July 3 – California

We continued our journey southward, leaving Roseburg we jumped back on I-5 … which bans all non-motorized vehicles, we passed

However, I guess neither of them could be defined as a vehicle.

Debbie spotted a stand of the Pacific madrone or madrona, a species of tree native to the western coastal areas of North America, from British Columbia to California.

Views as we drove.

Crossing the South Ranch of the Umpqua River

It must have taken an incredibel amount of blasting to make way for the highway

Small grass-strip airport hanger

Isolated farm

Daytime moon

Another seemingyl random clearcut

We never did see any elk

Hillside wildflowers

Unfortunate RVers

As we neared southern Oregon, we began to climb through the western foothills of the Cascades


Of course what goes up eventually goes down!

There were still ocasional farms along our route

The vineyards were unexpected ,,, but not sure why

Mt. McLoughlin (9,495')

There was even a waterfall

We exited I-5 about 30 miles north of the California broder to top off our tank as we … actually I … decided to top off out tank as we'd been told that gas was approaching $5.00/gallon in "The Golden State".  I pulled in to a gas lane hardly wide enought to acmoodate our motorhome , two of the wheels were actually up on a curb.  Exiting was even more of a challenge … as we had to make a tight turn and avoice four mailboxes in the process.  Debbie stood outside to make cetain we didn't hit them and later told me that we have a at least 3 inches to spare.  Needless to say, she was not happy with me at that moment!

As we left the gas station …

Back on the highway, we began another long climb as we neared the Oregon/California state line.

We couldn't figure out what the strange-looking vertical clouds were

Nearing the summit of the Mt. Sisklyou pass we ere greeted with a series of signs.

and then reached the hieght of land at

before heading downhill!

Then, part way down, we caught our first tantilizing glimpse of Mt. Shasta.

This was truly rewarding as the clouds to the north had cloaked the majestic, snow-covered summits of Mt. Ranier, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood.

Finally we were leaving

and arriving in

where EVERY vehicle must pass through an agricultural inspection station.

another view of Mt. Shasta

I-5 continues through a varied and stark, but beautiful landscape for another couple of dozen miles.

We pulled into a rest area for lunch

witha great view out of our front windshield

Black Butte is the small cone-shaped volcanic mountain to the right of Shasta

Where as the Interstate speed limits through Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washingotn and Oregon allowed travel up to 70 MPH (although we keep our speed around 60 MPH) in California trucks and vehicles towing … as we do with our Jeep behind us … are limited to

and there are constant reminders of traveler's speeds.

A roadside sculpure I never saw

We've passed this truck dealer before with his rainbow selection of trucks during prior trips to California

This turned out to be our last view of Mt. Shasta

As with the elks, disappointingly we never saw any bears

Lake Shasta at an elevation of 1,067 ft and a surface area of 30,000 acres, it is the state's largest reservoir, and its third-largest body of water after Lake Tahoe and the Salton Sea

Arriving mid-afternoon in Redding for the night, the temperature was 95o … the hottest we've seen on this trip (although I am certain our friends back East who have been weltering under heat index temperations well above 100o will have little sympathy for us)

Tonight's sunset was very subtle along the Sacramento River which borders our campground.




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July 2 – Portland to Roseburg, Oregon

We delayed getting on the road this morning to avoid the Portland rush hour traffic.

One of the first things which struck us as we drove south along I-5 were the number of what appeared to be homeless encampments


which were in sharp contrasts to nearby floral bedsdiviied-draped sound barriers and

upscale homes.

Continuing south, farmland dominates with hay, fescue, other grain crops and even clover appear to dominate … and old barns.

There are also huge acreages of hazelnut and other crop trees.

We were initially confused by bands of what loked like tulips … which turned out to be nothing more than long rows small orange flags

There was a VW bus right out of the 1960s,

a cool antique coup,

another semi in whose rear door we could see our motorhome,

a rose mural,

a stranded motorist,

a sculpture we couldn't figure out,

more decorative sound barriers,

a steam locomotive pulling a Oregon Ducks car,

Old Glory waving in a brisk breeze,

a lone porta-potty

a colorful motorhome,

a man standing along a lonely stretch of highway exercising his First amendment rights,

a roof alive with vegetative color

a large train assembly area seemingly in the middle of nowhere,

and HIS and HER porty-potties.

We also hop-scotched a flatbed with either thin underlayment, cardboard of some other material which we couldn't figure out.

As we traveled further south, the farmland gave way, in art, to towering evergreens which bordered the I-5 corridor;

although some farms were still present

There are many evidences of clear-cutting, often high on the slopes of nearby hills

as well as efforts of reforestration of those areas.

We had front row seats to unfortunate adventures of other travelers during two of our stops at rest areas.

An Oregon state trooper folllowed a motorist into the rest area and pulled in behind him.

After an apparent heated conversation, the trooper apparently permitted the motorist to visit the rest rooms

before awarding him with a ticket upon his return.

The second incident involved an old motorhome and perhaps even older car.  As we pulled in, we noticed a couple obviously trying to jumpstart their car by pushing it and popping the clutch (you have to be of a certain age to apprecaite this challenge).

After several tries, they somehow succeeded … and we thoguht that would be the end of the show.

But, No.  They turned the car around and then tried to jumpstart the motorhome

an endevour thay had not  accomplished by the time we left the rest area.


We are spending this evening in a pretty Roseburg, OR campground

situated above the South Branch of the Umpqua River

Walking the campground after dinner, we disoverd perhaps the largest tree … we assume related to the coastal redwoods or giant sequoias  … in front of the owners home.


