Alaskan Cruise, Day One, Getting to Vancouver

We made it to the hotel! Long trip yesterday broken up into 2 airplanes. The first one was small but fortunately only a little over an hour to Montreal. Then we had to get all our bags and do the customs/immigration routine. The second plane was much longer and huge - one of those 7 seat across planes - and it was so cold. Luckily, I had brought a blanket for just that possible problem so I used that AND one that the plane gave me and it was still so cold.

After landing and getting all our baggage, we were waiting for some shuttle bus to take us to the hotel. We waited for quite a while then Tom decided we'd take a taxi and went to get the (prepaid) money back. Of course they didn't want to do that but he finally prevailed.

We were hauling the cart with the luggage towards the taxi stand but we passed some airport limos and decided to take one of those.

I don't know what possessed me but it was so comfortable in there and it was a stretch limo so it was pretty big but I didn't put on my seatbelt. The first and only time I did that - and never will again!

Of course, it was rush hour and the driver made a sudden stop. I ended up on the seat across from me and both knees and my pinky finger hurt but thank goodness it wasn't worse. I crawled back to my seat and put that seatbelt on. Thank goodness there wasn't an actual crash or anything.

One of the thoughts that went through my mind was when we were on a smaller (Windjammer) cruise years ago, I fell backwards and hit the back of my head on a railing very hard. Later I was diagnosed with the Cushing's pituitary tumor and I even asked doctors if the hit could have contributed to that but none would commit to that. At dinner later, Tom said he had the same thoughts.

I'm still a bit sore today but that could be from just sitting so long on the plane yesterday.

So, we got to our hotel - http://www.vancouver.suttonplace.com/ - and took a little nap. There's a 3 hour time difference so we were able to get to dinner at a reasonable time (menu here: http://www.vancouver.suttonplace.com/restaurant/Dinner_Menu.htm ) I had the duck and was way too tired for the chocolate buffet.

So, that's it so far. A bit more excitement than I'd planned! Woke up early this morning, only because of the time change. I was watching the local news and by chance they had a picture of our ship coming into the pier http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada_Place That was kind of cool :)

So I guess we're going out a bit to look around Vancouver then head for the ship. We board between 1 and 4 PM and depart at 5.

And that's it for me so far! Hopefully, I'm done with adventures!



Alaskan Cruise, Day Two, The big day arrives...

I couldn't post these from the ship, so I kept a record in a Word document and I'll post a new day's worth of memories every day.

The big day arrives…

June 22, 2007, Vancouver

In the morning, while Tom was checking his email, I talked to my best friend Alice (Dearest on Power Surge [http://www.power-surge.com] and Cushing’s boards). She asked my about our stateroom and I mentioned that it would have been neat to have a balcony but that hadn’t been one of the options with the free cruise.

Even though all the official Celebrity papers said to arrive at the dock no earlier than 1:00 for embarkation, I’d read in several books that you could go at least an hour earlier than that.

So, after eating breakfast at Denny’s (how exotic is that!) we checked out of the hotel at noon and took a cab to the airport. We got to the pier by about 12:30 and there was already a short line.

I’d done all the “paperwork” online so boarding was very fast and easy.

There was a bit of confusion at one step though â€กฐ the person checking us in couldn’t find our stateroom even though I had it on all my printouts. Turns out we had gotten an upgrade so we had a new cabin number.

Boarding the Mercury

We were on the ship, eating a wonderful buffet lunch (and I was drinking a Bahama Mama in a souvenir glass. Why in the world would an Alaskan cruise serve Caribbean drinks? LOL)

I noticed on the Celebrity Today! daily newsletter that the lunch had started at noon so they really expected people earlier than their official press had indicated.

After lunch our stateroom was ready. We opened the door and saw…a balcony! I immediately called Alice but she assured me that she hadn’t done it, it was some inhouse (inship?) upgrade. She had called to order us some Bon Voyage gifts so she knew about the change before we did. The stateroom had a floor-to-ceiling glass-paneled door, the private balcony, king-size bed, interactive television, 24-hour room service, telephone with voicemail, sofa bed, bathrobes, sitting area, VCR, and private bath. (172 sq. ft., veranda 42 sq. ft.) No internet, though. I'm not sure why there was a VCR rather than a DVD but we probably wouldn't have had time to watch either.

