Saturday, August 31, 2013

Our First Glacier


The first time you meet a glacier, it takes your breath away: the magnitude of surface area, the snow-capped peaks, the thunderous rumbling when a chunk of snowy ice falls into the sea.

It was a clear, sunny day when we feasted our eyes on Hubbard Glacier in eastern Alaska.  The captain slowly navigated our ship closer and closer to the glacier’s edge then proceeded to completely turn the ship around when we left, an impressive move from a seasoned captain.

We learned Hubbard was one of the few glaciers left in the world still gaining in size rather than losing its mass due to current weather conditions and that its ice is at least four hundred years old!  We thought about that fact....four hundred years old!

We spent a good amount of time in the glacier's company before traveling on to Skagway located on the Alaska Panhandle.

Until next time, enjoy the life we are blessed to live.




Friday, August 30, 2013

Our Ship: "Radiance of the Seas"





What a glorious ship!

I hope that says it all because that is probably the best description that comes to mind when I think of Royal Caribbean’s “Radiance of the Seas.” With floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the ship, it’s nearly impossible not to enjoy the every-changing view. Much of the attention was drawn to the nine-story atrium that featured an elevator facing the sea.

We quickly fell into a daily routine that began with a lovely breakfast in the main dining room showcasing nearly a 360 degree view of the port and the ocean. Each morning, we chose from Eggs Benedict, French toast, several omelets or a variety of other egg entrees. Lightly powdered donuts, scones, muffins and fruit pastries were presented right after coffee was poured and juice was offered. They were lined up in neat rows on generous silver platters and were meant as a distraction while we waited for our breakfast.

We chose to dine in the “Cascades,” the formal dining room, each evening. If you love to dress for dinner and enjoy each course along with pleasant conversation, cruising is definitely for you. We ate absolutely delectable meals including baked salmon, lobster with drawn butter, steak in mushroom sauce, seasoned prawns, lasagna Bolognese and even roast turkey.

We were lucky to find ourselves seated at a table with some fabulous personalities and fun-loving travelers. It wasn’t long when we found ourselves celebrating the end of each evening with a “nightly shooter.” The service we received exceeded our expectations. Before having to request a glass of water or a cup of tea, the wait staff remembered our preferences from the night prior. What a welcomed treat!

Excursions consumed most of the day hours and after-dinner hours were spent dining, dancing at least one dance, and enjoying artistic performances from comedians, jugglers, vocalists and dance troupes in the "Aurora Theater."

We would leisurely make our way back to our cabin strolling on the promenade deck, allowing the fresh Alaskan wind and sounds of the sea to soak into our skins and senses.

Until next time, enjoy the life we are blessed to live,

Welcome to Seward, Alaska!



Seward was probably the best introduction we could pick for our Alaskan vacation. We learned that it is considered the gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park where sea lions are prominent and the glaciers drop into the sea. Seated at the shores of Resurrection Bay and encircled by the mountains, you can imagine the beauty that immediately surrounded us….everywhere we looked we saw God’s hand in nature.

We decided to hike the city, visit the SeaLife Center, and booked a day cruise to Fox Island where we spotted a playful Orca who decided to jump out of the water and lay on his side, flapping and playing. It was fantastic.

On board the train, we met Mary, and decided to share dinner together later that evening. It felt a little strange leaving the restaurant at 9 p.m. and still having it light outside, but that's life in Alaska!

Until next time, enjoy the life we are blessed to live,  

All Aboard!



Who doesn’t enjoy hearing a train whistle blow?

Like most of you, when we travel, we typically rent a car to get around. But this trip, we booked passenger service on the Coastal Classic route between Anchorage to Seward on board the Alaskan Railroad. Although, not terribly expensive, the experience was worth every penny.

Large picture windows, comfy, oversized seats, and GoldStar dome service that included a complimentary beverage and first seating in the dining car for breakfast. We enjoyed it all and the scenery was a wonderful introduction to Alaska.

The trip took a couple of hours, and honestly, I was sad to see it end.

Until next time, enjoy the life we are blessed to live,

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Anchorage



It was all my idea. After a six-hour flight, we arrived in Anchorage at 3:45 a.m. Thursday morning. So the decision to bike the Tony Knowles hike and bike trail, a 22-mile excursion around Cook Inlet, made sense. After we got some rest, of course.

We rented a couple of Cannondale bikes and stretched our legs and filled our lungs with fresh Alaskan air. The 40-minute bike rides we had been enjoying at home certainly would have prepared us for this first day’s adventure. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have been more wrong. By the 4.5 mile marker, I was certain it should have read 11 or 10 or even 9! My legs were burning from all the slow inclines and the small bottle of water I had sitting in the water bottle holder was already half gone. The weather was perfect for biking, mid 60s, cloudy but with spurts of sunshine. We were determined to see this ride through to the end and finished in just over three hours, exhausted! We had made it!

The trail was just as it was described: wide pathways with blue spruce, balsam pines, red-berried sumac with yellow and purple flowers. We did not have the opportunity to see any beluga whales but did watch two moose chomping on lunch leaves. They were probably just yards away from us. That was a thrill.

We slowly made our way back to the hotel but were fascinated with a few items that caught our attention in some of the gift shops: Alaskan Marmalade, Salmon Jerky, Merlot Moose Sauce and Salmon Berry Jelly. I must admit the few bites of an Alaskan Reindeer sandwich I had were pretty good, and I noticed later that it is offered in a variety of ways for breakfast in place of bacon, for lunch in a quesadilla, and for dinner alongside a helping of spicy potatoes.

Like most American cities, Anchorage is a blend of ethnicities with strong Russian influence and very friendly people. I relearned that Alaska was purchased from Russia in the late 1800s. If you are aware and have a bit of an investigative eye, you will notice a store here or a restaurant there solidifying the state’s heritage. I noticed the round, colorful nesting dolls. Did you know they represent a family with round healthy bodies? Also the dream catchers and mandellas that promise abundant, promising lives, good health and prosperity?

Until next time, enjoy the life we are blessed to live,



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Departure Day: Ready, Set, Alaska . . . .


Our departure day has arrived, and it’s gorgeous weather for travel. We are expecting quite cooler temperatures in Alaska. I took a look at an extended forecast to discover highs in the beginning of our journey in the 60s and dropping to the 40s. The weather will immediately set the scene to what we hope is an “adventure vacation.”

With the exception of our trip to Italy and Austria, our vacations have usually focused on a great deal of relaxation in the sun. South Beach, the Caribbean, and the British Virgin Islands provided much of the same experience. But, this retreat, set along the southern coast of Alaska and ending up in British Columbia, holds new merit for us.

Since we have an extra day, my hope is to stow away for a couple of hours and conduct some early research for my next book which will be set in Anchorage. We took great care in choosing our excursions: an introduction to the area with the White Pass Scenic Railway, a waterfall hike and salmon bake, wilderness sea-kayaking, a bear seeking hike, zip lining, and a trek across the longest suspension bridge in the world. We chose the Alaskan Railroad to reach our port in Seward and trusty Amtrak to leave British Columbia returning to the States.

Our suitcases are packed and laptops tucked in our travel cases. Alongside our formal wear, lay our brand-new hiking boots and weatherproof outdoor wear. Peering at the contents, it hints at possibilities. The trip is beginning to bubble its potential.

We are off on day one of Alaska.

Until next time, be sure to enjoy the life we have been blessed to live.

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