Tuesday 8/30 Back in Tucson
iPad worked great for writing the blog. Notes on the cruise follow below. Home for a day and then we fly to Joan’s on Wednesday afternoon to pick up the Wrangler and bring it to Tucson. Planning a leisurely drive on two lane roads as much as possible.
Stopped by the house this morning, electrical wiring in, all the windows are in, and the outside is ready for the first layer of “mud.” Progress! Headed for 99 today, RV park is still almost empty.
Saturday 8/13 cont.
After sunset we took out the aluminum faced insulation and covered all the windows. We had bought the insulation and cut it to size in Denver a couple of years ago to hold the heat IN during a brutal cold snap. Now it came in handy to keep the heat OUT while we are gone. Glad we saved the stuff.
Sunday 8/14 headed to Seattle
Up early, 7:15 flight to Las Vegas then on to Seattle after a two hour layover. Got in the car at 5:52, sat down at the gate at 6:32!!! Sure is nice to live in a small town! Only took 20 minutes to get to the airport! Hit every traffic light on Valencia green. No line at ticket counter to check bags, three people in front of us at security, TSA PreCheck meant no need to take off shoes or jackets. Really smooth.
Snagged exit row seats on the first leg to Las Vegas, no such luck on the longer leg to Seattle! One hour vs. two and a half! Paid $15 for the obviously bogus "early boarding!" And had A-48!! Last time I'll waste money on that scam!
Uneventful flight, Sea-Tac airport was busier than Las Vegas, which was pretty busy! Cab to Westin Seattle, for two of us about the same price as the APHC bus. Met Joan at hotel and after a brief rest Nancy went to check out a restaurant that sounded good, then we walked down to Pike Place Market. Really busy on a Sunday afternoon. On the way we stopped at Bergman Luggage & Travel. Nancy bought me a new wallet as an early Christmas present. The one she bought me in Barcelona a few years ago had worn out. If you want a nice new suitcase this is the place to stop!
Stopped and had a pint at Kells Tavern, then walked back up a little past the Westin Hotel where we are staying to Blue Acre Seafood for an excellent dinner.
Back at hotel for the evening at 7 PM, all three of us tired from traveling.
Monday 8/15 Seattle
The three of us walked a few blocks down Fifth St. to Max's Cafe in the Hotel Five for breakfast. Nancy found this place on Yelp and it was an excellent choice. After breakfast we walked up the street to find the station for the Metro Light Rail to the airport. Bought an advance ticket for trip back on the 29th. $6 for both of us to the airport!
Relaxed at hotel. We will take a taxi to the ship around noon. Cheaper than the APHC bus for the three of us and less hassle and waiting around. When we left for breakfast a lot of our fellow cruisers were waiting in the lobby for time to board the bus to the ship!
Taxi to ship, as expected it saved $20 vs. taking bus and no waiting around. A bit of a line for security and check in, but they moved right along. Sailing in the MS Maasdam this time
Lunch in Lido (Nancy had wanted to get a box lunch form Blue Acre - crab meat salad - but when she called they told her the lunch had to be ordered the day before!) Our regular spot, the Ocean Bar, was not open so we found another and had a drink. Spent some time in the Ocean Bar later!
Finally got together with our good friends John and Sandy, from NC. We are sharing a dinner table with them again this trip. Makes for good dinner conversation.
Several shows late in the evening, but it was after 10 when we left the dining room. Walked around and listened to snatches of the shows then went to bed.
Tuesday 8/16 at sea
Breakfast in the dining room with a very interesting group. Susan from Norfolk, Scott and Sara from San Diego and another guy. Good conversation. Nancy and Joan had spa appointments, I went and relaxed by the windows in the Ocean Bar. Bright sunny morning in the 60's, but about 9:45 it started to get foggy again. It was a bit foggy last evening. Ship is rolling a bit in a gentle swell, out in the North Pacific now.
Susan, the lady we met at breakfast, came into the Ocean Bar and said while we were at breakfast the people up in the bow with the naturalists saw whales blowing!
