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Holland America Statendam
Alaska cruise and land adventures
May 18 - June 14, 2011

Click here to see the cruise itinerary
Cruise friends, Pat & Bud, picked us up at our
Vancouver, Canada hotel and gave us a great tour of
their town. The spring flowers and warm, sunny day made
the snow on the mountains even more beautiful.
  One of the city's surprises was its "houseboats".
Yes, this house with all the bushes and plantings is totally
floating on a barge along with the rest of the neighborhood
of at least a dozen individual homes on False Creek.
Yeah! We saw a Black bear on our way to Whistler and we were able to observe it up close and safely from our car.
Our cruise friend, Vanessa, showed us the Olympic rings in Whistler Village where the medals are awarded.
Above the rings loomed the ski slopes.
Ketchikan, Alaska is small town with a lot of
Native Americans who continue ancient traditions.
Totem poles everywhere document history and legends.
  Creek Street is lined with houses built on stilts,
since flat ground is hard to find.
Floatplanes, huge black ravens and bald eagles
compete for air space.
  The Mendenhall Glacier is retreating, but still stretches
for 12 miles with a mile width at the base.
The Lynn Canal approach to Skagway
was filled with sea otters and whales. We saw at least 4 whales breeching, along with many spouts.
  From the town center, we hiked to
Lower Dewey Lake along a steady uphill path.
At the top of the climb, Paul decided to soak his feet
in the icy water - but not for long!
  As we entered Glacier Bay National Park,
the water was glassy and there was no wind. Stellar Sea Lions played alongside our ship and we spotted two brown bears on the banks of the inlet.
Our captain held the ship for one hour at Margerie Glacier
and we heard the "white thunder" that sounds
like fireworks several times when huge sections
30 stories tall broke off and the glacier "calved".
  The sunshine came out and we were comfortable
with light jackets.
We saw this Stellar Sea Lion in
Seward's Resurrection Bay.
  Friends, Bob & LuAnn, picked us up in their motor home and drove us to the Homer Spit where they had chosen a fantastic campsite on the bay.
The beach at low tide was filled with mussels.   The Church of Saint Nicholas in Nikolaevsk was
beautifully decorated with Russian Orthodox paintings.
The small, remote town still speaks Russian and the
villagers sport Russian dress.
This is some of the spectacular beauty we saw from the
window of the motor home as we drove through the
Kenai Peninsula.
  This "cabin in the woods" is really The Double Musky Inn
in Girdwood, a restaurant named by Food Network as
the "Best of" for steaks in the USA. The white stretch
Hummer parked in front betrays the humble location.
Nearby was the 4 star Alyeska Ski Resort where the USA Olympic team trains.
No kidding! Check out the slope of this Double Black Diamond trail.
The Chugach National Forest Winner Creek Trail was a
delightful 5 mile circuit walk among Alder and Spruce.
  Winner Creek was roaring
with water from the winter snow melt.
Using the hand tram to cross the creek was real exercise.   At the Native Heritage Center in Anchorage, we talked
to people representing several of the different cultural
groups who still live all over Alaska as their ancestors did.
Vicki is holding a fishing float made from seal skin.
We were lucky to see Mt. McKinley on a clear day with blue skies. This view is only seen 30% of the time.   On our 14 hour (6AM to 8PM) Backcountry Adventure
in Denali National Park we saw tons of wildlife,
including this Arctic Ground Squirrel. . .
Hoary Marmots. . .   several herds of Caribou (Reindeer). . .
Grizzly Bears. . .   Moose. . .
several Red Foxes, each with different colorings. . .
and herds of Dall Sheep.   We drove all 92 miles into the park to Kantishna, where
Vicki struck out when she tried her luck panning for gold.
This panoramic picture that Paul took of the Denali mountain range shows the beauty of Alaska.
So do the tufts of wild Alpine azalea and blue lupines.
Rangers use dog sleds to patrol the park in winter.   When it was time for their demonstration, the dogs eagerly
showed off their strength and skill in pulling the sled.
From Fairbanks to Valdez, we drove on the Richardson Highway with the
Trans-Alaskan Pipeline running parallel to the road. The pipeline is built in a zig-zag pattern
to keep it from bursting with the change of temperatures and during earthquakes.
The out-of-control Black Rapids Glacier
made national news when it was growing
a mile per month in the winter of 1936!
  Paul hardly had time to notice the wildflowers as he raced
back to our lodge with his head under a handkerchief.
Swarms of mosquitos came out of nowhere
as we walked through the forest.
We left Valdez with our car for a 5 1/2 hour ride on the
Alaska Marine Highway Ferry to get to Whittier.
We were lucky to see harbor seals, whales, puffins,
sea otters and porpoises.
  The phenomena of the "Bore Tide" in the Cook Inlet causes a single 6 foot wave that travels at 15 miles per hour on certain days of the month. We saw 3 guys on surf boards catch the wave.