Celebrating 30 years in 15 days: Days 9 and 10–Seward

Our cruise ended in Seward, Alaska.  While there we visited Exit Glacier, went on a dog sled ride at Iditaride Dog Sleds, and toured Resurrection Bay.  While hiking up the mountain to get close to the Glacier, we encountered a jack rabbit and saw evidence that moose were in the area.  Unfortunately, we did not see a moose in Seward.

Me at Exit Glacier, Seward, Alaska.

Mitch Seavey, winner of the 2004 Iditarod, trains dogs in Seward and owns  Iditaride Dog Sled Rides.  I first heard of Mitch when his nephew and nieces were my students at Fredericksburg Christian High School.  It was neat to visit their training facility and, we had a blast being pulled on a wheeled 6-person cart by a team of their racing dogs.  Afterwards we got to play with the puppies.

Iditaride Dog Sleds, Seward, Alaska
View from the dog cart
Steve and me on the dog sled
 
The puppies were adorable.
 
Our tour of Resurrection Bay took place on a chilly day.  The animals were out in full force, however.  We saw several mountain goats, including two mothers with twin babies, puffins, dolphins, a sea otter, and numerous sea lions on the rocks.  We lunched on grilled salmon and king crab.
 
Sea lions in Resurrection Bay
Mountain goat and twin babies

Celebrating 30 years in 15 days: Days 6 – 8–Juneau, Skagway, and Hubbard Glacier

Cruising the Inside Passage, there were magnificant sights everywhere we looked.  Whether  it was the snow-capped mountains on both shores or humpback whales swimming passed the ship, I could not help but thank God for His wondrous creation. 

Inside Passage between Icy Point Strait and Juneau

In Juneau we went to a salmon bake in a beautiful, remote setting.  The salmon grilled on the open fire pit was delicious.  The waterfall and river were stunning. 

 

This was our view at the salmon bake.
 
 
 
Waterfall in Juneau

 

   We also took a tram ride and were greeted with incredible views.  We ended our day in Juneau by visiting Mendenhall Glacier.  What a glorious day in Alaska’s capital city!
Mendenhall Glacier
 
Skagway was exactly what I envisioned when I thought of a typical small Alaskan town.  The town flourished during the gold rush days.  Today it boasts a year-round population of 902.  We spent the morning roaming through shops owned by the local residents.  In the afternoon we took a van tour through the mountains and into Canada.  We passed more hundreds of waterfalls.
 
Skagway
 

Steve and I at the Canadian-Alaska border near Skagway
 
There aren’t words to describe the immensity of Hubbard Glacier.  We were several miles from the glacier when we began to pass the large chunks of ice that had broken from it.  The captain brought our ship to within 2 miles of the massive glacier.  Even from that distance, it was impressive.  It was impossible to get a feel for how far away we were or of the glacier’s massive size.  A ship’s officer told me that the portion of the glacier visible above the water was twice the height of our 12 -deck ship.
 
Chunks of ice from the Hubbard Glacier
 
Hubbard Glacier

Celebrating 30 years in 15 days: Day 5–Whales, Whales, Whales

Whales at Icy Point Strait, Alaska

We spent Day 5 of our 30th anniversary trip at Icy Point Strait.  We visited the fishing village of Hoonah and ate fresh snow crab before embarking on a whale watching trip. What a glorious day!  As you can see from Steve’s pictures, the ship captain knew where to find whales.

 
We spotted whales by looking for the spray from their blow holes.

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Two whales surface together.

 

Celebrating 30 years in 15 days–Days 2 – 4: Inside Passage and Ketchikan

The cruise got underway on a beautiful clear Friday afternoon 10 days ago.  We sailed out of Vancouver and headed north toward Ketchikan.  Steve and I spent much of the first two days searching for telltale signs of whales.  We saw a few dolphins and some seals, but no whales.

 
View of Vancouver from the ship

 

Beautiful Alaskan coastline

On Sunday we docked in Ketchikan.  We spent the morning walking around this quaint gold mining town.  We ate fresh king crab for lunch before taking in the Lumber Jack show.

 
Creek Street, Ketchikan, Alaska
Me and the American lumberjack team
 

Celebrating 30 years in 15 days–Day 1: Vancouver

Steve and I are in the midst of a 15-day trip to Canada and Alaska in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary.  So far Steve has taken 782 pictures.  I promise I won’t post them all, but I will share a few of my favorites. 

We began our trip last Thursday by flying to Vancouver, Canada, by way of Chicago.  I’ve heard horrors stories about O’Hare; however, our experience was wonderful.  We arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule and more than our hour before boarding began for our flight to Vancouver.  We had plenty of time for the short walk to the gate and to get some breakfast.  We arrived in Vancouver shortly before noon local time.  We had a bit more than 24 hours to explore Vancouver before boarding the cruise ship that would take us to Alaska.

Vancouver skyline from our hotel room window

Vancouver is a beautiful city, with a mix of hundred-year old buildings and new, modern skyscrapers.  The city is very clean, and they take their recycling seriously.  Steve got fussed at for not properly deciphering the instructions on a series of recycling bins at the McDonald’s where we ate breakfast Friday.

After checking into the hotel, we ate lunch at an authentic Irish pub a block from our hotel, and then bought a pass for a “hop on, hop off” bus tour around the city.  Because we bought our ticket late in the afternoon, we were allowed to use it the following day.  We stayed on the bus for both of its routes Thursday, and on Friday we took the bus to Stanley Park.

River Walk at Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada

We hopped off at the first stop in Stanley Park intending to spend 30 minutes exploring the area before hopping back on and riding to the next stop.  Things do not go as planned.  We walked about half a mile downhill to visit Beaver Lake, then we decided that we did not want to walk back up the hill to catch the bus. Rather we decided to walk to the next stop.  Thirty minutes later with the stop nowhere in sight, we realized that our reasoning had been faulty.  We  eventually made it to the stop, having walked about 3 miles through the park. 

3 nurse trees growing from one stump, Stanley Park

Stanley Park is beautiful, and I highly recommend spending time there if you have an opportunity to visit Vancouver.  We were particularly intrigued by the nurse trees which root themselves in dead tree stumps.

Our hotel was located next to Canada Place where the 2010 Winter Olympics medals were handed out and about 2 blocks from the Olympic cauldron.  We visited the site and made a quick trip to the Canadian Mountie store before boarding the ship.

 

Olympic cauldron
 
 

Canadian Mountie store

We were off for our Alaskan adventure!