a single chair tipped forward in a “reserved position”. Across the plate was an American Flag in the triangular folded manner designated for a deceased military person. Also on the table was a Bible, a single red rose in a bud vase with a red ribbon, and a card with the following explanation.

“The table is round – to show our everlasting concern.

“The cloth is white – symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to service.

“The single red rose reminds us of the lives of these Americans, and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith, while seeking answers.

“The red ribbon symbolizes our continued determination to account for them.

“A slice of lemon reminds us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.

“A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families who long for answers after decades of uncertainty.

“The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return – alive or dead.

“The Bible represents the strength gained through faith in our country, founded as one nation under God, to sustain those lost from our midst.

“The glass is inverted – to symbolize their inability to share a toast.


Rick this is beautiful and moving. Appreciate you taking the time to copy the card and describe it in such detail. Your writing and description is so good I feel like I am with you on this trip.

This was so moving and beautiful. I appreciate you taking the time to copy what it said. You do such a wonderful job of making me feel I was along with you.



“The chairs are empty – they are missing. “

(I’ve searched for a web based photo of this, but am unable to locate one.)



snoop
Posted: Saturday, October 28, 2017 8:25:15 PM

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Location: Piedmont, United States
elizabethblack wrote:
[quote=snoop]August 15 … Day five


“The glass is inverted – to symbolize their inability to share a toast.


Rick this is beautiful and moving. Appreciate you taking the time to copy the card and describe it in such detail. Your writing and description is so good I feel like I am with you on this trip.

This was so moving and beautiful. I appreciate you taking the time to copy what it said. You do such a wonderful job of making me feel I was along with you.



“The chairs are empty – they are missing. “

(I’ve searched for a web based photo of this, but am unable to locate one.)



Elizabeth ... I searched high and low for a pic of this and like you ... could not find one. Its really a shame as it was a quiet, moving, and dignified setting. Thank you for your comment ... wish you could have been along. I appreciate your making the effort to read this narrative series.
snoop
Posted: Saturday, October 28, 2017 8:27:16 PM

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EDIT: Nov.2, '17 : I just realized that some of the links are not doing what I had hoped when clicking on the "highlight" portion. You may have to do a copy/paste thing to include the entire link and not just the highlighted portion. Sorry for that.. And thanks for reading.

August 16 … day six

Today began with “luggage out at 7:30AM” followed by breakfast and aboard the coach by 8:45 for a short drive and visit at the University of Alaska Museum of the North. The DK Guide to Alaska says this about the museum: “Packed with natural history, cultural and geological displays, the old wing is worth a visit. The architecturally inspiring new wing is designed to represent mountain ridges, ice, the aurora, and the tail flukes of a sounding whale. Exhibits include a mummified Ice Age bison, Inuit carvings, and native costumes.”

I’m disappointed that I’m unable to find a website that really shows much of anything inside this building. It IS a unique structure and has many different displays on the inside as you would expect in most any museum. When you get to this web site of photos, scroll past the first block of pictures and you’ll begin to see some of the displays inside … just wish there were more. It really was a good place to “visit and see” : https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=university+alaska+museum+of+the+north&id=6BD0C8DC6B15087A09B4DFD4A056C0D3BE5F7A06&FORM=IARRTH

Merry Christmas!! … from North Pole, Alaska. This stop on our drive is “pure touristy” but it was a good rest stop and place to stretch our legs. I barely got inside and turned around to go back outside … way too many people crowded in this place for me. It did provide an opportunity for a “group picture” made by Wanda’s husband, Ron. Visit this website and learn more about the North Pole and the Santa Clause House: http://www.santaclaushouse.com/about.asp

It was a long day of riding on the Alaskan Highway. This road was built in 1942 as part of the wartime actions to connect the Territory of Alaska with the lower 48 states. There have been some additional sections added since the original was built and the current official mileage today is 1422 miles. We even experienced some unpaved miles and ever present “orange barrels and road construction”. Wikipedia gives us almost too much info about the history and construction of this famed road: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Highway and here you’ll find plenty of modern day pictures of this famed highway: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=alaska+highway&qpvt=alaskan+highway . If you’ll take the time to read this, its someone’s accounting (realistic) of a modern day trip on the famed highway in a rental RV: http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-alcan-highway-road-trip-20150702-htmlstory.html

Remember our seeing and learning about the Alaskan Pipeline? We saw it again when it crossed the Tanana River. This is just a portion of a website I copied that applies most directly to this subject: “


Long Description:
The span between the tower is 1,200 feet and this bridge is the second longest of the 13 major bridges along the 800 mile pipeline length. A suspension bridge was used at this site due to the cost and danger of other crossing techniques. A more traditional truss bridge would have required footings to be place directly in the river with a strong current and would have been more costly to construct and maintain. Due to the strong current it was determined that burying the pipeline under the river as used for other river crossings would not be safe as the scouring action of the river could uncover the pipe and expose it to the rocks moved by the river when in flood stage.

The bridge employs for 2-3/4 inch cables in each of its main cables and wind cables of 2 5/8 inch diameter on each side. The bridge employs nearly 25,000 feet of cable in its construction.

