July 13, 2015 (Seward to Anchorage)

Alaska, Travel

It was drizzling when we woke up this morning, which is rather unfortunate considering we have to spend the entire day in the town of Seward before we take the train this evening into Anchorage to catch our plane back to Calgary. I had hoped to walk around a bit, but it was a challenge because of the rain.DSC_6606       We dropped off our suitcase at the train station and then put on our rain gear and walked around town a bit. There wasn’t much to do in the town, and we didn’t have any hiking or activities planned – which was a good thing considering the weather. It made me really appreciate how awesome we had it for the entire cruise, actually.

P1000732We poked around all the shops and tried to figure out if there was anything that we wanted to buy. This trip was really light on the shopping, which was really quite nice. We mostly enjoyed nature and took a tonne of pictures. Perfect, actually.P1000736

After wandering around for a couple of hours we decided we should find a place to hang for the rest of the afternoon. It was a bit painful to be sitting around doing nothing, but every time I looked out of the window, it made me appreciate that we had found a nice dry place. We actually went and sat in the ice cream shop for about 4 hours! The gal working was not busy (because it was raining!), so she was happy to let us play crib for hours and hours. It was really great of her.

P1000756Finally, it was time to hop on the train. It was great. I love trains. We moved around to different cars because the speakers in our car were broken, so we couldn’t hear the commentary about the glaciers, rivers, and curves along the way. I really, really love trains (if you weren’t already aware of that!). P1000772It was great to stand between the cars and take pictures as we whizzed by everything. There was a bit of rain, but for the most part it was clear, so it was a really enjoyable and scenic ride. It made waiting around all day in Seward totally worthwhile.

We didn’t have any extra time in Anchorage.P1000766 We arrived at the train station, grabbed our suitcase and went to the airport. It all actually flowed pretty flawlessly.

For the price of the trip, I would definitely do it P1000784again. It was super easy. And it was such a great way to get in some fun outdoor activities without too much planning or worrying about how to get there!

 

 

Until next time!P1000795

-Allison

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July 12, 2015 (Hubbard Glacier)

Alaska, Travel

DSC_6557Today we spent the day cruising around Hubbard Glacier. It was a lot icier in the water than Glacier Bay, interestingly enough, but the water wasn’t nearly as pretty and blue as it was yesterday. 

DSC_6568There were lots of beautifully shaped, blue, sparkly ice bergs floating by. It was fun to see which ones were the most interesting. When I was trying to take an interesting iceberg picture, I suddenly spotted 3 sea otters playing in the middle of the water. It was so cool to see!

DSC_6595This glacier was massive with lots of big coves and jagged edges. It was impressive. And it was even noisier than the glaciers yesterday were, I think. It was funny to watch all of us on the ship run from one side to the other when someone figured out something was better viewed on one side of the ship. I think between Shawn and I we must have taken a thousand pictures today. Kind of crazy, considering we were taking pictures of snow, ice, and water, really!DSC_6597

We spent quite a long time, maybe 2 hours close to the glacier. The captain was amazing and kept turning the huge ship around and around so that everyone could get good views of the glacier. It was nice that he did that because the day became clearer and clearer, so it was easier to get good pictures end enjoy the beautiful scenery.

P1000645The extra nice thing about spending so much time at the glacier is that people started to tire of the scenery and left the deck. So it became easier and easier to take good pictures and enjoy the peaceful nature of this amazing piece of nature.

P1000686I decided it would be a good time to go the gym, and boy was I right! Everyone was tired from being outside all day and I was the only one in the gym and the views were to die for. Cruise ships normally have their gyms up high and are all surrounded by windows so there are excellent views. Well, today, I was actually the ONLY person in the gym. I ran and ran on the treadmill and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the gym by taking in the incredible views of the glacier, ocean, and greenery around us. Then I got to go do abs and stretching next door and just ended up sitting there peacefully appreciating nature. It was fantastic! Definitely a highlight of visiting the glacier today.

P1000721It is kind of sad, though because tomorrow we get off the ship. So, off to enjoy one more night of good food and entertainment and then off we go!

-Allison

 

July 11, 2015 (Glacier National Park)

Alaska, Travel

       P1000307Today we cruised around Glacier national park. It was a bit foggy and rainy in the morning when the park guides came aboard our boat. But we woke up early so that we could get a comfortable seat in the front lounge and hear all the great things about the park that the guides had to say.

