Fairbanks

Fairbanks
My vacation is almost over. I can’t believe how fast these 11 days have gone by. It was just a year ago I was planning this trip and beginning my countdown.

We arrived in Fairbanks around noon and headed to the Riverboat Discovery Tour. Princess ships weren’t the only ones there. NCL and Holland American also came by bus. We moved into a large dining hall that served lunch family style and picnic type tables. They served a stew, some type of soup, pasta salad and a brownie. The soup and stew were served in large cast iron pots and the stew was really good.

Once lunch was over we got in line to get on the large paddlewheel boat and went down the river. There were some incredible homes along the shore (photos below). As we went down the river, there were people on the shore giving demonstrations. One was showing puppies at a training camp for dogs for dog sledding. They were so cute and I got my puppy fix. Farther down the river they stopped and showed how the tribes smoked fish at a fish camp. At one point we got off the boat and went to shore and went to different areas to get presentations on how the native Alaskans survived by hunting and making pelts. We got back on the boat and headed up the river. It started raining when we were going through presentations so once on the boat it was warm and I started falling asleep.

We finally got to the hotel and fortunately my suitcase was in my room. I went down to one of the restaurants and grabbed a quick dinner and came back upstairs. I have to have my suitcase outside my room by 5am and catch the transfer at 6:30 to the airport for my 8:40 flight.

I will admit I am looking forward to going home to see my family and my Charlie, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I will come back to Alaska. There is still so much I didn’t see. I’m not sure if I would do a cruise or if I did, I would do the land portion first and then relax on the cruise. You really enjoy the luxury of unpacking once instead of living out of a suitcase. I would love to go to the Kenai area, Copper River, Sitka and Seward.

I met a lot of great people on this trip from around the world. Some I know I will be friends with for a long time. This trip was the most incredible experience of my life and I’m sorry it’s over. Monday its back to reality.

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Denali

Denali

It was only a 2 hour and 20 minute drive from McKinley to Denali. It rained the whole way here and as soon as we got close to the lodge, there was a rainbow and the sun came out.

As soon as I stepped out of the bus, it was very cold; mid 40’s. Sorry to my San Diego friends.
I went to my room but it wasn’t ready yet so I went to the great room and got on the internet. I’m lucky here at this lodge, I’m close to the great room so I get internet here in my room for free.

My Tundra Wilderness Tour wasn’t until 2pm so I grabbed a cookie and a mocha and waited outside for the bus to arrive.

We were on the road right at 2pm and saw animals almost right a way. First sighting was caribou. It wasn’t long before we saw some bears, all grizzlies. I couldn’t believe how the colors of Fall were all over the park. It was so pretty. We went 63 miles in and turned around. We were out for about 7-1/2 hours.

Tonight the Northern lights are supposed to be “moderate” so I put in a wake up call if they come out. So far the clouds have stayed away so here’s hoping.

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McKinley to Denali Princess Lodge

Whittier

This morning I woke up at 4:30 am. Both the alarm on the iPad and wake up call both worked. We had arrived in Whittier at 12:30am. One of the bright orange lights on the dock shone right into my cabin. Once I had gathered everything up, I headed to International Cafe for a muffin and coffee and then headed to Bordeaux Dining room to wait to disembark to the train.

I headed to car 2, table 18 and made myself comfortable for the next 5-1/2 hours. Weather hasn’t been too nice. Rain is falling. I’m hoping things clear up as we continue north.

The train ride was a nice 5-1/2 hours. Once a couple moved out it was just myself and one other lady from Calgary. The wife asked the other lady if she would mind moving so she could sit next to her husband. Well that meant giving up the window seat. We both said no. They should have got there earlier like we did.

On the way up we saw Beluga whales hunting salmon. Other than that no other wildlife.

Here at the lodge, a mother black bear and her 2 twin cubs have been spotted walking around the grounds. The lodge is made up buildings that have two stories and rooms inside. I’m pretty far from the main lodge and that is the only place where they have free internet.

I go horseback riding at 5pm for a couple of hours, have dinner with the girls and then head to bed. I have to have my suitcase outside my room by 7:30 tomorrow morning and catch the bus to the Denali lodge at 9am. For tonight, I have put my name on the call list for the Northern Lights should they appear. The chance of seeing them or Mt. McKinley here is slim to none as it’s very cloudy and raining off and on. Right now it’s 54 degrees. I hear at home it is extremely hot. Not looking forward to going home to that this weekend.

More tomorrow from Denali then on to Fairbanks.

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McKinley Princess Lodge

Whittier

This morning I woke up at 4:30 am. Both the alarm on the iPad and wake up call both worked. We had arrived in Whittier at 12:30am. One of the bright orange lights on the dock shone right into my cabin. Once I had gathered everything up, I headed to International Cafe for a muffin and coffee and then headed to Bordeaux Dining room to wait to disembark to the train.

I headed to car 2, table 18 and made myself comfortable for the next 5-1/2 hours. Weather hasn’t been too nice. Rain is falling. I’m hoping things clear up as we continue north.

The train ride was a nice 5-1/2 hours. Once a couple moved out it was just myself and one other lady from Calgary. The wife asked the other lady if she would mind moving so she could sit next to her husband. Well that meant giving up the window seat. We both said no. They should have got there earlier like we did.

On the way up we saw Beluga whales hunting salmon. Other than that no other wildlife.

