Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The Alaska Gulf: Chenega Bay to Yakutat All Mountains and Glaciers

00SnowyMountains

The sky is full of sunshine as we awake, and we are surrounded by snowy
mountains, gleaming in the sunshine. It is unspeakably beautiful. We eat our breakfast cereal and head outside, after listening to the complaints of a group of Texans at the next table.

“It’s like a bunch of hobos!” one man says of the aft viewing room, “I’ve never seen anything like it! They have their big rucksacks and sleeping bags and pillows all over the place!” The sign says you can only sleep from 8 at night to 8 in the morning, but they are still sleeping.”

Well, or still trying to sleep. Many of these people are living on a shoestring, and the ferry is the only way they can get to the doctor, or get their children to school, or get to their next job. They are frugal, bringing on their own food, trying to keep their kids dressed and entertained. The Alaska Maritime Highway has compassion on these travelers, provides a solarium area where campers can set up tents, rent sizable lockers. There are other areas, the aft lounges, where campers without tents can sleep, and this is where the Kodiak football team and cross country teams hung out. There is a children’s play area where families sleep right under the “no camping” signs, and the ferry personnel look the other way. It’s an Alaskan thing. It makes me proud to be born Alaskan. People take care of one another, and cut each other some slack.

Honestly, people, you are on the wrong ship! This is the Alaska Marine Highway, not the Diamond Princess!

We are drawn to the decks, compelled by the gorgeous scenery. Each snow covered mountain has its own beauty. We meet a Canadian couple; she has to excuse herself when the topic turns to food – she is seasick. A Kansan with whom we have a long conversation is also suffering a little from seasickness, and AdventureMan shares a Dramamine tablet with him.

00SunriseNearYakutat

We have already made our reservations for the great Celebration in Juneau next year. It’s the reason we made the trip this year. As we started talking about the Celebration, which is only held every other year, we had so many ideas we knew we needed to take a reconnaissance trip so we would know how easy – or hard – travel is, and have a better idea what we want to see and do. This ferry trip has been a great introduction, and we have questioned many many Alaskans and travelers as to what they have seen and enjoyed.

Some things we know we don’t want to do. We don’t want to be on buses, going through Denali, following one bear. We don’t want to be on a cruise ship. We don’t want to travel in a group. I kind of think that RV rental might be a good way to go, but the truth is, I prefer sleeping in a bed, and I don’t like cooking in camping situations. As I see it – and I’ve done a lot of camping – camping is hard work. It’s all the things you have to do at home – shop for food, prepare food, cook food, and clean up – done under the most primitive conditions. I think we will look for an auto rental and good lodges and restaurants along our route, whatever that route is, after the Celebration in Juneau.

What is the Celebration? The Celebration is sponsored by Sealaska, and brings together all the tribes and clans of Alaskan native inhabitants to share knowledge. They wear their ceremonial clan robes and have a parade down the Main Street of Juneau. They gather to do the dances, transmitting their legends and language to their children. They share craftsmanship; the baskets, the robe making, wood carving, totems. If it is anything like the desert festivals we attended in Tunisia, it is also a time when the young men and women of different – but related – tribes can eye one another with marriage in mind, good for getting some healthy variation in the gene pool. I can hardly wait to see this.

I had planned to call the car rental again as soon as I hit Chenega Bay or Yakutat, so we will have a rental car when we hit Juneau again, but . . . I can only laugh now at my presumption . . . there is no service at either. My phone does not work. It is frustrating.

When I pack for trips, the worst of my obsessive-compulsiveness kicks in. I make lists, and check them – more than once. I order the right maps, and go over them. I check and double check reservations.

This trip, assuming I could just call and use my Google Maps and GoogleEarth, I didn’t worry. Information, in this wonderful day of technology, is literally at my fingertips. This has been a great lesson in just how dependent we all are on technology, and how devastating it is to learn that it cannot always be relied upon.

Dolphins frolic, so many and so hard to photograph as they move so quickly!

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When I saw this, I thought at first it was part of the tsunami trash drifted over from Japan, and then I saw it was a flat barge loaded with containers. So loaded with containers, you can hardly see the barge:

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A brief shift in the weather:

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We are out on the deck most of the day, just watching this grandeur pass by, huge mountains, gigantic glaciers, parading past, one after another:

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Someone said this is Mount Saint Elias, but I don’t think it is. None the less, it was a very high mountain, higher than anything near. This is the very tip. I spent hours trying to find a time when the whole mountain would come into view . . .

