Alaska Journals

Alaska: US's 49th and 49th for us.

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A June 2011 trip to Alaska by two cruisers

Holland America Amsterdam Photo, Alaska, United States More Photos
Quote: This goal of this trip was to check off our 49th and 50th state. We drove from Iowa to Seattle where we boarded a cruiseship for a 14 day cruise. On the way home we planned on going across North Dakota, but it was closed due to flooding!

St Michael's Cathedral

Attraction | "Its in the middle of the road!"

St Michael's Cathedral Photo, Sitka, Alaska
Quote:
I asked one of the first persons we met in Sitka, how to find historic St. Micheal's Cathedral. He laughed and told me you can't miss it. Its in the middle of the road. He was right. Of course the multiple spires with unusual domes is a tip off too. There is no lawn for the property committee to care for, nor for the congregation to gather on to chat after service.. The town literally grew up around it. When we paid our entrance fee our hands were stamped so we could get a discount at thier gift shop across the street. Sitka is well known for the heavy Russian influence. This was one of the major Russian outposts. The cathedral was built in 1844, and restored in 1966 after a devastating fire. Inside w...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 17, 2012

St Michael's Cathedral
Downtown Sitka
Sitka, Alaska

Sheldon Jackson Museum

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Attraction | "Well worth the walk."

Sheldon Jackson Museum Photo, Sitka, Alaska
Quote:
We walked the length of Lincoln Street to find this museum on the campus of Sheldon Jackson College. First of all the walk itself was a joy. The scenery changed from shops, to churches, to city parks, to historical buildings and even a totem pole. We rested on benches outside the museum and rehydrated before entering. It was a lovely view from on top of the hill. Inside we found a Tlinget artist was working at a table painting designs on carved walking sticks. That was an added treat we were not expecting. In 1886 the Rev. Dr. Sheldon Jackson, a Presbyterian missionary, established this musseum to house a growing collection of Alaska Native artifacts. The collection grew as other missionaries and bus...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 17, 2012

Sheldon Jackson Museum
104 College Drive
Sitka, Alaska 99835
(907)747-8981

The Larkspur Cafe

Restaurant | "A Bargain in more ways than one."

The Larkspur Cafe Photo, Sitka, Alaska
Quote:
We had looked at posted menues along Lincoln Street. Everything seemed overpriced and with little ambiance. The propritor of the bookstore suggest we try The Larkspur Cafe. We had walked right by it assuming it was part of the port complex. Located in an old woodframe building labeled 'The Cable House" it was near the dock. We could watch other tourisits arriving as we ate lunch. I ordered a Savory Board and Bill ordered a Fruit and Cheese Board. We shared and it was a tasty lunch of fresh baked bread, deli meat and cheese slices, cups of sweet coated nut mix and apples and grapes. Looked pretty and tasted even better. Lots of locals here and it was good to hear their chatter. We weren't the only tou...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 17, 2012

The Larkspur Cafe
2 Lincoln Street, Suite 1A
Sitka, Alaska 99835
907-966-2326

Sitka on Foot

Story/Tip

Sitka  Photo, Sitka, Alaska
Quote:
Of all the Alaskan ports we visited, Sitka was the one that caught our heart. It is is a lovely setting. Situated on Crescent Bay the town looks out at a series of small islands. Backing the town is green forests and mountains. To the North is a dormant volcano Mt. Edgecumbe. We took a tender to a small dock and from there walked down Lincoln Street. Of course there were lots of shops to tempt us but we really were glad to at last find a bookstore. Old Harbor Books made us feel at home. In fact the propritor helped us select a lunch stop. We also found an early Lutheran Church across from the historic Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Yup, books, food and church, we could retire here. We also visited a fant...Read More

Hubbard Glacier

Attraction | "Biggest Slushie I Have Ever Seen"

