How do you sum up time spent in Alaska? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? How do I make you stay and listen to all I say? How do you keep a wave upon the sand?
Oh. Sorry. We're talking Alaska
, not Austria and the flibbertijibbet that is Maria.
The natural wonders of Alaska and Canada were breathtaking. Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan trips ashore gave a more close up view of the area, rather than being out on a cruise ship in the water. I still can't believe I was there. I know I want to go back.
|Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, 2013|
Traveling on a cruise ship has it's limitations. I'm not one for crowds, so there's that. But the shore excursions were fabulous! The weather was warm and we required jackets only one morning. The photo at right is the Mendenhall Glacier, located outside of Juneau. I can go back there, and so can you, by clicking this link
. We saw the salmon swimming upstream, and missed by mere minutes the sight of bears feasting on the aforementioned salmon. This particular glacier is quickly retreating, as the rangers will attest. Other glaciers in Alaska are advancing. Go figure.
The Tongas National forest is the largest of our national forests. Everything is bigger in Alaska, no matter what those Texans say. Alaska is like the Sierra on steroids. Alaska is where bear and other animals are everywhere, and in abundance. The natural world is woven into both the native and 'settlers' culture. I have learned that old timers there are called Sourdoughs
and newbies have the distinction of being called cheechako
. Stories about cheechakos are told with great relish, these poor fools who come to an unforgiving land and face myriad misfortunes and follies.
You need to be a very sturdy sort to make a good go of it in this wilderness. Luckily, I had the piano bar on ship. There was a very entertaining piano man singing Broadway musicals, torch songs and classics. The only problem was he looked an awful lot like Rush Limbaugh. But never mind. I adored his performances, sipping on my gingerale in the soft glow of the hushed lamplight.
More Alaska stories to come, but for now, I am drinking hot lemon-flavored cold/flu medicine because I woke up Friday morning with a throat that felt as if it been nicked with thousands of tiny razors. Thank gawd that it happened near the end of the trip. Time in the spa's steam room helped. And get this: the spa was located in the front of the ship, so you could stand naked with steam flowing off your body and watch the fiords, birds, mountains and whales go by! It was my favorite spot on the entire joint.
|Not the wheel room of the cruise ship, for sure.|