Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Different Kind Of Fun

Recently I passed a couple of medical tests, one of which I had been putting off for a long time. That gave me such a surge of energy. Then I have time off from watching my grandson, so I decided to deep clean our house. That, too, is giving me lots of energy. I took several days ridding the house of all of the things I don't use. I was able to give 10 bags to Purple Heart, a Veterans group. That clearing, as always, gave me a huge boost of go-power. It isn't that I am not working hard. I told you I was doing something fun and free. I am. Cleaning, when you get out your little attachments and do all of the baseboards, that kind of thing, I love it. And sorting, well it's my fav. But today I was taken down a peg. I thought I'd be able to clean the laundry room in an hour. Hah! It was so dirty and every time I thought I was about done, I'd find some other little dirt hole place to clean. Not fun. But it's done now and I love the way it looks. I love the way it feels when you know the place is clean.

I can think when I do this sorting and cleaning. That is fun, too. I am thinking of even more purging. I want to cut my paperwork: files, writings (yes, those too,) prayer note cards and all kinds of notes on paper, boxes of "letters" from God (He already told me I could get rid of any paperwork I wanted to and He would always give me more,) magazine files, and Christmas cards etc. I want to get rid of 2/3 of this stuff, or at the very least, 50 %.

So now I'm pumped because my drawers are not full, I can see what I want when I want it, and I just plan to keep this up as much as possible. I always read Don Aslett's book Clutter's Last Stand before I do my ridding. It helps get rid of the excuses. I recommend all of his clutter books. You can probably get them at the library or try They have lots of old books.

Well, I probably let you all down. Hey, this is my fun when I'm not traveling. I don't have hardly any hobbies anymore. So "keeping neat" is my fun. Hope your day is great.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

And We Go Home

We went on our last excursion to Ketchikan. Here were many totem poles. This was our best day, weather wise, and I got some great blue skies totems. We also visited a Salmon hatchery. Here we saw real live bald eagles up close. One fun thing about this trip was that our guide looked like our son, Ben. I'm fascinated by the young people who come to Alaska in the summers to be tour guides. Very few are natives. They have to learn the lore for whatever tour they do and they have to learn how to maneuver and parallel park a huge bus. That's quite a feat. Plus they are so friendly. I'd say they are America's next generation of hard workers and adventurers.

We had a great last day on board the ship. I tried to stare at and remember each beautiful thing that was now familiar, because I was going home and who knows if I'll ever get to touch such extravagance again.

We got off the ship and ended up in Vancouver, B.C. I love this city. There are museums and little shops and parks. Lovely. We stayed at our last luxury, The Four Seasons Hotel and had a fancy dinner due to our anniversary. During the day, we saw all of the area from mostly the blue trolley and for a little bit the red trolley. This was one of our excursions. You could get off at Chinatown and a few other places, but my husband refused to move and we had so much fun just seeing all over and taking pictures. My pics look like I was there anyway. The picture on the blog of easels is art work down by the pier. They are a collection of other photographs and things.

Well, we spent a long day the next day getting home as we had to wait in customs lines for a very long time. Our plane was delayed just enough so the extra time didn't bump us off our ride home.

I know that I am privileged to take this trip. It's one of those things that one sometimes gets to do when all of the children are out of college and married. Anyway, thanks for coming along with me. Next time, I want to tell you of my newest adventure. It's free and I'm having so much fun.

Friday, July 22, 2011


It was finally time to get off the ship and go to a port of call. Our destination was Skagway. We got on a bus, but our first stop was to a recreation of a miner's camp called Liarsville. The name came from the fact that when the gold rush happened, the press came this far and didn't want to go on to the other gold sites, so they let it leak that there was gold here. There wasn't any, but the ruse worked. We saw a cute skit and poems about the Gold Rush. It was here that we panned for gold. We each got a pan with sediments and gold already in it. We were shown how to do the process. It was fun. The actors helped us get all of our gold. I was very disappointed we didn't do it in a stream where where gold was natural, but as the man said, "there's no gold in Skagway." I ended up with several sequin sized pieces of 18K Klondike gold from Canada.

We went on to the main part of Skagway and in a visitors museum and bookstore, we saw a film about the treacherous trip the miners made up a very long hill to get to the gold site.

The next time we left ship, we went to Juneau and got a catamaran to take us whale watching. Of course, everyone on board wanted pictures of the whales. Me too. I went to the head of the boat when they spotted their first whale and then I moved quickly to the outside area so I could see better. This first whale put on a show for us. He breached and did a sort of flip. The guide was excited. She said this wasn't the time or place they usually did this. I did see it, but not as well as I could have because I had just gotten to my spot and was trying to get my camera all zoomed up and ready when the whale performed. Still, what a sight. I got a great tail shot later that is my pride and joy. It looks pretty good when I had it cropped and enlarged a bit.