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July 1 – Bothell, WA to Portland, OR

We left Bothell under gray and intermittently rainy skies this morning, heading south along I-405 to skirt Seattle and south of the city on I-5.  While we'd like to share some drmatic scenes, Mt. Ranier and Mt. St. Helens were shrouded by clouds … so we're left with a few sights during our drive to Portland (I never saw any of those with an *  –  although Debbie certainly diid with the camera).

Biker couple


Three bridges over the Puyallup River  *

Tacoma Dome

Tacoma Holy Roman Church Steeple

Decorative Retaining Wall along I-5 *

No idea what this building is *

Antique coupe

Fishermen *

Enroute, we pulled into a Rest Area advertising "Free Coffee" … provided by a variety of "volunteer" groups along Interstates in Washington.  Here, the American Legion was hosting the day's service.  Surprisingly, free cookies were also available for the taking.  WIth two cups of ocffee and four cookies later we left a donation and continued our trip … only to pull in to a second Rest Area less than 40 miles further down the road.  No coffee but cookies and hot chocolate were on the menu.  We left another donation. 


Speed Trap

Washington State Capitol in Olympia

Old industrial building *

Early color *

Farm barn *

The wind began to pick up

Guess who this billboard supports

Randon sculptures

Seemingly isolated homes close to I-5 *

A motorhome driving at the same speed I was comfortable with and followed it for miles

One of many forest clearcuts

The first blue sky weve seen in a week

Roadside color *

Large homes overlooking I-5 *

Barge on the Columbia River near Kalama, WA

One of several very long trains we passed


Looks like some of Washington's State Police speed traps work

A reflection of the front of our motorhome in a 5th-wheel RV just ahead of us *

Fireworks dealers always seem to promote their wares with Red, White & Blue signage

Bridge over the Columbia River – dividing Washington and Oregon

Columbia River – looking East

Columbia River RV Park, Portland

This evening Suanne and Bob Moon,

who live in Portland and friends we traveled with on our 2011 RV trip to Alaska treated us to dinner at

a popular local steakhouse where one can get a FREE dinner if he/she can eat a 72 oz steak and the accompanying vegetables, and salad.

This is the biggest piece of beef we've ever seen not on a living steer!

Back at our motorhome, we glanced out just after sunset.









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June 30 – Back to Seattle

By the time we awoke at around 5:45 this morning, the ship was already in the process of docking in Seattle.

As we'd packed most everything last night, we got dressed and headed to the Lido Deck fo breakfast … I'm afraid Debbie is planning to put me on something of a more restrictive diet than I've been able to enjoy this past week.  Oh, well …

Some statistics provided by the ship prior to our debarking.

The trip:

  • June 23rd – Boarded in Seattle Washington and sailed late that afternoon
  • June 24th – At sea all day
  • June 25th – Arrive in Juneau, Alaska – 866 nautical miles from Seattle at an average speed of 19.8 knots
  • June 26th – Arrive in and Cruise around scenic Glacier Bay – 212 nautical miles at an average speed of 12.0 knots
  • June 27th – Arrive in Sitka, Alaska – 144 naurical miles at an average speed of 10.5 knots
  • June 28th – Arrive in Kethcikan , Alaska – 225 naurical miles at an average speed of 18.5 knots
  • June 29th – Arrive in Victoria, British Columbia – 575 naurical miles at an average speed of 21.5 knots
  • June 30th – Return to Seattle, Washington early morning – 78 naurical miles at an average speed of 16.5 knots

Other interesting stats about the Eurodam:

  • Registry:  Netherlands
  • Ships Tonnage:  86,273 tons – (or ~ 176,546,000 pounds)
  • Length:  936 feet
  • Beam (width) : 105.6 feet
  • Outside Cabins:  897
  • Inside Cabins:  155
  • Passengers:  ~2,100
  • Officers & Crew Members:  851
  • Nationalities of the Crew  44
  • Water Recycled:  12,000 gallons
  • Average Speed:  17 knots
  • Miles Traveled:  ~2,100 (or ~ 2,417 land miles)
  • Fuel Used:  588 Tons (or ~ 16,791 gallons)
  • Eggs Consumed: 12,000

We were off the ship and back to our RV campground by 9:00 AM to get our motorhome out of storage … and, fortunately, our site for tonight was available.

 After some laundry, Debbie did some grocery shopping.


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June 29 – At Sea and Victoria, BC

The trip from Ketchikan to Victoria, British Columbia took most of the day.  Morevoer, until the afternoon, we were sailing through as thick as fog as I've ever experienced at sea with visibility down to as little as 100 yards at times.  Due to the extremely low visibility, under International Rules of the Road,  the ship ws required to sound a long blast on its horn at least once every two minutes … which it did for several hours.

We arrived in Victoria as scheduled at 6:00 PM. 


However, as in reality, there was little to do at that hour (I've been to VIctoria before) other than have dinner (which we'd have to pay for when we'd alredy paid for our meal on the ship) we opted to remain aboard.  And, with two other large cruise ships docked in Victoria, we  were also not anxious to wait in lines or to compete with the crowds for various means of ground transportation

Even to enjoy such luxury as

Instead we grabbed our new binnoculars and made our way to the "Crow's Nest" on the 11th deck with its large windows, where we enjoyed a glass of wine as we gazed out toward the city and over the harbor.

After dinner and back ar our cabin we found the evening's folded towl … a creation of our cabin steward.

This one was clearly ouf favorite of the week

Around midnight, the ship departed for its overnight cruise to Seattle.



