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Cruising Alaska

Off we went to Alaska aboard the Ruby Princess. The coast line with plenty of snow on the mountains and ice in the fjords was beautiful. The air was chilly but the sun was shining. We didn’t see a lot of whales but did see one along the way. We were told several times that had we come a week earlier, there would have been no snow to see. We somehow managed to pick the one perfect week to explore Alaska at its best.

Our first stop was in Ketchikan where several cruise ships docked with us. We took a tour of Totem Bight State Park where we learned all about totem poles and their stories. We got to sit in a clan lodge while the tour guide told us about life among the Indians and plants there. The trees with their huge twisting roots were eerie.  It was an excellent tour that I would definitely recommend.

Totem Bight State ParkAlaska totem poleClan house Totem Bight

When we returned, we went to the Lumberman Show. It was everything I had hoped for! We got to see ax throwing, tree sawing and climbing races, a log rolling competition, and more. How they manage to do so much physical work several times a day is beyond me but they seemed to be having fun. One lumberjack made a bunny stool with a power saw and gave it to a kid in the audience. They had broken us into sides to cheer for our teams and boo the other teams so don’t expect to just sit through it. It is an interactive experience not to mention loud.

Lumberman Show - KetchikanLumberman pole climbingLumberman log rolling - Ketchikan

We still had a little time left for a fish and chips lunch next door and some souvenir shopping. I think we had the most time in Ketchikan because of the excursions we had chosen. We managed to get some of the jewelry freebies in town.

Our next stop was in Juneau. Interesting story there. When they finally got a McDonald’s, the entire town showed up the first day and they were sold out before lunch. Ah, life in the boonies! There is a tram up the mountain I would like to do next time. This time, we white water rafting on Mendenhall Glacier. The company was very professional and prepared for us. They had rubber pants and life jackets for everyone. I had hoped to paddle this time since I have been working on developing some muscles in my arms but only one of the boats got to paddle. The rest of us got boats where the guide rowed and oh my god did our guide ever row! She looked like just a little bit of a thing but she managed to get us all the way to the end without hanging up on the rocks while also telling us about the area and answering questions. The rapids were mild but still fun to shoot. We got very good photos taken by the company for purchase while we were going through them. The glacier was magnificent and there was a lovely waterfall at one end of the lake where we started. Along the way, we picked up a kayaker following us. A couple times we had to stop and wait for another boat that got hung up on rocks. Our guide and the kayaker got out in the cold water to go help them. When we reached the end, they had snacks and drinks for us as well as the pictures.  I enjoyed the trip but it was a little too long for my friend, Bernie. It was sooo cold out there on the water and she caught a bad cold.

Me, our guide, and BernieWhite water rafting on Mendenhall GlacierRafting the lake

When we got back to the ship, Bernie headed back to the stateroom to warm up while I did some quick shopping and checked out the famous Red Dog Saloon.

Red Dog Saloon - Juneau

On to Skagway and the Yukon! We had booked the combination excursion to catch both the White Pass Train ride up the pass and to set our toes in the Yukon via tour bus. Getting good pictures from a crowded train I knew would be difficult but the bus promised better chances with more stops and how many people can really say they have been to Jack London’s Yukon? Unfortunately, poor Bernie was too sick to go. We got lucky though. I informed the ship’s excursion desk that she would not be going and despite their no cancellations policy which we were aware of, they were able to resell her ticket and credit her back her fare.

The train only tour picks up passengers right on the dock next to the ships. For our tour, I had to board a bus that took me to a different train in town. It was just as well Bernie didn’t go because the “heated” train was ice cold. Next time I am definitely bringing my long underwear no matter what time of year we go. Wearing two pairs of pants did help though.

Boat dock and White Pass Train

The train ride was wonderful except for the cold. We got to see some truly beautiful scenery going up the pass along the route the gold prospectors did so many years ago. For pictures, if you aren’t by the window on the best side, you have to step out on the small platform at the rear and jockey for position or zip in and out between seats temporarily vacated by photographers that were out on the platform. On our train, the left side is the best side going up the pass. On board with us were some hitchhikers the train was dropping off. What service!

White Pass TrainGlacier lakeInteresting glacier landscape

Alaska!White Pass

At the top of the pass, the train stopped in Fraser which is where we did a little stretching and walk about. Border patrol came on board to check our passports as we entered Canada. At some point we switched to a bus to continue on to the Yukon.

