A Travellerspoint blog

September 2015

Banff:

Tourist Mecca or Aussie Haven in the Snow?

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Everyone assumed that if we were going to see the Canadian Rockies that we must be intending to take the Rocky Mountaineer with its amazing views through rooftop windows in the carriages, etc. But have you seen how much that costs???

So we took the more budget-friendly method and got a car. But it’s a big drive. So firstly we drove NorthEast into the Okanagan valley to a town called Vernon, lying nestled between two lakes. Our hotel was above Swan Lake and was actually really quite a nice place with helpful staff and a nice big apartment-like room. This is Canadian wine country, and it had been our plan to go winery exploring on our day’s break, after this 450km leg towards the Rockies. But with the sun shining in through the blinds, and peace and quiet, we decided to just prop and rest instead!

To do our bit towards the Okanagan wine industry, we did however return both nights to a tiny quirky little Italian family-run bistro. Here the food was great and we busily introduced ourselves to good Okanagan wines and smelt the smell of good coffee. (Even I can tell that filtered crap, they call coffee, is watery and abysmal). It’s amazing where you find people devoted to producing good food. Very unprepossessing outside, in a weird side street, in the middle of run down houses, and beside a train line, and still it was worth two visits!

After our day of rest, it was another big drive to Banff, 430 kms this time but much more winding and mountainous – funnily enough!

And My God can they DO MOUNTAINS in Canada!

To drive surrounded by awe-inspiring mountains all around you is a gift. It required frequent stops to get photos of the amazing views that kept blowing our tiny little minds.

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Banff, famous or infamous – I’m not sure which, is a funny place!

Most of all I was reminded of Noosa. Yes I know, one is hot and sunny and in the tropics, and the other cold and snowy! But somehow, even without the endless Hastings Street bars and restaurants (all with chairs facing the roadway) of Noosa, it’s about the people Noosa attracts. The seriously wealthy all mixed up with the hobos, and the ordinary people, who’ve come to have a sticky beak at how the other half lives. And perhaps even pretend to themselves they were living it too, for the day, or a few days!

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We’d only come across occasional Aussies thus far in our travels, but in Banff, it was Aussie city! More than half of the staff in bars and restaurants, retail shops, working the many hotels and buses, and tourist sites, were young Aussies. All here to make money over summer and stay for the skiing, or more to the point snowboarding, in winter. Along with that, as you walked down the streets, with yet more endless souvenir shops, a good proportion of the visitors were Aussie too!

The kids were happy to talk about their plans and clearly get seduced by that winter ecstasy in the snow!

But we weren’t here for Aussies, we were after these amazing mountains. Despite a fair bit of rain, we headed off to Lake Louise and the Moraine Lake both coloured by the glacial melt that leaves them an incredible aquamarine/green colour. A walk around Lake Louise had us still using the knowledge instilled in us by Steve the naturalist in Denali. Peaceful, beautiful, breathtaking, intriguing, and just a little bit scary, if you thought about the grizzlies that live there too! Another special walk to add to the many we were accruing in this amazing region.

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Our other big adventure was the Icefields Parkway. This is the road from Banff through Lake Louise and onto Jasper. Weaving its way directly north through the Rockies, this iconic journey is a 290 km trek from Banff and we were doing it in one day. So going as far as Jasper was probably not the best idea, because that meant nearly 600km in one day PLUS seeing and photographing etc! It’s not only stunning scenery, but also renowned for the wildlife opportunities. And as I’ve written before, we’d been pretty short on, in the wildlife stakes thus far!

As we climbed further up these mountains we began to get some snow. How romantic heh? Probably not, when you’ve never driven in snow, have no winter tyres on (it wasn’t anywhere near time for that yet), and didn’t know if snow chains should be happening! But it cleared up and we pressed on. And oh the mountains!! I’m more of an appreciator of water views than mountains normally. But Oh! These ones are gobsmacking! Alaska does the glaciers brilliantly, Canada has mountain scenery to brag about. And unlike European alps (as far as I know) these are glacial formed and many are still glaciers.

