Monday, June 30, 2008

Wickersham House

After walking to St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Juneau with Sharon and Jack, I continued up the hill to the Wickersham House.

The Hammond-Wickersham House was built by Frank Hammond, Sheep Creek Mine Superintendent, in 1899. In 1928, Judge James Wickersham, noted Alaskan lawyer, politician, historian, and author bought the house.

At age 45, Wickersham was the first white man to attempt to climb up Mount McKinley. During his seven terms as Alaska's non-voting delegate to Congress, he was able to persuade an uninterested Congress to pass legislation of major importance to Alaska, including legislation creating Mt. McKinley National Park.

The House of Wickersham and its collections are managed by the Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation.

Wickersham House
National Register of Historic Places #1976000360
See this location on Yahoo Maps in Flickr
See this location on Google Maps

This historic place is located at 213 7th Street in the city of Juneau in the county of Juneau, Alaska. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 58° 18.222 W 134° 24.694.

You can log your vist to this site at



Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Pacifika

The list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!

Quantum of Solace Trailer

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sharon and Marlene Bike Ride

With Marlene buying a new bike, Sharon and Marlene drove out to the Consumnes River Preserve and rode their bikes from there. Using data from the Garmin 201, I put together the Google Map, speed chart and topo maps of their ride shown below.

View Larger Map

Click on the speed graph for a larger copy!

A Few Dollars More

Running on the treadmill on Saturday and Sunday, I watched Clint Eastwood in A Few Dollars More on the AppleTV.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Original Pete's

We finished the evening having dinner with Philip, Marlene and Tim at Original Pete's in Elk Grove. While we had spent the day car shopping, they had spent the day buying a road bike for Marlene.

Lexus RX400h

Over the last couple of months, we have started shopping for a new car to replace the Explorer. At this point, the Explorer has more than 223,000 miles. Sharon purchased it in January of 1999; we have owned it almost 9 1/2 years.

We have been focusing on two different vehicles as a replacement: the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and the Lexus RX400h Hybrid. The plan for the day was to go and test drive the two vehicles back to back.

We went to Lexus of Sacramento and drove the Lexus first. They had three RX400hs in stock: two blacks one and a nice Bamboo Pearl one. When we initially drove the Lexus in early April, I was impressed with how nimble it felt. After driving it again, both Sharon and I were very pleased with how well it drove. It feels very responsive and has a nice solid ride. Sharon has been pushing the idea of the Lexus since we started this process, while I was frankly leaning towards the larger Highlanders.

From there, we went to Maita Toyota. I had been scouting the Highlander Hybrids during the week. There were essentially three in stock in Sacramento: two silver and one green. I had walked around and sat in the green one at Maita on Friday.

From the first five minutes of testing driving the Highlander, I knew that I was not going to buy it. Although I liked the larger size and some of the options, it drove horribly. Both Sharon and I were grimacing as we drove it and looking at each other out of the corner of our eyes. It felt very heavy and literally wallowed through turns. This is consistent with my experience when we drove one at Elk Grove Toyota in late March. The Highlander is more than 800 pounds heavier than the Lexus with the same power train.

Heading back to the Lexus dealer, we purchased the RX400h. I am very pleased with the end result. I will post some pictures in the near future...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Wellesley Glacer, College Fjord, Alaska

Wellesley Glacier College Fjord Alaska 

Bill Simmons: Draft Diary XII

ESPN Page 2 - Simmons: Draft Diary XII, a twin killing
5:41 PM: The Kings take Jason Thompson 12th, which would have been fine if this were the second round. Stern sums the pick up best: 'Jason is not here.' There's a 75 percent chance that the Maloofs made that pick after downing three bottles of Patron shots at the their VIP table at Rain.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Chad Ford's 2008 NBA Draft grades

ESPN - Draft grades: Evaluating every team, from A+ to D - NBA

Sacramento Kings:  Grade: C-

Round 1: Jason Thompson (12)

Round 2: Sean Singletary (42), Patrick Ewing Jr. (43)

Analysis: A team should not be criticized just for doing the unexpected. But the Kings made a huge reach for Thompson at No. 12. He's going to be a solid rotation player at best. But he looks like he might be the Shelden Williams of this draft.

