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Oakman58

Westerdam Alaskan Cruise/Tour Jun 2 - 13 2019

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6 minutes ago, Oakman58 said:

I’m an early riser and Joyce likes to sleep in so on cruises we compromise and she gets up early too.

 

😂😃😂😃😂😃😂

 

 

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June 3rd continued

I become an ol' salt

 

We explored the Westerdam for a bit and as we walked by the pool on the Lido deck the pool water was really splashing around. 

 

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We also both really liked Explorations Central with the forward facing windows and the small café.

 

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At 9 AM we attended the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet in the Billboard Lounge.  It was moderately attended but no one seemed to be in charge.  We were just a group of people sitting in a lounge not knowing what to do.  Holland did provide some pastries and beverages.  I think we stayed for 15 minutes and then left.

 

Directly across from the Billboard Lounge was the Casino.  I have to say this was the smallest Casino I have ever seen on a cruise ship.  I was surprised because most cruise ships make a lot of money from the casino.

 

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A bit later we went to the Mainstage Theater for a shore excursions presentation.  We had researched excursions to the nth degree so everything was a rehash of what we already knew and we both kept nodding off.  We finally decided to go back to our cabin and take a nap.

 

The rocking of the ship really knocked us out because we slept like babies for a solid two hours.  When we woke up it was time for lunch.  As we left our cabin to head to the buffet our room steward Son came running up to us and expressed concern that we were seasick.  Nope I told him, we just woke up way too early and needed a nap.  I’m not sure he was convinced but I was impressed with the attention our room stewards showed us.

 

In the buffet we bumped into two of the couples that joined us on this cruise and ate lunch with them.  Since this was a Gala night in the main dining room we decided to get reservations for our group of 14 of so we could eat together again.  We were successful in getting reservations but this would become a bone of contention the remainder of the cruise.  Every night there after the Maitre ‘d was expecting 14 for dinner.  We tried multiple times to cancel that reservation with no success.

 

We went back to our cabin to enjoy our balcony and when we entered we found chocolate covered strawberries had been delivered.  This was one of the perks our travel agent obtained for us from Holland America.

 

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Before going out on our balcony we packed what we wanted to take with us for our excursion in Ketchikan tomorrow.  After that I went up to the buffet with our insulated mugs and got some coffee and hot water for tea to enjoy on the balcony.  I love sitting on a ship’s balcony enjoying the fresh air and watching the scenery go past.  The Celebrity Eclipse was now behind us.

 

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I don’t know what these buildings were but I think it must be some official Canadian government property.

 

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June 3rd continued in my next post.

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June 3rd Sea day continued

I become an ol' salt.

 

We had 5:30 reservations for Gala Night for our group in the main dining room.  One of the men in our group really showed the rest of us up by wearing a tuxedo to dinner.  The rest of us were dressed smart casual.  Here’s a picture of the entrees and desserts menu.  I didn’t get a picture of the appetizer and salad menu.

 

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I ordered the rack of lamb and it was quite delicious until I decided to add a little salt.  Nothing seemed to be coming out of the salt shaker so I gave it a forceful shake.  Instantly the lid flew off and the entire contents of the shaker landed on my plate, my lap, and as I discovered later that night in my shoes too.  I believed this caused me to utter a couple of naughty sailor words.   When we checked the shaker we discovered it had a lid that was defective and wouldn’t stay tight. 

 

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I had already eaten most of the lamb and I wasn’t really hungry so I didn’t bother to order more food.  We did make sure that salt shaker was taken out of circulation.

 

We went to the late show in the Mainstage Theater which was “Off the Charts” a tribute to some of the great songs over the decades.  The Holland singers and dancers were good and we enjoyed the show.  There was one number that was a tribute to Whitney Houston that I thought was rather odd and I’ll just leave it at that.

 

After the show I went back to our cabin and Joyce went to B.B. Kings to get a glass of wine to bring back to our cabin. When she returned she said the singer in the lounge was outstanding.  There was an elephant on our bed along with the When & Where and two little chocolates.  NCL quit putting chocolates on the bed every evening a long time ago.  I love those little chocolates.

