|Alaska Trip||Taken In June/July 2000|
Two Weeks in Three Styles
Cruising from Vancouver BC to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway & Glacier Bay
"Iím going to Alaska before Iím fifty", is what my wife, Diann, declared anytime anyone brought up the subject of a trip to the land of midnight sun. Alaska for me though, was not an urgent trip. I had lived there as a child, when it became a state in 1959.
Returning to Alaska was exciting in that I could confirm memories some forty years old. Diann and I made the trip in three stages over a two week period in June / July of 2000.
"What part of your trip did you like the best", is the question most folks ask us. Forced to narrow it down, I have to say, for me, it was the balcony of our cabin. The nine foot wide three and a half foot deep area had a six foot by six foot opening which was "fall-protected" with a teak capped railing.
A wall of glass with a heavy sliding door separated the balcony from the stateroom and provided a twenty four hour view. You could see the scenery slide by while getting dressed or venture out to experience the view while crisp cold air swirled around.
That balcony was the hub of my cruise experience. Every morning, I rolled out of bed and stepped through the glass door to experience the offerings of sights, smells, and crisp air. Only then would I make the necessary trip to the head (bathroom). While at sea, we had breakfast brought to our room so that we could dine privately with a view out the glass wall.
At the conclusion of an adventurous day, we used our white plastic deck chairs as a place to rest and the small plastic table as a bar. The balcony became an early evening pause before dinner. Spriteô, purchased from one of the many ship board bars, Tequila brought from home, and a bucket of ice supplied by our room steward made having mixed drinks both easy and economical.
How nice it was to sit quietly before dinner, to rest, and reflect on the day. Diann and I could talk privately about the experience- all the while being underway and marveling at more and more scenery.
During the whole cruise, we never once made a show. When dinner ended around ten thirty, we returned to the room and sat on the balcony.
It was light enough to see mountains and sky and water. Though it was a twilight view, it was enough.
And to the view was added the subtlety of wafting salt air smells, and the light bubble foam shush sound of water as the ship continued on its course.
Part of the fun was leaning over the rail to look ahead as the ship traveled- and see others down the length of the ship also leaning out to see what was upcoming. When I was tired, I went to bed knowing that again I would step out on the balcony to start my day.
Planning the trip began with searches of the Internet, review of a Frommerís guide on Alaska, and discussions with a travel agent.
Diannís version of the trip had always been conceived as a cruise and therefore the cruise would be the center of our experience.
To maximize the weekend prior to our Monday departure, we decided to arrive at Vancouver on Saturday, stay at two different B&Bs, do a walking tour and dine well.
For my return to1959,í60,&í61 memories of living in Anchorage as a child, we would need to be land based- and so we reserved a motor home to wrap up the second week of adventure.
Having made a full check list of needed travel clothes and items, we began setting aside those items three weeks ahead of time. Packing then was without hurry or frustration. We arrived at the Charlotte NC airport with time to spare and arrived at Vancouver in the early afternoon of the last Saturday in June.
Vancouver BC, where mountains meet the sea, is as clean a city as Iíve had the pleasure to visit. During the cab ride from the airport, it had the look of most other metropolitan areas- old commercial buildings and old homes, interspersed with new facilities but there was very little litter. We turned off the main drive onto side streets, which were lined by trees, sidewalks, and two story homes on narrow urban lots. We arrived at our first B&B- Penny Farthing Inn.