With solid players like Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur and Mario Chalmers and upside guys like Anthony Randolph and Marreese Speights on the board, I think the Kings blew it.

Singletary could be a nice second-round pick. But I have a hard time believing Ewing has a spot in the league.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Celebrating Larkin's Birthday

After work, I drove up to Greenwood and picked up Larkin. We headed into Georgetown to celebrate his birthday. We stopped at the Georgetown Hotel and then had dinner at Parra's Mexican Restaurant.

I met Larkin sometime in 1981 when we were both working for the Federal Intermediate Credit Bank of Sacramento. We have worked together off and on since then both at Farm Credit and Sutter. In the ensuing years, we have had a large number of adventures and misadventures.

California Historical Landmark #521

California State Historical Landmark #521

See this location on Yahoo Maps in Flickr
See this location on Google Maps

This landmark is located at the southwest corner of the intersection of State Highway 193 and Greenwood Street, Greenwood, California in El Dorado County. There are 29 other California State Historical Landmarks in El Dorado County. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 38° 53.921 W 120° 54.865.

You can log your visit to this landmark at



John Greenwood, a trapper and guide who came to California in 1844, established a trading post here in 1849. The gold rush town of Greenwood boasted a theater, four hotels, 14 stores, a brewery, and four saloons. Among its illustrious citizens was John A. Stone, California songwriter, who was buried here in 1863.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Swimming Lessons 2008

Jack started two weeks of swimming lessons last night. As I have said repeatedly in the past, [2007, 2006, 2005, 2004 and 2003], few things are as important as making sure that kids can swim and are comfortable in the water.

Valentine Building

The Valentine Building is another building that Jack and I wandered by, while Sharon was shopping in Juneau. Built by Emery Valentine in 1913, it represents frontier Alaskan architecture. Valentine, a jeweler and businessman, also organized Juneau’s Volunteer Fire Department and served as Juneau’s mayor for six terms.

Valentine Building
National Register of Historic Places #1985001275
See this location on Yahoo Maps in Flickr
See this location on Google Maps

This historic place is located at 202 Front Street in the city of Juneau in the county of Juneau, Alaska. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 58° 18.046 W 134° 24.438.

You can log your vist to this site at


Juneau County Alaska Historic Places

National Register of Historic Places
Juneau County, Alaska

{GPS Coordinates of Site Location}

1973000377 - St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church - [map] - {58.303172,-134.408917}
1976000360 - Wickersham House - [map] - {58.3037,-134.41157}
1978000526 - Alaska Hotel - [map] - {58.300261,-134.405028}
1978000527 - Alaskan Steam Laundry - [map] - {58.30015,-134.40495}
1982002073 - J.M. Davis House - [map] - {58.30322,-134.41103}
1985001275 - Valentine Building - [map] - {58.30077,-134.4073}

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Sergio Mendes

The list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

I took this panaromic picture of the Margerie Glacier on our recent trip to Alaska.

The Margerie Glacier is an excellent example of a tide-water glacier, a glacier that extends into a body of water. It is hard to appreciate the scale of the picture. The Margerie Glacier's height is 250 feet. The glacier also extends another 100 feet below the water line. By comparison, the Statue of Liberty is 307 feet tall. The glacier is 1 miles wide!


Alaska Steam Laundry

Across the street from the Alaskan Hotel in Juneau is the Alaska Steam Laundry. The Alaska Steam Laundry (now the Emporium Mall) stands in the center of early Juneau’s prominent business district. It was built in 1901 by E. R. Jaeger to house the Alaska Steam Laundry, a business he had purchased in 1895 as the Juneau Steam Laundry. Its outstanding architectural details include a turret with wood shingles and an ornate front parapet.

