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About GreySkies

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

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    Cruise Ship, if I’m lucky
  1. My mother was a middle school librarian for 10+ years. ;-) Can you recommend some historical fiction books for someone who enjoyed My Brother Sam is Dead and Johnny Tremaine? Thanks!
  2. There are some pics in the review listed in my signature. I have yet to finish working on the rest, but these are pics from the excursions.
  3. LOL! Thank you for that. Just brightened my day. Related to the cookbook, has anyone actually made anything out of it? If so, what and how did it turn out?
  4. For those wondering why people should get it, the answer is the same as getting an MMR, DTP, or polio vaccines: herd immunity. The more people that get it, the better the chances that fewer people will get ill. Not everyone can get the shots, so they rely on those around them (general public) to do so. Last year, I got the flu shot, as I have for at least 10 years now. I've previously gotten the pneumonia shot, too. Unfortunately, in March, I got railroaded by whatever I had. Started getting sick on one day. By Day 3, the generic cough syrup wasn't working, so I saw an RN and was given the generic with codeine. Lungs sounded good. By Day 5, I was coughing at times where I couldn't catch my breath properly. Went back in, saw a different RN. Was told my lungs sounded horrible. Turned out to be borderline pneumonia. Antibiotics were given and I eventually recovered. I was out of the office for 2 weeks. The point: I can't imagine how more ill I could have gotten if I hadn't gotten the flu and pneumonia shots. And, at my last physical, I got the Prevnar 13 shot. Dr. said it was a good idea since I have asthma (cough variant).
  5. One more correction: The bird is not a blue crested wren. It is a belted kingfisher.
  6. I just looked at the excursion information on Princess' site. It was the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary. The bus went through Saxman Village, and I thought he mentioned Totem Bight as being passed, too. Guess I misheard.
  7. I will eventually get to reviewing the glaciers. We saw Hubbard and Glacier Bay, plus we did the Major Marine Tours Prince William Sound tour. I've never been to Tracy Arm, so I can't compare the two for you. Glacier Bay was nice, but it didn't seem to be as good as Hubbard at calving the day we were there.
  8. Thanks for the correction. I'm not sure why I multiplied it by 3.
  9. Had a fantastic time on my recent cruise. I just wanted to report that I used a tripod provided on one of the excursions. On the other excursion, the ISO was set to allow for a fast enough speed that the tripod and monopod weren't necessary.
  10. I have started my review of my cruise. I posted it in the Princess forum since it will be heavily based on the experiences with them, but I thought people might want to read my excursion reviews (through the ship) and see the pictures. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2256455
  11. After a long stay observing the two bears in the trees, we continued down the path to the salmon hatchery view. There were many gulls in this area, as well. Clint explained that the salmon, regardless of where they are let go after hatching, will find their way to the hatchery and up the ladders. Nature really is quite astounding! At one point, another bear was spotted in the far distance, again with some salmon. By this point, I was out of my memory card and was frantically trying to figure out which images I could delete to try and get a picture of the latest bear. Thankfully, I was able to do so, as seen in this shot. I don’t recall inviting everyone to dinner! ©2015 M. Hager As we made our way from the hatchery back to the buildings where the latest totem pole was being carved and some birds of prey were, Clint spotted a Blue Crested Wren (?) which he said was very difficult to get a good picture of. After several seasons, he still hadn’t gotten a good one. Since I was the first in line, I had beginner’s luck. Blue Crested Wren(?) ©2015 M. Hager I tried to get even closer, but he flew away very quickly. Everyone in my tour will just have to enjoy the picture I snapped. We got to see some birds of prey: two eagles, a peregrine falcon, and one other. Once again, I had to find images to delete to be able to snap a few pictures of an eagle. I was delighted when I saw how this image turned out. Golden Eye ©2015 M. Hager The person talking to us about the birds of prey explained that this particular eagle could not be returned to the wild because she had been hit by a car. Instead, they take care of her and she gets to educate the public. The other eagle in their care was because the eagle had a very deformed beak that prevented it from being able to eat properly. The center would cut up the food for the eagle to allow it to eat. Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder ©2015 M. Hager Someone on the tour asked about the fact that only one talon was showing. It was explained to us that not all birds sleep lying down. Thus, like a flamingo, an eagle will rest on one leg while the other is tucked up underneath. I apologize for not getting any pictures of the totem being carved. The person was very soft-spoken, but clearly loved what he did. If you go, make sure you ask how he got into totem carving. He carves a new totem for Tongass National Park each year. I believe they currently have 4, plus the one he’s working on. PERSONAL REVIEW OF EXCURSION: The negative – We occasionally spent more time in one location than I felt was necessary. The positive – I learned quite a bit, saw bears, eagles, other birds, and a banana slug. The best part was that my mother came with me and got to share the experience!
