Traveling to Alaska and through the Yukon Travel log with Charlie and Sue

•September 25, 2014 • 1 Comment
Ready to head to the north

Ready to head to the north

 

Travel logs are always somewhat boring and drawn out so I put lots of pictures.  Sorry this took so long to post but the first attempt went into cyberspace.
Day 1: We left home in Hampshire County, WV on Thursday and traveled to Arlington Virginia to stay with Sue’s cousin and husband.
Day 2: Ed drove us to the Dullas International airport at 5:30 am. We boarded our plane before 8:00 am and soon we were in the air on our way for a five-hour flight to Seattle, Washington, arriving at about 10:00 am after traveling through three time zones. I had arranged for a rental car in Seattle so we gathered our luggage and ventured down to the rental area. In Seattle the car rental area is off the airport grounds so we boarded a bus and were shuttled to it. We picked up our little tiny low-cost rental car which we found on HOTWIRE and decided we wanted to see Seattle, so we loaded up the Garmin with some Seattle points of interest and took off. Our first visit was Pikes Place Market, an incredible flea market/farmers market/novelties stores area of town. While drifting around, we found a nice place to eat overlooking the crowds at the market. After eating, we got back in our car and headed in the direction of the Space Needle. Finding a parking place was interesting and then we found out that the elevator ride up the needle was $23/person for a 15 story elevator ride. We decided that was a little expensive for our blood so, we walked around the area which is rich in culture with lots of interesting places to see. Overall it was a great evening. With the sun beginning to settle, we decided we better get to our hotel, the Quality Inn and Suite in Tacoma and get a good nights sleep.

Day 3, 4, 5 & 6: We boarded the airport shuttle and ended up back at the airport to meet our charter bus and begin our journey to Vancouver. After a fun time at the Canadian border (sarcasm) our driver took us to through Vancouver (there is no way around Vancouver) on our way to the boarding dock where we checked in with Holland Tours and boarded our ship, the Zuiderdam.

This is the sister ship to ours

This is the sister ship to ours

alaska-beach 2014 149
That evening we explored our boat searching out all the different areas including food areas, entertainment areas and a good place to watch the ocean and hopefully the glaciers and whales. Well, after the first day, the fog and general yucky weather kept us from seeing the glaciers or anything else while on the boat. After two days through some rough water our large boat slowly settled into Juneau, which is the capital of Alaska. We had scheduled a tour to the Mendenhall Glacier along with a whale watching boat trip. The first leg of our trip took us to the foot of the immense glacier, which was amazing, and then headed over to the dock to board our charter boat to go whale watching.

The Mendenhall Glacier

The Mendenhall Glacier

Lets go see some whales!

Lets go see some whales!

We saw a number of whales but nothing like to ones you see on the nature channel. When we returned from the whale watch, we were dropped off in the middle of town. I think Juneau has more jewelry stores than street corners. Sue and I walked the streets checking out the expensive diamonds and gold and then returned to the ship for a trip to the food bistro. Later that night our boat continued north to Skagway, which can also be spelled Skaguay which I think is an Eskimo word meaning ‘stupid white people..’

The little town of Skagway

The little town of Skagway

Upon arriving in Skagway, we disembarked and found our way to where the White Pass and Yukon Railroad would carry us part way to Whitehorse, Canada. After a two-hour trip through incredibly beautiful mountains we left the train and boarded a Holland Line coach for the remainder of our trip to Whitehorse.

Getting ready to head inland

Getting ready to head inland

Did not feel good about this....

Did not feel good about this….

Upon arriving in Whitehorse we settled into the Whitehorse Westmark Hotel and prepared to explore the town. That evening we attended a local production call the FRANTIC FOLLIES which was extremely humorous! Whitehorse is a beautiful town but still a little tarnished by the influx of tourists and the jewelry stores. That’s where we had our first run in with the Alaskan daylight hours. We were walking around and decided to check out a book store. Whoa! How could it be closed? We checked the posted hours and it didn’t close until 9:00. Were we surprised to check the bank clock and find out that it was after 10:00 and still light!!
Day 7: We boarded our coach to begin our 8 hour journey on the Klondike Highway to Dawson City, a major city in the early gold rush. The ride was tolerable with frequent stops and plenty of scenery. Making friends as we go too.

