Stars in Juneau

We woke to a rainy morning. Stacy has asked us not to use umbrellas because it would embarrass her since Juneauans don’t use them. So we walked about town in the rain getting wet like locals. We probably did look like tourists in the restaurant on the water because we couldn’t get enough of watching the sea planes take off and land. Sorry Stacy…
We went to the Alaskan Hotel Bar because there is nowhere else in the world like it, you really feel like you have stepped back in time. Robin wasn’t sure how to take the comment from the bartender who assumed she was a local… must be the wet hair and boots? We then wandered around town and Jessamine found the most wonderful boots and purchased them. I doubt she will see any like them in Texas.
We took a walk on Sandy Beach and wandered around the remains of an old mine when the sun decided to break out for a beautiful afternoon. Just as we returned to the condo quite tired, Stacy called and said “lets go for a walk at Sandy Beach!” We opted out and let them go take the dogs before we all gathered for dinner in Auke Bay at a Thai restaurant.
After dinner, Jessamine gave Stacy an hour long massage hoping to get things going. Stacy looked like she really (really) enjoyed the massage. We returned to the condo and could see the big dipper just beyond our fingertips (or so it seemed). It was a beautiful night… maybe a good night for the baby to make an entrance? Or at least a whale sighting??

Over 3000 miles!

We have passed the 3000 mile mark of the trip… Catching up with Stacy and Frank has been wonderful. They took us to the Glacier where Jessamine had her first taste of glacier ice and we looked for bears that never showed.
Our first morning in Juneau was beautiful! We enjoyed having coffee and watching the cruise ships coming down the channel and docking while bald eagles flew by. We drove through downtown Juneau (which took about 2 minutes) and met Stacy and Frank at the Twisted Fish for lunch. The fresh fish in Juneau is so delicious.
Frank had to return to lunch but Stacy joined us to pick fresh blueberries. We picked up the dogs (Duke & Koa) and drove up the mountain where the blueberries grow wild on the ski slopes. Robin has said that she won’t go on a ski slope again after breaking her leg on them earlier in the year, but decided that hitting the slopes to pick berries would be ok. We had each picked a lot of berries before the rain ran us off the mountain. This might not be a bad thing because we might still be up there picking them… they are all over the mountain and it was fun. Even Duke picked berries, but he ate all of his.
We returned to the condo to put on dry clothes then headed to Frank’s parents, John and Carmen’s for dinner. John had caught some salmon and Carmen cooked it up for us. This is the best meal of the trip! The entire evening was fantastic with Frank, John and Carmen telling Tlingit stories as the sun set.
When we returned to the condo Frank called to say that there were humpbacks in the channel. Jessamine sat at the window determined to see them and Robin fell asleep watching for them. What an amazing evening…

Taku

August 28 we woke to rain and we so comfy in our room that we arranged for a late check out and spent the morning relaxing and packing for the ferry. One last lunch in Cow Bay and we were off to clear customs and board the ferry.
Customs was a piece of cake and left us both wondering why we had to be there 3 hours before our departure. I guess their game is to watch the Americans sit in their cars in line waiting to board… no worries, we started reading a book until they came out and loaded us on the boat.
Once the car was parked in our designated spot for the duration of the trip, we headed to the purser’s office to get our cabin assignment then on to our cabin – 24B. The cabin was small yet larger than we expected with a great view. We quickly unpacked and set out exploring the ship that would be our home for the next couple of days.
The Alaska Marine Highway system was set up to accommodate the local population to get around where there are no roads but there were many tourists on board as well – Americans, Canadians and many other nationalities. We were surprised at how many people young and old alike that did not book cabins choosing to sleep in recliners, on deck and on the floor of viewing areas. We were very happy that we had chosen a cabin with a view and private bathroom!
The first stop was at midnight in Ketchikan and would be our longest stop of the trip so we decided to get off the boat and headed out looking for adventure. We soon discovered that only bars were open and we weren’t quite ready for the kind of adventure that they seemed to offer so we headed right back to the boat and bed.
We woke to the beauty of Alaska from every side of the ship. Both of us were in constant amazement of the beauty and lack of human interference this area of the world offers. Everyone kept telling us what we would be seeing if there weren’t so many thick clouds, but we enjoyed the sights we could see and couldn’t imagine that it could be any prettier. We saw so many humpbacks and a large pod of orca that we became jaded to the sights. Occasionally one of us would point and say “oh look, more whales.”
The people who worked on the boat were all very friendly and proud to be from Alaska. They all were happy to stop what they were doing to chat with us. When Robin mentioned to the purser that she worked for a boating magazine they rolled out the red carpet for the two of us. We got to tour the bridge and ask as many questions as we liked. The captains (and crew) took time when they were available to share their ship and adventures with us. Dan, the First Mate, took us on an adventure in Kake to see the world’s tallest totem pole and to look for bears. We enjoyed the totem and saw lots of salmon but not any bears… another reason to come back!
Sitka was a port of call at 1:45 in the morning so we decided to sleep but everyone kept telling us it was a shame we couldn’t see the city and that it was the prettiest port on the schedule. (another reason to come back?)
We woke early to watch the ship navigate through very narrow channels. One was only 120 feet wide and the boat is 80 feet wide… no room for mistakes! The crew made it look effortless. We spent the day watching the spectacular landscapes slide by and played many rounds of crazy eights to pass the time – we were ready to get to Juneau.
As we rounded the tip of Douglas Island we could see Juneau and the Mendenhall Glacier. Robin was texting Stacy and Frank and we were all excited to get to see each other! We met at the Island Pub for some fantastic pizza and salad and maybe just a little conversation. Robin was so excited to see Stacy that when they hugged Robin couldn’t let Stacy go…
The baby has not made her arrival yet, so we are going to explore Juneau until she decides she is ready to meet us…

