Monday, August 19, 2013

Travels in Alaska

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.


  1. Sounds like a fascinating trip. That is the one cruise that tempts me although I've also thought of taking the ferry up that lets you bring you vehicle with less luxurious accommodations, of course. I've know a few people who lived there and they had nothing but superlatives to say about it. I liked your descriptive words for what you felt when there. Now it's yours forever in your memory. That's a cool thought too.

  2. that's a great idea to take the car up on a ferry! I would totally do that! I have friends in Kenai.

  3. It really looks like quite a wild place still. I love knowing that. I hope it stays as wild as it can. So glad you took this journey.

  4. Beautifully descriptive commentary....but, you had me at flibbertijibbet.

  5. Very cool trip; good that you did it while the glaciers still exist.



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