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This is about the best I could get, the most of the mountain exposed:

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This is what I was dealing with for hours as we passed – it truly is a huge mountain, but weather shifted often, and it was shrouded in these thin grey bands of clouds:

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We passed several glacier fields, and I think this one was the Behring:
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We are nearing Yakutat, the sun is setting:

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In Yakutat I have just enough coverage to make a car reservation before we hit the sack.

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September 12, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Beauty, Cultural, Environment, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Living Conditions, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | , , | 2 Comments

Adventures in Chenega Bay

By the time we reach Chenega Bay, we are READY! The departure board tells us we only have a half an hour, but a half an hour is enough to hike to the top of the hill, see the church, take some photos and return. Actually, it took us more than half an hour. It didn’t matter. The ship needed to offload and onload, and the Chenega Bay residents needed their fix of hamburgers and ice cream.

As it turns out – and we should have known this by now – we really had a lot longer. It took a while to load the snow plow and all of its accessories 🙂

Chenega Bay was totally wiped out in a tsunami following an earthquake. Here is what their official site tells us:

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Chenega IRA Council

PO Box 8079 * Chenega Bay, AK 99574 * 907-573-5132

The Chenega IRA Council is a federally recognized Indian Tribe that serves the Alutiiq people of Chenega Bay, Alaska. The Chenega IRA Council operates a variety of social, cultural and economic development programs designed to enhance the quality of life within Chenega Bay.

Chenega Bay – Description & Location

The village of Chenega Bay is located on Evans Island in Crab Bay, (42) miles Southwest of Whittier in the Prince William Sound. It is one hundred and four (104) air miles southeast of Anchorage. Until the March 27,1964 earthquake, Chenega was an Alutiiq Native tranquil fishing village located on the southern end of Chenega Island in western Prince William Sound. Founded before the Russian arrival in the late 1700s, Chenega was the longest occupied village in Prince William Sound at the time of the earthquake. Moments after the earthquake, a tsunami destroyed all of the buildings in Chenega village with the sole exception of a single home and the village school. Over a third of the village residents were killed and the survivors were taken initially to Cordova and then were later resettled in the village of Tatitlek by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

With the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the former residents of Chenega formed the Chenega Corporation that acquired the right to select 76,093 acres around the old Chenega Village Township. The Alutiiq Natives enrolled in the Chenega Corporation selected their new village site at Crab Bay on Evans Island in the Prince William Sound in March of 1977. This site was carefully chosen following extensive research as the site best able to meet the needs of the residents’ subsistence lifestyle. The Chenega Corporation and the Chenega IRA Council worked together to obtain funding for roads, a water and sewer system, electric generators, a boat and floatplane dock and a school. The new village named Chenega Bay was finally occupied in 1984 following the construction of 21 Housing and Urban Development homes.

Chenega Bay is an isolated community accessible only by air or water. Charter airlines provide the majority of the transportation and the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry System provides weekly ferry service year round.

Commercial fishing and subsistence activities are an important part of the lifestyle of the people of Chenega Bay. Commercial employment is primarily with the local school, the Tribal council, health clinic, and commercial fishing.

The primary business area of the village includes village council offices, a community center, the Russian Orthodox church, small boat harbor, the Alaska marine highway ferry terminal, and a future local display facility.

It felt so good to be able to get off and do some hiking. It was also a little overwhelming trying to imagine living in a village this small. Almost all the houses I saw looked exactly alike; maybe the tribe built them all. It is very very small and very isolated, the boat comes in once every week. There are no scheduled airlines, only charters.

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The Russian Orthodox Church, The Nativity of Theodokos, is very new, and very beautiful. We wondered where people sit? Or maybe there are chairs hidded away that are brought out for services, or brought from across the street at the Indian Affairs office? I always check, I love it that so many of the ikons look native. 🙂

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This last photo from the church is St. Herman of Alaska. Here is what Wikipedia says:

Saint Herman of Alaska (Russian: Преподобный Герман Аляскинский, c. 1750s – November 15, 1836) was a Russian Orthodox monk and missionary to Alaska, which was then part of Russian America. His gentle approach and ascetic life earned him the love and respect of both the native Alaskans and the Russian colonists. He is considered by many Orthodox Christians as the patron saint of North America.[1]

The patron saint of North America?! Who knew?!

