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About AussieVisi2r

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Canberra Australia
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    horses, travelling, PLANNING travel.
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    RCCL so far.
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  1. Thursday 5th September Sea Day Finally. A sea day. Alaska b2b trips are hard. So busy! We got on in Vancouver, then had a sea day! But this was followed by 11 flat out days. Not even time for trivia. This day was busy - but in a different way. There was so much to see when sailing down the inside passage. Whales would pop up every now and then. I even got another fluke photos. An Orca sailed past the window at guest services. Many pods of Dall's Porpoise swam by the ship and played in the wake. Orcas cruised by. And all this time we were sailing through amazing looking landscape. Late in the afternoon we left Alaska, the magnificent Tongass National Forrest and entered Canadian waters. Alaska - you have been amazing. Meanwhile we had the fancy lunch today. Our host today was Imut, head of Food and Beverage - the most important man on the ship. And it was another amazing meal. And tonight was that sad night here you do all the good byes. The halls are full of luggage. All of or US friends were leaving. Stupid Jones Act and the PSVA clause. - A US passenger can not travel from one US port to another without visiting a 'distantforeign' port en route. So no US citizen can go from Alaska to Hawaii (unless going Alaska to Australia. Sad. It'a a century old law that was written to protect US shipping and says a ship can only take passengers between ports IF it is US owned, built and staffed. But we do have other wonderful friends hopping on (and back on) tomorrow in Vancouver. Stay tuned for the next adventure!
  2. Tuesday 4th September Ketchikan Yay. Woke up to real Alaskan weather. Rain! Grey and low cloud. I poked around and looked at all the ships. Locals and tourist shops. Brick-a-brac shops and local artists. Much of it was carving on bone and ivory. I even saw a beaver skin coat for $2000. And I went to visit the dope shop - the legalised marijuana shop. Very cool. I was "carded" Had to show ID to prove I was over 21! Was very cool. All the different dopes, and in many forms - lollies, cookies, sprays, etc. And of course many different bongs. All organically grown here in the Tongass Rainforest! And visited a Salmon shop. All kinds of salmon. Fresh and smoked. Moose, dip, canned, tablets and more. So tasty. This place ships it to any where in the states . How cool would that be. I walked along a lot of the back street and they were so pretty. Lunch was a Brie and Crab dish. Looked like the cat ate it first, and it didn't agree with him, but tasted delicious. What could not be good about melted Brie and Dungeness Crab! By this stage the sun was out and all was pretty. Sat their watching float planes and people. The sailaway was particularly stunning.
  3. Tuesday 4th September Icy Strait Point Another wonderful day in Hoonah. Yay. Woke up to a fog bound sea. I was going out with Glacier Winds again. "When too many whales are never enough!" My whale trip was not until 10am so hoping it would burn off. And it did. To a perfect day. I was going whale watching - and Andy was going crab eating with 'the gang'. It’s good to be a special client. JD got a call from Mary at “The Office” in Hoonah saying they were almost out of Dungeness crabs as the season was over – How many would we like saved! Lucky! So off I went earlier to be picked up by Glacier Winds Charters for another fabulous day. People sometimes asked me why I like whale watching so much. And why I go out on boats so much when cruising. THIS! This is why. They say "some days are diamonds - some days are coal!" This was the ‘Hope Diamond’ of days. The photo can do the talking here. Leaping whales. Peeking Whales. Duelling Fin Slapping A group of 20 plus Bubble Net feeding. And sunshine and dead flat water. And at least 20 fluke shots for ID on HappyWhale.com What a day! Meet some of my Happy Whale mates! This whale has been identified by HappyWhale as Nexus. ID HW-MN0400245. First seen 2010 - with now 11 sightings. ******Now this is super exciting.****** Meet Wenona. First sited off in 2001 off Seward. And in 2010 off Banderas Bay, Mexico and in 2018 by me. That is awesome. Sherona has been seen in this area since 2005. Some time between 2011 and 15 she was mangled by a propeller. One of the lucky ones who survived. Oh, Hoonah was pretty lovely as well. And I did learn about Icy Strait Point. It is a corporation owned by the local First Nations people. They created this 'town' on the site of the original cannery. They own the land, the shops the flying fox, the wharf, restaurants etc. And charge the cruise ships to use it. And what a fantastic set up it is. They haven’t made their fortune yet as they have been reinvesting in infrastructure – but it is so well set up now I hope they do!