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June 28 – Ketchikan, Alaska

I was again up early … by 5:00 AM … and went in search of some morning coffee on the 9th deck dining room.  Outside, our ship was nearing Ketchikan and many fishing, tugs and other commercial boats were already busily underway along the Tongass Narrows between Revillagigedo Island, on which Ketchikan is situated and Gravina Island.

We passed several float plane marinas

and Vigor Corporation,

the largest shipbuilding and ship repair facility

along Alaska’s panhandle;  employing some 500 workers and constructing most of the marine ferries used along the state’s Marine Highway.

As the ship pulled alongside its assigned pier

there was an excellent view of the dockside retail establishments

most peddling jewelry, furs, T-shirts and almost any type of tourist souvenir you can imagine.

Ketchikan is the southeastern most city in Alaska. With a population at of  8,050, it is the fifth-most populous city in the state, and tenth-most populous community encompassing suburbs both north and south of the city along the 32-mile Tongass Highway, plus small rural settlements accessible mostly by water, registered a population of 13,477 in that same census.

Ketchikan, located on Revillagigedo Island, is named after Ketchikan Creek, which flows through the town, emptying into the Tongass Narrows,  a short distance southeast of its downtown.

Ketchikan Creek served as a summer fish camp for Tlingit Natives for untold years before the town was established by Mike Martin in 1885.  For most of the latter half of the 20th century, a large portion of Ketchikan's economy and life centered on the Ketchikan Pulp Company. The mill closed in 1997 in the wake of the passage of the Tongass Timber Reform Act of 1990, which reduced timber harvest targets in the national forest

Ketchikan's modern economy is based upon government services, tourism and commercial fishing. And Civic boosters have dubbed the community the “Salmon” Capital of the World.

Ketchikan has the world's largest collection of standing totem poles, found throughout the city

By this time, we knew we were going to need our rain gear.

We got our first glimpse of the city’s famous … or infamous … Creek Street.

Three other large cruise ships followed us into Ketchikan over the next couple of hours.

Barding our bus for the Totem Bight Historic Park, passing an eagle carving

done by one of the master carvers who create totem poles.

Located in the Tongass National Forest, at 16.7 million acres, the largest temperate rain forest in the world and the second largest rain forest after the Amazon, the Totem Bight Historical State Park. 

With the growth of non-Native settlements in Southeast Alaska in the early 1900's, and the decline of a barter economy, Natives moved to communities where work was available.  The villages and totem poles they left behind were soon overgrown by forests and eroded by weather. In 1938 the U.S. Forest Services began a program aimed at salvaging and reconstructing these large cedar monuments.  By using Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) funds to hire skilled carvers from among the older Natives, two things took place: young artisans learned the art of carving totem poles, and totems which had been left to rot in the woods were either repaired or duplicated.

Alaskan architect Linn Forrest supervised construction of the model Native village for this site, then called Mud Bight. The fragments of old poles were laid beside freshly cut cedar logs, and every attempt was made to copy them traditionally.  Tools for carving were hand-made, modeled on the older tools used before coming of Europeans.  Samples of Native paints were created from natural substances such as clam shells, lichen, graphite, copper pebbles, and salmon eggs; natural colors were then duplicated with modern paints.

 By the time World War II slowed down the CCC project, the community house and 15 poles were in place.  The name of the site was then changed to Totem Bight (presently 33 acres in size).  At statehood, in 1959, title to the land passed from the federal government to the State of Alaska, and the site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.  At that time it came under the management of the State's Department of Natural Resources for continuing historic preservation treatment by the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation.

The moss covered rope and post attest to the dampness of the air.

Moreover young trees growing up from the fallen stumps of decaying trees which have fallen attest to the near continuous damp air … which receives up to 13 feet of rain a year.

Under a canopy of hemlock, Sitka spruce red cedar, it is the home of one of the world’s largest stands of totems and an authentic Native clan house.  Totem poles and even the clan houses are typically made from red cedar for its grain strength, resistance to bugs and rot.

To appreciate Totem Bight, it was first important to understand Totem Poles.  Totem tell stories through the figures and crests on the pole.  Totem figures usually depict humans, animals or invented combinations.  Ears on the side of the head tell you it is a human figure; animal ears are on top.

Some definitions:

  • Potlaches – repay debits honor relatives or celebrate an important life transition such as birth death, marriage or house building.  The last for days and include featuring, speeches, singing and dancing.
  • Tlingit and Haida – people are divided into two moieties, Raven and Eagle … and in some places, Raven and Wolf.  Marrying within one’s moiety is strictly forbidden.  A child’s moiety comes from his mother.
  • Moieties – consist of clans.  Clans are divided into houses, and all have crests symbols. These crests are placed on the clan house, totem poles, boats and ceremonial regalia.

The colors, while presently obtained from paint stores, were originally made by the master crafts persons.

  • Red – from Rust
  • Black – from Charcoal
  • Blue – from Copper sulfide

When there is a bare area on the pole it is intentional and meant to place additional emphasis on the carved images.

The following are some of the animals typically found carved on totem poles, although not all of these attributes can be found on every use of these figures.

Eagle – one of two main Haida and Tlingit crests.  Characteristics include:

  • Curved down beak, shorter than that of the Raven.
  • Tongue.
  • Prominent U-form ears.
  • U-form feathers.

Raven – thought to have super natural powers and be the creator of the world.  It is one of the two main Tlingit and Haida crests.  Characteristics include:

  • Long straight beak having a blunt or short turned-down tip.
  • Ears visible.
  • Tongue visible.

Mystical Thunderbird – the most powerful of the spirits.  Only the most prestigious of chiefs have Thunderbird crests.  Characteristics include:

  • Outstretched wings.
  • Upper beak sharply curved.
  • Curved appendages on the top of the head.