  12. Excursion 3: animal planet exclusive: bear country & wildlife expedition: What it says on the princess website Ketchikan excursion listing: http://www.princess.com/excursion/exDetails.do?t=A&exType=S&tourCode=KTN-885 What it was: There were a total of 24 people on this excursion. Once again, we all piled onto a bus, but this was a large one and everyone was able to get a seat row to themselves, if desired. As we drove to Tongass National Forest, our driver would point out eagle nests in trees and tell us about the area. The drive itself was fairly nice, and only lasted about 20 minutes. You do go on a dirt road for the last 2 minutes, but the road is well kept, so it isn’t very hard on the body. We passed by the Totem Bight State Park on the way there (and back). Totem Bight ©2015 M. Hager This tour itself was headed up by two young guys, Clint and the other whose name I’ve forgotten. The group was split into two once we arrived at the site. We were told to put our food and drinks into a tub to prevent the bears from being attracted to us. I also left my camera case with the tub, but would take an extra battery with me and my normal 55mm lens. My camera had the 75mm - 300mm lens attached. (This would prove to be a mistake, as I would run out of memory card data. Who knew 900+ photos wouldn’t be enough.) My group headed out on our walk with Clint and saw tons of gulls near some water. My poor mother was nervous about the suspension bridges. She claims she was about to go on the first one when I bolted back over and started shaking it. I guided her over the first one. By the end of the third one, she seemed fine. Mom and the First Suspension Bridge ©2015 M. Hager Before we even finished crossing the first suspension bridge, someone noticed some rustling of bushes near a big fallen tree stump. After waiting a bit and someone crossing the suspension bridge, we were rewarded with the news that there were two bears! It turned out to be a young mother (still had some brown fur) and a cub of about 7 months. We stopped and watched these two bears for a long time. They meandered over some logs to the water and eventually went in. The mother bear caught a salmon. The two eventually went out of the water and ate the salmon hidden in the bushes. It was a pure delight seeing these bears. Da Bears! ©2015 M. Hager We continued over some suspension bridges (a total of 4) and got to a smaller trail. As we walked through the trail, something on a plant caught my eye. It was a large slug. A banana slug, to be exact. For those familiar with UC Santa Cruz, you’ll recall that their mascot was changed in the mid-1980s to be the banana slug. I was excited about seeing this odd looking slug, but my mom called me to the group which was looking at a bear sleeping in a tree. I went back during a lull and snapped this picture. Banana Slug ©2015 M. Hager Let Sleeping Bears Lie ©2015 M. Hager It did not appear that the bear was in the most comfortable position to sleep in to a human. He was hanging over a large branch. However, at one point, he repositioned himself to something that seemed even less comfortable to us. I guess a bear just doesn’t care. We let the sleeping bear lie and snapped many pictures of him. A second bear was spotted in another tree that had a salmon in his mouth. This bear was far more difficult to get a good picture of due to the fact that there were trees in the way. Trust me when I say there was a salmon in his mouth. Mmmm… Dinner! ©2015 M. Hager
  13. From here, we headed to our boat captained by John. After the basic safety review, which included lots of jokes, we were headed to Stephen’s Passage. According to Molly and John, the boats are required to stay a minimum of 100 yards (900 feet) from the whales. The whales, on the other hand, do not have to stay away from the boats. (Training them to do so would be a nifty trick.) On our way out, John spotted some blows from whales and stopped for us to view them. It turned out to be a mother and what was estimated to be an 8 month old whale prepping for the long migration this year. Each time we saw the whales come up, we were all excited and waiting for the tails, but they never showed. Humpback Whale ©2015 M. Hager Eventually, we did move on and were rewarded with more whales, and, this time, tails. John stayed in contact with other boat captains to trade information, including whether there was enough room for them to move past the whales at a safe distance. Like Molly, John was a treasure trove of information, and I didn’t hesitate to ask him questions. Humpback Whales and Boat ©2015 M. Hager Humpback Whale Tail ©2015 M. Hager I have a number of other whale tail pictures, but those are either going into a photo competition that the excursion company has every year or, more likely, onto my wall. We also had a very curious sea lion that I got some nice pictures of. Eventually our time viewing the whales came to an end and we had to head back to the cruise ship. While on the water, we did spot one eagle among a bunch of seagulls. I tried grabbing some pictures, but none of them came out very well. Molly continued to explain to us the lives of Humpbacks, as they are currently known. She also reiterated the three aspects of photography that are critical (aperture, speed, and lighting. At some point on the bus earlier, she also discussed the use of breaking the picture up into thirds. This is hard to remember to do when excited about seeing whales.) When we got to shore, Molly pointed out an eagle in one of the trees. PERSONAL REVIEW OF EXCURSION: The negative – The Trail of Time didn’t seem that exciting to me after the excursion the day before. I think I would have been better off just spending the entire time on a whale watching excursion. Then again, if I’d seen some animals, I’m sure I would have been thrilled with this portion of the excursion. The positive – Molly and John were very informative. We saw a variety of wildlife including whales, sea lions, and eagles. Those that didn’t have a photography excursion the day before had the opportunity to learn about photography and get hands-on help with their cameras.
  14. Mushrooms Galore ©2015 M. Hager At the end of the trail, we were able to see a glacier. Oddly, Molly never informed us that this was Mendenhall Glacier, so I made sure to verify that’s what we were looking at. There were plenty of people at the bottom of the waterfall on the right side. What I loved about Mendenhall Glacier is the different look it has on the left side of the other glaciers I had seen to this point. Mendenhall Glacier – Left Side ©2015 M. Hager The person in the picture is myself with my stuffed mouse, Stowaway. (One of these days I’ll write a children’s book about his adventures, as was suggested on another review I wrote.) This picture gives a great view of the overall landscape of the area. Mendenhall Glacier Landscape ©2015 M. Hager
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