Friday, September 16, 2011

Remembering Alaska

Whenever on holiday we always want something to remind us of the great time we had.  Other than a few T-shirts I did not purchase much in Alaska.  At our ports of call there were tons of jewelery stores, many made in China souveniers, and very expensive local artwork.  In Skaguay we visited with the Rushin' Tailor, as she stocks the patterns from our Inuit series.  Although she is primarily a quilt shop, she did have some very nice cross stitch kits.  I only purchased some arctic motifed quilt fabrics, as the cross stitch kits she carried we also carry at Gitta's. Once home I still wanted a stitched piece to remember our holiday.  The chart below I charted this past week from one of the  many photos we took during our 2 weeks in Alaska.
This is a native symbol for the Orca, often seen in native artwork.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Alaskan Holiday

I'm back home already a week and our fabulous Alaskan holiday is now only a memory. .
We boarded the cruise ship in Vancouver on Friday, August 19th and spent 7 days cruising up the Inside passage to Seward, Alaska.  We had 4 ports of call, stopping in Ketchikan, Juneau, Icy Straights, and Skagway.

The ports had tons of shopping opportunities, but we preferred strolling through the towns and hiking on the trails.

In Ketchikan we strolled along the Creek and viewed the original part of town.  Before heading back to the ship we enjoyed a Lumberjack Show.


 Icy Straight is a small Tlingit community on an island that can only be reached by sea or air.  They operate the longest zip line in North America;  it is 5600 feet long, dropping 1300 feet and reaches a top speed of 60 miles/hour.   How could we resist.

The bus ride up the mountain took 45 minutes, and the ride down took only 90 seconds.  It was foggy that day, so we slipped in and out of the fog to spectacular views.

What an awesome ride !!!!
In Juneau we took a tram up the mountain to hike along the trails.  As well as a gift shop there was a cultural centre with a video and a few local artisans exhibiting some of their works.                         It was a rainy day, but we enjoyed the views and trails.
Skagway was my favourite town, with its  wooden sidewalks and buildings.  After walking through town and visiting with the Rushin' Tailor  David and I hiked for about 2 hours to two lookouts over the town.  The Rushin' Tailor is a quilt shop that sells David's Inuit designs - how cool is that - we just had to say hello.                                                 
On our last full day on the ship we spent the morning by the Hubbard Glacier.  As you can well imagine we took a ton of  photos over the 1 hour approach, and then a ton more over the hour we were there.  We spent the entire time on deck.  Everyone was complaining about the cold;   I was just in awe of its colour and when a fishing boat approached the Glacier, we could appreciation it’s size.
For our final week in Alaska we rented a car and drove from Anchorage up into Denali National Park.  In the morning of each day we joined an organized excursion and then hiked on the many Park trails in the afternoon. 
On the first day we flew in a beaver airplane, seeing Denali from the air, with all it's glory.  The tundra was already changing colour to magnificent reds and golds; even spotting a black bear on the run.  We then landed on one of the larger glaciers and spent some time appreciating the surrounding mountain range and the crisp clean air.

On our second day we ATV'd off road into the Alaskan bush, over a dry glacial creek bed, and stopped at several overlooks providing breathtaking 360°  views .  This was the kid's favourite excursion, splashing through puddles and bouncing along the different trail conditions.

Our final excursion was white water rafting on the glacier-fed Nenana river.  This was my excursion of choice.  While traveling through the canyon we went through several rapids as well as more gently flowing sections.  At the end of the 2 hour run we could even take a dip in the just above freezing river.  We were in dry suites but could still feel the coldness of the water.

Our afternoons were spent either driving or hiking through Denali.  It was along these trails that we managed to see some of the animals in the park. 

A mother moose and her calf.

A busy beaver hauling wood down a 200 foot incline to a lake.  We followed him from the trail to his clearing and then down to his den.  He kept us entertained for over an hour.

On our last day, as we were heading out of the park, there were several cars pulled over along the side of the road - a good indicator that an animal is in sight.  We pulled over and were able to see this black bear.  He was walking along a creek bed and then crossed the road right in front of our car.

We had an absolutely memorable holiday.  If you would like to see more photos of our Alaskan experience click here for photos of the first week on the Cruise Ship.  Click here to see photos from our second week in Denali National Park.