Thursday, July 31, 2014

Alaska or bust . . . Part 2!

The Alaska photo journal continues. . .

Before leaving Juneau too far behind, this sculpture on the public library in Juneau reminds us of the significance of the raven and the eagle for the First Nations of this southeastern portion of Alaska.

On to Skagway, in a heavy fog.

Adjacent to the ships' docking pier, the rock formation seems to be covered with graffiti. In fact, this is a tribute to the many cruise ships' Captains. The story goes that the crew of each ship paints a tribute on the stone cliffs. The higher the painting is off the ground, the more respected the Captain.

The Garden City. . .

Mike, our fearless tour guide, shuttled us to our first stop. . .

The White Pass and Yukon Railroad. It's a narrow gauge railroad.

We are headed out of town, up toward the northern reaches of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory.

Following the path of the 2-year gold rush of 1897 and 1898.

Into tunnels. . .

. . . and leaving them behind.

The rugged scenery is much softened by today's heavy cloud cover and fog.

Near the summit, the sky begins to clear.

We took the train one way, then Mike (the guy in the red jacket above) brought us back by tour bus, allowing for stops for the toothy-grin tourist photo ops.

This overlook basically captures all of Skagway. The little city swells with the arrival of the cruise ships. That paved roadway at the near edge of town isn't a main highway, far from it. It's the airport runway.

Can't resist snapping a picture of waterfalls. There are lots of them!

Back in town, there are plenty of opportunities to pick up a few things. . .

 . . . and, of course, there is a quilt shop! (And, of course, we shopped there!)

Wild Alaska Catch. A basic spot to grab a tasty bite to eat. Nothing fancy. Picnic tables on an outdoor patio. My kinda place!

And, of course, I had to order the Alaskan King Crab legs! The fries were good too!

Indeed, it's living up to its reputation . . . the garden city.

A raven. They are everywhere. And since we just took a train ride, this particular raven perch seemed a appropriate picture for the album.

Back on board, and ready to set sail, leaving Skagway to our stern.

And a new friend in the state room.

A beautiful sunset. What could be on tap for us tomorrow?

We entered the Tracy Arm Fjord early the next morning. The ship is now headed toward a massive glacier along a narrow, deep channel. What's this ahead? Not your usual flotsam and jetsam.

Icebergs become more frequent as we get closer to the glacier. That blue coloring is the result of years and years of compression of the frozen ice. As the ice is compressed, any air bubbles are squeezed out. With the frozen water devoid of any air bubble 'impurities' the water refracts light from the blue spectrum of the rainbow. (I'm sure there's a more scientific way to explain that, but let's just say, the blue is a naturally occurring color in glacial ice)

More awesome landscape.

. . . and more . . .

 . . . and more. Notice the glacier at the top of the photo. My former geology professor would be pointing out the curved U-shape of the rocks at the glacier's edge. I just thought it was pretty!

A group of quilters (including me!) decided to take advantage of an Asian breakfast on the day that we were in the fjord. A spot high above the lower decks gave us a great vantage point for glacier viewing! And the food was way yummy, too!

And finally we are there. Wowsers!

Photo op!

Just wow!

Heading back out of the fjord, we had more opportunity to see wildlife. The tootsie roll shaped object on the rock to the right is a harbor seal. We saw lots of those. Along with tons of sea otter.

Calm water.

A couple of eagles resting on an ice float.

Blessed with blue sky and amazing scenery. . .

What's this? First you see a spray of water, and a stirring at the surface, and if you are patient. . .

 . . . a breach at the surface. And the best part . . .

 . . . is the tail, as Mr. Whale descends. By the way, this is a gray whale. And it's a male--identified with 50% accuracy! (Thanks to Debi for these last two fabulous whale pictures!)

Before you think that we were a bunch of slackers, eating sushi and watching the scenery roll by. We had a quilt to make!