Unfortunately, the baggage handlers didn’t know about the room change so it took a while to get our luggage. Some went to our original stateroom. Apparently, the new residents didn’t want our stuff!

The view from the balcony was really neat â€กฐ there was a very active 4-pod heliport across the harbor and ferries were constantly going by. But when we got out and about and up a few decks there was even more to see. There were seaplanes landing and taking off all the time, lots of tugboats, barges and other cruise ships. A very busy harbor.

Of course we had to have the mandatory emergency lifeboat drill at 4:15. Seems that that has to be done now before the ship can leave port.

5PM came and we were supposed to set sail. There were some people we waited for, presumably who had booked their flights through Celebrity and their plane was late. They wouldn’t hold up a cruise ship for someone like us!

While we were waiting, it got cold so I went back for a jacket, then it started to rain so I traded my sandals for running shoes.

Another Celebrity ship left right after we did and they seem to be going to Alaska, too.

Interesting note to me, since I’m a Scottish person. I could overhear the people on the next balcony and they’re from Edinburgh!

At 8 PM we went to see a show, a preview of coming attractions. The theater is very nice, professional, and the show was fun. We got to see a big of the Celebrity Singers and Dancers, hear the band, "meet" the Cruise Director, Donnell Davis and the rest of the entertainment team.

Then, late dinner for us. Tonight is "casual" dress - more like my normal dressy stuff. I had a choice of dress, pant suit or "sporty outfit". Tom's choice was sports shirt and slacks.

We were on the second floor of the Manhattan Restaurant This is is located at the aft of the ship with a two-deck-high bank of windows overlooking the stern and large windows on each side. Fantastic views! There was a live string quartet, and the whole thing was very classy.

Our tablemates at table 686 were John and Cath from Perth, Scotland and Austin and Mary from Ireland, now living in Canada (more on them later!).

After a bit of small talk, the discussions got hot and heavy, all the stuff you’re not supposed to discuss at dinner. Politics and religion!

Both the Scottish couple and I are Protestants and Tom and the Irish couple are Roman Catholics. Actually, Tom once was becoming a priest. Mary (the Irish woman) had been studying to become a nun in a French convent and her husband had been a student priest in an Irish seminary for 4 years.

Since I’m not as big a thinker as all these other folks, we also discussed Cushing’s a bit :)

Dinner was wonderful, of course. Our waiter for the week was Ponte, from Peru.

At dinner

At dinner

When we got to the room, there were white wine (Riesling) and chocolate covered strawberries sent by Alice. She’s such a wonderful friend!

Back out to the balcony for a bit then I headed for bed. Out the window, I could see that we passed two ships. They seemed so close! Turned out we passed through a narrow straight and they were very close.

Then, off to a sound sleep. We sail all day tomorrow - our first port, Juneau is 788 nautical miles.

Sunset was at 9:22 PM





Alaskan Cruise, Day 3, At Sea

Saturday June 23, 2007, Sunrise 5:12 AM

At sea

Open sea, kind of gray day and I can feel the movement of the ship a bit more than yesterday.

We started off with a late breakfast, arriving almost at the end of the seating. More interesting people. Most seem to cruise a lot. One couple from Canada was on a "Four over Five" plan that allows them to work for four years and have the fifth off. Their jobs will be waiting for them when they get back.

We wandered around the ship some more. We sat by the pool a bit, under wool blankets. Some people, mostly kids, were in the hot tubs.

Tom got some Airbonne for his budding cold and we got a Celebrity expandable wheeled bag just in case our suitcases aren't big enough for the trip back.

Lunchtime, then the library. I got an interesting looking book (The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart) by an author (Lawrence Block) I had never read before.

Michael called and it was nice hearing from him. He got a new apartment for the next part of his NYC internship and he's still going to be staying in Brooklyn.

Time for a major nap for me. I'm w-a-a-a-y behind on my nap taking and we lost 3 hours when we came out west. When we get to Alaska tomorrow, we lose another hour. We get to Juneau at 1 PM tomorrow. While I napped, Tom went to a meeting. As I type he's napping so we're both catching up on much needed sleep.