Well, that was exciting. We saw 6 whales in all. I got some great pics and had a wonderful experience.

Next time, one last excursion before we leave the cruise.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Simplicity and Beauty, Glitz and Fun

Here are two glaciers which we saw from the boat. The bluer one is Hubbard Glacier as we were just approaching it. It is my favorite picture of the whole trip. It is true that this is a trip for those who are willing to wait for the good stuff and who are willing to travel, because Alaska is a huge state and you need a lot of patience to see anything worthwhile. Yet, for my money, these few views, the gorgeous mountains we saw, and the roaming wildlife are so worthwhile.

The second day on board, we spent watching the glaciers from my sister's balcony. It was cool and we stayed only long enough to get the views. It takes about an hour or so for the boat to pass a glacier from the first end to the last tail of it. I think that at the right season, you might be able to go and sit on board to do this.

Evenings were lots of fun. We "dressed for dinner." That's a joke because we didn't have enough room to take the fancy things I would have liked. Some people did. On "Formal Night." we were in the swing music area and a very old couple were dressed elegantly and doing a fancy two step. Then a couple come on and did the fox trot. (The music actually was from other eras, too.) They were perfect. They moved as one. Larry thought they might be the dance instructors on the ship. Whatever they were, they were great.

Another evening we saw a ventriloquist. We saw a very funny comedian named Scott Wyler. He had material that made me laugh out loud and it was pretty clean, too. We also enjoyed his act on the last night, an all different routine. There was a LasVegas style show with someone who used to be on T.V. and the movies. (Sorry, I forgot the name.) We saw a Motor City show, too. It was the 50s part of these shows that I liked best. The rest was good singing and dancing, but the costumes were too glitzy for my taste.

Each day, there was a ship newspaper with all of the events listed. We also played a trivia game (and won, or I should say, tied.) played Bingo, and enjoyed the shops that were on board.

Everyone wants to know about the food. Here's the deal: If you chose "anytime dining" as we did, you could eat at the buffet on the top of the ship and have lots of just about everything. The desserts were best and I did give up my "no sugar" for the cruise. There was a fancy place for evening, but you could have lunch there, too. Here we had elegant waiters, and that cute food I can "play food." They drizzle something on the plate and put a square of meat on top. But you get lots of courses and you can order whatever you want. I enjoyed halibut and salmon several times and even lobster. My favorite was when they finally got to Italian night and I had spaghetti.

Next time, I'll tell of going off the ship for two of our excursions. I'll leave with this tease. "Liarsville" What could that mean?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

On Board

We had just gotten on the boat and were anxious to put our two suitcases away when the intercom said that we were shortly going to have a muster drill. We were to read the directions on the door, grab two life preservers in the cupboard, and follow the arrows as soon as we heard seven short blasts and one long one. We got our things ready. I was so glad Larry was with me because finding my muster station when I had just boarded was not one of my gifts. We waited and finally the room steward said we could go on ahead. All of the people in our area were there waiting. We got instructions and each had to put our life jacket on. I did it! I was so thrilled. No one wants to think of fire or hitting an iceberg on anything like that. but it is good to be prepared.

We finished and then we got to our rooms and dressed for dinner. It was very late, but good. The next morning, we had time to eat a hearty breakfast at the top floor buffet and then look around. I took pictures of all of the fancy stuff you don't see everyday. I got pics of the outdoor and indoor pools. I was so excited about the outdoor one. There was a place where movies were shown in warmer weather. It's to to right of the people in the picture. We had time during the week to swim at the indoor pool. Here, you could get pizza and ice cream. The water was warm and we had fun.

Lar and I found the library and he spent a lot of time reading and looking out at the water. I got a book and finished it in a few days. The author's last name was Cruise so I thought that was appropriate.

Next time, I'll tell about the entertainment and show you some beautiful glaciers. Thanks for touring with me.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Denali Wilderness Trip

We got up very early in the morning to catch our bus that would take us to the train to Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. It was about a four hour trip. We were in a double-decker train with skylights. You could see out the windows and all along the top. We were seated four to a table. We got pictures of the wilds of Alaska and then went down to eat a lovely meal at the only operating kitchen on a train in Alaska. There was crystal and china and silverware. My sister and I went out on the observation car so we could get a picture of the train as it went around a curve. This worked because we were on the last car. We got to the lodge in the evening and had a family style dinner at the Music Of Denali Dinner Theater. I enjoyed the musical number very much. It was about hikers who attempted to climb Denali Mt. McKinley. Denali means "The Great One."

The next morning, we went on a bus to the preserve. We were to call out any animals we saw and the driver would put them on the TV screen with his zoomer. These pictures then would be at the end of our video. The first animal called was a snowshoe hare. Then someone saw some Dali sheep who like to hide in the mountains. My husband called out the first Caribou. We were on the right side of the bus on the way into the park. It seemed like all of the good scenes were on the left. We had to excuse ourselves to get pictures. The trip was 62 miles into the park and then we turned around.