Alaska Steam Laundry
National Register of Historic Places #1978000527
See this location on Yahoo Maps in Flickr
See this location on Google Maps

This historic place is located at 174 South Franklin Street in the city of Juneau in the county of Juneau, Alaska. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 58° 18.009 W 134° 24.297.

You can log your vist to this site at


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Alaskan Dinner Party

We had Janie and her mom June over for dinner. Drew also joined us.

Sharon made a great dinner, including smoked salmon that we brought back from Juneau, home-made clam chowder, King Crab, thin sliced steaks, green beans and baked potatoes. Sharon made baked alaska for dessert. I like her baked Alaska a lot more than the one that they served on the ship for the last formal dinner.

Janie brought her Maltepoo with her; he is 3 1/2 months old. Jack had a great time running around and playing with the dog.

Jack and Janie's puppy

Jack and Janie's puppy, originally uploaded by heringermr.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Rosemary's 87th Birthday

Tom, Becky, Kevin, Tim, Kathy, Sharon Jack and I took Rosemary to Cafe Unseelie in Elk Grove to celebrate her 87th birthday.

Birthday lunch for Rosemary at Cafe Unseelie

Friday, June 20, 2008

Alvin and the Chipmunks

After a busy two weeks, we decided to crash and watch a movie after dinner. Jack choose Alvin and the Chipmunks on the AppleTv. We watched it as a HD rental.

Alaskan Hotel

While Sharon shopped, Jack and I wandered around Juneau. The Alaskan Hotel is the oldest operating hotel in Alaskan, opening on Tuesday, September 16, 1913.

Alaskan Hotel
National Register of Historic Places #1978000526
See this location on Yahoo Maps in Flickr
See this location on Google Maps

This historic place is located at 167 South Franklin Street in the city of Juneau in the county of Juneau, Alaska. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 58° 18.016 W 134° 24.302.

You can log your vist to this site at

Alaskan Hotel

Thursday, June 19, 2008

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church

After going whale watching in Juneau, we had lunch and walked around the town. One of the sites that Sharon and I dragged Jack to was St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church. Built in 1893, it is the oldest continually functioning Orthodox Church in Southeast Alaska. The icons presently in the church are the original icons received from Russia in 1894.

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church
National Register of Historic Places #1973000377
See this location on Yahoo Maps in Flickr
See this location on Google Maps

This historic place is located at 326 5th Street in the city of Juneau in the county of Juneau, Alaska. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 58° 18.190 W 134° 24.535.

You can log your vist to this site at

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Priscilla Ahn

The list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Alaskan Cruise Day 12

A long travel day...

Trying to let Jack sleep, Sharon and I took turns going for short runs on bike trail along the bay in Anchorage. I ran 3.22 miles in 32:07.

We packed up the bags and had a quick breakfast in the Captain Cook Hotel. The shuttle took us to the airport about 10:00 a.m. After a struggle getting our bags checked, we caught an Alaskan flight from Anchorage to Seattle/Tacoma. This flight was about 20 minutes late, but we still had more than enough time to make our connection.

We boarded a flight to Sacramento. Missing a captain, we ended up sitting in the plane at the gateway for more than 30 minutes. By the time we finally landed in Sacramento, it was after 8:00 p.m. We collected our ton of luggage and picked up the car. It was after 9:00 p.m. by the time we got home.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Alaskan Cruise Day 11

We had to have the luggage packed and outside the room by 8:00 a.m. They take the luggage to the next stop by truck, rather than on the train. From there, we had a quick breakfast in the Rapids Restaurant in the Canyon Station Lodge.

We caught a shuttle back into the park and hiked on the Horseshoe Lake trail and then back to the Wilderness Access Center. Catching another shuttle, we headed back to the lodge to collect our carry on bags. One final shuttle took us back to the train depot to catch the 12:00 p.m. train to Anchorage.

Princess had five very nice cars at the end of the train. When the train from Fairbanks stopped at Denali, we watched more than 400 people pore out of the five cars; they had all five cars full.