We did sit out on the balcony a bit ago. A log floated by and there were two seagulls on it, hitching a ride. There's also another cruise ship following us! Just like rush hour. On both sides of the ship there are magnificent snow-topped mountains.

Tonight is formal night for dinner so I'll have to see if my nearly-too-small pale pink dress still fits. After that, there's a show at 11. I hope I can stay up that late because it sounds good.

The Scottish couple didn't join us for dinner. I hope that was because they didn't do formal and not because they couldn't take the dinner conversation!

Tonight we found out that the Irish couple, Mary and Austin, run The Spiritual Centre for Dynamic Living in Vancouver. (http://www.dynamiccentre.com/Home.htm) They're most interesting to talk to and they were very interested in hearing more about Cushing's (I think you know the link! LOL)

We did make it to the show (A Touch of Broadway) after dinner, a mix of songs from several Broadway shows including The Producers, Hairspray, the Lion King, Gershwin and Cabaret. The show was fantastic! They change their outfits so fast and seem so versatile. Four singers and about a dozen dancers plus a small orchestra. The 1,000-seat Celebrity Theater is on two levels, and features a computer-controlled laser-effects system, based on a 9W argon laser and a 2.5W krypton laser, capable of generating as many as 16 million different colors. They used this system to fantastic effect, as well as a revolving floor which also allowed people to rise from below.

At the end we were reminded to change our clocks back another hour at midnight because we were going into Alaska Time. I always assumed that Alaska was on Pacific Time but I guess not! So this computer time says it's 11:56 AM, my watch that I'm tired of changing says it's 8:56 AM and my always-updated cellphone says it's 7:56 AM.

I think my sleep/nap schedule is going to be so confused after this cruise!

The 21st was Summer Solstice and we're heading towards 24-hour sunlight. Last night the sun set at 9:22PM. Tonight it will be 10:20PM. According to today's ship news, the sun rose at 3:53 AM this morning.

NOTE: Any sideways pictures are Tom's! I'll try to fix them...eventually





Alaskan Cruise, Day 4, Juneau

Sunday June 24, 2007. Sunrise 3:53 AM

Juneau Official Skagway info from http://www.alaskainfo.org:
Juneau, Alaska's capital city is the third largest city in the state. Like Alaska, Juneau is full of contrasts, a sophisticated cosmopolitan city in the heart of the Tongass National Forest. Nestled at the base of towering mountains overlooking the Gastineau Channel, the community's rich culture and history is displayed throughout the town. Juneau has a vibrant urban feel with great dining, shopping and lodging, while being surrounded by jaw-dropping scenic vistas. Speaking of dining, sampling a city’s local fare is a big part of any vacation and a visit to Juneau delivers tastes that delight the senses. From Alaska salmon, halibut and crab to sourdough bagels, homemade fudge, and award-winning coffee and beer, Juneau can satisfy even the most discriminating palate.

Travelers can expect a host of activities from wild to mild. Choose hiking miles of scenic trails through temperate rainforest, tidal beaches and up mountains capped by alpine meadows, or take to the air for stunning views of the coastal mountains and the Juneau Icefield. Helicopters and floatplanes give visitors an exhilarating view and make it possible get a sense of the vast wilderness surrounding Juneau. Backcountry camping, bird watching, bear viewing and berry picking can all happen in the same trip!

A stay in Juneau is not complete without some time spent on the water watching graceful humpback whales or hearing your fishing line race out as a King Salmon makes a run for it with your bait. Kayaking gives “up close and personal” a new meaning when quietly paddling past a sea lion haul-out. And day boat tours offer trips to near by Tracy Arm Fjord (said to rival Glacier Bay with its intimate, yet dramatic glacial landscape.)

We look forward to welcoming you to Alaska’s capital city and vacation experience that you’ll savor for a lifetime.


Tom seems to be fighting a cold right now. I sure hope I don't catch it, but I probably will. I usually get this stuff from anyone who has it.

1PM we dock and go ashore in Juneau for our first time in Alaska. WooHooo!

First stop, Alaskan T-Shirt Company where we spent nearly $200 on fleece shirts, waterproof jackets, t-shirts, hats and such, some for us to wear on the trip and some for gifts for Tom's friends. We took that stuff back onboard and set out again.

