Saturday, January 20, 2018

cruising. through alaska. part 3.

the second excursion was set up for a stop in skagway, alaska.


here, my dad and sister booked a popular train ride and the rest of us booked a river rafting trip in an area called eagle preserve.

the river rafting portion of this trip was quite fun, but it took a lot of effort to get there: a ferry and then a bus ride at both the beginning and end of our trip. so our 6 hour excursion was really just a 90 minute rafting trip with four hours of transportation.

so, overall, it was a bit of a bummer, and this is the one excursion i wouldn't recommend booking again to other cruise goers.

but, during the cruise we did see lots of eagles, which was amazing. i had only seen one other eagle in the wild previously and this was quite exciting to see so many in their native habitat.

here are some of the pictures from our day!

we hopped on the boats on the edge of the bank and literally
bounced our way into the water, which was super shallow

our raft guide, evan





someone was cold.

I spy...





not bad, alaska, not bad.


terrible rafting selfie.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

cruising. through alaska. part 2.

after a day at sea cruising past the hubbard glacier, we headed towards our first port of call- juneau.

we prebooked excursions at every port. i know that many cruise veterans will tell you to save money by booking once your off the ship, but, for me, i couldn't risk missing out on what was important to me.

in juneau i booked a full day photography safari of mendenhall glacier, tongass forest and a whale watching cruise.

one of the reasons i chose this trip was the small group size. several years back, in iceland, i took a large group whale watching cruise and was unable to see the one whale sighting we had because i was on the wrong side of the boat and blocked by a hundred other people.

we started in the forest. i was using my dslr and my ollo clip lenses for my iphone.

here are some of my favorite shots from the largest national forest in the us.









a quick stop to check out mendenhall glacier. the area was beautiful, but after the hubbard glacier, the portion of this glacier we were able to see seemed quite small. perhaps next time i can trek on one of the glaciers.







the last couple hours of the day were spent whale watching.

this had been my ultimate dream: to see whales in person.

i've been a lifetime whale lover, but had never seen more than what's to be found on tv and in movies.

we headed out in search of humpbacks, but first we found orcas- and i was thrilled. i don't even think i realized this was a species we might see in alaska. but we came upon this pod and they swam around the couple of boats that were lingering nearby.

there are restrictions on how close the boats can get to the whales, but if the whales come to you there's not much you can do.

except enjoy it!

i didn't get too many great pics of the orcas, but i loved seeing them!






after the orcas, we went searching for humpbacks in the area and found a female that's been known to be in the area on a regular basis. we could identify her by the details of her tail as the whale 'barnacles'.

we followed her around a bit and were keeping our distance.

until she emerged on the right side of the boat and surprised us and breaching practically on top of the boat. the captain and the guide had never experienced anything like it, so it was amazing to witness it!

of course we were all too stunned to get pictures of that!









have you had any great whale watching experiences? more to come in another alaska post soon since we went whale watching as a family later in the week!


Saturday, January 6, 2018

cruising. through alaska. part 1.

post anchorage, the fam and i hopped on a bus to seward, alaska, a port large enough for these monstrous cruise ships.

having never "cruised" before, i had no idea what to expect for the boarding process. if you are a first time cruiser, i would tell you to expect lines. and waiting. it wasn't too bad, but it was annoying.

anyways, it all led to the good part...getting on the actual cruise!

my parents and i shared a small interior state room, with basically three twin beds. and for an alaskan cruise, you certainly don't need a balcony-- it's too cold for that! cruising was an upfront expense, and i'm glad that this is where we chose to save some of our pennies.

on our first full day cruising we headed to hubbard glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in north america.


it was quite sizable, and despite the large size of the boat, we were still able to get close to the glacier. you could see and hear the glacier calving at a couple different points, where huge chunks of ice were falling into the sea.


#glacierselfie


this was a seven day cruise with royal caribbean, that started in seward and ended in vancouver. there were four port stops where we had excursions booked and i'll document those in an upcoming post.

we took this trip in july and i found this amazing packing list that was super helpful in planning for the trip. i think she overpacks, but it was a great starting point.

have you cruised before? what are your cruise tips?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

onwards to anchorage.

after a few days in seattle, i took off for anchorage. i would have about 24 hours there before my family was to arrive.

a small trail in town with some salmon viewing spots

salmon!

hotels are basically unaffordable in anchorage in the summer, so i stayed at this more reasonable hostel. it was less than $100 a night and that made it a win!

beautiful flowers around anchorage

the resulting travel tip here-- don't wait to book a lace to stay in alaska in the summer.



the following day, i had breakfast at this highly rated restaurant (it was delicious) and then rented a bike to ride one of the local trails.

kodiak benedict: poached eggs, alaska king crab cakes,
toasted english muffin, housemade hollandaise, green onion  

the trail was 11 miles in each direction, and i thought, i can do that! remember, i had just managed a huge british bike ride a few months prior.



and i did.

it was quite beautiful.



but they neglected to share that this trail was not flat.



dear god, it was full of hills.

but for one reason or another, i went the whole way along the trail.

probably because i have a unique interest in finishing things.

after a few hours of wandering anchorage and meeting up with my family, i discovered the after effects of 22 plus miles of bike riding.

pain.

cramps.

and a desire to chop my legs off completely.

it was not my best moment.

after several ibuprofen, i found myself lying face down on the bathroom floor- because the ice cold tiles felt amazing and provided a small amount of relief.

i wish i had a picture of this for you.

but maybe it's best that i don't.

thankfully, the next day, my legs returned to a condition in which i could once again appreciate them.

#lessonlearned

we had a little bit of time that next day to see a little more of anchorage and then it was off to the cruise port! my sister even got to see a moose up close!

seward here we come!