Like Sunday, there only a few people catching the train with us. Although 400 people got off, only 40 people (half of one of the cars) got on.

The train ride from Denali to Talkeeina was absolutely gorgeous! It will definitely be one of the top five highlights of the trip for me. As the previous day, I do not think that my pictures from the train could ever capture the experience. We had lunch in the dining car. The restaurant and bar service was great.

We saw Mt McKinley (Denali) several times during the trip. We were able to see the summit as well as almost all of the mountain. The tour guide on the train said that fewer than 30% of the people coming to the area see the mountain and less than 5% see the summit. I am not sure that I believe the statistics, but was glad that we were in the group that got a chance to see it.

The trip to Talkeeina was about four hours. From there to Anchorage, the scenery was less dramatic, but still interesting. We did get a chance to see bears, moose and swans.

By the time we got Anchorage and transferred to the Captain Cook Hotel it was after 9:00 p.m. We had a very nice late dinner at Simons & Seaforts. I had probably one of the best meals that I had on the trip (stuffed halibut), while Sharon had an open faced ravioli dish.

By the time, we got back to the room and settled down, it was after 11:30 p.m.

The length of the days (more than 19 hours in Anchorage) this time of year is unreal. Walking back to the room about 10:30 p.m., it could have been 5 p.m. in the afternoon. I am going to write more about this in a separate after the trip.

Anchorage, Alaska @ 10:30 pm

Anchorage, Alaska @ 10:30 pm, originally uploaded by heringermr.

On the train

On the train, originally uploaded by heringermr.

Back on the train to Anchorage

Back on the train to Anchorage, originally uploaded by heringermr.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Alaskan Cruise Day 10

Today will end up as one of my favorite days of the trip. Up early, we had a family style breakfast in the Denali Theater at the Princess Denali Wilderness Lodge.

Denali National Park does not allow cars into the park pass a certain point. We were scheduled for a five hour Natural History Tour by bus into the park at 8:30 a.m. I am not sure that any of my pictures will do the trip justice. We went about 17 miles into the park above the forest and into the tundra. We saw a bull moose, a wolf and dall sheep.

Both Sharon and I regretted not taking one of the longer tours even deeper in the park. We talked some over the course of the day about coming back again in the future to go deeper into the park and maybe even camping for a few days.

During the tour the bus driver talked about the sled dog demonstration. Jack latched on to this idea. After a quick late lunch at subway, we headed back into the park and spent some time at the vistor center. From there, we took a bus to the sled dog kennel. Denali is the only National Park that uses working sled dogs. They patrol the park in the winter with dogs team.

After the dog sled demonstration, we decided to hike back to the visitor center via the roadside trail. This was a nice 1.9 mile hike.

There was some running amok at the vistor center around the bus back to the lodge. Eventually, we jumped on a bus going to a neighboring lodge and walked back to the Princess Lodge.

We finished the night with dinner at the Crow's Nest Overlook Restaurant and Bar. Sharon and I had halibut burgers. The bar has a selection of 72 beers...

On the Trail

Sled Dogs

In Denali National Park

Denali National Park 

Moose - Denali National Park, Alaska


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Alaskan Cruise Day 9

Another early morning. The luggage had to be in the hall outside our room before 6:00 a.m. We were up about 5:30 a.m. We caught the bus to the train depot at 7:15 a.m.

We are traveling as part of a Princess Cruise land tour. Princess had four railroad cars on the end of the train. Each of the cars was double decked with skylight windows on the upper deck; the railcars looked brand new. There were only 15 guests onboard. I think that there may have been almost that many Princess employees. They said that they were picking up more than 80 people at Denali and would be filling up the four cars.

We had nice breakfast in the lower level of the car. I enjoyed the rail trip from Fairbanks to Denali. The first half of the trip was fairly flat. We saw several moose cow and calf pairs.