  4. Monday 3rd September Skagway The weather was lovely again today so I went for a walk around Skagway. By the dock is a steep rock-wall. There are many murals dedicated to ships and to retired captains. Nice. I jumped onto the town shuttle bus. $2 per trip or $5 for a day pass. It stops at five different points in town. I went to the furtherest stop then wandered back - checking it all out. Lots of shops selling tourist junk but also many selling quality things. Lots of walrus ivory items - sad - and items made of whale bone. Also items made of mammoth fossilised ivory for many many thousands of $$. I didn't get one. I visited a small museum with many items - lots of scrimshaw on tusks. Then got to try an Alaskan delicacy. "The Klondike Doughboy". It's a piece of yeast based dough that is then stretched and fried. They sit in a rack to drain, then are dusted in cinnamon sugar. YUM! Huge but yum. Nicer than a donut as it was crispy and thin - but still the glorious cinnamon sugar flavour. I sat in the sun eating this giant beast. The Ravens loved the left overs. They also sold so many amazing delicacies like chutneys and sauces. I timed it well, as the queue was 20 people deep but the time I got mine. I probably would have walked past if it was like that and missed this bit of deliciousness. Popped into a lovely little pub. A strawless pub. **NOTE** I'm incredibly anti single use plastic - mainly coffee cups, bottled water, straws and plastic bags. PLEASE do your best to reduce your usage of these products that are chocking our oceans and killing wildlife. It we want our kids to enjoy cruising we need to leave them an ocean that is not poisoned. Then went to a vaudeville show. "The Days of 98" show. And It was excellent. In a really nice theatre with actors with great voices. The story was the story of Jeff Smith AKA "Soapy Smith". He was a real person who came to Skagway as the place was booming from the gold rush, and became the town villain, con man and out right criminal. He and his gang terrorised the town, and ran rackets on things like the "Golden Staircase" and the Chilkoot Pass, the two ways to get to the gold fields in Dawson. He got his name from his early scam selling blocks of soap. He would hide $50, $10, $1 and even $100 notes around a few bars and get people to buy the soap for $1. He picked a few people from the crowd to have first chance to buy his soap - and they won big. So everyone pushed and shoved to buy soap. Pity it was his gang that got the ones with cash. He ended up running Skagway, killing anyone that didn't do his thing, robbing miners and charging fees for various things. Another example was his telegraph service where people would pay to send and receive telegrams. But they never went, and the replies were false. A vigilantly group "The committee of 101" tried to stop him. In the end Soapy and the head of the committee were killed in a duel. Two people went to Soapy's funeral. The undertaker and the priest. 2000 went tot he other guys'. But the show was great. Can-Can, great singing, dancing and many many funny jokes and cons. Soapy made us a deal - the first to show him a $10 would get a 10 as a prize. I eventually dug a $10 out of my bag. And he gave me a 10. A 10 cent coin. Very funny. I throw it into my camera bag. But.. later in the show he was telling us of an incident where he turned a murder into a fundraiser and passed the hat around, winning the town over. And guess what. He came to me, demanding I make a donation - after all I had a 10! So then I had to dig around in my bag until I found it. Much to the joy of the crowd. Another crowd member was taken on stage by the 'working girls', then taken upstairs. He was gone for a 15 minutes - with occasional squeals and bangs coming from upstairs. He later came down in pyjamas. Soapy kept saying things about how his 'sister' looked unhappy. Then I wandered back. A lovely day in Skagway. And a great dinner n Izumi. Poke Tacos and seaweed salad. Excellent.