At 10 Maria Jette, Thomas Cooley, and Dan Chouinard did a show. I bailed about half way through. Went back to our room for a while. Nancy came back after her spa visit, then the three of us had lunch in the Lido.
Nancy and Joan went to straighten out the timing on one of our tours, I went to the Crows Nest to claim seats for Fred Newman's talk at 1:00. Joan had a pedicure scheduled, Nancy and I went to Fred's talk on taking pictures in 3 D. Interesting and funny, but as he said, more nerdy than just story telling.
I like the Crows Nest! More comfortable chairs, semi-recliners, than Ocean Bar, great view out the front of the ship, and less activity. Nancy and I sat there for an hour or so before she and Joan went to afternoon Royal Dutch Tea.
Stayed in the Crows Nest until the dance instruction drove me out. Stopped in the library for a few minutes, then met Nancy in our room. We went to the Ocean Bar for another drink, like I needed one!
A slight bit of over imbibing has not helped me in navigating the hallways will the ship is rocking in the open sea! Thought as long as everyone was staggering around getting slightly tipsy might help!
Another good dinner, although portions seemed a bit small. Called it a night after dinner, even though we gained an hour overnight
Wednesday 8/17 Ketchikan, AK
Still light at 10 last night and sun well up at 6 this morning! Today's tour not scheduled until 9:30. Breakfast in our room. Watched ship make it's way into Ketchikan. Docked right in center of town. Watched trawlers go in in and out and a LOT of pontoon plane traffic, pretty constant in and out.
Short walk down the pier to the Aleutian Ballad, a former crabber that has been converted into a tour boat with stadium style seating so everyone can watch the action. A nice, comfortable setup. Be sure to watch the video on the web site.
We were very fortunate in the weather, a beautiful sunny day in the mid 60's! Pretty lucky for a place that gets 152" a year! Several locals said it was the best day of the year! They said it had rained every day for two weeks! Pretty trip out into the inside passage. First they stopped and pulled three round stone crab traps. They also had some prawns, starfish and each trap had an octopus! They passed the crabs and starfish around so everyone could touch or hold them.
Then they pulled in a "long line" which is used to fish, 20 hooks on a line a foot or so apart. Had two fish on a short line. “Long Liners” or “Trollers” fish this way. “Power Trollers” pull their lines with hydraulic motors and are allowed to fish four lines. “Hand Trollers” pull their lines by hand and are only allowed to run two lines.
After that they stopped close to shore where we could see bald eagles in the trees. When they threw small fish in the water the eagles swooped down and grabbed them, less than 20 feet from the boat! Really cool and unexpected.
Since the king crabs they fish for are actually found out in the Bering Sea the crab trap they pulled for a demo only had plastic crabs!
The day was pretty, a bit of a cold wind, but no big deal. One of the more enjoyable tours we have been on and the highlight of our cruise. Stopped in shop on the pier and I found a nice mesh hat for 20 bucks! Been wanting to try one out before investing in a Tiley hat. Lunch at the burger stand on the Lido deck, then Ocean Bar. Bar not open yet. Spent afternoon there, Nancy joined me later. Maria Jette and two tenors at 4:30.
Excellent show tonight. Regular APHC, highlight was the three tenors and the DiGiallonardo Sisters. Diner in Rotterdam dining room with John and Sandy.
Thursday 8/18 Tracy Arm Fjord
Very foggy this morning, low clouds, 52 degrees. Breakfast in dining room with three people from FL. George, George and ?? Good conversation again.
During breakfast Captain announced that there were whales on the port side. Saw one blow and a couple of tails. He also said there was too much ice in Tracy Arm Fjord, as he had warned last night, so we are going into Endicott Arm instead. When we leave there we will be only 14 nautical miles from Juneau, so we will anchor out of the channel and wait to go into Juneau in the morning.