Which was how we came to be taking an expensive ($118USD) trip for two onto the actual Athabsca Glacier, seeing those amazing blue striations up close, and trying to keep on our feet on very slippery ice! The snow coaches that are used to get you onto the glacier have enormous tyres but go up and down these 30 degree REALLY REALLY STEEP slopes /moraines to get you on there. Moraines are these enormous hillocks of stone that are pushed into shape by the glacier’s constant movement. They provide markers as to where the glacier reaches in its forward movements. The staff can tell you which moraine was formed in which year. Quite amazing stuff.

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And then it was time to hit the road and return so we’d be in Banff before dark. Hmmm. You know that snow on the drive up? Well by God did it snow on the way back! Heavier and heavier. Poor visibility. Fear and stress. Exhaustion PLUS, by the end. And then we hit Lake Louise and Banff and no sign of snow. 2CB3C24F96DD1E36271F2E760FD4CC62.jpg

But later that evening (as we went out to #putoutyouronions for Tony Abbott) the snow had started. The concierge did seem just a little confused, when I asked if we could borrow some onions. But, used to Aussies, he just went off and did it!

The next morning we opened our curtains (we were staying up the road from the famous Fairmont Banff Springs at the Rimrock) to a mountain in front of us covered with snow and trees heavy with the classic winter wonderland. It was lovely, (from inside).

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But by then it was time to leave the Rockies, and head on to French Canada. But that’s for next time.

Oh I nearly forgot. Figuring this was probably our last chance to improve our wildlife sightings rate, I made it my business to take us to places that might give us the best chances. On our way back from Lake Louise, I spied from the FREEWAY (doing 110kmh) a cluster of elk crossing a waterway. Fortunately, we were close to an exit and could see a small road to take and get a better view. There was of course the predictable “animal jam” as cars and people tried to get a look but Phil got some photos.

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Another time we were creeping down the Bow Parkway (Banff is in the Bow Valley) an area renowned for wildlife sightings. We were doing about 40kmh for quite a few kilometres. My eyes are scanning the woodland beside me and suddenly Phil is yelling “there’s a bear”. Thinking he was looking at the other side of the road, I’m screaming “where, where?” Eventually I got an answer that it was crossing the road about 200 metres further on. Well I saw the last couple of inches of the bear’s arse fur, but Phil saw it crossing the road!

Finally in our last hour in Banff, driving down the same road as the Elk Animal Jam, I spied a beautiful doe eating in a clearing. By the time I’d got Phil to stop and reverse, she was very wary. She looked at me and then moved off into the woodland. Phil got a brief look and I got a photo of her rear haunches, but that’s our only proof. But I won’t forget that moment of “communication” for a very long time. It felt like a blessing, but I also felt guilty that we’d frightened her.

At last wildlife came true!

Lots of love in the meantime
Chris

Posted by OwenGadflies 10:00 Archived in Canada Tagged mountains alberta rockies glaciers elk canadian_rockies okanagan_valley Comments (0)

And So To Canada

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Ohmigawd!!! Am I BEHIND on keeping you up to date?!

It’s been just over 2 weeks since we left the ship in Vancouver and that’s 2 weeks of catching up to do.

Vancouver was a lovely place. It’s climate was like Melbourne’s, mainly temperate with a bit of this and that thrown in. It’s British Columbia, so it is British Canada not French. It is very multicultural, it is near the water, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. They seemed very comfortable with Aussies, like they ‘get’ us! That felt reassuring. It kinda felt like home a bit, which was just what we needed after the cruise.

Because we had decided by that point that cruising is not our scene! The only kind of cruising I would consider, at this stage, would be river cruising or perhaps Mediterranean cruising. However, it is the IDEAL way to see the vast expanses of Alaska and the beauty that everyone raves about. So we’re glad we did it. But we were also glad not to be herded anywhere!