Due to the soil conditions along the Tanana River the towers and anchors are set on pilings driver 68 feet in depth into the ground. The towers each rest on 32 piles and the main cable anchors rest on 81 piles. More than 18,000 feet of pilings were used in the construction.

The bridge is designed to withstand a magnitude 7.5 scale earthquake and also to withstand a wind speed in excess of 100 mph.

About 155 pipeline miles south another suspension bridge spanning the Tazlina River is about 600 feet longer and is the longest bridge on the pipeline.
“ In this collection of pictures you only really need to see the first block of photos. The very first photo has the highway bridge (we were on that highway) and the pipeline bridge off to the left: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=tanana+river+pipeline+bridge&qpvt=tanana+river+pipeline+bridge

Further down the road, we stopped at the Visitor Center for Delta Junction, Alaska for a short rest stop. It was very windy and therefore cool, but Carol and I had an ice cream cone from an adjoining shop. Scroll down and see if you can find a pic of the life size “juvenile” Alaskan mosquitoes: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=visitor+center+delta+junction+alaska&qpvt=visitor+center+delta+junction+alaska

A few miles further down the road was our destination for the night … The Golden Bear Motel in the town of Tok. It was by far our most humble lodging of the trip, but was very clean and comfortable. We got there ahead of the “yellow group” and this place was able to accommodate both tour buses in a very efficient manner. Our dinner this evening was not fancy but was served buffet style and really quite tasty and filling. Holiday tours had arranged for an evening program by a local dog musher … Hugh Neff … who educated us more on the day to day lifestyle he lives. He even had a couple or his retirees with him who wandered the assembly room looking for friendly pats, ear rubs, and back scratches. He had a dog sled with him and showed us the construction of it. As he spoke, images of dogs and sleds played on the screen. Meet Hugh Neff : http://iditarod.com/race/2014/mushers/102-Hugh-Neff/ and read here how fortunate he is to even be alive: https://www.adn.com/iditarod/article/iditarod-rescuer-recounts-finding-frozen-emotional-hugh-neff/2014/03/21/ The yellow group heard the program while we ate dinner and then we “switched”.

Its been a lot of driving today along the Alaskan Highway. Carol was able to mail home some heavy stuff so our carry-on luggage would still be light enough to carry. Good nite!!
Guest
Posted: Saturday, October 28, 2017 9:18:52 PM

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Joined: 7/1/2010
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I’m attaching a picture of table set for a fallen soldier! It’s a beautiful ceremony and I do it every year for my husband Daniel. It’s something that should be shared...Dani 💜


snoop
Posted: Sunday, October 29, 2017 7:29:37 AM

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Dani, thank you so much for providing this photo for the fallen soldier. You have added a lot to this posting by sharing this. I'm sorry for your loss. Thank you also for reading.

Rick
snoop
Posted: Sunday, October 29, 2017 4:54:50 PM

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EDIT: Nov.2, '17 : I just realized that some of the links are not doing what I had hoped when clicking on the "highlight" portion. You may have to do a copy/paste thing to include the entire link and not just the highlighted portion. Sorry for that.. And thanks for reading.


August 17 … day seven

This day turned out to be a long day … of riding and riding and riding … with 400 miles of the Alaskan Highway and very little to see except plain wilderness.

We started with orders (from last evening) to have our luggage outside by 6:30AM … eat breakfast … and be boarding the coach by 7:30AM. Our destination was Whitehorse, Yukon Territory (Canada). We did have a few rest stops along the way but it nevertheless was a long, tiring day. There were no motels or hotels along the way and (very few camp grounds either) thus there was no way the trip could have been broken up with an overnight stay.

Our local TV personality / celebrity … Wanda … is a professional news anchor and she took the mic each morning to give us a news report from “back home”. It was quite a challenge for her, because nobody wanted to “bad news” while on vacation. She really had to search for some good items, which occasionally meant she was talking about the weather and how HOT NC was while we were enjoying cool 60F temperatures. Wanda is really a fun and lovely lady and I think we all enjoyed her presence on this tour. Her hubby, Ron … well … he’s just a fun guy also and very quick with a quip.

We had about a 30 minute rest stop at the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center … it was right on the highway and convenient. Here you’ll find some photos of the center and a few scenic views:
https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=tetlin+national+wildlife+refuge+visitor+center&qpvt=tetlin+national+wildlife+refuge+visitor+center As you can tell, the building was new and attractive.

Proceeding on for a short distnce, we stopped very briefly for any that wanted a photo op at the Alaskan / Canadian border. There was a granite bench with a line engraved that was the actual border line. This was suitable for sitting or standing on with one foot in each country. I think several folk took advantage of that for photos. Just a couple or so miles down the road, we stopped again and turned in Customs Forms we had filled out and showed our passports. This was also the time to reset our watches to Pacific Time.

The following is a list of “Alaska Facts that Diane shared with us to keep us occupied and entertained during the long ride:

– Long-time Alaskans are called SOURDOUGHS, while people from the outside are called CHEECHAKOS. We were not told how long a new resident has to be in Alaska before they are considered as “sourdoughs”, but apparently it is years according to Larry!!

– Alaska has the easternmost place in the US as the western end of the Aleutian Islands crosses the Date line.

– Alaska has more coastline than the rest of the US and also has ½ of the glaciers in the world.