Visiting Dignitaries

We woke to find an American flag flying over our hotel in addition to Canada and British Columbia flags. Robin asked why there was an American flag flying and was told by hotel staff that it was for us… their “American Visitors.” We enjoyed watching the pair of ravens outside of our room, they seemed to be welcoming us as well.
After a lazy morning in our comfortable hotel with the amazing view, we walked down the road to Cow Bay to explore the area and enjoy the best fish & chips we’ve had so far. We asked our waiter if we could expect any sunshine and he quickly answered “oh no no, never.” Shortly after that the sun came out and stayed out most of the day… We toured the Museum of Northern British Columbia (where we watched a blad eagle land outside the window) and were amazed at the age of many of the artifacts. The stories we read about the First Nations people and their history were very interesting.
Not looking forward to getting back in the car, we wanted to tour the Cannery Museum which required a 20 minute drive. It was well worth driving. The cannery was very interesting and the tour guides were very animated and knowledgeable.
Upon returning to town we parked the car and tried to decide what pub to visit and finally came to the conclusion that our room had the best window table for two and headed there for a glass of Canadian wine (or two) and some cheese (after topping off the car with fuel). We watched another ship come in and anchor right in front of us and all the activity on the bay.
This would be our last evening in Canada – tomorrow (Sunday) we board the ferry and head for Juneau, Alaska. We aren’t expecting any internet on the ferry and will update the blog when we arrive Juneau on Tuesday. We are enjoying the comments you leave here so keep ’em coming! (Jessamine’s friends want her to bring a bottle of cool air and a couple of suitcases of rain back to Texas with her…)

Salmon, Eagle & Bears… Oh My!

We woke early to find the internet out – so we headed out into the great unknowns of the day… Lots of logging going on in this area! Not very long into our morning… just after a cup of coffee, we pulled into a turnout on the road to look at the river. WOW! People were fishing for salmon (well I use the term fishing loosely! They were holding nets out and the salmon jumped into them) and it was amazing! While we were taking pictures of that we saw an eagle then looked up and saw bears… a mother and three cubs. What an amazing place this was! After a few dozen pictures two overwhelmed girls got into the car and headed back onto the road wondering what else this amazing place holds.
There were still lots of signs for moose crossing but the only moose we saw was dead on the side of the road… very sad…
The drive became more and more beautiful as we drove along the Yellowhead Highway (Robin was sure this was the road for a blond to take). The mountains became taller and taller and even prettier if this is even possible. We came to the Seven Sisters, a beautiful range and even saw glaciers… what a drive. We were a bit surprised at how few people travel this road.
We stopped in Terrace to eat lunch at a quaint little pub. The waitress asked us if we were Americans… later when we were leaving, one man at the bar said to the others “that must be the Americans.” We guess we were an unusual site for them…
We finally arrived in Prince Rupert – the last stop for driving to Juneau. From here we board a ferry and sail for two days to Juneau where we will unload the car and deliver it to Stacy & Frank.
We walked around the town just a bit and really liked what Cow Bay. We went to visit Prince Rupert Yacht Club only to find that it consists of docks and an office… no real club. Oh well… off to new adventures

Once in a Blue Moose!

