Monday, September 18, 2017

North to Alaska

Alaska is famous for gold nuggets, but we went seeking something else golden—silence. And, after a brisk walk around the harbor, we found plenty of among the totem poles in Sitka, Alaska.

Well, okay, there were some screaming gulls, a few leaping and splashing salmon, the lick and hiss of waves on rocks, and the sift of wind in the trees. But that’s silence of the natural variety. And we had a glorious hour of it before others from the ship caught up with us.

That’s the thing about cruising on a big ship, unless you’re in your stateroom or off the beaten track of the tourist and shopping area at a port, you’re not likely to be alone. And that’s okay. It’s usually interesting to talk with others on vacation—except when those other people veer from the “Where are you from?” phase of the conversation to accusing us of being part of a conspiracy to take away their guns. That’s when we remind ourselves we’re on a cruise to relax, announce that it’s nap time, and short circuit a lose-lose discussion.

But I digress. Alaska, even the little bit of it we were seeing for a second time, is stunning. Mountains. Fjords. Glaciers. Whales. Eagles. Oh, yeah.
Hubbard Glacier

 We cruised from Seattle up the Stephens Passage to Juneau and spent a few hours in the Alaska State Libraries Archives and Museum. Highly recommended. From there we hit the city library perched on top of a parking garage at the harbor, and then made it to Hangar on the Wharf for a drink with a friend and a close-up view of float planes coming and going. 


Then it was on to Sitka and a stroll through the totem poles in the forest followed by a visit to the thrift store and a stop for coffee at a place called A Little Something recommended by our bus driver. Yum. 

Ketchikan was next and it was fun to revisit Creek Street and other areas of town. 

Salmon were making their way upstream and the sound of rushing water filled the air. And the rain held off.

Out of Ketchikan, dozens of humpback whales swam to starboard and port, making their way to warmer waters, perhaps off Hawaii. We were fortunate to see them flip their tails and surface close enough for a good long look.

  We found some creatures in our cabin, as well. A seal, a squid, a monkey, and even a dinosaur, all crafted from towels by amazing stewards Made and Hendra. Every day they turned chaos and clutter into a clean cabin. And they delivered chocolates!
Made beside his towel art monkey

  And then, sadly, it was on to Victoria and after that back to Seattle and then home again. Home to reality and its many demands, to laundry and grocery shopping and paying bills and, of course, walking the dog.

Are you happy to see us Max, or just cadging a cookie?

We saw a lot of beautiful sights on our Alaska trip, caught up with some old friends, enjoyed some wonderful meals and listened to some good music. We hope you'll be able to jump aboard ship and see the splendor of Alaska for yourself. 


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