Fred Newman talk mid-morning, Putting Your Best Voice Forward. Interesting and funny as usual. Joan had a spa appointment, Nancy and I went up to the Lio deck to look at the sale items, ended up buying a pretty good pair of 50 power binoculars for half price. $125
By the time we got to Endicott Arm the fog had cleared. Mountains on both sides, not as sheer as Norway, but spectacular nonetheless. Ice floating in the water, lots of white water and waterfalls on the mountains. Came up close to the Dawes glacier and slowly circled for about two hours! Great views of main glacier and another way up the mountain at the head of a white water stream. Several small tour boats closer to glacier.
Lunch in the Lido, then I went up to the Crows Nest to watch our exit from the fjord. Very pretty. On the way out of the fjord we met the Carnival Legend coming in.
Nancy and Joan joined me there and we stayed until the dance lessons began. Joan went back to her room and Nancy and I repaired to the Ocean Bar in time for happy hour - 2nd drink for a dollar.
Evening show was Broadway Singalong. Pretty good.
Friday 8/19 Juneau
Overcast and cool this morning. Breakfast in the Lido, then hung out for a couple of hours catching up on e-mail and news.
Whale watching tour left at 10:30, excellent tour. Stopped for a look at Mendenhall glacier from a distance on the way to the boat. Pseudo "scientific" tour. Pulled one crab pot to check for invasive species (Nancy volunteered to help pull the pot) and identifying specific whales for researchers at the university. Saw three bald eagles during the trip. Excellent luck with finding whales, guide said it was one of his best trips. Saw 14 humpback whales, including several examples of "bubble netting" where a pod of whales swim in an ever tightening circle blowing bubbles. This drives fish to the center and the surface. Then the whales all come straight up out of the water with their mouths open! Pretty spectacular. Later I saw a reference to this as the “Holy Grail” of whale watching.
At one point we swung close to a channel buoy with four sea lions lounging on it - and on each other! Guide said these were juveniles as the adults will tip the buoy if they try to climb on. Also saw some harbor seals in the water and more sea lions on a rocky point.
Saw five bald eagles today, one quite close in a pine tree beside lot where bus picked us up after tour.
Sun broke through mid-day, warmed into the 60's. 20 people on our tour. Very good guide, no corny humor. He expressed surprise (as have several others) on the length of our cruise and all the places we are seeing.
As In Ketchikan, ship docked right in the center of town. After tour Joan went back to boat, Nanc and I walked to drugstore (pricy!) and then stopped in the Alaskan Hotel for a beer, pointed out by guide as a "local" bar. 103 years old, old fashioned bar.
Back to ship and relaxed before salmon bake this evening. Short bus ride to salmon bake location. Nothing fancy, but the salmon was fantastic! Fixin's were pretty good as well
Back at ship just before 7, ship had dropped about 10 feet in the time we were gone, a little over an hour! 20 foot tides here.
No main show tonight, one at Nine that we thought about but none of us made it.
Saturday 8/20 Icy Straight Point
Overcast and rainy in the AM. We waited until after 11 to get off for our tour, turns out there were some shops we could have perused, no time after tour. Nancy and Joan went to dinning room for breakfast, I went to Lido. They saw three whales out behind the ship! I was in the Ocean Bar and saw a harbor seal playing around the kayak group. The kayakers were stopped and looking at the whales toward the back of the ship. The seal popped up about 40 feet to the side of them, then again about 20 feet away - no one saw him until he came up right in the middle of the group! Pretty funny to watch!
Our tour was a salmon cooking demo. Really nice facility. Lady doing the demo was excellent. We thought it would be just snacks, turned out to be a salmon dip, salmon soup, salmon sliders, and then she demonstrated how to filet a big halibut and then we cooked our own pieces of salmon and halibut over a wood fire! Really good with Montreal Steak Seasoning!
By the time the ship sailed at 2 PM the sun had broken through with only scattered clouds! In the 60's.
Back at ship Nancy and I went up to Lido for desert, then up to Crows Nest to read, entertainment in the other bars and of course dance lessons in the Crows Nest.
About 4 we could see large, snow covered mountains to the Northwest above the Baker glacier. Turned out to be the Mount Fairweather, one of the world’s highest coastal mountains - 15.325 feet, 20 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean! Usually hidden in the clouds, we had great views on a bright sunny day with very few clouds.
