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Old September 30th, 2012, 11:03 AM
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Default Alaska Cruise Adventure - part 2

Day Five--Thursday—Skagway, Alaska
Skagway Alaska - MS Statendam in background We arrived as scheduled at 7:00 am in Skagway and we are docked at the Broadway pier directly in front of Skagway. The weather is overcast with a little sprinkle or mist. We ordered room service breakfast and it was very good, not many cruise lines have a hot room service option for breakfast. We met our group for the ‘Best of Skagway’ excursion. We boarded a bus that gave us a brief tour of Skagway on the way to Fraser, BC, Canada to meet the White Pass & Yukon Railroad for the return trip by rail back to Skagway. It’s a beautiful trip even with the low clouds and mist. The railroad and train are not to be missed and is actually the most popular cruise excursion in the world. We then went to Liarsville Gold Rush Trail Camp for a salmon bake and show. This is on the actual site of the tent city at the head of the White Pass trail used during gold rush days. The press never ventured beyond this point and thus the name Liarsville. The Salmon was cooked on an outdoor grill and was very good. They also had a little show as well. The final ‘Best of Skagway’ tour stop was a tour of the Red Onion Saloon Brothel museum on the second floor above the bar. After the tour the men stayed for a few Alaska beers while the ladies shopped. Overall a very nice full day tour. We returned to the ship about 6:30 pm. in a light rain to clean up before dinner. Dinner was good, I had the Beef Brisket entree and it was served over a mound of Alaska Gold Mashed Potatoes, an interesting presentation. After dinner the group was off to the various venues including the Casino, Showtime with Jeff Burghart in the theater, or rest time in their cabins.

Day Six--Friday --at Sea
Happy Hour in the Crows Nest The seas are choppy today and it is windy. This was to have been cruising in Glacier Bay day, but the Captain announced that due to bad weather forecast for the Gulf of Alaska he wanted to go directly to Seward ahead of the weather so we are not going to visit Glacier Bay. This is very disappointing to most. I had breakfast at the Lido with a very nice hot fresh omelette prepared at the omelette station. Many met this morning for our annual cruise ‘Bloody Mary’ morning in the Crows Nest. Always fun and we did see whales. Since this is now a sea day they did add many activities on the ship, similar to the first sea day. They did have a very nice Salmon bake by the Lido deck Pool. And of course for dessert: Bread Pudding! Sourdough Bread Pudding! Glad it’s one of my favorites. At 3:00 pm it was time for our second Mixology class. This one featured Grey Goose vodka. The drinks prepared were a Peartini, a High Tide, and a Ginger Rogers. Of course at 4:00pm it’s time to meet in the Crows Nest for Happy Hour. We had a full crew plus our add-ons. I stayed with the Pool Side Car from the first mixology class. This was again great fun! At 6:30 we some how won the group trivia contest and got a nice insulated tumbler as a prize. We then had to prepare for dinner, this was the final formal night, but the men in our group wore our signature matching Hawaiian shirts...but they were a formal black. Dinner was one of the best, my entree was the Surf & Turf and it was excellent. After dinner I saw the production show: Encore in the Showroom at Sea theater.

Day Seven--Saturday--Seward, Alaska
"Making her Momma Proud' @ Mixology Seminar We docked very early in Seward and it is a rainy day. I enjoyed the previous days omelette so much I had the same again for breakfast in the Lido. Very nice. HAL provided shuttles into Seward so about noon we thought we would go into town to see what we could see. They do have a very nice aquarium: The Alaska Sea Life Center. We looked at some shops and enjoyed a very nice late lunch at Alaska Nellies Roadhouse. We had a Halibut basket and sweet potato fries. We were to have attended the Mariner luncheon today, but due to the schedule change forgot, we heard that we had made the better choice as friends said the luncheon was not good. We returned to the ship about 3:00 to attend the final Mixology class. Todays drinks were: Fashionista, Tuscan Lemon Drop, and the Sunsicle. The Sunsicle was my favorite. It’s 4:00 pm and time for our final happy Hour. I again personally stayed with the Pool Side Car cocktail, it may become a regular for me. It was great fun and the cocktail servers were very attentive to us as usual and they allowed us to stretch the hour (also as usual). We went down to Mix to try our luck again at group trivia, and something unusual happened....the ship lost power. It was about 6:15 and there was nothing we could do about the power, but fortunately the safety lights came on in the passageways and some in the public areas including Mix where many of us are now staying. The captain did make several announcements and the CD was told to cary on with usual activities so we played trivia in the dark. Of course the Snoozemates doubled up the next closest score and dominated the game. Our prize was champagne for the group which was then expanded upon as those that still had the complementary bottles given to us brought them for a great Champagne Party in the Dark! That’s whats great about the group...they can make any situation into a party. Also thanks to the bar staff who traded out our bottles for cold bottles of champagne and did the opening and serving as necessary. It was now dinner time and it was unknown if they would even be serving, but we went to our tables about 8:15pm. Dinner was interesting, we were served sandwiches on white bread. We did have two choices: Cheese or sliced egg. That’s it. Dessert was whole apples or oranges. That’s it. Dinner didn’t take long and then ‘let there be light’ the lights came back on. This was a great relief as there was no lighting at all in the cabin and with no electricity there are no toilets either, both needed very much. Since we now had power we went to the cabin to clean up and pack as we knew we would be leaving very early the next morning.