 

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There was also a notice to turn our clocks back one hour.  You can believe I made sure I changed the time on my smartphone.  I didn’t need another early morning fiasco.

 

I will continue my report tomorrow.

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What a great review,  I am enjoying it thoroughly, not bored............cannot wait for tomorrow’s report...........

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June 4th Ketchikan

I get crabby with no potatoes.

 

I woke up early again and heard a lot of noise outside the ship so I got out of bed at 4:35 AM (AKDT) to investigate.  Although the ship wasn’t scheduled to be in port until 7 AM we were already in port and a construction crane was loading and unloading materials from the ship.  I’d bet there were a number of unhappy passengers due to the noise this morning.

 

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I took the rear elevators up to the Lido buffet and got some coffee and hot water for tea just in case I made too much noise and woke Joyce up.  Another feature of the elevators I haven’t mentioned yet was that the floor mat on the elevator was changed every day to reflect the correct day of the week.  As someone who has been retired for many years and no longer remembers what day it is, this was a nice feature.  Also it was a true sign Holland America designs its cruises for old people.

 

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When I returned to our cabin Joyce woke up due to the opening and closing of the cabin door.  Thank goodness I had hot water for tea.  Around 5:30 the ship began moving away from the dock.  Ah ha, apparently this was just a stop for supplies.

 

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When I looked aft, the rear of the ship for those of you who aren’t an ol’ salt like me, I could see a princess cruise ship in the distance coming into Ketchikan.  I guess that’s where we will head for the port for Ketchikan.

 

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While we were eating breakfast in the buffet the ship arrived at its berth in Ketchikan.  There were some very low hanging clouds near the port.  The ship was docked right by a lot of tourist shops.

 

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There was a light rain falling which was no great surprise since Ketchikan is the rain capital of Alaska.

 

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Continued in my next post.

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June 4th Ketchikan continued

I get crabby with no potatoes.

 

Our excursion today was the Wilderness Exploration and Crab Feast and met on the dock at 9:45 so after breakfast we decided we had plenty of time to go shopping for souvenirs.  We were very successful finding gifts for family members in those little tourist shops.  Joyce is a magician when it comes to finding room in our luggage for the gifts we bring home.

 

At 9:30 we were on the dock and boarding our bus for the 30 minute ride to George Inlet where our tour would begin.  At the inlet there were 79 steps down to the lodge where our excursion boat was waiting.  They did offer a ride on a golf cart for those with mobility issues.  I probably should have taken advantage of the offer but I didn’t.  Perhaps my male ego got in the way.

 

Once on the boat it was about a 15 minute ride to where they had some crab pots soaking.  There was no wilderness exploring along the way since we passed right by eagles in trees without slowing the boat or even mentioning the eagles.

 

When we arrived at the crab pots the guide asked for a volunteer to help pull the crab pot and a little girl was chosen to help.  She got a big kick out of helping.

 

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Our Guide opened the pot and took out one of the larger crabs and proceeded to give a lecture on Dungeness crabs.

 

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She also gave everyone a chance to hold a crab if they wished.

 

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We spent about 20 minutes at the crab pots and then headed back to the lodge for our AYCE crab feast.  On the way back the boat stopped in the inlet and our guide went to the rear platform on the boat and opened a small cooler containing three fish.  She let out a high pitched whistle and threw one of the fish into the water.  Almost immediately an eagle seemed to appear out of nowhere and snatched the fish from the water with its talons.  Awesome, absolutely awesome!  She repeated this two more times and then we continued to the lodge.

 

I’m inserting four photos of the eagles that I am quite proud of.  I don’t own high end or expensive camera equipment so I was thrilled to get these shots.

 

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Continued in my next post.

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June 4th Ketchikan continued

I get crabby with no potatoes.

 

Back at the lodge we were ushered into a small dining room where our meal included a beverage, a salad, all the crab you could eat, and a piece of cheesecake.  According to the excursion description it was supposed to include baby red potatoes.  Since Joyce doesn’t like crab she was counting on the potatoes for her meal.  When she inquired about the potatoes she was told, “No potatoes today.”  She wasn’t happy about that response nor was I.

