This land and sea venture for St. Bernard began with everyone arranging their own air so they could arrive early and spend some time in Vancouver, Canada. Our ship, the Star Princess, left Vancouver on Saturday, September 9 at 4:30 p.m. and the view from the ship was breathtaking. The Canadian coastline is so beautiful.
That afternoon and evening we spent finding our way around the ship. The first full day at sea was rough with large waves and high winds. There were times when we left our cabin that we walked from side to side as if we had been spending our day at the bar.
On the second day we docked in Ketchikan Alaska. In spite of light rain, we made our way to the tourist attractions and shops. Joanna and her friend Dee, from Utah, took the “Duck Tour” of Ketchikan. This is a yellow vehicle that travels on the road or in the water!
The third day was spent in Juneau, capitol of Alaska. You can only access Juneau is by boat or plane. It sits at the edge of a mountain range with steep streets and beautiful scenery. The shopping was great and Betty Ann found two beautiful rings. Joanna, Dee, Stephanie and Adrianne went on a whale-watching trip and visited the impressive Mendenhall Glacier.
Our fourth day in Skagway was a hit for all. Great shopping and exceptional excursions took us in several directions. Stephanie and Adrienne took a train trip to the Yukon in Canada and ended their day at the wonderful Jewell Gardens Restaurant in Skagway. Joanna and Dee Dee went to a show titled the “Days of 1898” and really enjoyed it, then did some shopping. My sister, Donna, and I took separate excursions that day. She went on a hiking and rafting trip that ended in an unexpected way. They were climbing a mountain on the hike and her walking stick slipped causing her to fall forward on a sharp rock. This called for a trip to the clinic in Skagway and five stitches on her right index finger. It has healed nicely since then, but her finger had to remain in a splint for two weeks.
Kip, Betty Ann and I took a trip to the Jewel Gardens and Glass Blowing Center in Skagway. It was extremely interesting and we learned a lot about the history of Skagway and the technique for blowing glass. Our guide was well versed on the plants in the garden and the demonstration by the glass blowing staff was very impressive.
The fifth and sixth day were spent in scenic cruising on Glacier Bay and College Fjord. On the morning of the seventh day we woke up in Wittier, Alaska and boarded the train for Denali National Park at 7:30 a.m. The Alaskan Railroad has one track running from Wittier to Denali so the trip took eight hours. The rail car was very nice with upstairs seating that offered a wonderful view of all the Alaska sights. There was a bar in each car and a dining room on the lower lever. When the Conductor visited our car, he explained that we were averaging 38 miles per hour and since it was the last week for tourists, most of the trains were headed for Wittier or Anchorage. In any event, we pulled over on a side track frequently, but got a GOOD look at the Alaska scenery.
The next two days were spent at the Denali Wilderness Lodge and the Mt. McKinley Wilderness Lodge. Donna and Joanna took a nature walk while we were in Denali and the rest of the group acted like tourists. The food in their restaurants was outstanding and the St. Bernard group ate like champions: (knowing we would pay when we got home). Adrianne had the best recovery plan—she leaves for Croatia three weeks after our trip and will be doing a lot of hiking while she is there.
The next leg of our journey took us to Anchorage where we stayed in the Captain Hook Hotel which was exceptional. When Kip got his luggage that had been sent ahead of us when we arrived in Alaska, he discovered that his largest bag had suffered a very difficult trip. Three of the wheels were missing and it was totaled. I learned he was reimbursed for the damage after he arrived home.
We continued to see the sights and shop until day ten of our trip. We had to check out of the hotel by noon and four of us had a flight at 11:55 p.m. that evening. But we were resourceful and found interesting ventures in the city. We took a trolley ride all over Anchorage that was very interesting and then went to the Federal Building and watched movies about Alaska. Most of us knew little about the earthquake that hit Alaska in 1964. (I was in college and an airhead). The earthquake was a 9.3 on the Rector Scale and the worst one to every occur in the US.
This trip was really wonderful and all of our group enjoyed it a great deal!