Saturday, January 20, 2018

cruising. through alaska. part 3.

the second excursion was set up for a stop in skagway, alaska.


here, my dad and sister booked a popular train ride and the rest of us booked a river rafting trip in an area called eagle preserve.

the river rafting portion of this trip was quite fun, but it took a lot of effort to get there: a ferry and then a bus ride at both the beginning and end of our trip. so our 6 hour excursion was really just a 90 minute rafting trip with four hours of transportation.

so, overall, it was a bit of a bummer, and this is the one excursion i wouldn't recommend booking again to other cruise goers.

but, during the cruise we did see lots of eagles, which was amazing. i had only seen one other eagle in the wild previously and this was quite exciting to see so many in their native habitat.

here are some of the pictures from our day!

we hopped on the boats on the edge of the bank and literally
bounced our way into the water, which was super shallow

our raft guide, evan





someone was cold.

I spy...





not bad, alaska, not bad.


terrible rafting selfie.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

cruising. through alaska. part 2.

after a day at sea cruising past the hubbard glacier, we headed towards our first port of call- juneau.

we prebooked excursions at every port. i know that many cruise veterans will tell you to save money by booking once your off the ship, but, for me, i couldn't risk missing out on what was important to me.

in juneau i booked a full day photography safari of mendenhall glacier, tongass forest and a whale watching cruise.

one of the reasons i chose this trip was the small group size. several years back, in iceland, i took a large group whale watching cruise and was unable to see the one whale sighting we had because i was on the wrong side of the boat and blocked by a hundred other people.

we started in the forest. i was using my dslr and my ollo clip lenses for my iphone.

here are some of my favorite shots from the largest national forest in the us.









a quick stop to check out mendenhall glacier. the area was beautiful, but after the hubbard glacier, the portion of this glacier we were able to see seemed quite small. perhaps next time i can trek on one of the glaciers.







the last couple hours of the day were spent whale watching.

this had been my ultimate dream: to see whales in person.

i've been a lifetime whale lover, but had never seen more than what's to be found on tv and in movies.

we headed out in search of humpbacks, but first we found orcas- and i was thrilled. i don't even think i realized this was a species we might see in alaska. but we came upon this pod and they swam around the couple of boats that were lingering nearby.

there are restrictions on how close the boats can get to the whales, but if the whales come to you there's not much you can do.

except enjoy it!

i didn't get too many great pics of the orcas, but i loved seeing them!






after the orcas, we went searching for humpbacks in the area and found a female that's been known to be in the area on a regular basis. we could identify her by the details of her tail as the whale 'barnacles'.

we followed her around a bit and were keeping our distance.

until she emerged on the right side of the boat and surprised us and breaching practically on top of the boat. the captain and the guide had never experienced anything like it, so it was amazing to witness it!

of course we were all too stunned to get pictures of that!









have you had any great whale watching experiences? more to come in another alaska post soon since we went whale watching as a family later in the week!


Saturday, January 6, 2018

cruising. through alaska. part 1.

post anchorage, the fam and i hopped on a bus to seward, alaska, a port large enough for these monstrous cruise ships.

having never "cruised" before, i had no idea what to expect for the boarding process. if you are a first time cruiser, i would tell you to expect lines. and waiting. it wasn't too bad, but it was annoying.

anyways, it all led to the good part...getting on the actual cruise!

my parents and i shared a small interior state room, with basically three twin beds. and for an alaskan cruise, you certainly don't need a balcony-- it's too cold for that! cruising was an upfront expense, and i'm glad that this is where we chose to save some of our pennies.

on our first full day cruising we headed to hubbard glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in north america.


it was quite sizable, and despite the large size of the boat, we were still able to get close to the glacier. you could see and hear the glacier calving at a couple different points, where huge chunks of ice were falling into the sea.


#glacierselfie


this was a seven day cruise with royal caribbean, that started in seward and ended in vancouver. there were four port stops where we had excursions booked and i'll document those in an upcoming post.

we took this trip in july and i found this amazing packing list that was super helpful in planning for the trip. i think she overpacks, but it was a great starting point.

have you cruised before? what are your cruise tips?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

onwards to anchorage.

after a few days in seattle, i took off for anchorage. i would have about 24 hours there before my family was to arrive.

a small trail in town with some salmon viewing spots

salmon!

hotels are basically unaffordable in anchorage in the summer, so i stayed at this more reasonable hostel. it was less than $100 a night and that made it a win!

beautiful flowers around anchorage

the resulting travel tip here-- don't wait to book a lace to stay in alaska in the summer.



the following day, i had breakfast at this highly rated restaurant (it was delicious) and then rented a bike to ride one of the local trails.

kodiak benedict: poached eggs, alaska king crab cakes,
toasted english muffin, housemade hollandaise, green onion  

the trail was 11 miles in each direction, and i thought, i can do that! remember, i had just managed a huge british bike ride a few months prior.



and i did.

it was quite beautiful.



but they neglected to share that this trail was not flat.



dear god, it was full of hills.

but for one reason or another, i went the whole way along the trail.

probably because i have a unique interest in finishing things.

after a few hours of wandering anchorage and meeting up with my family, i discovered the after effects of 22 plus miles of bike riding.

pain.

cramps.

and a desire to chop my legs off completely.

it was not my best moment.

after several ibuprofen, i found myself lying face down on the bathroom floor- because the ice cold tiles felt amazing and provided a small amount of relief.

i wish i had a picture of this for you.

but maybe it's best that i don't.

thankfully, the next day, my legs returned to a condition in which i could once again appreciate them.

#lessonlearned

we had a little bit of time that next day to see a little more of anchorage and then it was off to the cruise port! my sister even got to see a moose up close!

seward here we come!