Travel

Flying from one coast to the other isn’t easy these days – especially with a total of three long flights each way, but a three-day weekend in Boston with Jim’s daughter and her husband was worth the endeavor.  They have recently purchased a Cape Cod home in a small town close to Boston and I loved it.  The neighborhood with all the Colonial and Cape Cod style homes on the tree-lined streets was definitely picturesque.  They live within walking distance of the quaint downtown with all the neat little shops.  During the drive around their village, I spied a quilt shop I would love to have spent a few hours in…but then I would have had to carry all my purchases on the flight back. 
On Friday after our arrival late Thursday evening, we drove to downtown Boston.  The weather was beautiful…sunny but very chilly with a brisk wind making me glad I had brought along my jacket.  I wished I had remembered a warm hat as well!  We did a walking tour of some of the historical sights and then had a delicious sandwich at a little sandwich shop along the route.  We also tried a cannoli at the evidently famous  Mike’s Pastry Shop in “Little Italy”.  I had a hazelnut mascarpone cannoli…sweet with only a subtle taste of hazelnut.  Definitely large enough for two to share next time.Unfortunately, I remembered my camera halfway to Boston, so the pics of Boston are courtesy of Wikipedia!
 
After lunch, we continued our tour of downtown Boston.  So much to see…so little time.  We were walking along part of  Boston’s Freedom Trail and were able to get a glimpse of the significant history of Boston.  I think my favorite place of all was the Old North Church.   It would probably take two weeks, at least, to see all that Boston has to offer, but it was nice to have had a glimpse anyway.
On Sunday, we drove to Springfield, Massachusetts, to the Basketball Hall of Fame.  Right down the macho logger tree farmer’s alley!  Although I am definitely not athletic or a basketball  aficionado, it was interesting learning about the actual history of basketball and reading about the different players who have been “enshrined” in the Basketball Hall of Fame.  There is also a photo in the slideshow below of me standing next to a photo of the shortest player in basketball history (though not “enshrined”).  Tyrone “Mugsy” Bogues was the shortest NBA  player in history, at just 5′ 3″ tall.  I also saw what may be the largest shoe I’ve ever seen:  a size 22 basketball shoe!  There’s a photo of the old-fashioned canvas shoe in the slide show as well.  I think my favorite part of the museum was seeing the vintage basketball uniforms…right out of a classic movie!

We’ve just returned from the Yosemite National Park where we met my daughter and her family on Saturday for a wonderful few days vacation together.  We stayed in a home in the park called  Pinetree Retreat.  It slept all eight of us comfortably and came equipped with a washer and dryer.  The car was packed with groceries we’d brought from home, and my daughter purchased the meat, dairy and perishable products before they entered the park.  You want to be sure to fill your gas tank before you get into the park since gasoline is $4.99/gallon in the park!  My daughter and I had planned three easy but delicious meals for our suppers each evening after our days of touring and hiking.  Breakfasts included scrambled eggs (we took fresh eggs from our hens!), muffins, banana bread, fresh fruit and cereal.  One day for lunch, my daughter packed us all a wonderful picnic lunch and we ate under the tall trees.

There is so much to see and do at Yosemite National Park!  I don’t know how long you’d have to stay to be able to see all of it…but definitely longer than four days!  The panoramic vistas are breathtaking!  Standing beneath the giant sequoia trees makes one realize how small we really are.  We took a guided hiking tour up to see the “Grizzly Giant” – the largest Sequoia in the park.  Amazing!  We also saw “burn scars” on many of the trees, even though most of the trees grew and thrived despite the burn scar.

We drove up to see the “half dome”.  It was Labor Day weekend and crowded, so we had to wait about 45 minutes to be able to drive up…but the view was well worth the wait.  Not to mention the fact that on the way back down we stopped to watch a mama bear and her three cubs playing in the forest!  My grandchildren especially loved that part!  The next day, we saw a large coyote which came closer to resembling a wolf.  However, when we went through the museum, we realized it was indeed a coyote.

Tuesday morning, it was time to say goodbye and drive in opposite directions.  We started the trip back to Oregon and across the FIVE mountains ranges headed home.  They were headed back to Los Angeles to catch their early morning flight the next day back to Iowa.  They had spent a week and a half touring the California theme parks and had a marvelous time.  I’m glad we were able to spend the last four days of their vacation with them.

We had a wonderful time…and I miss them already!

