Friday, July 31, 2009


We awoke to gorgeous views as we entered Sitka. Along the channel are many many small islands, and as we got closer, these tiny rock formations with trees started having lovely homes on them. And a large boat at the dock. The coast reminds us a bit of the rocky Maine coast, minus the background mountains. We do not come ashore but are anchored out aways. We were the only cruise ship but they said there is room for several altho I'm not sure where.
To get to town, they tendered us in on these ....they hold 120 and are also the life boats. It was a simple and efficent operation. Paul and I wandered the delightful little village. We did manage to do a bit of shopping but knowing my luggage capacity, I was controlled. Sitka was first established by the Tlinget Indians who lived for centuries in this area. Then the Russians, who could see Alaska from their house, came across and established control. There were many years of fighting and eventually an uneasy truce. Russia eventually gave the land to the US. There is strong Russian influence in the town....a typical orthodox church and crafts made in Russia.
Paul and I did extensive exploring on foot and ended up at this National Historical Park with authenic totem poles. We will see many more in Ketchikan today.

A view from the ship of the many inhabited little islands in the area.

Late afternoon, we returned to the ship and to the Observation deck for a wine and cheese with classical music. It was lovely. Along with the wine and cheese , they served crackers.....GRAHAM crackers. Must be a new thing. I don't recommend it.
Last night was the 2nd formal night. Sandy and Tom were up for it and we all look lovely. But I have no pictures to prove that. After dinner , Jerry and Maureen and Paul and I went to the big musical production. Sort of a salute to Broadway and the movies with singing and dancing by the 14 cast members all decked out in Bob Mackie costumes. A great show.
The cruise is quite a mixture of all ages. From babies to the real elderly and everything in between. They have ample things to do for all groups. It is a well planned operation. We would love to bring our grandkids along next time.
We've just arrived in Ketchikan for a 5 hour stay. Gotta service at the door.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Early Wednesday morning, we arrived in Juneau. It is hugging the side of this channel and is quite state capital standards although it encompasses the largest area of any capital at 3000 sq. miles. You cannot drive to Juneau. It is accessible only by car or boat.

There were several other cruise ships in port. Part of the lure of cruising is the chance to get off the ship and explore the area. You can of course do this on your own but the ships offer various excursions. They can be from the simple and affordable to the exotic and very expensive. Prior to the trip, I examined our options carefully, did my research and decided that we should try ziplining. Now , this is not something I would ordinarily even consider. I am not of the high adventure sort but do enjoy more physical activities, biking, hiking, skiing etc. Not bungee cord jumping, hot air ballooning or anything of that nature. So this was a true leap of faith and nerve. The ship consultant assured me that it was safe, fun and all ages could and have done it. (no one under 12 however). She made it sound like a walk in the park. But, when we met off the ship with one of the guides, she was more direct and gave us a chance to back out after explaining more of the risks. I'm not sure that Sandy and Maureen were as informed as I was but they were eager to try it. Jerry and Tom opted to pass on this one due to some orthopedic issues.

We were transported over to the site by boat and then given another opportunity to back out. We were not the oldest in our group of 9. Surprisingly , or stupidly, I was not intimidated.....yet. This is Paul on one of the first zips. We started out on a small trial one, but still high off the ground. We were harnessed in and had multiple cables connected to safe areas at all times. We wore hard hats (not that they'd have done much good if we'd smacked into a tree) and leather gloves to brake ourselves on the cable. Some companies have the guides slow your descent but on this one we did all the work......I volunteered to go first.

Here we are standing on one of the platforms. We were high up in the trees, standing on these small platforms , safely ?? attached to various cables. We had two guides to help us at all times.

And then, if 10 zip lines of lengths up to 750 ft weren't enough, we had the joy of walking two long extension bridges.....high off the ground. Again we were tethered to a cable. The entire group did fine except that we did start out at 9 people and after the first zip, a young asian man with limited English skills, couldn't go on. I think he was the result of the ship consultant's over zealous encouragement. They had to lower him off the platform.

I think this is Maureen , using her fine "recliner form". The brochure suggests that the views of Juneau, the bubbling creek, possible bears and the old gold mine and the rain forest will only add to the enjoyment. Folks, let me tell you right now....this was not about the views. This was about keeping your eye on the guide, trying not to go sideways and wanting to brake the entire way down as you are traveling at 35 MPH !!!! Yes, it is exhilerating but I can go that fast down a hill in a CAR.

This is a view of the forest floor. The plants are huge. I did not take this from a zip line .

Paul again. We all did great. Managed to use good form, didn't crash into the platform and didn't brake too soon and get stranded out in the middle.After the final zip, we were still many many feet off the ground and had to rappel (sp??) down. That was kinda fun actually. Sandy has pictures of that. And she also has pictures of the awards ceremony where we received our medals of accomplishments.

And then it was back to the ship where we retired to the Crows Nest lounge for some libation, pats on the back and scenic views of the float planes taking off and landing.
We all agreed that if given the opportunity to do it again, at half the price at least, we would have done another 10 zips immediately.

