Husband and I are back from Alaska, but I personally haven't quite recovered from the trip. Jet lag has kept me up late at night and had me sleeping in, and I'm eager for my internal clock to adjust back to eastern time.
At least the laundry is done, the cats are home where they belong, and I made dinner last night for the first time in two-and-half weeks. It has been nice having other people do that for a while. For me, vacation means having someone else cook for me. It's a treat.
So, Alaska. Here's how the trip went. We flew to San Francisco and spent a couple of days with No. 1 and her boyfriend. Then we boarded the ship, the Sea Princess, and sailed on a sunny day on the Bay, which is a pretty rare occurrence. Our state room was at the very back of the ship, and this is the view from our balcony:
We spent the first two days at sea—there were lectures by a geologist who talked about the details of Alaska (gold mining, glaciers, history), movies, music, food, reading, naps. And then our first port was Ketchikan. Apparently, this city sees an amazing amount of rain, but we arrived on a sunny, warm day, perfect for a walking tour. This was our guide, a Tlingit who told us about the history of the town and the culture of his tribe. We did a little shopping in what used to be the red light district, saw salmon swimming up stream and had lunch at a local place. Cool town. Here is a shot of the guide telling us about totem poles:
The next day, we stopped in Juneau, larger than Ketchikan and with more to do. We booked a tour of a summer camp for sled dogs, which had us in a van careening up the side of a mountain. At the camp, we were greeted by about 120 dogs, each eager to run and to bark. And then bark some more—they fed off of each other's excitement, and the sound was deafening.
One of the mushers who lives at the camp all summer introduced us to her dogs and explained the world of Iditarod racing. She hitched a team of dogs to a cart with wheels, and we climbed aboard, with Husband and I in the front, and we went for a ride of about a mile and a half. I love how these dogs in the back kept snapping at each other. I'll run next to you, but I hate your guts. They have short tails because they each bit off the tail of the other.
Later after lunch, we took a tour of the city and the countryside, which included pretty spots and a nice drive. Here is the Mendendhall Glacier, which is slowly retreating and leaving bits and pieces in the adjacent lake:
And here is a bit of ancient ice from the glacier. You can eat this stuff, it's so pure. In fact, our guide broke off a piece and put it in his water cup he kept in the van.
I've lost track and can't remember if we had a day at sea after Juneau or went straight to Haines, but Haines was out next port. It's a small village with not much going on, but it's in a beautiful setting and a great place for wandering. We took a walk through town and then took a tour of the surrounding wilderness. We saw bears and eagles at the Chilkoot River:
and then went to a beautiful lake and listened to stories from another Tlingit guide, a funny guy full of old-man jokes.
Next stop, Victoria, B.C., where we toured the Butchart Gardens and had wine at a nearby winery:
And then two days at sea to get back to San Francisco. Early the first day, we glided through Endicott Arm, a small inlet that is so quiet, you could hear glacial ice splash in the water. The purpose of that side trip was to show us the Dawes Glacier, a massive thing that is retreating a foot a day. Here we are approaching the glacier early on a cold morning.
When we got about as close as the ship could get, we started to pivot in order to turn around, so Husband and I ran back down to our balcony to get a close-up view. Fortunately, the ship sat still for a while, so we could sit there with our coffee and listen to the ice crack. Fascinating. As close as it looks in this shot, it's actually over a mile away, so that gives you an idea of how big this glacier is.
Now, after floating around for two weeks of 60˚ weather, back to real life and summer heat. That's OK, though, because real life isn't so bad.