Alaska June 2008

John, Marcia, Jim and Jane on their Princess Cruisetour in Alaska, June 2008

Our route was
- East Coast to Anchorage
- to Kenai Peninsula
- to Anchorage
- to Mt McKinley
- to Denali National Park
- to Whittier (boarded cruise ship)
- past College Fjord
- past Glacier National Park
- to (port) Skagway
- to (port) Juneau
- to (port) Ketchikan
- cruising
- to Vancouver (disembarked)
- to East Coast

Day 1: After long flights, we arrived in Anchorage with a few hours of daylight to spare (just kidding--it never got dark).

Day 2: Kenai Fjords: Bus from Anchorage to Seward, then boat around the Kenai Peninsula, then train back to Anchorage

Our bus driver was a wonderful tour guide.
This was our first spotting of Alaskan wildlife: Dalli Sheep on a mountainside.
We were too far away to appreciate their size (150-300 pounds) or view their impressive horns.

A moose. Fortunately, we got to see some up much closer later in the trip.

The scenary throughout the day--and throughout the trip--was magnificent.

In Seward we boarded our boat to tour the Kenai Fjords National Park.

Jim and John enjoying the boat ride.

Seward, from the boat

A slightly better view of Dalli sheep

Our captain was communicating with the captain of this research boat, who told us where to find whales.

An Orca/Killer Whale

Right next to the boat!

Stellar Sea Lions basking in the sun

Approaching a glacier

Glaciers are truly blue, caused both by the absorption of red and yellow light (leaving blue). The boat in the distance gives a perspective of size.

We saw and heard the glacier calving

The crew scooped up some glacier pieces to check out on board.


A humpback whale


More Stellar Sea Lions

Thick-Billed Murres look like penguins, but can fly

Another puffin

Boarding the train back to Anchorage; a beautiful trip in a glass-topped car.

The glacier water is still blue, even after melting.

Day 3: We joined the Princess Tour for the train from Anchorage to Mount McKinley, near Denali on the map

Princess has its own cars, glasstopped with plenty of service

John and Jane catching up on email at the Mt McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

We watched and watched...and finally saw Mt McKinley ALMOST "come out" of the clouds.

This is what we might have seen if it was completely out.

John walking the grounds of the lodge. Nope, not real bears.

Day 4: McKinley to Denali.
About mid-day we went on to our next Princess Lodge, near the entrance to Denali National Park

Early in the morning, Marcia took a walk and got this shot of the Mt McKinley Lodge from below.
While taking the picture, Marcia was approached by a lodge employee who said he'd have to take her back in his golfcart,
since there was a moose and her young nearby.

We took a bus from Mt McKinley Lodge to Denali. During a rest stop, Jim practiced taking pictures with the Lehmans' new cell phone.

The Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge complex

In Denali Park we met some Iditerod dogs and saw a demonstration of the dogs pulling sleds.

Jane watching us mushers

Cocktails on the deck beside the lodge complex.

We went on a tour with a Park Naturalist and saw MANY of these rabbits.

Willow Ptarmigan, the Alaska state bird

Nice hat

A moose devouring a sapling--this one was up close and personal

Day 5: Second Day in Denali

Jim and Marcia went white-water rafting.

In Healy (near Denali), Jim and Marcia played 9 holes of "midnight golf"
while John and Jane went on a covered wagon trip that was followed by a scrumptious salmon bake.

Day 6:Train from Denali to Whittier, to board our cruise ship, the Coral Princess
Whittier is near Valdez, on the map

Our first glimpse of the Coral Princess--our home for the next seven days

Immediately upon boarding, the photograher took a group picture (the first of many) that we were invited to purchase later on.

A martini-making demonstration and contest.

John entered the contest (what a surprise) and is shaking it up!

Music in the Atrium

Days 7 & 8: Cruising College Fjord and Glacier Bay National Park

A salmon sculpture

An onion sculpture

More glaciers and beautiful scenery

Formal night--another photo (purchase) opportunity

Later on we entered a Name That Tune contest at a piano bar.
John won us a bottle of champagne!

Day 9: Our first port: Skagway (not labeled on the map, but north of Juneau)

Skagway might have more cruiseline-owned jewelry stores than year-round residents.

This ranger, a real character, led us on a walking tour of the town and its history.

Skagway was a goldrush town

We also did a small hike in Dyea, where wildflowers were blooming. Here: a wild iris

A chocolate lily

Fields of lupines

Our first bear sighting was a footprint

What remains of a building in Dyea from the gold rush.
Researchers are trying to reconstruct the village.

A black bear (even though it's brown) near the path we were on

Another black bear we saw from the van

Day 10: Juneau

Juneau was a nice surprise, much more quaint than you'd expect of a capital city.
It is only accessible by sea or air and is the only U.S. state capital located on an international border: it is bordered on the east by Canada.
Notice how close Juneau is to the center of the state (not). There have been efforts to relocate the capital, but they were deemed too expensive.

We took the Mt. Roberts Tramway to a visitor center and nature center.

This bald eagle had been injured and couldn't survive in the wild.
We did see eagles flying and perched elsewhere, but none so close.

Evidence of the Russion migration into Alaska

Returning to the cruise ship, we noticed the "fenders," about five feet in diameter (just a tad bigger than those on the 401Sea).

By this time we were far enough south that there were actual sunsets.

Day 11: Ketchikan

John and Marcia went for a ziplining adventure in the Alaska rainforest

John suiting up in his harness

Preparing for the trial run on a zipline fairly close to the ground

John's zip! Unfortunately, it played havoc with his artificial hips and he couldn't continue.

Marcia preparing to zip. Although terrifying, it was a lot of fun.

The trip also included a walk across this suspended bridge.

While Marcia continued the ziplining trip, John went on a nature walk with a private guide.
This is another injured eagle.

After ziplining we went on a floatplane tour of the area, with John sitting next to the pilot.

Day 12: Cruising through the Inside Passage and Onboard Shopping

Passengers could take courses in pottery or Photoshop (we did the latter)

Day 13: Arrival in Vancouver, where we spent a day and took a city tour before flying home

Tlingit Indians constructed Totem Poles to honor their ancestors.
Totems were not religious icons, as some missionaries thought.
We saw them throughout Alaska, as well as Vancouver. This is Stanley Park.

Just saying, there are Canada geese in Canada.

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