Later we strolled the town and it was unimpressive with the usual tee shirt shops , jewelry stores and too many tourists. The weather was perfect and next time, after the zipline, I'd like to do some whale watching.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Glacier Bay

This was one of our destinations as we headed into Glacier Bay National Park. We spent all day Tuesday in this magnificent area. We saw bears and an occasional whale, sea otters and kayakers and campers in remote areas, accessible only by small boat. Only 2 cruise ships are allowed in at a time. We picked up National Park Rangers who shared historical info as well as environmental and geological details. The water is a lovely cloudy aqua and the glaciers are translucent and glowing from within in that same color. I'm not sure I captured it. We spent 90 min in front of Margery Glacier. We watched and listened as it "calved". Large parts cracking loudly and falling into the water with tremendous displays and sounds like loud thunder. I didn't get pictures as you usually hear the sound and then see the splash. We often spent time in this lovely place, the Observation Lounge. There is a coffee bar, a regular bar, a computer area and a wonderfully large , very complete library with very comfy seating areas. It really is a great spot to spend some hours.

Or we go on the top deck and enjoy this. Chairs and blankets if needed. And waiters ......That is a lightly tinted glass to protect from the wind.
A typical view. Not a postcard.
After a late dinner, we have an 8 pm seating, we returned to our room and each night a different towel creation awaits us.

Jerry and Maureen in front of Margerie glacier. It is about 300 ft tall.
As I write this, we are entering Juneau. This is our first land stop and we are going ZIPLINING!!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hi again.......

Finally !!!!! I know that you have all been waiting for the next installments but folks, they don't have a lot of technology up here in the land of the midnight sun. Finally, we gave in and bought the techology. We will require you to SUBSCRIBE to this missive at the bargain price of $1.00 a minute. At that rate, we will make a profit of .60 /minute and it will pay for about 1 oz of wine if all 2000 of you sign up. Not sure why we never did the cruise thing before this but we highly recommend it. Holland America has exquisite service and aside from some of the buffet stuff (skip the scrambled eggs), the food is excellent. We had an uneventful trip to the ship from the airport. It's sort of like the Disney experience in that they move you effortlessly and efficiently and even the dim light bulbs in the crowd get where they are going....and luggage follows quickly. The ship holds 1848 people and a crew of 700 but somehow they put 2078 people on......don't know where they all are because nothing is crowded.

Here we are, minus Paul , on deck for the life boat drill. Now we know why they are called Mae Wests.!! Our room is small but not crowded and has amazing storage. Bed is very comfortable and since we have adjoining rooms, we opened up the walls between and have one long veranda.

By the way, let me introduce our traveling companions. My younger sister Sandy and her husband Tom from Monterey Co, California. My youngest sister Maureen and her husband Jerry from Lockeford, Ca. (She has been Mugs since a baby but I will try and use her given name most of the time. )

We had formal night last night. It was very very nice with outstanding food and service. Unfortunately, Sandy was a bit queasy and enjoyed room service. The seas were very rough yesterday and walking was a challenge. Then throw in spiky heels and it became a dance.

Today we are entering Glacier Bay National Park and the views are to be spectacular. I've already seen whales on my morning very brisk walk around the deck.
I have alot of pictures but it takes forever to down load them. But stay tuned and we'll be back soon.

The blog will not be as highly polished as you have become accustomed to....parden the broken syntaxes, the mispelling and the out of order pictures. I need to save my money for the jewelry shopping when we hit land (NOT) and can't sit on this expensive site for long.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A legacy

My father, for those who don't know, was a master woodcarver. He had many artistic talents but probably his most remembered is carving carousel animals. His workshop was spotless sanctuary with a place for everything and filled with the efforts of his countless hours of carving. He did not want to sell these animals and only did it if someone insisted. He followed the guidelines of the famous carousel carvers, using the same wood, similar detail and color. Each of his children, his grandchildren and great children has a cherished piece or two. Those of you who have been in our home have seen the horse and the giraffe that I display proudly. Below is part of his workshop. Only a few remain , waiting for placement to a family member. My brother Tom has taken up the calling and a couple of these pieces are his. He is equally as talented.

There are a few more horses in the house. Another of his interests was carving authentic totem poles. We had one in our Ct home and it now resides at Jon's. They are a real conversation piece and I wish we would have had room for it. He also carved small birds, squirrels and assorted wildlife.
This legacy of art will endure for generations as I am sure they will be passed on and on.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fine print

Remember the joy we felt at seeing this on the Southwest website? Remember the BIG BAG that I gleefully filled with everything in my closet. Well, we should have remembered to read the 'fine print' before packing.