  5. Sunday 2th September Juneau Another day in Juneau. And amazing weather. I had to take advantage of the sunshine so headed up to the top of Mt Roberts in the cable car. Great views and got to watch Explorer of the Seas pull in. Having to Royal ships in one port is very unusual for us Australians so that was cool. At the top I went for a walk along one of the trails - well more of a stumble. It is so beautiful up there, but the track was very wet and slippery - and I didn't want to undo all my wonderful leg recovery. I was now down to only one walking stick - two walking poles would have been much better for this. So I turned around and shuffled back. Glad I did as that evening many people said they had good slips and some falls. Absolutely beautiful up there. This Boreal Rainforest is amazing. I visited Lady Baltimore - a bald eagle at the Raptor Rescue Centre. She had been shot 10 years ago. Now was blind in one eye and cannot fly due to her shot wing - so is the permanent ambassador. Then I watched a great film about Tlingit's - the local First Nations people. It was about their relationship to country, and a history of the white man coming and taking their land. When I came down I watched eagles soaring around, four of them. Lovely. I sat at the bottom and watched them for a while, then spotted a goat up on a cliff top. I walked around the town a bit and popped into the famous Red Dog Saloon. Another licence to print money. People were in huge lines to get tables. It is pretty cool with its sawdust floor. After all that hard work I need some sustenance, so ate a reindeer sausage. Then followed that up with a candied salmon ice cream!
  6. Saturday 1st September Hubbard Glacier. The morning started overcast, and with the Suites luncheon. More amazing food. I was chatting to the Captain this morning and told him I would like sun shine for 3pm. He laughed and said "maybe 9am tomorrow". I told him that wouldn't do. He needed to 'fix it'. He laughed My pep talk must have worked because at about 2pm we entered Yakutat Bay and out came the sun. We sat up in the lounge with great views as we approached. Andy wanted a photo in shorts, so off we went. The water that a few days ago was a milky grey was now a pascal turquoise green. And some good sized patches of brash ice had formed. The ship drove through it giving that glorious crunching sound. I know the ice was not terribly thick - but I'm sure this captain was far less afraid of ice then the captain who took me to both the Antarctic and Franz Josef Land. And as it warmed up the internal carvings started. Huge cracks like explosions and people excitedly "Where is it? Where is it?" The captain announced that it was illegal to sound the horn in front of a glacier to make it carve, but maybe it we all screamed on the count of three. Pretty funny to hear all the tiny ineffectual voices travelling a hundred meters across the water the disappearing. About 30 minutes later we did get some carvings. Big ones. All three parts I thought might go, did - and I saw them all. Carving is so exciting to watch. A few clumps of snow fall down, then more, then suddenly an avalanche of what looks like soft fluffy snow, and maybe even a big chunk slides down and crashes into the water. Then the crack and the boom echo across to you. You don't realise how large the piece is until you see the size of the splash. Some look like cars but are actually house sized. Remember the face of this glacier is eleven kilometre wide and well over 100 meters above the water. Thats a big chunk of 400 year old solid ice to fall. It is not at all soft and fluffy. Some of the smaller carving look like water flowing down. Carving is so exciting to see - but also makes me sad that this ancient ice is just breaking off and melting. After a few hours we sadly turned away and off we went. I could have spent a full day just floating there looking. I do love ice! When I first went to Antarctica 'they' said the ice gets into your blood stream. I think they were correct! Go to Alaska if just to see Hubbard Glacier.
