Month: August 2016

Fun with Kayaks

(3 July 2016 Part 2) We survived lunch, and it was time for Kayaking 101.  All but Steve and Kathy signed up for remedial Kayaking – they went straight to advanced!  Oh, Lou decided he’d tried it once before – that was enough.

The first thing we had to do was get suited up with PFDs and skirts to keep out the water.  Most also wore water proof gear, but we learned that wasn’t necessary most of the time:

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Steve was happy as a clam to get out on the Kayak:

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Kathy appeared less clam-like, but was a good sport.  This photo shows how, once you enter the Kayak, the crew pushes you off the EZ Dock … easy peasy.

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Mark and Victoria – scoot off the EZ Dock and take off in a hurry – no fear here!

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Catherine and Olivia made a great team … getting ready to head out for their adventure:

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Beth was stuck with me.  We did okay.  I mean, were we supposed to keep up with the group?  I believe any shortcomings we may have had can be attributed to my extreme strength and paddling abilities. She probably couldn’t keep up, but I didn’t want to make her feel bad by pointing that out at the time.  Lou, fortunately, captured some photos.  Yes, I appear to be doing my turtle imitation.  Beth, of course, looks great, even in our selfie:

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I bet the girls didn’t expect to be sunbathing in Alaska:

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For Happy Hour, Captain Dano grilled Oysters.  Didn’t rock my boat, but others in our group thought they were quite tasty.  Dinner didn’t disappoint – a choice of pork or fish, followed by Creme Brûlée.

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An all around good day, topped by more scenery and whales at 9PM:

That’s a wrap – our first full day of UnCruising, and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Check in tomorrow for another Guest Blog. Click HERE for a treat

Guest Blog: Catherine Shares a Snorkeling Adventure

I’m going to jump ahead slightly, because I want to start including the Guest Blogs and injecting some spice into this story!  Catherine shared photos and a video from the snorkeling adventure she and Olivia shared.  Yes! Snorkeling – in Alaska!!!  (What were they thinking?)

So, snorkeling in Alaska sounded like a MUCH better idea last year when I was considering doing it from the comfort of my couch… But, Olivia and I had promised each other that we would no matter what!

First step, the universally flattering wetsuit with a double layer to give you that extra bulky look.

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Olivia does a Jacques Cousteau style entry from the skiff:

The visibility was limited, about 5-7 feet, which allowed you to really slow down to notice the things you’d normally swim by in your quest to see the flashy tropical fish – huge kelp, starfish, anemones, sea cucumbers, and crabs.

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Thank you, Catherine, for the beautiful underwater photos.  I promise there will be MORE flattering photos when we get to the blog entry for Tuesday, July 5th – the date of your snorkeling adventure!

Click HERE to find out how our group of Adventurers liked the kayaks.

First Day Onboard – Part 1

(3 July 2016) Late the previous evening, we’d anchored for the night.  We woke up aboard the Wilderness Discoverer, floating on very calm water.  Peeking out of the stateroom before 6am, just after the sun came up:

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This is one of the things I like best about Alaska:

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Yeah, lots of scenery shots … but then, it was time for breakfast.  Looks like some very serious conversation going on at the table:

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Captain Dano lifted anchor shortly after breakfast and we were underway all morning. Along the way, we saw more beautiful scenery, an Alaskan State Ferry and some wildlife. While cruising, the expedition guides spoke to us about safety while hiking, how to keep bears away, and also demonstrated the proper way to use the kayaks.

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This trio is demonstrating the Personal Flotation Devices used for Kayaking and Paddle Boarding.  Each person selected a PFD, and we kept the same one for our entire cruise.  All rooms come with lockers outside that can be used to store PFDs, Boots, etc.

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Once morning lectures ended, we were ready to eat, and it was Greek Day in the dining room, with chicken and pita sandwiches being the main course.  There were always salads and a vegetarian option as well – and usually a soup.  Cookies were optional, although mandatory in our group.

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Around lunch time, we dropped anchor in a nice quiet area – someone remind me what this place was called – and it was time to get our Kayak on … Thanks Beth, for the info on where we were: Cruising Neva Strait and Sergius Narrows and Deep Bay.

Part 2 coming up tomorrow. Click HERE to read our first Guest Blog!.

Departure – Boarding the Ship and Sailing Away

(Still 2 July 2016) Just a few photos from our evening sail away.  We met up with our fellow passengers (78 of us in total), and took a bus over to the boat – just a short distance. Lou and I knew what to expect, but it was all new to everyone else.

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(sorry Cath, but that’s the best of the four shots I had 🙂 )

We boarded by state room, and were escorted to our rooms, where we met up with our luggage and had just a short time to get ready for the life saving drill:

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(That’s better, Catherine … well, except maybe for the bright orange personal flotation device – you wear it well)

Before we knew it, it was time for dinner.  Folks at my table chose salmon, and it was good.  I think there might have been pasta or some salad for the non-fish eaters.  Dinner is served sit-down style, while breakfast and lunches are buffets.  Every night, we had a tasty treat made fresh by the pastry chef.  Tonight was a berry crumble with a very thick ball-o-cream on top:

I don’t believe anyone in our party stayed up late on our first night (or any other night!).  At 8:30pm, it was still light, and our group was out on front of the Bridge – as if the whole boat was ours:

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Un-Cruising to exciting destinations … stay tuned for more adventures, and the beginning of our guest blog series.

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Click HERE for more excitement

Sitka – It’s Departure Day

(2 July 2016) Everyone went to bed early on Friday night – at least I think they did.  We had plans for the next day, since we didn’t have to board the boat until 5pm.  I was taking the kids back to the Raptor Center and The Fortress of the Bear, while Kathy & Steve hiked around Sitka, and Lou did some shopping.

Our first stop was The Fortress of the Bear.  We spent about an hour and a half there, and I think Olivia and Tory could have stayed another hour or two.

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The first thing we noticed were the bears in the water.  They were having quite the interaction today.  First, one of the bears swims up to chat:

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These two have words about the intruder:

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And, brown bear smacks the mouthy one upside the head:

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We than noticed there were even more eagles here today than yesterday.  And, we found out one of the reasons there are so many eagles here, as we watched the owner toss some salmon in for the bears; the tossed salmon pieces just might have been attracting eagles as well:

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This fella stood up, trying to get some attention, and maybe a piece of salmon:

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Our happy group:

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You can see part of the old concrete tank that acts as a pen for the bears.  Here is a shot of the one on the other side.  Not fancy, but they make very safe homes for the bears:

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Almost 45 minutes later, and the wrestling bears are still going at it:

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Remember – Don’t Feed the Bears!!!

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The Alaska Raptor Center was our next stop.  Today, we made it in time to hear a short lecture from one of the naturalists at the center:

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The birds were just as beautiful today as they had been yesterday.  Even though we had some sprinkles, the kids enjoyed a stroll through the wooded path.  The girls took turns comparing their wingspan to the raptor’s:

We arrived back in Sitka and went our separate ways (but somehow all ended up at the same Mexican Restaurant and Arcade for lunch!).

Click HERE for The next post about boarding the ship and our sail away.