Category Archives: 2013 – Alaska

All Posts 2011 – 2013






We are now home and I couldn’t write the blog while on the ship.. because duh.. I forgot to set the program up before I left and so it wouldn’t have done me any good to write and then have to write it all over again to be able to post.

But I don’t want to deprive any of you from the interesting pictures I think I took while there.

Before I start I need to reiterate about what this cruise was all about.

We got a request  from the Holland American Rep who books clergy on the ships that she had this back to back Alaska cruise that needed a Rabbi and would we be able to take it. Since we really had nothing planed for these high holidays we said sure.. thinking that it would be better than staying home. Well, little did I realize that most of the days we would be in port would be days of the holiday and we really couldn’t do much except walk around, which is why my pictures are pretty lame!

I am going to write the whole trip to Alaska in one post, mainly because I don’t have that much to write and the same goes for the photos I don’t need to post double photos of the same thing since we did the cities twice.

The back to back cruise (for those who don’t know what that means) is just that. You end up doing exactly the same thing twice. Going to the same ports, traveling the same route.

This cruise made me realize that the poor captain, does this all summer long, must feel like a bus driver taking the same route every time. Good thing is, he knows exactly where to go and how to get there!

I don’t remember this captain’s name but he was great. He made announcements whenever we passed something interesting. Let us know the routes he was taking. When we would be passing certain areas, and of course talked about the weather.

The first week was kinda drab and rainy until our last stop, Ketchikan where the weather cleared up and we had a lovely day. After that, the 2nd week was perfect (weather wise)..

My biggest disappointment was that no one I knew except Satria (more about him later) was on this cruise. I truly missed my cruisin’ buddies.. especially Wools and Jim!!!!  ctually, not many Americans on the ship. Mostly Asian, Aussies, Kiwis and Canadians.

I bet I must be boring you guys already, talking up a storm without any photos.. so let’s get on with it!!!

We boarded the ship and was assigned our room.. (actually, it’s the opposite.. you get assigned then board the ship!)

We could not believe the room we got! We usually get a windowless room (which we understand and accept) but usually the rooms are tiny.. I mean SMALL! But this time.. it was huge.. and we had two closets.. amazing.. Just around the corner where the curtain is on the right, is a whole additional part to the room with an another closet.. wow, two closets in one room. Amazing.. so K took that closet and I had the usual one and the drawers all to myself. Shame this wasn’t a long cruise!!!


The terminal from the ship. You can just make out the “airport” jutting out into the water…


The runway… there were planes (seaplanes) taking off and landing constantly on the water.



Sunset as we left, everyone must be unpacking!


The clouds were so low.. It was rainy and foggy! But the second time around.. The weather was perfect!!!



First stop, Juneau!  As seen from the 4th floor of the Library where they had free wifi.. (which basically sucked! SO SLOW! But it was a larger library than I expected and seemed well stocked. The building is being rehabbed and so there was no elevator and we had to walk 4 flights.. No biggie..especially since it seemed to be the tallest building in the area with a pretty decent view. You can see the fog sitting low on the mountain. We could have taken a cable car ride up that mountain but what would we have seen in the fog?




I did a little research before we got to Juneau looking for….. a yarn shop, and found a  really nice one.  The shopkeeper, Jennifer, was really helpful and informative about living in Juneau. (There are no roads into or out of Juneau, you either fly in or come by ship or ferry.) Whenever I am somewhere I try to purchase yarn that is made locally.. and this time  I did.. they have yarn that is dyed in Juneau by a company called… A tree hugger’s wife yarns. You can find her on Etsy if you want.

These next two pix are from their website.. I get so excited about finding a yarn shop I usually forget to take pictures…

The warehouse complex, where the shop is located, has many different shops and restaurants.

Fish and Chips the mainstay on all menus!

seaside yarns 2

seaside yarns

We were in Juneau till 10:30pm, perfect time for a night shot.