Frog – it is said that the curved tops on house poles prevent them from falling over.  Characteristics include:

  • Wide mouth.
  • Thick lips.
  • Toed feet in flexed position.
  • No teeth' ears or tail.

Bear – because of its power and human-like qualities, a killer bear was taken to the chief’s house and treated as a high-ranking quest.  Characteristics include:

  • Large flaring nostrils.
  • Wide mouth with large canine teeth.
  • Claw-like paws.
  • Short or no tail.
  • Protruding tongue.
  • Prominent ears

Beaver – an important crest of the Haida is the subject of many legends.  Characteristics include:

  • Open mouth.
  • Large incisor teeth.
  • Stick held in mouth of forepaws.
  • Cross-hatched pattern on the tail

Blackfish or Killer Whale – Haida believed killer whales were drowned persons returning to visit.  Characteristics include:

  • Round head with a snout filled with large teeth.
  • Blow hole often carved as a small human-like face.
  • Prominent dorsal fin and pectoral fins.
  • Round eyes.

Watchman – standing watch atop a totem pole the watchman warns the owner of an approaching enemy.  Characteristics include:

  • Human figure.
  • Ears on side of head.
  • And often has concentric rings signaling the number of potlaches the owner has given.


While we cannot remember the details of the stories … which are read from the top of the totem down … about each of the totems we saw today, we did rediscover that the accumulated wisdom of mankind has frequently been captured on tourist-trap T-shirts.

Back to Ketchikan’s historic totems

At over 80 feet, one of the world’s tallest totems

several totems, which are undergoing repair work,

and clan house.


The shoreline of the park has its own beauty.

We also discovered why some eagles become “bald”.

Returning to the ship, we caught sight of several interesting through the rain-mottled windows of our bus.

Floating shack, lived in by loggers who lived on the water with the log “rafts” they were shepherding down the Inland Passage to paper mills in Ketchikan

An Alaska Airlines 737 taking off from Ketchikan International Airport across the Narrows on Gravina Island

An ethereal cross whose mysterious appearance was caused by the rain.

Large, upscale

and more modest homes (the latter akin to some of those shown on “Buying Alaska”)

After arriving back at our ship’s pier, we took a short ¼ mile stroll to the Creek Street National Historic District, where salmon runs

attracted Alaska Natives for centuries and which after the arrival of the “white man” eventually became the city’s red-light district … and today, modest tourist-oriented retail shops.  However, it is the historically titillating tales of the Creek Street buildings that attract the tourists; including

June’s Cafe

Preacher’s House

20 Creek Street

Ketchikan’s Shingle Mill

and last, but not least, Dolly’s House and Museum

Dedicated to Ketchikan’s most successful madam

Heading back toward the ship …

Before reboarding the MS Eurodam, we visited “The Rock”, a sculpture sited beside the Visitor’s Center on cruise ship pier 1. 

It depicts a Tlingit woman sitting with her drum singing her song of Ketchikan.  She tells a story of the five sculptures which surround her on “the Rock”.  She sings of how the “loggers” came and harvested the trees, the “miners” mined gold, the “fishermen” dared the sea for the salmon and the halibut, and the “pilots” who braved the sky carrying people out beyond the reach of any ship or road.  The “pioneer woman” arrives on her own, looking out over the horizon of opportunity that awaits her in this new land. 

Atop The Rock stands Chief Johnson

who, in the early days of Ketchikan, would be waiting on the dock to greet travelers arriving on the ships sailing from San Francisco and Seattle.  He offered them trinkets for sale and in this way began cultural exchanges that continue to day.  He stands as a visionary as he now welcomes the world.

With the tides, which have a 20-foot range, having changed since our ship’s arrival in port earlier this morning, we were held up before reboarding until the gangplanks could be repositioned to eliminate a steep climb, especially as they were wet form the rain.

Finally, back aboard we watched the traffic on the Tongass Narrows between our ship and Gravina Island.

Tonight was the second “Gala Night” of the week, so, instead of jeans, we donned our “Thursday best” … a dress for Debbie and jacket and tie for me … for dinner.

We are presently steaming south toward Victoria in British Columbia where we will dock briefly late tomorrow afternoon.


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June 27 – Sitka, Alaska

Our ship arrived off Sitka early this morning and, unlike other ports of call, it was necessary for it to back in to its berth

where all of the freight and supplies for the residents arrives and where a small army of private and commercial boats come and go

some five miles south of the city.

Glancing down as the ship’s mooring lines were being tightened, we notices several orange/red colored jellyfish.

However, Sitka’s greeting for tourists arriving by cruise ship begins at the pier.

The City and Borough of Sitka or New Archangel under Russian is located on Baranof Island and the southern half of Chichagof Island, part of the Alaskan Panhandle.  With a land area of 2,9 square miles, Sitka has a population of 8,881 (2010 census).

The Russians settled Old Sitka in 1799, calling it Fort Saint Michael . The governor of Russian American, Alexander Baranov (1747-1819),

arrived in 1790 under the auspices of the Russian-American Company, a colonial trading company chartered by Tsar Pail I.  In June 1802, Tlingit warriors destroyed the original settlement, killing many of the Russians, with only a few managing to escape.  Baranov was forced to levy 10,000 rubles in ransom for the safe return of the surviving settlers.

Baranov returned to Sitka in August 1804 with a large force, and bombarded the Tlingit fort but was not able to cause significant damage.  The Russians then launched an attack on the fort and were repelled.  However, after two days of bombardment, the Tlingit "hung out a white flag" and then deserted the fort. Following their victory at the Battle of Sitka, the Russians established New Archangel as a permanent settlement.  In 1808, with Baranov still governor, Sitka was designated the capital of Russian America.

