Alaska in Retrospect
I’ve been VERY slack about updating everyone on my adventures! In my defense, internet access has been intermittent, and now that I’m in NY it’s hellishly expensive! So here’s my cruise in retrospect, and tomorrow I’ll post about NY (which I love!)
Alaska is amazing. Seriously, I hate the cold, and the summer there is like winter back home, but you should absolutely put AK on your list of places to see. People have told me this before, and I never really completely believed them. Well. My words to describe what I’ve seen so far: Majestic. Amazing. Magnificent. Nonpareil.
Sunday we stopped in Ketchikan. It’s wet. I was told we had one of the best days this year, it only rained for about an hour in the morning. I liked Ketchikan. It’s geared toward tourists, but it’s pretty, a lot of the historic buildings are still there, and it feels good. Everyone is really friendly, which always wins points in my book. I was starting to get cold, so I bought a fleece-lined rain jacket ($20, and it’s a pale lavender colour). I look like a big marshmallow with all my layers on.
I was up at four-thirty Monday morning, because I didn’t want to miss the Tracey Arm Fjord, and I’m so glad I made the effort! I know, me, glad I got up! It was amazing. I actually don’t have the words to tell you what it was like, which is not good for a writer. Land spears up from the water on both sides, sometimes covered with trees, sometimes just bare rock. The water is deep, so deep, but smooth like glass, and the silt makes it a curious greeny-grey color. There are hanging valleys everywhere, wreathed with mist, and the whole thing seems like something out of another place. I can’t say another time, because it’s timeless. And the icebergs. All sizes, they litter the fjord like tissue. Some were chunks of blue so intense it was hard to believe they were real. I know the scientific explanation for why they’re blue (I asked) but that doesn’t stop me from thinking of Superman’s ice cave. For hours we glided through this amazing landscape. It made me feel very small.
Monday afternoon we were in Juneau. We did a tour out to the Mendenhall glacier, and that was fantastic. Nothing like a massive wall of crevassed ice to put things in perspective. I put my hand in the water to see how cold it was…my first impression was that it wasn’t that cold, but a few minutes after I took it out it was still a bit numb! I had all feeling back and warm fingers soon after, though.
If I had to choose between Juneau and Ketchikan, I’d choose Ketchikan. Mainly because I like to be needed. If tourists stopped going to Ketchikan, I think it would disappear. Juneau would just shrink a little.
Tuesday we were in Skagway, which I looooved! I’m seriously considering setting a book there. It’s a tourist town; in the winter the population shrinks to about three or four hundred people only. But it’s so fascinating! The Gold Rush history, and the trials the wanna-be miners went through, only to come back empty-handed, broke and broken.
And the women! Klondike Kate, Cad Wilson “the Pug in Ruffles”, Diamond Lil. These women had personality and flair. Good-time girls, gutsy, unashamed. I know I certainly couldn’t have moved to Alaska to ‘entertain’ miners at a time where indoor plumbing was still a luxury.
I’m very disappointed that I didn’t see a bear. The Naturalist on the ship said Juneau was lousy with them. Apparently last week there was one in town, and a couple have been seen at the glacier several times lately. I walked down to the waterfall at the glacier and everything, but no luck. In Skagway, I took the White Pass rail, which is also supposed to be a bear magnet, but it was a bust, bear-wise. Beautiful scenery, though. I was so determined to see a bear. We don’t have any kind of equivalent at home. I didn’t need to touch it (God, no!), it didn’t even have to be that close. I just wanted to catch a glimpse.
Cruising is awesome. It’s luxurious, and the service was divine. Our stateroom attendant laid out my pajamas for me every night when he turned down the bed. What more can a girl ask for? And considering what’s included, the price was very reasonable, which I did NOT expect.
You can see pictures at my www.oliviaventura.net
RWA 2011, only three days away!