Tag Archives: alaska

What can You do in Alaska?

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Violist is a chat room regular who has lived all his life in Alaska. Many people think there is nothing to do in this frozen land. Violist has submitted this list of things to do while in Alaska, to help dispel this myth.

  • Camping Alaska is one of the most beautiful places to camp, because of the mass population of wildlife. I love the mountains, and in Alaska there are a lot mountains. On special nights, you can see an Aurora… also known as the Northern lights. The Northern Lights are so beautiful, but it only happens when it is really cold out.
  • Cruise Alaska has a lot of things to see, and a cruise is one of the best things to do if you are visiting us. The cruise lines know when all the wildlife comes out, and they know where the best places to visit are. They also know the history of Alaska, and it is pretty interesting.
  • Kayaking This is a perfect way to explore Alaska’s coves and all the different islands that Alaska has. Popular destinations are Kachemk Bay, Resurrection bay, Glacier Bay National Park, and Kenai Fjords National Park. These are just to name a few.
  • Alaska’s State Parks Alaska has about 100 state parks across Southeastern and Western parts of the state. Denali State Park, to name one, is about 320,000 acres, and has a lot of wildlife. There are also a lot of things to do there, including visiting largest mountain in the U.S… Mount McKinley.
  • River Rafting This is very fun, because you can see Caribou, bears grazing, and a lot of other wildlife. The rivers in Alaska flow pretty fast, so it is kind of dangerous because there are a lot of sharp rocks on the rivers.

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Alaska Vacation Help

Lee Moore from Irving, TX: “My wife and I did a cruise to Alaska on July 15 out of Seattle. Loved every moment! Sure a lot cooler than Dallas, TX. In Ketchikan, we took a floatplane trip – which I can highly recommend. The flight was into the Misty Fjords National Park. We even landed on one of the lakes and got out on land for a short time. Our pilot, the business owner was a lady with 20 yrs. plus experience in Alaska. Her name is Michelle.”

Bill Jones: “Last year, I returned to Alaska on September 3 and covered the area from Anchorage to ‘NORTH POLE’ (a town near Fairbanks) by car. I also discovered that tying oneself to a three-week car rental is the WORST way to see Alaska. I know the cruise is beautiful, but probably full of geriatrics (you see them getting off of Princess busses when they arrive in Anchorage). The real Alaskans are a whole other people: youthful, intelligent, pleasant and COMPUTER LITERATE. Hell, what else do you do when the days shrink to two hours of sunlight?”

Gregory Gooden: “I’ve been TWICE to Alaska’s Inside Passage. You MUST do the Helicopter tour over Hubbard glacier (the LONG tour). They land on a few glaciers, land on a gorgeous NON-glacier mountain with a view of everything that “god” gave our planet. It’s beautiful and a MUST-SEE! I hope the Tuesday Hubbard Glacier is the flight I speak of. BTW, there’s also a cute “small airplane flight” from Juneau that leads to a Canoe trip where they give you waterproof clothes and you and several others row (in a canoe) to the BASE of a glacier (where it meets a lake).. Great time! Have a great trip! I sure did! (Twice; Celebrity and Princess)”

Kent: “Sorry, I was sleeping before you started your vacation or I would have advised you to take a surge protector (not enough outlets), possibly a small night light, a sling purse for Ponzi (for the room key, etc.), And if you think the Hubbard Glacier was great, then take HAL’s cruise tour to include Denali and see the Glacier Bay and College Fiord. Great!”

Charlie Burkey Jr.: “It’s always raining in Ketchikan – or about to rain. They get 13 feet of rainfall a year. Did you make it to Ray Troll’s art gallery? There are few sights more awesome than a tidewater glacier that is calving off chunks of ice. Hubbard glacier was named long before L. Ron Hubbard was born. Knew you would enjoy Alaska!”

