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Our Second Alaskan Cruise

Back we went to Alaska for yet another cruise. This time it was a two-week cruise on the MS Amsterdam. Back in 2007, we had gone on a one week cruise at about the same time of year on a larger ship, the MS Oosterdam. The Amsterdam is very similar just smaller, and very nice. It was a fantastic time and in all of my working career, I have never taken two weeks off at the same time! Of course, I didn’t want to go back to work obviously. Being gone so long, we did have concerns for our babies, Cordell and Patience and just what to do with them for so long. Finally one of our good neighbors came to the rescue and offered to take care of them while we were gone. They could stay in their own home and feel comfortable and she would come over and take care of their needs. Things seem to work out great, although we think it may have stressed Cordell out a bit. We are back now and he is a happy boy. Patience just took it in stride and probably demanded and received plenty of love from our neighbor. Speaking of neighbors, when we had booked our cruise way back earlier in the year, I blogged about it briefly. It turned out that some Packer friends of ours who happen to live up here on the Ridge were going on the same cruise! It was fun to have people we knew already on the ship! We actually shared transportation to and from the ship in Seattle. Another unexpected thing on the cruise was the weather! For the most part, we had sunny skies, mild temperatures, and only light breezes. The captain and crew said it was the best weather on a voyage that they had all season. We really lucked out. We hit quite a few ports of call and some we’d seen before and since I don’t want to bore you with too many details, I make s synopsis of the whole thing.

Our first stop was Ketchikan after sailing the Inside Passage. We had been to Ketchikan before, but hadn’t taken any shore excursions here. This time we did and boy was it a blast! We took the Mountaintop Float Plane Tour and Crab Feast. We were bussed up to an old cannery where we had an all you could indulge crab feast. Man was it good. Then we took a float plane off the waters of George Inlet Fjord and flew over the inland mountains and peaks just east of the town. We saw mountain goats, beautiful untouched lakes, and gorgeous waterfalls. We then flew over town and over our ship and landed back in town! Then we watched The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show where we saw some of the world’s best lumberjacks go head to head in more than a dozen live exciting events such as chopping, sawing, relay races, axe throwing, log rolling and a 50-foot speed climb. It was fun and we got a lot of good pictures.

Next stop was Sitka. Sitka is a very beautiful town. It was here, in 1867 that the US bought Alaska Territories from Russia for $7,200,000 in gold! Here we took a boat ride to Kruzof Island and rode 4×4 ATV’s on old logging roads across the island to the North Beach. It was a  guided tour and they fed us well and saw many wonderful sights! back in town we had to find the local watering hole and we did, a place called Ernie’s Old Time Saloon. It was definitely a local hang out and there were some very unique characters in there.

The next day found us in Skagway. Skagway, for an old mining town, was very touristy if you ask me. The whole town was a jumble of trinket and jewelry shops. There was still some old character left to the town, but the big money maker now was cruise passengers. We didn’t hang around town for long as we headed out on a Yukon Jeep Tour. This was a fun tour as a bunch of us in well maintained Jeeps drove up the old gold rush trails of 1898 over White Pass into Canada’s Yukon Territory! We stopped at an old crossroads town called Carcross, originally called Caribou Crossing. Then we headed into the hills and up Montana Mountain where we saw a  panorama included a view of the Carcross Desert, the smallest desert in the world. It was a bumpy road and a little hairy at times but was a great trip!

We also made a stop in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city and I was surprised at how big it actually was! Again, we didn’t see much of the city as we took an all day excursion on the Alaksa Railroad Granview Tour. We traveled down the Grandview Valley and it is one of the most scenic areas of the entire railbelt and is only accessible by train. We saw two beautiful glaciers, the Spencer and Bartlett. We also saw a mommy bear and her cub off in the meadow. We looked for moose, but didn’t see any! It was some of the most beautiful scenery we have ever partaken.

Another stop was Homer which is very beautiful they say, but the fog had us socked in all day long and visibility was down to just block ahead of you. We did walk around town and down the Homer Spit where we stumbled into another famed watering hole, the Salty Dawg Saloon. Hmmmm, we seem to find pubs and taverns everywhere we go!

Kodiak was on the agenda and boy was that a beautiful place. We had no excursions planned, but did walk the town and visited the Baranov Museum, which is housed in one of the oldest buildings in Alaska.

One of my favorite places in Alaska is Juneau! I love this town despite all the rain it supposedly receives. We did one our most fun excursions there. We boarded a helicopter, neither of us had ever been in one, and flew out of town, over the mountains. We flew over the Juneau Ice Fields and then landed on the Mendenhall Glacier. Wow is all I could say at the time! We spent some time walking on the glacier and looking at all the tints of blues and crystal you see. There were rivers of ice melt flowing on, through and under the glacier. It was fantastic. I would love to live here….I am always saying that!

