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Our Alaskan Vacation - June, 2009

My wife and I decided to take a trip of a lifetime this year - Alaska is celebrating the 50th. anniversary of its statehood, and many travel companies & cruise lines are offering deals at unheard of rates (to both celebrate the anniversary & attract as many possible customers as they can with the economy as bad as it is).

My wife & I both took turns working the camera, but more than 70% of what you see in these galleries is from her keen eye. She has become quite a photography buff as a hobby for herself recently! All of these photos where taken with her Fuji FinePix S1000-FD at 10.0MP. We still have all the original photos at 3648x2736 resolution, so if you are interested in a high-res version of any of these photos, please contact me...

Day 1 - Arrival in Whittier - After 10 hours of flying, we finally landed at Anchorage Intl. Airport. We had a 45-minute drive ahead of us in a tour bus to the port of embarkation - the town of Whittier. The town is separated from the rest of the mainland territory by Maynard Mt. & the Portage Pass, and the Whittier Tunnel was built during WWII to help move supplies for the war (Whittier is an ice-free port 365 days a year). Most of the ride to the tunnel was too bumpy to take out the camera for any good shots, and our BlackBerry cameras provided less than stellar results of the Turnagain Arm & the mountains of the Kenai Peninsula to the south. The last photo in the gallery was taken after 11:15pm!

Day 2 - College Fjord - We were awake by 6:30am, as our bodies still thought it was actually 10:30am, but that turned out to be a plus - our captain had arrived in College Fjord earlier than expected. These glaciers are named after numerous prestigious universities back here on the east coast. This was the northernmost travel in our trip - we were above the 61st. parallel. Only a few good shots here - most of the day was spent sailing south out of Prince William Sound into the North Pacific.

Day 3 - Glacier Bay National Park - The second-largest gallery of the trip, this was a 10-hour tour of the most breathtaking scenery I have ever seen in my life. We were accompanied by Nation Park Service Rangers for the last 8 hours, and they gave a running commentary on what we were seeing. The most time in the park was spent in front of Margerie Glacier, the 'star attraction' of the park (at over a half-mile wide & 250ft. high). There was some 'minor' ice calving going on, but nothing on the scale of what they show you in the videos to promote the park. As we made our way back south, the rangers stopped us at Lamplugh Glacier, which has a prominent subglacial stream flowing out of the bottom center. There are one or two shots in the latter-half showing the fresh water (loaded with sediment) flowing out over-top of the salt water.

Day 4 - Skagway - This tuned out to be our biggest gallery of the trip, and was almost a non-event! One week before we left, Lisa asked if I wanted to take a scenic railway tour when we were in port, and the answer was quite obvious! I dedicate this gallery to my friend Warren, as he is the biggest train-buff I know. An added bonus of this trip was that they allowed us to ride on the carriage platforms once we got outside the city limits. The ending shots of this gallery are of our ship racing Norwegian's 'Radiance of the Seas' out of the harbor (and they left before us!).

Day 5 - Juneau - This was the day that I left the camera with Lisa, as we both went out on separate excursions. She went to see the summer training camp for Iditarod sled-dogs, and I went salmon fishing in Auke Bay (at the north end of the city). My shuttle driver was ahead of schedule, and we were able to stop for 10 minutes at the famed Mendenhall Glacier. None of us on the afternoon fishing charters caught anything, but I did have a salmon on the line for about 60 seconds until it was taken by a sea lion! The little thief popped his head out of the water just before he swam away. My skipper told me not to worry, though. He said sea lions are like 'prime rib' for orcas! The end shots of this gallery are some amazing sunset pictures Lisa caught from our stateroom balcony.

Day 6 - Ketchikan - I had the camera all to myself on this day, as Lisa went out shopping on our last port of call. I took the Bearing Sea crab fisherman's tour, and that was the most anticipated excursion of our trip (in my eyes). The tour lived up to all the hype, and the pictures I took pale in comparison to the videos I did of the main parts of the trip (they will be encoded & uploaded to YouTube by the end of June). One of the coolest parts of the excursion was feeding bald eagles, but I'll let the videos speak for themselves.

Day 7 & 8 - The Inner Passage & Vancouver - All of day 7 was spent close to shore making our way to the inner-passage between Vancouver Island & the mainland. Not much to see in the first part of the day, but the afternoon saw the clouds burn-off & some rather stately homes on the mountainsides of Vancouver Island. We spent quite some time jockeying for position in the passage with other cruise ships, be we ended up in Vancouver first ahead of all the other ships by the next morning. I awoke 10 minutes before we actually made the dock, so it was quite a sight to see us come into port. We got a nice tour of Vancouver City on our way to the airport, but alas, disembarkation was too hectic a job to really take any more pictures that day...