Lens-Artists Challenge #109 Under the Sun…Around the West

The same Sun shines on us all.  Everyone on Planet Earth gets their sustenance from the same Sun.  That Sun shines over Alaska, as well as over the Hawaiian Islands.  I spent two years in Minneapolis in grad school, and I especially appreciated that sunshine in Winter, when it was bitter cold.

In 2016, Hubby and I went on a cruise to Alaska with Hillsdale College.  The sun shone on our ship, the Crystal Serenity.

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That pool looks pretty inviting, doesn’t it?

When we got to Skagway, the sun was shining, and it was about 70 degrees out.  A beautiful day, surrounded by mountains.

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Now that I look at this photo, it looks like the ship is about to run right over all those vans in front of it.

And on the way home, among the Gulf Islands of Canada…

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This is actually an intersection of two perpendicular streams of water, and that makes for some treacherous cross-currents.

Farther West, in Hawaii-

The sun shines a lot in tropical Hawaii, and it was pretty nice while we were there.  But it’s often prudent to have shade available.  These beautiful ladies were doing their traditional hula dance for us.  They just looked so happy!

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Yeah, it’s almost a cliche, but they were delightful to watch.

In 2014 we went to Arizona for another Hillsdale function.  Arizona is even hotter than Hawaii in the summer, and the sun shines most of the time.  When you think of Arizona, does cactus come to mind?

Forest of Cacti!
Forest of Cacti

When you think of the Pacific Northwest, does “rain” come to mind?  Yes, but the sun does shine too around here.

Mount Baker, seen from San Juan Ferry
Mount Baker, seen from San Juan Ferry, Puget Sound, WA

There may be “nothing new under the Sun”, but when it shines, we go outside to enjoy it.

 

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #97 – Pastimes

One of my favorite things to do when I’m out and about is bird-watching.  I have a 1960s Roger Tory Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds, and I keep a “life list” in the back, checking off the birds I have seen.  I especially like traveling, and seeing birds that we don’t have here on the West Coast.  We’ve been to Alaska and Hawaii, and the East Coast of the US.  We also took a trip to Israel in 2007, and I made sure to buy a bird book so I could identify unusual birds that I saw.  But, to start with, we get some pretty interesting birds right here in our back yard in Everett, Washington.

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This little bandit is a Townsend’s Warbler, and he comes by most winters, to eat at our suet feeder.

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This is a Varied Thrush, basically a Robin in different clothing.  That’s an insect in his beak-they are carnivores (remember the Robin and his worm?).

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A bit farther from home, I caught this White-crowned Sparrow at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge on the Olympic Peninsula last year.  He sat very still for me to take his picture.

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I saw this flotilla of Pelicans off the deck of the Crystal Symphony in San Francisco before our cruise to Hawaii in 2018.  A perfect “V”.

Brazilian Cardinal

Then, when we got to Hawaii, I found this Brazilian Cardinal on the grass at Pearl Harbor.  That red cockade really attracts attention.

Egrets

Back in Honolulu, I captured this pretty pair of Egrets.

Masked Booby

This is, I think, my best “catch” on that trip to Hawaii.  On the way home, I saw this Masked Booby flying off the side of the ship, hunting for fish.  This bird is rarely found on land, and it’s a real treat to see one at sea.

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And last, but definitely not least, in Juneau, Alaska in 2016, I caught this Bald Eagle, master of all he surveyed.  Actually, Bald Eagles are quite plentiful here in the Pacific Northwest, and we see them cruising over Silver Lake by our house.

Bird-watching is a valuable pastime, something you can do any time, just about anywhere.

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What now, Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway?

What now, Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway?

This summer, the cruise industry is forced by the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic to cancel all cruises to Alaska.  Cruises to Alaska leave from the ports on the West Coast, including San Francisco, Seattle, and Vancouver, BC.  So those ports will miss out on the cruise ship passengers’ money, but they have other sources of tourists.  The ports in Alaska, on the other hand, don’t have quite so many sources of tourist dollars.

In the past, those Alaska cities have expressed some degree of dislike of those cruise-ship passengers, who disembark in the mornings, swarm all over their towns, get back on those big ships in the evening, and sail away.  A few years ago, all those towns got together and proposed to levy some rather large taxes on each cruise-ship passenger, to cover the towns’ costs for rubbish removal and other wear-and-tear.  At least one place was concerned about the town’s “cruise-ship passenger carrying capacity”.  Obviously, that swarm of paying customers is a mixed blessing for the Alaska towns that see multiple cruise ships every summer.

