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Raina's Blogging Again. Live - Alaska to Sydney, Radiance PHOTOS!

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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.

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The water that a few days ago was a milky grey was now a pascal turquoise green.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Go to Alaska if just to see Hubbard Glacier.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Juneaux2-4-768x512.jpgThen 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.

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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.

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After all that hard work I need some sustenance, so ate a reindeer sausage. Then followed that up with a candied salmon ice cream!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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**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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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******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.

 

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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.

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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!

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Tuesday 4th September

Ketchikan

Yay. Woke up to real Alaskan weather. Rain! Grey and low cloud.

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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.

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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.

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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.

IMG_0476-768x576.jpgThe sailaway was particularly stunning.

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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.

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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!

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Your reviews and photos are always so fabulous Raina! And it is great that your dad can still travel with you. We are about the same age. Such a long cruise, have you finally retired?

 

I was in elementary school in Seattle during the Alaska earthquake. Major damage, even in Washington. We were taking a field trip to the Carnation Dairy Farm to see the cows on that morning. I was walking along a railroad tie parking divider and was knocked down by the shaking. And when I entered my classroom, the shades were drawn and all the other kids were under their desks. We still practice a lot of "duck & cover" on the west coast.:D

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