00StHermanOfAlaska

The Johnny Totemoff Museum is sometimes open – not today – and also sells homemade jams made from salmonberry and high mountain cranberries. I would have loved to have some of that! Johnny Totemoff was a local fisherman who always knew where the fish were, and was always coming to the rescue of other in troubled times. I love it that they named the museum after him. (Don’t you wonder how I knew that? On board the ship, they have a notebook at the Purser’s office they put out before you reach each stop. I read about the Totmnoff Museum in the Purser’s book.:-) Now you know.)

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We loved watching the kids play – two of them were waiting for their father to come off the ship with their ice cream. They reminded me of my mom telling me of all the times she wanted to kill me because I did unsafe things, but oh, what fun!

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Local transportation:

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This is not the Homer otter, this is the Chenega Bay otter, and totally by chance and not by talent, I caught him catching a fish!

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Too soon, it is time to depart.

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September 11, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Photos, Road Trips, Social Issues, Travel, Wildlife, Work Related Issues | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mountains and Glaciers En Route to Chenega Bay

Passage was a little rough, once again, going through the Barrens, and AdventureMan took a dramamine. Because we don’t take a lot of medications, when we do, it can have a long-lasting impact, and AdventureMan sleeps in the next day. Not such a bad thing, it is vacation, after all. He is missing a lot of breathtaking scenery, but . . . LOL . . . even breathtaking scenery gets to be a little “oh yeah?” after a lot of breathtaking scenery.

 

Once all the high school kids got off at Kodiak Island, the boat became very quiet.  There are some families, a few tourists, family members en route home, or to medical appointments from remote villages. We are meeting some fine people. One young man for whom we took a photo told us he was from a small village in Israel. I think that is true, and I think it is also disguise. He looks just like my Palestinian friends in Qatar. I expect it is just easier, here in the US, to say you are “from Israel.” I love these young people, many of them out all on their own, all alone, seeing these wonderful sights. 

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Even though these are all different, after a while . . . Oh! There are a lot more photos! You really want to see them all, LOL?? After a while, you can’t even count the glaciers. My eyes have been so hungry for mountains and blue green pine trees and snow and glaciers, and now . . . I feel overfed!

September 10, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Beauty, Photos, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Departing Homer for Kodiak and Chenega Bay

Did I mention departures can be ephemeral?

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“As soon as possible” can take a long long time when you are boarding cars, motorcycles, even a grown-up tricycle, container vans, campers, R/vs of all shapes and sizes, trucks, and today we learn how it is done. This is truly a marvel of engineering. It must also take some amazing system to keep straight where every vehicle needs to go because they are getting off at different stops, so all the ones getting off at the same stop need to be stored together. Watching all this happen is amazing.

They have this turntable. Cars drive on, we think a maximum of six. The turntable also handles a maximum of one large container truck.

Cars drive on the elevated turntable:

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Turntable begins to lower:
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Cars reach main deck:
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Turntable begins to turn:
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A friendly otter kept us entertained while we waited for all the vehicles to board.

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We were told this is one of the Homer small ferries to Kachemak National Park or to Seldovia:

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It is another gorgeous day in Homer, and even early in the morning, fishermen and women are on the beach:

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It’s a beautiful departure, and somewhere between Homer and Kodiak, we run into a heavy mist near sunset:

00SunsetMistEnRouteKodiak

We departed late and will be getting into Kodiak late, so late we sleep right through it. Before we know it, we are departed from Kodiak and en route to Chenega Bay and Whittier.

September 10, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Beauty, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Road Trips, Technical Issue, Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Yakutat on the M/V Kennicott

Groan, docked at Yakutat early. Although we slept well, we are not eager to
debark at 0600, so we stay on the boat, which is a really fun decision.
AdventureMan discovers the upper aft viewing deck, inside and outside, and we
watch a fishing boat come in, the fisherman scurry up the slippery ladder, the
small tractors set up a weighing station and watch the fisherman upload his
morning’s catch, and see it graded, weighed and sorted all in a matter of
minutes. Three huge loads! It’s a hard life, being a fisherman, a lot of heavy
lifting and working in the rain and stormy weather. 00YakutatFisherman

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Yakutat is a small town, a fisherman’s town. Departing Yakutat:

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The rest of the day we are out in open water, and it is grey, grey, grey. I have to give the birders a lot of creds; they are manning the observation post in the bow and there are never fewer than three, with their bird spotting scopes.

