Thursday, August 30, 2012

Alaska Vacation: Seattle

After our cruise was over, we had a day to sightsee in Seattle.  Turns out, we were all pretty wiped out from all the eating and sitting and tv-watching we did on the cruise.  So we didn't have tons of energy (or, in the case of a particular five-year-old, we had misdirected and misbehaving energy), so we didn't do much.

We headed downtown to the farmer's market to see the Pike Place Fish Market where they fish sellers (surely they're not really called mongers, are they?) throw fish to each other.  Fun enough.

We stood in line for abougt 40 minutes to ride this ferris wheel.

And we collected the following very valuable souvenirs:

We'll try again, Seattle, sometime when we're not so exhausted from 8 days of vacation.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Alaska Vacation: Victoria

We docked in Victoria, British Columbia one evening at 8pm.  Coop and I opted to stay on board the ship to building pillow forts, read some books, and go to bed.  Everyone else saw...

The Empress Hotel:

A water taxi:

The Provincial Capitol:

A totem pole of some sort:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Alaska Vacation: Misty Fjords

While Coop and I were enjoying a lumberjack show, Alan and his dad and nephew were here:

Alan explains:

The first visitors to Misty Fjords mistook this rock formation for a distant sailing ship, and were disappointed not to have been there first. It is deceptively tall--some 250 feet, half the height of the Washington Monument!

After a couple of hours on our boat, we reached the fjords. We wound in and around, looking at birds and seals and waterfalls. And yes, the fjords were misty--it's amazing how low the clouds are.

Native Indians marked their territory with petroglyphs. Below, you can see a one-hundred fifty year old petroglyph of the sun, a circle with rays of small dots, done in natural ink of some sort. This entire petroglyph was about the size of a beach ball. We saw evidence of a few others on the same rock wall. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Alaska Vacation: Lumberjacks!!

For our excursion in Ketchikan, I picked a lumberjack show!!  (Alan picked something boring with trees and water and animals.  See next post.)

The four lumerjacks competed in various lumberjack-y tasks like sawing and climbing and axing.  We cheered and boo/hissed and laughed (groaned) at their jokes. 

Oh, and log-rolling!!

The winner of each competition took a wood chip out to the audience.  Coop finally raised his hand and ended up with a log circle.  (Which we packed in our dirty laundry suitcase and flew back home to KS.)

Totally worth it!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Alaska Vacation: Sitka

Our second port was in Sitka.  We didn't sign up for an excursion in advance, so we mostly just walked around town.  It's a sleepy little town, with lots of Russian history.  And lots of souvenir shops and little kids selling rice krispie treats right off the dock for the cruise ship tourists.

According to the promotional material, this store is the "world's largest retailer of products that change color in the sun."  Alrighty then.

Our first stop was the book store, where we picked up an Alaskan book as well as some mysteries to read with Cooper (we raced through the four books we brought for him).


Cooper always wants "a souvenir to remember this journey."  We have some pretty serious conversations before we enter any store ("remember...we're not buying anything here.  And if there's whining, then what happens?"  "We leave with nothing."  "Right.").

He's gotten into this strange habit of picking up crap that he finds on the ground now.  It's cheaper, for sure.  But a little annoying and semi-disgusting sometimes.  This was his haul from Sitka:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Alaska Vacation: Whales

Our first excursion was a whale-watching tour in Juneau on a boat just like this one:

Jon, our naturalist, had lots of good information to share, along with a few funny jokes.  He was good.

You first spot a humpback whale by the blow -- the spray/mist of water from when the whale comes to the surface to breathe:

And then sometimes you can see the whale's back/body, and eventually the whale's tail (called a fluke) as it flips up and dives down below the water.  See it here?  Really tiny in the middle of the photo:

Coop walked around the boat and proudly announced that he had seen 27 whales.  I'm guessing the total number was about 13, but his count went up each time he looked out at the water.  The boat captain was impressed and let Coop come sit with him for a bit:

And then.  AND THEN.  We saw a pod of whales feeding, a process called bubble net feeding.  It's complicated.  Just google it for a description.

But the upshot is that there were about 13-15 whales all in one area.  It's tough to see in the photos, but they're there.

And the boat crew were all really, really pleased.  Apparently it's a rare sight.

As was the weather, by the way.  We only had one day of rain on the whole trip, and the locals were always commenting how lucky we got on the weather.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Alaska Vacation: Juneau

Our first port was Juneau:

We took a bus ride/tour through town to a whale watching excursion (see next post), and then went to the Mendenhall Glacier:

Coop and I spent most of the time climbing this rock hill by the visitor's center:

We finally walked the trail down to the glacier photo op:

Monday, August 06, 2012

Alaska Vacation: Food

The food situation on the cruise was great.  One more formal(ish) dining option, but also a mall food court-like set up with tons of different options for us who wanted to be casual (or who had a 5-year-old to appease).

One evening, there was a BBQ.  Coop dug into the ribs:

We got all gussied up for a "formal" dinner one night:

And by far the biggest hit:  dessert.  Specifically ice cream.  More specifically, chocolate.  With sprinkles:

Coop's had a rough transition back to normal eating.  Our first meal home, he finished his food and then promptly asked for candy.  Um.... no.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Alaska Vacation: On Board

Cooper and I taking a silly picture in the hallway ceiling mirror:

Watching the ocean:

In the hot tub:
(I was a little disappointed -- none of the pools were shallow enough so that Cooper could touch bottom.  So we spent far less time in the pools than I had anticipated.)

Checking out the wake:

Just being cute:

Land ho!

Alan watching the islands in Alaska's inside passageway:

The grandpas entertaining Cooper by seeing if he could catch the dollar.  He did.  And then he spent the rest of the day asking every shop owner (we were on land that day) what he could buy for $1.  Unfortunately, not much.

Mom and I did a 5K walk as part of the Race for the Cure series.  We walked 10 laps around Deck 3.

A towel puppy, courtesy of Heri, our cabin steward:

By the last day, we were climbing the walls of our little room.  Literally.