Trains, Ships & Da Bears

January 19, 2020 0 By Jeanah Bartruff

The most awesome thing about our lives right now is the flexibility to be available.  Pretty much every day one of us will mention how thankful and blessed we are for the freedom to adjust depending on the situation.  Sometimes it’s assisting family or friends.  Sometimes it’s just to come alongside and be present.  And sometimes –  it’s for the sheer joy of it!  

On occasion we will check various sites to see what last minute cruise or vacation deals are out there.  Flexibility is the key to nabbing these great deals and we have done much more of this type of thing since retiring.  When a 14 day Alaskan cruise with ports we have never been to was deeply discounted, we went for it.  I do love my credit card reward points but don’t want to bore folks with details so feel free to contact me if you want more info.

Our ship boarded Sunday August the 25th so early that morning we took the train from Albany to Seattle for A) a new experience and B) to avoid 2 weeks of parking fees for our 22 foot van.  Dad Bartruff was kind enough to drop us at the Train Station before the sun came up and if you know anything about him, that was a big ask.  

Watching the sun rise as we headed North through the valley was a cool experience.  It was fun trying to guess exactly where we were from the different perspective of the tracks and it was surprising how fast we proceeded from familiar town to familiar town.  

We boarded the ship and soon realized that not only was this ship much smaller than those we had cruised on before, the thing was half empty!
Leaving the dock we were serenaded by a lone man at the end of the Pier with a saxophone.  Sailing away, his soft wail over the water faded behind us as we embarked on the  BEST. CRUISE. EVER.

Monday was an at sea day and we putzed around the ship playing trivia, reading and listening to live music before we discovered the “America’s Test Kitchen” theater.  It’s a theater, with a KITCHEN, and live cooking demonstrations!  During the cruise we attended many presentations by David the chef including a stellar how-to for pad thai.  This is the food I miss most from our previous hometown, so now life is just that much sweeter.

That evening we dined with Hope and Jerry from Michigan and Piet and Pieter Jan from a town in the Netherlands that I cannot pronounce.  Sorry guys.  We had a delightful time getting to know these wonderful individuals over the next couple of weeks and wish they could be on every cruise we take in the future.  I’m stunned to find after the fact that the only pics we got of these new friends are either way too dark or very ill timed.  I guess we were too busy chatting and laughing to capture the moments.  Please forgive us. Of course, you guys managed to get a shot of us on Victor’s phone so yeah, we are jerks.

Smiling jerks.

Our first stop is Ketchikan and our America the Beautiful park pass got us into the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center.  It is here that Victor started a tradition of photo ops with all things ursine.

Words to live by indeed.

We just walked around Ketchikan all day not buying things which, I’m here to tell you, is harder than it sounds.  This was towards the end of the cruise tourist season and these folks were motivated and a wee bit aggressive.  The weather was so fine we continued our enjoyment of the day by walking the Promenade deck while the sun started to sink. 

We will never get tired of views like this.

Next up, Tracy Arm Fjord and the Tongass National Forest.

So beautiful.  So inspiring.  So coooooooooold.

And this was the cruise for whale sightings.  Or as I like to call them, the Subaru WRX of the Sea.

After we managed to get a couple booty shots we stopped trying and just enjoyed them in the moment.

And this is the last thing I ate for the next couple of days.

Cutest taco ever award goes to…

A combination of nasty head cold, motion sickness and then Dramamine left me incapacitated so it was a bit of a blur here.

Victor explored Icy Straight Point on his own and very kindly channeled his inner Rick Steves, coming back with stories and some cool pics.

Vibrant Salmon Cannery turned shelter from devastating city fire, turned fishing boat maintenance, turned Alaskan native owned private cruise ship destination.  Sounds cool.  Maybe next time I will get to explore it.

You are the Awesomebestest baby!

Next is Anchorage where we tour the city sights in a jaunty trolley and mourn the sadness that is drug abuse.

While waiting for the next trolley we were seated on a picnic bench.  A fellow came up behind us laid on the table top and proceeded to flailingly whack me on the head and shoulders.  Victor popped up from the bench yelling “Hey, don’t touch my wife” and turned ready to do something when he realized the man wasn’t all there. By that time I was up and we backed a distance away.  No harm done but it did make our hearts ache.

The trolley did not stop to let us out anywhere to take pictures so we snagged what we could. Anchorage has an enormous amount of seaplanes and the slots for these are coveted and very valuable.

Oh and we had STUPID good donuts at the Kobuk Cafe.

And we are on to Homer. Where some buildings are crooked.

The sky is awesome.

And if you don’t want to shop you can hang out with a bear.  Of course.

Kodiak is our new destination.  We visit the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. Cuz bears!

Coming and Going.

And no one can resist a bear hug.

But this picture is for my mom…

who does not think I’m a weirdo, because that would make her one too.

Let’s go to Hubbard Glacier.  It’s way over there on the right.

And this my friends is why we are here. There are so many stunningly beautiful places on this earth. Now I have been to one more.

Can you see my teeth chattering in this photo?

We were out there for a few hours and it was crazy cold. But we didn’t want to go in because…

Yeah.

Next up is Sitka. Photo evidence of joint dorkiness.

We had been here previously so we meandered about town, bought my new favorite cardigan at a thrift store and enjoyed the sunshine. Did I mention the weather?  The entire cruise was beautiful and perfect.  I don’t think it rained once.  

Our last day was in Victoria but we were on a mission.  We had met Indria on our second day on the ship.  She worked in a specialty restaurant and had just started her contract so was very new to the ship.  In chatting we discovered she was planning to purchase a blanket as soon as her paperwork came through that allowed her off the ship on a port day.  Knowing she came from a warmer climate I couldn’t help but imagine how chilled the poor dear must be that this was her priority.  And that is why Victor and I had an adventure on the bus system across Victoria to the nearest Walmart.  

We had a blast seeing the city on our cheapie “tour” and while walking back to the bus stop we saw this.

Awwww.  It made us miss everyone back at ISI and all the dear customers we have known over the years.

People drift into and out of our lives, some for a moment, some for years and some for a lifetime, but each leaves an imprint.  I am so happy that each of you have left your imprint in mine. 

Blessings to you all