Friday, August 3, 2012

Alaska Vacation Days 1-3

So, we (Georgie, Shirley, Lynn, David and I) took a 10 day trip to Alaska. The first 7 days were on the Radiance of the Seas cruise ship, the last 3 were on buses and a dome train. Here is the first part of the story, in photos. Click photos to enlarge.

David at our traditional
road trip starting point,

Me, in the bathroom
of the Orlando airport.
I take these photos for the
sole purpose of bugging

David, having lunch
at the MN airport.

Us, waiting for the last leg
of our flight to Vancouver.

Story here: The night before the
cruise I had a dream that when we
got to the ship, it was just a barge
and people kept falling off into the
water. When David and I walked
down to the pier, this was the first
boat we saw. I took this picture and
told Shirley the ship was everything
I dreamed of. She wasn't amused.

David and I at the pier in
Vancouver. This was really
the only day it rained the
whole trip.

Shirley made a new
friend. These were
all over the city, I think
it's a similar project to
the sea turtle one here
where local artists paint
them for charity. 

Waiting in the hotel lobby for
our bus to be called.

The hotel was pretty fancy and nice
until we opened our drapes and
saw a guy peeing in the alley.

Still waiting for our bus to be called.

The pier was only about 1/2 mile
from the hotel, but we had a ton,
you might even say "a boatload"
of luggage.

David looking for birds
while we were still in the
Vancouver port.

Vancouver was a neat
city. Many buildings
had grass or trees
growing on them. Click
to enlarge this picture
to see the forest on
this building. 

Georgie, photographing

The port building was neat, it
reminded me a lot of the airport
in Colorado.

It took a long time for the boat to
actually leave the port, and a short
time for the Blanchard contingent to
find the alcohol! Here are Shirley
and Lynn with fancy drinks, and
David drinking a $2.00 ginger ale
(surprise! "all inclusive" doesn't
include soda or bottled water)

We finally started moving, here are
David and Shirley giving the
thumbs up.

Lynn and Georgie giving the
thumbs up. I was too, but I was
taking the picture.

This is a big bridge we
went under leaving

This is my first picture of Alaska.
This is Ketchican, the first port we
stopped in. 

Me and Shirley on deck waiting to
disembark at Ketchican.

Georgie, Shirley and
David on deck.

Georgie, Shirley and Lynn.

It was way colder than I
was expecting. I bought
myself a sexy new hat.  OK,
not really sexy, but it
kept my little ears toasty!

One of the dining rooms on the
ship had a kitty in it that
reminded me of Barty!

Another view of the
area from the ship. Been
a while since I've seen
snow. Haha! Turns out
I don't really miss it!

Our first critter, a bald

Our second critter,
a freaking HUGE eagle!

This was a weird little
bar in Ketchican. The
Jack Nicholson in the
window was kinda

This was living on the dock in
Ketchican. I don't know what it was.
It had too many legs to be an
octopus. Maybe a squid?
Update: According to Heather and
John, this is a sun seastar.

We couldn't get onto the trip that
Shirley, Lynn and Georgie did, so
David and I took a city bus to
Ward Lake to hike. This was a sign
on the trail that someone defaced
with what appeared to be poop of
some kind.

A townsend's warbler.

A banana slug. This was a life
critter for me. I really liked the
slugs here. I tried to find an ID
guide for them, but couldn't find
one. I guess I'm the only one who
wanted to know!

Hmm. Some kind of sparrow or

Another terrible
picture of a kingfisher.
This is my nemesis bird,
I don't think I will ever
get a good picture.

David, e-birding.

Us, waiting for the bus
back to the boat. 

David, in front of
the eagle statue.

This was kind of cool. Every night*,
the stateroom attendent left our
towels in the shape of a critter.
*Well, every night up until the
"incident" after which, I think she
was afraid to enter our room. What
was seen can never be unseen. I
hope she didn't go blind or insane.

Alaska, Days 4-5

Here is the second part of our Alaska story. Click to enlarge pictures.

The Radiance of the Seas. Not a
bad ship. Rooms were clean. Only
had a few complaints. It was NOT
non smoking, the balconies were
pretty stinky some days. There was
constant piped in music on deck
and in all of the restaurants which
drove me nuts. And lastly, the
prices were insane - I had an
allergy attack
 and had to pay $15
for Dristan in the gift shop. But on
the plus side, the food was good,
and all the staff was super nice.  

This was a slug at Icy Straits, our
second port. He was really neat.

Shirl and totem pole.

Me with the totem pole

This was a towel frog that was in
our room that night.

We went to Mendenhall Glacier the
next day. These were some barn
swallows that were hanging out.

When David and I had
been hiking Ward Lake,
he was telling me about
these crazy birds
that dive into fast
moving streams. I told
him that I didn't believe
him as I didn't see any.
Then I saw this poster
in the rest room of the
Mendenhall glacier
visitor center, so I took
a picture for him. Funny
thing is,  he found a book
on IDing dippers in the
gift shop and bought it
for me! We think alike.

Me, Lynn and Shirl in
front of the glacier.

Me and David at the

David, looking particularly
picturesque at the glacier.

A stranger took this picture for us.
People were super nice about that.

We also visited
Mendenhall Gardens.
This was a planter
made from the roots
of an upside down tree.
Wicked neat.

This was a distance shot from
the top of the gardens.

Lynn, Shirl, David, me,  and Georgie.

The gardens had this heart shaped
flower thingy so we took this
picture just to be obnoxious.

This was a lifer for me - a
varied thrush.

After the Mendenhall
tour, we took a whale
watching cruise. This
is Georgie waiting for
the boat.

Lynn waiting for the
whale watching boat.

Me waiting for the
whale watching boat.

This was insane. Apparently, for
a few weeks of the year,  whales
do this thing called bubble
feeding. We got to see 14 humpback
whales doing it. It was quite spectacular!

A whale tail tale.

This was a glacier we
could see from the
whale watching
cruise but I don't
recall the name.

This was a life gull but I don't
remember what kind. Maybe
Mew or Glaucous wing?

More whales.

The whales spouted off before they
surfaced, so we could tell where to
shoot. Very obliging of them
to give us warning!

So, Shirley decided we
should do a tram
ride. Basically 1/2 mile
vertically up a
mountain. It was nice
once at the top, but I
did NOT enjoy the trip
up at all. 

The ship from the top of the tram.

The evil, scary tram in

Once off of the tram, the
top off Mt. Roberts was
great, lots of neat hiking
trails. I climbed
almost to the top to
see this cross that a guy
decided to put up there.
It was so high up,  I
didn't think anyone
would believe I made it
so I took a picture.

Another picture at the
top of Mt. Roberts.

I think this was a junco maybe?
Update: According to Cindy,
this is in fact, a junco.

We went looking for  bears but didn't find any. We took the first picture on the bear hunt. I look
drunk, but I was not. We took the second picture while very bored at sea. I might have been
drunk for this one... Shirley and Lynn totally were. They are good at corrupting their
innocent baby sister.