Those were our ports of call. We also cruised Glacier Bay and saw the wonders and awe of the Johns Hopkins, Margerie, Grand Pacific, Lamplugh, and Reid glaciers. I also caught a fantastic shot of a calving of the Margerie. We also cruised into the Bay of Disenchantment and marveled at the Hubbard Glacier which is huge! Debbie shot a photo series of a very large calving off the glacier,  just awesome!

Well getting to the end of this extravaganza, as you know there is plenty of eating and drinking on these cruises and we did plenty of both (probably I more than Debbie). There were days spent at sea and voyages between ports that we occupied ourselves on board and there was plenty to do. There was a gym, pools, jacuzzi, a casino which we spent allot of time in and lost most of the time. We learned to play Caribbean Stud and three card poker and had fun at it even though the house took our money. The ship had many lounges and bars aboard and one of our favorites was the Crow’s Nest. It was at the top of the ship and had great views and I even did karaoke there, my first time! You had to be there. I cannot forget all the great entertainment and entertainers we watched. Some of them included Pianist Diane Fast, Comedian and Magician Jonathan Neal, Lorna Luft, Paul Pappas who was phenomenal, Dave Levesque, and the amazing ventriloquist Brad Cummings. Now Brad and I have a special bond…..I sat on his knee! During his show, we just happened to be sitting in the front row and he singled me out to pick on. Later he invited me on stage to be his “dummy”! If you saw my video in the previous post, you’ll know the rest is history. I had the whole ship rolling with laughter and was a celebrity for a few days. People kept running into me saying what a hilarity it was and the best thing they had seen! Ahh my fleeting touch with fame….sigh! It was a fantastic vacation, cruise, get away, you name it and was all made better by having friends aboard we could share it with! Can’t wait until the next one. Cruising is the only way to vacation!!!!

SOME CRUISE FACTOIDS

Total miles: 3964
Avg Speed: 17.4 knots
Fuel Consumption: approx 39,000 gal/day
Potable Water Production: 370,000 gal/day
Potable Water Consumption: 160,000 gal/day
Number of guests: 1442
Number of Crew: 597
Ship Length: 781 feet
Ship Width: 106 feet
Gross Tonnage: 62,735 tons
Total Power: 41,500 HP
Max Speed: 24.5 knots

Joe The Dummy

We were on an Alaskan cruise watching this guy Brad Cummings do his ventriloquist act. He picked on me cause I was in the front row, then called me up into his act! It was unrehearsed, unscripted, and I just winged it on a prayer! Had the whole ship in tears and was famous just so ever briefly!

More on our Alaskan cruise will be coming soon!

The Energy Non Crisis

Lindsey Williams, who has been an ordained Baptist minister for 28 years, went to Alaska in 1971 as a missionary. The Transalaska oil pipeline began its construction phase in 1974, and because of Mr. Williams’ love for his country and concern for the spiritual welfare of the “pipeliners,” he volunteered to serve as Chaplain on the pipeline, with the subsequent full support of the Alyeska Pipeline Company. Because of the executive status accorded to him as Chaplain, he was given access to information documented in his eye opening book, The Energy Non-Crisis.
After numerous public speaking engagements in the western states, certain government officials and concerned individuals urged Mr. Williams to put into print what he saw and heard, stating that they felt this information was vital to national security. Mr. Williams firmly believes that whoever controls energy controls the economy. Thus, The Energy Non-Crisis.

Now I haven’t read the book yet, but have watched his videos on YouTube. Click the link below to watch the first of eight videos and learn something:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbakN7SLdbk

 

From Our Website

frankenpus.jpg

This a typical post from our web site and is the latest. I decided to make it a blog post and our web site will slowly revert to this blog. Enjoy! I left the above picture up from the last update because our little guy Simon is still having thyroid problems. He had to have a first surgery to have his thyroid removed, but in some cases of thyroid disease in cats, some tissue remained and came back. We had to take him in for yet another surgery. He didn’t bounce back this time like he did from the first one, but he is still hanging in there the best he can. We have realized that he is way more resilient than we ever knew. We just hope he can recover fully and have a few more good years, but when his time comes, that’s it for pets for awhile. Now, for what has been going on at the Estate!