Day Eight--Sunday--Seward to Denali
Cabin Night Dinner Theater - Denali Alaska Still rainy and windy this morning. We ordered early (6:00 am) room service breakfast before meeting our tour group at 7:15 in the theater. Our bus was first to leave so we hope to arrive in Denali in time for Cabin Night. Our group of 20 makes up half the bus group and the driver, Melissa was very good. We started north on the Seward Highway. First stop was Portage Glacier and the winds were so high it rocked the bus and the rain was blowing parallel. Few got off the bus. The waterfalls were here were very impressive due to the recent heavy rains. Next stop was Settlers Bay Lodge just north of Wasilla for lunch. This was a make your own sandwich buffet and I enjoyed it. Fresh breads and choice of ham, turkey, roast beef, cheeses, etc. with potato salad and slaw. A nice lodge with a good view. We were off again and because of the weather not a chance of viewing Mt. McKinley so our final stop was the Alaska Veterans Memorial along the highway. Since we knew we would be on time we used mobile phones to get advance tickets for Cabin Night. We actually arrived a little early at McKinley Lodge and we had time to freshen before the Cabin Night Dinner Theater began at 7:00. Everyone in the group attended and enjoyed a family style meal of Salmon, BBQ Ribs, Corn, Potatoes, Baked Beans and Cobbler for dessert. DW had a very nice vegetarian Pasta. There were a few pitchers of Alaskan beer too. The show was very good centered around Fanny Quigley’s roadhouse and featuring historical characters from the early days of Denali Park and Alaska. It was a very enjoyable evening.

Day Nine--Monday--Denali, Alaska
Mt. McKinley (Denali) from 75 miles away in Denali Park The day started with broken clouds, but it became a beautiful day. We slept in a bit this morning then went to the main lodge and across the highway to Glitter Gulch, the shopping and souvenir areas across from the Park Properties. This being the last week on the season there were some great close out pricing. I looked for a while, but while DW and some friends shopped I went down to the Fish Shop for a very nice Captains Basket of both Cod and Halibut with french fried potatoes. Very good. At 2:00 pm we met our group for our big adventure into Denali National Park. We boarded our assigned Park Service bus and our driver/guide Lisa Frederic was fantastic. The weather really cooperated, the best we have had in Alaska so far. Hopes were high that we may even get to see Mount McKinley. They say that only 30% of visitors ever get to see the mountain, but our driver said it was more like 20% this year. We didn’t see any wildlife early, but enjoyed the scenery of the park until we came up to the first vista that allowed a view of Denali itself. It was primarily covered in clouds, but you could see the northern slope of the mountain. Very impressive since it was 75 miles away. As the weather was still continuing to improve hope were high for a better view later. We continued into the park stopping several times for photos or breaks as Lisa told us tales of her adventures in the iditirod and dog training. As we retuned we did see some moose just off the road. There was not near as much wildlife as when I toured last year, but the mountains were much more impressive as they had already received their first coating of snow for the season. We soon returned to the area that we could observe Mount McKinley (Denali) and what cloud were there took the form of the mountain and the north peak was very clear and the slope of the south peak was very noticeable. Fantastic. Very majestic and so dominating over the other peaks. We are defiantly in the 20% club. We finished our tour and returned to the lodge about 7:00 pm. A great highlight for the Alaskan Adventure. As a group we were able to get tables for dinner in the main lodge. DW had the Mckinley Salad with cranberries, cheese, pecans, etc. One of her favorite meals of the trip. I had a Petit Steak and Baked Salmon combo with Alaska Gold Potatoes and some shared McKinley Salad. A very good meal with great company. We did see some of the Northern Lights that night upon walking back to our lodge. A super great day on our Alaska Adventure.

Day Ten--Tuesday--Denali to Anchorage
Our rail car on the Alaska Railroad It’s cloudy today with some light rain. We put our bags out by 9:00 am this morning to be collected as this is a travel day with a noon train to catch. I had a nice buffet breakfast ($18) in the Lodge and then we took an early shuttle over to the Denali Visitors Center to see a movie and see the exhibits. We then proceeded down to the train station located just below the Visitors Center and watched the Alaska Railroad train arrive from Fairbanks. Soon we were loaded in the very nice Holland America rail car in the upper observation area. Very nice with roomy seats and I got a Moose Mary cocktail as well. Very beautiful scenery and mountain views as we headed south to Anchorage. Soon we were called for lunch service in the dining area below the upper observation deck. I had reindeer chili and a salad. While dining we observed rail workers moving about in a determined manner. Soon it was announced that there were problems along the line and a wash out of the rail line had occurred just ahead. We proceeded over Hurricane Gulch then stopped at the Hurricane maintenance yard where we then boarded buses that took us the remanding way (4+ hours) to Anchorage. Very disappointing as this is my favorite part or the entire trip. The rail road trip is very relaxing and beautiful and the best way to end the Alaskan Adventure. We arrived in Anchorage about 7:00 pm at the Westmark Hotel. We received our room assignments and we had the top floor, the 14th, overlooking the Cook Inlet. The group gathered in the lobby and many went to eat at Humpy’s and a group went to the Glacier Brewhouse. We went to the Glacier Brewhouse located just across the street for a wonderful late dinner. I had a combo of Rib Eye Steak and King Crab Legs. It was wonderful. The in-house brewed beers were also very good, I enjoyed a couple Bavarian Hefeweizen and DW had a very nice Passion Fruit Mojito. For dessert I had the bread pudding (what else), it was nice with pecans and pecan topping. This was the best meal, by far, of the Alaskan Adventure.
Ray McDonald / Snoozeman

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