 

After our meal it was back up those 79 steps to our bus.  We were back at the ship by 2:30 which was the all aboard time for the 3 PM departure.

 

As we were leaving Ketchikan we passed right by Taquan Air.  That was the airline that was involved in the two deadly crashes in mid-May.  After an investigation they had returned to normal operations.

 

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We had “happy hour” drinks with one of the couples that had joined us on the cruise in the Ocean Bar.  I liked the happy hour in the Ocean Bar, when you bought one drink the second one was just $2.

 

Another perk that was compliments of our travel agent was a dinner in the Italian Canaletto restaurant.  We had 5:30 reservations in the restaurant and after we finished our drinks we went up to the Italian restaurant on the Lido deck in the buffet area.  Here’s the menu for the Canaletto.

 

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The food was very good and I was impressed with the presentation of our Canaletto Salad.

 

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Janice was our server in the restaurant and she was outstanding.  Anytime she saw us after that meal she would call us by name just to say hi.

 

After dinner we had another drink at the Ocean Bar and then went to the theater for the 9 PM show.  The seating in the Mainstage Theater on the Westerdam is much better and much more comfortable than the theater seating on NCL.  The theater seating on the NCL ships we’ve cruised on is cramped and very uncomfortable.

 

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Tonight’s entertainer was the pianist Jason Lyle Black “whose clever arrangements and comedic charm has taken him around the world.”  Clever arrangements yes, comedic charm not so much.  My opinion of course.

 

Back in our cabin that night Joyce iced up my ankle.  Instead of taking the 79 steps up and down at the George Inlet I probably should have taken the golf cart ride.  After that I went to dreamland while Joyce stayed up a bit watching television.

 

Stopping for now.  Thanks for reading.

Edited by Oakman58

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That Ketchikan excursion would have been worth it just for the eagle!  I hope Joyce was able to get enough salad and cheesecake to hold her until you got back on the ship.  And do I see green mashed potatoes as part of the Canaletto salad or was that something else?  I have to mention that I laughed really hard about the salt incident.

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Hi, I’m enjoying your posts so very much, I’m going on the Westerdam in November and it will be my first cruise HAL.  It’s nice to have a balance review.  

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I'm enjoying your recaps!  That "sea day" was a "fun" one...my stomach didn't like it!  But, I was happy when the captain said it would get better, and it did!  Your eagle shots are great!  We didn't see any that close to get pics...saw several in Juneau! 

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1 hour ago, mimmy52 said:

That Ketchikan excursion would have been worth it just for the eagle!  I hope Joyce was able to get enough salad and cheesecake to hold her until you got back on the ship.  And do I see green mashed potatoes as part of the Canaletto salad or was that something else?  I have to mention that I laughed really hard about the salt incident.

 

That was Avocado all smushed up.  It was a very good salad.

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I'm enjoying your report! It's bringing me back  ♪♫♪ North to Alaska ♪♫♪.

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Thanks for your reports.

We prefer to  keep our carryon luggage with us until we reach our stateroom.

Super photos of the eagle.

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June 5th Juneau

Admiral, there be whales here.

 

Sunrise today was 3:58 AM which was even earlier than I get up.  I actually slept in this morning and didn’t wake up until 6 AM.  After getting some coffee and hot water from the buffet I stepped out on the balcony.  Whoa, it was quite chilly this morning.

 

Our scheduled arrival time in Juneau was 10 AM and as we cruised toward the port I actually saw blue ice floating in the water.

 

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After breakfast we hung out on the balcony as we cruised toward Juneau.  We saw numerous cascades and waterfalls flowing down the mountains that obviously had their source from the snow on the mountaintops that were hidden in the clouds.  I wish there had been something near the water to give a perspective of how big those falls and cascades were.

 

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As the Westerdam came into Juneau we could see the Royal Princess cruise ship was already in port.

 

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Our excursion today was the Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Quest with a meeting time on the dock at 10:30.  What a nightmare it was getting off the ship today.  Apparently everyone had an early meeting time as the crowd trying to leave the ship was incredible.  The stairwells were blocked with people trying to get down to the exit deck.  We were packed in like canned sardines and moving as one toward the exit.