P1000450There were lots of birds in the water, which was amazing because the water was that really cold, murky blue colour. It almost looked like ice slush because it was so cold. We saw bald eagles sitting on icebergs floating in the ocean and even managed to see a grizzly bear far on the distant shore. We saw a couple of seals and think we saw some puffins off in the distance. P1000294 - CopyDSC_6479

I thought puffins were only on the East Coast, but apparently there are West Coast puffins that live in Alaska as well. We stood next to a young girl who was a birding expert for quite a while when we were down on the covered deck. She was a wealth of information. P1000313

The glacier itself was beautiful and huge. DSC_6507We were able to get surprisingly close to it. We could hear it cracking and creaking and a few times it calved off into the ocean. The lines of blue and black mixed into the ice reminded me kind of the like the rings in a tree where you can see how long it has been alive.

P1000461There was so much to see and it was all so calm and peaceful. It was amazing. I did get a bit cold standing out on the deck all day, but we had prepared for it, so it was okay. Shawn did pay a ridiculous amount of money to buy us baileys and hot chocolate though!!

Sadly only really one more day to go.

P1000500Off to enjoy the great dinner ahead!

-Allison

July 10, 2015 (Skagway)

Alaska, Travel

This is our last “activity” day before two more days viewing glaciers at sea. We docked in Skagway quite early and headed straight for the tourist centre. It is a funny little town. It is kind of fake-y with little facades on the houses on main street and boardwalks. It reminds me of Heritage Park in Calgary, actually. I guess it is a historic Gold Rush town.DSC_6432

I had learned that there was a great day hike that started right from town. Skagway is also the beginning of the Chilkoot trail, which I would like to do one day, but clearly we did not have time on a one-day stop whilst on a cruise to tackle such an adventure. We did manage to hike the lower and upper Dewey lakes, however, and it was very worthwhile.

DSC_6422The lower lake did not take much time to reach and we learned a lot. Shawn likes to read signs. All of the signs. So it was good because we learned about the power plant that was built in 1902. A small dam was built and the water provided run-of-the-river power to the town of 3000 inhabitants as well as pressurized water for firefighting. Considering how steep the climb was, I am glad that they were able to harness the power there. In fact, the powerplant has since been upgraded and still runs. This year it was inducted to the Hydro Hall of Fame in Oregon as one of the plants in the USA that has been continually operational for more than 100 years.

P1000178Anyway, the first part of the hike was a reasonable work out, but the second half was intense. We climbed for three hours and only covered about 5 kilometers! We gained 3,100 feet over just under 5 kilometers. It was impressive. The views at the top were fantastic. We were really surrounded by only the peaks of the mountains and there was a small lake were standing. Right before we reached the lake at the end of the hike we looked back and had an amazing panorama of the ocean and the mountains. It was incredible.P1000159

At the top there are a few cabins. Apparently they can either be reserved or first-come, first served. It would be an amazing place to spend the night. Even during the day when we were there, it was so incredibly peaceful.DSC_6444The way down went a bit faster than the hike up, but we definitely had to watch the footing! I was not prepared to break anything hiking in Alaska!

I got it in my head that I should buy my bridesmaids gifts here, so we P1000234spent the afternoon looking in jewellery stores to try and find matching mystic topazes. It was fun.

It was our last day on land for a couple of days, so even though town was kind of tacky, we had fun walking around.

I am looking forward to seeing the different glaciers over the next couple of days!

-Allison

July 9, 2015 (Juneau)

Alaska, Travel

Today we were in Juneau. It was sunny and warm-ish when we pulled into the capital. We arrived just before noon and hopped right off the ship. We walked right out of all of the little tourist shops and up the bay to the beginning of the really awesome cycling paths that they have in the city. I had found us the best deal on bike rentals for the day!

DSC_6331It ended up being about $25 each to rent a bike. We decided we would cycle up to the Mendenhall Glacier. It was not a long ride, maybe 25 km one way. There were great paths along the road and actually most of them were even multi-use trails. I was very impressed.

We stopped on top of a bridge at this one little river because I really wanted to see salmon swimming upstream. DSC_6364And sure enough, there they were! I was so excited. I think we stopped for about half an hour so that we could get some good salmon pictures. And then there was this bald eagle sitting in a tree looking down on all the salmon. I really wanted him to dive and catch one, so I thought if we waited long enough it would happen…it didn’t. Oh well.