And here it is. Our cruise theme: Breakfast at Sea in honor of the pre-cut Snaps, Crackers, and Pops from Hoffman Fabrics. So the quilt project was named Over Easy & A Side of Bacon. The 'bacon' part is a table runner project that comes with the quilt pattern. A great way to use of the leftover fabrics from the quilt!

Jacquelyn, Michelle, and Scott (our sewing machine guru) converted one of the ship's conference rooms to our quilt studio. We quilted on the days we were at sea. We played on shore when the ship was in port. Here's Jane flashing a smile during the morning session.

David took a break from working on this quilt to whip up a quick place mat from the Continental Breakfast pattern, another new pattern to coordinate with the Over Easy quilt. . . this one uses all the leftovers from the quilt and the table runner! Good deal!

To be continued  . . . I'll conclude with beautiful Victoria, British Columbia . . . next time.

Happy Stitching!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Humming on the Radio

Tune in today to listen to a live conversation between me and Pat Sloan! Monday, July 28, 4 pm (eastern)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Alaska or Bust!

After many long months of planning, I headed out of town for the Breakfast at Sea Alaskan Quilt Cruise with Quilt Retreat at Sea. Scroll down to see the first installment of the photo album from our incredible journey.

It's a long, long flight from Syracuse to Seattle, where we were to board the cruise ship. A glance out the window on the plane, and a dramatic change in the size of the mountain (volcano) peaks, and it was confirmed. . . almost there.

Arriving in Seattle a couple of days ahead of the cruise launch, I was able to spend some time with a dear friend. After lunch and a short walk along Alki Beach, I had to do a double take--Statue of Liberty--I thought I had left New York?! This one was a gift to Seattle from the Boy Scouts.

Beautiful Seattle from the west.

. . . and from Pike Place Market.

After a day of spa pampering, Ashley and I ventured out to do the 'tourist thing' at Pike Place Market.

Where you can find, seafood. . .

. . .  more seafood. . .

Veggies. . .

. . . and fresh flowers. Lots and lots of them. At a very reasonable price!

This poster had to come home with me!

Undercover Quilts, in Pike Place Market was a 'required' stop!

Mmm. Yummy fabrics!

Back at Ashley's house, a familiar silhouette in some high branches. A good omen, I think!

Finally, it's time to set sail . . . Our vessel, The Rhapsody of the Seas.

On board and a peek over the balcony. Holy luggage, Batman! It's amazing how all this gets delivered with unbelievable efficiency!

And we're off. Beautiful Seattle in the sparkling sun from the ship.

While, far off Mount Rainier looms.

The first of many desserts on board. The Sail Away cake was SO yummy!

We made lots of new friends. Some of them crafted from towels!

The washroom in the state room was a half-step up. This picture pretty much captures what I looked like every time I had to 'go.' It must have taken me three days to get used to that stupid step up.

The scenery along the coast follows a consistent theme. Mountains. Water. Clouds. And a bit of sun here and there.

And majestic.

Our first port. Juneau, Alaska.

Brooks directed us to our first tour bus. He's a recent transplant to Alaska. When asked whether he planned to stay past the summer tourist season, his reply: Depends on whether I find a girlfriend. So here's a shameless plug on Brooks' behalf: He's available. Tall. Quite pleasant. And a real cutie pie. Know anyone?

RainTree Quilting in Juneau, was our first quilty stop since boarding the ship.

No one found anything to purchase. (Yah, right)

What a surprise . . . Terry photobombing Helene as she contemplates her next quilt project.

We continued on to Mendenhall Glacier.

Wow. Just wow!

That's an eagle perched on a ice float, one of many spotted on the trip. This one was not making the terns very happy.

More birds. Baby barn swallows.

And beautiful wildflowers everywhere you looked.

One more quilt shop stop, Changing Tides in downtown Juneau.

Quilty fabrics, and tons of gifty stuff.

Time to head back to the ship, so I can continue tripping my way into Alaska!

To be continued  . . . (yes, incredibly, I have more pictures to share next time!)

Happy Stitching!