Sunday, September 13, 2009

Alaska

Alaska!
When opportunity knocks... answer, right? :) We had the opportunity-of-a-lifetime last week to visit the place I've dreamed about visiting since I was a little girl: ALASKA! :) Dustin's parents, aunt and grandma had their Alaskan cruise booked months ago, and my D (Dustin) saw an opportunity (wife not working this fall, family on-board babysitting, my #1 dream vacation EVER, discounted prices) and took it. The fun part was, he kept the trip a surprise for me until our anniversary, then surprised-the-socks off me during our anniversary dinner:). NICE work D! :)

We boarded the ship Sunday afternoon in Seattle, Washington. I'd never seen a cruise ship close up before; I was blown away by how BIG the ship was!
Taking off... SO Excited! :)
We were at sea all day Monday heading to our first port city, Juneau.
Caleb and I walked the deck lots to take in the views... so pretty!
We found a play room for Caleb:)
We docked in Juneau, Alaksa Tuesday afternoon. Dustin and I left the little guy with grandma and grandpa and headed out for a hike around Mendenhall Glacier. The deep, bright blue crevices made the glacier glow. It was BEAUTIFUL!
There was a gorgeous waterfall near the glacier

We woke up early Wednesday morning in Skagway, Alaska.
We spotted this right as we stepped off the ship. Can you believe it? A seal eating a salmon!
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Next, he dove under, got the salmon again and...
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Our BIG DAY had finally arrived: a land excursion taking the White Pass train an hour into the mountains, and then getting off for a guided hike 9 miles into the wilderness ON TO A GLACIER! I was SO excited I could hardly contain myself!! :)
What a beautiful train ride up! This was a view off the back deck of the train. I was grinning from ear-to-ear the whole ride up!! :):)
Our guides - fun guys! We made sandwiches on the train on the way up; they also gave us lots of snacks to pack away for our hike- yum!
After years of leading kids through the mountains and teaching Colorado ecology, it was so cool for me to be in the learning role again, having a guide teaching us about all kinds of new mosses, mushrooms, plants and berries.
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Some sort of moss... makes a great 'stash!
Early fall leaves - SO BEAUTIFUL! :)
Heading up the riverbed towards the glaciers ahead... YIPEE!!
Getting closer
and closer
... and closer!
We finally hit glacial ice; they gave us these spikes to clamp on our feet to help us climb the glaciers.
Still climbin'
Woa!!! Look at this! Deep glacial crevices... One of the most amazing things I've EVER seen!!
Water streamed out of every crevice - look!
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I was like a kid in a candy shop - climbing all over... so excited. It was SO SO SO cool! :) The ice was SO blue, and the water streaming out of each crevice was SO amazing!
:) Standing over a water fall
Surprise! It was cold and drizzly on the glacier where we stopped for lunch... we were really cold. This is so cool: our guide came over with a thermos of hot water, whipped out his pocket knife, grabbed my plastic water bottle and cut it in half. Then he poured hot chocolate and some hot water into my 1/2 bottle. What a treat! Hot chocolate on top of an Alaskan glacier... not sure if life gets better:):) (Oh, side note - those of us from Colorado know never to drink mountain water because you can get Guardia. This glacial water, however, was clean and safe to drink - crazy!) :)
Can you believe how incredible this is?
I climbed down that crevice and look at how steep the walls are!
So pretty!

All good things must come to an end... we made it down the mountain and caught our train back home. What an adventure; one I will never forget!! God's creation never ceases to amaze me. Thank you so much Jesus for this amazing opportunity! We love you!


We had a few minutes to walk around the town of Skagway. To the right on the picture below is (no joke) the snowblower they use to clear the pass in the winter (they get 60+ feet of snow)... how's that for a snowblower Minnesota folk? :)
Thursday: a trip through Glacier Bay. Look at those glaciers - WOW!
Our ship was 14 stories high and this glacier from a distance was even taller - and look how blue it is! :)
We got to see part of the glacial wall break off into the water. What an amazing sight... and LOUD as it hit the water! :)
Meanwhile back at the ship, my super-shy husband got chosen to come on stage one evening during a comedian's show to play the scarecrow in the "play". Funny stuff! :)
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Friday morning: Ketchican, Alaska. Our plan was to walk through town to catch a hiking trail to the top of Deer Mountain (cheep and beautiful). That all changed when a guy from a Misty Fjord's plane company stopped us and offered us tickets to fly into the Fjords for 2 hours 1/2 the price of what was offered on the cruise ship... D's dream, always, has been to fly in one of these small pontoon water planes (or whatever they're called). Fjords are deep water channels surrounded by steep mountain walls. We'd heard these flights to Ketchican's Misty Fjord were beyond amazing. We took a few minutes to walk and think it out and decided to go for it: some opportunities only pass you by once and we decided to take this one:).
ALL ABOARD! D was one happy guy (I was too) :)
A close up of our plane
Wow was it amazing to take off and land on the water!

The views were unforgettable!
It's a bit hard to tell from this picture, but the coolest thing happened: we spotted BEAR (the black dot in the middle of the picture)! The pilot put us down in the water near the bear. We watched the bear eat salmon in that river.
I tried to capture a bit of this on video...
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When the pilot landed we got to step out on the pontoons of the plane to take it all in. WOW!

So pretty!
We met the family back in town to catch a lumberjack show. Caleb fell asleep in my arms:)


Caleb and I watched salmon swim up this river together.
He was so fascinated:)
We saw a school of Dolphins following our ship at dinner this night. I didn't have my camera with, so no pictures, but it was BEAUTIFUL!

Caleb had lots of fun playing with his Great-Grandma Oma!
... and climbing stairs on the ship.
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:)
Sunshine! Our first day of sunshine in 6 days! Dustin and I got a pickup game going on the top deck. We gathered a group of guys and played amidst the rocking of the ship... makes for some interesting ball! What fun to play ball while at sea! :)
SUNSET!! We docked in Victoria, Canada Saturday evening just in time to catch the sunset - YES! A perfect way to end an amazing trip!

After sunset, we walked into town with Roger and Paula (Caleb's asleep in his stroller). We had a great night exploring Victoria. Here we are in front of BC's capital in Victoria. What a beautiful city!

The opportunity of a lifetime ... So thankful, so blessed!