------------ Alaska, July 2004 ------------

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------------ Vancouver, B.C. ------------

From deck thirteen of the Ryndam, leaving Vancouver, B.C. on July 23, 2004.

Passing under the Lions Gate Bridge with Stanley Park in the background.

------------ Ketchikan, Alaska ------------

Two days after leaving Vancouver, we were one of four cruise ships docked here in Ketchkan.

We took the funicular up the hill and walked past the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery & Eagle Center to the Totem Heritage Center. An extensive collection of nineteenth century totems are preserved here and are on display.

The totem poles were retrieved from the Tinglit Indian Village of Tongass and from the Haida Village of Old Kasaan. The poles are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and belong to the descendants of people who created them. The removal of the totems was done in cooperation with tribal elders in order to preserve the work of the old master carvers.

Walking down the street, we arrived at infamous Creek Street and the Dolly House Museum, heart of the red light in 1903 during the Gold Rush. Dolly Arthur was the most famous "lady of the evening". The nearby Tongass Historical Museum was good but quite small. We nearly missed the S.E. Alaska Visitor's Center. It was an excellent educational museum with dioramas and displays of the natural and cultural history of SE Alaska. Oddly, it was not mentioned in our cruise ship literature although they covered 17 of the local gift shops in great detail.

------------ Sitka, Alaska ------------

We visited the Cathedral of Saint Michael's, The Archangel, built by the Russians in the mid 1800's. It was quite inspiring and interesting. A recorded history of the cathedral kept us spellbound with its tales of the 1966 fire that destroyed the original structure. The extensive artwork, however, was saved by the brave people who endured the flames and removed it.

These talented women are part of a group of forty, called New Archangel Dancers. They have 200 different dances that can be performed. They're excellent performers, had colorful costumes and were quite fun to watch. Also in the Visitor's Center was an interesting museum of Sitka's past.

The 105 acre Sitka National Historic Park, originally founded in 1910, was very informative and nicely done. There was a museum and an adjoining totem park walk. When Russia sold Alaska to the USA in 1867 for $7,200,000 in gold, the transfer was in Sitka.




After visiting the Sheldon Jackson Museum, our waiting tenders took us back to the ship through the fog and rain.

------------ Juneau, Alaska ------------

Annamarie took a walking tour of Juneau while Al went on an 18 passenger fishing boat to Tracy Arm for the day.

------------ Tracy Arm ------------

This is South Sawyer Glacier at the far end of Tracy Arm. We passed thousands of small icebergs in the four hour trip from Juneau to get here.

On the return trip, we stopped to watch this mother bear and her small cub.

We also saw numerous hump back whales, but they simply don't wait to be photographed. This was as close to a picture of one that I was able to get.

------------ Haines, Alaska and White Pass ------------

We docked at Haines and took a small catamaran for a 45 minute ride to Skagway, at the northern end of Lynn Canal.

On the way to the 2,865 foot White Pass Summit aboard the White Pass & Yukon Railroad. The narrow gauge tracks are only three feet apart. The cars have been restored but modern diesel electric engines have replaced the old steam engines.

There are several trussels and tunnels on the route. Building this railway route was an immense engineering feat, considering the rocky hillsides that had to be blasted to lay the tracks. It was built in 26 months in 1898-1900 with weather so cold in winter that crews could often only work for an hour at a time without freezing.

We split a chicken wrap for lunch in Skagway at a classy little deli that had these beautiful flower beds in their adjoining garden. Nearby we found the Skagway Museum which gave us a flavor of the historic town. One of the volunteers told us that she has her fruits and vegetables flown in from Juneau. Air freight is $0.40 per pound.

------------ Hubbard Glacier ------------

Hubbard Glacier was the largest we saw and the noisiest. It sounded just like thunder and we saw a lot of calving. The Ryndam stayed for an hour so we got a chance to see and hear the activity.

------------ Portage Glacier ------------

We stopped at Portage Glacier on our bus trip from Seward to Anchorage. The glacier has receded so much since the visitor center was built that we had to travel by catamaran on the lake to be able to view it.

------------ Anchorage, Alaska ------------

We arrived here in the early afternoon. After checking our bags at the hotel, we visited the Anchorage Museum of Art and History which was only a few blocks from our hotel. This is a view from our room taken at 7:20 PM. After having dinner at Orso, a nearby Italian restaurant, it was still daylight at 10:30 PM.

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