Tuesday, August 31, 2010


We traveled by jet, and by car, by taxi, by mini bus, school bus, double-decker bus and coach. Also, we traveled by float plane, and not to forget ferry, canoe, catamaran and cruise ship. And most importantly, by our own two feet!

And now we are safely home!! What a great vacation!!!


- Mary Frances (from my iPad)


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Seattle, Washington

August 29, 2010

We disembarked at 7:30 from the Norwegian Pearl and grabbed a cab to the Marriott Renaissance Hotel where we literally dropped our bags at the bell station and ran up the hill to St. James Cathedral for the 8:00 Mass.

It was strange to bring our day pack with coats, sweaters, cameras and misc junk to Church. But there were a number of bag people at Mass so nobody noticed.

After another inspiring liturgy we headed out to explore Seattle.

We bought day passes for the double-decker tour bus and got a narrated tour of the city and its history.

The Public Market was very entertaining, yes, they really do toss fish across the market to fill orders! Pike Place Market is a public market that opened in 1907, and is one of the oldest continually operated public farmers' markets in the United States. It started in response to the wholesalers taking advantage of the farmers and so the city designated this area as a market where the producers could deal directly with the consumers. It has become a place of business for many small farmers, crafters and merchants. Named after the central street, Pike Place which is where the very first Starbucks opened.

One part of the market is the "Sanitary Market" which means that horses are not allowed in that part of the market! The sanitary market houses the restaurants and bakeries.

The actual market stretches for blocks and it would be easy to get lost among the different stalls...

There was a piano player on one corner, playing for donations and selling his CD's. He was actually good, but nonetheless a street musician, not a concert pianist.

Pike Place Market's unofficial mascot, Rachel, a bronze cast piggy bank that weighs 550 pounds has been located since 1986 at the corner of Pike Place under the "Public Market Center" sign. Rachel was designed by local artist Georgia Gerber and modeled after a pig (also named Rachel) that lived on Whidbey Island and was the 1977 Island County prize-winner. Rachel receives roughly $6,000–$9,000 annually in just about every type of world currency, which is collected by the Market Foundation to fund the Market's social services.

We found one of the small family owned restaurants in the Sanitary Market for our lunch and then made our way back to the hotel to claim our bags and head for the airport.

Now we are exhausted and ready for the marathon flight back home from the Northwest coast.....

Link to our photos:
Seattle Tour

Victoria British Columbia, Canada

Saturday, August 28, 2010

We had a quick stop over in Victoria on our way from Ketchikan Alaska to Seattle. We had four hours to see this charming city. Our plan for getting to know Victoria was to take a city bus tour, visit the Butchart Gardens and finish our visit at an award winning winery for a wine and chocolate tasting. Actually, after seeing all that Victoria has to offer, we could have used a lot more time.

The bus tour of Victoria provided some surprises, like the temperate climate that seldom sees snow and the high percentages of seniors who retire to Victoria for the climate and small city charm. We were treated to stories of the "Pig War" declared on the United States by a Hudson Bay office manager over the execution of a pig that got into an American farmer's garden.

The Pig War was a confrontation in 1859 between American and British/Canadian authorities over the boundary between the United States and British North America. The specific area in dispute was the San Juan Islands, which lie between Vancouver Island and the North American mainland. The Pig War, so called because it was triggered by the shooting of a pig, is also called the Pig Episode, the Pig and Potato War, the San Juan Boundary Dispute or the Northwestern Boundary Dispute. The pig was the only "casualty" of the war, making the conflict otherwise bloodless.

The Butchart gardens were amazing....words cannot tell the story, so we will post a few pictures instead.

The winery and wine tasting was interesting because they paired the wines with chocolates. Wine and chocolate is always a good idea!

The winery is the Church and State Winery in Victoria. They are a young winery and captured a number of awards for their wines. Mary Frances and I appreciated their Quintessential Cabernet which was the best West Coast cabernet last year.

The wine was good, the chocolate excellent and the camera idle!

Link to our photos:
Victoria - Butchart Gardens

The Misty Fjords of Ketchikan AK

After a morning of touristy shopping, where I found an Alaska sweatshirt that I liked, we set out for the Misty Fjords via a small float plane.

The plane had seven seats, counting the pilot's seat. It was a De Havilland Beaver DHC2 float plane, one of the favorites of the Alaska bush pilots.

We literally climbed up the ladder and found seats, assigned by the pilot to keep everything in balance.

Before long we were soaring across the Alaskan landscape on our way to the fjords.

We landed on the water and took in the amazing beauty of the landscape

Several of the passengers got out of the plane and stood on the pontoons and took some pictures.

At the end of the day we left Ketchikan and with some sadness left Alaska for this trip.

Off to Victoria, arriving tomorrow afternoon.

Link to our photos:
Alaska-Ketchikan-Misty Fjord

Eagles in Glacier Bay

August 26, 2010, Glacier Bay National Park

In addition to the fantastic mountains and glaciers in Glacier Bay we saw several Bald Eagles...

Now we are off to Ketchikan where we might have cellular data service and be able to catch up posting the last five blog entries...

From the coast of Alaska.....

Link to our photos:
Alaska -Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay

Thursday, August 26, 2010 Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

We woke up to the sound of the fog horn and zero visibility. It did not look like it would be a good day to be in this amazing national park. Three park rangers came out to meet us in a skiff and climbed rope ladders to board our floating city.

At 9:00 AM when the narrated tour was to begin, the fog lifted and we were treated to breathtaking vistas.

Everywhere we looked there was another amazing view of God's creation...

During our sail through Glacier National Park we visited five named glaciers and numbers of others. Since this is wilderness, the National Parks Service has decided to stop naming glaciers and mountains, they are wilderness after all!

The Reid Glacier was the first one that we recognized, just off of our stateroom balcony...

The Lamplugh Glacier is called the "True Blue" glacier because it has a rich blue color. The sun was so bright that we did not get to capture the depths of the blue color but it was amazing anyway.

The Margerie Glacier is mile high and a mile wide. It goes back over five miles and moves toward the tide at a rate of 7 feet per day. It also grows from snowpack and storms on the mountain about the same amount each day.

We sat before this glacier for about 40 minutes and watched it calving, that is some of the ice at the front of the glacier cracking and crashing into the ocean water. The sounds of the cracking were loud!

The Grand Pacific Glacier is believed to be the glacier that carved out Glacier Bay. It is a huge glacier that is covered in dirt. Typical of glaciers that reshape the landscape, they get covered in dirt and rocks. This actually helps the glacier by protecting the ice from erosion and sun which makes the ice last longer.

The Johns Hopkins Glacier was mammoth but we were not able to approach closer than five miles. The National Parks Service is trying to protect the harbor seal habitat and mating grounds to help bring back the number of harbor seals which have dwindled over the last decade.

There was so much to see in Glacier bay that we had to split the blog in two...more later....