So, how will they feel this year, when they receive zero cruise ships, and the many dollars their passengers spend in their cities?  Will they rethink their dislike of all those tourists swarming their towns?  Or will they breathe a sigh of relief when their towns remain quiet all summer?

Photo Challenge: Liquid

I practically live surrounded by water.  Last week I shared a picture of the lake just south of my house.  Puget Sound is just a few miles to the west, and Lake Washington is to the East and South.  Back in 2016, we went on a cruise to Alaska, and I posted numerous photos of the various waters we traversed.  My favorite part of a cruise has always been relaxing on my verandah, just watching and listening to the water go by.  There is no better form of relaxation.  And this summer, we will be going on a two-week cruise, round trip to Hawaii from San Francisco.  I promise to to a big post when we get back.

But I always keep coming back to this particular photo that I took on the Crystal Serenity in 2016.  This is the water in one of the two swimming pools on board.  It just says “relaxing” to me.

Shiny water-like silk

The water resembles liquid silk.

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Sunset…An End, and a Beginning

The evening of the first day of our cruise to Alaska aboard the Crystal Serenity was beautiful, and clear.  The ship left Vancouver BC just as the sun was setting.  We stood at the rail of the Promenade Deck and watched for long minutes, as the sun set over the channel.  We knew when we awoke the next morning, we’d be close to the waters off Alaska.  End of the day, beginning of an adventure.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: H2O

Our cruise to Alaska this year involved traveling over about 1,000 miles of water.  Needless to say, the water (average temperature 50F) surrounded our ship.  The waters of the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Alaska, and the Gulf Islands of Canada changed with the weather and the outflows of rivers and glaciated bays.  In Yakutat Bay, near the Hubbard Glacier, the water of the channel showed dramatically different colors where the outflow of glacier water from the melting glacier met the incoming bay and Pacific Ocean water.  It’s remarkable how the boundary is so easy to spot.

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NOT this week’s photo challenge: Just the Sea and Sky

These pictures were taken from the veranda of our Starboard Side stateroom aboard the Crystal Serenity on the way to and from Alaska.  The sea is never the same from one moment to the next, and neither is the sky.  We sailed through a variety of conditions, from bright and sunny to foggy.  I enjoyed capturing the changing sea and sky.

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See that black spot in the above picture.  It’s an Orca, or Killer Whale, but that’s all I saw.

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At The Edge: The Sea…Photo Challenge

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Over the edge of the Promenade Deck on the Crystal Serenity is the Sea.  The Inside Passage from Canada to Alaska.  The water temperature is a pretty steady 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so you don’t want to fall overboard.  But watching the water go by is hypnotic, and very relaxing.

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What I did on my Summer Vacation

Hubby and I went on the Hillsdale College 10-day cruise to Alaska, aboard the Crystal Serenity.  We spent about three years’ worth of travel budget, but we sure got our money’s worth, and more.  Hillsdale does a big cruise every summer, and this was our first time.  There were “Seminars at Sea”, with noted speakers, including Michael Walsh, screenwriter and author; Victor Davis Hanson, Classicist and thinker; David Goldman, journalist, and John Steele Gordon, historian.  There were shore excursions at every stop (I didn’t do any, and hubby did one, walking on a glacier).  We mostly did our own exploring, traipsing through Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, and Ketchikan.

The luxury ship was everything we expected.  Lavish breakfast buffet with every kind of food you could possibly want, lunch in the Grill, or The Bistro, and dinners in the ritzy Crystal Dining Room.  There were two specialty restaurants, one Asian and one Italian, and we had delightful dinners at both.  There was a full movie theater playing first-run movies, and we took the opportunity to see Jungle Book, which was fun and well-done.  I had a pedicure in the Spa, and had a nice conversation with the technician, a beautiful young lady from North Yorkshire.

My favorite part of cruising is relaxing on deck and watching the water go by, and I had ample opportunity to sit out on our private verandah on the starboard side of the ship, with my camera and binoculars at the ready.  As usual, I was a picture-taking fool, see below.

On the final day, the last stop was Nanaimo, British Columbia, and we were met by a Ricochet member who is now our friend.  He took us on a nice stroll by the waterfront, we had a very good pizza lunch, then went back to his home for more good conversation on his patio.

Here is a selection of the photos I took.

This is Vancouver harbor, with the cruise ship terminal.

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Here’s an example of a working waterfront.  It’s almost like a ballet, the way the tugboat maneuvers the barge.

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It was such a beautiful afternoon, I basically stood on deck with my camera until the sun went down.  Sunset over the Inside Passage.