Mt. Robert's TramWe hadn't signed up for any of the excursions so we took the tram to the top of Mt Roberts.

http://www.goldbelttours.com/travel/day_trips/juneau/tram.html

The Tlingit Indian-owned and run tram took us about 2,000 feet up the mountain. Fantastic views and lots of pictures. I was amazed by the amount of snow up there. Many mosquitoes, too!

We saw a short film about the tribe and learned - and forgot - a few key phrases. I do have a paper with some of the words and pronunciations. They have more sounds than even German does: http://www.tlingitlanguage.org/

July 2, 2007 in Tlingit is Jinkaat ka nas'gadooshú yaawaxee yáa yagiyee yá Xáat Dísi

From the summit you could see the Chilkat Mountains to the north, down the Gastineau Channel to the lands and waterways of the south, west to Douglas Island, and east into Silver Bow Basin where gold was discovered near the head of Gold Creek in 1880.

There were several hiking trails from the nature center, some to an alpine flower forest and some to a rain forest. We didn't do any walking but took the tram back down.

I was so tired I took a nap back onboard. Then an early dinner - couldn't wait for the main dining room, so we did the buffet. Apparently John and Cath were the only ones at our table this evening.

We didn't see the show which was "Australian Singing Sensation Darren Williams" (http://darrenwilliamsmusic.com/) so I don't know how sensational he is, or is not.

Tom, still with his cold, was asleep before we left port at 10PM. I woke up just after we left port and took some fantastic (I hope!) pictures out the balcony of frozen waterfalls coming down the side of the mountains and the gorgeous sunset.

We sail 101 nautical miles to Skagway

Sunset: 10:08 PM





Monday June 25, 2007, Sunrise 3:45 AM

Skagway Official Skagway info from http://www.alaskainfo.org:
A place exists in Alaska where the past lives on, where the cries of “gold in the Yukon” still echo from steep canyon walls, where the sounds of barroom pianos and boomtown crowds ring out in the night. A place where the romance and excitement of yesteryear linger around every street corner, every bend in the trail.

Skagway... The wide Pacific lying at it’s door, the historic little community, known as the “Gateway to the Klondike,” occupies a lovely site with snow-capped and glaciated peaks as a backdrop. A port of call on south east Alaska’s Inside Passage route , this waterfront town, with it’s pervasive frontier flavour, attracts thousands of visitors annually via road, rail and seaway.

Designated a historic district by the US National Park Service, the area along Broadway from First to Seventh Avenues contains forty to fifty turn-of-the-century wooden structures, housing hotels, saloons and shops restored to evoke the days of the Gold Rush. The former railroad depot, a handsome 1898 building, serves as the Park Service visitor centre and departure point for walking tours conducted by park rangers.

So, join us in celebrating our Gold Rush past as we begin our second century being the gateway to the Klondike. Spend some time in our historical city, visit the surrounding wilderness areas or take in some of our events!


I woke up again sometime around 3AM when it was light again but managed to sleep a bit more. The plan had been to get up at 6 so we could have breakfast before we set out for the day. We missed breakfast. We were to meet our tour at 7:15 AM. Amazingly, we were first on the bus. I don't think we've ever been first for anything!

Our bus driver was a very good driver who told us all about the history of Skagway and the surrounding areas. Our first stop was Liarsville (http://www.klondiketours.com/goldcampshow.html), a tent village for gold miners. It was called Liarsville because many newspaper reporters were there publishing tales of how "easy" it was to find gold and become rich. No Way! The locals did a show for us and let us pan for gold. Of course, most everyone found some little gold flakes. A very hard way to make a living!

White Pass We made our way up the White Pass on the Klondike Highway to a 3,000 ft waterfall, Dead Horse Gulch (a lot of pack horses couldn't make it the whole way), the Moore Bridge, Yukon Suspension Bridge at Tutshi Canyon and up over the West White Pass into Fraser British Columbia Canda, the same way that the miners had to walk or go with pack animal and 2,000 pounds of supplies. Much easier by heated bus! It was very scenic and we took lots of pictures.

White Pass At the summit of that, in Fraser, British Columbia, we got on the White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR) Railroad train.

White Pass The WP&YR was originally built to help those miners who were hauling the ton of supplies up the pass but they finished building the railroad a year after the gold rush had ended. There's more info about this railroad at www.wpyr.com We went over trestle bridges, through tunnels, over glaciers. Definitely a worthwhile trip.