Sunday 8/21 Bay of Alaska
Cloudy and drizzly, but who cares! "At sea" today, crossing the Bay of Alaska from East to West. At Noon we were 400 miles West of Juneau, still 300 miles to go to Anchorage. Most cruise ships stick to the coast and put in on the East side of the Kenai Peninsula, then provide overland transportation to Anchorage. We will go West of the peninsula and right into Anchorage, one of the advantages of a charter that goes where Garrison wants to go!
Leisurely breakfast, I went to Lido while Nancy and Joan were doing laundry, they went to the dining room later. I went to the Ocean Bar to stake out seats for the Fred Newman talk at noon. at 9:30 there was no one there, went to the room for a couple of minutes and when I returned the room was packed! Another show at 10, whoops.
Show at 11 was over at 11:30, so we managed to score good seats for Fred's talk anyway. Then into the showroom for Klondike Kapers with Sue Scott and Tim Russell, which meant only option for lunch was burgers at the Lido pool.
Nanc and Joan went to afternoon tea, I camped out in the Lido bar 'till the main evening show. I have started a series of books on life during the civil war by Ginny Dye, "The Bregdan Chronicles". Nothing sophisticated, with characters straight out of central casting, but good character development and a good story. Seems to be well researched and puts a human face on the period. Read the first one before we left AZ, started the second on the plane Sunday, finished it Friday. 45% into the third one already! Reading them on the Kindle.
Show tonight was a regular APHC show, excellent. After dinner I staked out two chairs in the Ocean Bar for the DiG Sisters. Left the dinning room at 9:30 for the 10 PM show and was barely there in time to get two good seats. Joan said she would listen outside for a while. Very good show.
Monday 8/22 Anchorage
Low clouds and drizzle, high 50's. Breakfast In room, left ship about 8:30, shuttle bus into town. We are docked in a commercial port, no walking to town. About a ten minute shuttle bus ride to center of Anchorage. Then Enterprise picked us up for rental car. Drove out the Seward highway along Turnagain Arm. Scenic pull outs for whale watching, but the tide was coming in from the North along with a stiff wind from the South. Pretty rough water so if there were whales out there we could not see any. Very scenic drive though.
On the way back we stopped at the Alaska Zoo so we could say we saw brown bears and black bears while we were in Alaska! Also saw a polar bear, reindeer and moose. Stopped at Alaska Wild Berries for a bit of shopping in souvenir shop. Jams and candy! On the way we passed the Peanut Farm Sports Bar. Lot full of cars for lunch on Monday and just around the corner from the berry store, so we decided it would be good bet for lunch. Good burgers and 30 beers on draft. Later we saw it listed in a guide book as one of Alaska's top sports bars.
On the way into town on the bus we had passed Big Ray's Outfitters. I wanted to stop just to see what unusual things they had. It was mostly cold weather clothing (big surprise there!) and fishing clothing. Lots of nice waterproof insulated gloves, but not much that would be of use in Tucson.
Stopped at the big Wells Fargo Bank building to take a look at the Alaska Heritage Museum. Very nice small museum and it was free! Dropped off car and caught shuttle back to ship. Made it to the Ocean Bar in time for happy hour.
During dinner we watched as two tug boats moved a freighter up to the pier behind us. They brought it in sideways and ever so slowly.
After dinner we all went up to the ocean bar and John and Sandy (The Morehead Ramblers) provided an hour's worth of private entertainment.
Tuesday 8/23 Anchorage day 2
Walked out on deck and found that a container ship had come in directly behind us, from the exotic port of Anchorage! After breakfast I stood out on deck and watched them unloading containers. Four large cranes on a large gantry. They slide in horizontally, pick up a container, and lower it onto a truck. By the time the crane gets another container there is another truck waiting!
Spent the morning in the Ocean Bar catching up on e-mail, able to use Verizon data while we are in port. Lunch in the Lido, then we managed to stake out seats in the Ocean Bar for the DiGs and then Sue, Tim, and Fred later in the afternoon. I barely got there in time to snag three together 40 minutes before the show.