  7. Friday 31st August Seward, Alaska We arrived at Seward bright and early and saw the sad people getting off the ship. It really is a lovely feeling doing a B2B. The B2B process was brilliant. Go to guest services and collect your new card after 7.30 and go about your day. No fuss, no meetings. We had booked a ship tour - a cruise on with Kenai Fjord around Resurrection Bay. Five hour trip then back to the ship. Meeting at 9.30 in Schooner. We did a visit the Sea Life Centre and had a wonderful time. Saw Puffins and watched Sea Lions carry on like clowns. Met giant octopus and other wonderful creatures. Another long walk down to the end of the long log jetty. But then there we were and haded off for our trip. We saw our first otter at the dock. It was a great trip on Resurrection Bay. Not a whale to be seen though. But did see lots of Glaciers. The scenery was stunning. High up on one of the giant cliff tops we saw goats. Then we saw five goats or goat - singles and pairs. Awesome. Tiny dots and steep edges. Lucky for a big lens. We saw Puffins - who are shockers to photograph when moving. They are so un-aero dynamic and need to flap about 400 beats to get airborne and many many flaps a minute to stay there. So they are just blurs. Dall's Porpoise are not much better. They are small and so pretty. Like mini orcas - but travel at 55kph and barely clear the water. But do a "rooster flick" of their tails - what ever that is -so make a big splash. Equally hard to get photos of. Stellars' Sea Lions were hauled out on the rocks looking pretty. They love the 'Pillow Basalt'. A volcanic rock that blisters when it erupts under cold water and forms lovely smooth bumps. Sea Lions love it as its smooth but easy to climb around. We went around Rugged Island and saw the evidence of where the North American tectonic plate and the Pacific Plate interacted on Good Friday 1964. The Pacific Plate is made of oceanic crust, and is heavier than the North American plate. This causes the Aleutian trench, where the Pacific plate is sliding under the North American plate. On that day, 1964, the Pacific plate popped up causing a 9.2 earthquake. Biggest ever recorded. Most of Seward slipped into the sea. Parts of town were shifted 10 metres sideways. The oil facilities spilled and burnt, then came in rushing into what was left of the town, on the 10 metre Tsunami. Burning Tsunami. That's cruel. What is cool was that this time last year I was at the join of the North American and the European plate in Iceland. A small spit of land off Rugged Island was one of the results. There was also WWII bunkers there. We went over to Bear Glacier. It looked like a good sized beast. But the closer you got.... you realised how large it was. The line at the front was actually an island with a forest. Between the island and the glacier is a huge fresh water lake that is used for kayaking and sail boarding. There are icebergs in there as big as a Costco building. Huge. We could only get a glimpse of the lake but the colour was amazing. hard to believe it was real. Then.... we found otters. Always a favourite. Gee....Not sure why....... you decide! Yep. A pretty fine day! Another two long walks for Andy , off the huge jetty to the bus, then the long walk from the terminal to the ship. Then back onto the ship and onto Leg 2 - Southbound Alaska. New people to meet. New fun to have. But some of our chums will be missed. Even if only for one week. Heaps more photos on the blog - link in my signature.
  8. I think you will need to watch it n line. There is a pub that shows sport but I doubt they will have a licence for the race. They don't even have the footy grand finals.
  9. Saturday 1st September Hubbard Glacier. We sailed into Yakutat Bay, SE Alaska at about 8am and took well over an hour to get to the glacier. Lovely. Rainy and foggy. Then a clear view of stunning-ness. Watching Dad see glaciers for the first time was exciting. After we left the Glacier we had the fancy pants Meal with an Officer. This one was hosted by Philip, the best Hotel Director and was amazing. Like wow! After that I watched the Parade of Nations. Crew parades for each different country that is represented on the ship. And it's heaps of nations. The crew get to plan what they do - so some did a dance, martial arts etc. Lovely. Must be a big storeroom for al the flags. Was so good to see Australia represented by both the normal flag and the Indigenous flag. Tomorrow is turn around day - so goodbyes were said, and luggage was out in the corridors.