– Of course in comparison to the other states, Alaska is a giant. It is 425 times the size of Rhode Island, 12 times larger than North Carolina, and some 5 times the square miles of Texas. Alaska is 1/5th the size of the lower 48.

– The Alaskan Highway has 133 bridges and 8000 culverts and is constantly under construction because of being built on permafrost, which breaks up the surface of the road.

– A thirteen year old boy designed the state flag, which is of the Big Dipper constellation with the two stars forming the end of the cup pointing to the (slightly larger) North Star.

We drove by Kluane Lake and Larry / Diane pointed out that this was once a very large lake (the Yukon’s largest) but was now in danger of disappearing. The lake is fed by the Slims River, which is fed by the runoff from a glacier. Apparently now the glacier has retreated (a results of global warming??) to the point where its melt is now going south towards the Pacific instead of north in Kluane Lake and on to the Bering Sea. What we saw of the lake bed was a vast area of dried lake bed with dust blowing. What a devastating sight … the Yukon’s largest lake is in danger of disappearing. These are some “pretty pictures” of a visitor center and the lake: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=kluane+national+park+visitor+center&qpvt=kluane+national+park+visitor+center

Our arrival at the Westmark Hotel in Whitehorse was around 7:00PM. Carol writes: “The color of this hotel is as unusual as its layout. It has had numerous additions through the years, but it was comfortable and quiet (after the small kids in the next room settled). We ate in the hotel dining room for $35Canadian...” Whitehorse became the Yukon capital in 1953. Prior to that, it had been in Dawson City. I give you this just for the overall picture of this town. Population is in the 30K range and it is a pretty town with the river down the middle:
https://www.lonelyplanet.com/canada/yukon-territory/whitehorse

Tomorrow will be a short day as we head out toward Skagway. Luggage out by 7:30 and boarding by 8:45AM . G’ Nite!!

snoop
Posted: Tuesday, October 31, 2017 7:41:07 PM

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EDIT: Nov.2, '17 : I just realized that some of the links are not doing what I had hoped when clicking on the "highlight" portion. You may have to do a copy/paste thing to include the entire link and not just the highlighted portion. Sorry for that.. And thanks for reading.


August 18 … day eight

Carol writes: “Bags out at 7:30AM – left at 8:45AM after a great breakfast. Today was a very short (88) mileage day, but we packed a lot of great places into it. Fascinating pre-history … gorgeous scenery … deserts and mountains … canyons and pristine lakes … an historic train ride … see what I mean by PACKED ?! Plus I did a load of laundry at the hotel in Skagway for $2.50.”

After a good breakfast, I went for a short stroll to find a TIM HORTON’S for my second cup of coffee. I’ve heard so much over the years about Tim’s coffee being so good and I just had to try it while I had the chance. It WAS good coffee !! A bag of Tim Bits came out with me also. This treat is equivalent to Krispy Kreme doughnut holes!!

We hardly got settled on the coach when we arrived at our first stop of the day … the Beringia Interpretive Centre. This was a very interesting, and informative stop that told about and displayed pre-history. One of the brochures states: “ One of the highlights of the Centre is a reconstruction of the Bluefish Caves where carbon dating suggests humans were in the Yukon 24,000 years ago, some 10,000 years earlier than previously thought. If so, this would be the oldest archeological site in North America.”


Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre
Whitehorse
Imagine a world where the vast steppe stretches unbroken as far as the eye can see. Envision a place where predators of staggering proportions compete with human hunters for food in a cold, dry, treeless expanse. Explore the mysteries of that world within the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre and watch Beringia come alive.
This multimedia exposition features life-size exhibits of ice age animals, interactive exhibits and dioramas depicting the unique landscape, flora and fauna of Beringia. Highlights of the centre include a full-size cast of the largest woolly mammoth ever recovered in North America and a reconstruction of the Bluefish Caves archaeological site, one of the oldest archaeological sites in Yukon. The centre also features the Yukon Horse exhibit. This display contains the 26,000-year-old remains of the most complete and best preserved specimen of a mummified extinct large mammal ever found in Canada.
There was a 30 minute (??) movie shown prior to being permitted to explore the indoor displays of reconstructed artifacts. Both the “yellow” and “red” tour groups were here at the same time and we (reds) went outside first to see and learn some stuff that could not be readily shown inside.

What is an atlatl (pronounced as “attle attle”? This clever device allowed our ancient ancestors to throw a spear much farther, which then allowed them to hunt huge prey from a safer distance. “An atlatl is essentially a stick with a handle on one end and a hook or socket that engages a light spear on the other. The flipping motion propels a spear much faster and farther than by hand alone.” Those of us that wanted were given a chance to demonstrate their new skills / abilities. If you (the reader) were depending on me and my atlatl skills to provide a bison for dinner … well … I strongly suggest you go to your favorite super market and buy a roast!! This is an ancient, but effective tool found just about the world over: http://waa.basketmakeratlatl.com/?page_id=177 There doesn’t seem to be a “set pattern” for this tool as you can see: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=atlatl&qpvt=atlatl

After our outside activity, the yellow and red groups exchanged places and we got to see the inside displays.