We stayed in a hotel in the city, which allowed us to walk around a lot and we all know that’s the best way to get a sense of a place. We were high up on the 16th floor which gave us some nice views of the city, but the separate lounge was an internal room with low ceilings and gave me claustrophobia. I HATED sitting there! So we were out a lot!

One of the most delightful times was a walk through Stanley Park and around the sea wall on the perimeter of the park. It was a gorgeous warm sunny day. Just bliss after glaciers, snow and jackets! It was a long weekend Monday and lots of people were out walking their dogs or kids, inline skating or riding bikes (really big in Vancouver!) We also walked through a more wooded and peaceful part of the park and enjoyed the solitude and the quiet immensely! Stanley Park sits at the end of Downtown Vancouver and its 1000 acres, bordered practically entirely by Vancouver Harbour and English Bay, has fabulous views over the bays and the city from various spots in it. They are very spoilt with that beautiful park. It’s a definite don’t miss spot in Vancouver!

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Of course being in a hotel we had to eat out and get some relief from the tedium of the fairly repetitive and ordinary food on the cruise. Oh and what blessings we got! Trafalgars Bistro was a little place about 15 mins out of town that would hold its head very high amongst any good restaurant in Melbs for its use of good fresh produce, well prepared, and served by staff who know their product and like being skilled at their job. We got the last table on a Monday night. Does that tell you how popular it is with the locals?

We’d been told that Granville Island Public markets was a great little spot for foods and arty-farty stuff and so on a quieter day we headed out there on the bus. It was a pleasant meander and Phil got some good photos, so he was happy. And then we ate fish and chips on the dock and looked at the water and the city and chilled some more!

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One adventure we took on in Vancouver was a day trip to Vancouver Island. While we would have preferred to stay there a few days and really explore, like so many options for this trip, we just couldn’t fit it in. So we took a ferry across to Victoria, or actually it only goes to to the eastern side of the Island at Swartz Bay and then took a cab to Butchart Gardens.

These gardens along with Stanley Park and Granville Island were the high-agenda items for Vancouver. In National Geographic’s Top 10 Gardens in the World, they are justifiably famous. While I think they could never hold a candle to Monet’s Garden in Giverny, I know I am biased. However they did remind me of the beautiful Powerscourt Gardens in Co Wicklow in Ireland. It has different spaces in its 50 acres with different styles eg a large Japanese garden, a typically ornate structured Italianate garden, a Sunken garden like a beautiful dell, and a Rose garden that would have sent my mother into spasms of delight.

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It also reminded me a little of Wendy Whiteley’s garden in Lavendar Bay in Sydney. Butchart’s too was reclaimed, like Wendy’s magic garden, by the wife of the Pioneer Quarry’s owner who turned the scarred landscape into amazing beauty back in the early 20th century and while the family still own it, it has become a highlight for Canada.

Another fabulous meal at a great little spot called Lupo – an Italian place fully 50 metres from our hotel!

The next morning it was time to collect our car, a very cute little Fiat 500 with a bit more oomph than it looked like it might have, and we were ready to head towards the Rockies.

More on that next time!

Love Chris

Posted by OwenGadflies 20:32 Archived in USA Tagged canada vancouver vancouver_island stanley_park granville_island butchart_gardens trafalgars_bistro luno Comments (1)

The Princess and The Pee

A Fairy Tale and an Observation

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One of the least engaging groups of fellow passengers on our Princess tour have been the Texans. We began to get a hint of the fact that our Texan brethren were not desperately liked by their fellow Americans when we were in Alaska, well before we’d got anywhere near the ship!

Even in Oz, we have heard the term ‘as big as Texas’, and get the message that Texans brag about a lot (including the size of their state!)