WP&YR webcam: http://www.whitepassrailroad.com/multimedia/webcam.html

Here's a bit of our train trip. Tom took this from the platform between the cars:



Back in Skagway we stopped in the train shop but all I got was coffee, my first of the day. Another Alaskan T-Shirt Company for yet more fleece and stuff and hiked back to the ship.

Tom took a little nap and I read for a while. Then buffet lunch time.

Tom went out to a meeting and I napped for a while. He came back and I started typing this again - and he napped. What old fuddy-duddies!

Time to get dressed for tonight's show - dual acrobatics, Jean-Claude and Gaby - followed by "casual" dinner. Any dinner that requires anything more than jeans is hardly casual to me!

Sunset 10:23. Hubbard Glacier is 300 nautical miles





Tuesday June 26, 2007, Sunrise 3:59AM

Hubbard Glacier

The show last night was fantastic! The aerialists, Jean-Claude and Gaby, a husband and wife team, were incredible hanging off scarves, swinging out over the audience, he hung from her feet, she rolling into a ball around his shoulders then falling straight down over his body to the floor. They said that they had a 3 year old child on the ship. I cannot believe that anyone that skinny could have ever had children - or the strength to do some of the things she did. Billed as similar to Circe de Soleil, they were mesmerizing and breathtaking...and sometimes scary. A truly wonderful show. Wow!

This was Hubbard Glacier day. It was so cold and windy but well worth it. A staff member came around with hot chocolate which was also well worth it. I was surprised by some of the icebergs - they seemed so small. I always assumed that icebergs were usually Titanic sized.

There was a naturalist, Dr. Ken Johnson, on board. He did some nice narration over the loud speakers telling us where to look when we were near the glacier. He provided a lot of good information and I found his tips very helpful.

After a while of the cold wind, I discovered that I could go inside the Navigator club where it was warm and all windows - 14-foot tall panoramic windows.

There was a ship directly in front of the glacier and that captain took too long there so our ship couldn't get up close enough when the tides changed :( Oh well - maybe we'll have to come back!

Some people reported seeing whales. I saw a couple seals but that was it.

Formal NightDinner was formal again - I wore my new red dress and everyone looked so spiffy we bought the group picture as well as the one of just Tom and me.

Formal Night The dinner group: Cath and John; Us; Mary and Austin

The show was "Dance Around The World" which featured well...dances from many countries. Lots of costume changes. The Aerialists were back, too. A very enjoyable evening.

There was also Le Grand Buffet at 12:15 am preceeded by photo taking at 11:45 PM but we missed both. I understand that they were worth staying up for but I was just exhausted.

Sunset 10:42 PM



Wednesday June 27, 2007 Sunrise 4:05 AM

Ketchikan Official Ketchikan info from http://www.alaskainfo.org:
Ketchikan’s name comes from the Tlingit word “Kichxaan”. The area’s true first settlers established a summer fish camp along the shores of Ketchikan Creek. In 1900 Ketchikan was incorporated and today 14,000 people live, work and play here.

A scenic town perched along the shores of coastal mountains and surrounded by protected waterways, Ketchikan is a popular cruise destination, as well as a wonderful spot for travelers who want to experience wilderness and adventure. Ketchikan’s nickname, The Salmon Capital of the World comes from its heyday as a salmon canning center. That abundance of salmon continues to provide outstanding sportfishing opportunities for residents and visitors alike.

Native cultural influences continue today- majestic totem poles can be viewed on downtown streets, in local parks and museums. Ketchikan’s geographical location in the heart of the Tongass National Forest, gives the town close to 160 inches of rain every year. Rain, the locals will tell you is why the fishing is unmatched, the wildlife is abundant and why the trees are so green (just try and count how many shades of green you’ll see)!

Visitors will find the people friendly and a multitude of services available to make your trip a memorable one. Fishing lodges, hotels, B&Bs and vacation rentals offer a wide variety of accommodation choices. Restaurants, cafes and casual dining spots are sure to entice you with Alaskan seafood and more standard fare. Sightseeing options range from fully guided tours on land, sea and in the air, to do it yourself bike and car rentals. Enjoy the bustle of downtown or retreat to the wilderness. Fill your days with activity or just soak up the fresh air and scenic beauty. The options for planning your dream vacation are as limitless as your imagination!