On to Skagway… Skagway has an interesting past.,_Alaska for those who really want to get into it.. but basically the most interesting time for Skagway was when it was the jump off point for the Gold Rush during the late 1800s. When the word heard that gold was being found in the Yukon, many people flocked to Skagway which was the nearest US city to the Yukon.. but they would have to travel a very long and treacherous  way to get to the gold fields. The path was called the White Pass which basically passed over the mountain to the Canadian Yukon. There was no way to get any supplies to the area, so you had to drag a years supply of goods with you.. So they would haul one batch over the mountain and go back for the next and they kept doing this until the snow fell. Many did not make it. It was a 33 mile hike back and forth over the mountain to the gold fields. Many realized it was best to stay in town and sell supplies to those who were determined to go and find their fortune. Slowly the town transformed from a “wild west’” sort of town to a thriving city with buildings and shops, sidewalks and railway.  There is a historical part of town where we walked around. and you’ll see the pix..

There is also a tour of the pass with a train ride, called (you guessed it) The White Pass Train. Behind the train you see announcements on the rocks. Today they are of the ships that pass through but in the 1800’s they were advertising for local businesses and messages..





Town was about a 1/4 of a mile from the ship so we decided to walk, even though we knew we couldn’t do much it would be fun to browse.



The Red Onion Saloon was built just in time for the Gold Rush in 1898 and was a brothel. It is still in the exact location but of course now they just play at it.. and it’s a restaurant/bar where you can get a drink, something to eat and a tour by one of the ladies!


This building was the building for the Camp Number 1 of the Artic Brotherhood which opened for the prospectors who came to join the Klondike Rush..  It’s really a cool building. Looks like it was made out of twigs.. many thought badly about the brotherhood, but the brotherhood took care of their members and even buried them if there was no family to do so. This is the original façade.


I thought this was kinda weird.. the hood ornament????? Shouldn’t it be on a Ford not a Toyota? And the license plate says it’s an Oregon license.. That was a drive!


Another building that was a brothel at the time of the Rush.. now a B&B..


A beautiful quilt I saw in a store. (Nothing special about the stores, but I loved the colors of this quilt and thought my quilting friends would like it) It’s made up of fabric with Alaska flowers and berries.


The next day we were on our way to Glacier Bay and saw this rainbow.. nothing has been altered in the photo..  This rainbow stayed with us for a very long time that day. It was so very strong and vibrant, you could see all the colors so clearly.. But if you wanted the pot of gold.. You would have to dive since it started and ended in the water!



The Glaciers in Glacier Bay


These pix were shot thru a window in the Lido (casual dining area on the 8th floor of the ship which is really the 11th)


Do you see the splash? I didn’t even notice it when I took the picture, but obviously there was a piece of ice that caved (fell off the glacier) The ship has to say (they say) 2 miles away from the actual glacier otherwise the ice that falls off can harm the ship and if a large  enough piece falls it can cause a small “tsunami” and damage the ship. So we are far away!

A Glacier is a river of ice that has formed over many years of fallen snow that accumulates and moves down mountains. You can see from the spikes of the ice that it is moving otherwise it would be smooth like regular snowfall.




It actually does look like a river meeting up with the sea, don’t you think?


Waterfall from the melting ice. We saw a ton of waterfalls starting at the top of the mountains and trickling down but this one was a gusher..


Here you can actually see how the river of ice flows…


and here


Because of the movement of the ice, which is always pushing the ice forward it develops these peaks and valleys which eventually fall into the sea. Not a good idea to walk on it.





Some animals, mammals, and fish we saw along the way..


Those blobs of brown are seals.. if you can’t see them!



I saw a number of Orcas (Killer whales) but they move so fast and were pretty far away that it was difficult to take a pix.. but this is the best one I got.




Once a week on every cruise when they are in a ridiculously cold area they have the polar plunge.. not too many people showed up for this one while we were in Glacier Bay. The guys you see jumping in the pool are crew members who have no choice! Poor kids, good thing the pool is heated!



This is a cave under the glacier. In the second picture you can see where the cave is do you see the water dripping?


Some of these pics of Glacier Bay were from the second week, The first week the weather was way worse, so no one went out to take shots, but the second the weather was so perfect people were out and about.


My favorite ship in the fleet! Passing us by.. two weeks later, many of my cruising friends will be on it heading to Asia! The Amsterdam in Alaska..


The pilot boat after picking up the pilot and  leaving our ship.. a pilot from each different waterway comes aboard the ship to help the captain steer through. The pilot knows all the nooks and crannies under the sea and knows the best way to go.. Once you enter another waterway he leaves.