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We spend the afternoon alternately reading and walking all the decks to see if
we are missing anything. We are not. It is a dull day, not unlike many travel
days, the difference being that we have a nice private cabin where we can hang
out, re-charge our camera batteries, our phones, our iPad. It’s a good thing we
have the iPad, I can read, I can play Sudoku. I iPad allows me to
take notes (this was actually a note) because THERE IS NO WI-FI onboard. I am so shocked, I pretend to be cool about it but inside I am sort of freaking out. I just assumed there would be wi-fi everywhere. I was wrong.

AdventureMan, ever the gentleman, volunteered to take the upper bunk, but I
insisted. I am nimble on ladders, and I like being able to perch up here in my
lair and look out our window. I saw more Orcas playing the first day, and can
keep an eye out for when the sky lightens and the sun makes an appearance. Local weather people actually call these “sunbreaks.”

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The cabin also has a generous supply of outlets – each bunk lamp in the cabin has an outlet plug, and then there are two other convenient double sockets.

We reserved a 4-bed with bath because we wanted an outside room – and because we like the convenience of having our own bathrooms. The two unused bunks are
stowed, and we have a large lounge chair, a table, and another chair. The toilet and shower are in a cabinet – lots of nice, hot water – and there is a sink outside the cabinet, with a mirror and another outlet, and separate overhead light. Very convenient, and it feels very roomy.

Years ago when I was off to college, the airlines were on strike and I had to
take the military ship Rose from Bremerhaven to the US and then fly Air Canada
to my university town. Just imagine – a military transport ship full of college
students. It was truly a wonderful time. I told AdventureMan this morning that I remember keeping my suitcase up in my bunk, and dressing up there as we only had like 14 inches between left side bunks and right side bunks, and with four
college girls, that wasn’t much. I can’t remember, but I don’t think we had our own toilet and shower, I think we had to use group ones. This cabin is about 8 feet across and 12 feet long, with the shower and toilet cabinet about 2.5 by 6 feet. It is tiny, but it works. We have a rack of hanging 32 hanging hooks, which might sound like a lot, but you use a lot of different outdoor clothing, layers of clothing; long sleeved shirts, hoodies, rain-gear, fleece, sweatshirts – the weather changes, you can be warm – but soaked.

Lunch is warming and healthy:

00SaladChili

September 5, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Cultural, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Photos, Road Trips, Travel, Work Related Issues | , , , | Leave a comment

“You Look Like a Happy Woman” on the M/V Kennicott

One of the birders approached me.

“I’ve been watching you. You always have a smile on your face. You watch the scenery and smile, and you look like a happy woman.”

“I am. I am really happy to be here.”

I do like living in Pensacola, I love being near our son and his wife and our two adorable grandchildren, but oh, this is where I was born. The sea is part of my blood, the piney clean smell of the Alaskan air, the clothes – jeans and something warm – this is how I grew up, this is how I am comfortable. I am. I am a happy woman.

Here are some photos from this first day on board the M/V Kennicott:

Humpback whales!
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View from our cabin
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I couldn’t figure out what this is, or if it is one creature, like a whale, or two, like a dolphin. We often saw things and had to try to puzzle out what we were seeing.

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I mentioned before, the shock of discovering that the M/V Kennicott would not be wired for internet. It was equally shocking that it did not have a tower for cell phone coverage, or however that is done. Ferries in Seattle, just little commuter ferries, they’re wired! WiFi is everywhere. Really, I guess I am mad at myself for thinking all Alaska would also be wired; I just projected my own prejudices and got trapped in them.

But my compass on my iPhone worked, and as you know, I am also a map person. As we were to be heading out into the Gulf of Alaska (which would be North) my compass was reading South, and the afternoon sun was also on the wrong side of the boat. “Do you know where we are?” I asked a guy who looked like he would know as we picked up dinner. “We are going backwards!” he almost shouted! “We are ahead of schedule, so the pilot is giving an apprentice from Michigan a lesson in pilotage!”

We were headed into an inlet that kept getting narrower, and narrower, and when we came to a village, Pelican, the ferry turned around and headed back where we had been coming from. I had wanted to see the mouth of Glacier Bay, but I never saw anything that looked anything like it, not until the return trip. We had some late day fog, so maybe the entrance and glaciers were shrouded. On the way back, we saw so many glaciers that at some point, I can’t even believe I am saying this, it was like “oh yeh, another glacier.”

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The green line is more or less the route we took from Juneau to Yakutat to Whittier to Chenega Bay, to Kodiak Island and to Homer – and then back. The first day out, if you look at Juneau, near the mouth to the Gulf of Alaska you will see off to the left a narrow inlet down Chicagof Island to Pelican. That was the side trip we took on our first evening on the M/V Kennicott.