A Lupine along the road

A Lupine along the road

We actually saw a Lynx, which is apparently very rare. Seems they are shy.

What are you guys looking at?

What are you guys looking at?

That evening we explored the little town of Dawson City with dirt streets, board walks and beautiful river frontage and an authentic river boat. We decided Dawson was our favorite town in Alaska. Due to the early construction and disregard for the permafrost, some of the early buildings were actually sinking into the ground. We would have spent more time in Dawson City if we could have.

The incredible sinking town!

The incredible sinking town!

Day 8: We took a bus for a short trip to the airport, a gravel runway lined up between two mountains, and boarded a 737 for quick flight to Fairbanks, Alaska. Just to make sure you did not miss that, a 737 jet on a gravel runway in the middle of the mountains! The 737 jet is a craft capable of carrying 120 people but in our case it was only allowed to carry 60 due to the short runway and mountains! As we made our way into the craft, everyone sat on the right side to have a better view of Mt. Denali (or Mt. McKinley). Well, the stewardess decided that this was not a good idea to have everyone on the same side of the plane so some of us were asked to move to the left side to balance the plane during takeoff. I thought this was a great idea! By the way, we are in the 30% of lucky people to see Mt McKinley!

I think I can....I think I can....

I think I can….I think I can….

Despite my concerns with the short gravel runway, surrounding mountains and light load, everything went fine. We landed in Fairbanks, settled into our hotel and took off to explore the town. That evening we boarded a coach and traveled for a short time to see the Alaskan pipe line, an old gold dredge and actually pan for gold!

Alaska's economic life-line

Alaska’s economic life-line

This guy could put a mark on the earth!

This guy could put a mark on the earth!

This is one tooth out of one of these monster dredgers!

This is one tooth out of one of these monster dredgers!

Sue panned out almost $27 in gold and I found a mere $14 worth which fell from my pocket on the bus back to the hotel.

What do you mean we have to leave?

What do you mean we have to leave?

I always knew she was a gold digger.

I always knew she was a gold digger.

For lunch we visited the nostalgic Soapy Smith’s restaurant for a great lunch. We then journeyed out onto the streets to visit the many gift shops. That evening we boarded a bus and were taken to a salmon bake. This is a local attraction where you pay a price to get in and then eat as much salmon and steak as you can until your stomach says UNCLE! Great time and we met our new friends Gerry and Lynn from Australia who have invited us to come and visit them in Australia! I told Gerry to look for us January of 2016! We email each other and it looks very promising at this point! After the dinner we attended another humorous rendition of times in the gold rush era, very funny and entertaining!
Day 9: We boarded another bus and began the long ride through Denali National Park. During the 8 hour bus ride we saw a grizzly bear, lots of caribou, mountain goats (actually Dall sheep), a couple cow (female) moose and the Alaskan state bird a willow ptarmigan, which I though was sort of dorky looking. We were told it was a successful trip but my butt was aching from sitting so long. That night we settled in early to prepare for our 8 hour scenic train trip to Anchorage AK.  Here are some pics of the wild life we  saw in the park.

Wow, its a caribou!

Wow, its a caribou!

And a mountain goat...

And a Dall sheep…

Day 10: We boarded the McKinley Explorer and began our long scenic train ride to Anchorage.

On our way to Anchorage

On our way to Anchorage

The train is designed for passengers to see the terrain with its big windows and elevated seating areas. On the other hand it is not very fast and barely gets over 30 miles an hour. It has to share the tracks with other trains too. When we arrived in Anchorage, we met up with Sue’s cousin and her husband who lives in Alaska and joined them for a wonderful dinner.
Day 11: We were shuttled to the Anchorage airport and flew back to Seattle, Washington. That evening we boarded the local transit train and returned to Seattle to see some sights. We found a tour of the Underground City which was incredibly funny and educational. Seattle was a very dirty town… After a big fire that destroyed most of the town, they decided to bury the bottom and start again on the second floor of buildings that survived.

