Lorna and I wanted to go on the Reno Rendezvous Motorcycle Rally with the group from Edmonton,however the Alaska Cruise to celebrate Lorna’s 50th anniversary of her nursing class graduation took priority. Now 50 years is a long time, but getting together for this class and their spouses has been almost an annual event. But to celebrate such a special occasion we decided an Alaska Cruise would do the trick. Now this article is not really a biking story but . . . you may find it of interest.
Lorna and her buds took their nursing classes at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. They were a small class of 12. But three have passed away and one couple were not thrilled about bouncing about on the ocean, so that left seven. We had 6 husbands along and one of the gals was a widow so she brought her sister-in-law. We all arrived Vancouver prepared for departure on Holland America’s Volendam on June 17th. This is a relatively small cruising ship with 1,500 passengers.
|St. Elizabeth's Nursing Class of '65|
We departed about 5pm and cruised all night and the next day on the inside passage to arrive at Alaska’s Capitol, Juneau, Friday morning. Juneau is the only capital city in the world with no access by roads. You must either fly or arrive by boat. We had three excursions planned. The first took us to Mendenhall Glacier quite near the city. This is a flowing glacier which slides down the mountain and calves into a lake at the bottom. Snow that falls at the top will calf off about 12 years later. Our second Juneau tour was a jet boat whale watching trip. First, we got to see 6 or 7 humpback whales doing circle feeding. They swim head to tale in a circle, catch their breaths and then dive down and blow bubbles. The fish in the middle of the circle of bubbles are trapped. Then one or two of the whales come up through the middle with mouths wide open and catch the fish in a 15,000 gallon gulp. This usually only happens in Alaska for a week in July but we were very lucky. Later we seen a mother Humpback and her 30 foot long baby. The baby was lying on its back flopping it’s fins and tail in the water making loud smacking noises. Then came our third excursion to the Alaskan Brewery where we had six samples of their very excellent beer selections.
We sailed overnight to Skagway where we take an all day excursion. We bussed to Carcross, Yukon and then took the White Pass and Yukon Railway back to town. This is a narrow gauge railway which uses vintage GE diesel-electric engines. The drop is over 3,200 vertical feet past lakes, through tunnels, over trestles, and beautiful gorges with many waterfalls. This was always an item on my ‘Bucket List’. No visit would be complete without a stop at the Red Onion Saloon . . . for an Alaskan Amber of course!
|White Pass and Yukon Railway|
Sunday our ship would be in Glacier Bay National Park. There are glaciers and gorgeous scenery every place one looked. The ship parked off of a huge flowing glacier over 1,000 feet high that calves large chunks into the sea. We would see a big chunk splash down and then hear the loud bang a half second later. We then toured though several other glaciers in the bay before heading south.
|Calving Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park|
Monday would be our last stop at Ketchikan. This is an interesting small city with lots to see and do.
|Welcome to Ketchekan|
Our excursion here was a few miles out of town to Ward Cove where we would meet Captain Rob on the Eagles, Totems and Lighthouse boat tour. Rob was a comic if we ever heard one with great and funny comments about the area. We seen many Bald Eagles and their nests in the area. email@example.com> and I will forward it to you. Following our boat tour we frequented the Fish Pirate Saloon for, you guessed it . . . an Alaskan Amber.
|One of Many Bald Eagles|
Tuesday was a day at sea passing by the Queen Charlotte Islands which have been renamed Haida Gwaii. There are many islands, some with very narrow passages between. We arrived Vancouver early Wednesday morning and disembarked by 8:30 am. This was a great cruise with fabulous weather (read nary a raindrop), nice ports, superb meals, with great company. If you haven’t done this yet it comes highly recommended from Lorna and I.
Wally & Lorna Bentt