Alaska/British Columbia

Ketchikan, Alaska

Tuesday, 7-14-09 Ketchikan, Alaska: had a long morning on our feet in Ketchikan, which we chose to explore on our own. LOTS of tourist shops. A few good art shops. The 1st one we visited was near the ship & away from downtown. Elsie [Gale] (says that website will be up shortly) is a Haida weaver and she weaves on a “gravity” loom in which the warp hangs loose from a top bar and she controls the tension with her weaving. It looks very difficult. The spruce root and cedar basketry is stunning and I wished so much to buy a Haida woven hat but they cost hundreds of dollars.

We walked downtown and went through the SE Alaska Discovery Center [one of the visitor’s centers for the Tongass National Forest], then up along Ketchikan Creek where we stopped to pick up some pebbles and to pet a lovable orange cat on our way to the Totem Heritage Center.

Then shopping at Creek St. over and along Ketchikan Creek – bought coffee and salmonberry jelly and spruce tip jelly and birch syrup at Sam McGee’s for gifts or souvenirs. We also bought a T-shirt for me & a fleece jacket for Sandy.

[I found an old Handwoven Design booklet at Parnassus Books there, too – always happy to support indie bookstores. I’ll have more to say about supporting local businesses in Alaska later.]

The houses & buildings are built up the steep mountainside and on wood pilings over the water.

On the way back, we stopped for salmon chowder and cornbread at Alaska Fish House – so delicious, more like stew – smoked salmon and corn in the cornbread. [In hindsight, my favorite meal, and only one of two “local” meals. I would pay money for that cornbread recipe.]

Saw a salmon spawning and a couple of bald eagles.

back on board – had a few drinks in the Observation Lounge, kicked back in comfy chairs with books. [This became our favorite place on the ship to just hang out, read, play cards, and look out the windows.] Met a fascinating couple from Colombia – Andres and Isabell – environmental scientist and economist. Then around 6:30 pm the ship passed through Snow Pass, a narrow place where we saw several whales from the bow.

hot-tubbing mid-afternoon! [run off by obnoxious LA businessman who talked a lot about stuff he didn’t know about, such as how California was bigger in size than Canada. This is why people like George Bush and Sarah Palin get elected to office. Also talked to a Canadian couple long enough about their health care system to convince me that ours is unnecessarily complicated and expensive.]

Dinner at Four Seasons and early to bed – exhausted and happy.

Alaska/British Columbia

British Columbian coast

July 13, 1009, Mon. British Columbian Coast.

Yesterday was a bit of a waste because we were so worn out. We took a brief nap after finding some food and then had to get up for a mandatory emergency drill. The cool air woke me up for a little while so I went up top and had a sangria with some delicious tapas. There was a barbeque beside the pool so I woke Sandy up and we ate a few ribs and walked around. I nearly fell asleep on a chaise lounge overlooking spectacular scenery. We gave up on staying awake and went to bed around 8 p.m. Slept about 12 hours!

Breakfast in Seven Seas room – very nice. I had smoked salmon benedict. I can see the potential for much weight gain this week.

Someone spotted a whale this morning but we missed it. We saw a couple of dolphins. Sandy decided to go back to the room to sleep some more and here I am on the aft top deck with a wool sweater on, taking the opportunity for journaling in solitude.

…….

Right now I can only see water and smooth waves. I want to see more! but the motion of the ship is relaxing. The sky is melded to the sea by fog. It is in the fifties and there is a pleasant cool breeze.

[This has become one of my favorite photos – at the time, I almost didn’t shoot it. A lesson learned!]

I was going to sketch but there are only ship scenes! I checked out the book I wanted to read from the ship library so I guess I’ll kick back with a mimosa and read Fearless Fourteen for a while.

…….

Around 6 pm – it’s hard to keep track of time b/c my cell phone’s time isn’t correct – according to it we have traveled back in time to 11/22/99.

We took a long nap this afternoon because I started getting really dizzy and it wasn’t the mimosa! We did see a lot of beautiful dolphins that were right up next to the ship. We ate (or I ate) some gumbo for lunch on the aft deck. It was very chilly.

…….

We have a nice spot here in the tapas bar next to a window on the 12th deck. Both of us had Malibu and pineapple juice and I’m having a “mangopolitan” now.

We have met two couples from Texas so far. Lots of Asians on the ship. So far we have shied away from the casino and the sales pitches.

I’m trying to strike a balance between not being stingy and not being foolish w/money. I can obsess over it but there is no reason that I shouldn’t have a great time!

I’m having flashes of middle earth. Very cloudy.

around 8:30 pm, listening to karaoke in the Observation Lounge – narrow passage & beautiful. Strangers in the Night by an elderly gentlemen, better than I thought I’d be able to tolerate!

[okay, I was a little looped by this point if I was enjoying the karaoke]

Dinner in Four Seasons – beef Wellington, roast duck, creme brulee

Alaska/British Columbia

Greensboro to Vancouver


[If you must be stuck in an airport for nine hours, as we were the following Sunday, you could do a lot worse than YVR. Beautiful artwork and architecture, and quite comfortable.]

“Arrival in Vancouver 7-12-09 Sun. Waiting for the shuttle to take us to the cruise ship, the Norwegian Sun. It’s about noonish. We have been awake for about 24 hours!!! The taxis at the airport are hybrids!”