LaConner, Washington. (source: Wikipedia)

We drove an hour north of Seattle this past weekend for a fun, three day weekend with Jim’s daughter and her sweet family.  It was Mason’s second birthday and the perfect reason to celebrate.  On Friday evening, we shared birthday cake with Mason and he had fun opening his birthday presents.  I love watching him with his Grandpa.  Mason comes running at full speed across the room to Grandpa who swoops him high up into his arms.  They get on the floor and wrestle like two little boys.  Just as I have taught each of my grandchildren along the way, I taught Mason the game “hide and seek”.  He caught on quickly and thought that was a fun game!

On Saturday, we visited the coastal town of LaConner, Washington.  Just a twenty minute drive and it seems we’ve taken a vacation. LaConner is located along the Swinomish Channel near the mouth of the Skagit River with a view of the Cascade Mountains.  Quaint shops and artist galleries line the streets and, after lunch, we strolled along visiting as many shops as possible.   We especially liked the The Wood Merchant featuring beautiful (granted, expensive) handcrafted furniture.  I fell in love with a gorgeous rocker but the price tag prevented me from taking it home!  All the same, it was fun window shopping.

We left Skagway a little after five o’clock in the afternoon on Thursday, July 14th and headed back to sea.  We were at sea that night, all day Friday, Friday night and throughout the day on Saturday. On Friday, some temporary motion sickness had set in for a few of us – in spite of the Bonine, although it did help. The weather on Saturday was chilly, overcast and extremely foggy…rather like a winter’s day in Oregon.

Our “Creation Cruise” Bible study group met for the last time together at four o’clock on Saturday afternoon.  Afterwards, we all headed to the Pacific Moon Dining Room for dinner together.  The food on the ship had been wonderful throughout the week.  Most of the time, we had eaten in the Horizon Court for a buffet, an occasional pizza or hamburger; but ordering all the courses at the Pacific Moon was fun as well as delicious.  I now know that fresh watermelon chunks, feta cheese and roasted pumpkin seeds make a wonderful appetizer when served together!  In the midst of all the fun dining together, we realized that the Sapphire Princess had docked and we were in Victoria, British Columbia!   The sun had come out and the skies had cleared.  It was to be a lovely evening after all.

After dinner, we returned to our room briefly to gather our passports, packbacks and jackets.  We made our way to the dock, along with hundred of other passengers, and boarded a shuttle bus which took us to downtown Victoria.  Somewhere along the way, I found myself remembering the last time I had been in Victoria, British Columbia…forty-six years ago!  Unfortunately, this time, there would only be a couple of hours for a brief glimpse of this historic city I remembered so well.  At least, I reasoned, we could drive to Seattle and take a ferry back to Victoria…as opposed to having to get to most of the Alaskan ports of call by sea or air.  We would have to return to Victoria for a longer stay.  Next time, I want to visit the Empress Hotel…for the first time in forty-six years.
The next morning we arrived in Seattle at seven o’clock.  After a carefully orchestrated departure of 2,000+ passengers, we were on land.  It had been an enjoyable trip with some amazing, unforgettable scenery.  We took the shuttle to our car and headed home…

The Empress Hotel. (Wikipedia) The last time I was at the Empress Hotel was 46 years ago…

By 6:35 on Thursday morning, the Sapphire Princess was securely moored at the railroad dock beside the harbor in Skagway, “the Gateway to the Klondike”.  This was to be my favorite of all the ports of call.  After an early breakfast, we made our way to the dock where we boarded the White Pass & Yukon Route railway.  Built in 1898 for the Klondike Gold Rush, this train is listed as “An International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark”.  This would be an unforgettable journey aboard the “Scenic Railway of the World” to the White Pass summit.  We began our excursion in Skagway and, for the next three and a half hours, traveled 40 miles round trip from tidewater, to the Summit of the White Pass – a 2,865 foot elevation.  We were seated comfortably in vintage parlor cars with pot bellied stoves and following the same route the gold miners took over a hundred years ago into the Yukon.  This exciting trip featured “a steep grade of 3.9% and cliff hanging turns of  16 degrees, two tunnels and numerous bridges and trestles”.  All along the way, there were panoramic vistas with mountains, cascading waterfalls, gorges and unbelievable majestic beauty.

We were hungry when we returned to Skagway.  We walked the 1/4 mile into the quaint town which looked like time had stood still.  We found a small sandwich shop which was also part jewelry store and had a light lunch.  Then we walked all over the town and spent the next few hours shopping.  One of our favorite stores was an antique store with a 1951 vintage, hunter green Chevrolet truck parked in front (not for sale).  Jim would have purchased the truck in a heartbeat and driven it home had it been possible!  The store was filled with wonderful antiques.  Unfortunately, the antiques we really liked would have been difficult to transport back home!