Low clouds and rain so far, but about midday the sun started to break through. Apparently the float plane trips were mostly cancelled due to the weather and we heard people who had been on the overnight trip to Denali say it was cold and rainy and they never saw the mountain! Just before the DiG sisters show we saw several beluga whales right beside the ship! Not really much to see though, just a white bump in the water hard to judge size, probably 6' by 3'. Considering what we saw today they could have been all over the place when we were looking yesterday and we would not have seen them in the rough water!
After the DiG sisters we kept our seats for the next show, Fred, Sue and Tim "Stories from the Road" excellent as usual.
Talent show tonight. Our friend John qualified during the auditions, but they put him in the second show. We go to the first show and late dinner, so we had a quick dinner after the first show and slipped into the second. John had some pretty stiff competition, and he was a little nervous, so he did not place, but did a credible job. The talent this year was quite good and the regular performers competed with original songs (to regular tunes) and were good as well. Sara Watkins had a song about not seeing any whales. Chorus: “I’m a whale watch, I’m a whale watcher …”
Joan didn't stay for the whole second show. After the second show Nanc and I went to a movie about Alaska from the air, very good.
Wednesday 8/24 Kodiak.
Breakfast in room. Ship at commercial pier in Kodiak, second largest fishing port in North America. School bus shuttle for short ride into town. Lots of fishing boats in harbor, very few pleasure craft. Spent some time in nice visitors center then walked around small town. Stopped in small coffee shop for drinks and a snack, then browsed through a hardware store to see if they had anything unique. Lots of great waterproof boots and an amazing selection of work gloves! Nancy and Joan picked up a couple of nice paring knives, which were promptly confiscated upon our return to the ship (we always have to go through a security scanner when we reboard!) They will be returned the day before we get to Seattle! So apparently it is OK to have these "potential weapons" for the last 12 hours or so of the cruise, but not before ... Go figure!
Ship sailed at 2:30, headed back across the Gulf of Alaska, 400 miles, 6 foot swells and light fog.
Nancy and I went to The Mix, another bar, for show "Gershwin's Piano" by Rob Fisher while Joan went to Tim and Sue's "Lake Wobegone Trivia."
Sat in the library for a while, only quiet place we could find, then went to the Ocean Bar for Sara and Sean Watkins and a whiskey!
Dinner as usual with John and Sandy, then I went to the Ocean Bar to get seats for the DiG sisters. More than a half hour before the performance I got almost the last two seats together! This is getting silly, they need to move more performances into the showroom.
Turned out I grabbed seats right in front of a speaker! Too loud for me, I bailed halfway through the first song! Nancy stuck it out a while longer.
Thursday 8/25 Gulf of Alaska and Hubbard Glacier
Gentle rocking and rolling during the night, good sleeping! 60 degrees, rain and fog in the morning, but who cares, at sea all day today. Breakfast in the Lido, then Joan headed down to do laundry, Nancy went to do her daily Spanish lesson, and I snagged comfy recliner in the library.
Excellent lunch in the Pinnacle Grille. Trying to download a book on Nancy's kindle, but internet seems to be down. Watched part of APHC movie in our cabin and about 3 o'clock we pulled up in front of the Hubbard Glacier. Really spectacular view of a huge glacier with a lot of ice floating in the water. Ship spent about an hour slowly turning in front of the glacier, about a half mile away! Low clouds, but still a great view!
We had drinks in the Ocean Bar while we waited for show time. Excellent musical show tonight, "Duets" although the a lot were trios or more. Good show.
Word from a "reliable source" whose initials are GK, that there WILL be another cruise next year! Yeah! Amsterdam, Scotland, Norway in June. Good timing for us, so I guess we know what we will be doing in early summer.
Friday 8/26 Sitka.
Breakfast in room, then bus into town, about a ten minute drive. Another cruise ship out in the harbor apparently tendering.
