Alaska - Take II & Portland Birthday (August 10th - 26th, 2019)
BOOM! Here I sit in Firestone waiting on the Jeep to get its oil changed, so I’ll get started on this week blog (This is Ted by the way). Last week we were aboard the Ruby Princess cruise from Seattle to Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Victoria, Canada and back to Seattle. I left off the last blog just before we boarded the boat, so we started 10 AUG by getting up and getting out of the Glamper around 11 and met a friend in West Seattle where he let us park the Jeep in his garage and then gave us a ride to the terminal. We said our goodbyes and went to check in. This was smoother than I expected, we didn’t pre-print our tickets or baggage tags and Princess Cruises pretty thoroughly berated me through email about not having done this and how we would be delayed boarding the boat. We walked from the drop off, got the baggage checked and were on the boat in less than 30 minutes. So, now we are on the boat and lost AF! It took us at least three days to find our way around this floating city! We go see our stateroom and then go get some food before we shove off. The food is pretty good and I gorge myself, something I‘m going to have to figure out how not to do. We find the schedule and make decisions about activities. The good news is we are going to sail right by where I was standing, the extreme NW corner of the US, and I want to see that. We spend some time outside sitting enjoying the windy weather as the boat moves effortlessly through the water. I think I see it...but not yet, the land keeps going as we get closer. Eventually we spot it, but it’s still far and it’s getting cold so we go inside. Daisa and I love trivia and over the course of this week there are multiple trivia sessions on the boat...most of this trivia is way beyond our abilities and our scores show it, but one time we got a 20 out of 20...but there were still 7 additional points available, oh well. The boat is set to cruise through the entire first day so we find things to entertain ourselves from the schedule. This schedule is printed once a day and only for that day, so you dont know what it will be until the night before. First day is done to include a Cha Cha dance class, and now we are making port in Juneau. We decided not to do an excursion here and insead to find a cool hike. I found Persevere Trail which looked relatively easy, but long. We depart the ship after breakfast and walk through this pretty small town, which is the capital of Alaska (only accessible by boat, plane or birth canal), to the trailhead. On our way we meet another couple that is planning to hike the Mount Roberts trail to the tramway and ride it back down to the dock, well this sounds good to us, so we copy them and give it a shot. I looked up the trail on AllTrails and found that it was rated as hard...but we only have to go about a third of it...oh by the way, remember the last hike in Alaska, Flat Top Mountain...yeah, it was rated hard too! Fuck it, let’s go!!! #poundwinning up we go! About 1/8th of the way up, we find a spot that Daisa decides to sketch - it’s a really cool scene with the trees in the foreground overlooking the “city” of Juneau and the channel behind that. About an hour later we have cooled down, drank water and eaten while she sketched...getting going again sucks! And getting motivated again is even worse...no more sketching on the way up! The rest of this hike is rough - lots of steep switchbacks over tree roots - 2 hours later we are at the top and the elation begins! A 3800 foot ascent in 2 miles! I don’t know if Daisa looks back on this hike fondly yet or not, but I do! At the top we need to buy tickets for the Tram to take us back to the cruise ship terminal...but you can’t buy tickets at the top, only at the bottom! FML! However, they have conveniently come up with a solution for this dilemma, buy $10 per person worth of stuff in the store and they will let you ride down For Free. At least we got a couple pair of Alaskan made earrings out of our one way ride! #poundwinning yet again. Back to the boat, dinner and bed! The next morning we wake up in Skagway and surprisingly are not in as rough a physical shape as either of us expected. Here we had decided to take an excursion, a downhill bike tour from the top of White Pass to Skagway. We get off the boat with time to spare so I go down the rocks to the water’s edge...except that half the rocks are clams! Skagway has a daily tidal change of 15-18 feet and during a full or new moon, it can have as much as 30 feet of change. The tide is out and I’m walking in a bed of clams to get to the water, totally not expected. The water in Alaska is cold! Our tour company arrives and off we go, after signing our lives away in their waiver form. The van takes us to the top of White Pass, which interestingly is in No Mans Land. My version of No Mans Land comes from Korea...but this one is a little different. The actual border between America and Canada is in the middle of an Avalanche area, so both countries have retreated 7 miles back and established their border check points. While I never actually left America, I did cross the “border” so we had to go through customs and immigration on our way down. This is a cursory thing for the tour company who does this several times a day, but it’s kinda funny to me! We get the briefing, test out our bikes then head down. The Sockeye Cycle Company has mastered taking all the fun out of riding a bike. The tour was good but they were uptight about “safety”! We get to their HQ and drop off the bikes in the center of town and then walk around a little before finding a hardware store to buy some small paint brushes for Daisa’s water color pencils. Back to the boat for a nap and chilling until we shove off for Glacier Bay National Park.