Hubbard Glacier Photo, Alaska, United States
Quote:
The travel brochure depicts a sunny day with a huge cruise ship parked in front of the face of this very wide glacier. Not today. It was cold and overcast and the water was filled with icebergs of varying size. Hubbard is the longest tidewater glacier. It runs 75 miles from its Canadian origin of Mt. Login. The face of the glacier towers 500 feet above sealevel. The length of the face is 6 miles. From our veranda we could hear the narration by the Park Ranger and Naturalist. We certainly could see the water become more slushy as we closed in on the glacier. Since it was so cold on the veranda, we retreated inside and up to the Crow's Nest lounge with its huge picture windows. Apparently the Captain sa...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 17, 2012

Hubbard Glacier
Yakutat City
Yukon Canada and Eastern Alaska

Pratt Museum

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Attraction | "Impressive Variety of Exhibits"

Pratt Museum Photo, Homer, Alaska
Quote:
Homer, in our minds was known as the home of Tom Bodett, at the end of the road. The town is situated at the end of the Kenai Peninsula and...our ship was docked at the end of a long spit. The jewel in Homer's crown is on a hillside the furthest reach from the Spit. We took the "Hop-on Hop-off" to the Art shops & Galleries Stop and walked the two blocks to the Pratt Museum. Because of the shuttle's schedule we had to keep track of our time in the museum. This small museum has a wide range of displays. Most of them very interesting. On the first floor we saw natural history displays of taxidermied indigenous critters. Interspursed with these exhibits are pieces of Native Art. On the lower level is...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 16, 2012

Pratt Museum
3779 Bartlett Street
Homer, Alaska 99603
(907) 235-8635

Alaska Native Heritage Center

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Attraction | "11 Cultures, 21 Languages, 1 Alaska"

Alaska Native Heritage Center Photo, Anchorage, Alaska
Quote:
This park is similiar to the Polynesian Culture Center that we have visited on Oahu. No plastic grass skirts or fake volcanoes, tho. We were warned about the moose on the loose. Unfortunately we didn't see moose. There are 11 cultures that divide the Native Alaskans, for the purpose of the park they are divided into 5 major groups. After an auditorium orientation we were led in a large circle through the park. The cultures are situated as they would be in shown on a map. the Inside Passage area Eyak, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures are the first group on the right. We proceeded through: the Athabascan (most of inland Alaska) ; the Inupiaq and Lawrence Island Yupik; the Yup'ik and Cup'ik; and ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 16, 2012

Alaska Native Heritage Center
8800 Heritage Center Drive
Anchorage, Alaska 99506
(907) 330 8000

Underground Juneau Gold Tour

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Attraction | "Out of the Rain and Into the Cold"

Underground Juneau Gold Tour Photo, Juneau, Alaska
Quote:
Bill's father was an underground gold miner before WWII. We couldn't pass up this opportunity to see what that was like. Our tour group assembled on the pier near our cruise ship. The driver pointed out places and animals of interest along the route until we reached the mine property. Entering the steep hairpin curved road, he switched to a very serious tone and kept in communication with other drivers on the road.via the base station communication. If we suddenly met another vehicle someone would have to back-up a long way on narrow roadway. Not good. We drove through dense forest which is amazing since this area had been clear-cut with no organized reforestration. Go, Mother Nature, Go!A...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 16, 2012

Underground Juneau Gold Tour
500 Sheep Creek Mine Road
Juneau, Alaska
(907) 463-5017

Red Dog Saloon

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Restaurant | "We Sought Warmth We Found Hilarity"

Red Dog Saloon Photo, Juneau, Alaska
Quote:
June in Juneau, on one of their ubiquitous rainy days, is chilly. We had gotten prechilled by taking a tour of an underground gold mind. We sought warmth, warm food and warm drinks. We found a great pizza, hot beverages and bawdy humor at The Red Dog Saloon. I will have to admit the waitress did a double take when we asked for coffee and tea, every other table seemed to have a pitcher of beer. The North Slope Pizza was an unique, a combination of Alaskan Reindeer Sausage with zesty red sauce and a blend of cheeses. It was yummy. When the waitress delivered it I thought she called me a bad name, but it was all part of the entertainment. An older character at the piano sang a bawdy song and when it came...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 16, 2012