We were signed up for Alaska Amphibious (doubles as a boat and a bus) Tours AKA Duck (http://www.akduck.com) so we headed for the Duck as soon as we disembarked. Unfortunately, our ship was a bit late so we took the duck a bit late, too.

This was a 90 minute sightseeing tour through Ketchikan and the scenic harbor of the Tongass Narrows. We actually saw a bald eagle!

This town is built pretty much on pilings on the water. Ketchikan is set on a bluff over these pilings and there are very steep wooden stairways to many of the homes. Some of these stairways are actually named as streets to they have to be maintained by the government. There are no road or rail connections to the rest of North America so everything comes in by air or sea.

floatplaneWhile I was in the ladies room, Tom signed us up for a Seaplane bush plane to the Misty Fjords (http://www.taquanair.com/pages/tours_mistyfjords.htm). Me, who is usually terrified of flying.

Unfortunately, we had to list our weight before boarding so that the pilot could balance the plane properly. I lied just a little bit...

We boarded a 6 passenger DeHavilland Beaver float plane and we were off. Misty Fjords is just incredible. Misty Fjords National Monument is a wilderness of galciers, waterfalls, lakes and sheer granite cliffs that rise thousands of feet about narrow waterways carved during the ice ages centuries ago. Our pilot landed on a lake and Tom, the pilot and the other family of 4 got out and onto the pontoons. I was sure I would slip on the narrow steps and silde into the water so I stayed on the plane. The people who had gone before us saw a family of bears but we didn't see any :(

The Misty Fjords National Monument is about sixty miles from Ketchikan, on the eastern side of Revillagigedo Island and the mainland opposite. It's a 3,570 square mile National Monument which straddles the 2,000-foot deep waters of narrow Behm Canal and spans rich marine, coastal and mountain forest ecosystems.

The highlights of the Misty Fiords are Rudyerd Bay and Walker Cove, each of which winds miles into the mountainous coastal mainland. Thousand-foot waterfalls zigzag down spectacular cliffs, their flow augmented in the spring and early summer by melting snow, and fed throughout the year by the copious amounts of rain that define Southeast Alaska's coastal climate.

floatplane

We did it!!!

Dinner - informal! Hooray! The show was a comedian, Ron Pearson (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0669374/) but we were too tired to go.

Sunset 9:32PM, clocks go one hour forward





Thursday June 28, 2007, sunrise 4:11 am

At sea

When I woke up, I saw a note from Tom that he was reading on the deck. With so many decks, there was no way I would ever find him so I went to the cooking demonstration and staff presentation.

They did the cooking demo like Iron Chefs, with the chefs rising from below the stage of the Celebrity Theater amidst smoke, lights and music. I took a bit of video of that and of the whole staff coming onto stage amidst wild applause.

Celebrity T-shirts were on sale so I got a couple of those, too. We could have gotten some from a Panama Canal cruise but I thought that was pushing it a bit :)

We went up to the Navigator lounge to read and relax a bit. The drink of the day was Raspberry cappuccino so I had one. At 3 the kids had a talent show.

Then we had to start packing up :( We were supposed to get our luggage outside out door by 11:00PM

This night's show was And The Winner Is... with songs and dances that have won awards over the years.

Dinner was very dramatic with thunder and lightning. Nothing like being on a metal ship on the water in lightning! We all said our goodbyes and had final hugs.

Sunset 9:19PM





Friday, June 29, 2007

Disembarkation day

We were supposed to dock at 7:00 AM in Vancouver. Maybe we did, but I wasn't awake to see. I had a little sore throat - uh oh.

Our time to disembark was 9:45 in the Celebrity Theater. We headed downstairs (downdecks?) to the library and ran into Mary and Austin in the elevator. Our of all the people onboard, there they were. After returning my (unfinished) book to the library, we finished the last little bit of packing. I took 4 books with me and borrowed one and didn't finish any of them. Weird for me.

They called our time to go at 9:30 and that process was very easy. On the way to the taxi we ran into - yes - Mary and Austin!