As there are only 14 miles of roads in Sitka, we saw many of the residential areas during our bus ride into town.  While there are a few, seemingly high-end, homes along the water, most of the houses are quite modest and there are several mobile home communities.

Along the way, we passed several bald eagles … and once off the bus we noticed one perched high on the cross of St. Michael’s Cathedral (more later)

As the city is only a mile or so wide and half dozen blacks wide, we decided on a self-planned and self-guided walking tour.  After passing a statue of Baranov and a long Tlingit dugout canoe, we had a view of a lighthouse across a channel between Sitka and one of its small neighboring islands

an abandoned house on another island,

and spotted a flotilla of kayakers.

Heading for Castle Hill, we passed the “Cottage by the Sea” (now the Sitka Women’s Club), built in 1897

and the Sitka Hotel

After a short climb, we arrived at the summit of Castle Hill with its panoramic views of Sitka.  The hill was an early stronghold of the Kiks.adi clan. Later, successions of Russian buildings occupied the site including Baranov’s Castle from 1837 to 1894.  It is also the location where the transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States occurred on October 18, 1867.

Aside from two cannon,

several plaques describe the history of Castle Hill

Descending, we passed Pioneer House, a state home for elderly Alaskans, built in 1934.  A massive pioneer bronze statue graces the front of the building.

Nearby is a grassy park containing a totem pole that displays the double-headed eagle of Sitka’s Russian heritage.  Originally proposed in 1940 and approved and funded several years later.

The symbols represent:

  • Alexander Baranov – Chief Manager of the Shelikhov and Russian-American Company settlement is North America from 1890 to 1818..
  • Russian Bear – the black bear is the national personification of Russia since the 17th century – representative ot Tsarist Russia, the Soviet Union and the present day Russian Federation
  • Katlian – a military leader of the Sitka Kiks.di clan against the Russians under Baranov and the Battles of 1802 and 1804, surviving both confrontations and was sued for peace by Baranov.
  • Raven – as incorrectly labeled “Crow” by the U.S. Forest Service, the Raven crest represents the Kiks-adi moiety, a kinship group equal and opposite to the Sitka Kaagwaantaan moiety, represented by the Eagle crest located under the Raven’s beak.
  • Russian Double-headed Eagle – originally intended as symbols of Imperial possession, eagle crests such as the one depicted were given by Russians to Kiks-adi clan leaders as peace offerings to ratify agreements.
  • Brown Bear with Frog Emerging from Knothole –  represents a clan of the Kaagwaantaan, whereas the frog crest is shared by both the kiks.adi and Kaagwaantaan clans

Nearby are the Sheet’ka Kwáan Naa Kahidi Sitka Tribe of Alaska Community House,

and the Sheet’ka Kiks.adi Clan’s Herring Rock.  The original Herring Rock is located on the waterfront on the waterfront of the Sitka Indian Village.  This portion was removed in 1973 to its present location.

On an adjacent hill is a replica of a blockhouse, typically on the corners of forts, of a former Russian fort which housed cannons and protected sentries from wind and rain.

Yakov Netsvetov became the first Orthodox priest of Alaskan Native heritage in 1828.  After 234 years of hard work as a missionary, nearly blind and impoverished, Father Netsvetov died in 1864 while serving as priest at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Sitka.  His grave is commemorated by a nearby monument.

We stopped by the Russian Cemetery, over 200 years old with many headstones crafted from the ballasts of Russian ships.

And grave of Princess Maksoutoff, wife of the last Russian governor, Dimitri Maksoutoff.

The Cathedral of Saint Michael was constructed in Sitka in 1848 and became the seat of the Russian Orthodox Bishop of Kamchatka in the Aleutian Islands.  The original church burned to the ground in 1966, but was restored to its original appearance, with the deliberate exception of its clock face, which is black in photographs taken before 1966, but white in subsequent photos.

Notethe coffee pot in the rear … probably not from the Russian period

Original key to the Cathedral


Ceremonial Bride and Groom wedding crowns

Throne for the first Bishop of Alaska

Today, this historic cathedral is in desperate need of repair!

Leaving St. Michael’s we passed a lonely golden for his master,

one of Sitka’s two traffic lights,

a stylized bike rack outside the Visitor’s Center, apropos for a community so dependent on the sea

and the Hanlon-Osbakken House, built in 1895.

The Russian Bishop’s House, built in 1842, by the Russian American Company as a residence for the Bishop of the Orthodox Church, it is the oldest intact Russian building in Sitka.

Orthodox Bishop Innocent lived in Sitka after 1840.  He was known for his interest in education and his house, parts of which served as a schoolhouse.   The Russian Bishop’s House, since been restored by the National Park Service.  Among the many artifacts housed at the Bishop’s House;

This is the rarest of the Russian artifacts, the only marker recovered of the 20 known to have been buried.  Archeologists recovered it at the site of Redobt St. Michael, the Russian settlement destroyed by Tlingit Indians in 1802

The local middle school has an interesting mural and photos of its current students

While the high school is about the smallest we’ve ever seen … of course it's a small city.

A colorful mural graces a local supermarket (on of just two we saw in the town) where we picked up a couple of items, a cup of coffee and two cookies one for each of us).

We stopped by two other churches, the original St Gregory’s which is very small and locked

and St. Peters by-the-sea Episcopal Church

First service held on Thanksgiving 1899

Legends have circulated around the original of the beautiful stained-glass window on the front of the church; largely because it contains the Star of David.