As we got closer to Denali the terrain got steeper and we started up the Nenana River Canyon. The scenery got better and better. Stopping at the Denali Train Station, a Princess Outfitter got on board and gave us a package that included our room key. We are staying at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge.

We had lunch at the lodge. Service at both the Princess Lodges in Fairbanks and Denali was not good. At Denali, it was particularly bad. They appear to use a lot of Russia staff whose command of English is limited.

We ended up spending the late afternoon going on a ATV excursion north of the park near Lake Otto. It included a climbs to a couple of great vista points and a long run down a river bed. Jack had a great time, while Sharon ended up getting very wet.

In hindsight, we made some tactical errors in our planning for Denali. We did not do enough research. We should have focused more on the park and hit the park hard when we got there on Sunday afternoon.

We had a Father’s day dinner at King Salmon Restaurant at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. Sharon had a salmon salad, while I had a halibut and risotto. This may have been the best dinner I had on the trip.




On the train from Fairbanks to Denali




On the train in Fairbanks

On the train in Fairbanks, originally uploaded by heringermr.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Alaskan Cruise Day 8 More

We had to pack our bags and leave them out in the hall by 10:00 p.m. on Friday night. Up early, we boarded a motorcoach to Anchorage. The drive included the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, the longest highway tunnel in North America at 2.6 miles, and the Stewart Highway. The scenery along Turnagain Bay was amazing.

The spent the morning wandering around downtown Anchorage. It was raining and fairly cold. We ended up having an early lunch at the Glacier Brewhouse.

Transferring to the airport, we caught a short flight from Anchorage to Fairbanks. The flight included an unbelievable view of Mt. McKinley.

I was dumbfounded when we walked out of the airport terminal. It was absolutely beautiful with temperatures in the mid-70s.

We are spending one night at the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge before we take the train to Denali tomorrow. We sat on the deck along the Chena River and had a drink before dinner, while Jack and I played cribbage. We had dinner in the hotel (raindeer lasagna and seafood fettuccine). After a week of great service on the Diamond Princess, the service here was a little rough. It looks like they are just getting geared up for the season.

We have an early start again tomorrow.

Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge

Alaskan Cruise Day 8 Quick Update

We are at the Anchorage Airport waiting for a flight to Fairbanks. With access to a higher speed link, I have started to add some more pictures to the weblog. You can find them by scrolling down or in the picture album that I am starting to build here!


Whittier, originally uploaded by heringermr.

Alaskan Cruise Day 8

Just after midnight, the ship landed in Whitter. We have to disembark at 7:15 a.m. and catch a motorcoach to Anchorage. We will have a couple of hours to explore Anchorage. In the early afternoon, we are flying to Fairbanks and then spending the night there at the Princess Wilderness Lodge.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Alaskan Cruise Day 7 More

Leaving Glacier Bay, the ship started across the Gulf of Alaska towards Prince William Sound. I woke up about 2:00 a.m. with the ship pitching and creaking more than any time since we started the cruise. I peeked out the window at what looked like a 6 foot sea.

The bulk of this day was spent at sea. Jack discovered the kids program in the last couple of days. After breakfast, he headed to the kids program and Sharon headed to the spa. Sharon did a yoga class, a spin class and then went to a lecture. I ran 6 miles on the treadmill watching the second round of the U.S. Open.

After getting together for lunch, we went our separate ways again. Jack went back to the kids program, while Sharon went back to the spa for another program. I read my book and lounged in the cabin and on the deck.

The ship got to College Fjord about 5:00 p.m. After Glacier Bay, I did not think that I would be that impressed, but this was also a very unique experience. Sailing into the fjord, we saw about six bears eating and wandering on the shoreline.

We sailed past the Wellesley, Vassar, Bryn Mawr and Smith Glaciers. At the end of the fjord is the Harvard Glacier. This glacier is more than a mile wide. The ship sailed up into the ice in front of the glacier than then turned around. There were a number of seals on the ice. Like Glacier Bay, you could hear sounds like thunder coming from the glaciers, but we only saw some minor calving of the glaciers. In some ways, I enjoyed College Fjord more than Glacier Bay. It was much more intimate.