We were at the hotel by 10:30 http://www.pacificpalisadeshotel.com/ Unfortunately, we couldn't check in until 12:30 or 1 so we were going to take a bus tour of Vancouver. Tom thought he was signing up for one of those double-decker busses like they have in London. What we did was http://www.vancouvertours.com/tours_2.html

Highlights of North Shore sightseeing tour

* Cross Lions Gate Bridge, through Stanley Park to the North Shore. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lions_Gate_Bridge

* Capilano Fish Hatchery http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capilano_River_Regional_Park The hatchery offers educational displays explaining the type of work is done there, as well as basic education about the life cycles of the fish in the area. There's also a cross-section display of an active fish ladder. During spawning seasons, the fish ladder is heavily used by fish in the area that use it to bypass the dam. We actually saw a couple fish jumping. Amazing! Many beautiful photo ops there, too. Unfortunately, I didn't know we were going to do anything like this so my camera was at the hotel.

* Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park http://www.capilanosuspensionbridge.com/ We crossed the world's longest suspension foot bridge (originally built in 1889, stretches 450 feet (137m) across and 230 feet (70m) above Capilano River.) and all I could think of was The Bridge of San Luis Rey http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bridge_of_San_Luis_Rey I was absolutely exhausted when I got to one end and didn't know if I'd make it back. I would have liked to do the Treetops Adventure (seven suspension bridges through the evergreens taking you up to 100 feet (30m) above the forest floor) which looked very cool, but I was out of energy. I did make it back but had to rest up while Tom got me a T-shirt that said I survived The Capilano Suspension Bridge. Then our tour bus driver gave us certificates that said the same so I guess it's a big deal.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

* Grouse Mountain Skyride. http://www.grousemountain.com/ We took another tram to a viewpoint 1,200 meters (3,700 feet) above the city. It was freezing cold up there and raining. We were completely unprepared for this trip so I had my sandals on and a light jacket. Tom was wearing shorts and a short sleeved shirt when we saw "The World Famous Lumberjack Show at Grouse Mountain" http://www.grousemountain.com/ent_lumsho.cfm

Recreating the historic world of a logging camp, two lumberjacks will dazzle and amaze you with their skills, tricks and showmanship. Among the challenges are a 60-foot tree climb, an axe-throwing competition, and the always exhilarating log-rolling. Glad we didn't see this in Alaska although we would have been better prepared clothing wise.

* Capilano Reservoir, source of Vancouver's drinking water. http://www.johnharveyphoto.com/CapilanoRiver/PanoComposite.html I said enough is enough and stayed on the bus. Everyone said it was beautiful, though.

* We cross Vancouver Harbour on the SeaBus from Lonsdale Quay Market. http://www.trailcanada.com/canada-guides/vancouver-transit-seabus.asp These were the ferries that we took pictures of the first day of the cruise. Now we took pictures of the Mercury as it was sailing with a new group of people. Waaaaah

The Seabus links North Vancouver to downtown to Vancouver in just 12 minutes. The two double ended catamaran ferries seat up to 400 passengers and cross the Burrard Inlet from Waterfront Station, by Canada Place to Lonsdale Quay on the North Shore.

We got back to the hotel, exhausted, about 6:30 PM. I was starting to really feel the cold coming on so I napped a bit while Tom checked his email.

We went out to dinner - quite expensive (http://www.odoulsrestaurant.com/dinner.htm) after free food for a week - and I couldn't eat much. I was just too tired from the day. And we had to get up early the next morning. 4:30 AM to be exact.





Saturday, June 30, 2007

On our way to the airport at 5AM. Our flight was at 7:30 and we had to be there 2 hours early for an international flight. At least we could clear customs in the airport in Vancouver.

It turned out that our "direct flight" involved an equipment change in Phoenix. The new plane was on another concourse so I'm not quite shure how this was a direct flight other than we kept our same seat assignments.

I tried to sleep most of the time but it was so uncomfortable and I was in a middle seat. I assume the people on either side of me will have my cold soon.

We got into Reagan (National) Airport 8 PM (5 PM Vancouver time) and I was ready to just lie down on the floor and forget about coming home. I was exhausted, my eyes were running, I was sneezing and coughing.

We did get home and Tom went out and bought some dinner at Boston Market but I couldn't eat. I was in bed by about 9:30. I slept until 1PM and woke up with a raging cold. Makes the trip almost not worth it.