So Alaskans take a regular pleasure in pricking the Texans’ balloon, by emphasising how big Alaska is, and how MUCH bigger than Texas. The Alaskans glee, and the smug smiles from other geographically located Americans, began to show itself quite early.

But it takes personal experience to understand the Americans dislike of Texans. It can be tempting to think it overdone, until you have seen first hand the sheer audacity of a Texan’s sense of entitlement. Texan Entitlement is so deeply entrenched that I doubt they have any idea. Privilege, be it given or taken, is often invisible to those who have it! And that’s the way they can fail to see how bad their behaviour can be. And so on it goes.

The list of Entitlements is broad and difficult to capture here, dear reader! There is entitlement: to be first in or out of anything and God help anyone who gets in the way of the stampede; to have the best of everything; to brush others aside like flies; to talk so loud (in that loathsome drawl – alright that bit is my bias!) that everyone within a 2 mile radius is forced to hear some pretty self-absorbed conversations; to take priority without a thank you or an apology or an excuse me; to be absolved from participating in society’s norms (like sharing a dining table with others while wearing the eponymous 10-gallon hat (oh yes believe me they do!) etc etc

So we had pretty soon worked out the world according to Texans, and were not overly impressed.

However, I promised you a story about a Princess and so you shall have one!

You see dear reader, it was at this point that we came across the Princess. She was on our first bus tour with all participants from the same cruise we were on. Previous tours had been a mix of different groups coming and going from cruises.

She sat behind us and eventually so did her husband. The bus was nearly full, but somehow The Princess and her Consort availed themselves of 2 seats each forcing others further back in the bus! This also meant they had both sides of the bus covered for wildlife spotting and scenery enjoyment which is of course the purpose of the exercise. (Entitlement anyone?)

This was the tour where we saw the moose. And so, there was much fuss about getting photos. Now the Princess was squealing with excitement cos the moose was on her side of the bus. Prince Consort was desperately trying to take photos with his inordinately long-lensed whizz-bang camera and failing abysmally. And boy was he shitty, just like a thwarted 2 year old!

The Princess on the other hand was getting photos with her phone. This was when we really started taking notice of these two as he “cussed” at her and she took exception to his use of “damn”! (Imagine how I could have blown her away, with just a few swift choice epithets?)

After overhearing this little spat, they were on our radar! Yes I am an incorrigible eavesdropper, and this had all the signs of fine entertainment!

Seeing this was going to be entertainment, I had to check her out. Blond hair, carefully coiffed, make-up, jewellery, and clothes that she clearly uses for her regular skiing activities. What else would one wear on a bus tour (in an old American school bus) in the middle of the back of beyond ie Northern Alaska? This woman shrieked the stereotypical Southern Belle, with that loud languid drawl appearing every time she opened her mouth. And she had a lot to say!!

At our next stop, there was the usual question about whether everyone was back in the bus. I thought I heard The Princess mention that the missing gentleman was potty. I thought that was a bit harsh, but gave it no more thought except frustration at the failure of my eavesdropping skills!

Next stop was really just a toilet stop as their aren't many toilets in Denali National Park (and the cruise party tended to a high average age –rolls eyes). It was then the Consort stood up and the Princess says to her Consort, in her best Southern Belle, “are you going potty?” (aka “gaw’in parrrty” if you’re a Southern Belle)

Consort agreed by taking exception equally loudly to her sharing this with the whole bus! We were FAR more aghast that ANYONE (even a Texan) would speak amongst adults about people going to a toilet (bathroom/restroom if you prefer) as “going potty”! And as my brain connected this with the previous stop, how bizarre that she would use the term about a stranger!

From that moment on, She became Princess Go-Potty (always in our minds with the relevant drawl), and the consort obviously the Prince. We made it our business to be as far away from them as possible whenever possible. And were horrified when, for a moment, we thought we might have to share a table with them on the 5 hour train trip to Whittier, prior to joining the boat!