By 5:05 on Thursday afternoon, the Sapphire Princess was enroute to Victoria, British Columbia…a cruise of 890 nautical miles.  I confess I’m not the best “sailor” on the long days at sea.  Thankfully, there is Bonine

Next post: Victoria, British Columbia and back to Seattle…

After a morning of navigating through the breathtaking Tracy Arm Fjord, the Sapphire Princess set a course for our next port of call.  By early afternoon, she entered into the Gastineau Channel towards Juneau.  By one o’clock in the afternoon we had arrived safely in the Capital of Alaska.  We disembarked, along with hundreds of other passengers aboard the ship, and made our way along the dock to the shuttle bus which would take us to downtown Juneau.  In packing for our trip to Alaska, we had come prepared for cool weather.  We had been in for a surprise on Wednesday for it was extremely warm.  Everyone we passed was wearing his or her sweater tied around the waist.  It was so warm, we opted for an Italian Gelato ice cream instead of a hot latte.

One of my favorite shops in Juneau is The House of Russia.  There, I found the most exquisite knitted Russian winter baby cap for my precious granddaughter who is due in mid-September.  Beautiful colors and style.  I also found the most beautiful – but unfortunately beyond my budget – dinnerware  from Poland.  There is a photo of the display in the slideshow below.  (The link is just to give you an example.  Unfortunately, The House of Russia does not have a website.)  I did come home with some Samovar tea that I purchased there.  It is so delicious and very fragrant!

We walked and shopped throughout Juneau until we both admitted we were tired.  We then made our way to the Mount Roberts Tramway.  The tram would take us to the top of the 1800-foot mountain top with the expansive views of Juneau below.  There was a Nature Center at the top of the mountain and there I had my first up close and personal encounter with a Bald Eagle.  She had been shot and was there recuperating at the Nature Center.  Thankfully, it wasn’t crowded at all when we were there.  I took photos (no flash) and talked softly to her.  I was thrilled when she kept turning her head to seemingly look at me.  I’m sure I’ll never be that close to this magnificent bird again, but I’m glad I was able to see her. 

 

The Sapphire Princess navigated into the Tracy Arm Fjord just before six o’clock in the morning on Wednesday, July 13th.  After an early breakfast, we made our way to the stern on the top deck and found the perfect spot to enjoy the scenery from the ship’s rail.  We were to have only four hours within the fjord, and we didn’t want to miss any of it.  It was a cool morning but the sun was shining, reflecting off the beautiful blue ice in the emerald green water.  Majestic 3000′ rocky mountains surround the fijord, rising in layers of varying heights with multiple waterfalls cascading down their sides.  Across the fjord, the imposing glacier stood nestled between the layers of mountains.  All across the glassy still water floated islands and chunks of ice…amazing blue ice.  One lonely seal was stretched out on a large island of ice, evidently enjoying the sunshine just as we were.  A herd of white mountain goats navigated the steep rocky slopes of the mountains across the fijord from us.  As we stood at the ship’s rail taking it all in, I searched for the right word to describe the grandeur and beauty of it all.  The words to the song “How Great Thou Art”  were what came to mind.

We were traveling with a group from our church and were spending an hour a day in a Bible study on The Creation, one day of creation for each day of the cruise.   I wondered at that moment how anyone could ever doubt that only God Himself could have created anything so amazing…

We set sail on the Sapphire Princess on the tenth of July for Alaska…the last frontier. Our destination was the “Inside Passage” of Alaska with several ports of call along the way. We traveled from Seattle to Ketchikan (645 nautical miles), Ketchikan to Tracy Arm (240 nm), Tracy Arm to Juneau (40 nm), Juneau to Skagway (95 nm), Skagway to Victoria (890 nm) and Victoria back to Seattle (80 nm). The total distance traveled roundtrip from Seattle was 1990 Nautical miles or 2,290 Land miles. Each port of call was an exciting new experience and each Alaskan town along the way made me wish I could stay longer.
Our first port of call was Ketchikan, the “Salmon Capitol of the World” and Alaska’s first city.  We were excited for our first closeup look at Alaska.  It was also our introduction to the Tongass National Forest, the nation’s largest national forest which covers most of Southeast Alaska with almost 17 million acres and surrounds the famous Inside Passage.  