Jan Nieman: “I see by your schedule that you will be in Ketchikan for a few hours. I just want to let you know that you will not find friendlier people anywhere. I lived there for 2 years in the early 70’s and my son was lucky enough to be born there. Plus, my ex still resides there with his new wife. I know things have changed in 30+ years but friends and family who travel there still say the same about the folks there. Friendly and helpful all the way. Stories I could tell you about being from the lower 48 and going up there at the age of 19 and enjoying marriage and a baby in all that beauty. One more thing, visit historic Creek Street which used to be their Red Light District. But whatever you do, ENJOY.”

Keith Thompson: “Your weather sounds exactly like what we had in our visit to the great state of Alaska. I did go fishing while in Ketchikan and had 40 lbs of Salmon fillets sent home. My wife did the same as yours, make sure that the credit cards function. I hope your experience with Alaska is as rewarding as ours. We were there just a bit later than you and took advantage of the last tour of the season to obtain fantastic bargains (70% off on many things). I think that some of the photos I have show the best scenery that we have seen in our many trips both in the US and abroad.”

Bill: “I’m visiting Alaska myself. Been here in Anchorage for three weeks. I came by land, so I don’t have any ideas for you other than here in Anchorage. Restaurants. You’ll hear about Frumpy’s and the Glacier Brewhouse. Went into Glacier on Saturday and the wait was too long (make a reservation if that is your choice). Ending up having a great meal a few doors down at Ristorante Orso. More expensive, but very good food. The Smoked Salmon Chowder is wonderful.”

Alaska Photos

I’ve uploaded darn near every Alaska image in my personal inventory to an Alaskan Cruise Flickr album. I must, again, thank Pluggd for giving me the opportunity to upload both text and images while on the cruise liner (through an ample Internet connection). Sorry the markup is bulky here – I couldn’t find an easy way to strip ID and NAME attributes from the link tags.
Continue reading Alaska Photos

Victoria, Victoria

Alas, this week is winding down. We’re on our way to Victoria, British Columbia – that’s in Canada, for all of you who aren’t familiar with the name or territory. I’ve only been on the outskirts of Victoria, spending most of my BC time in Vancouver. I hear they have wonderful gardens in Victoria, actually – but I’m not sure if we’re scheduled to see any of ’em. Ponzi’s signed us up for some kind of tour and “high tea.” Guess that means we’ll be riding around in a bus with our pinkis extended? I wouldn’t mind traipsing through Victoria’s gardens, actually – it must be a shutterbug’s paradise. There’s not a cloud in the sky this morning – nothing but ocean outside our stateroom window. We have a western view for the moment, and that scenery won’t likely change until the evening hours when we roll into port.

I’m sipping my way through an espresso in the Neptune lounge again. It’s bitter, but at least it’s keeping me from getting a caffeine headache. My body has treated me rather well this week. I got slapped with dizziness only once, after a shot of Southern Comfort and a few puffs of a cigar late one night. I didn’t get seasick, and I never really felt the need to recouperate in the middle of the day. The schedule is a little wonky on this, the last day of our Alaskan cruise. Everything winds down not long after we return to the ship from our Victorian excursion. Passengers are expected to be fully packed by Midnight, placing tagged luggage outside their respective rooms well before our arrival time of 7am. All things considered, I’m happy to be returning home in the morning – we’ll have a full weekend to catch up and prepare ourselves for the coming week.

Ah, vacation. You’re almost over! Thank you for delivering wonderful experiences and fantastic company. Holland America did fine by me, too – especially with wireless Internet availability (which came to me courtesy of Pluggd). I didn’t capture our time in audio, but I did take plenty of photos – and this trip was certainly a visual smorgasbord. Would I recommend an Alaska cruise to anybody? Yes. Would I do it again? Absolutely.

Catch Me, Ketchikan

I’m disappointed. I mean, here we are in Alaska, and Ted Stevens has not stopped by to say hello. That’s the least he could do for me, considering CNN put the InterTubes bLaugh in one of their segments the other day! I was sorting through my spam remotely (through VNC to my home computer) when I saw a message from Mitch which claimed that the comic had appeared at the end of a “Situation Room” segment. Sure enough, Crooks and Liars captured the video for me to see it second-hand. The quality isn’t amazing, but it seems that in the broadcast, they kept our sponsor’s message (the GoDaddy coupon code “bLaugh”) intact. Freakin’ sweet! I wonder if we’re anywhere near Ted’s place today?