It’s hard to get a good shot when you are 11 stories above them.


And now my favorite of Alaska Cities.. Ketchikan…

Ketchikan is the Salmon Capital of the World and they know it!!!


Since Ketchikan is the salmon capital you would assume there has to be some salmon around. Well, There is a river (they call it a creek) that the salmon come to spawn in.. There is a hop on hop off bus that drives in a little circle around the town for free so we hopped on.. and hopped off at the highest point.. and saw this…

You see how they have white on them? A local told us that once they have white strip on them, that means they have spawned and are now ready to die.. so they congregate until they do so. There were tons of dead fish around the edge of the creek.. but when you look at the pictures you really should look at the pictures from the bottom up.. since they had to travel to this point from all the way down the creek. The pictures further down show the “creek” they had to swim up to end up at this point. So the ones that you see in the first few pictures are the heroes in my book! They swam upstream and survived and did their job to the fullest!




This isn’t just rapids.. it’s all uphill too!


You can see how the salmon struggle to get up the river. They literally jump out of the water and hope to land higher and above the current


We followed the creek down the river to Creek Street which was built on stilts over the river. Of course they have shops and  brothels from the past,  which they try to lure you in for a tour and a good time!


Do you realize that that is the driveway for the house??? Their transportation is parked in the driveway!


The airport!


From there we went to check out the stores. There’s a mall at the end of the pier. As you can see they are still trappers and hunters.


But in that little mall they had one amazing quilt shop.. Actually, two. One was generic fabric and a smaller one for Alaskan designs. The whole second floor of the mall was decorated with quilts. It was beautiful.


I found this one amazing. It must be called shadow quilt or something like that.. Quilting buddies this is all for you!


Can you imagine dragging groceries up those stairs.. No gym for you!!!


Beautiful entry to a home, I couldn’t resist.


Mid-day traffic!


The crew of the ship presented me with a birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday to me in Indonesian.. I was so excited I tasted it and then realized I didn’t take a photo… Duh, me!


Now we talk about Satria! There are not enough good things that can be said about this man.

We first met Satria on the Asian Voyage and was so taken by him. He is a wonderful person with many talents.

He would make origami for the kids in seconds.. He would sing and make everyone happy up in the Lido.. We were thrilled to hear he was promoted to dining room waiter on the Asian trip, and so made sure that he was always our waiter for dinner in the main dining room.

I had a feeling that he would be on this cruise, since I  was reading some blogs about the Alaska cruise that someone wrote a few weeks earlier and she mentioned that a waiter in the Lido was making origami for the kids.. and I said to myself.. It has to be Satria.. and low and behold so it was..
He made this trip for us. He was so helpful with everything, whatever we needed or wanted it was right there within minutes. He made us laugh and was so thoughtful he even gave me a birthday present, a pair of handmade Bali slippers.  He is married to a lovely woman (haven’t met her but seen pictures and no way he can have anything else but a lovely woman for a wife). We wish him all the best in life and hope to meet again in the very near future!!!

Thank you Satria, for making this trip great!



Vancouver–2013 Alaska Cruise HAL Volendam



Finally, I can write my blog. I am not sure what happened, but I didn’t have the program downloaded so that I could write offline, especially since the internet is extremely slow on the ship and insanely slow in Alaska.. But now I am up and running (I hope).


We were called last minute to host a back to back cruise to Alaska. (14 days)  We were offered the opportunity to stay a couple of days in Vancouver, which we agreed to (of course why not???)  but after checking out the prices of hotel rooms we decided find another way to enjoy Vancouver before the cruise.

DAY 1: On the way to the airport in Vegas we stopped at a really cool breakfast place downtown called EAT. The restaurant was spacious and the food was great, especially the coffee.

DSCN5517 DSCN5521

We found a room for rent on a new site (maybe just new to us) called Airbnb. They have listings of rooms in people’s homes. There are photos of the room for let, plus the home it’s in, plus profiles of the owners, so we used airbnb for this trip. Would you believe I forgot to take pix of the place…


The condo we rented was lovely, it was spacious and very modern. The room had a memory foam mattress (king size) and the bathroom (which we shared) was ultra modern and the shower was great. It was located in Chinatown which we thought would be a cool place to stay in. Close enough to everything and we even had parking under the building. Jacky, the owner of the condo was a sweetheart, trying to stay out of our way whenever we were in.