And as all Fairy stories have to have a good ending, we lived happily ever after, avoiding them both like the plague. We prefer to connect with grown-ups when we travel. Not women who can’t cope with “damn” or “toilet” and men who can’t cope when their wife takes a better photo. Nor Texans, for that matter!

Talk soon! And no we weren’t going to blight the lives of our cameras with photos of the Princess or Consort so you will just have to rely on the imagery in the writing!

Love Chris

Posted by OwenGadflies 11:15 Archived in USA Tagged alaska texas princess_tours Comments (0)

Shopping Ain't Always Easy:

Diamonds May Not be Forever

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AD6F522E0171FB87CF998F8AF97D40CA.jpgSo having been stunned by those amazing cathedrals of ice and snow that are Alaska’s glaciers in the earlier part of our Alaskan cruise, for the next 3 days on the boat (sorry Martin I keep forgetting it’s a ship) we visited a new port a day.

Skagway is a town that reminded me of Sovereign Hill, the pretend goldfield town in Ballarat. Lots of Alaska’s European settlement history revolves around the Gold Rush to Klondike, where they got out heaps of gold for small numbers of people. But the traumas of passage, and then access to the goldfields were like logistical nightmares on speed for those unprepared fortune seekers. Skagway sets itself up as the town that looks like an old late 19th century town complete with (temporary) wooden boardwalk in front of the shops down the main street. The rest of the town looks perfectly normal, if a little rough around the edges, thus befitting a small town on the Alaskan coast.

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(Note the sign in the window about the brothel tours! It gave P a chuckle! Apparently, it was a brothel in goldrush days, but we hasten to add - not any more!!)

Fortunately, Phil and I had booked a photography tour and only meandered for about 90 mins in Skagway. Our tour was 3 hours with a German magazine photographer who took us up to see glaciers waterfalls and stunning scenery and teach us how to best use our cameras, compose our shots, and improve our skills. Me? I was far behind the 8-ball but even my photography has improved since then. There were only 5 of us, so we got to see such beautiful places in peace. The sound of snow melt running down the mountain was like taking a peace pill that just filled the soul. And the Inuksuk symbol was a really powerful piece of First Nation symbolism that I personally was fascinated by. It pointed a follower in the right direction, by looking through the hole (between the legs) to the next symbol and that was the path to follow!

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To make up for the ho-hum of Skagway's main street, that night at 1030 we decided to attend an organised event on the ship. As P went to collect our jackets for rugging up for Exploring The Stars on the Top Deck outside, he met a woman running down the corridor squealing that the Lights were out! All talk of exploring stars by the entertainment crew was quickly abandoned as Mother Nature turned on one of her glorious Northern Lights spectacles. Even now as I type and recall the sky that night I have goosebumps! It was ALL we'd heard it could be. Amazing colours, swirling action, and just a few of the 1000 passngers and crew there to watch it. The Bridge turned out the lights on the top deck to help us and we just stood in wonder, maybe 60 or 70 of us! It lasted less than 30 mins or so but eclipsed what we had seen the previous time by a 100 times!! Truly magical! And this old Oma did a little dance of excitement on the deck at her good fortune at seeing this wonder!! Photos just do NOT capture it. It's weird! Like it has to be seen in reality to really get it's wonder! So two happy little campers took to our very comfy cabin and watched for longer from our deck but nothing more was to be seen!

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The other two ports, Juneau (Alaska’s capital) and Ketchikan were sadly underwhelming repeats of Skagway (only without the wild west boardwalk). All three had a small shopping area OVER-RUN by diamond and semi-precious stone sellers that are gone in a few weeks once the summer cruise season is over and winter sets in. They were beside the occasional First Nation gallery, with some Alaskan handiwork, and then the inevitable cheap souvenirs’ shops that all had variations of the same things mainly made in China!