The rest of the ride was amazing. There were some great forests and little outskirts of town that we saw en route to the glacier. It was sad though because right as we stopped to get a great picture close to the glacier, a couple which came towards us saying that they had just seen a bear and a cub crossing the pathway ahead. Apparently it is a regular occurrence in that location because there was even a “Bear Crossing” sign!DSC_6373

The glacier was amazing. There is this perfectly blue lake and a beautiful white glacier. When I saw glaciers before in Iceland they were kind of sad and black from all of the pollution. This one was gorgeous.DSC_6383

Because we had our bikes we couldn’t walk all the way around the lake, but that was okay. It made me really happy to be getting back on our bikes as other people that I recognized from the ship were getting back on the tour bus! JDSC_6397

After we returned the bikes we grabbed a hot chocolate and some fish and chips from a little restaurant on the water. We got to see all of the sea planes coming and going. Then we hit up all of the tourist locations in the downtown area. There were lots – mostly selling jewelry. I think I will probably need to purchase something before we leave. Will have to see.

I would totally come back to Juneau on a trip to Alaska. I don’t think we had enough time to explore everything that there was to see here. And once we left the downtown area there was a lot of really nice, non-touristy things to see. It was great.

On the way back to the ship, I noticed that everything was “AJ”. Those are my initials, so we had to stop and get a few pictures!  Too perfect.DSCF5175

I think this is why we tend to lose weight on cruises…everyone else gains weight, but with the number of activities that we do and the amount we walk, we always manage to lose a few pounds! All the exercise definitely makes dinner seem less guilty!

-Allison

July 8, 2015 (Ketchikan)

Alaska, Travel

DSC_6308Today we visited Ketchikan. In the morning we walked around town a bit. It was pretty touristy, but cute. We are so lucky that it hasn’t really rained yet.     

DSC_6310When I was planning at home, I found us a great kayak trip independent of the cruise line. In the afternoon, we went on our three hour kayaking trip. It was wonderful because there were only 4 of us on the trip. It was us and another couple from the States. The guides took us in their power boat to a little cove away from the cruise ship and the rest of the tourists. DSC_6325-copy

We were really lucky because it wasn’t raining or too rough out. I learned that Starfish are no longer called starfish. They are called Sea Stars now. We saw a few really beautiful Bald Eagles and I got some decent pictures of them as well.DSC_6314

It was really peaceful paddling around. I was kind of sad that we didn’t see any whales or seals. Depending on the salmon run and the time of year, there are more or less sea animals in this part of the cove. Right now it was pretty quiet.DSC_6320-copy

We didn’t rent a car or anything, so we could not go and see the road that leads to nowhere, but I am not sure we were missing too much.DSCF5147

It is really a relaxing trip thus far. It’s great.

I think we will see some shows today. I like to go to as many as possible – you know to get our money’s worth!

Later!

-Allison

 

July 6 and 7, 2015 (Vancouver and the Inside Passage)

Alaska, Travel

Shawn and I flew to Vancouver yesterday to get onto our Norwegian cruise for Alaska. It was really weird to not go to Victoria. I don’t think I have flown to Vancouver in a very long time. I was impressed with how easy it was to take the skytrain from the airport to downtown Vancouver. The Olympics that were held here a couple of years ago really helped to improve transit.

P1000044

We had quite a bit of time to kill before we could board the ship. Unfortunately, we had our luggage, so we couldn’t go too far. We did go to a grocery store and bought some diet coke so that we could have it on the ship rather than purchasing anything like that at crazy cruise ship prices. We found a fun little café and sat outside and worked on wedding plans a bit more. It is funny how much you don’t really communicate with people that you know well. It was relatively hard to come up with everyone’s email addresses.P1000062

We got on the ship around 2 pm, found our room, did the amazing drill with the life jackets and everything. It is a nice ship. A bit smaller than other ones that we have been on, but really nice. Shawn and I found the games area up top right away and played ping pong for an hour or so before we started to move and it got too windy.P1000113

We set sail and because it was so nice out, we hung out on the main deck where it wasn’t too windy and watched all of the little islands pass us by. There were also a lot of whale sightings. It was awesome. I am glad that we decided not to pay for a whale watching tour, because I think we will already have our tour from the ship!P1000103 - Copy

Because it is Norwegian, we don’t have a set dining time or anything. I kind of like the set schedule because it helps to develop the relationships with the staff. But the food was good, really good, so that was amazing enough!P1000041

Our first day on the ship was a sea day. I like that because it gives a full day to get into the groove of relaxing. We sat upstairs in this amazing lounge where there is great music and comfortable chairs most of the morning because it was really foggy.P1000112

In the afternoon, it was nicer out because the captain decided to take an even narrower inside, inside passage and it completely cleared off. The mountains were very close to the ship though. It was impressive navigating. It was so nice out that we did a lot of walking on the lower main deck and even had happy hour and played yatzee on the back open deck. There are great views everywhere! It is kind of like cruising in Banff…
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Later!

-Allison