Part of the underground city in Seattle.  I guess you had to be there....

Part of the underground city in Seattle. I guess you had to be there….

After the tour we returned to our hotel and relaxed for the evening.
Day 12: A quick trip to the airport and we were on our way back to the east coast. We were ready to be home. Ed picked us up at the airport and took us to his home where we settled into a comfortable bed and quickly fell asleep.
Day 13: After a relaxing morning we loaded up the Honda and began the last leg of our journey to our home in wild, wonderful West Virginia.
The Canadian Yukon and Alaska are incredibly beautiful areas but Sue and I visited them in the warmth of an almost continual summer sun. I dare say we have not seen its true colors when winter shows its mighty force. The few true Alaskans’ we met were genuine, sincere people who loved the area for its independence and natural grace. Although I thoroughly enjoyed this majestic wonderland of nature, I think we will continue to head south for  when it is cold and leave the epic winters to the rugged folks of Alaska.

Parenthood 101

•August 31, 2014 • 1 Comment

 

OBX 2014-62

My granddaughter Claire growing up.

I was sitting in a transfer bus traveling from the Seattle Hilton to SEA-TAC (Seattle) airport. Across from me sat a man who was telling his eleven-ish year old son a story. It sounded as though, from my point of view, the story was being created as it was being told. The boy was totally enthralled with the story as his father masterfully weaved his way through an elaborate tail consisting of costumes, adventures and crazy characters. The father and the son often times played the characters as the depth and detail of the story continued to grow. It was truly a joy to listen to and watch.

As I saw this story unfold, I experienced some heart ach that at first I was somewhat uncertain about; but eventually realized that the feeling resulted from something missing in my life. To be candid, my father and I never engaged in anything remotely similar to what this young boy was experiencing. In fact, I was very envious of the child’s relationship with his father!

Over time, I have come to the realization that parenting skills are a result of generations of love, abuse, neglect, caring and the general uncertainty and chaos of life. What my mom and dad experienced as children is what limited their skills as a parent; what my grandparents experienced was what fashioned their parenting skills. So, my skills as a parent are in some way related to generations of family rearing! Despite my best efforts, I have always felt like a man with no arms trying to swim through the almost certain turmoil of raising children. I feel as though I never witnessed first hand what a father should or could be. While raising my children, quite often I wanted to reach out and say or do the right thing, but always felt unprepared and somewhat lost. Sitting in that bus watching the delight in that boy’s eyes reminded me of the emptiness I have felt most of my life.

I guess the purpose of this story is to remind others and myself of the complexities of love and family. It is important to remember that we are a collection of bits, pieces and genes randomly glued together over many generations to make us who we are. My father, despite his lack of skills as a parent, was a good person but also a product of his family environment. At this point in my life, I am sure he wrestled with the same feelings I have. He is gone now so I will never get the chance to discuss all of this with him even though I am pretty certain given his temperament, it could not have been discussed while he was alive.

So now I have three children who are grown and making their way through life. I often wonder if I have somehow been as good a parent as I could have been. I wonder as well if my wife and I have given them enough love and family closeness that they do not experience the emptiness I experienced. My best guess is that it takes several successful generations of parenting to create a really great parent. My hope is that we have been at least been somewhat reasonably successful.

He made me laugh, he made me cry, he made me think.

•August 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

robin

All the way from Mork from Ork to his recent pictures, Robin Williams has been a part of my life. It is so sad that his depression finally took his life. Depression is a major issue for many people and maybe Robin’s death will force us to better understand the seriousness of this problem. The world will be a sadder place with out Robin. I will miss him….nano nano.

Checking in from Alaska and the Yukon

•August 13, 2014 • 5 Comments

att_140768785028417

I only look drunk…
att_1407687844466138

Looking At the Rockies as we head West.

att_140768776222551

Can you identify this plane?