We made a brief overlook stop at Emerald Lake : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerald_Lake_(Yukon) You’ll find a lot more pictures of this beautiful, colorful lake in this website. https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=emerald+lake+yukon+territory&qpvt=emerald+lake+yukon+territory&FORM=IARRSM

In my humble opinion, our next stop … for an included lunch … was a bit “touristy”, but really turned out to be fun and informative as well as serving a good meal. This would be the. Caribou Crossing / Carcross Trading Post. It also is obviously a regular stop for all manner of tour coaches as well as other tourist traveling through. See this site … and the video … for a glimpse of what was there. The pup-dogs could be heard all over the grounds!! There were several very good displays about Alaskan life as well as a good meal. Our meal was served cafeteria style and was a large piece of barbeque chicken and cole slaw as well as one half of a baked potato… and a delicious Alaskan doughnut. Iced tea or coffee were offered for beverage. http://www.cariboucrossing.ca/

Carol writes: “the sounds of the sled dogs and puppies drew me to their end of the property. I don’t know how old the puppies were, but they were absolutely adorable. Nearby, the crew was in the process of harnessing adult dogs to the wheeled “sled” for visitors to ride ($$). The dogs were so anxious to run, many were jumping straight up and down; their harnesses wouldn’t let them go forward.”

The little town of Carcross was our last stop before our train ride and was a neat little village / community with a lot of artists’ shops … plus … Diane had arranged for us to have a FREE ICE CREAM CONE!! (I had strawberry!!) Carol wanted to wander around and I was tired so we got separated. I’m sure she had chocolate without even asking!! This wikipedia will tell you more about the history and significance of this small town: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carcross and you can scroll through the photos here for scenes around the area. Note please the ice cream shop where you entered and then exited through the store. I guess they wanted to give everybody an “excuse” to do some shopping LOL!! : http://www.yukoncommunities.yk.ca/carcross

ALLLL – A-BOARRRRD!! for the White Pass & YUKON Scenic Railway that would carry us along a 28 mile scenic route to Skagway!! This was one of the featured activities on this tour that we really wanted to see and experience. This historic narrow-gauge railway was constructed in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush. The railroad features comfortable, vintage parlor cars and truly incredible scenery. We were able to see some gorgeous panoramas of majestic mountains, deep gorges and some waterfalls. Again, I was impressed with the obvious construction difficulties that had been encountered and conquered through the solid rock terrain. Fortunately this was a slow moving train and we were able to see a lot.
Unfortunately, there were some clouds and fog that prevented us from seeing some more distant views and glaciers. There was a live commentator on speakers and that kept us entertained and informed about what we were seeing. We even had a stop for passport checks when we crossed back into the USA. This wikipedia will give you plenty of background information about this storied railway’s history. Please take a few minutes to at least skim over it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Pass_and_Yukon_Route Carol writes: “On ‘my balcony’, I chatted for quite awhile with one of the conductors. Before he went ‘back to work’, he reached in his pocket and gave me a WP & YR pin! How nice!” .There are many photos here of the scenery and area. Just don’t get lost!! : https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=whitehorse+yukon+scenic+railway&qpvt=whitehorse+yukon+scenic+railway

As far as I was concerned, we arrived in Skagway, Alaska too soon. I would have enjoyed another leisurely train ride! I don’t know how long the road trip was, but Larry met us with the coach to carry us to the Westmark Inn in Skagway. He would meet us again in the morning to carry us down to the ship docks. Carol was able to do some laundry and it was … believe it or not … actually CHEAP!! Only $1.50 for a load of wash and $1.00 for 45 minutes of dryer time. She had packed (at home) laundry detergent and one dryer sheet as well as a roll of quarters for just such an occasion. We were now set for the remainder of the trip.

Author unknown: “A journey is the beginning of one thing … and the end of something else. It’s the road which leads you away from home … and the path which brings you back to where you belong. You will encounter many adventures along the way and each one will mold you into the person you will become.” Even though we would officially say goodbye to Larry in the morning, many of us took this time to express our thanks and regards to him for a job well done. He has done an excellent job of tending to our comfort and has been the consummate coach driver. I’d be honored to ride the road with him again. When I read the above quote, my thoughts turned to Larry the driver and I include this quotation in his honor.

See you tomorrow!!

snoop
Posted: Wednesday, November 1, 2017 10:00:56 AM

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EDIT: Nov.2, '17 : I just realized that some of the links are not doing what I had hoped when clicking on the "highlight" portion. You may have to do a copy/paste thing to include the entire link and not just the highlighted portion. Sorry for that.. And thanks for reading.


August 19 … day nine

We were up at 7:00, but had a lot of time before we had to take the coach to the ship docks and board the MS VOLENDAM. We ate breakfast at a small cafe called the Sweet Tooth that was a couple blocks away from the hotel. The weather was cool, but pleasant and the brisk walk helped stimulate my (ahem!!) appetite. This place was nothing fancy at all, but served its purpose nicely and seemed to be a place that “locals” enjoyed. Be sure to give it a moment for the “18 pictures” to load and you’ll see what it was like: https://www.yelp.com/biz/sweet-tooth-cafe-skagway.

Carol and our friends did a brief shopping excursion and also visited the Skagway Centennial Statue. I think you’ll find this interesting: http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM8WEF_Skagway_Centennial_Statue_Skagway_Alaska Unfortunately, I’d begun sniffling and coughing some in the preceding days and I went back to the hotel to stay out of weather and rest a bit before we had to load the coach and depart for the ship.