We were entering a place I remembered from the way in which was very narrow and someone called, "Caribou." The driver stopped the bus. We were directly over a steep ledge. I had visions of the bus toppling over when the people from the other side came for their pictures. Fair is fair, but I was frightened. I am O.K. with airplanes, elevators, even glass ones. and some ledges, but this one just seemed to be too much. No logic would tell me I was being silly. It was over soon and we had a great time. I love the way Alaska tries to keep this area pristine, as free from man-made intervention as possible.

Next time, I'll tell about the cruise. You'll never guess the first thing we had to do when we got on board.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Rare Father's Day Treat

The next day was Father's Day. We were supposed to ride a jet boat but neither of us wanted to do that. We decided to try fly fishing. Then our guide told us about how bears came into bathrooms and moose could be out in the wild. I suddenly pictured myself alone in a stream with a huge line and reel and nobody anywhere near me. So I prayed that no bear or moose would come near us. Well God answered that prayer so well that none of us saw any bears on the whole trip. Six of us ended up back trawling from a boat on the Talkeetna River (We never did do fly fishing.) Our guide put Larry and I in the back. We hadn't started fishing for five minutes when I got a pull on my line. Larry was yelling what to do. I reeled as well as I could. It was on the left and very hard to turn. Finally the fish cleared the water and Shannon, our guide, scooped it up in the net. It was about an 8 lb salmon. Then the show started. He yells, "lines in." He pulls the chain and anchor in. He moves the boat to shore and I get out in my big waders and we lay the fish down. Someone took my picture with the fish. I didn't want to keep it so I was not allowed to hold it up. In fact, the fish's belly had to remain in the water at all times. Then we let it go and it swam away. I got back in the boat feeling like a celebrity. He put me in the back of the boat so someone else could have that good spot. It turns out that all of the spots got fish and everyone caught a fish. A young couple each caught a huge King Salmon. Then it was Larry's turn and he caught a 35 lb King Salmon. He also got a picture and released it. The young couple were the only ones to keep their fish. I have six pictures of Larry with that fish. I don't think he could have experienced a more exciting Father's Day than fishing in the Talkeetna River in Alaska and catching the record fish with his adoring wife looking on. That turned out to be our favorite day of the trip.

Next time, I'll tell you about the wildlife park at Denali and I'll let you in on the one moment of our trip where I was truly frightened. See you then.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Quest for The Perfect Picture

Here I am on my post, trying to get things going again. We got back from our cruise on Thursday evening.

During the trip, we traveled on 9 different forms of transportation: car, airplane, bus, dogsled, jet boat, train, shuttle bus, catamaran, and trolley. Praise God, He kept us safe on all of these.

My husband, Larry, and I got to Anchorage in the evening. We were more tired than hungry, so got a small bite to eat of salad and bread. Sourdough bread is big in Alaska, and it is yummy. The next day we met my sister, Jean, and her husband, Bob. We ate in a great little cafe where Bob got reindeer sausage and I had sourdough french toast. We saw the Captain Cook memorial and decided to see The Anchorage Museum. Here we learned the names of the native groups and saw artifacts. One interesting one was a whole parka made from animal intestines. It was white and filmy looking. We visited the Ulu factory. Ulus are curved knives uses by native Alaskans and apparently made famous by Rachel Ray. We bought a few as gifts for the cooks in our family. That evening, Larry, Jean, and I saw a movie called Aurora. It was shots of the Northern Lights set to music. Beautiful. Later, we briefly met our land tour director, Tahnee.

Early the next morning, we boarded a bus and traveled to the place where they raise dogs for the Iditarod Trail race. I am holding a cute black puppy. This is where Jean and I had a dogsled race. At the word, those dogs raced off and I felt like I were flying through the snow. What a ride. Then we got on the bus and Tahnee said we were blessed because it was a good day and we should be able to see Mt. McKinley. Only about 30% of the people who go to Alaska get to see it. It is so clouded over most of the time. We got out and took pictures. I got a few, but they weren't too great because it was sunny and I couldn't see what I was filming. The picture I'm showing was taken near that time. Then it was a race for us to try to get a great picture of Mt. McKinley. After that, it clouded over and was never as clear. Some of us got off the bus at Talkeetna, a tiny town. We had pizza and shopped in the cute shops. Then we took the shuttle to McKinley Princess Lodge. We sat at dinner by a window with a view of the mountains. It was so funny, one time you can see mountains, the next time you visit the same site, they are gone. The famous disappearing mountains. We had great food here. I had fresh salmon and a gorgeous Caesar salad. Next time, I will tell about our fishing adventure and the wildlife park.

Thank you all for your prayers for safety and for my hair. The shampoo, serum, and scrubby my doctor recommended plus lots of prayers helped so much. I still have hair and it seems to be doing better already. I missed all of you. It's good to be back.