Thursday, July 28, 2016

Alaskan Cruise Part 4 - Victoria, B.C.

Oh Canada!
The last port on our cruise was
Victoria, B.C.

Our plan for the day was to walk to the downtown
area, get on a hop-on hop-off bus that would
take us all around Victoria, and end the day at
Fisherman's Wharf.

Well...what was supposed to be a 15 minute walk
to town...was actually more of a 30 minute walk.
This became a joke with us during the trip
because whenever we would ask how far something was,
the answer was ALWAYS...15 minutes...
and that was NEVER accurate. ;)

The plus-side was that we got to see
quite a bit of Victoria and it is so pretty, quaint,
colorful, and proper feeling...if that makes sense.

The Parliament Building

Famous Empress Hotel
My sister, aunt, and uncle enjoyed "high tea" 
at the hotel.

Victoria is known for the beautiful
gardens and flowers that highlight the city.

In the downtown area a lot of the shops
had these fun, large, stuffed animals out front.
I thought it would be fun to get pictures with them.

As you can see...someone else didn't agree.
Even Lexie rebelled against the idea.

She finally gave in...kind of.

Landry...not so much.
He pretty much cried his way through joke.

Since Brother stole her stroller,
Little Miss Independent enjoyed her freedom
strolling through the streets.

Remember how I mentioned earlier
that our "plan" was to ride around on this darling
hop-on hop-off bus?
We had purchased a Groupon and it sounded great,
22 stops all over Victoria,
buses were supposed to come to each stop in 15 minute increments,
you could get off, explore for however long you wanted,
and get back on however many times you wanted.

So we hopped on...
enjoyed part of the city...
and decided to get off at the...

It was this darling little farm with all kinds of farm animals.

The ducks were a little crazy
and thoroughly enjoyed
splashing anyone and everyone
who came close to their pond.


They were on the ground,
in pens,
in the TREES...

Cute sheep

Lexie was in heaven!

Here is just one of the peacocks
in a least 20 feet high.


and the highlight...

that is where the enjoyment ended for us in Victoria. :(
Our hop-on hop-off bus ended up being a
"hop-off and get stranded at Beacon Hill bus!"
No joke!
We headed out to wait for the bus...and it NEVER came back!
After waiting for an hour...
when at least 3 buses should have come by...
my sister finally called the company and we were told
that one of their buses had broken down.
Hmmm...what about all of the other buses?
At this point we knew that we wouldn't be able to get
off at ANY of the other stops...
we would just have to ride the bus back to the last stop. :(
Well, after being PROMISED that a bus would be there
within 30 minutes...and NO BUS came...
we ended up have to call a cab and took a cab back to the ship.

Needless to say, we were so disappointed!
What was even worse...was the bus company NEVER
apologized for their lack of service and STILL hasn't responded
to my e-mails. So...if you are ever in Victoria,
DO NOT use Big Bus Victoria!!!!
I hate to do that...but their lack of customer service is apalling.
What I will say is that Groupon is FABULOUS!!!!
I wrote them, just to let them know about our experience
and how this company runs their business,
and they were so apologetic and refunded me for the purchase.
Way to go, Groupon!

So, our day didn't go as planned.
But it was full of adventure,
and now we joke about the "15 minute" walk...
and the "hop-on and leave you stranded" bus! :)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Alaskan Cruise Part 3 - Endicott Arm Fjords

If you have been following along,
for the past week I have been
sharing about the Alaskan cruise
our family went on in celebration of
my parents' 40th wedding anniversary.

I shared about our day in Juneau here.
And if you missed the cute puppies and
our dog sledding adventure in Skagway,
you can get caught up here.

Today you aren't going to get
any pictures of cute puppies, my family,
or any adventures.
Today you get to enjoy some beautiful
pictures of the wilderness in Alaska!

When we woke 5:30 or so...
yes...that early...we were greeted with this
amazing sight from our balcony!

Certainly makes getting up at 5:30,
while you're on vacation,
a bit more bearable when you see this.

We were supposed to travel to the
Tracy Arm Fjords and Sawyer Glacier.
Apparently it was too icy, so we went to
Endicott Fjord and saw Dawes Glacier.

Our ship went as far into the fjord,
and as close to the glacier,
as possible and then proceeded
to do a 580 degree spin
so that everyone on the ship got a view of the glacier.
If the scenery doesn't blow your mind,
a huge cruise ship spinning in a circle should! ;)

At first Lexie wasn't so sure about it.