  10. Wednesday 29th August Skagway Today was a bus trip up to Fraser, in Yukon Canada, then the White Rail trail down. This was one of two passes the gold miners took in 1893 to get to the gold in Dawson. Hideous way to get there. Not all that hard on the train. LOL Today was a bus trip up to Fraser, in Yukon Canada, then the White Rail trail down. This was one of two passes the gold miners took in 1893 to get to the gold in Dawson. Hideous way to get there. Not all that hard on the train and in a bus. LOL Lovely trip through some beautiful country. A visit to Liarsville - a mock up of the original town. When the reporters arrived to cover the gold rush and saw the way to get there, they decided to jut set up camp and wait for miners to return -either rich or as failures. The reporters had a fab old time an still got their stories. Although many were lacking in truth. The stage show was pretty funny and included a sitting tap dance. Clever. And then a tour of the original brothel - The Red Onion. Pretty funny. Every smutty joke you have ever heard rolled into a thrifty minute tour. "Welcome all, oh and nice to see you again", "this building was erectioned in 1892", and of cause the final was "hope you all come again". The tour showed us the original crib rooms and how the system worked. Each 'girl' had a doll at the bar. The barman would place the doll on its back when the girl took a customer up stairs. This showed she was unavailable. 15 minutes later the bouncer would remove the client, the girl would drop the $5 down a copper pipe to the bar man, who would then sit the doll back up. Madam got $2.50, bouncer got $1.25 and working girl got 1.25 - but since he average wage was $3 a day she earned well. Worked hard for it but earned heaps. Fun day
  11. Tuesday 26th August, Juneau. Was wet and miserable looking when I got up. Then it cleared. It was raining by the time I went out but not at all cold. And true to Alaska - if you don’t like the weather wait 5 minutes. The rain stopped and it got even muggy. But then it rained again. Then it stopped. You get it. Gorgeous low clouds kept dropping down draping the city. Juneau is another lovely dock area. Much of it on reclaimed land. Five ships were in town today so ‘lolly pop people’ were working on all the crossings. This place also gets one million people a year on cruise ships but it wasn’t crowded. The ship was docked under Mt Roberts and the cable car to the top. You couldn’t see the top of the mountain so I didn’t go up. There are 180 miles of gold tunnels under the mountain. Hope it doesn’t collapse one day after an earthquake. On the dock there was a lovely statue to a dog, Patsy Anne, that lived here in the1930’s, and although deaf, she would greet all the ships, on time and always at the correct dock. Even if it was coming in to dock one, she would know if there was a change. She originally had an owner, who imported her from the lower 48, but she decided the life of the waterfront was better. The people paid for her licence so she could stay. I walked around Main Street. Tracey’s King Carb place is a licence to print money. One crab leg, $28! And huge crowds. After my walk I went on a city tour and then to the glacier. Juneau is the smallest capital in the US with 33,000 people. We went around town, which took a good 7 minutes, then over to Douglas Island across the Gastineau Channel. This is where the million dollar houses are. Pretty nice view. This took as 15 minutes, but that was because we had a 10 minute picture stop. Sitka Spruces is now one of my favourite trees. Beautiful! Bear Bins everywhere. There is only 40 miles of road in Juneau. So the tour was quick. But then we headed out to the Mendenhall Glacier. The Mendenhall Glacier is pretty great. It is retreating and will separate from the lake in the not too distant future. The weather continued to lift and drop so the ice would go from dull grey to intense blue. Fantasticplant life up there.
  12. Thanks for all your lovely comments. Sorry I'm not reply to each of you. Feel free to ask any questions you have Raina
  13. Monday 25th August, Hoonah (Icy Strait Point). Sarah and I were here on the last trip and did an amazing Whale trip. So I booked again with Glacier Winds.com But first we went into town with the gang to The Office. The BEST Dungeness Crab place. A small business that cooks the crabs out the in big pots out the front. And they would be without doubt, the best eating thing to come out of the ocean. Mary comes and pick you up at the gate to the dock and takes you back. They then drove us down to the dock to meet our boat. And not enough superlatives for this day. We got into the boat - Catabatic, and Andy had no trouble and off we went. We soon came across Humpbacks BUBBLE NETTING. O.M.G! They go down deep under a school of, in this case herrings, and swim around in a circle, blowing bubbles. The fish are corralled in a circle f bubble curtain. They will not swim through it. As the bubble reach the top, the humpbacks roar up through the middle with their mouths open wide taking in as much as twice their weight n water. Their giant fluted throat opens up and takes it it. The tongue then forces the water out through the baleen curtains hanging at the edge of their mouths, keeping the fish in. This is a learned skill that is taught by the matriarch of the pod. And we got to see it happening. How very special. I also got a few fluke photos that I sent in to HappyWhale.com They were 'new to science' whales. This guy is now registered with Happywhale.com and is know as Humpback Whale ID HW-MN0400474. Next time it is sighted I will be notified - could be in Alaska, could be in Hawaii. It's very exciting. Damn! What a day. And I got three new flukes registered with Happy Whale from this day. That was excellent. Hoohan is the town there on Icy Strait. Icy Strait Point is the cruise town. But I will admit that they have probably the best disability set up. An electric buggy comes right to the cruise ship and drops at 5 stops around the complex - including the front gate. They even have huts with ramps and roofs for easy loading. Good work Royal. WHAT A DAY.
