Thursday, September 8, 2016

ALASKA!

For our family’s summer “road trip’ we decided to take a seven-day cruise instead. Our destination was Alaska – a place that we hadn’t yet visited as a family.

We all flew out to Seattle (via the awesome Southwest Airlines) on the Friday before Labor Day, spending the night at the Hampton Inn & Suites Seattle-Airport/28th Ave. On Saturday morning we boarded our home for the next seven days, the Norwegian Jewel. We’d gotten a suite. So with all the room, we felt like kings. We spent the rest of Saturday and all day Sunday traveling the north Atlantic. Then early Monday morning we docked in the Alaskan city of Ketchikan – located in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, our first new “county” of the trip.



We spent the day wandering the town. It was a little rainy. But we still managed to check out several of the shops, some totem poles and the (now-closed) last brothel in the city. We even saw some seals chasing after salmon.





Later that evening the Jewel took off and headed further north. The following morning we docked in the capital city of Juneau – located in the aptly named Borough of Juneau. We took an excursion out to Mendenhall Lake, where we had a great view of Nugget Falls and the Mendenhall Glacier.


                                      


The ship set out again on Tuesday afternoon and headed back south a little bit in order to turn into the Tracy Arm and get to Sawyer Glacier. Since we’d gotten a suite for the cruise, we were invited to a special rooftop viewing complete with blankets, hot chocolate and wine. The views were spectacular. And as we neared the glacier, the water was dotted with various icebergs – remnants of the glacier that had fallen into the water previously. And though it was brief, we were able to see a tiny bit more of it fall into the water. But even that little bit let out quite a thunderous boom.






On Wednesday morning we docked in Skagway – and the Skagway Borough, which was to be our final new U.S. “County” of the trip. While there we took an excursion into the wilderness by way of the Klondike Highway. We actually crossed into Canada, which got us the rare opportunity to get a picture with a “Welcome to Alaska” sign. On the way back we even stopped to drink some water from a waterfall. Our guide assured us that this glacier water was the most pure you could find on Earth, and was perfectly safe to drink. So of course we all tried it – with no issues.








After we got back on the ship, we spent the rest of Wednesday, all day Thursday and Friday morning at sea. On Friday we arrived in Victoria, British Columbia in Canada. We had no real excursions planned. But we did wander into the city to see the Parliament Building. We also stopped at Starbucks to take advantage of the free internet.



On Saturday we arrived back in Seattle. Our cruise was over. But we decided we wouldn’t fly back home until Sunday. So we checked into the Hyatt Place. And since we had virtually all day, we decided to check out Pike Fish Market, the infamous Gum Wall, the Chihuly Garden & Glass Museum, and of course the Space Needle.








All in all it was a great vacation. We were quite impressed with the cruise ship. The staff were beyond excellent. And we met a new friend in a waiter named Prince. We highly recommend him if you ever take an Alaskan cruise. So ask for Prince. He's the best! The Norwegian Cruises are top of the line. You won't find any better.

County-wise we only picked up three new ones. In this case they were our first boroughs. Clearly we’ll need to visit Alaska again. And we will! Incidentally, although we don’t actively collect them, we also picked up two new areas in Canada.

So what’s next? Well we have a brief two-day weekend getaway planned in October for Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Beyond that we have a long weekend planned in November for some of the New England states. Hopefully it won’t be too cold. Stay tuned!

                                                NEW COUNTIES - 3
                                                TOTAL COUNTIES FOR 2016 - 215
                                                ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 1480

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