Alaska was magnificent. we're sorry we waited this long to go. We flew to Vancouver for a couple of days prior to the cruise and really had some time to see the city and to relax. Getting prepared for a 17 day trip took a lot out of both Ron and I. Our days on the cruise ship were really fun-filled. We only had a couple of days at sea with nothing much to do so the trip was really good. Our first stop was in Ketchican. We wandered into town and did some shopping and ended up shipping home a case of Salmon. We took a floatplane to Misty Fjords and landed smackdab in the middle of Punchbowl lake. I got out of the plane and stood on one of the pontoons! Ron got a picture of me there. It was so quiet and serene. Ron actually missed the sounds of the city.
The following day before arriving at our next port we spent a few hours less than 1000 feet from Hubbard Glacier. WOW! What a sight. We'd never seen a glacier before so it was truly awe-inspiring. I bravely took the video camera out onto the ship's helipad and shot some calving action. I recorded the thundering sound of ice blocks the size of cars crashing into the ocean. Ron took some very nice photos of the glacier's blue face through our stateroom's window which was at the very front of the ship looming over the helipad.
Our next stop was in Skagway. We rolled into town there and stopped in at the local (there's only one) police station. We chatted witht hem for a bit, saw their 911 system and traded some LASD and LAPD uniform shoulder patches Ron brought with for some from their town. Later in the day we went on the White Pass and Yukon Route railway. It was long and fairly boring hour and a half until we reached the top of the pass, then it was a very long and boring hour and a half ride back. Ron bought a DVD so we'll be able to remember how boring it really was : )
Next we were off to Juneau. We had our only bad weather day there. It was 38┬░ with horizontal rain. Who cares, not us! We hopped onto Captain Larry's Orca Adventure Whale watching boat. We spent the next 3 hours watching about a dozen humpback whales show their flukes. Again I bravely went up onto the top deck of the 30' boat and shot video in the rain. Ron can't wait to see it! He was nice and warm inside the boat with his tripod and really good DSLR camera getting some really good pics of the whales. While we were out at sea the coast guard made an emergency transmission that a 16' skiff with three passengers had capsized. We went racing (slamming) across the water at breakneck speed to assist in the rescue. Captain Larry's 2nd boat was able to save two of the three. Unfortunately the third one didn't make it : (. We stayed out there for 45 minutes looking for him with no luck. The coast guard called off the search after determining the guy had no chance of surviving in the cold water for that long. When we got back into town we stopped again at a police station and traded some more patches!
Our final Alaska stop was in Sitka. They claim the sun never shines there but we actually saw about 30 minutes of it during the day. It wasn't terribly cold just overcast. Ron and I went out on yet another boat to see the rest of the wildlife. We saw Otters, Seals, Bald Eagles and more whales! And again we stopped at a police station and got more patches : ) The shuttle bus that was supposed to come back and get us all didn't come back. In order to not miss the ship Ron wheeled himself in his manual wheelchair and I walked for about a mile to pick up the tender boat. We were thankful to have a whole day at sea the next day.
We headed back to Canada and ported in Victoria. We took a special wheelchair shuttle to Butchart Gardens and another place nearby called Butterfly Gardens. We had a wonderful time and took lots of pcitures. As the ship headed down the west coast we stopped in Astoria, Oregon. Don't bother : )
We then stopped in San Francisco and ported right next to Pier 39 at pier 35. We took a bus trip to Muir Woods which was really incredible and then a short (thankfully) stop in the little overpriced town of Sausalito. Again, don't bother : ) Our tour guide said a little shop there had wonderful hamburgers. "Hamburgers?" I thought. I'm in San Francisco, I watned SEAFOOD! Eventually we ended up at Pier 39 and our prayers were answered! I enjoyed clam chowder in a bread bowl, a little cup of crab meat & shrimp, while Ron enjoyed two wonderful seafood salads!
While at Muir Woods we saw 2 bucks and a doe come running across our path. They were nice enough to stop and pose for us and then they were on their way. One of the bucks was really staring at Ron in his power wheelchair while he photographed him. He thinks the buck was wishing he'd brought a camera too so he could fill his photo album with pictures of us humans.
We finally got to Catalina and spent the whole day on the ship. We've been there before and there really isn't anything more we wanted to see. We took some pictures of seagulls and friends we'd made on the ship. The next day ........... home. We'd put our son Bryan and his girlfriend Cori up at a nice hotel in San Diego for the night so they could pick us up in our biggggg (10 passenger) wheelchair van at the port. It was a nice ride home and then it was back to reality! Unpacking, laundry, more unpacking, more laundry .... delivering gifts to the neighbors ...... did I mention the laundry? : )
It was a long time away from home, and we were really missing our pets, including our little 7 month old black Labrador who we got after making our vacation plans. It was a great trip, but there's no place like home!