Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cruising to Alaska - Part 5 - Skagway

On Wednesday, we went to Skagway.  We scheduled a long, 8 hour shore excursion. I was a little concerned about the kids on that long of a day, but they did great.

For our shore excursion, we first took a bus up the White Pass and Yukon Highways. We learned a lot about the miners who originally took that route. They were heading up into the Yukon for gold. I can't even imagine trying to get over those mountains on foot or with animals. They were not allowed to come into Canada unless they had a year's supply of food and other supplies, so they had to make multiple trips to get all their supplies there.

We saw a lot of beautiful scenery. A lot of it looked quite a bit like what you would see in Utah, but a little more rugged and with different trees and plants.

The land was really rugged and there were a lot of small lakes. They said that a lot of the miners would actually travel during the winter, even though the temperatures were well below zero, just because it was all frozen over and easier to travel.

We saw quite a few bears while we were on the bus. They were just walking along the side of the road. It was kind of hard to get a good picture from the bus.

The bus tour took us into Canada. We even had to stop and get our passports checked, which was exciting for those of us who hadn't used our passports before.

After a couple of hours on the bus, we stopped and had lunch. We went to place where they have a dog sled team that they train for the Iditarod. It was very touristy, but was still fun. They had one area where they had a couple of the nicer sled dogs and some new puppies. You could pet them and feed them. Zoe was in heaven. It was probably her favorite part of the whole cruise.

They were beautiful dogs.

Zoe was not at all intimidated by the dogs.

We then went to Emerald Lake. It was beautiful.

We saw another bear on the shore of the lake.

I wasn't sure how the kids would like the tour, but Robby found it all fascinating.

After the bus tour, we took the White Pass Railway back to Skagway. It was fun to ride on the train. We basically went back the way we had come but it was neat to see all the scenery from a different perspective.

Our tour took longer than it was supposed to, so the cruise ship was waiting on us when we got back. We took off as soon as we were on the ship.

It was a very long, full day, but we were able to see a lot of things and had a good time.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cruising to Alaska - Part 4 - Sawyer Glacier

We left Juneau, early in the afternoon, and headed to Tracy Arm Fjord towards the Sawyer Glacier, luckily, leaving the rains of Juneau behind.

Tracy Arm Fjord is a thin waterway, about 30 miles long, that ends with a large glacier, Sawyer Glacier. It was the most scenic area we saw while on the cruise ship. It was amazing.

If you ever get the chance to go on a cruise, especially to Alaska, and you can afford it, I would suggest splurging on a room with a balcony. We didn't get a balcony room, but Kirk's parents did. When we went into the fjord, Kirk and I spent a little time out on the deck. It was really windy and cold though, and there were so many people, trying to see the scenery. So, instead, we went and hung out on Kirk's parents balcony. It was sheltered from the wind, so it wasn't nearly as cold. There was more than enough room for us, and we got some amazing views.

We sailed through the fjord towards the glacier for a couple of hours.

We saw this little guy next to the ship. I think he is a sea lion, but I could be wrong.

There were amazing icebergs that had broken off the glacier all through the 30 mile fjord. They were so pretty. Each piece of ice was so unique in color and shape. They were incredibly blue. The closer we got to the glacier, the more ice we saw.

The scenery was pretty breathtaking as well. There were such rugged mountains contrasting with incredibly green trees.

You could see where the water, snow and ice from the snow and glacier runoff had carved paths into the mountains.

There were probably hundreds of runoff waterfalls.

Robby really liked seeing all the ice and scenery. Zoe was at kid's club most of the time.

Our first view of the glacier.

Our taxi driver in Juneau had told us that the cruise ships didn't get close enough to the glaciers to see anything, so we were surprised by how close we got. The captain turned the ship so that each side got a few minutes to just look at the glacier.

It was beautiful.

We did go and get Zoe from kid's club so that she could see the glacier, but she wasn't interested. She wouldn't stand still long enough for me to take a picture, preferring to explore grandma and grandpa's room instead.

One final look before we sailed back through the fjord.

The glacier was one of my favorite things that we saw on the cruise. It was amazing. You really can't capture it in a picture, it is so different to see it in person. The size (and it was only a little piece of it that we saw), the color, the crazy amount of ice it had shed into the ocean miles and miles away, was all pretty cool. We didn't see it calving, which would have been awesome, but it was still a stunning site that we will never forget.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cruising to Alaska - Part 3 - Juneau

After Ketchikan, we started heading toward Juneau.

My favorite thing to do on the ship was to go out on the deck. I loved feeling the wind, looking out over the ocean. It started to get really cold and rainy at this point though, so we weren't able to spend much time on deck.

I thought this little island looked kind of interesting. Again, see how close together the trees are.

This mist was really cool. This picture doesn't do it justice. The mist rolling over the hills was just amazing.

We didn't have any shore excursions planned in Juneau. We knew that in Juneau, we wanted to go to Mendenhall Glacier (one of the only drive-to glaciers there are) and maybe on a tram ride that allows you to look out over all of Juneau. We knew that we could do all of those things on our own.

When we got to Juneau, it was raining. We took a taxi out to the glacier, and by the time we got there, it was pouring. We were soaked. We could barely even see the glacier and were pretty miserable in the rain.

The glacier was pretty amazing, even in the rain. You can hike and get pretty close to it, but that didn't sound like a very fun idea in the rain.

I love how blue the ice is.

I couldn't keep my camera lens dry, so it was really hard to take pictures, but here are the boys, trying to make the best of the rain.

When we walked back to the taxi, it was still pouring, but the fog had cleared a little, so I got a couple clearer pictures of the glacier.

Back at town, I ran into my BFF Sarah Palin ;)

This is the tram we were going to ride on. We decided that since we couldn't see much of the tram because of the fog, we wouldn't be able to see much from the tram, so we didn't go on it.

Here is a picture of Juneau while we were floating away. You can see how many cruise ships were there. It was crazy.

Even with all the rain, Juneau was still fun. I loved seeing the glacier. Juneau wasn't as picturesque as Ketchikan, but it was still very pretty and a neat place to visit.