 

Are tiny rental car in Seattle.
att_1407687791916149

att_140768783549248

Pikes place market in Seattle, a mass of people buying all kinds of stuff.

 

A fish salesman in Pike Place.

att_140768781686537

Seattle is a great city to spend the day!

att_14076877989776

att_140768781107940

att_1407687805013113

Can you see the mountain the the clouds?
Will try and check in again this week.
Right now we are in Whitehorse Canada and the weather is good.
Talk soon.

The stock market, an American dream

•August 6, 2014 • 3 Comments

Gold bars

We have all heard stories of the little old lady who bought Walmart stock over the years and now has millions of dollars. The truth of the matter is: in my brief existence I have seen very few real success stories in the market. Much like the lottery, the stock market is the financial equivalent to the American dream of success. People are elated over the fact that the market has done so well these last couple of years, but in truth, the massive increase in stock values is really nothing more than the decreased value of the world’s currency. The inflation created from vast amounts of money ‘the Fed’ is printing decreases the actual worth of each dollar, which is the problem.
So, when we middle-classers store up our dollars for retirement using some kind of stock fund and watch over the years as that money rises and falls at the whim of the stock exchange, we are in the end lucky to get out anywhere near in real dollars what we have stashed away. Yeah, we may get a tax break at the time but later on pay dearly because our income is now in a higher tax bracket due to a tax table that is only moderately adjusted for inflation! I love it when the financial planners tell us what our savings will mature to, with steady, moderate growth, fueled by our hard earned monthly contributions. Most of the time this is nothing more than a pipe-dream used to entice people to send their cash to financial planners who makes considerable profit on the movement of money by way of fees that at times hard to understand. One need not go back too far in time to our recent recession that destroyed many retirement plans. Make no mistake about this, many people became rich during the last fiasco on the backs of the middle class.

img048

I created this graph to show others that the idea of using gold as a hedge against inflation is only moderately successful. Using today’s price of gold and the inflation-adjusted price of gold in 1950, you may have increased your holdings by a factor of five. The problem with this is that inflation increased by a factor of 10. That means you lost 1/2 of your money’s value to inflation! That does not sound like a sound investment strategy to me.
I have taken the easy way out. I go to the Warren Buffet site and see what he is buying, buy it, and try to forget about it until Warren tells me to sell. His philosophy is quite simple: Buy good, strong companies that will be here for the foreseeable future and wait and hope you did enough homework to find success.
Oh My, I have to go out and get my mega-million-dollar lottery ticket before the drawing….Talk later.

Streisels at the beach, day 4 and 5

•July 26, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Day 4 was a little bit dreary but the 5th day was spectacular! Body surfed for hours in fantastically perfect waves! All week the temperature has been in the mid 80’s but it feels like 90 which is great beach weather.
Our daughter Betsy, did not make it to the family beach trip this year so with the help of Thomas, her husband and Scott, my son, we conjured up a group photo to include them in the trip. Ain’t technology great!
Beach_Group_post

Tomorrow we join the lemmings and head for home. Hopefully there sre no cliffs on the way.

The Streisels at the beach day 3

•July 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Another amazing day in Frisco, NC! We are all loving the water and the weather continues to be great. Yesterday during my bike ride the wind got a little rough but that made for a fast ride home. In the evening Sue introduced us to a game called Farkle, a dice game, which provided a couple of hours of entertainment for us adults. Amy’s (Scott’s wife) parents joined us to add to the fun. One of my old students called me and as we talked about family, the beach and and other things he interjected, “you live a charmed life,” I have to agree!
We have been watching about 8 young cats playing in view of one of our decks and to our surprise a man (cat man or in reality, Dan Felix) showed up to feed the wild cats! Sue, (cat women) while standing on the deck got into a conversation with the man and learned that he travels around the island feeding cats. He makes 8 stops every evening! He has built several house habitats for the cats to live in and he has not missed an evening of feeding in five years! Hats off to Dan.
Yesterday I saw a sign while riding my bike that I just had to show you this photo, so here it is.
forblog
My only complaint.

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.