Our first stop in The Yukon was at the Yukon sign of course to nail down our bragging rights. Then it was on to Caribou Crossing for a very tasty chicken BBQ lunch at Caribou Crossing Trading Post made complete by homemade donuts. They gave us branded wooden utensils to eat with which many of us cleaned up afterward and took home. After lunch we strolled around to see the sled dogs and museum. Many took the sled dog ride. I did the gold panning though I stink at it. I got some funny sled dog post cards there for my family. “Life is like a sled dog team. If you ain’t the lead dog, the view never changes.” I got some ice cream too. On the way to the bus, I joined the Canadian Mounties with help from another tourist. From there we went into the town of Carcross (tiny as it is) where you could either wait in line to try to shop in the General Store or go get your passport stamped. I chose the stamp. My passport is no longer a virgin! I sure wished Bernie was there then.

Hello from the YukonCaribou Crossing BBQ lunchSled dog

Sled dog rideJoining the Canadian Mounties

On the way back to Skagway, some bear cubs ran out in front of the bus without looking. The bus stopped fast and we got to watch the frightened cubs climb a tree on the other side. Soon after, Momma Bear came running by and scolded them to get out of the tree and move along.

Scared baby bears

Back at the ship, there was no time for shopping because this was an all day tour and it is quite a walk back to the dock from town though they will drop you off in town if you wish.

Our last stop was in Victoria, Canada in the evening. We took a tour bus around town and up the mountain to a scenic overlook. After grabbing some pics, we went on to tour Dunsmuir Castle which was built by a wealthy family who unfortunately did not get to live in it for more than a few years. It looked like it was built to be full of life and parties but sadly they had to let it go too soon.

Victoria CA capital buildingVictoria and harborDunsmuir Castle

That was our trip. We had a couple of sea days to relax, lots of great food and entertainment, good service, and plenty of friend time. We missed Tracy Arm which we were supposed to sail through and I had already bought a T-shirt for. It was blocked by ice when we arrived. We went through Endicott Arm instead. I guess we’ll just have to cruise Alaska again. Smile

For lots more pics, FINALLY, click here!

George Cruises With Princess

Nope. Not getting my Alaska story yet. He he. Feel that tension building. Ain’t I a stinker?

George went along with us on our cruise to Alaska and had a lot of fun on the ship, the Ruby Princess. For those of you who have never cruised, here are George’s highlights of his trip on the ship.

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In answer to your question, yes, I am this crazy!

Alaska Bound on Princess - Ship Review

My buddy, Bernie, and I drove over to Seattle the day before our cruise was set to begin. I had reserved a decent hotel for the night near the airport where hotels are much cheaper than near the docks. I had also reserved an inexpensive but secure place to park the car for 7 days and a shuttle to the docks. The ride over was uneventful though we did get to see windmills and the freeway was closed at one point thus causing us to detour. So glad we went over a day early. A good policy to live by for cruising.


After a good night’s sleep and a tasty free breakfast at the hotel, we parked the car and hopped on the shuttle. It was an interesting ride as a long metal piece on the roof had been torn off and was hanging down where it banged the window. I felt bad for the folks sitting next to that window. That was a bit scary and noisy.

At the Princess Cruise lines terminal, we were ushered straight in. The lines weren’t bad at all and security was fairly easy. We quickly got our Sign and Sail Cards and boarded the Ruby Princess. We had made a point of wearing our custom cruise T-shirts I had made by Vistaprint. It was a fun way to start our voyage and made for a great embarkation picture!

Alaska Tshirts frontAlaska tshirts back

As we pulled away from the dock, it was really cool to see the terminal workers come out to wave us off. I didn’t see any kind of sail away party going on but the waving really helped to set the mood. We did get chocolate covered strawberries sent to our cabin by my travel agent which also kicked our moods up. Yum!

Princess dock terminalPresent from travel agentI chose Princess for this cruise so I could see why it was the favorite cruise line of my parents and because it is supposed to have the best itineraries since they were among the first to cruise Alaska. It definitely is different from Carnival ships. Carnival is more of a party atmosphere from the minute you board. Princess certainly had some parties but they aren’t as constant or in your face.

Both cruise lines have good shows though I think those on Carnival are better. Princess did have a couple of shows that were pretty awesome.

The beds on Princess were hard as cement slabs. We were able to sleep but we felt it. I heard afterward that we could have asked our steward for a mattress topper. Will try that next time. The rest of the room was fine. We booked an interior room to keep costs down but chose one on Lido deck so we could run outside real quick to see Alaska and get pictures. That worked very well for me. The room had a refrigerator which we did use.