Heading back toward the shuttle boarding area, we walked through a park along the waterfront

where three concrete marine animals make great climbing places for kids.

During the bus trip back to the cruise ship docks, we hope to catch a glimpse of Mount Edgecumbe, a dormant volcano which hasn’t erupted on over 400 years located about 10 miles east of Sitka, on the southern end of Kruzof Island.

Unfortunately, its summit remained hidden in the clouds today

However, thanks to the miracle of the Internet, we can see what the mountain looks like when the skies are clear.

On April 1, 1974, a local prankster named Oliver "Porky" Bickar ignited hundreds of old tires in the crater, which he had flown in for an April Fool’s Day joke.   The dark smoke rising from the crater into a bright clear sky

convinced nearby residents of Sitka, that the volcano was erupting.  The hoax was soon revealed (Bicker had arranged to have a helicopter drop dozens of tires into the crater which then lighted), as around the rim of the volcano, "April Fool" was spray-painted on the snow in 50-foot letters.  It seems Oliver Bickar had been planning the prank for four years, and lists it among the ten best Aprils Fools hoaxes of all time.

Before reboarding the ship, we stopped to grab great clam chowdah lunch at

This evening we went to a terrific show featuring the comedy of David Crowe (very funny) and then wandered over to the Billboard on Board lounge where a couple played music form the 1960s.

Another great day … and at sea again this evening … with the ship rocking gently … a we head for Ketchikan.

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June 26 – Glacier Bay

 Until 10,000 years ago, continental-scale ice sheets came and went many times for seven million years.  During the Great Ice Age, these ice sheets would reach as far south as the upper Midwest of the United States.  Glacier Bay today is the product of the Little Ice Age, a geologically recent glacial advance in northern regions.  The Little Ice Age reached its maximum extent about 1750. 

Unlike glaciers in some of the mountains in the Lower-48 were glaciers may soon be a thing of the past, while some of Glacier Bay’s glaciers are receding, due to heavy snowfall in the soaring Fairweather Mountains, Glacier Bay remains home to a few “healthy” and advancing glaciers.

Since time immemorial, the clans of the Huna Tlingit have lived and thrived in and around Glacier Bay and have recognized  it as their homeland.  The happenings and history of Glacier Bay are retained in the oral history and traditions of these clans that keep their legacy alive.  One oral tradition remains strong and stories are told to the present day of the ice advancing “as fast as a dog could run” and forcing the Tlingit from their homeland.  Later, as the ice began to recede, they returned to a landscape filled with bergs which they called “Halked-Too”, meaning “Among the Ice”.

Comprised of 3.3 million acres of mountains, glaciers, forests and waterways, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a highlight of the Inside Passage and part of a World Heritage Site.

Just 250 years ago, Glacier Bay was all glacier and no bay. A massive river of ice, roughly 100 miles long and thousands of feet deep occupied the entire bay.  Today, that glacier is gone, having retreated north, scraping the land clean, leaving behind a series of narrow inlets framed by step-sided mountains, rising as much as 6,680 feet (Mount Cooper).

As daylight broke (I was up around 5:00 AM), the ship was far north of Sitka and nearing the mouth of the Sitakaday Narrows at the southern end of Glacial Bay, the stark and snow-accented mountain scenery was incredibly beautiful.

In one inlet I spied two kayakers dwarfed by the surrounding landscape.

There were birds everywhere,

flotillas of sea otters,

and an occasional whale.

The only signs of humans came in the form of other sightseeing boats.

Entering the Tarr Inlet … until the beginning of the 20th century still a river of solid ice … but now the waterway,

and our first glimpse of ice bergs

to our Glacier Bay destination, the Margerie Glacier.

The Margeria Glacier is roughly one mile wide, with a vertical face of about 250 feet high above the waterline, and a base approximately 100 feet below sea level.  Avalanches, rock slides, tributary glaciers and the scouring of the valley have caused an accumulation of dirt and rock causing sections of the glacier to look “dirty

It was here we saw our first, and only, seals.

While not extensive, we did see some calving of the glacial face.

As the ship turned to begin its southward course enroute to our next port-of-call, Sitka, its propellers churned the silt-laden floor of the Inlet bringing a flotilla of gulls to the stern of the ship.

The views were still awesome!

Once in the southern reaches of Glacial Bay, we passed the Reid Glacier

and the weather turned overcast, the winds freshened and the calm seas of the bay were replaced by very gently rising seas.

During dinner, while the sky temporarily darkened, rays from the sun lit up around a island off to our west.

This evening, we attended our first show,

an excellent collaboration between a BBC presentation of Alaska accompanied by music played by the very talented Eurodam ensemble.  Some clips (resolution not exceptional as shooting a digital screen from the audience section of the theater).

Back at our room … we were able to watch the slowly setting sun, the latter taken after 10:15 PM

As the sky finally darkened, the swells began to increase and Debbie could feel it and was beginning to worry if she’d suffer the same “upset” which laid her low on Sunday evening.  Fortunately, she weathered this storm without incident!

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June 25 – Juneau – Alaska’s State Capitol

I awoke early and looking out our cabin window just in time to catch the sun raising about the mountains to the east of the Gasineau Channel.

While Debbie slept in … is was only a few minutes after 5:00 AM, I headed for a cup of coffee and the rear of deck 9 where the vistas were amazing!


Another cruise shop headed for Juenau

Another whale

And still another whale

About the time Debbie joined me, the Juneau harbor pilot arrived to guide the ship into its berth … although still another five hours before acutally mooring..