Once we were mostly all packed , we felt rather smug about our new luggage. There were some nagging doubts about how we were going to lift it, move it and transport it but that was all erased by having our 16 pair of shoes and 49 books tucked away. Oh yes, and enough yarn for 2 sweaters. And then we read the FINE PRINT..............any bag weighing more than 50 lbs would be charged $100..... WEll, that got our attention. We made a half -hearted attempt at weighing it on the puny scale and finally accepting that it did weigh ALOT more than 50 lbs. The purging began. It was painful. By the time we got it down to the proper weight, what remained just sloshed around in this open pit. Oh the waste of space. So we went to bed to ponder and sleep on it. And one of us got up at 4 am and repacked everything into a smaller bag , weighing much less than 50 Lbs. So now we are traveling with 5 smaller bags and only left behind one beautiful hand knit shawl. We did good.

So we left Orlando on a very full airplane and had a smooth, clear ride. You all know how I feel about this flying thing but sometimes it's almost pleasant. We had a brief stop in Las Vegas......and then up to Sacramento.


Those of you who have been regular readers of this blog will recognize the similarity between this picture and a previous one. I'm sorry to say he is still trying to perfect his eye shades while using recycled products. This time, his half used napkin.

And when you get to Sacramento and wonder what they do with all those lost bags...... there are TWO of these structures in the baggage area . It is very eyecatching.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hurry up and wait....

Departure has been delayed by a day and that is a good thing. We had originally thought of leaving today and heading out to California to enjoy their wines and visit with my mother. I believe that visiting with my mother was the real objective but you know, "when in France......". And we also had planned on flying for free out there. That perceived priviledge of flying for nothing when you have a son who works for an airline. Well, it ain't always that easy and altho we certainly are happy that Jon has given us that benefit and we often take advantage of it and we had hoped to this time.......the planes are full. All that news of empty planes this summer is a myth. At least on Continental or at least on the flights we want to take. So we will donate to the competition and fly on

And we don't have to pay for the behemoth of a bag filled with 10 pair of shoes, 6 books, parkas and evening gowns and at least 20 lbs of cheap jewelry. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the gallon of gin and 14 bottles of wine. Plus my friend Lynne who insists she can curl up real small in the bag and would like to come along. I'm not sure why she would want to leave beautiful Vermont and head even further north, but we are accomodating. Check out her blog....I'd link to it but it's 7 in the morning and I forgot how to do that.

One more thing . A few weeks ago , we finally picked a color and had the walls painted and crown molding put up. It made a huge difference in the look and in my mood. The color is called Rainwashed by Sherwin Williams and I think it is considered a cure for many ailments.
These are pictures taken with my iPhone.....have I mentioned what I think of that little piece of perfection?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


This will be our house next week. Just the two of us, my sisters and their husbands and 1800 strangers. It is Holland America's Westerdam sailing from Seattle to Seattle with a bit of Alaska in between. We have never traveled by boat before altho we did get within 2 days of a Bermuda cruise and then 9/11 happened. I'm just not sure about sharing that space with so many people. I hope they are not all old like us.

We have solved the clothes problem. Went to Sam's Club (oh, how I miss Costco down here) and wheeled out with this 4 piece Samsonite set. And no, I don't plan on taking all 4 pieces but it allows for fewer decisions, do I take 10 pair of shoes or just 8......This clothes thing is very frustrating. We usually travel with carry on only, just pack and go, but since we will be gone for almost 3 weeks and it involves varied climates, formal events and various electronic devices, it requires a steamer trunk. Now we need a grandson to take along to manage it all. Alex ????

Besides clothes, there is a feeling that we need to take along "things to do " while we are "doing" the cruise. There is always my knitting to keep my fingers and mind agile. Then there is this device, which if the power supply is ample, can keep me zoned out for hours. Have I mentioned that I LOVE my iPhone.?When electronics fail to hold my attention, there is always the good book to curl up with. I currently have 6 that could travel with me. And with all that luggage, I could take them. My younger sister...yes, I'm the eldest of the 3, and the wisest and the....but I digress. Back to my younger sister , who has a MAJOR birthday on Saturday, and is an avid, avid reader. She got herself a Kindle. She raved about it. She continues to rave about it. So, on my birthday this spring,( not a major one, just one with high matching numbers,) a Kindle arrived for me from P. We spent a week exploring it's attributes, downloaded samples and read every review on it. Then we sent it back. I was disappointed. I wanted to like it so much.
It just didn't do it for me. And I was afraid I would drop it or bang it or sleep on it. I don't think we gave it enough of a chance to impress us. I would still like one. Maybe the next generation Kindle will be enough to push me over. They have reduced the price.

Speaking of books and reading. Go to and download a book for free. Before Wednesday. It's called "Heroic Measures" and sounds pretty good. It downloads in about 10 sec and I had planned on printing it out but it is 207 pages and decided I could just read it on the computer, altho it's not the same, it's more LIKE A KINDLE !!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Did you miss me??

It's been almost a year since I last shared my profound thoughts and despite no begging and pleading from you all, I have decided to resume my ramblings. I'm not sure where this is going this time but we have some travel plans and I think that always makes for good fodder. I know my mother will enjoy coming along on the trip. And maybe you will too.

This is my bag........
These are my clothes that need to go into that bag.....

Me neither.

Stay's good to be back. Ignore the date at the's really Monday , July 20th......I'll fix that later