Don’t ask me why people would buy diamonds from Alaska but seemingly they do. I think it avoids a sales tax but even so, you wouldn’t feel confident that Mr Dodgy Bros had even sold you a real one!! Some looked reputable and others claimed their integrity with cheap tacky signs with the predictable spelling errors. But when the sales staff are leaning in the doorway trying to lure you inside, you want to run a mile! It reminded me of the worst of Lygon St on a Saturday night!

In Juneau, I went to the sled dogs summer camp and learned some more about Alaskan huskies which tend to be bitzers bred by mushers for particular qualities. I nursed some 9 week puppies, met some others, and got dragged around a track in a wheeled enlarged golf buggy pulled by a team.

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Then I was silly enough to wander around town only to make the discoveries about the repetition of shops. See dear reader, I went and did all that for you! I call it Research, whatever you might call it!! So I could report back. General consensus across the people we talked to, was that the ports were disappointing, and no-one ever wanted to see a diamond seller again! But then the shop onboard was doing their best to persuade jewellery purchases too.

Meanwhile Phil went to Mendenhall Glacier from Juneau for more glacier action and a salmon hatchery watching the salmon swim up some steps. They need to have done the whole swim upstream and fight their way upwards to allow some unexplained biochemical process happen and allow them to hatch. he's captured a great shot of the glacier wall which i have put here! And also the waterfall that went with it.

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By the third day I’d had it and just meandered instead of touring anywhere, while Phil went off on an underwhelming tour that didn’t deliver anything thrilling except a bit of a drenching. So he returned a little peeved, and we sat on our deck and drank wine instead. That improved our humours and we were ready for a final day of sailing. That doesn’t sound like us at all does it?

Of course not all sailing is exotic and luxurious. If you're like us you get your washing done and hang lines all over your cabin so you can hang you jocks and knickers and shirts and pants all over the place. However there were some lovely moments on our own little deck where we shared wine and watched for whales - WHICH NEVER BLOODY APPEARED! I'm convinced it's all BS, all this wildlife in Alaska business! We saw bugger all but I guess that's the luck of the draw. But in the scheme of things those Northern Lights will do it for me more than bears or whales, so I'm happy!!

My next post will be about a princess. Tell you more then!

Love C!

Posted by OwenGadflies 19:33 Archived in USA Tagged alaska juneau skagway ketchikan pacific_princess mendenhall_glacier sled_dogs white_mountain_pass Comments (0)

Glaciers All About

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First item on the agenda once on the ship was to have a Muster Drill and learn the safety stuff and how to put on a life jacket. Unlike on planes, we had to actually PRACTISE it! And all before we left the shore. Ohh, I look sooo fetching in a life jacket. In fact, so fetching that we “forgot” to take a photo!

First night on board, I slept out of sheer exhaustion! Apparently the Gulf of Alaska (where we headed) can be a bit blowy and bumpy. I’d never have known! Sleeping-in helped and eating breakfast in our room helped a lot! By lunch time when we reached Yakatut Bay (home of the Hubbard Glacier) I was ready to stand on our balcony and revel in the glories of Glaciers.

With a Professor of Natural History up on the Bridge giving commentary (which could be heard on our in-room TV) we realised just how much we had learned from our little mate Steve the Naturalist/Bus Driver. Much of what the commentator said made sense, and was even familiar from our Steve-induced Fact-Absorption! And the beauty of the Glacier was just marvellous. We were bathed in glorious sun which made the glacier just more enticing, sparkly and just plain beautiful..

We spent most of the day on our balcony in AWE! With the occasional visit upstairs to the top decks to catch something on the other side (starboard or something or other!) which we were missing. (More story below these photos because I'm being slack and putting them all together!)

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Formal Dinner followed that day’s entertainment. Not sure Formal Dinner could be classed as entertainment though!

Just to give you some background, the information we had received said there were 2 formal dinners on our cruise and you could hire a dinner suit on the boat! But definitely, jeans were unacceptable and a jacket and tie or business suit would be accepted at a pinch!