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September 4, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Beauty, Cultural, ExPat Life, Geography / Maps, Photos, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Welcome Aboard the M/V Kennicott

When most people think of an Alaskan cruise, they think of the ships the size of small cities. We saw many of them in Juneau, docked, three, four, five at a time, inundating the town. In a town of around 30,000 the population can nearly double when five cruise ships are in port at the same time.

Juneau has a lot of services in place to handle the tourist demands. You can sign up for glacier tours, or whale watching tours, or both right at the landing dock. You can have a fine meal, you can buy tanzanite or brown diamonds, or fine sporting gear just across the street, or you can take a cable car up to the top of Mt. Roberts – right from the dock where you landed.

No. We didn’t do that.

We boarded the M/V Kennicott out in Auke Bay, where the Alaska Marine Highway Ferries come in and out shuttling the locals from town to town. There are ferry routes that are regional, like you can take a ferry to Haines, or Skagway, or Ketchikan, or Petersburg, places on the SE panhandle of Alaska, or you can, like us, take a ferry that goes all the way around the Gulf of Alaska from Juneau via Yakutat, Whittier, Chenega Bay, Kodiak Island to Homer. You can even continue on to Seldovia before you head back. Some years, when the ferry hasn’t broken down, you can take a ferry all the way down to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, all the way down on the very tip of the Aleutian Islands. Wouldn’t that be a grand adventure!?

It’s all part of the Alaska Marine Highway System, a very practical part of the entire Alaska transportation system which is a lot like Africa. You take a big plane or a big ship to get there, then you take a smaller ferry or a small – even tiny – airplane to get to the more remote places. Juneau is not connected to anywhere. All the highways end. Kodiak Island is . . . well, an island. There are many remote places that there is no way to reach without ferry or tiny aircraft service.

We picked up our tickets at the Ferry Terminal a couple days in advance, and were surprised to see that while the ferry was scheduled to leave at 12:00 noon, boarding said 0900 in the morning.

No problem. We were packed and ready to go, grabbed a little breakfast and coffee, and the shuttle took us out to the ferry terminal, about 15 minutes away. The Best Western Country Lane shuttle makes everything so easy; they take you to the airport, they take you to the terminal, they take people to the restaurants they want to go to, they run you downtown – a trip that costs about $35 if you come in to the Ferry Terminal and want to go into downtown Juneau. The shuttle is one reason why we chose this hotel, and we were so glad we did.

So we arrived, on time, at 0900 to board the ferry and the guy at the counter looked surprised and said “You want to board now?” and I said “It says we are supposed to board at 0900. It doesn’t make sense to me, either, but here we are.” He said “OK, you can board if you want.”

It’s not like an airplane. It’s not like you see “Boarding at 0900” and it means you MUST be there at 0900, in this case, it means “you can board if you want to.” LOL, this is my culture, and it’s confusing to me!

Laurie, the boarding purser, checks our I.D. and checks our tickets and waves us to the vehicle entrance with our rolley-bags, saying “just go in here and take the elevator.”

It wasn’t until after the trip that I learned the M/V part of M/V Kennicott means Motor Vessel, i.e. this is a ship that transports motor vehicles. We love learning new ways how things are done, and the boarding and unloading of the vessel was endlessly fascinating to us. Great technology, and it also requires great planning and execution.

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We went to the purser’s office to get our cabin, but the cabins weren’t clean yet. He suggested we go up to the forward lounge, have a cup of coffee, he would call us when the rooms were ready.

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The forward lounge was full of Alaskan art objects. This is a shaman’s mask:
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This is a Haida clam basket (basket weaving is so fascinating to me, all those patterns. How did people figure out, oh so long ago, how to gather living plant material and weave it in these ways? On our trip, we saw baskets woven so finely that you could boil water in them. Imagine!)

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I explored around a little, well, I snooped. While the cabins were being cleaned, I looked in to see the various kinds of cabins. It was so interesting. The majority of the cabins did not have bathrooms.

There were one person little cabins, like a booth, with two seats that would slide down and together, and a table that could be clipped up when a person didn’t want to sit at the table and wanted to sleep on a flat surface. It was a pretty narrow surface, and a room like a coffin, but it locked, and it would be a safe place for one person to sleep and keep their bags safe, too.

There were two person roomettes, they also had a little table and two bunks that attached to the wall unless you wanted to sleep, in which case they came down.

