Saturday, January 13, 2018

cruising. through alaska. part 2.

after a day at sea cruising past the hubbard glacier, we headed towards our first port of call- juneau.

we prebooked excursions at every port. i know that many cruise veterans will tell you to save money by booking once your off the ship, but, for me, i couldn't risk missing out on what was important to me.

in juneau i booked a full day photography safari of mendenhall glacier, tongass forest and a whale watching cruise.

one of the reasons i chose this trip was the small group size. several years back, in iceland, i took a large group whale watching cruise and was unable to see the one whale sighting we had because i was on the wrong side of the boat and blocked by a hundred other people.

we started in the forest. i was using my dslr and my ollo clip lenses for my iphone.

here are some of my favorite shots from the largest national forest in the us.









a quick stop to check out mendenhall glacier. the area was beautiful, but after the hubbard glacier, the portion of this glacier we were able to see seemed quite small. perhaps next time i can trek on one of the glaciers.







the last couple hours of the day were spent whale watching.

this had been my ultimate dream: to see whales in person.

i've been a lifetime whale lover, but had never seen more than what's to be found on tv and in movies.

we headed out in search of humpbacks, but first we found orcas- and i was thrilled. i don't even think i realized this was a species we might see in alaska. but we came upon this pod and they swam around the couple of boats that were lingering nearby.

there are restrictions on how close the boats can get to the whales, but if the whales come to you there's not much you can do.

except enjoy it!

i didn't get too many great pics of the orcas, but i loved seeing them!






after the orcas, we went searching for humpbacks in the area and found a female that's been known to be in the area on a regular basis. we could identify her by the details of her tail as the whale 'barnacles'.

we followed her around a bit and were keeping our distance.

until she emerged on the right side of the boat and surprised us and breaching practically on top of the boat. the captain and the guide had never experienced anything like it, so it was amazing to witness it!

of course we were all too stunned to get pictures of that!









have you had any great whale watching experiences? more to come in another alaska post soon since we went whale watching as a family later in the week!


Saturday, January 6, 2018

cruising. through alaska. part 1.

post anchorage, the fam and i hopped on a bus to seward, alaska, a port large enough for these monstrous cruise ships.

having never "cruised" before, i had no idea what to expect for the boarding process. if you are a first time cruiser, i would tell you to expect lines. and waiting. it wasn't too bad, but it was annoying.

anyways, it all led to the good part...getting on the actual cruise!

my parents and i shared a small interior state room, with basically three twin beds. and for an alaskan cruise, you certainly don't need a balcony-- it's too cold for that! cruising was an upfront expense, and i'm glad that this is where we chose to save some of our pennies.

on our first full day cruising we headed to hubbard glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in north america.


it was quite sizable, and despite the large size of the boat, we were still able to get close to the glacier. you could see and hear the glacier calving at a couple different points, where huge chunks of ice were falling into the sea.


#glacierselfie


this was a seven day cruise with royal caribbean, that started in seward and ended in vancouver. there were four port stops where we had excursions booked and i'll document those in an upcoming post.

we took this trip in july and i found this amazing packing list that was super helpful in planning for the trip. i think she overpacks, but it was a great starting point.

have you cruised before? what are your cruise tips?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

onwards to anchorage.

after a few days in seattle, i took off for anchorage. i would have about 24 hours there before my family was to arrive.

a small trail in town with some salmon viewing spots

salmon!

hotels are basically unaffordable in anchorage in the summer, so i stayed at this more reasonable hostel. it was less than $100 a night and that made it a win!

beautiful flowers around anchorage

the resulting travel tip here-- don't wait to book a lace to stay in alaska in the summer.



the following day, i had breakfast at this highly rated restaurant (it was delicious) and then rented a bike to ride one of the local trails.

kodiak benedict: poached eggs, alaska king crab cakes,
toasted english muffin, housemade hollandaise, green onion  

the trail was 11 miles in each direction, and i thought, i can do that! remember, i had just managed a huge british bike ride a few months prior.



and i did.

it was quite beautiful.



but they neglected to share that this trail was not flat.



dear god, it was full of hills.

but for one reason or another, i went the whole way along the trail.

probably because i have a unique interest in finishing things.

after a few hours of wandering anchorage and meeting up with my family, i discovered the after effects of 22 plus miles of bike riding.

pain.

cramps.

and a desire to chop my legs off completely.

it was not my best moment.

after several ibuprofen, i found myself lying face down on the bathroom floor- because the ice cold tiles felt amazing and provided a small amount of relief.

i wish i had a picture of this for you.

but maybe it's best that i don't.

thankfully, the next day, my legs returned to a condition in which i could once again appreciate them.