Part of Carol’s exploring was to see a stream with lots of salmon in it. She writes this about the Salmon: “Adult Pacific Salmon return to their birth streams to spawn after 2 – 3 years at sea. In this stream, Chinook come in early summer, Pink in mid-summer, Coho in the fall. Spawning occurs within days or a few weeks after entering fresh water. All Pacific salmon die soon after spawning; their decaying bodies return nutrients to streams and lakes and provide ready meals for eagles, ravens, and other scavengers.”

We boarded the coach for the short drive to the ship MS VOLENDAM. (As an aside, tomorrow was Larry’s birthday and Diane had passed around a card yesterday for us all to sign, and we sang the Happy Birthday Song to “dear Larry”. He put on his head set and thanked us all for the gesture … I think he really appreciated it. ) We were right on time and said our thanks and goodbyes to Larry … he took time to shake each hand.

Our boarding time was 11:00 AM and we were right on time. A n ID card was issued for each passenger and we were to use this card for exit and re-entry as well as a “credit card” while on board. When the card was scanned, the computer pulled up an identifying photo to properly ID each person.

Our cabin was on the lowest deck starboad (right side) with our friends in the next cabin to us. This was a great spot just around the corner from the aft (rear) elevators. Most of the places we went to on the ship seemed to be towards the aft of the ship. Another advantage for being on the low deck is that any wave action would be felt less. Since we were going to be sailing the “inside passage”, we were already naturally protected from much ocean action.

After the crew brought us our luggage, we went to explore the ship a bit to familiarize ourselves with it. The lido cafe was of special interest to me. We grabbed some lunch and while Carol and our friends explored the ship more, I returned to our cabin and went to bed … dang head cold and sore throat!!

We had a mandatory safety drill in the afternoon, and I returned to bed. Diane had us all meet in the main dining room for dinner each night. This was not a requirement, but all 46 of us complied with her request. Dinners were very good and we had some choice about the entrees as well as desserts. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS_Volendam I’m not really satisfied with the web sites, but this will show you plenty of the exterior of the ship. If you’ll scroll down to the first line of “small pictures” and then scroll left to right, you’ll find some interior photos. We were in a “cabin” and not a “suite”: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=ms+volendam&id=0732FAD0F662B8E559BF55CBA7DB0AA79BBD2447&FORM=IARRTH

After dinner, I was back in bed by 7:30PM and was not aware of the ship leaving port at 9:00PM. I “hope” to see you tomorrow as I plan on staying in bed.

Good night.
snoop
Posted: Thursday, November 2, 2017 7:19:22 PM

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EDIT: Nov.2, '17 : I just realized that some of the links are not doing what I had hoped when clicking on the "highlight" portion. You may have to do a copy/paste thing to include the entire link and not just the highlighted portion. Sorry for that.. And thanks for reading.


August 20 … day ten

Carol writes: “I heard the engine start at 9:00PM and was aware the ship was moving. While we slept, she cruised down the Lynn Canal and up into the beginning of Glacier Bay National Park, where a Park Ranger (2??) boarded the ship from a tender. She gave a “ranger talk” 7 – 7:30 in the Crow’s Nest at the front of Deck 9 and then did a running commentary on the P.A. system about what we were seeing all day.”

From the AAA Tour Book: “Glacier Bay, 65 miles long and 2.5 – 10 miles wide, was filled with ice 5,000 feet thick until 200 years ago. The tide water glaciers flow from the Fairweather Mtns. Into fjord-like inlets.”

This wikipedia site gives us some history about this national park:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glacier_Bay_National_Park_and_Preserve When I finally woke up and looked out the window, I was able to see some of the ice wall from the glaciers. Here you’ll find some stunning photos of this beautiful area. Be sure to also click on the button / icons just above the pictures for even more close up photos. They really are stunning:
https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=glacier+bay+national+park+and+preserve&qpvt=glacier+bay+national+park+and+preserve

Although she did not see any of the glaciers actually breaking off (calving), she tells me she heard a number of sharp cracks. She writes: “ The captain kept the ship here for an hour to gives us a chance to see a “calf”. “Calving” is when a large chunk of ice breaks off from the glacier’s face and falls into the water. We heard “rifle cracks” and thunderous booms, but did not see a calving take place. “Traffic” in the Bay is limited to small boats and mid-sized cruise ships, like the Volendam.” Check this series of short videos for some “action” like we did NOT see: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=lamplugh+glacier&qpvt=lamplugh+glacier&FORM=VDRE

Tonight was “Gala Dinner” (used to be Formal Night). Ladies wore dresses and the gents wore a dress shirt with tie. We all had a delicious steak and lobster tail with veggies and a great dessert. Fortunately I was “recovered” enough from being in bed all day to enjoy this fine meal. I think I might actually live!! After dinner, Carol and our friends went to see a magic show and I returned to our cabin and went to bed.

Even though this day’s narrative is short in length, it was actually quite a full day of sight seeing from the decks … even through the rain and inclement weather.

Tomorrow will come soon enough and hopefully will be a better day for me.