Meanwhile the spectacular views continued right up through the time we pulled into the pier in Juneau.

Once off the ship, we finaly got to see just how big it really was.

The City and Borough of Juneau , commonly known as Juneau, is the second largest city in the U.S. by area (3,255 sq. miles).   Juneau has been the capital of Alaska since 1906, when the government was moved from Sitka as dictated by the U.S. COngress in 1900The municipality unified on July 1, 1970, when the city of Juneau merged with the city of Douglas, directly across the channel, and the surrounding Greater Juneau Borrough to form the current municipality, which is larger by area than both Rhode Island and Delaware.  The downtown area is nestled at the base of Mount Juneau.  In 2014, the population estimate from the United States Census Bureau was 32,406, making it the second most populous city in Alaska after Anchorage, although Fairbanks is the second most populated metropolitan area with roughly 100,000 residents.  Juneau's daily population can increase by roughly 6,000 people from visiting cruise ships between the months of May and September.

The city is named after a gold prospector from Quebec, Joe Juneau, though the place was for a time called Rockwell and then Harrisburg (after Juneau's co-prospector, RIchard Harris).

Juneau is rather unusual among U.S. capitals (except Honolulu, Hawaii) in that there are no roads connecting the city to the rest of Alaska or to the rest of North America (although ferry service is available for cars).  The absence of a road network is due to the extremely rugged terrain surrounding the city.  This in turn makes Juneau a de facto island city in terms of transportation, since all goods coming in and out must go by plane or boat, in spite of the city being located on the Alaskan mainland. Downtown Juneau sits at sea level, with tides averaging 16 feet, below steep mountains about 3,500 feet  to 4,000 feet high.  Atop these mountains is the Juneau Icefield, a large ice mass from which about 30 glaciers flow; two of these, the Mendenahll Glacier and the Lemon Creek Glacier, are visible from the local road system.  The Mendenhall glacier has been gradually retreating; its front face is declining both in width and height.

In the 1870s, George Pitz, a mining engineer from Sitka offered a reward to anyone who could lead him to gold-bearing ore.  Chief Kowee, of the Auk Tlingit Tribe, arrived with ore samples from the Gastineau Channel.  Pitz enticed prospectors Richard Harris and Joseph Juneau to investigate.  The pair reached the Gastineau Channel in August 1880 and found plenty of color, but didn’t follow the gold to its sauces.  At Chief Kowee urging, Harris and Juneau were sent back and discovered a “mother lode” in Silver Bow Basin.  On October 18, 1880, they staked a 160-acre town on the beach.  Soon they were joined by boat loads of prospectors seeking their fortune in gold.  Juneau was born.

Within a few years, Juneau grew from a seasonal Native fishing camp to one of the hubs of a large-scale hard-rock mining industry.  The surrounding hills were honeycombed by two mines; the Alaska-Juneau Mine and the Alaska-Gastineau Mine. 

On Douglas Island, the ground once reverberated with the 960 stamps from the mills of the once-renowned Treadwell Gold Mining Company.  That mine reached its peak production in 1915, two years before a cave-in flooded three of Treadwell’s four mines, ending the Treadwell era.  Shortages of manpower and supplies brought about by World War II lead to the closure of the Alaska=Juneau Mine in 1944.  The only remnant of these mines sits in decay above the city of Juneau.

Still, today, there are more miles of mining tunnels within Mount Roberts than there re roads in Juneau.

As one reason for the crisue was to visit Alaska's State Capitol Building, we headed off in that direction, passing several statues along the way.

Windfall Fisherman – Summer is the bountiful time of easy living for brown bears in southeast Alaska, and they have arranged their lives to advantage stuffing themselves on greens, berries, roots and salmon while the season affords and retiring to sleep the winter in fat comfort.

William Henry Seward (May 16, 1801 – October 10, 1872) was U.S. Secretary of State from 1861 to 1869, and earlier served as Governor of New York and a U.S. Senator.  A determined opponent of the spread of slavery in the years leading up to the American Civial War, he was a dominant figure in th Republican Party during its formative years and was praised for his work on behalf of the Union as Secretary of State during the CIvil War.  As the 1860 presidential election approached, he was regarded as the leading candidate for the Republican nomination. Several factors, including attitudes to his vocal opposition to slavery, his support for immigrants and Catholics, and his association with editor and New York political boss Therlow "Boss" Tweed , worked against him and Abraham Lincoln secured the presidential nomination.  Although devastated by his loss, he campaigned for Lincoln, who was elected and appointed him Secretary of State.  Seward did his best to stop the southern states from seceding; once that failed, he devoted himself wholeheartedly to the Union cause. His firm stance against foreign intervention in the Civil War helped deter the United Kingdom and France from entering the conflict and possibly gaining the independence of the Confederate States.  He was one of the targets of the 1865 assassination pliot  that killed Lincoln, and was seriously wounded by conspirator Lewis Powell.  Seward remained loyally at his post through the presidency of ANdrew Johnson, during which he negotiated the Alaska Purcahse in 1867 and supported Johnson during hisimpeachment.  A contemporary described Seward as "one of those spirits who sometimes will go ahead of public opinion instead of tamely following its footprints"

We noticed that every parking garage was adorned by a colorful mural or bas relief with an Alaskan theme.

Before leaving the city, we discovered many more murals,

On the front of Juneau City Hall

ever-present ravens everywhere,

Clever and humerous signs,

a chalkboard on which city residents and tourists could leave messages.

We found it baffling one would see a motorhome in the city … as there are only 40 miles of roads, not leading anywhere.