Red Dog Saloon
278 South Franklin Street
Juneau, Alaska 99801
(907) 463-3658

Juneau on Foot

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Story/Tip

Photo ops in Juneau Photo, Alaska, United States
Quote:
The cruiseships dock along the main business street. The way the town fills in the space between dock and Mount Roberts. It is a very narrow space and the mountain with waterfalls makes a lovely background. If you have the time and inclination, hop on the Mt. Roberts Tramway for awesome views of the city and Inland Passage. Juneau is wet, either raining, misting or foggy. The town plans for that well with canopied walkways, but bring a rain coat and use an umbrella when the crowds are thinner. We did not venture to the State Capitol Grounds, but we heard grumblings that a certain lady governor, never went there either. Just like other Alaskan port cities the shopping area has a disproportionate amount...Read More

Tracy Arm Fjord

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Attraction | "Blue Ice and Bald Eagles "

Tracy Arm Fjord Photo, Juneau, Alaska
Quote:
We cruised all day into and out of Tracy Arm Fjord. I lived on the veranda bundled up in two coats. Yes, it gets cold in these steep walled canyons with glaciers meeting the water. This was our first experience with icebergs or glaciers and we respected the pilots cautious stiring. I cannot express the excitement of the first time you see blue ice on an iceberg...its not just a hint of blue it is startling blue. And occassionaly we saw eagles and other birds ( I think maybe white Ptarmigan) perched on an iceberg. Some other passengers saw seals but they slipped into the water before we could see them. We harkened back to Geology 101 to marvel at the rock intrusions and striations. Totaly awesome exper...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 13, 2012

Tracy Arm Fjord
South Of Juneau Along Stephens Passage
Juneau, Alaska

Saxman Native Village

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Attraction | "A Visit to the Beaver Clan House"

Saxman Native Village Photo, Ketchikan, Alaska
Quote:
Friends had recommended this shore excursion to us. I will pass that on. I think it is very important to know some of the culture of the original inhabitants of an area. Saxman is a good place to get that experience. Our tour guide picked us up at the dock and drove us through Ketchikan pointing out places of interest. When we reached the native culture village, he parked in a lower parking lot and led us through a section of rainforest. This was an excellant way to show us what the native cultures had to work with to establish their living environment. It was a lovely walk, dense with standing and fallen trees. We saw a nurse tree, that is a fallen tree that has provided shelter and sustainence for...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 13, 2012

Saxman Native Village

Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikan on foot.

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Story/Tip

Ketchikan  Photo, Alaska, United States
Quote:
Ketchikan was our first port, pop. 14,000 mainly dependent on fishing, logging and tourism. The area is rich in Native American culture with strong influnce from the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshan cultures.I was ready to go ashore as soon as the boat was tied up. My husband wanted to wait until the time for our shore excursion. I left him and set out for a walk about. I considered attending service at the Lutheran Church of Ketchikan, but after looking at the flight of stairs I would have to climb, I figured the service would be over before I got there. At the shop next to the dock I did find a $1 coke machine and took a stash of coke cans back to the stateroom. Also found trinkets and post...Read More

Holland America Amsterdam

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Hotel | "Two Newbies at Cruising Felt at Home."

Holland America Amsterdam Photo, Alaska, United States
Quote:
We selected our cruise because we wanted to round trip from Seattle were we could leave our car. This cruise lasted 14 days and there wasn't a bad day the whole trip.When we boarded we were directed to our stateroom deck and our steward Bambang met us and guided us through the newness of on-board living. His partner Nanang became a reliable friend also throughout our cruise. The fun part of their 24/7- 11 month long work schedule was the towel animals. We had a new animal each night waiting on the bed when we came home for the night. The room was long and narrow. Very limited walkway at the foot of the bed. The bed itself was large and very comfortable.The bathroom was well equiped and wel...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 12, 2012

Holland America Amsterdam
From Trip From Seattle
Alaska, United States