Good night ….
snoop
Posted: Friday, November 3, 2017 12:20:04 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 11/29/2012
Posts: 1,724
Location: Piedmont, United States
EDIT: Nov.2, '17 : I just realized that some of the links are not doing what I had hoped when clicking on the "highlight" portion. You may have to do a copy/paste thing to include the entire link and not just the highlighted portion. Sorry for that.. And thanks for reading.


August 21 … day eleven

We were up in time to be eating breakfast in the Lido Cafe and watch the scenery pass as the ship eased into the harbor at Ketchikan at 10:00 AM. This was to be just a day time mooring and would leave at 5:30PM. We did have time to get off and see a bit of Ketchikan.

This small town sure has a number of interesting sights to see … for a “price”. Almost greeting us when we got off was a statue called “The Rock”. This actually is a very informative piece of art about the history and settlement of Alaska. From the writing of Patricia Jordan from West Coast Living: “A Tlingit woman sits with her drum and sings her song of KetchiKan. She sings of how loggers harvested the trees, miners mined the gold, fishermen dared the sea for salmon and halibut, and pilots braved the sky to carry people beyond the reach of roads. The pioneer woman arrives to find opportunity in this new land. Atop The Rock stands Chief Johnson, who greeted the travelers arriving on the ships from Seattle and San Francisco. He offered them trinkets for sale, thus beginning a cultural exchange that continues today. Ketchikan was founded by the vision and heroic efforts of these pioneers.” You will find this quote and some closeup pictures of this statue here along with other photos of this town. Please let the photos cycle through: https://westcoastlivingcanada.com/2013/04/06/ketchikan-welcomes-you/

The town / city of Ketchikan itself is Alaska’s 4th largest city. Originally a Tlingit fishing camp, the natives called this place “kitschk-hin” which means “thundering eagle wings creek”. Non-native settlers, drawn to the mild climate and rich resources, took over the area in 1885, opened numerous fish canneries, and relocated the Tlingits to nearby Saxman Village. Lumber / pulp mills opened to provide timber for companies supplying goods to the miners during the Gold Rush. After these businesses closed in the 1990’s, Ketchikan became dependent on tourism and is a major stop for ships cruising the “Inside Passage.” The 2010 census recorded the population at 8,050 residents.

Carol and our friend did some shopping in town and returned to the ship for lunch. I had stayed in our cabin resting. We had a trolley tour to catch at 1:00PM that all four of us had signed up for. This was a city tour via the trolley and was $30 per person and was about an hour and half or so long. I would not have been able to have walked that much even though the town is quite small.

We were greeted by Lindsey who was our driver and guide for this tour. She certainly was lively in talking about Ketchikan as she pointed out certain buildings and gave us a humorous running commentary about their significance. She took us to the Saxman Village and explained a lot about totem poles and their significance.

Saxman Village … a Tlingit Indian village … was established in 1894 and is named for a school teacher, Samuel Saxman. He was one of three men lost in December 1886 while scouting for a new location for people of Tongas and Cape Fox villages. There are totems here comprising the world’s largest collection, including poles moved from Pennock, Tongass, and village islands and from old Cape Fox Village at Kirk Point. Many are poles restored under Federal Works Project directed by the US Forest Service beginning in 1939. Lindsey explained to us that even though the totems looked scary, they really told a story of historic significance.

As an example, there in the park were three totems erected that had an eagle on top with wings spread. Each of these totems was facing a different direction. According to a legend, three small boys were lost and the three eagles are looking for them in three directions. One searched the land, one the air, and one the sea.

Colors were made from charcoal, copper, iron oxide and other natural components. I was surprised to learn that the “cedar” poles rot from the inside out, but can be saved by hollowing out the center and putting another tree inside. There was a totem being restored that we could see up close … some parts and pieces were held together by wooden pegs. There was an elderly native artisan there working carefully on one totem inside the building. It was fascinating (and heart warming) to see the care he took while working on the restoration project … truly a labor of love. This will give you some more facts about the park: http://www.experienceketchikan.com/native-american-totem-poles-5.html and here you’ll find more photos of the totem park. See if you can find the man wearing a top hat … there really is one! As an aside, totems do not represent the dead, but rather emphasize the living: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=saxman+totem+park&qpvt=saxman+totem+park There was of course the obligatory “gift shop”. I do NOT enjoy crowds of people in tight confines so I kept to myself outside while Carol made the rounds inside … she purchased a post card!

When Carol had returned to the ship before lunch, she had packaged up some fabric (quilter gal that she is!), souvenirs, and a sweatshirt in a large microfiber envelope she had brought from home. This is another part of traveling in one small bag – mail stuff home so you don’t have to crowd your bag. She writes: “After lunch and the trolley tour, I took the package to the P.O. / FedEx / UPS place that was just a couple blocks from the ship, only to find it was no longer there! I knew there was another P.O. quite some distance along the the harbor and asked a local which bus I needed. The “green” bus drove on every single street in Ketchikan and after 30 minutes dropped me off at the the right place in fairly heavy rain. After handing over the package, I asked the P.O. clerk if it was possible to get a cab, and she said she could give me her phone so I could call one. The woman in line behind me asked where I needed to go and said she would be glad to take me in her car!! She let me out at Tongas Trading Company right next to the ship and she would not let me pay her. I guess it will be a “pay it forward”. There really are nice people everywhere.” She made it back in time before the ship sailed again around 5:30PM.