We left 100 Mile House and headed north on the Cariboo Hwy until Prince George where we turned west. We stopped on the road and had a picnic for lunch. There wasn’t as much to see on this leg but we are getting a bit jaded as it was still very pretty. Driving through all these little towns we have started noticing that most of them have beautiful hanging baskets hanging from the lamp posts and street signs. Jessamine keeps marveling at the signs for salmon and that they come this far inland.]Something a little more odd we are noticing is the car washes all have signs saying “Truck/Car/Dog Wash” which has us wondering…
Both of us burst out laughing when we realized that Robin had begun speaking in metrics when referring to the speed and distance. Maybe we’ll have this whole metrics thing down by the time we reach the border.
We pushed on and reached the point where we were very tired and started looking for a room about Topley. We ended up in the Whispering Pines Motel in Topley (which is just a bend in the road). The motel was almost full when we got there with loggers but there was a room for us.
We keep seeing signs for moose crossings but haven’t had a sighting – until… we spotted 3 blue moose (they were wooden in-case you are wondering) just past Prince George. We will keep watching though. Also no bears spotted as of yet either!

Dude Ranch/Fat Camp

We passed the 2000 mile mark on the trip today!
Before leaving Vancouver we toured Stanley Park, visited the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and stopped by Al & Betty’s house for coffee. What a beautiful place they have and they haven’t changed a bit!
The drive to Whistler was spectacular! The signs along the highway are in the local First Nations language (which we can’t figure out how to pronounce -especially with a 7 in the middle of all the X’s) then in English.
What a treat to visit the Olympic Village. We drove through most of it and walked quite a bit of it wondering how crowded it must have been during the Olympics.
The towns got smaller and smaller as we traveled farther north and the roads on the freeway weren’t always paved! We realized that we need remember our metric conversions as Jessamine had figured our “miles” to go and the map was in kilometers. Well, at least the travel for the day was a bit short than we thought it would be.
Out here one must be constantly aware of the level of gas in the tank! Fortunately the Canadians are kind enough to put signs on the road to remind us of this… After passing one sign saying to check the fuel because the next available fuel was 94 miles away, Robin did a u-turn and headed back for gas.
The views driving through Canada are so amazingly beautiful! Today we saw beautiful lakes and raging rivers as we passed from the Coastal Mountain Range to the Cascade Mountain Range. The lakes all looked like postcards with the cliffs and tall trees mirrored in them.
We ended up 8 miles north of 100 Mile House (yes that is the name of the town) and stopped at a Dude Ranch/Fat Camp for the night. Jessamine and Robin are safely locked in their room with cheese and crackers, salami, dips, chips and rum so don’t any of you worry.

Friends in far flung places

We walked downtown today and saw the sights like proper tourists. Gastown was very cool and the Olympic Plaza was cool to see. Jessamine was quite taken with the sewer covers, they are very cool… We still enjoy watching the
Jessamine had contacted friends who were visiting Vancouver from Texas (she hasn’t seen them in Texas in 10 years and catches up with them in Canada) and we got together for lunch and a trip to the Maritime Museum – we took the bus.
Jessamine (the navigator) is quite happy to have found a good road map of Western Canada!

Canada Eh?

We left Afton’s this morning although we could have stayed there forever and headed to Vancouver BC. We will stop complaining about fog because we now have rain and plenty of it! Jessamine keeps trying to convince the rain to go south to Texas…
We got to the border and wondered why they had their flag at half mast (a politician died this morning). Robin did her best blond chatty maneuver and got the two quickly across the border… they will let anyone into Canada.
Vancouver is a bustling city with people everywhere and lots happening. We got to our hotel to find the only room type we booked had a plumbing problem… not problem they put us in a suite on the 9th floor for the same price… so we booked another night! The view has proven worth while, its basically a 1 bedroom apartment with great views of downtown Vancouver and the water… that works!
Robin did a search on the internet and found some friends she and Mike made while cruising the South Pacific and gave them a call. They had a long phone conversation and are trying to line schedules up to at least have a cup of coffee and see each other. What a great day!

A Day Off

Robin and Jessamine decided to stay another day at Afton’s – who could possibly say no to Afton’s hospitality and the location? We really enjoyed walking on the beach and picking up buckets of sand dollars (yes buckets). The day and into the night was spent laughing, eating and drinking good wine. The only time we got in a car was to go to Trader Joe’s to get more goodies for the trip and for Stacy and Frank.
I don’t think I have laughed so much in years!