Since we saved so much off the hotel rooms we rented a car to be able to travel as much as possible out of Vancouver proper since we have been here a number of times. Vancouver is a city of many cultures. There is a very large Asian section from when Hong Kong was turned back over to China. Many of the residents moved to Vancouver and made new lives there.  Chinatown is a bustling typical Chinatown as you would find all over the world but at night this particular Chinatown becomes a haven for the homeless and they are everywhere. I just couldn’t bring myself to take pictures of all of the people hanging out in the alleys lighting crack pipes. Smoozing with their compadres.. It was very depressing actually to think that there are so many, even if they are harmless and friendly. There are now homeless shelters and halfway houses all over Chinatown, including alleyways that you can hide in. It’s so very sad. 

That evening Jacky told us there was a Chili Festival and a Chinese Fair in the neighborhood. We  decided to walk around the neighborhoods near Chinatown check out the Chili and the Chinese and walk around Gastown with its pubs and fun shops. We actually found Vegetarian Chili which K loved. There were some very interesting characters hanging about.


Some of the things they are selling in the shops. A prelude to what is coming in Alaska. Since Alaska and BC were pretty close they have very similar if not the same,  First Nation artworks and crafts.


They had tons of knitwear.. Heavy and itchy as all “get-out!” and so expensive! A sweater that must have weighted 50 pounds was $350.. Not sure if it was actually made in Canada or Alaska or maybe CHINA???


A typical wood carving. I personally love the designs. Each carving or painting tells a story. They are very into totem poles too. Each section of the totem says something from the bottom to the top and the story ends at the top.




Gastown Street


The Chinese Fair


Wonder what the health department would have to say about this booth!


Street Fair fries




DAY 2: The next morning we headed out toward Whistler Mountain.. but got waylaid and saw a turn off for Lynn Canyon and a suspension bridge. But of course, the foodie in me had to stop in a quaint spot for breakfast.

Tommy’s, we literally bumped into it. It juts out into the main road toward Lynn Canyon so we stopped and had our usual breakfast. They had seriously delicious eggs, just look at the color of the yolks, no touch up here!!! And the coffee was ever flowing and good.




My all time favorite breakfast! Avocado, tomato on English Muffin with poached eggs and homefries (add some smoked salmon and you have a feast!).. What could be better? Oh yes, FRESH EGGS! DSCN5637DSCN5638

I loved their little quotes around the café. Like the two following ones:


Satisfied and ready for hiking we drove out to Lynn Canyon and the suspension bridge. Since it was Labor Day it was packed.. once we finished with the bridge we decided to take a hike in the canyon. It was lovely.. we meet 2 women hiking and stopped and chatted for about a half hour.. While there, some dumb kid decided to jump off a bridge into the water ignoring the sign posted there that said.. BEWARE, DO NOT JUMP MAY RESULT IN YOUR DEATH.. I guess he couldn’t read.. we heard screams from his buddies.. and he did survive but barely.. you could hear him screaming while he tumbled down the rapids… idiot yet lucky…

Surprisingly the bridge didn’t collapse under all these people!


The beginning of the hike. Steps to take you into the canyon



You can see how many steps we took to reach the lower (stationary) bridge. Also, the bridge the dumba** kid jumped from and the water he jumped into to. And the steps that bring you back up to the park entrance.


This seems to be a very popular area for runners and we did run into quite a few running up and down the stairs.

This plaque was on a bench on the running trail.


These signs were at the Ranger Station cautioning you to watch out for not only bears but also_______


The kid was pooped!