Dinner was again in the main dining room and our group enjoyed sharing stories of the day in Ketchikan.

What will tomorrow bring ….??
snoop
Posted: Saturday, November 4, 2017 11:37:31 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 11/29/2012
Posts: 1,724
Location: Piedmont, United States
EDIT: Nov.2, '17 : I just realized that some of the links are not doing what I had hoped when clicking on the "highlight" portion. You may have to do a copy/paste thing to include the entire link and not just the highlighted portion. Sorry for that.. And thanks for reading.


August 22 … day twelve

I pretty much stayed in our cabin resting, sleeping, and reading. This was just a day of cruising toward the end of the cruise at Vancouver, B.C.

Carol writes: “ My day in a nutshell – from my journal was a day at sea. Our group met at 9:00 in the Crow’s Nest for an hour-long meeting about disembarkation (getting off the ship). Bags needed to be outside your room by midnight (not ours because we had carry-ons) and tagged with the lime green Group 2 tag in addition to the red Holiday tag that had been there from Day one. We were to meet in the theater on Deck 4 forward at 8:00 the next morning with our passports and room key card. After the meeting, I stopped in the Photo Gallery and bought the pic that was taken when we first boarded the ship. The one of us at the Gala Dinner was not very good so I didn’t buy it, and the ones someone took with my camera were blurry, so I don’t have any from that night. Next stop was the main desk to pay for any extras on board ($136). Next was some downtime in the Explorer’s Lounge on Deck 5 Aft with my iPod and my new book that I had gotten in Ketchikan. I called our friend Patty, met her in the Photo Shop so she could find her pix, then started packing before lunch. Rick and I went to the Crow’s Nest to “whale watch” but he soon went back to the room. (He and Ron were both sick along with ¼ to ½ of our group.) Whale Watch, Game Show, and Sunset described later.”

Carol also has in her scrapbook some quotations that are meaningful …

“A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely ‘un-happen’” … E. deBono

“Life is too short to put off what makes you happy.” … anon.

“You will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” … Dr. Seuss

“If you want to keep your memories you first have to live them” … “Take care of all your memories for you can not relive them.” … Bob Dylan … “but you can revisit them whenever you want.” … Carol Angell

“A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.” … Eudora Welty

A photograph “is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.” Actually this was about memory, but I wanted to change it to photos … and this is why I journal with photos … Carol

Carol spent a lot of time watching for whales and other sea life, but unfortunately did not see much more than a dorsal fin of an orca. She also saw some dolphins but not with her camera. There are a couple lines from John Denver’s song “I Want To Live” that she hoped would come true: “ … have you gazed out on the ocean, seen the breaching of a whale? Have you watched the dolphins frolic in the foam?”

After dinner again in the main dining room, we went to the theater with another couple for a quiz program. Carol hoped it would be about geography, but it turned out to be “Where on Earth”. This program was like the Jeopardy program on television. Carol was “volunteered” to go up on stage with another member of our group. The questions were mostly about animals – where they lived – what they sound like – and were True / False or multiple choice. They got a bottle of wine, but it would have had to be finished tonight and none of us wanted it. It was given to a family of heavy drinkers in our group.

After the entertaining show, I returned to our cabin and Carol went out on deck to watch a beautiful sunset show that she describes as lasting over 50 minutes. “ Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder not just because they are beautiful but because they are fleeting.” … Richard Paul Evans

“Every sunset is an opportunity to reset.” … anon

“At sunset, Nature is painting for us … day after day … pictures of infinite beauty.” … John Ruskin

I wish I could show you some of Carol’s photos, but here you’ll find some photos very much like what she saw. I have googled “sunset photos inner passage Alaska” and this is what came up: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=sunset+photos+inner+passage+alaska&qpvt=sunset+photos+inner+passage+alaska

We both turned in a bit early tonight … I still wasn’t feeling all that well and Carol was pushing herself hard and obviously coming down with “something” from all the coughing she was doing.

See you tomorrow when we dock in Vancouver … Good night!






snoop
Posted: Sunday, November 5, 2017 11:55:54 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 11/29/2012
Posts: 1,724
Location: Piedmont, United States
EDIT: Nov.2, '17 : I just realized that some of the links are not doing what I had hoped when clicking on the "highlight" portion. You may have to do a copy/paste thing to include the entire link and not just the highlighted portion. Sorry for that.. And thanks for reading.



August 23 … day thirteen

We were up by 6:30AM and eating breakfast at 7:00 and then on to the theater by 8:00 to wait for the “Group 2 – lime” call to disembark the Volendam for the last time. We had to use our ID cards so that the ship’s crew could tell who we were, etc. Were they afraid of stowaways being left behind?? This seemed much more organized than the previous cruise excursions she had been on in the past. As this was only my 2nd cruise, I really don’t remember much about the process being chaotic … this process here seemed very well organized and conducted in an orderly manner without being rushed.