#lessonlearned

we had a little bit of time that next day to see a little more of anchorage and then it was off to the cruise port! my sister even got to see a moose up close!

seward here we come!


Saturday, December 23, 2017

traveling stateside: first stop? seattle

as part of the #summerof40 my family and i planned an alaskan cruise.

i decided to try to sloooooowly acclimate to the time zone difference by swinging through seattle for a few days on my way to that side of the us.

i had wanted to visit more of the west coast of the us for awhile, and this was a great chance to explore more while headed in that direction.

of course i had planned to visit the space needle, a seattle tourist mecca. it's a little expensive for what it is, but you have to do it, right?



views from the space needle

right next door to the space needle is the chihuly garden and glass. this was an amazing place. i've always loved chihuly's blown glass artwork and this museum and garden is just full of bright, colorful and unique pieces.











i happened to be in this area on the 4th of july and happened upon a rush of people in red, white and blue pouring into a local convention center. after looking around at what was going on, i discovered that all these people, carrying american flags, were racing to try and get a picture with the mayor after they became us citizens.


seriously?

they were all so happy. it was hopeful to see so many people thrilled to become americans and be reminded that despite my current disappointment with the government that being american is something to cherish.

i tried out the free tour in seattle. after trying them all over the world, thought i'd give one of these a shot on us soil.








i spent the rest of the time in seattle eating. and eating. and eating. the public market area is so full of food vendors you could eat there for days. i saw the fish being thrown through the market.

Piroshky Piroshky Bakery yum! 

Rachel's Ginger Beer

awesome grilled cheese from Beecher's

Rainier cherries
I actually think I was allergic to them. Eeeek!

i drank starbucks in seattle.

repeat.

i drank starbucks in seattle.

i saved none of those snaps apparently.



#theoriginal

the line for the "first" shop is ridiculously long and i never was willing to wait when there was a starbucks around the corner with no line.



seattle was really great! i loved all the food options and the beautiful views of the water and the nearby mountains. the one downfall i'd say is the homelessness that has overrun the downtown area. there were so many destitute individuals, and many who were mentally ill, that at times it felt unsafe.

from seattle i flew to anchorage to wait for my family's arrival!

travel tip:
-buy your tickets for the space needle when you first arrive to the area or order online in advance. they are set with a time, so you will usually have to wait for your time window to start. buying in advance should limit your wait.


Saturday, January 13, 2018

cruising. through alaska. part 2.

after a day at sea cruising past the hubbard glacier, we headed towards our first port of call- juneau.

we prebooked excursions at every port. i know that many cruise veterans will tell you to save money by booking once your off the ship, but, for me, i couldn't risk missing out on what was important to me.

in juneau i booked a full day photography safari of mendenhall glacier, tongass forest and a whale watching cruise.

one of the reasons i chose this trip was the small group size. several years back, in iceland, i took a large group whale watching cruise and was unable to see the one whale sighting we had because i was on the wrong side of the boat and blocked by a hundred other people.

we started in the forest. i was using my dslr and my ollo clip lenses for my iphone.

here are some of my favorite shots from the largest national forest in the us.









a quick stop to check out mendenhall glacier. the area was beautiful, but after the hubbard glacier, the portion of this glacier we were able to see seemed quite small. perhaps next time i can trek on one of the glaciers.







the last couple hours of the day were spent whale watching.

this had been my ultimate dream: to see whales in person.

i've been a lifetime whale lover, but had never seen more than what's to be found on tv and in movies.

we headed out in search of humpbacks, but first we found orcas- and i was thrilled. i don't even think i realized this was a species we might see in alaska. but we came upon this pod and they swam around the couple of boats that were lingering nearby.

there are restrictions on how close the boats can get to the whales, but if the whales come to you there's not much you can do.

except enjoy it!

i didn't get too many great pics of the orcas, but i loved seeing them!






after the orcas, we went searching for humpbacks in the area and found a female that's been known to be in the area on a regular basis. we could identify her by the details of her tail as the whale 'barnacles'.

we followed her around a bit and were keeping our distance.

until she emerged on the right side of the boat and surprised us and breaching practically on top of the boat. the captain and the guide had never experienced anything like it, so it was amazing to witness it!

of course we were all too stunned to get pictures of that!









have you had any great whale watching experiences? more to come in another alaska post soon since we went whale watching as a family later in the week!


