Saturday, October 30, 2010

Another Week Gone

I realize I've been MIA here at the blog this week. It's been a bit stormy at The Beast; not just the actual weather but our tempers have become a bit frayed after dealing with the folks at HeartlessHeartland. They have decided, contrary to the opinion of two certified and experienced rv service technicians, that the company is not at fault in building a shoddy product and therefore they are not replacing all of our burned out appliances. And so Denny and I have spent the week comparison pricing and shopping, trying to find comparable appliances to replace those that burned out. Of course, Heartland used discontinued models on some of the items so we've upgraded a bit on the washing machine and microwave/convection oven. Our insurance company will be investigating the matter because they do not cover "power surges" which is what Heartland claims happened to our rig, despite all evidence to the contrary. It may turn out that Denny and I have to eat the expense, but at least we are close to having the rig back to where it was when we bought it. Or better.

Thank goodness for the company of friends. Evenings are spent together at happy hour, noshing hors d 'oeuvres and speaking "of many things, like shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings. And why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings."* We've shared meals and memories and many a laugh which has eased the whole electrical/burned appliances/dealing with idiots thing.

And of course, there are always beautiful sunrises here at the beach.
* quote from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Island Green Golf Course

I'm a little late with this one, but last week Don, Gary, Denny and I played the Island Green Golf Course. They had a special rate of $28 to play 18 holes with a riding cart that also included lunch and a beer/fountain drink (more on that later.) We were able to get a late morning tee time, the weather was ideal and our playing? Well, some of it was good, some not so much.

The course plays 6043 yards from the white tees with a slope/rating of 69.1/120. From the red tees the course is 4656 yards long with a course rating of 63.6/108. There are some houses along the course, there are a lot of old growth pines and waste bunkers as well as some deep lipped sand bunkers around the greens. The greens themselves are incredibly fast--none of us ever really adjusted to the speed of the greens and so our putting was rather abysmal.

This is a pretty golf course and the rate of play isn't too bad. When Denny and I played here in the past, you would sometimes see an alligator sunning himself on the island green at hole eighteen. This year he was nowhere to be found. Be advised that you are NOT supposed to stop and eat your free lunch at the turn--it messes up their timing or something. The four of us did stop for lunch and were chastised by the starter when we came out of the clubhouse. Lesson learned. Eat after play.
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Quick Peek at Our Week

Today was a lazy day. Well, lazy in the sense that we didn't do anything special, although I did manage to wash a couple of loads of laundry and make a chocolate cake (with caramel icing, or frosting for those of you not from the Midwest.) We're meeting the group for dinner over at Gary's place tonight (although it still feels weird to see our old rig next to us instead of us living in it!)

So quickly, a picture a day for this week.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Snap Impressions of Vancouver

There wasn't enough time between disembarkation from the cruise ship to the time we needed to board our flight to Seattle to tour Vancouver. I did try to squeeze in a bus tour but the Princess folks said nope so that was out.

However, our very nice shuttle bus driver took us on a little detour to see a little of the town since it was Labor Day and traffic was much lighter than usual which allowed him a few extra minutes for arriving at the airport on time. Bonus. Our brief drive through showed Denny and me that we needed to come back for future exploration of this lovely city.

Arriving at port pre-dawn.The pier looked like a ship under full sail.
I believe this is the Convention Center as seen from the ship.
It was a rainy morning when we arrived, but sometimes that makes for dramatic photographs. This is an area at the port where they unload and load shipping containers.

A bit of architectural detail high on the side of a building downtown.

This should look familiar to fans of the Olympics.
Our bus driver referred to this as Snow White's house. This really is a house in the middle of a residential area in Vancouver.See why we need to return?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cruisin'....on a Sunday Afternoon

Saturday evening was the night for the staff to celebrate (hey, they were getting rid of all of us soon!) At dinner we were introduced to the cooking staff, the waiters sang and played guitars and danced with the guests. There was a talent show where the staff had the opportunity to show off their magic tricks and singing skills and the mood was light onboard.

Sunday was a full day of cruising to get to our final destination of Vancouver by early Monday morning. Denny and I wandered the ship, played the slots, met up with various members of the Prudhoe group and I packed up our bags in preparation for our early luggage pick up. The skies outside were gray, dreary and sometimes rainy and most of the scenery looked the same.

This fisherman held up whatever it was he had caught (I presumed a salmon) which appeared to be quite sizable but he was a bit too far out for my zoom to fully see what he had.

I loved the way the mountains looked out of focus here.
Purple mountains majesty.
This was probably the most relaxing day we'd had on the entire trip, other than the train ride to Whittier. One last day of being served, of having our bed turned down, of being "sirred" and "ma'ammed" and it would be over.