We get up early the morning of 14 AUG so we can get good seats on the back deck for the Glacier viewing. We were bundled up pretty good, it was cold! The National Park Service has a couple Rangers from the park board our ship using a controlled crash and in-motion embarkation. They give presentations throughout the day and help people understand where they can spot wildlife on shore. We arrive at the glaciers (Daisa writing now) -
gla·cier noun: glacier; plural noun: glaciers a slowly moving mass or river of ice formed by the accumulation and compaction of snow on mountains or near the poles.
When the glaciers calve ice bergs (when chunks of ice break off the glacier) it makes a booming crash. We got to hear one but I didn't see it. It was magnificent. During the voyage through the Glacier Bay National Park waters, the air felt cryptic and isolated while at other times the aura was majestic and stoic. The rest of the day was spent playing trivia and hanging out.
August 15th we arrived in Ketchikan. Taquan Air took us to the Misty Fjords National Monument. This was Ted's favorite part by far. Neither of us had ridden in a sea plane before - it was EPIC! We landed in a bay and stood on the float, took off and landed on water. Later we took a tango lesson and played more trivia. Not going to lie, I haven't felt so dumb in a long time. We didn't do too well but we had fun regardless. We also started playing checkers. Ted is really good at it. The next day we spent the last full day on the boat with an evening stop in Victoria, BC. I enjoyed a lovely Zumba class, a challenging game of checkers, watching us dock, a relaxing walk through Beacon Hill Park, and a fabulous dinner at Il Terrazzo Ristorante. The food and service were spectacular! We were pretty lucky to get a table as a walk-in on a Friday night. We got back to the ship with plenty of time to spare. August 17th we returned to Seattle, got the Jeep and decided not to go camping at Deception Pass State Park. We were a bit pooped. Instead we spent the day at the Glamper, meal planned, and cooked. Sunday, August 18th we cleaned the Glamper and we had some friends over for an early dinner. Good times catching up with the guys! Monday, Ted and I hiked Sesqualitchew Loop for a elevation change of 288 feet and a distance of 4.9 miles. That afternoon Ted got the Jeep up to speed with an oil change (where he started writing the blog) while I meal prepped and cooked up some Spaghetti Squash Lasagna and Fixate Chili. It felt really good to cook my own food. Who would have thought that I would enjoy cooking so much after having hated it for so many years!
On the road again...(cue song), August 20th we drove out of Seattle and to the coast, stopping in Astoria for lunch to see the Goonies house. Well, you can't really go see it anymore. The owners want some peace and will call the cops on your ass if you get too close. So we skipped that touristic attraction and opted for lunch with a view and some big fat sea lions barking and stinking. I loved it! We kept on going and pulled into Roamer's Rest RV Park in Tualatin, OR. It's nice and has everything you need, but you are packed in like sardines. No matter, we liked the place and everyone here in Oregon has been extremely kind. Just really nice people, with genuine interest in others. It is very refreshing! August 21st we spent the day with my friend from college. We hung out outside with her dog and cooked some food. Dinner was some ok Thai food via delivery and an early night. August 22nd, Go Daisa, It's your Birthday, was thrown around a few times. The day started off with breakfast in bed cooked by my wonderful husband, followed by some shopping with our friend, a fabulous lunch at BJ's Food Cartel boasting an assortment of food trucks with amazing yummies. We squeezed in a 30 min nap and then went into the city. Ted and her other half hung out while we got to go to a belly dance class! Sedona Soulfire is AMAZING!!! This class was phenomenal and it made my heart sing. I miss dancing SO MUCH! I am tremendously grateful that I was able to take this class and was reminded of how much I truly love dancing. We finished up the night with a fantastic dinner at Bullard. It was a spectacular birthday and I loved every minute of it! Thanks to everyone for all the wonderful wishes, I felt very special. August 23rd, I went fishing for the first time. I normally hate fish so this extra special and Ted is delighted. We have a great time with our friend and his dad bouncing around in the seas where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean between Washington and Oregon, just outside of Astoria. We only caught one and had to throw it back, but I actually had a good time and am willing to try again. That evening we got home, showered, ate and proceeded to sleep for 10 hours. I can’t remember the last time I slept that long. Saturday morning we got things ready for the party. Preparations went well and we snuck in a great game of checkers, which I WON, and some dominos. We made pulled pork sandwiches for the party and I thought they were delicious. Coleslaw, doughnuts, veggies and fruit complimented the sandwiches Perfectly. It was great to spend time with our friends and catch up. It ended up being a late night and following morning as well. Ted made some pancakes and we said our good byes to our friends that had stayed a few spots down from us. Next up was a delectable lunch at The South Store Cafe followed by fruit and pepper picking across the street with our friend. A great way to end the weekend! Adios Portland, we really loved the city and we shall return one day.
Stay tuned as we move down the Pacific Coast Highway and spend some time in the Redwood Forest.
Daisa, Ted and Azlan