We have really been enjoying our boat this summer. Back in June we took or longest trip yet up to Roche Harbor in the San Juan Islands for a big boat gathering of Bayliner boat owners. There were over 200 boats there and Larry and Lynette also joined us. We had a great time, but the weather didn’t cooperate like we wanted and we got rained on. On the way, our friends Tori and Kevin just happened to be on San Juan Island where they have a vacation home. We let them know when we were cruising by and they snapped some pretty cool photos of us out in the sound. We had come across a very large pod of orca whales and they were cruising along side us. I have uploaded them, so check them out by clicking here. Now for the bad news, we had our fist boating accident ALREADY!!! It happened on the 4th of July. We had guests aboard which included Carl, one of our dock buddies, and Debbie’s sister Dani and her husband Terry and son Truxton. We had just been out on the water for less than half an hour and had navigated into the log boom by the Tacoma waterfront. We were cruising at idle speed amidst hundreds of other boats and was looking for a place to tie up and begin enjoying the festivities. Out of the blue, a 41 foot 18 ton sailboat under power came right at us. All I had time to do is hit the horn and tried to maneuver somewhat to an angle at him and got slammed. His bow pulpit with anchor plowed through our port side window, into our salon, ripped out the wood support beam and through the aft window. Then his bow hit the side of our fiberglass area above the hull. It was disastrous and did massive damage to our boat. Nobody was injured thankfully, but Debbie was really bummed that her baby was now wrecked. Then the asshole took off without even a word of concern. Debbie got on the radio and called the Coast Guard. They and the Tacoma Police showed up and apprehended the guy and we learned he was drunk out of his mind. He was hauled off to jail. Since the accident, we have been in contact with the actually owner of the sailboat who was his sister-in-law. She is fully covered with insurance and said the guy is a real loser and wasn’t even supposed to be on the boat. Her insurance company is covering all the repairs to our boat. We had a boat surveyor do a damage survey and the result was very extensive. We will be coming out of this with new windows, wood, carpet, upholstery, repairs to our flybridge and radar arch, new gelcoat and complete waxing of the fiberglass, and more. It is estimated that the damage assessment will be close to $50K and will be out of the water at least a month and probably more. I have damage pictures posted here, and when we get her back and all fixed, we’ll take some more pictures and post the results of the repair work.

But we have done some boating on a somewhat larger vessel just recently. At the end of September we went on a cruise to Alaska on the ms Oosterdam! Neither one of us had ever been on a cruise before and it was so much fun!!! We had a seven night cruise and made stops in Juneau, Hoonah, and Ketchikan. We love Alaska and I could live up there. Not too sure about Debbie though. You think it rains here, well it rains three times as much up in the Alaskan panhandle. But the scenery and beauty of the area is worth the liquid sunshine. We saw bears, whales, dolphins, eagles, and seals. I set up a picture album you can see by clicking this link. We also took a couple of short videos with Debbie’s camera. The first one is of Mendenhall Glacier which is just north of Juneau. The second one is Debbie dancing a Tlingit tribal dance while we were in Honnah. She is very cute.  Anyway we are back to reality and now will try to work off all the indulgence experienced while afloat!!!

Well, guess Debbie has been doing lately? Some of you may know this, but Debbie is Welsh by birth and since she arrived in the great US of A around 44 years ago, she has remained a resident alien. That designation has just changed as Debbie has now become a US citizen!!! She is very happy and proud and this has been a long time coming. She passed every question on her citizenship test. Now she can do what she has wanted to for years and that is VOTE!! I guess now, we will have to keep our own voting preferences to ourselves. We are all very proud of our new US citizen and a very cute one at that. Check out some pictures of her getting sworn in.

And now for some more exciting news, the day I have waited for for almost 15 years has come……….Alex has moved out of the house!!!!!!! He landed a great job in marketing with Milgard Windows down in Fife, which is near Tacoma. His new place is also in Fife which means his commute is only about five minutes. He found a very nice one bedroom apartment in a newer complex with all kinds of amenities. He is close to where Debbie works, so they can hook up for lunches and dinners from time to time and he is also closer to his gal Mo. it has been a win-win for everyone and now we finally are empty nesters….yaaaaaahoooooooooo!!!!!!! Now my first project coming in the future will be to completely rearrange and organize the garage now that all of his stuff is outta there. Let’s see how long it takes me to get around to doing it!!!

I should also give you a Ryan update before I close this latest chapter. He is doing great and working very hard. He had a job offer from a competing company that really wanted him. Instead of just bailing on his current company, he went in and had a face to face with the owner about the offer, the problems he saw, suggestions on making things better for him and all the other employees, and other gripes. Not only did the owner listen to him, but he got a huge pay raise in addition to making many changes that Ryan suggested. Now the company is making money hand over fist and everyone is happier and working much harder. He will be doing big things in the future. His boss took him and some of their important clients on a fishing trip to Alaska recently. Ryan had a great time and brought home a ton of fish and it was totally paid for and he didn’t even have to use his own vacation time. Just goes to show you how much Ryan has progressed in his career. He has his own place with his cats and dog and is enjoying the single life when he can.

I’ll finish up with my last bit sad news and let you go. On the morning of September 23rd we lost our very good friend Mike Campbell. Mike was my first friend made when I moved up to Seattle back in 1990. He was a very good guy, very generous with himself with others too. We had a great time with him and his wife Jane, getting together over beers and solving the world’s problems. He will be missed very much. Good bye Mikey, we will miss you very much! Until next time, thanks for visiting!!!! See ya on the web!!!! Ahoy!!!!!

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