We hurried back to the cabin and got ready for our last dinner on the ship. We ate in the International Dining Room. Jack had prime rib, Sharon had turkey and I had sea scallops. This is our last dinner on the ship!

Harvard Glacier - College Fjord, Alaska



Alaskan Cruise Day 7

After spending last night and most of the day crossing the Gulf of Alaska, the Diamond Princess will be crusing College Fjord from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. this evening. Most of the pictures I have uploaded to date have been from my iPhone. The satellite internet connection on the ship has been too slow to support uploading larger picture from my laptop.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Alaskan Cruise Day 6

After three days in three different ports (Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway), the next two days are going to be spent on the ship. I keep waking up at about 4:00 a.m.

Today, we are cruising Glacier Bay; this is a National Park. The ship entered the Bay about 6:00 a.m. and picked up a couple of park rangers. Starting about 8:00 a.m., the park rangers provided a running narration over the ship’s public address system of what we were seeing as we sailed further into the bay.

Glacier Bay includes 16 tidewater glaciers; glaciers that actually flow down in the bay. The ship sailed past the Reid Glacier, the Lamblugh Glacier and up into the John Hopkins Inlet. From there we had a great view of the John Hopkins Glacier. The last few miles of the inlet is closed to all size boats this time of years and contains several thousand seals giving birth and raising their pups on the sea ice in front of the glacier.

From here, we backtracked and started up the Tarr Inlet. At this point, there were two grizzly bears roaming along the shore. The ship sailed up the Tarr Inlet to the Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers.

We spent about an hour and a half parked ¼ mile in front of the Margerie Glacier. This was amazing. The glacier is constantly making different noises; some that sound almost like thunder and others that are similar to a cannon being fired. We got a chance to see some fairly large pieces of the glacier “calve” into the water. At least one of the pieces must have been 40 feet tall and fell 100 feet in the water. The combination of the glacier, the sounds, the calving and the backdrop of the mountains make this one of the most impressive and unique natural wonders that I have experienced.

Heading back out of the bay, one of the rangers gave a presentation in the theater titled “Glacier Bay, This is your Life.” It was not very good, but it perked my interest in reading a biography of John Muir. Muir explored Glacier Bay to test his theories about how Yosemite was formed.

Afterwards, Jack went to the kids program about 2:00 p.m. and Sharon and I sat on the aft deck with our books and watched the scenery roll by. We got a chance to see several more humpback whales behind the boat.

Eventually, both Sharon and I headed to the gym to work out. I ran 5.00 miles in 51:13. Picking up Jack from the kids program, he and I spent some time in the pool and the hot tubs.

Jack decided that he wanted to go to the kids dinner rather than to the dining room with us. Sharon and I went to the International Dining Room for a formal dinner. It was a nice change to have dinner with the two of us. We enjoyed a nice bottle of champagne (a gift from Tom and Becky) and a couple of Beef Wellingtons. They served Baked Alaska for desert. It was not as good as the Baked Alaska that Sharon makes!

Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay, originally uploaded by heringermr.

John Haynes Glacier - Glacier Bay, Alaska

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Alaskan Cruise Day 5

Skagway was our earliest shore excursion. I sent an alarm for 5:30 a.m., but have been waking up every morning between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Sunrise was 3:48 a.m. this morning! The ship docked about 6:00 a.m.

I went up and brought some food back to the room from the buffet for a quick bite. We were on the dock about 6:50 a.m. and took a bus to the helicopter company. After a safety briefing, we took off in a small seven passenger helicopter. We got a 15 minute flight over the area including an up close look at the Denver Glacier. The helicopter dropped us about 10 miles out of town at Glacier Station along the White Pass & Yukon Railroad Route.

From there, we hiked with two guides and eight other people up the Skagway River. At one of the stopping points, the guides set up a telescope on a tripod and tried to find some mountain goats on the hillside across the river. After they gave up, Jack took up the pursuit and ended up spotting a group of six mountain goats!

