Our vacation began in Seattle, Washington. My husband's cousin, Joey lives there and gave us a grand tour of the area including the famous Pike Place Market. Then it was up to the "Capitol Hill" area for dinner and a jazz band at Julia's On Broadway. Seattle has so many old buildings and signs, too. Good for kitschy picture taking!
Then it was off to Holland America Line's Oosterdam to set sail for Alaska. Our first stop was Juneau, where we took a historic tour of the town, and a trip to a local salmon hatchery. We also got to visit the Mendenhall Glacier close up and personal. It's pretty amazing how blue the ice looks, and how it's actually made up of little tiny puzzle pieces of compressed ice. Excellent for putting in your cocktail!
Afterwards, we walked around town, soaking in the local sights, sounds and a meal of fresh Halibut fish & chips. And no stop to Juneau is complete without a tasty beverage at the Red Dog Saloon.
Next day it was on to Yakutat Bay (a.k.a. Glacier Bay) and a romp through the icy waters near Hubbard Glacier. We actually got to see some pieces of the glacier falling into the water. The Indians were right when they described the sound it makes as thunder. We also saw harbor seals everywhere. Just lounging around on little pieces of ice. That was one of my favorite things.
On to Sitka, the tiny Russian village where Alaska was signed over to the Americans. Here we took a walking tour of the town, lead by the very knowledgeable "Wolf" (yes, that was his name). We visited the Russian Church, local historic buildings, and learned much about the struggle over the land. Then we went through a rainforest (yes, rainforest!) and ended up at the Alaska Raptor Center. If you've never been to a raptor center, I highly recommend it... they take in injured birds of prey and nurse them back to health to set them free again. If they cannot fend for themselves, they get to stay, eat well and teach humans about themselves. There is just something so amazing about seeing a Bald Eagle right in front of you!
Our last stop was the Salmon capitol of the world, Ketchikan. It turned out to be an amazingly rainy day, so it was a bit hard to get around. But we did manage see a few local sights and get a couple of last minute souvenirs.
Our "real" last stop was supposed to be Victoria, British Columbia, Canada... but alas, Mother Nature did not agree. Thirty-five mile an hour winds made it impossible for our ship to dock, and so we just anchored out and admired the city from afar.
All-in-all an amazing trip.