The weather started to turn and the fog and rain began. We realized it wasn’t a good day to drive up to Whistler and so decided to head back in the other direction toward the seaside and see what Stevenson , a little fishing village on the sea south of Vancouver was like. Many people recommended the place and the two women who we met on the trail suggested an eating spot for fish and chips… I wonder if they eat anything else besides fish and chips since wherever we went that was on the menu..  Some ladies from KnittingParadise suggested the place too but talked about a yarn shop there. In truth, I knew that K wouldn’t really enjoy spending time in a yarn shop so I didn’t mention it.. but wouldn’t you know it.. we found a parking space right in front of it!!!! Faith!!! Had to go in now!!!  We spent about an hour there and K couldn’t stop talking to the saleslady about a sweater in the shop that the owner made for her daughter that took about 4 years to make and by the time it was finished the kid didn’t want it anymore!!!! It was selling for $1000.. seriously! I did buy some beautiful purple sock yarn made in Vancouver.




From there we were just a few blocks from the pier. The weather totally cleared up by the time we got to Stevenson so it was perfect walking weather and eating al fresco!  The docks had lots of boats selling fish straight from the morning catch and of course we just had to have the fish and chips the ladies on the hike suggested!



After the pier and lunch we drove around the town, which was lovely full of hydrangeas and sweet painted houses, many were for sale.


As if we weren’t exhausted enough, Jacky told us about another weekend summer market that was open in Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver. It was on the way back to the city and since it is only open on weekends during the summer we probably would never get a chance to check it out so as tired and we were we drove to it.. The fair was a cross between a swap meet, midway and an Asian street food market. It was the usual Chinese stuff. There was even a “Doctor” who offered reflexology and massages.  For some reason known only to them, I guess, the place was full of rubber Duckies!




Even the cops were getting into it and having fun!


They had a stage where people preformed.

The father tried to help the kid sleep by putting his finger in her ear so that it would muffle the sounds from the stage and not wake her up.

They had some awful performers. Like a Michael Jackson wannabe, quite pathetic, but you have to give him credit for getting up on stage and preforming! And a young kid who wasn’t too bad but was trying too hard to be Michael Buble singing Frankie and crooner music.


As darkness fell more people showed up and the food court started to really get busy. Again, since this is a very big Asian area that was the food that was offered.



DAY 3:    The next day we started driving up to Whistler Mountain again and got waylaid yet again.. It was pouring and foggy, of course there was another turn off into a park that wound its way up a mountain to show us some beautiful views of the city, if the weather would have cooperated, which it did not!





Must be a ski resort and these are the ski runs during the summer once the snow has melted!

And again we hadn’t had breakfast (what’s up with us and breakfast?????)  and found our way to another lovely little village, even though it was pouring cats and dogs we found a great little bake shop (Called The Bake House) in Dundarave. They have a Main Street with lots of cute shops, markets and cafes.We should have stuck with the pastries instead of trying to have a decent breakfast, the breakfast was so very nondescript but the bread was great and so were the lovely scones, muffins and cakes.. They make fantastic breads and even have this great rainbow bread they use for the kids grilled cheese sandwiches. They sell the loaves by the pound. The scones were great but not TRACY’s award winning scones and they didn’t have clotted cream, either!  Across the street was a yarn shop but it was raining so badly we just wanted to get back to the car. Will have to wait till next time.




Then we heard about these Gardens called the Elizabeth Gardens that are suppose to be beautiful. They were ok if you hadn’t already gone to Buchardt Gardens over on Vancouver Island in the city of Victoria. NOW THOSE ARE MAGNIFICENT! I know I’m spoiled!!!   There was an interesting plaque in the Garden that lead us to believe that someone  had something to do with the Holocaust. Driving the neighborhood around the Gardens showed us that we were in a pretty dominant Jewish neighborhood with Chabad occupying a large building in the area, kosher groceries the JCC and Jewish Hebrew Schools.  We went to check out the grocery store to see what they had in stock and they were pretty well stocked, even had honey cake and round raisin challahs. Plus, a decent meat department and we purchased some beef jerky would you believe?




From there (since it was raining and foggy) we decided to go to Granville Island with it’s interesting artisan food and art market. 

A broom maker, I wonder if her name is Broomhilda!


Cherries piled high!


My new life motto!!!!!!!!!!!!



First Nation artwork and cloak see all those little white buttons sewn on it? I think they are from whale bone.


Yarn bombing!


Under the Granville Bridge


Before and After! Fish and Sweet Potato Fries.. Salmon, Cod and Halibut!! YUM!


Back to Chinatown and packing!



Off to Alaska we go!