 

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Once on the dock we found our bus and it was a half hour drive to our excursion boat.  I don’t know what the capacity of our excursion boat was but it was too many for good whale watching.  When a whale was spotted everyone would rush to the most advantageous spot on the boat.  It reminded me of Black Friday sales when the doors first open but not quite that bad.  Our boat was similar in size to the one in the picture below.

 

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Another negative about the excursion ship was there was a walkway on the sides of the ship and people standing out there blocked the view of those who remained inside looking out the windows.

 

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If you’re going to book a whale watching excursion look for a smaller boat.  The smaller boats seemed to get closer to the whales.  Perhaps something this size. 

 

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Continued in my next post.

 

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June 5th Juneau  continued

Admiral, there be whales here.

 

One nice feature on the excursion boat was that on every seat there was a pair of binoculars for passengers to use.  These were better quality binoculars than I would have expected on a tour boat.

 

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Unlike the smaller boats that were whale watching, it seemed like we never did get within a quarter mile of the whales.  I was glad I had a long zoom on my point and shoot camera or I probably wouldn’t have gotten any whale photos.

 

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We also passed by a navigation buoy that has seals sleeping on it.  There were a couple of seals jumping next to the buoy and I think they were hoping to get a seal to leave the buoy so they could take a turn napping.

 

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These guys were having none on that and didn’t budge.

 

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Continued in my next post.

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June 5th  continued

Admiral, there be whales here.

 

We were on the boat for about three and a half hours when we finally returned to the dock.  We really hadn’t seen very many whales.  It wasn’t a very long bus ride to Mendenhall Glacier but by the time we arrived at the glacier we had less than an hour before we had to return to the ship.  The glacier and Nugget Falls were beautiful.

 

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I was disappointed in the short time we would have here but it was probably for the best.  If we would have had more time I probably would have foolishly tried to do the two mile round trip hike to Nugget Falls.  From our vantage point you couldn’t appreciate the size of the falls until you looked through binoculars and saw how small the people looked near the base of the falls.

 

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A lot of the ice at Mendenhall Glacier had that beautiful blue color in it.  I would have loved to been able to get closer to it.

 

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All too soon it was time to board the bus and go back to the ship.  We were back at the port by 4 PM and Joyce and I decided to take the tram up to the top of Mt. Roberts.  Near the tram building there was a character dressed like a ??.  No idea what that was about.

 

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On the way to the top of Mt. Roberts we had a great view of the Westerdam.

 

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As we neared the top we spotted a bald eagle in the top of a tree.

 

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I wanted to walk the trail at the top but my ankle was beginning to ache so instead we went to the restaurant and had a burger, fries and a couple of beers for dinner.  I thought it was interesting that they had real bear skins hanging on the wall.

 

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The view from the top of Mt. Roberts was beautiful.

 

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After eating we headed back down to the ship.  When we got back to our cabin Joyce made an ice pack for my ankle and I think I was asleep before 8 PM.

 

Stopping this report for now.  Next up will be Skagway.

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Love your review and I find nothing boring. We leave next week for the same trip on the Noordam. Did you notice any of the smoke from the wildfires in Juneau and Skagway?

 

Can't wait for the rest of your trip.

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On 7/10/2019 at 9:17 PM, erewhon said:

Thanks for your reports.

We prefer to  keep our carryon luggage with us until we reach our stateroom.

Super photos of the eagle.

 

So do we.

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20 minutes ago, terrydtx said:

Love your review and I find nothing boring. We leave next week for the same trip on the Noordam. Did you notice any of the smoke from the wildfires in Juneau and Skagway?

 

Can't wait for the rest of your trip.

 

No we didn't, and while we had cloudy skies we really didn't experience much rain either.

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15 minutes ago, Krazy Kruizers said:

Got behind in your reports because of all the bad storms and power outages.

 

Wonderful reports.  Your pictures are great!!!

 

Thank you so much for your kind words.

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June 6th Skagway

A bus driver's holiday.

 

Sunrise was getting earlier and earlier.  Today it was 3:49 AM so by the time I woke up at just after 5 AM the sun was already in the sky.  Today’s excursion was the 8 hour White Pass Rail & Yukon Expedition with a meeting time on the dock at 9 AM.  Passports were required for this excursion since we would be entering the Yukon in Canada.