But you know what? We were anxious to get back home to our rig. It was time.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Last Stop--Ketchikan

Our ship didn't dock until 10AM at Ketchikan so Denny and I had the opportunity to have a leisurely breakfast onboard and then we returned to our balcony to watch as we arrived in port.
Once the ship was secured, off we went to experience our First City Deluxe Tour.
Boarding our bus we wound through town to the Deer Mountain Fish Hatchery where we learned about the life cycle of salmon from egg to their death after spawning.

When salmon start their swim back to their home area, they stop eating. By the time they arrive to start spawning, their bodies are depleting and they lose color, turning white. So by the time the spawning process is over, the salmon are mostly white. They are left to decompose where they die so that they enrich the soil and water and other creatures can feed upon them as part of the natural life cycle.
There is also a raptor educational center at the fish hatchery, where a handler gave a talk on this peregrine falcon, a turkey vulture and the injured eagles located there. The eagles had each lost a wing to collisions with electrical power wires.
A display of the various types of wild salmon.

Once everyone had finished asking questions about the salmon and the raptors we headed to the Totem Heritage Center.The Totem Heritage Center was created to preserve early cedar totems that had been left behind in abandoned Native camps and villages. Since totems are carved not only to tell local legends but also to describe personal family histories, an effort is being made to preserve and restore these works of art. As you enter the center you are greeted by a member of a local culture, such as the Tlingits, who speaks to you in his/her native tongue and then translates that to English. The native dialects are very musical to your ear. Once you go inside another native Alaskan will explain the history of totems and of the stories that the three totems highlighted at the entrance tell. Then you are allowed to wander through the building on your own to learn about the various totems inside.

All too soon we were herded into our tour bus for the short drive to Saxman Village, a native Tlingit village. Saxman Village claims the largest collection of totem poles from all over Alaska where work is ongoing to preserve them. There are thirty-four totem poles currently located here.

Denny and I also spoke briefly to a Native Alaskan who was currently working on carving a new totem pole, a process he learned from his uncle by way of apprenticeship. The totems are beautiful works of art as well as a storyboard of local lore.

The final part of our excursion was to the Discovery Center which housed displays about the native wildlife, geography and geology of the area. By this time Denny and I were full up to here with learning and left to wander Creek Street.
Creek Street, which is not really a street at all but a boardwalk over Ketchikan Creek, was originally the "red light" district of Ketchikan. Now the former brothels house restaurants, shops and museums such as that in the infamous "Dolly House". Prostitution was allowed in Ketchikan as long as the houses weren't on land and so the houses were built over the creek.

As we wandered the board walk we could see the salmon fighting their way up the creek to spawn, followed by a very hungry and thoroughly ecstatic harbor seal who was snapping a bite of salmon here, another chomp of salmon there as he worked his way upstream in the middle of town.

There are also many "streets" in Ketchikan that are simply long stairways to the various homes built on the hillsides in town. The longest of these is 2500 steps to the top. There is also a stairway know as the Married Men's Trail in town, which supposedly married men used to secretly walk to the bordellos on Creek Street. It begins at the fish ladder near the original fish hatchery in the middle of Ketchikan.

A visit to a couple of shops and jewelry stores in town and then Denny and I had to hustle back to the ship which left port early for the long trek to Vancouver. We would have one final day of sailing with no stops at port, simply scenic vistas and the opportunity to perhaps see some aquatic wildlife.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Still in Juneau

Okay, back to Green Angel Gardens. This next picture is of bear bread fungi. The Athabascan culture will use one of these to carry their fire embers when they move camp. They take one of the fungi, hollow it out a bit, place an ember there, wrap the fungus in moss and then wrap the whole thing in a caribou skin. When they arrive at their next location they are able to use the burning ember and mosses to start their fire. Ingenious, huh?
While the picture doesn't show the true scale, these skunk cabbages are about three and a half feet tall. The Tglingit (pronounced Clink-it) culture used them for medicinal purposes.

Wandering along the foot path of the Green Angel Gardens. Hard to believe this is in Alaska, right?
After having our little mid-morning snack at the garden (along with the opportunity to buy local trinkets, of course) our little group once again boarded the bus, this time headed for the Mendenhall Glacier.

Of course, Juneau gets a lot of rain so the chances of us having a sunny, bright day to visit were slim to none. However, the glacier was awesome even in the dreary, wet weather.
Again we were allowed only 45 minutes to explore this national forest area, thus we didn't have time to walk the 3/4 mile path to the waterfall or to thoroughly explore the visitor center or grounds. This would be a great place to spend the day, have a picnic (watching carefully for bears) and enjoy the beautiful glacier.After a good dinner on board our ship, Denny and I returned to our room with a cup of coffee to sit on our balcony and enjoy just the tiniest bit of an Alaskan sunset as we cruised away from Juneau.
Man, this is hard to take!
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