We continued up the mountain towards the terminal moraine of the Laughton Glacier. I was very proud of Jack. He, one of the guides and I were leading the way.

We turned around and headed back to Glacier Station. The tour company also offers all day trips to the nose of the Laughton Gracier and I regret a little we were not doing going there. Back at Glacier station, the train stopped and picked us up. The company that we were hiking with had a private car at the end of the train.

The train trip back to Skagway was very cool. Built in 1889, the White Pass & Yukon narrow gauge railroad is considered one of the civil engineering wonders of the world. The tour company had an ice chest of beer and some snacks for the 60 minute trip back. The scenery was amazing.

Back in Skagway, we had a late lunch at the Skagway Fish Company near the dock (Alaskan Crab and Fish and Chips). Heading back into the main part of town, Sharon did some shopping, while Jack and I wandered around a little and then headed back to the ship.

Sharon and Jack played tennis on the sports court, while I took a nap.

We ended the day with a late dinner at Sabatini’s, the Italian restaurant on board the ship. I had lobster, while Sharon had halibut. Jack fell sound asleep during the second course and never rallied. I had to herd him back to the room.

I really enjoyed the day. The combination of the helicopter, the hike and the train ride was spectacular!

The Train

The Train, originally uploaded by heringermr.

Hiking along the Skagway River


Helicopters!, originally uploaded by heringermr.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Alaskan Cruise Day 4 More

As we were getting up, the ship sailed into Juneau. Sharon and I ate breakfast on the top deck and watch the ship pull into Juneau and dock.

After breakfast, we caught a bus at the dock that took us to Auk Bay. We spent about four hours whale watching. We saw a pod of six orcas and followed them for about 30 minutes. At the beginning of the tour, the guides said that it was unlikely that we would see the killer whales. The orcas were extremely close to the boat. In fact at one point, two of them came straight at the boat and dove underneath it. The boat also followed two different humpback whales as they were moving along and feeding. There was also a group of Steller sea lions. While the humpbacks were cool, the killer whales were the highlight of the morning.

By the time we got back from the whale watching it was almost 1:00 p.m. For the first time in three days we had a meal off the ship. We had a great lunch of halibut burgers at the Twisted Fish Restaurant.

After lunch, we split up. Jack and I wandered around the town with a map of historic Juneau, while Sharon shopped. Eventually, we rejoined and all went to the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church. Built in 1894, it’s the oldest original Russian Orthodox Church in Alaska. Sharon’s brother Tom had talked about visiting the church when they did an Alaska cruise a few years ago. On the way back to the dock, we walked through the Alaska State Capitol.

Most people who know me know that I am not crazy about heights. Nevertheless, walking back to the ship, we stopped and took the Mt. Roberts Tram to the top. This tram raises about 2,000 feet above the dock and offers some great views of the city and the surrounding area.

Back on the ship, Jack spent some time in the video arcade, while Sharon and I had a drink in one of the lounges with a great view.

We finished the evening with a late dinner in the International Dining Room. It was an Italian themed dinner.

Mt. Robert's Tram

Mt. Robert's Tram, originally uploaded by heringermr.

Killer Whales


Juneau, originally uploaded by heringermr.

Alaskan Cruise Day 4

The Diamond Princess is scheduled to arrive at Juneau at 8:00 a.m. this morning.

We have planned a whale watching and wildlife quest through the island-studded waters of Stephens Passage as the shore excursion.

The ship is not scheduled to leave Juneau until 9:00 p.m. tonight so we should have some more time to explore the city than we did in Ketchikan.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Alaskan Cruise Day 3 More

This is the first of three days that the ship stops at different ports. Up early, we watched the ship sail into Ketchikan. We have also jumped forward to the Alaskan time zone.