We had actually docked in Vancouver a bit after 7:00 AM and Carol and I got to see a bit of the skyline in passing as we ate our breakfast. As you can see and surmise from these photos, Vancouver is a large, bustling, modern city: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=harborside+photos+vancouver&qpvt=harbor+side+photos+vancouver

Since we were coming from a different country (USA), we had to go through a brief customs check as we exited the ship. Canadian customs officers … in our experience … have all been pleasant, and efficient in the performance of their jobs. This was no exception.

Diane had somehow managed to get ahead of our group and was able to direct us to a waiting room for our coach to arrive. This was a very short wait and we soon loaded yet another fine coach for our journey down to Seattle, Washington, USA.

When we got to the border, we had a bit of a wait as the driver and Diane tried to get us through the crossing without much hassle. As it turned out, we had to get off the bus and go into the customs building and present our passports and our carry-on luggage / “stuff” to go through X-Ray, etc. It really is quite different coming “home” than going into Canada.

After a short drive, we stopped stopped at a large mall in Bellingham, WA to buy lunch at the food court. Carol was getting stuffier with her head cold and got some Afrin for that.

Our day of riding ended at the Doubletree Hotel adjacent to the airport in Seattle Washington. Click on “Photos” for what this place looked like. It was by far the nicest and largest accommodations of any place we’ve stayed … and it was right at the airport. However, we did NOT hear any noise from aircraft. https://www.bing.com/search?q=doubletree+seattle+wa&form=EDGHPT&qs=AS&cvid=c7cd8b82fc944d599ecf774ecd3ff308&cc=US&setlang=en-US&PC=ACTS

We had our FAREWELL DINNER there with a choice of beef or chicken plus wine / hard drink if desired. Carol made a toast: “...to NEW friends, OLD friends, great memories in spite of the weather, and to a WONDERFUL LEADER who kept us all moving in the right direction.” Diane was fantastic.

Good night … flying home tomorrow!!
snoop
Posted: Sunday, November 5, 2017 12:01:01 PM

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Joined: 11/29/2012
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Location: Piedmont, United States
August 24 … day fourteen

We were up at 7:00 and had breakfast in the hotel dining room with new friends and left the hotel at 9:30 for a ten minute bus ride to SeaTac Airport. We had a long wait in the bus line to get unloaded. In the meantime, Diane had gone ahead and returned to give us last minute instructions of where to go, check in procedures, etc.

The airport was crowded and busy, but we made it through the check in procedures and security without too much difficulty or delay and our gate was right in front of us … NO long walk to a far gate!!

Boarding was on-time at 11:20AM and the long flight to Atlanta, GA left on time at noon. We did have to change planes to get back to Greensboro, NC and that was not difficult.

Did I mention earlier that Diane stayed with us all the way back to Greensboro, NC. She said she would have a brief overnight and then would fly back to her home in Wisconsin for “a single day off” before her next trip.

We said our final good byes at Greensboro and rode home with our friends who had left their car at the airport.

Charlotte and Kima were a welcome sight for us and she had made a pot of “SWEET ICE TEA” for us.

It is good to travel, but also very good to return home!

Good night … from home!!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I’ve saved this thought written by Carol for last, as it is really so meaningful about our travel philosophy … and really possibly about life itself. I wish to thank her for the fine job she has done with her scrapbook that has been my guide in these narratives.

EXPECTATION vs REALITY
(thoughts from a seasoned traveler)

Every one of my scrapbooks has a dose of travel philosophy, whether sayings on stickers or in my own words. Wouldn’t it be ideal if all the pieces of a trip fell into place flawlessly to make it perfect? It just doesn’t happen that way! So many factors beyond your control affect the trip, but being adaptable means enjoying things as they are, even when they are not as you had hoped they would be. This Alaskan adventure, for example, was not blessed by great weather; but rain, fog, and low clouds did not ruin our pleasure. We would love to have seen more wildlife, but we were glad we were able to see a lot. You learn to “go with the flow”.

Rick's thought: Some of the most memorable experiences we've had over the years have come out of plans that went askew and off track ... where we've had to learn to "go with the flow". Thank you for reading and please feel free to leave comment(s) "good, bad, or indifferent." .... rla
Guest
Posted: Monday, November 6, 2017 2:08:08 AM

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Joined: 7/1/2010
Posts: 25,639
What a fun read. Of course we've been to several of the places. My favorite is Alyeska hotel in Girdwood. Although I didn't get a chance to go up on the tram, Jon and Nancy did. We've been to Steward, Homer and of course Denali. We've been on the dome train, still haven't taken it all the way to Anchorage from Fairbanks on the train. That would be about 14 hours trip one way. I'm glad you got to ride the Riverboat Discovery. We do it every so often, it's fun to listen to some of the tourist. Plus it's just fun and relaxing. We've never been to Skagway, although I hope to someday. Also, hope to make it to Ketchikan. Nancy noticed that your daughter has a service dog. Asked if she is visually impaired. I told her I would ask.

Of all that she read, because I printed up the one you sent me, THAT is what she noticed. icon_smile

LaJumelleMauvaise
Posted: Thursday, December 28, 2017 4:17:38 PM

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Joined: 3/5/2015
Posts: 14
Location: Land of Legend, south of the Firelands, United Sta
Alaska and Hawaii are the only two states I haven't visited. You're going to have to go to Hawaii next so I can read your travelog and live vicariously through your travels! ;-)
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