Here at the lodge, a mother black bear and her 2 twin cubs have been spotted walking around the grounds. The lodge is made up buildings that have two stories and rooms inside. I’m pretty far from the main lodge and that is the only place where they have free internet.

I go horseback riding at 5pm for a couple of hours, have dinner with the girls and then head to bed. I have to have my suitcase outside my room by 7:30 tomorrow morning and catch the bus to the Denali lodge at 9am. For tonight, I have put my name on the call list for the Northern Lights should they appear. The chance of seeing them or Mt. McKinley here is slim to none as it’s very cloudy and raining off and on. Right now it’s 54 degrees. I hear at home it is extremely hot. Not looking forward to going home to that this weekend.

More tomorrow from Denali then on to Fairbanks.

College Fjord – Sea Day

Last night I had a wonderful dinner with David and Jacki in Sabatini’s. All the food was wonderful.

I woke up at 4:30 but not by choice. The ship was rocking really bad. We heard there was going to be 12′ swells but this was ridiculous. I immediately took a Bonine.

Today is basically a sea day as we don’t reach College Fjord until 5pm.

The seas have continued to be very rough. You can’t even look outside your window. All I wanted to eat for breakfast this morning was toast and corn flakes. I picked up a green apple because I heard it helps with sea sickness should I get it.

I did another small load of laundry along with everyone else and watched an episode of The Love Boat. The funny thing about watching these episodes is that I still remember them as if I just watched them and some of them are almost 30 years old.

Tonight we have to have our bags outside our room before we go to bed. I’m basically already packed. I had to make sure everything I bought would fit in my suitcase. I also have to decide what I’m going to put in my carryon since I don’t see my suitcase again until I get to The McKinley Lodge and were not allowed to bring too much on the train.

It’s kind of sad that after tomorrow that I will no longer be on the ship. I will also not have as much food around me because starting tomorrow I have to pay for everything. I’m glad I decided to do the cruisetour after the ship otherwise this trip would be over too soon. I have to be in the dining room by 6am tomorrow, and then we climb onto the train.

My minutes are winding down so I will posting again tomorrow once I reach the lodge and I have free internet.

Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay

I set the alarm to wake up at 5am this morning because they say the best time to see wildlife on the way to Glacier Bay is very early in the morning. I went up had some breakfast and as I was heading to my seat, some people by the window spotted some whales. I missed them. I quietly ate my breakfast and headed down to the International Cafe for my morning coffee and headed back to my room. I was soo cold walking on the deck to the Horizon Court that I decided to bundle up some more. The new lined jacket I bought was perfect. As I was in my room glancing out the balcony window, out of no where 3 Orcas surfaced. I grabbed my camera but unfortunately they were too far away to get a good shot. I grabbed the binoculars and just stood out there and waited. Then more came up. I could hear the other people on their balconies making comments too.

The rangers were brought on board the ship around 6am and we should be in Glacier Bay by 9am. It is very foggy out so I hope we get to see the Glaciers and here’s hoping for a calving, otherwise known as “white thunder”.

Well, we didn’t get to see any calving but I couldn’t believe how the sun came out yet again and it was beautiful in Glacier Bay. There wasn’t any wildlife except birds and the orcas on the way into the bay. Right now we’re sailing out of Glacier Bay and I saw another whale. No sea lions, seals or otters.

Tonight I was invited to join my British friends in Sabatini’s since I missed out last night.

Tomorrow is College Fjord then it’s off at Whittier and on to Denali.

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Skagway

Yesterday afternoon I took a nice long nap and then went down to International Cafe to grab a little something for dinner. Horizon Court didn’t have much for me so I had another Waldorf Chicken Salad and Caprece panini. I met up with my fellow cruisers Deborah, Rich and Laurie and we hung out there for a while.

Skagway

I woke up this morning and found we had already docked in Skagway. Since my tour had changed from 7:20 to 1:20 I took my time getting dressed and went up to breakfast. Since most of the boat was out on excursions, I decided to do a load of laundry. I was the first one in there and figured out how to us the machines and then proceeded to teach all the other passengers that came in. Since I had an abundance of Tide Pods and quarters, I was able to sell my remaining quantities and even make a buck or two. Who knew?

I walked into town in the pouring rain to get a souvenir t-shirt from Skagway and wandered back. When it came time to my tour, I headed back to the dock and waited for the guide. We were taken down to the dock and got on a boat. The seas were very rough and I was afraid I would get sick because I didn’t take any Bonine today since it was making me so sleepy. I was okay. We made it to Glacier Point and got on a bus to a remote area. They gave us sandwiches and then we put on boots and rain gear and hiked down to the canoes. From here on it was absolutely fantastic. We canoed up to Davidson Glacier and little did I know, we actually got to walk on the glacier. It was incredible. Parts of the glacier were floating in the lake. I got some nice pictures. We came back to the beach and got on the boat. Going back was much smoother. The the captain stopped the boat and we had a pod of Dall’s porpoises swimming and jumping around the boat. There was a point where the salt water and fresh water met and put a line in the water. The porpoises stopped like they hit a wall and went back to the salt water. We just stayed there for a while and watched them swim and jump around us. We could’t have ended the day any better. The guide on the boat said this was the first time this season they have seen them. Because we stopped, we were the last 21 people to get on the boat before it left. I was bummed because I wasn’t able to meet up with my fellow ship mates in the specialty restaurant but I had a feeling I was going to be late so I told them not to wait for me.

Tomorrow we arrive in Glacier Bay. I hope we get to see some orcas.

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