 

We were scheduled to be in Skagway at 7 AM but we were in port much earlier than that.  Directly across from our balcony was the signature wall.  Crews of the ships autograph this wall to commemorate their first voyage to Skagway.  The Norwegian Bliss had a huge autograph compared to the others.  I guess they were feeling very special that day.

 

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After breakfast we chilled (literally) on our balcony for a bit.  The White Pass Railroad had two trains waiting for passengers at the port.  Our particular excursion would begin with a bus ride and then a train ride back to Skagway.

 

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From our balcony Joyce spotted an eagle perched in a tree high up on the cliff in front of us.  It was high enough that it took me quite a while before I saw it.  I used the zoom on my camera to get a photo of him.  If you have an Alaskan cruise booked don’t go without a pair of binoculars.

 

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There were two other ships in Skagway with us, the Star Princess and the Disney Wonder.  I loved that the port of Skagway was surrounded by mountains.

 

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We doubled checked that we had our passports before leaving the cabin and then headed down to the dock.  A moose was greeting everyone as they got off the ship.

 

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As we boarded the bus for our excursion they not only took our excursion ticket they also required us to show our passports.  Our bus driver was informative and funny which made for a pleasant ride.  We drove for about an hour and then we came to the Canadian Customs station.  Our driver told us we should hold up our passports to the picture page with the picture on top so the customs agent could inspect the passports.  He actually gave a very detailed explanation of how we should hold our passports.

 

When the uniformed and armed agent boarded the bus he gave cursory glances to our passports.  Half way through the bus he stopped and in a voice everyone could here he said, “Sir, you are either going to have to stand on your head or turn your passport upright so I can identify your face.”  That gave everyone on the bus a great laugh.

 

As we continued our drive the scenery was spectacular and I kept thinking the bus would be making photo stops but no, we just kept driving.  It’s hard to take good pictures through a bus window moving at 50 MPH.

 

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Continued in my next post.

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June 6th Skagway continued

A bus driver's holiday.

 

About 2 hours into our drive we finally stopped for a photo opportunity at Lake Tooshy.  The lake was surrounded by mountains and quite beautiful.

 

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We did have a beautiful view but I thought we had passed by a number of areas that were even more scenic.  We drove another 15 minutes and stopped again for a photo opportunity at the YUKON sign.

 

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Also at this stop there was a woman with a trailer that she was selling food, water, and snacks out of.  Considering all the tour busses that stopped here, she had her own little “gold mine”operation right beside the road.

 

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Then it was back on the bus for another 45 minute ride to our next photo stop at Emerald Lake.  This lake really was emerald green and my picture doesn’t do justice to the green color. 

 

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After that we finally made it to our lunch stop at Caribou Crossing at just around noon time.  By this time I was starving so I don’t have any pictures of the BBQ chicken or the all you could eat homemade donuts.  You had your choice of seating inside a building or in a covered wagon outside.  We chose to eat inside since it was a rather chilly day.  The BBQ chicken dinner was delicious.

 

After eating we went back outside to explore Caribou Crossing.  There was a museum, ice cream shop, gift shop, and there was a dog musher “village” where you could pay to take a dog-cart ride.  According to the tour description we would be able to pet and take pictures with husky puppies.  Nope, like the potatoes at George Inlet, there were no husky puppies.

 

To be honest, I thought Caribou Crossing was nothing more than a hokey tourist trap, my opinion of course.  Oh wait, look there are some Big Horn Sheep on that mountain.  Nope, in reality just some fake sheep put up there.  I have to admit they did look real and I’m sure many folks went home thinking they had pictures of Big Horn Sheep.

 

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There were even facades to make the area look more like a town.  No, I wasn’t impressed with Caribou Crossing.

 

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Our next stop was a short ride to the town of Carcross.  At least this was a real town but it had a shopping area catering to tourists too.  I don’t know what I expected of this excursion but we sure drove a long way for a lunch in a tourist trap.  At least the scenery was spectacular coming and going.

 

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Continued in my next post.

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