Thursday, August 5, 2010

Home Again

Well, I'm home from my vacation - the last of several that were scheduled for this summer. I can't remember any other time when I've been so busy, so I'm enjoying home immensely right now! Our cruise was a fun experience and a great way to admire Alaska's rugged beauty while being pampered in comfort. This isn't a travel blog, so I'll share just a few of the many pictures we took so you can see some of what we saw.

Our ship wasn't the largest that we saw while there, but even so, it totally dwarfed the small towns that we stopped to visit. Skagway has a population of about 400 people and when four ships pull into harbor there are 10,000 extra people visiting - can you imagine? I think 99% of these small towns earn their living from tourism. Juneau is the state capital, but is only accessible by air or water - you can't drive there in a car. We thought that was really interesting.

At the base of Mendenhall Glacier, people had arranged these rocks into some fun formations. It was very picturesque.

This is the view from a narrow gauge railroad that we rode on up the mountain and into Canada. It was one of the few shore expeditions we did because everything like helicopter and plane rides were prohibitively expensive.

Just as the train was passing this Cinnamon Brown Bear came up the mountain - we were glad we were in the last car so we could get a good glimpse of him. Other wildlife we saw were moose, tons of bald eagles, sea otters, whales, and the salmon were running so we saw lots of them too.

This was Glacier Bay National Park - as we entered the park, so Park Rangers came out on a small boat and climbed aboard the ship so they could act as tour guides over the loud speakers. We we able to see a couple sections of one of the large glaciers calve off into the water.

Birds resting on an iceberg. Only 20% of the ice is visible above water.

After disembarking from the ship we spent a couple days in Anchorage to to a bit of exploring on our own. We drove up to Palmer and visited a Musk Ox Farm that was really interesting. These animals are domesticated and raised so that their down underlayer of hair can be harvested by combing every spring. The fur (qiviut) is spun and knitted into various items by native Alaskans to earn money while staying in their own remote homes. I thought of my friend Eileen while I was there because she's my go-to expert for all things fiber. I'm sure she knows all about this fiber so I'll pick her brain about it more next time I see her. 

This was a wonderful trip that hubby & I had originallly planned to take to celebrate our 25th anniversary five years ago. Turns out that we took it for our 30th instead! Now we're back to the real world and happy to be here! LOL


Diane said...

Oh I'm so thrilled for you. The pictures are breathtaking. thanks for sharing.
And welcome home!

Chocolates4Breakfast (Terri ~ Boog) said...

Looks like a wonderful trip, Gayle! Enjoy your time at home!

Sandy said...

Gayle, Your pictures are great. I can't wait, we leave the 15th. Your railroad excursion, was it in Skagway? We are going on one from there. Glad your back. Missed you at hooking. Is there anything you wished you would have done?
Talk to you later,

Mimi Sue said...

Glad you had fun. We enjoyed our Alaska cruise a few years ago too. You've been a busy girl this summer. Mimi

Kaaren said...

Awesome country, Gayle. Thanks for sharing some of your memories with us.

Although it's good to go away, there really is 'no place like home'.

Welcome back!

P.S. I'm going to Vermont tomorrow to shop for rug hooking supplies. *wink*

Rugs and Pugs said...

Gayle ~
What a wonderful trip. Happy anniversary. 30 years is quite a milestone. Thank you for sharing all the wonderful pictures.
It's good to get away, but always good to get home, too.
Pug hugs :)

Lori said...

Welcome home! It looks like an awesome cruise. I've never been to Alaska and always enjoy photos.

Angie Berry ~ Berry Homespun Primitives said...

Oh girl, that's my dream vacation! So glad you were able to go there and celebrate your 30th anniversary, how sweet. The pictures are gorgeous!

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