Saturday, January 6, 2018

cruising. through alaska. part 1.

post anchorage, the fam and i hopped on a bus to seward, alaska, a port large enough for these monstrous cruise ships.

having never "cruised" before, i had no idea what to expect for the boarding process. if you are a first time cruiser, i would tell you to expect lines. and waiting. it wasn't too bad, but it was annoying.

anyways, it all led to the good part...getting on the actual cruise!

my parents and i shared a small interior state room, with basically three twin beds. and for an alaskan cruise, you certainly don't need a balcony-- it's too cold for that! cruising was an upfront expense, and i'm glad that this is where we chose to save some of our pennies.

on our first full day cruising we headed to hubbard glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in north america.


it was quite sizable, and despite the large size of the boat, we were still able to get close to the glacier. you could see and hear the glacier calving at a couple different points, where huge chunks of ice were falling into the sea.


#glacierselfie


this was a seven day cruise with royal caribbean, that started in seward and ended in vancouver. there were four port stops where we had excursions booked and i'll document those in an upcoming post.

we took this trip in july and i found this amazing packing list that was super helpful in planning for the trip. i think she overpacks, but it was a great starting point.

have you cruised before? what are your cruise tips?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

onwards to anchorage.

after a few days in seattle, i took off for anchorage. i would have about 24 hours there before my family was to arrive.

a small trail in town with some salmon viewing spots

salmon!

hotels are basically unaffordable in anchorage in the summer, so i stayed at this more reasonable hostel. it was less than $100 a night and that made it a win!

beautiful flowers around anchorage

the resulting travel tip here-- don't wait to book a lace to stay in alaska in the summer.



the following day, i had breakfast at this highly rated restaurant (it was delicious) and then rented a bike to ride one of the local trails.

kodiak benedict: poached eggs, alaska king crab cakes,
toasted english muffin, housemade hollandaise, green onion  

the trail was 11 miles in each direction, and i thought, i can do that! remember, i had just managed a huge british bike ride a few months prior.



and i did.

it was quite beautiful.



but they neglected to share that this trail was not flat.



dear god, it was full of hills.

but for one reason or another, i went the whole way along the trail.

probably because i have a unique interest in finishing things.

after a few hours of wandering anchorage and meeting up with my family, i discovered the after effects of 22 plus miles of bike riding.

pain.

cramps.

and a desire to chop my legs off completely.

it was not my best moment.

after several ibuprofen, i found myself lying face down on the bathroom floor- because the ice cold tiles felt amazing and provided a small amount of relief.

i wish i had a picture of this for you.

but maybe it's best that i don't.

thankfully, the next day, my legs returned to a condition in which i could once again appreciate them.

#lessonlearned

we had a little bit of time that next day to see a little more of anchorage and then it was off to the cruise port! my sister even got to see a moose up close!

seward here we come!


Saturday, December 23, 2017

traveling stateside: first stop? seattle

as part of the #summerof40 my family and i planned an alaskan cruise.

i decided to try to sloooooowly acclimate to the time zone difference by swinging through seattle for a few days on my way to that side of the us.

i had wanted to visit more of the west coast of the us for awhile, and this was a great chance to explore more while headed in that direction.

of course i had planned to visit the space needle, a seattle tourist mecca. it's a little expensive for what it is, but you have to do it, right?



views from the space needle

right next door to the space needle is the chihuly garden and glass. this was an amazing place. i've always loved chihuly's blown glass artwork and this museum and garden is just full of bright, colorful and unique pieces.











i happened to be in this area on the 4th of july and happened upon a rush of people in red, white and blue pouring into a local convention center. after looking around at what was going on, i discovered that all these people, carrying american flags, were racing to try and get a picture with the mayor after they became us citizens.


seriously?

they were all so happy. it was hopeful to see so many people thrilled to become americans and be reminded that despite my current disappointment with the government that being american is something to cherish.

i tried out the free tour in seattle. after trying them all over the world, thought i'd give one of these a shot on us soil.








i spent the rest of the time in seattle eating. and eating. and eating. the public market area is so full of food vendors you could eat there for days. i saw the fish being thrown through the market.

Piroshky Piroshky Bakery yum! 

Rachel's Ginger Beer

awesome grilled cheese from Beecher's

Rainier cherries
I actually think I was allergic to them. Eeeek!

i drank starbucks in seattle.

repeat.

i drank starbucks in seattle.

i saved none of those snaps apparently.



#theoriginal

the line for the "first" shop is ridiculously long and i never was willing to wait when there was a starbucks around the corner with no line.



seattle was really great! i loved all the food options and the beautiful views of the water and the nearby mountains. the one downfall i'd say is the homelessness that has overrun the downtown area. there were so many destitute individuals, and many who were mentally ill, that at times it felt unsafe.

from seattle i flew to anchorage to wait for my family's arrival!

travel tip:
-buy your tickets for the space needle when you first arrive to the area or order online in advance. they are set with a time, so you will usually have to wait for your time window to start. buying in advance should limit your wait.