NOTE: No more pictures, sideways or rightways :)



Alaskan Cruise, floatplane followup one

This is the company we flew with (but not our pilot) ...

http://www.comcast.net/news/national/index.jsp?cat=DOMESTIC&fn=/2007/07/25/723183.html

5 Die in Alaska Sightseeing Plane Crash
By RACHEL D'ORO, Associated Press Writer>
July 24, 2007

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A pilot and two couples taking a side-trip from an Alaska cruise were killed when their sightseeing plane crashed in the mountains of Misty Fiords National Monument, state troopers said Wednesday.

Coast Guard helicopter crews at the heavily forested site were told by searchers late Tuesday that there were no survivors, Coast Guard Lt. j.g. George Adams said.

The single-engine floatplane, a de Havilland Beaver, had left Ketchikan shortly before 1:30 p.m. for a tour over Misty Fiords.

Alaska State Troopers said early Wednesday that pilot Joseph H. Campbell, 56, of Ketchikan, was flying the plane with cruise passengers William F. Eddy and Jeanne J. Eddy, both 59 and from Jacksonville, Fla.; and Paul J. McManus, 60, and Marianne M. McManus, 56, of Leicester, Mass.

A dispatcher for Taquan Air, the Ketchikan-based flight operator, reported the plane missing after trying to contact the pilot for 20 minutes without success, said Len Laurance, a Taquan spokesman.

Searchers spotted the wreckage in the area where an aircraft distress signal had been picked up, near the south arm of Rudyerd Bay about 35 miles northeast of Ketchikan. Early reports put the plane at an elevation of 2,400 feet, but Adams said the wing portion was located higher than the fuselage, indicating that the aircraft slid down after impact.

The four passengers had been traveling on the Sun Princess, a Princess Cruise Lines ship that was on the second day of a seven-day trip from Seattle. The vessel left Ketchikan two hours after its scheduled departure of 4:30 p.m.

The cruise ship company, a division of Carnival Corp., has cut off Taquan Air tours at this time, Princess spokeswoman Julie Benson said in a statement. Princess, based in Santa Clarita, Calif., also notified the families of the passengers.



Alaskan Cruise, another floatplane followup

This is another company...

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,293549,00.html

5 Killed in Alaskan Plane Crash, 4 Survive

Friday , August 17, 2007

AP

KETCHIKAN, Alaska â€กฑ

A small airplane crashed near this island city in southeast Alaska killing five people, authorities said.

There were four survivors in the crash Thursday, including a 2-year-old girl, Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said.

Identifications of those aboard were not immediately available.

Three of the four were to be transported to hospitals in the U.S. mainland for further treatment of burns, Ketchikan Public Safety Director Rich Leipfert told the Ketchikan Daily News. Information about the fourth survivor was not immediately available.

Leipfert said the SeaWind Aviation plane crashed into a tree at Traitors Cove, about 25 miles north of Ketchikan. Jerry Kiffer with the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad said the plane went down on land about 200 feet from shore.

Peters said it couldn't be immediately confirmed that the plane hit a tree, but several trees were burning after the crash.

The cause was under investigation. Peters said at the time of the crash, high winds unexpectedly came up, but it couldn't immediately be determined if that was a factor.

Darkness and worsening weather ended recovery efforts Thursday night. Kiffer said the bodies would be recovered Friday. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigators were headed to the scene of the crash, said Allen Kenitzer, an FAA spokesman.

Investigators will be looking at a multiple of possible causes, including weather at the time of the crash, the plane's flight and maintenance logs, and the pilot's ratings and medical records.

Kenitzer said all the variables that could have affected the flight will be considered.

"They will try to find out what really happened," Kenitzer said Friday.

SeaWind Aviation's Web site lists its only aircraft as a deHavilland Beaver floatplane. The company offers bear viewing and sightseeing tours, including flights to nearby Misty Fiords National Monument.

Last month, five people were killed in another small plane crash near Ketchikan. The pilot of the Taquan Air float plane and four sightseers were killed July 24 in the mountains of Misty Fiords.

Earlier this month, four members of a New Jersey family were killed when their single-engine plane crashed into a home and set it ablaze in Sitka, also in southeast Alaska.





Always writing, always on the computer...