There were four person cabins without baths and four person cabins with baths. If only two people were in the cabin, the unused bunks were attached up to the walls, and you had a couch to sit on during the day. The outside cabins had nice large windows, big square ones.

There was a solarium up on top designated for campers. There are a LOT of campers in Alaskan, not just Alaskans, but also visiting campers from all over the world. The solarium gives them a safe dry place to pitch their tents. There are also big lockers where they can stow their gear.

People are also allowed to camp in the aft lounges, upper and lower, but the signs ask that you only roll out your sleeping gear between 8 at night and 8 in the morning, so that all the passengers can use the lounges during daylight hours.

This isn’t a cruise ship. This is transportation. This is how people get from one place to another, how they take their kids to boarding school when their village is too small to support a school. This is how high school teams might travel to their away games. These are working ships.

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When the purser announced that people could come check in to their cabins, I went, but I ended up at the end of a long line. I saw people get assigned and then the purser would hand them a set: one pillow, two sheets, one pillowcase and one blanket. (@) (@) ! No! No! I did not sign up to be making up bunk beds! Enough democracy!

Lucky me, those sets were for the roomettes, and you don’t even have to rent them, you can do without them if you prefer. I think the rental per night for the set is $3.00, but they also have it broken down, so if you just want to rent a pillow and pillow case it might be $1.00 per night, or just a blanket. Our cabin is beautiful and spacious. We have a big window, and dolphins romp by, and beautiful mysteriously foggy islands. We have our own toilet and shower, thanks be to God, and a washstand with plenty of clean towels. This is heaven. 🙂

The food is not elegant, but neither is it institutional. It is a giant step above McDonalds, or any of the fast food outlets. These are the menus posted in the hallway leading to the galley (kitchen):

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There are a variety of food stations – drinks of all kinds on the left, a salad and soup station on your right. Every day there were three soup choices, a soup like chicken noodle or French onion, a smoked salmon or clam chowder, and a chili. There were four prepared salads, and a big bar with greens and accoutrements; carrots, tiny tomatoes, peas, etc.

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There was also a deli sandwich and pizza station, where the lady would make you what you want.

There was another station, the hot station, where you could order several different hot things. There would be three main meal choices at every meal, like beef stew, salmon steak or pork fried rice, for example, and a veg and a starch. They even had brown rice.

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After you paid, cafeteria style, you enter the dining hall. It’s a working ship, remember, so it’s not just paid eaters who eat there, but also there is a microwave available for people who bring their own food. I saw one young man who had the BEST food, the first day he had a cucumber with salt and pepper, and bread. At breakfast, he had brought his own granola kind of mix. (Then he was gone, it’s a ferry, and people come and go.)

There are families with children warming up spaghettio’s, and single women with bowls of Ramen. It’s all very democratic, everyone sitting in the same dining hall.

00DiningHall

There is always a large display full of desserts; they must have specialized in desserts, very tempting desserts. AdventureMan succumbed one meal to a piece of Coconut Cream Pie, and I yielded to a Blueberry Pie at another meal.

They also had all kinds of condiments, in case you like a little kick with your foods, the more common ones, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise you pumped into small containers, but there were also things like Thai chili sauce, Tiger Sauce, Tabasco sauce, soy sauce – things different people like.

00Condiments

There were several booths with Alaskan wildlife and bird life on them:

00Tabletops

Near the dining hall, across from the gift shop was a small room for small children with a rubber floor 🙂

00ChildrensRoom

This is the bar, which was closed every day until around 5:00 and it was the only place on board that sold alcohol. You weren’t supposed to take it out of the bar. They had Alaskan beer, which is very tasty.

00ForwardLounge

This was lunch our first day on board, Smoked Salmon Chowder and a shrimp salad:

00SalmonChowderAndShrimpSalad

After every meal, we walk the decks, and, in fact, other than climbing in and out of my bunk, most of our exercise was walking, walking, walking, and climbing stair up and down. It didn’t do us any harm 🙂 The scenery is ever changing. Our first day out, we pass the same humpbacks we had seen on the whale watch the day before, spouting, someone always can be counted on to shout “Thar she blows!” The Alaskan waters team with wildlife; sparkling fish jumping, dolphins, seals, sea lions, otter – we saw them all. I would be typing up notes in our cabin, facing out the window, and I would see a couple dolphins just zipping along, so graceful, just doing their dolphin thing.

September 3, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Customer Service, Entertainment, Exercise, ExPat Life, Local Lore, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments