Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cruiz'n up the Inside Passage

So, we flew into Seattle and next day took a bus to Vancouver and the ship. It was a good trip, the driver was full of information for the 4 hour trip. A few people didn't listen to directions going through Customs, so we were delayed a little.

We've been on a lot of Cruises, but it still amazes me, the size of these things! And I can eat all day long! (I had to prepare myself for all the hiking we're going to be doing) We had great entertainment all week long and were just always busy doing something. The water was very calm in the Inside Passage, but that changed when we got to open water.....

Ketchican was the first Port of Call. We found a Trading Post that had some nice coats embroidered with Alaska, for only $20. We did some Geocaching, and took a 4 mile hike up behind the town on a pretty steep trail. We had our Bear Bells with us, so we didn't surprise anything, but we didn't get to see any wildlife either. This is the Ketchican Rain Forest.

The next day we were in Juneau. We went off on our own again, exploring and Geocaching. Took a city bus as close as we could to Mendenhall Glacier and hiked on up the road. We hiked about 8 miles that day. Once you get to the visitors center, then you have to hike on up to the Glacier! We had to watch the time so we could catch the bus back to town, but we got up and personal with the muddy block of ice. Riding the bus back to the ship our muscles all seized up and we were like old cripples getting off the bus.

We hit Skagway the next day. We bought a tour on the Ship for the Whitepass/Yukon railroad. It was about a 4 hour trip, up and back. Old vintage cars that have been fixed up nice.
You can take a Steam Engine, but ours was a vintage diesel. Nice trip, a little pricey but our guide was very knowledgeable and told great stories about the area; everything was about the Gold rush; Dead horse canyon where a thousand horses died as they gave out packing stuff up the pass to the Yukon. Real pretty scenery with deep valleys, and water falls along the tracks. I like old trains, so it was well worth the price.

The next day we got into the open water on our way to Sitka. In all my Cruiz'n, this was the roughest water I'd seen. There wasn't much to see in Sitka, so we took off for a 5 mile hike. I have to work it off so I can eat more.
Then we were back on the open water and the next day got into Prince William Sound and College Fjord to see some more ice. We just crept up the Fjord watching for wildlife and looking at the huge ice flows coming off the mountains. We got in close enough to see the Glaciers "caving" into the sea. It was really cool, I've never seen it in person before. That ice is really blue, it's like a million years old and so compressed that it turns blue. Very pretty up in there, nobody around but the big boat and 2000 of our closest friends, but very peaceful.

The next day we got into port at Whittier and back on solid ground at 7am. Now Whittier is something. Why would a Cruise ship dump us off at this place?

Tune in to find out........

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Alaska Trip planner

This was our trip planner, and daily log for the Great Alaskan Adventure.

• We decided on this trip kind of last minute, as far as trip booking goes, February 2009. We found the tourist industry was very worried about the 2009 season and had some good discounts.
• It just costs too much to take your RV on the ferry boat from Seattle to Whittier! We wanted to drive one way and return via the sea. We found some great RV rental deals in June, just before the peak season rates kicked in, but the weather was going to be a big unknown that early in the season. The gamble paid off. Several locals told us last summer was really a bummer, cold and rainy most of the summer, you just never know…….
• Our whole trip was to be an active one, lots of hiking.
• There are two discount coupon books available for Alaska. Take a look at both and decide which will work for you.
• Buy the book called “The Milepost”. You can use last years copy, it doesn’t change that much. It gives sights, mile by mile along each of the Alaska highways, things to do, where to camp for free,history of each area. A must have for RVing!
• Frommer’s Alaska book is very helpful too.
• This is a big trip for us, and we probably are not going to make it again, so it was important to have some kind of a plan to work from.
• We chose this time of year because of the price. If you want to see the Bears fishing in the river,then you need to go in prime time and pay the price.
• There are soooo many fishing charters, that I don’t know if you really need to make advance
reservations. It might be better to check the docks and see what the yield is first. We got skunked on the river fishing.
• Frommer’s says there is no reason to go to Valdez, believe them…… Spend some more time in the Denali area.

We looked at Airline tickets and were shocked at the prices from Seattle to Anchorage. So, for about the same money we decided to take a week Cruise up, do our camping, then a week Cruise back. So we went up on Carnival and back on Princess, we flew different airlines because we had credits to use up.

Sandy poured over all the books and planned our route. It looks pretty detailed, but it was developed to be a guide only, not a ridged schedule. Here's a sample of our days, as we went along I added comments in italics:

1. May 26 (Tue) – Start of the Great Alaskan Adventure 1pm
a. Fly to Seattle (Smitty MDW Southwest 3:20-5:50pm) (Sandy ORD United 3:47-6:07pm)
b. Hotel-Sleep Inn Sea-Tac, 206-878-3600, free shuttle.
^ Sandy was delayed 2 hrs at ORD because of lighting in the area. MDW was on time as
usual. United charged her for baggage, Southwest was free!

2. May 27 (Wed) – Vancouver 7am
a. Eat breakfast at hotel, opens 4am, take snack bag for bus trip, take shuttle to airport
b. Shuttle bus to Vancouver Canada Place Pier, Quick Coach Shuttle, 8:00am.
^ Went through Canada Customs, then back through US Customs to get on the boat. Kind
of weird, but saved us time at our first port of call! Vancouver is the city of glass. Glass
high rises everywhere, all earthquake proof (so they say). Had a nice bus trip to the boat,
driver was full of information.

c. Arrive at Pier 12:40pm
d. Board ship Carnival Spirit by 4:30pm, cabin 5260
e. Ship sails 5:30 pm, sit back and enjoy the ride
f. Book the Whitepass/Yukon RR, ASAP, using shipboard credit, $116.00 each

3. May 28 (Thu) – Cruise Inside Passage
a. Just enjoy the scenery and entertainment
^ They had some great entertainment all week. We were always busy doing something!

This was a fantastic trip, the Cruises were great, we got a great Class C motorhome and completed everything on our list. I'll tell you all about it in the next few posts. We were on the road for 3 weeks with the MH.