Ponzi couldn’t wait to hit Ketchikan today, although her window for shopping will be relatively short. We docked in the early morning hours and will be departing before 1pm. I’ve been playing the “lazy card” for most of this week, and today is no exception. I could hear the seaplanes buzzing a few hundred feet away, but that wasn’t enough to wake me from my slumber. It’s a bit overcast in this port, which is exactly how I like it. I’m chilling in the ship’s library right now (though it’s far from quiet here). Ponzi’s on shore, no doubt looking for sales and specials and more ways to ensure that our suitcases will get the honorable “HEAVY” tag slapped upon them before transport. I’m just glad she didn’t force me to tag along; I really can’t stand shopping if I don’t know what I want or have nothing specific to attain. She, on the other hand, has some kind of “buy” instinct. Is there a pill for that?

We’ll be back in Seattle on Saturday morning. The concierge asked if the latest departure time would be okay. 10am? Fine by me. We’re honestly in no rush. That said, I’m very much looking forward to returning to an “always on” Internet connection. I’m thankful that Pluggd stepped in to sponsor our connectivity while on board Holland America’s Oosterdam, but those moments are fleeting. It’ll be far better to post photos after I’ve had a chance to sort through them and pick out the best ones. The text summations are sufficient, considering we really haven’t done many touristy things in Alaska. I almost wish we could stay another week. Almost.

Sitting in Sitka

I can’t remember falling asleep last night. It’s not like we had a very active day (though I did crash early the night before after another round of fine cigars and cognac). Ponzi was up late, ordering chocolate cake and a club sandwich from room service after Midnight. I woke up to the sound of the ship’s activities director, telling us that we had finally arrived at Sitka. I didn’t want to get out of bed – it was too comfortable. What’s there to do in Sitka? Not much, as we would come to discover.

According to reports, there were a few stores in town – and Ponzi’s sale magnet was spinning wildly (she had it implanted a few months ago). We finished watching the morning movie, ate our breakfast in bed, and prepared ourselves for a small adventure in Sitka. This is where Alaska became a member of the United States – a good reason to go ashore via tender. We didn’t even grab a cup of coffee before heading out!

On the streets of Sitka, we found several stores. Before too long, however, we found ourselves dining at the Raven Room. I ordered the reindeer sausage sandwich and an Alaskan ale – and I’d heartily recommend both. We stopped by the post office to mail a few postcards, moseyed down the block to pick up two breve mochas, and continued to window shop our way to exhaustion. Two hours seemed like four, and I was ready to head back to the ship for a game of Scrabble and leisure time on our verandah. Didn’t get to tour Castle Hill, but at least we can say that we were there.

Spam checked, bLaugh read, reports written (courtesy of Pluggd). Time to play afternoon bingo and snack on some gourmet cheese.

Hubbard Glacier

We never actually pulled up to a port yesterday. Hubbard glacier was to be admired from afar – and admired, it was. I’ll cover the experience in tonight’s Lockergnome report – an afternoon that will be forever etched in memory. I never thought something in nature could be so… naturally amazing. I spend my life looking for artificial creations and virtual pleasures, so this formation of snow and ice was a breath of fresh air (literally). I enjoyed watching it for well over three hours – without once thinking of the time, without once feeling bored or restless. I will return one day, mark my words.

Ponzi and I played casual all the way through the evening, though we did miss another opportunity for group trivia and bingo. I’ve got a few more cruise tips to add to my list, and I think Ponzi’s got a few of her own. Holland America still strikes me as one of the better cruise companies around – in Alaska or otherwise. Being able to connect to the Internet in the middle of the day is nice, too – thanks, Pluggd!