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The next day was spent entirely at sea, and we had lectures most of the day.  I tried to get outside as much as I could.  I took lots of pictures of the ship itself, which I found gorgeous.  I did a double-take when I saw this tiny detail that most people probably would miss.  Crystal Cruises logo is two seahorses.  Here’s an interesting place for it.

Seahorses

Yes, that’s the sandbox used for people to stub out their cigarettes!  This is the pool.  Notice that it’s empty-there was only one pool, and it didn’t get much use.

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This is what I gazed upon from the Promenade Deck (the only level with an outside walkway all the way around the vessel.

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Inside, these ladies were playing beautiful string quartet music, in the Crystal Cove.  They are the Astoria Quartet, and they are all from Russia.  Also note the piano, and the chairs the ladies are sitting on-Crystal!

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Juneau was the first port of call, and I took pictures of the channel approaching town, the town itself, and some of the other ships and boats in port.

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Juneau-hillside

That’s a little river, cascading down the hillside-you can see how its path traces from the top to the bottom of the hill.  Too bad it was very misty that day.

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This is the cruise ship Disney Wonder.  See the logo on the stacks?  It’s huge!

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Here are some shots of the town, and some other vessels we saw.  Also, our National Bird, doing what big birds do.

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Big,bigger,biggest

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The next day was a stop at Hoonah, and the weather was terrible, and the town was not too interesting, at least to me.  So I did what came naturally-took pictures from our balcony.

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The following day was the one we had all eagerly anticipated-the trip to the Hubbard Glacier.  That’s what is in the new header, and here are a bunch of closeups of the glacier, the ice-flecked channel, and the mountainsides with many “mini-glaciers”.

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Icebergs

Mini-glacier

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I thought the glaciers behind the main channel looked like big waterslides.

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Hubbard Glacier, Alaska

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After a morning of glacier-viewing, we retreated to the nice, warm Palm Court Lounge, where lunch was served.

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Next stop, the town of Skagway.  The weather cooperated, and we had a nice stroll through the gold-rush town, with all its tourist-trap stores.  But it was fun anyway.  Herewith, pictures of the town and the channel where the cruise ships dock, and the wind blew very hard, late in the afternoon.

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Next port of call was Sitka, a place we’d never been to.  All I knew was that there is a summer chamber music festival that has gone on for 30 years, run by string-players Paul and Linda Rosenthal.  It’s a pretty remote place for chamber music!  Just after being dropped downtown-5 miles from the cruise ship dock, we found the Lutheran Church.  They have a small pipe organ, built in Estonia in 1844.  Hubby got to play it, and he was thrilled!

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Here are shots of the famous (three-times-rebuilt) St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church, and an interesting artifact that I couldn’t pass up.

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Now, the harbor, and the working marina.

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The next stop was Ketchikan, where we’d been before.  We remembered from that trip that Ketchikan has a Starbucks, and no other stop had.  So we walked for nearly a mile, and found it!  Ahhh, the taste of your first Frappuccino in a week!  Unfortunately, it was pouring rain, so we didn’t spend too much time.  Here is what I saw.

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Ketchikan

The following day was again at sea, back south through the Inside Passage around Vancouver Island.  I spent a lot of that afternoon hanging off our balcony, taking pictures of the beautiful islands, sea, and sky.

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This next shot is an intersection of two channels.  You can see the roiling waters, and the still picture can’t really convey the sense of the movement.  I got out the video camera, and got video, to be posted on my YouTube site.

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Thursday night we were honored to have dinner with our speaker, Michael Walsh.  He had lots of interesting Hollywood stories to tell, and we enjoyed the dinner very much.

We knew that the cruise was about to come to and end.  The next day was our last port call, Nanaimo, on the east coast of Vancouver Island.  It was a gorgeous day, and when we went out on our balcony, we found at the next dock, a ship being loaded with logs bound for China.

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We spent the afternoon with our new Ricochet friend, Pete.  We went to a farmer’s market and to the marina for a stroll.

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Piper

You can see the two cannons on either side of that piper.  They were fired at noon, to great effect.

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Here we are with our new friend.  And here we are just before getting back on the ship for the last night’s festivities.

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Friday night was the Hillsdale Farewell Reception.  Dr. Larry Arnn, President of Hillsdale gave a speech, and everyone mingled and drank champagne.  It had been an extraordinary trip, and we hope to be able to do it again in the future.

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And, here we are with Dr. Arnn.  He is just wonderful, and we are blessed to know him.

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All in all, a most successful cruise.