Finally, the Alaskan State Capitol

The building was completed in 1931 to serve as a Territorial and Federal Building at a total cost of $1 million.  When Alaska became a state in 1959, the building was given to the state to serve as its Capitol.  In 2017, a four-year, $36 million renovation was completed.  The renovations were necessary in order to retrofit the structure to resist seismic forces, improve energy efficiency, and restore the art deco exterior to its original grandeur.  Many of the furnishings found along its hallways are originals or reproductions to reflect the period when the building was first opened.

The marble in the lobby and throughout the building is Tokeen and Gravina marble,  It came from Prince of Wales Island located south of Jueeau near Ketchikan.

Elizabeth Wanamaker Peratrovich in honor of her battle against racial discrimination during Alaska territorial days.  Born on July 4, 1911 in Petersburg, Alaska, Mrs. Peratrovich and her husband Roy were Tlingit Native Leaders who put forth significate personal effort into the successful lobbying for the Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act.

The relief artwork depicting life in the 1930s are stone-fired clay murals.

"Harvest and the Land" depicts Alaska natives hunting in the interior

"Harvest of the Sea" shows fishermen on the Alaska coastal waters

Senate Finance Committee Room (original Superior Court of Judicial Branch One) restored to period.

World War II Russian Ferry Pilots (gifts from Russia)

Just a sampling of the scores of newspapers on display throughout the Capitol

House of Representatives Chamber

Senate Chamber and doors

Period pieces in the hallways


Hand carved office doors

Map of Alaska made from a piece of the Alaska Pipeline pipe.  The weld line represents the route of teh 48" pipeline.

An incredible Alaskan Quilt in the Lieutenant Governor's office from a college classmate.

An Athabascan Beaded Baby Strap in the Governor's office

Gold and silver imbedded state seal.

Earrings wron by a State Seanator symbnolizing speaches going "in" one ear and "out" the other.

Clear evidence of global warming form two photos taken in 1973 (Black & White photo) and 2007 (color photo)

Nearby the Capitol is a famous totem pole.

We also visited the Juneau–Douglas City Museum which provides a history of the city from its earlies days through the Russian and gold prospecting ear and on into the present.

After leaving the museum, we visited St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church. Built in 894, it is the oldest original Russian Orthodox Church in Alaska.


This building was constructed in 1893-94 in Juneau with local timber and local labor.  However, confusion often arises because the architectural plans, funds for the construction and the interior furnishings, including the icon screen (called an iconostasis) and the six large icons at the front of the church were shipped from Russia.

The floor plan of the Orthodox Church is based on the ancient temple in Jerusalem.  Like the ancient temple, most orthodox churches have three distinct sections …

  • The Narthex or outer room – where ritual purifications were done.
  • The Nave – where people stood in the ancient temple while the priests offered the sacrifice.
  • The Altar – is the entire area behind the iconostasis.

Just outside the chruch is a memorial to local Japanese residents who were interred during World War II

And, just across the street is another memorial to Japanese internees, "The Empty Chair".

Nearby are two other interesting, but locked, churches

Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin MAry

Holy Trinity Episcopal Church

Strolling through the rather condensed city proper … 

1947 Ford

USS Juneau (CL-51) Memorial –  The thirteenth of November 1942, was the last day in the life of eight ships (and hundreds of sailors) including the USS Juneau

during the naval Battle of Guadalcanal.  Juneau was in the thick of the battle until an enemy torpedo knocked her out of action.  Retiring from the battle, an enemy submarine took Juneau in her sights and at 11:01 Am, another torpedo found it mark.  The cruiser disintegrated instantaneously and completely.  All but 10 members of her crew of 700 perished, including the five Sullivan brothers

Fisherman's Memorial

Pier Sculptures

Flowers Everywhere

During our stroll through the center of the city, we saw two float planes land … difficult to see as our live of sight was partially locked by mooring lines from our ship.

Instead of eating out, we opted to head back to the ship for "wine time" and dinner.

Just a few minutes ago, the ship left its bearth

as it begins to make it way toward Glacier Bay



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June 24 – A Day at Sea

We awoke about 50 miles east of the coast of British Columbia and out of sight of land under an overcast sky and a gradually increasing swell causing the ship to begin to gradually roll back-and-forth.  While a new sensation for Debbie, it was quite gentile compared to some of the storms and 55o (on a Fleet Tug USS Seneca ATF-91) to 65o (aboard the USS Graham County LST-1176) rolls I’d experienced while at sea with the Navy.

After breakfast, we spent the morning in the Crow’s Nest, an observation area on the 11th deck

    where there were monitors showing the progress of our northward trip

could look forward, even when the weather closed in for a brief period.

From that elevation, while not seeing any whales, we were able to spot spray from the blow holes a number of humpbacks.

A few views from walking around the ship and its outer decks.

We took in a concert of Arron Copeland and other American music by a group that has performed at Lincoln Center in New York … while we could listed to them, our seats prevented us from seeing them during their performance.

(shot from around a corner)

Tonight is one of the cruise’s “Gala Dinners”, meaning we need to shed our jeans for some more form al wear


Meanwhile, the seas were still running high enough to make navigating the ship’s passageways a challenge.

With Debbie still feeling a little under the “weather”, she settled for sole while I started with a shrimp cocktail, followed by tenderloin and [more] shrimp … and a chocolate truffle! 

Looking out from the dining room window, we could see the evening sun begin to paint the  northwestern shore of British Columbia. 

Then we caught the distant splash of a breaching humpback whale.

Back in our cabin, we found the schedule for Monday, two mints and fresh towels!

Finally, one last look out our cabin slider.

Another cruise ship after dusk

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