The food was definitely the best on Princess. I loved both the Main Dining Room (MDR) and the Lido deck cafeterias. I got lots of cheese cake, salad, and shrimp! We tried a different cafeteria near the end of the cruise which served lots of Mexican food that was also delicious. We did anytime dining again rather than reserved to keep our options open. They still sat us at tables with other people unlike on Carnival. It was kind of nice though to meet other people and chat during dinner. The ice cream on Princess is served to you unlike on Carnival where they have machines available 24/7 to serve yourself.

Excellent Princess food

We went to clubs every night to play trivia games (which we lost badly) and to listen to the excellent music. I watched a couple movies (Sound of Music was one) on the big screen out on deck by the pool. It was cold so everyone snuggled under multiple towels properly draped and drank hot chocolate. We had “The Love Boat” playing constantly on the TV in our room. Swimming and the hot tubs were out for us due to how cold it was. Ruby Princess doesn’t have any pools or hot tubs indoors like Carnival Triumph does. I used the treadmills in the fitness center to work off some of the ice cream and cheese cake and walked their track on top.

Stern adult pool and hot tubPrincess Fitness CenterSound of Music on Lido

They had a big party near the end to celebrate 50 Years of Princess. It was in the center atrium which was so filled with people that folks were standing around or dancing by the rails at every level and on the stairs. The live music was wonderful and I did a bit of dancing up above myself. At the end they dropped balloons on the main floor which everyone popped.

50 Years of Princess partyBalloon popping

We had some minor rough seas here and there. I know there was one night when our beds kept going up and down. LOL We didn’t get seasick so it was fine.

When we got back to Seattle, debarkation went very smoothly also. We found our suitcases easily, cleared customs, and went right out to our pre-arranged shuttle back to our car. Since we got back early in the morning and both had colds, we drove straight back to Idaho. I was supposed to stay with my oldest son near Seattle but didn’t want to give his several kids my cold and had more business to take care of with my house in Idaho.

That’s the overview of our Alaska trip. I would definitely sail on Princess again and would love to go back to Alaska. I do advise taking your jacket, gloves, a warm hat, and LONG UNDERWEAR. It was really cold everywhere we went and onboard. I had to wear two pairs of pants and a sweatshirt on our excursions to even resemble being warm.

My next posts will get more into the details of the places we visited. Stay tuned!

Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd.

*Princess affiliate

Idaho Tales

I had a week to see my son, his wife, and my granddaughter in their new house in Idaho. The house they bought is a large two-story Victorian. It came with a nice front porch which my son rebuilt, a large rear patio, a two car garage, a carport, a fenced area for possible boat storage later, two old brick cold storage sheds, and a small mother-in-law house in back. The little mother-in-law house needs a lot of repair but his wife’s mother and I are already calling dibs on a possible bunk bed to share. I called the top. LOL. In the big house, they remodeled with beautiful reddish wood laminate flooring and a new on demand tankless water heater. Very nice.

Son's house

My granddaughter wanted to go geocaching so we spent one day running around finding several geocaches. We missed the big one near the Wal-Mart but I went back later to find it and scored a Pinky ball from it. There are a lot of geocaches hidden around the Silver Valley. I used my phone for the first time instead of using my car GPS. It worked very well. I still think the GPS gets you closer but phones work when you have some experience in what to look for.

The girls had a night out at the 1313 Club in Wallace for dinner. It was very good as always. I used a coupon from to make it very inexpensive and used their phone app for the first time to show the coupon. They had no problem with that. Definitely better than carrying around paper coupons as long as you can connect to the Internet. Previously, we had tried to go there but got there after they closed so the family and I ate at The Brooks which has not improved with age. I doubt we will eat there again.

I met with my real estate agent who is trying to sell my house in the area. I LOVE RVing full time and have no intention of ever living in a sticks and bricks house again. The agent found some possible buyers and an interested renter. The house would need a lot of work though. Several years of Idaho winters with no one living there have led to rust on many things and much of the house was never completed when it was rebuilt since I just wanted to live in it and didn’t care about all the little things. It was useable and I figured the next owner would have more choices to make it the way they wanted it. It all had to be completed now though for a renter to move in or for buyers to see it’s true value. Today’s generation seem to be too lazy for do-it-yourself work. That’s a real shame. I also found the electric/gas company had pulled out their meters so getting services restored would not be easy and the county passed a water bond some time ago which was piling up costs for me but they never contacted me despite me making a point of giving them my mailing address when I left to hit the road full time. Geez! More about the house later.

As always, the week went by too fast. My friend, Bernie, came to pick me up at the end of the week and we took turns driving her car over to Seattle, Washington to hop on our cruise ship.