Across the harbor in Ketchikan…

Strolling along the streets of Ketchikan…

The macho logger tree farmer made a new friend in Ketchikan

At one point in my life, I loved flying.  I loved everything from take-off to landing.  That, of course, was before 9-11 and the subsequent rigid, albeit required, security measures.  Granted, I understand the reasons for it, but it doesn’t make flying any easier.  As you know, I live in Oregon and my children, grandchildren, sisters and families are scattered across the Midwest and the South.  I want to see them, so I must travel.  It’s either drive four days (out of the question) or fly.  I fly.

During this past 5 week journey to Iowa, Kentucky and Tennessee, I became increasingly frustrated with the airline industry.  I was carelessly issued an “unconfirmed, stand-by” ticket by the American Airlines desk agent in Iowa for my connecting flight in Chicago.  When I arrived in Chicago, I was informed that the flight my luggage was on was indeed full and I didn’t have a seat!  This meant having to leave the secure area in the hectic Chicago O’Hare airport to go to the ticketing desk where they discovered all American Airlines flights were full.  The agent finally found me a seat on United Airlines which, thankfully, did NOT lose my luggage!  Thanks, United!   

On my return trip to Oregon, I boarded the plane in Memphis for a 3:30 p.m. flight on Saturday afternoon.  First, we were informed there was a delay due to a mechanical issue.  Next, we were told there was a storm in Dallas-Fort Worth and they were temporarily closing the DFW airport!  We sat on the tarmac for about 3+ hours in Memphis!  When we FINALLY took off for Texas, we were informed they were taking “the long way there”!  When we arrived in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport at 9:10 p.m., I had, of course, missed my connecting flight! 

I secured a seat on the last flight to Oregon for the night which left at 11:15.  I was in the last row on the large jet with very low ceiling headroom, next to the window and literally about 5 inches from the engines which were right beside the window!  After a bout of claustrophobia, I asked to be reseated closer to the front which, thankfully, happened.  I sat by the window next to a young Vietnamese father and his two year daughter who slept the whole way.  Thankfully, they held all overhead announcements and dimmed all the lights in the plane and, thank God, I dozed!  After a long and frustrating flight, I arrived in Portland, Oregon, at 3:50 a.m. Memphis time (1:50 Pacific time)!  The macho logger tree farmer had already secured a hotel room for us, and I think I slept like the proverbial “log” when my head finally hit the pillow. 

I also slept most of the way home the following morning…

We traveled one hour north of Seattle over the weekend for a nice visit with Jim’s daughter, her husband and baby Mason.  Jim’s nephew (he’s a Marine jet fighter pilot), his wife and baby son joined us on Friday.  We all had a wonderful time!  On Saturday morning, we traveled to the Boeing plant for an hour and a half tour of the factory (no cellphones or cameras allowed of course!).  Boeing is HUGE and hold the records for size in several categories in the Guiness Book of records!  Since Jim’s daughter is an aeronautical engineer, it was very interesting to see the new plane, the 787 Dreamliner, that she has been a part of creating.  It was also neat to have a glimpse of seeing these planes from the viewpoint of a Marine jet pilot!  Altogether, a fun morning.

The macho logger tree farmer and his aeronautical engineer daughter…standing next to the huge “fin” of the Dreamliner 787.

The Boeing Museum

The gigantic “Dreamlifter” carries parts for the Dreamliner 787 from factories around the world. Amazing!

Saturday afternoon, we held a birthday celebration at the bowling alley for Mason’s dad who turned 32 on April 1st.  I honestly cannot remember the last time I bowled.  I do remember taking “bowling” as a “class” at Memphis State University several decades ago and, somewhere along the way after that, I must have bowled again.  All I can tell you is that for a grandmother who hasn’t bowled in forever, I thought a score of 111 was pretty good!

I can also tell you that I have muscles that hurt today that I didn’t even know I had!

A fun birthday party at the bowling alley on Saturday afternoon…

 

Mason’s very first time to bowl! He liked it!

Where did the ball go, Mama?

 

 

Mason and Grandpa at the Boeing plant…

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My Southern Heart...the Stories blog is about my life growing up in the South in the fifties and sixties. It was an amazing time...a time of falling in love, getting married, having a family. A time of history in the making, political unrest, rock and roll. Come along on my life's journey. It's a chronological story, so be sure to start at the beginning. It will make a whole lot more sense that way. Check out: My Southern Heart...the Stories