Walked through town, stopped in nice bookshop/coffee shop. Browsed and had coffee. Bought a couple books and a daily calendar for 2017. Back to the ship for lunch in the Lido.
Relaxed and read for a couple of hours and then John and Sandy gave another private concert for us and two other couples. Rest of afternoon in Ocean Bar. Sara and Sean Watkins did a set in the Ocean Bar during the afternoon.
Show tonight was "A Broadway Sing-along" pretty good, and good music. Dinner and bed, lose an hour tonight going back onto Pacific time.
Saturday 8/27 At sea, headed for Victoria, BC
Slept in a bit, then Lido for breakfast. Grabbed three seats in the Ocean Bar for Fred's talk about sound. Funny, interesting and all over the place as usual. I'm tired and a bit punk this morning, relaxed while Nancy and Joan went to DiG sister's show. After a late lunch Nancy and I spent the afternoon in the comfy chairs in the library reading.
Evening show was APHC and they officially announced the cruise for next June, the 10th through the 24th. Sailing out of Rotterdam, then Edinburgh and Inverness in Scotland; then five stops in Norway, Trondheim, Alesund, Flam, Bergen (overnight), Oslo (overnight) and back to Rotterdam.
"Gala" dinner tonight, surf and turf. Good conversation, nothing of great interest this evening so off to bed.
Sunday 8/28 Victoria, BC last day
Do not arrive until 1 PM, so lazy morning, watched a late movie last night. Girls went to dining room for breakfast, I hit the Lido, then spent the morning in a comfortable chair in library, reading the book “Hand Troller” that I bought in Sitka. Nancy and Joan went to a couple of shows. Lunch in the Lido, then off on our tours. Joan went to the museum in downtown Victoria, Nancy and I went to the Victoria Butterfly Gardens and Butchart Gardens. Light rain and cool. Pretty gardens and an excellent tour of Victoria and environs on the way out and back to the ship.
Back at the ship we had a last drink in the Ocean Bar, then dinner and packing. Nice dinner with John and Sandy, then finished packing and bed. Final Captan’s Log for the trip showed just over 4,000 miles (3,606 Nautical Miles) for the entire trip.
Monday 8/29 Seattle
Off the ship with the first group, nice not to be dragging our bags with us! They offered a new “experimental” baggage plan for people flying out today. We gave them our flight info a few days ago and they checked us in for our flights and supplied baggage tags. We received our boarding passes and luggage tags Sunday evening. Put our bags outside the door Sunday night and picked them up in Tucson Monday evening! Worked great!
Cab to Pike Place Market. Found a nice place for breakfast, good oatmeal for Nancy (getting harder to find!) and a huge stack of pancakes for me, more than I could eat.
Walked around the market for a while, lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood. Most of the lower level shops not open yet, but interesting browsing the windows. A lot of really strange stuff, I often wonder what future archeologists will think about our civilization when they look at the incredible amount of useless gee-gaws we produce.
Strolled up the hill toward Blue Acre to pick up our box lunches. Stopped at Nordstrom to browse, no place for a guy to sit anywhere in the store! Nancy found a nice throw pillow, just the size and weight she has been looking for - and they will ship it for free! Light rail to the airport where we met Joan and had lunch, her flight a couple of hours before ours. TSA PreCheck really paid off, bypassed a HUGE line for security. We will have our box lunches on the plane on the way to San Diego.
Tuesday 8/30 Tucson
Got home about 11 last night, 85 degrees when we arrived. Slept late this AM then went to MacDonald’s for breakfast. Stopped at storage locker and picked up our laptops (left them there for safety instead off in the trailer,) then stopped at the bank to put passports in safe deposit box. Finally went by the house, windows are all in! Electrical wiring done as well. outside has insulation and chicken wire in place, ready for first coat of “mud.”
Back home we unpacked and Nancy did laundry. Went to Beyond Bread for lunch (and dinner,) then Nancy went to have a pedicure while I packed for the next trip1 Watched Formula One from last weekend. Managed to avoid seeing results until now. Off to Joan’s tomorrow to pick up the Jeep and head back for our next adventure!