Alaska 2018

The first time Mary and I talked about Alaska was 1970. We were 22 and 20 and living in southern California, riding motorcycles, laying on the beach and thinking about buying land somewhere to build a cabin, grow a garden and raise some animals. We narrowed it down to Maine or Alaska, with nothing in between. The Brooks Range in Alaska was far and unfamiliar, Maine was unknown but also close to family.

We chose Maine, but the desire to visit Alaska has always been on our list of places to see. I’ve had opportunities to go by motorcycle or we could have gone by camper van, but experiencing Alaska by water seemed to be the ideal way to go.

This was our 14 day cruise route. (All links are in Blue. They will link you to more info 👍)


We arrived in Seattle a day early and didn’t need to board the ship until early afternoon the next day. So we played busy tourists: Pikes Peak Market, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Space Needle and the Seattle Public Library and dinner at Etta’s.

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We departed Seattle early afternoon, sailed past Vancouver Island, through the night and all the next day north through the Inside Passage and arrived in Ketchikan the following morning.

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Colorful Historic Creek Street

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Leaving Ketchikan in the evening, we sailed again through the night on our way to Tracy Arm, which was blocked by icebergs. Endicott Arm is just as spectacular and we spent the afternoon cruising up the arm to the glacier.

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The glacier is nearly 1/4 mile away.

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I’m not certain how far it is to the glacier, but that is a ship in the distance!

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In Juneau, there was a Disney ship already docked.

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We took the shuttle out to Mendenhall Glacier and the waterfall.

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Later that afternoon, we boarded the tram that goes to the top of Mount Roberts. There was a bald eagle sitting in the treetop and a view looking north from Juneau.

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Several trailheads were at the top of Mount Roberts and being adventurous, we decided to take the easiest one - 3/4 mile loop. After ten minutes of trying to follow a trail, we came across this sign and turned around :)

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One of my favorite images of the pier.

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A short slideshow of the Masks of Alaska. These mask are either from the display on the ship or various museums we visited. (Click arrow and then Diagonal arrows for full screen)

We left Juneau late at night for an early arrival at Icy Strait Point for a whale watching boat tour. The whales were fairly plentiful, some near, some far, but my camera skills at catching one at full breach were not very good. It was a beautiful day to be on the water.

Mary on her way to Icy Strait Point. Bundled and Beautiful!

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The ship left Icy Strait for another all day, all night and all day journey across the Gulf of Alaska. That is one of the reasons, I prefer river cruising over ocean cruising. I don’t mind ship time, but just not too much of it. Fortunately, Holland American has a shallow draft which enables it to dock in Anchorage, a ten minute drive from downtown, rather than in Whittier or Seward.

First stop was the log cabin Tourist Center, where we caught a one hour trolley ride to see the lay of the land and the city highlights, including the devasting effects of the 1964 earthquake and also Lake Hood, the world’s busiest seaplane base.

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Next stop was the  Alaskan Heritage Museum.

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I regret that I did not have more time to spend in the Anchorage Museum. Alaska should be proud of this museum - it is easily one of the most fascinating museums that I have visited.

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Homer. One of our best days of the voyage was the day we spent with Jim and Rita. They winter in Arizona and we met them at our local camera club. They live in Kenai the rest of the year. They were so gracious to meet us at the ship, show us around Homer and then visit the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. They  also made arrangements to take us out on a small boat to view the local wildlife of birds, seals, and puffins. Definitely a highlight of our trip! Later an afternoon dinner and farewell…

And yeah, they can find moose too.

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A short slideshow of  Totem Poles which are unique, interesting and widespread throughout Alaska . Some are new and others are original. (Click arrow and then Diagonal arrows for full screen)

Kodiak. The second largest island in the US. The Kodiak bear and the King Crab are native to this island. It was overcast most of the day with a drizzle in the afternoon. We considered this our rainiest day in two weeks! Lucky us. We stopped at the Visitor Center, the Baranov Museum, and a small crafts fair. In a slight rain, Mare headed back to the ship and I made my way to the harbor. Normally in Arizona, one does not have rain, fog and boats on the same day, so I wandered for awhile and then checked out Kodiak’s huge hardware store.

Baranov Museum.

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Kodiak’s harbor is a working harbor. 

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I prefer black umbrellas for stealth while I’m photographing….

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A few snapshots of the cruise and passengers-

The Grand Balcony...

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 Yours truly

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Quiet time …

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More quiet time...

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Piano time at Happy Hour!

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We left Kodiak Island and cruised 24 hours back across the Gulf of Alaska to 

Hubbard Glacier, which is the largest tidewater glacier on the North American continent. After 4 hours of marveling at its size and beauty and taking numerous photographs it was time to go. We were fortunate to have high skies and fairly warm weather.

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Our next to last stop was Sitka. We walked along the harbor to the Sheldon Jackson Museum, which turned out to be a museum of museums. Oftentimes, it is the out of the way places that seem to hold the most interest. After an hour long visit, we walked along the shore to the Sitka Historic National Park, where most of the the totem photos were taken. It was quiet, peaceful and reminded us of the Maine coast.

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Alaska street art:

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St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral

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What is a travel story without a dog shot. Just before we left, we stopped in at an art gallery with one of the prettiest faces I have ever seen on an Austrialian Shepherd.

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Now for the “not so bad news”. After another full day at sea, everyone was ready for a day in Victoria. We have been there once before and were excited, as were 1400 other passengers, to get off the ship, see the sites and eat really good fresh seafood. Well, this is as close to Victoria as we came.

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The strong winds were too much and, for our safety, our captain anchored us offshore with Victoria in view. The bars on the ship did a lively business that day:) We spent the entire day gazing at the Victoria shoreline and set sail that night for our return to Seattle.

There are almost as many words to describe Alaska as there are sights, sounds and images. Nearly always, photos do not convey the many subtleties and softnesses, the jutting angles and the harsh realities of the view in front of you. So the simple solution that everyone tells you is, if you haven’t been - just go…...

                    Until Next Time 

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