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posted by [personal profile] alexfandra at 08:46am on 30/06/2009 under
These are the last of my Alaskan vacation photos, ending aptly enough on the setting sun over the ocean waves:

I had a grand time. Overall, NCL (Norwegian Cruise Line) did a fine job and their staff was very responsive. I wrote a letter to the company with mostly praise but with a few minor complaints about noise levels (they really do need more quiet public spaces), and they wrote back with an individualized response that included a $350 voucher towards my next cruise fare. Plus another $350 for my travelling companion. Which has to be used within one year.

I may just have to take them up on it.
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posted by [personal profile] alexfandra at 09:44am on 29/06/2009 under
There were lots of snow-covered mountains along the way. So many that I gave up trying to figure out which ones they were or, when I got home, exactly where I'd taken each photo. Basically, it's a thousand miles of amazing mountains, everywhere you look.

Tomorrow: The Last of Alaska.
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posted by [personal profile] alexfandra at 06:58am on 25/06/2009 under
I suppose no trip northward would be complete without a totem pole or two.

These were both in Prince Rupert, BC:

Nor would a vacation be complete without at least one local sign that amused the tourist:

I'll be wrapping all of this up very soon!
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posted by [personal profile] alexfandra at 07:12am on 24/06/2009 under ,
We do see Harlequin Ducks in Washington State on the coasts and in Puget Sound, usually during Winter, but I've never managed to see one here. So it was a thrill to find several of them hanging out in Skagway.

I spotted this pair while crossing the pedestrian bridge to Yakutanina Point Trail:

The female caught a fish and went on land to consume it:

While she ate, the male swam back and forth nearby in a protective manner:

Later, along the trail, I came upon half a dozen more Harlequins hanging out on the shoreline. A very fine morning indeed.
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posted by [personal profile] alexfandra at 07:14am on 23/06/2009 under
This is called Yakutania Point, and there is a footbridge over a river leading to Yakutania Point Trail.

A very pleasant walk early in the morning, on which I met absolutely no one until heading back to town.

The trail ends at a boulder-strewn "beach" with gorgeous views.

On the way, I came across some Harlequin Ducks. Photos of those tomorrow!
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posted by [personal profile] alexfandra at 10:04am on 22/06/2009 under
I'm not 100% sure this was taken at Skagway, but what the hey, it's me! by the big boat!

And here's [personal profile] movies_michelle on her way into town:

One of the many intriguing building fronts...that's all driftwood:

Overall, I did not care much for Skagway; the residential areas were much poorer-looking than Juneau or Ketchikan and other than the one road of shopping, there wasn't much to it except the famed White Pass Railway trip, which we avoided. Good thing, too, as the wind kicked up something fierce that day and one of the trains was an hour late getting back because of it -- I don't like sharp drop-offs to begin with, and that route is full of them, and I can imagine how scary it would be with buffeting winds.

There was one nice trail out to a viewpoint which I enjoyed very much -- photos of that tomorrow!
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posted by [personal profile] alexfandra at 08:59am on 18/06/2009 under
We sailed through Tracy Arm and on to Sawyer Glacier:

Here's a close-up:

There were lots of seals on the flat ice, plus a few just hanging out on random bits of ice as we sailed along:

Lots of gulls and terns out and about as well. Captain Lars got the ship as close as he could without ramming any ice, and then let us have a good long look at the glacier. It was a fine sight, though I think I spent more time looking at seals and birds than at rocks and ice.

Finest kind.
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posted by [personal profile] alexfandra at 07:24am on 17/06/2009 under
You get to see a lot of this scenery on the Alaskan Inside Passage cruises:

These were on the way to Tracy Arm/Sawyer Glacier. There were times when I'd be viewing snow-capped peaks from the upper-deck Jacuzzi hot tub. I found that to be a swell thing indeed.
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posted by [personal profile] alexfandra at 07:11am on 16/06/2009 under
On the way to Juneau:

No, I didn't find a clever way to take a photo of our own ship...we kept seeing Holland America, Princess, and Royal Caribbean ships all along the way.

Downtown Juneau where the tourists go to shop.

A Pigeon Guillemot in the harbor.

I liked Juneau overall, especially all the older, nicely kept-up houses on the hills above downtown, and a lovely riverside trail through some woods which was nice and quiet and untrammeled by any tourists. I didn't care for the modern government buildings. The Governor was not about -- a reporter I met on the aforementioned trail told me she rarely came there, and that she wanted to move the capital north, since the SE portion of the state wasn't "the real Alaska". He said most folks there couldn't stand her, thus explaining the many Obama signs I'd seen on people's lawns.

Slowly but surely I'm working my way through the up: more picturesque mountains, and maybe by Thursday I'll get to the glaciers!
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posted by [personal profile] alexfandra at 08:38am on 03/06/2009 under ,
Back to the Alaska trip....

I tried to find the non-touristy places wherever we visited. There was a quiet woodsy trail by a stream in Ketchikan:

The touristy stuff was unavoidable, as were the tourists, since there were often four ships in port at the same time.

I overheard a passenger on our ship at lunchtime complaining to a staff person about all the ships arriving at the same time, dumping thousands of tourists on the town, "so you can't move through the crowds in the shops, and you get disgusted and leave." Well, I thought, you could always go for a stroll in a park.

The Ignorant Tourists appeared a few times in my presence. One of them called the ravens in Juneau "those big crows." A tourist in Ketchikan ("the salmon capital of the world") asked his girlfriend to pose for a photo "by that big shark sculpture" (yes, it was a salmon, very accurately sculpted and painted). But overall it wasn't too horrible. Whenever I was out on the promenade deck with my bins, people often asked if I'd seen whales, and when I said no, but I'd seen lots of interesting birds, several of them stopped to chat about what birds were out there and seemed genuinely interested.

Here is one of those "big crows" in Juneau -- it was odd that we saw only a few ravens in Ketchikan and Skagway, but there were hundreds in Juneau:

Every time I turned around, I saw (or heard) ravens, with flocks in trees, or strolling through the city parks, or perching on buildings. They were amazing. And very vocal!


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