Alaska Cruise Tips

Alaska Cruise Tips

  1. If you don’t have kids or grey hair, you’re in a minority.
  2. They will feed you until your stomach explodes; pace yourself!
  3. Cruise ship “Classes” are nothing more than sales pitches.
  4. If you can’t get a suite with a verandah, keep saving your pennies until you can.
  5. Plan on doing separate activites from your travel mate frequently.
  6. It’s cold in the morning. (NSFW)
  7. Formal wear isn’t required, but suggested for a more complete experience.
  8. Recharge your electronics every evening, bring spares.
  9. Don’t plan something for every minute of every day.
  10. Get to know your staff; be kind to people and they should be kind to you in return.

And, of course, do you best to line up a ship that has an Internet connection (though I doubt I’d be able to use it much if I wasn’t able to find Pluggd as a sponsor). Maybe if I keep my thinking cap on long enough, I can extend this list to 50 general cruise tips I’ve picked up on my journeys at sea?

The Alaskan Adventure Continues

The world could be ending right now and I wouldn’t know it. Sure, we have satellite television on board – but the time we’ve spent in our suite has been minimal. Internet access is a premium, so I haven’t spent much of my time catching up with the news online. I’m largely unplugged this week (ironic, as Pluggd is keeping me connected to the Internet for the duration of this voyage). Yes, this week wouldn’t be half as much fun if I wasn’t able to log on and post updates near real-time. And as far as I’m concerned, a couple of times a day is just about as close to “immediate” as you get on the high seas. We haven’t been boarded by pirates yet, though.

Ponzi and I had a wicked time in Juneau yesterday, coptering halfway across the city to land on a glacier. There sits a modest dogsled training camp – populated by over 300 dogs and a dozen mushers. We walked amongst Iditerod champions and hopefuls in the early afternoon hours – but when they took us on a short run “around the block,” we were smack dab in the middle of the action. Certainly, the teams didn’t open up all the way. It was a first for us, though. I’m surprised the weather was relatively temperate, especially at the higher altitude. Even so, I’m glad we picked up suede gloves in downtown Juneau earlier (miles away from and well below the dogsled adventure).

What goes up must come down, and so another helicopter returned us to less-icy ground. The views from the air were spectacular. On the bus ride back to “the city,” we spotted an American Eagle – another first for both Ponzi and myself. I snapped a few pictures through the tinted glass, so I’m afraid the images won’t be crystal clear. When we returned to Juneau’s downtown shopping district, Ponzi wanted to hop out and poke around – but I was ready to eat (as we hadn’t hda a nibble since breakfast). I’m pretty predictable when it comes to my “I hate to shop” attitude, so we shuttled our way back to the Oosterdam for a relaxing afternoon.

Today? We’re visiting the largest glacier in North America.

Do you know Juneau?

Today marks the first day we’ll be stepping off the ship. We’re in Juneau, Alaska – ready to embark on our first dogsledding adventure! I hope to have a few good photos from that excursion. We haven’t quite yet docked for the day, though the views outside our stateroom window have been absolutely amazing. It’s been like watching a long, scrolling postcard from the time we woke up a few hours ago until now. It’s true what they say – the landscape is pretty amazing. The weather is pretty temperate right now, too – haven’t seen a single iceberg float by. I’m a little disappointed that we won’t be touching the Arctic Ocean before turning around and heading back south. It would’ve been “cool” to say that I had been there.

I guess Alaska loves tourists – given the amount of primping and priming the cruise shopping director is giving us through the ship’s closed-network video channel. Ponzi can’t wait to hit the shops, if only to find a totem pole “face” that we can hang on our wall at home. She’s also looking forward to finding a few tanzanite pieces. I think I’m spelling that correctly? I guess it’s a gem that’s native to the area. Maybe I can convince her to go panning for gold at some point during this trip? I did it once in Colorado when I was a kid, turning up a gold flake or two (planted for the kiddies, no doubt).

Thanks again to Pluggd for giving us the opportunity to get online during this cruise on Holland America’s Oosterdam!