Are they cute or what?
I know...I'm biased.
Oh...and I guess I lied...
but these are the only pictures of my family today. :)

As you can see,
there were huge chunks of ice
everywhere in the water.

As the ship spun we were able
to enjoy a nearby waterfall.

My sister bought a super fancy camera
before our trip and she got some awesome pictures.
Here are her pics...
they put my Samsung Galaxy pics to shame. :)

We were even able to spot a group
of harbor seal laying on the ice.

It was so incredibly quiet,
and the water was smooth and still as can be.
So serene.

As we made our way out of
the fjord the captain told
us to keep our eye out for bear and moose
along the shoreline.

Sadly we didn't see any...
but the view still didn't disappoint.

As we exited, we went passed
another glacier...I have no idea which one.

We spent the rest of the day watching whales.
Tons of whales!
We saw at LEAST 15 whales
during the day.
Unfortunately they were REALLY
hard to get a picture of.
About the time you saw one,
it would come up for air,
and be back under the surface.
I was able to catch this one tail.

I have a TON of pictures
that look like this...
but I thought I'd spare you and just share this one. :)

I know I have said it in my previous posts...
and I really mean it...
these pictures do NO justice to
the beauty that is Alaska.

I am not what I would consider a 
"nature lover"
but I was completely mesmerized
by the peace and beauty that surrounded
us during this trip.
Our mountains and forests in California
are pretty spectacular...
but there is something majestic
about Alaska.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Alaskan Cruise Part 2 - Skagway

Before you read...I am warning you
that you are about to see a bunch of pictures of
super cute puppies...
and an even cuter video of a certain 16 month old who REALLY
loved the puppies. ;)

Don't forget...I warned you!

Our second port was the darling town of Skagway!

My sister got up and had an early
start as she traveled by helicopter,
landed on a glacier, and went dog sledding.


The rest of us...well...we had a more leisurely
start to our day.

Welcome to Skagway!

After lunch...and after my sister returned
from her glacier adventure...
my mom, sister, Chad, the kids, and me
headed out to our excursion...musher's camp!

We met our tour guide, J-Dot,
at the end of the pier, loaded up into another shuttle,
enjoyed the most beautiful scenery I have ever experienced,
and arrived at our musher's camp.

Once we were at camp,
we loaded up into a unimog and headed up the mountain
to our team of dogs waiting to take us on a ride.

(This picture is from Alaska Excursions website.)

Here we are,
on our unimog,
ready to meet our doggies!

As we made our way up
a VERY steep mountain,
this was our view on the left...

and on the right...


When we got to the top of the mountain
our "sled" and team of dogs were waiting for us.

This is an actual working musher's camp
where they train dogs...and people ;)...
to race in the Iditarod!

As you see there is no snow where we are...
and our "sled" has wheels.
This is how they train the dogs in the summer.
When they aren't pulling tourists,
they have them pull ATVs so that they
can build up the muscle and stamina needed for the race.

On our sled...ready to go!

Here is a short video I took of part of our ride.

After the sled ride you get to pet and love
on each of the dogs.
Fun fact...these dogs are part husky or malamute
and part...greyhound!
This is why they are a lot smaller than 
what you normally picture as a "sled dog."

Each of the dogs are so sweet and friendly.
They LOVE the attention they get after each run.

On our way back down the mountain,
we stopped at this beautiful vista for some pictures.
As you can see...J Dot isn't the best photographer.
Hopefully he is better at mushing. ;)

Was anyone ready?

Now we are fuzzy.

Thankfully he got a good shot on Mom's phone. 
Just don't mind Lexie's face. :)

When we returned back to the camp
we got to see all of the puppies!

We even got to hold them...eeek!!!

I am very surprised this guy didn't try
and smuggle this puppy home in his backpack!

Lexie was so sweet and gentle with the puppies.
This video is just too precious!

Before we got back on our shuttle,
to return to the dock,
we were able to take a few minutes and just enjoy
the peace, beauty, and breathtaking environment that surrounded us.

Unfortunately we ran out of time to explore the
tiny town that is Skagway.
As our ship made its way out of port
we were able to enjoy the snow covered mountains.
Here is another glacier we passed by. 

Another beautiful Alaskan sunset.
Thanks, Skagway!

If you are thinking about going on an Alaskan cruise,
here is the website for the company we went through
for our sled dog excursion...I would HIGHLY recommend them!
Hint is WAY cheaper to do your own excursions 
as opposed to going through your cruise line. ;)

Oh...and if you are wondering where my dad, aunt, and uncle were...
they did a different excursion where they rode a train up
into the mountains and biked their way down. :)