  14. Saturday 23rd August. INSIDE PASSAGE ALASKA Relaxing Sea Day with the Pinnacle Suites lunch. Lovely. Great food and drinks. Some trivia and lounge time, then dinner at Giovanni’s. Great day. Sunday 24th August. Ketchikan I was up at stupid o’clock to go out to the dock and book at bear tour. I got onto a 9 am flight so went back onto the ship and had breakfast. Sadly, I was bumped to the 11am flight, so walked up to Fish Creek to see the salmon. Pretty stunning creek to have running through your town. Ketchikan is right on the water. Houses were built at the water line so they built the town out on stilts for a road and dock etc. The creek runs through the town with houses and businesses over it. It was full of salmon. The last few swimming up to spawn and the bodies of the dead floating down. Big fat birds just floating around watching them. My trip was a float plane trip out to Traitors Cove to see the black bears. The Cove is on the same island - Revillagigedo as Ketchikan, but there are no roads – float planes or boats. The whole area is in Tongass National Forrest and the flight over Tongass Narrows was great. The flight in was lovely. Over so many island. You could see where the salmon where running by all the fishing boats. Commercial and recreation. The forest was amazing. The trees were so dense and ran right down to the water. Tongass National Forest. It’s 17 million acres and covers most of the land up the Inside Passage. This area has the biggest black bear population in the states. But the area is in a terrible drought. Sometimes they go for four days without rain! But seriously it is very dry so many of the normal creeks are not getting fish and therefore no bears. Float planes are so much fun. You just fly over a lake then drop down and land. So smooth. We unloaded onto a lovely dock and marched up the hill. Then into the van and drove off through the rain forest. We stopped at a pretty lake for a look as black bear number one ran across the track. Then down a beautiful track through amazing forest. Back through the trees was a waterfall - with a large black bear fishing. The old growth trees were great. Hundreds of years old. And massive. But the mosses. Beautiful. And the lichens etc. Thick and lush and so soft! This forest was amazing. We walked down another lovely track to the creek and there were the bears. They came and went, some slept, some fished. Smaller ones would scurry away as bigger ones arrived. Amazing. We also had a lesson in bear scat. Black bear poo – dark with berries and fish bones and smells like fish. Grizzly bear poo – dark with berries and fish bones as well as ‘bear bells’, whistles, pieces of clothing and smells like pepper spray. Ba Boom! The flight back was just as wonderful. We did a big circle over the edge of town past the “International Airport – We can fly you to anywhere in the world…as long as you go through Seattle”, and landed next to the ship. Like in the water next to the ship. That was very cool. That night was the C&A do. Was the usual with great live music and drinks. Captain Trim talked for ages and was very good. He talked about things like the fuel bill in Vancouver. When Royal says “fill her UP”, the tank will last two weeks and cost $1 million US. On this trip we will be using $70,000 a day fuel and $57,000 a day for food. Half the ship were C&A members with D – 109, D+ - 25, Pinnacle - 15. There was also the usual spiel from the Next Cruise person, but one interesting fact was that they have strung a 100 day trip together on Explorer. It’s a 100 day ‘B9B’, going from Australia to Miami. No repeat ports! Amazing day. ***** It is worth going to the blog for this part as there are many bear photos.*****
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