We have excursions planned for each of the next three days. Today, we meet a tour guide on the dock at 8:00 a.m., boarded a bus and headed a couple of miles out of town. The excursion for today includes jeeps, canoes and a short hike. Sharon, Jack and I were in one jeep as part of a group of five jeeps with me driving. They had CB radios to communicate between the jeeps with the guide in the lead jeep. We drove on a couple of rough logging roads up into the Tongass National Forest. The first stop had a great view back down the valley to the water. The second leg included lots of water on the road. Jack enjoyed me gunning the jeep, driving into the water and covering the jeep with water.

From there we drove the jeeps up to Harriet Hunt Lake. The guide put our group into a large Indian war canoe and we paddled across the lake. On the other side of the lake, there was a camp set-up. The guide took us on a short nature hike talking about the ecology, plants and animals of the region. He did a nice job. After the hike, we had a snack of salmon and chowder, paddled the canoe back across the lake and then took a bus back to the dock. Sharon remarked that you would not really know that you were not in the Tahoe National Forest.

From the dock, I dashed into Ketchikan, while Sharon and Jack headed back to the boat. With the ship sailing at 2:30 p.m., my only regret for the day is that we did not have more time to explore Ketchikan. I wandered into town for a hour making a loop through Creek Street, but there are a couple of things that I wish I had time to see.

The three of us had a very late lunch on the top deck watching the ship sail out of Ketchikan. The terrain is starting to change; it looks less like Tahoe.

I had a late 3.05 mile run on the treadmill watching the terrain roll by. Afterwards, Sharon worked out, while Jack and I sat in the hot tubs on the aft deck; a great view!

We had dinner again in the International Dining Room. Sharon had lamb, Jack had a hot dog and I had pasta.

We were back in the room before 10 p.m. falling asleep to the television.

Leaving Ketchikan

Leaving Ketchikan, originally uploaded by heringermr.


Canoes, originally uploaded by heringermr.


Jeeps, originally uploaded by heringermr.


Ketchikan, originally uploaded by heringermr.

Alaskan Cruise Day 3

The Diamond Princess is scheduled to dock this morning at 6:30 a.m. in Ketchikan, Alaska.

We have an Back Country Jeep and Canoe safari planned as a shore excursion. Leaving at 8:00 a.m. and returning at 12:00 p.m., the excursion travels from sea level to the sub-alpine region along the mountain roads of Tongass National Forest to Harriet Hunt Lake.

The ship is scheduled to leave Ketchikan at 2:00 p.m. this afternoon.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Alaskan Cruise Day 2 More

This is a day at sea traveling from Vancouver to Ketchikan. We had breakfast in the International Dining Room. We ended up sitting with a couple from Houston and a couple from Alabama. The couple from Alabama were Tour de France fans and we ended up talking about the tour and France. The company at breakfast made me regret a little that we are seated alone at dinner.

Afterwards, Sharon took off for the spa. She did a yoga class and a spin class.

Jack and I wandered around exploring the ship. We played nine holes of miniature golf and then he played ping pong. Afterwards, he and I played nine holes of cyber golf on a course at Baniff. I enjoyed this, while Jack struggled more than a little. I was 17 over after 9 holes, slightly better than double bogey golf which is about the best I can do.

I ran on the treadmill for an hour. The gym is in the front of the ship. With large windows, you can watch the ocean and the coastline roll by as you run.

After lunch, we put Jack into a kids program that included a ping pong tournament. Sharon sat on the back of the boat and read our books and had a drink. There are several open decks on the aft of the ship that are sheltered from the wind and in the sun. It was cool to watch the wake of the boat; at this point, we were out of sight of land. We could see a number of whales behind the boat surfacing and blowing their spouts.

After we picked Jack from the kids program, we swam in the indoor pool and sat in the jacuzzi. I enjoyed watching the ocean roll back from the jacuzzi.

We had a late dinner in the International Dining Room and then crashed back in the room.

It was very much like spending the day at a giant Las Vegas hotel, except it is floating on the ocean!


Cybergolf, originally uploaded by heringermr.