Well, needless to say there was no way Phil wanted to do a tuxedo or even travel with a suit (lugging it around uselessly for the other 5 weeks of our trip)! After a clever suggestion from a Been-There-Done-That friend, (thanks Greg) we bought Phil a sports jacket at an Opp shop before we left, and made sure we had a shirt and tie and slacks for these events. The jacket will be redonated in Canada or USA after our cruise!

So back to Dinner. We spruced ourselves up and went to the preceding Captain’s Cocktail Party (free booze). Had our photo taken and then went into dinner. A rectangular table for 8 was our allocated table. It had a great view out the front of the boat (sorry Martin, I mean bow of the ship)! Two couples were already sitting there nattering away. We sat down and no-one took any notice, stopped their conversation, or even shut up for the next 20-30 mins! Nor did anyone else come along to take the last 2 seats.

By this time, mightily cheesed, we were happily chatting with each other and choosing to ignore them. (Secretly though, I was wondering if I could arrange with the Maitre d’ to move us to another table from the next night, seeing we were allocated to share dinner with this lot for the rest of the trip!!)

Eventually the couple nearest to us (they’d chosen to sit across from each other) introduced themselves. We responded but not super warmly and they at various times tried to be polite people in the middle. But it was very obvious that the husband in the last couple was somehow getting peeved if attention was not on him! Yes he was a grown up, and contrary to expectations, was the first Canadian we met who wasn’t friendly!

Americans seem to find Australians fascinating, and are genuinely interested in finding out more or telling you about their travels to Australia! Except of course when they think you’re a Brit, which we busily tell them is an unforgivable offence! (Sorry Pauline, but what would Aussie life be without a bit of Pommy-bashing? Especially when you are a hidden Pom heh Phil?)

The next day had us up early with the enticement of seeing whales. But our wildlife Jinx held up, and all we were rewarded with was lovely views as we headed towards Glacier Bay. Again sunshine and blue skies had the sunnies being dragged out. So so so different from freezing cold and snow in Denali. It was lovely sitting on our balcony and lapping up sun and views! Layers and sunglasses were needed but after Melbourne’s winter just-passed, we were happy to take it! Temps were about 16C.

We got to see more glaciers and some extras that can’t be neared before Sept 1. Until then, the seals have calved and are rearing pups, so must be left alone until the pups are reared sufficiently and left to get on with living by themselves by their slightly ruthless parents. (we are talking about 6 weeks here!)

The face of Hubberd’s Glacier is not as high as the ones in Glacier Bay but had been 3 miles wide right at the edge of the water. Margerie Glacier It's 21 mind-blowing miles long) and the Johns Hopkins Glacier were awesome in their heights and right at the water’s edge. The ship edged really close (the advantage of a small boat) and just stopped there so we could all see for about 45 mins!

The thunder-cracks that attended the calving off of sections of ice were resounding through the silence. People on the ship held their breath in the hope of seeing this exciting piece of natural theatre. So so peaceful, and so exciting at the same time. Like cathedrals of ice that deserved your respect and admiration.

Just fabulous, and I will always be grateful for seeing them in all their shiny sunlit beauty.

Eventually it was time for dinner. We’d decided we wouldn’t be late as we had been the night before. Maybe we’d even be first, and see just what effect that would have on the dynamics, and level of politeness. The couple who’d made the effort the night before came next and we were immediately engaged in great conversation. You know the story, ask people about themselves and just sit back and let em talk. Throw in the odd question, and all goes smoothly. Mr Canada’s look of horror at being left at the end of the table and intermittently out of the loop was karma really!

From then on dinners have gone quite well, and we have become fans of talking to our New Jersey fellow diners, and conversation flows easily and across so many subjects.

Ahh karma indeed is a pleasure.

Talk soon

Love Chris

Posted by OwenGadflies 20:21 Archived in USA Tagged alaska margerie_glacier hubbard_glacier pacific_princess Comments (2)

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