Traveling Tammy Goes to Alaska!
June 29, 2011
Hi! It’s Tammy the Travelling Librarian! My teeth are still chattering from my cold but wonderful trip to the state of Alaska, via the Sapphire Princess cruise ship. Sure could’ve used a jacket for this one!
We left Kansas City on June 4 bound for Seattle, Washington. Upon arriving, we were very pleased to see clear blue skies and a picture-perfect view of Mt. Rainier from the top of the Space Needle. I heard someone say Seattle only gets a few days in a year when it isn’t cloudy or rainy. We must be living right!
A few hours later, we thought maybe we weren’t living right after all. Twenty foot swells in the ocean were enough to even make ME queasy! It took a few hours to develop those much-needed sea legs!
We reached our first port on June 6. The town of Ketchikan, Alaska looked like a replica of pictures I’ve seen of Switzerland…REALLY! The houses were quaint but colorful, and there’s nothing more beautiful than coastal mountains.
This day we visited a salmon fish hatchery and heard the stories carved out on some of the local totem poles. And what stories they were! Many had been passed down through the generations. At the end of the tour, we were privileged to meet a local totem pole wood carver and watch her work her magic. All I can say is, you’ve gotta have patience!!!
June 7 found us in Juneau, Alaska, the capital city. Unbelievably, neither Ketchikan nor Juneau can be reached from anywhere else by road. They’re only accessible by small plane or by sea.
On this day, we visited the magnificent Mendenhall Glacier, which we were told might not even be around in 25 years. Glad we got to see it! The glacial ice is 3,000 years old. It is disappearing a little more every day, due to global warming or other factors not yet understood. All I know is that I suddenly found myself sitting on a piece of 250-year-old glacial ice right in the visitors’ center, posing for yet another picture.…BRRR, that was cold on the backside! Whose idea was this, anyway???
In the evening of this day, Libby Riddles, the first woman to ever win the Iditarod, came onboard and gave a fabulous presentation on her experiences out in the bitter cold winter, racing dogs across 1,000 miles of forsaken land in Alaska. She surprised even herself when she came in first! What a strong person she must be, in every way. As a side note, more information about Libby Riddles can be found through the Biography Reference Bank & Retrospective database; it contains a wealth of information on Libby and the Iditarod.
On June 8, we woke up in Skagway, Alaska. We got off the ship once again, hopped a train, and headed up White Mountain Pass. It was here back in the late 1800’s that over 1,000 people came to seek a fortune that they were sure lay in the rugged mountainous terrain. Gold was what they were looking for. After lives were lost and hopes were dashed, they came to the grim realization that gold wasn’t to be found here. However, in an attempt to save face and regain lost money, many stayed and assisted in the building of a railroad--the very one we travelled on! The scenery was once again spectacular, but what a cost for what we got to see.
Whale watching was on the agenda for the evening, and we were excited to see one frolicking out in the waves. A perfect end to the day!
As we headed back to Seattle slowly over the next few days, we came to realize what a big place Alaska and the North Sea really are. I had a GREAT time, and look forward to my next trip…TO FRANCE! So long!