Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Garden Update

It is gorgeous again. It survived a week without my father-in-law (while he was cruising) and he will have another bumper crop. This is a shot of some of the potatoes and corn.This shows the peas, cabbages, onions, lettuce, and cucumbers and squash in the far end.
This view is carrots, beets, (you can still see the peas), with the pole beans, and two other kinds of beans at the end. Off to the picture's left are about 50 tomato plants (there may be more, I'm just guessing), and we've begun to enjoy the fresh tomatoes.
The radishes are gone, as is the Swiss Chard, and I'm sure I've missed stuff.

In addition, he has at least 8 peach trees, 3 pear trees, a plum tree, and a half dozen apple trees--most of which have fruit. It is turning into a bountiful year, and much of the work the rest of us can do is yet to come. Boy, it is worth it though!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Panic on the Zuiderdam

I'm not sure how many people who occasionally read this have cruised, nor am I sure how different cruise lines handle luggage, but this experience gave a serious panic attack to a normally calm traveler--me.

We dock in Vancouver during the night. In order to make leaving the ship organized and efficient, they ask that you set your luggage outside your stateroom the night before. They have already provided color-coded tags and paperwork so your suitcases get to the correct bus or airport.

We gave thought to what we'd need to carry, packed, put the luggage in the hall, and peacefully slept our last night on the ship.

At 6:00 the next morning we woke to clean up and leave the ship. MY PANTS WERE GONE! In hubby's packing zeal, he'd taken the britches I was planning to wear. It was my fault because I hadn't made it clear to him and they weren't with the rest of my clothes, but knowing that didn't stop the helpless panic. I knew the ship's shops were not opening that morning. I called the office and was told they could not get to our luggage; it was crated for transport. If I hadn't had a shirt, I could have used my pajama top and my jacket and been okay, but no pants?! The bottoms to my pjs were short, and very pj-looking.

Then the office told me that they had a collection of left-behind clothing and I could come and look. I threw on the robe that came with our stateroom and went down three decks to the front office. There was a pair of women's capris, but they were at least 4 sizes too big and wouldn't have stayed on without a belt. There were some white stretch pants, but they were very thin like long underwear. And there was a pair of blue scrub-type pants, just a couple of sizes big, and with an elastic waist. I was saved.
With the top I had planned to wear, they actually matched, and with the top out and my jacket on, it wasn't too obvious that they were kind of baggy.
I was saved from severe embarrassment holding up oversized denim capris, and probably no one even knew what we had done. Thank goodness that some people accidentally leave clothes for those of us who send too many away. It was a rocky end to a lovely trip, but all's well that ends well.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

More Alaska Cruising

One of our shore excursions took us by "motor coach" into the Yukon Territory, then we rode the very scenic narrow gauge railroad back down. It was a fascinating journey, hearing about the gold rush and seeing where people actually traveled in the quest for wealth. This was one our our stops: Emerald Lake.

This strange place is call Tormented Valley because it looks unlike any other place. The guide told us they sometimes film science fiction movies using it, because it's different enough to look like another planet.
I admit that I don't remember the name of this lake (there are so many), but it was so calm that I got a beautiful reflection picture from inside the bus.
Our last shore excursion took us to this gorgeous Cirque. That is a steep-sided, half open valley where a glacier once began. We were very lucky to get a sunshiny day, but it is so difficult to get the majesty and size of everything from a 2-dimensional photo. Clicking to enlarge will help, but one truly has to be there.
We spent a day on the ship while visiting Glacier Bay. It is so cool (pun intended) to be close to these rivers of ice. I was taking the pictures from Deck 10 so you have to enlarge the picture to see some kayakers. Every so often we'd hear the cracking sound and hurry to look, but the park rangers on board told us that meant we had missed the ice falling: you could see it before you could hear it.
Those of us who had brought binoculars enjoyed watching several large brown bears wandering along the edge of the water. The biggest one had an interesting black and brown coloration.
Hubby's sister wanted to show her family how pretty the inside atrium of the ship was, so we took a few (this one with her dad and sister hiding behind). She has MS, but she got along beautifully and loved everything about the cruise--her first.
I've spoken to a number of people who have done way more cruises than we have, but I've not met anyone who didn't love the Alaskan Inside Passage. If you like magnificent scenery, it is one to try.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cruising the Inland Passage

When we arranged our cruise, we opted to fly to Seattle and take the "motor coach" (bus) to Vancouver. Of course ships leave from Seattle, but to get the specific date and tour we wanted, this was our choice. We actually arrived in Seattle the day before and stayed in a lovely hotel, because we did not want to worry about airline delays or tight schedules. We spent some time the next morning in the SeaTac Airport waiting for our turn to be called.I'm cheating with the chronology a little because this picture wasn't taken at the Vancouver dock, but it does show our ship, the Zuiderdam--along with hubby and his two sisters.
Holland America really knows how to take care of its guests. My father-in-law celebrated his 82nd birthday and, without our saying anything, he was brought a birthday cake and fussed over and sang to.
The dining room option was nice. They had two formal nights when we dressed up, but the food every night was fabulous. This picture is a little dark because of the light from the window (stern of the ship), but that's okay because I didn't ask permission from the family to put their pictures in here anyway. If a dining room was a bit too...serious....there was always the more laid-back buffet, or the grill, or the taco bar, etc.
This cruise took us up into what is called the Tracy Arm. It was just beautiful with the glacier and all the mini icebergs. The ice in the bottom of the glaciers is very blue because of the pressure from above. Something about the way the crystals change and oxygen is forced out.
Our first shore excursion was in Juneau. Of course we had to visit the Mendenhall glacier. There is a trail that leads clear out to the ice, but we didn't have quite enough time to walk it. All the pictures can be bigger with a click, if you enlarge the one below, you can see some people in a canoe. If you enlarge the glacier above, you get a much better look at the blue ice.
We had to take our whale-watching dinner cruise. That was very exciting because we saw humpbacks bubble-net feeding. The person narrating the trip said she had been doing these excursions for three years and this was the first time she had seen that behavior. Hubby and I were lucky enough to have seen it before on an earlier trip, but it was just as cool the second time. We also caught a very young whale playing near the surface. It wasn't at all shy and gave us a lively show. It is, however, very difficult to have the camera pointed at the right place at the right time. Hubby did get a little video of the youngster.

I think that's enough for today. I'm driving back home tomorrow, then I'll have some time to share some more of our trip.