Saturday, September 6, 2014

Helicopters, Glaciers, Floatplanes, & Friends

The past two weeks have satisfied my Alaskan adventurous spirit. A few weeks ago, I escorted a Glacier tour in Skagway.  We basically took an hour boat ride to a small island off Homer where we canoed to Douglas Glacier.  It was a beautiful day, and luckily the water was low enough so we could walk onto the glacier.  

As always, I found the waterfall and since glacier water is claimed to be the purest, best tasting water ever, I sampled it. 

It tasted as great as they claimed! 

We also saw an ice cave.  The colors were absolutely gorgeous. Apparently, the beauty is deceiving because an ice cave is potentially one of the most dangerous parts of a glacier.  It was gorgeous to view though. 

Last week was one of  the best weeks I have had here because my dear friends from Nashville, the Martins, came cruising.  We really had an amazing time together both adventuring and socializing.   Our first tour consisted of Humpback whales, Orcas, Sea Lions, & Sea Otters — all viewed from a  six-seater raft.  Here are just a few highlights.  

Orcas (above) followed by sea otters and Humpbacks (below)

Juneau was possibly the highlight for me where we rode a helicopter to the Mendenhall Glacier and trekked on it.  It really was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had.

When we flew back to the area of the glacier, it was as if we entered into another world.  There was no life back there — just ice, snow, and mountains.  It was majestic and a reminder of how small we humans really are compared to this vast world we live in. 

Here we are ready to trek! 

After getting our crampons and ice picks, we started walking on the glacier which was a bit more difficult than I had guessed it would be.  You are walking on ice so balance and crampons (like sharp metal teeth on your boots) are the only way you are staying up.  Of course we made our way to another waterfall, and I wanted a photo w/ it.  GORGEOUS!

Here is a look back at our camp (the little orange tent) compared w/ the great big glacier world.  

And here  is looking at the glacier from before we began trekking up it.

 Notice how small the people are halfway up it.  It was a great day, and I was so thankful to share this experience with two people I love dearly.  

Skagway was rainy & cold so we took the famous Skagway train.  I had taken this tour at least four times, but the views never get old, plus we chatted and laughed along the way. 

Our last day in Ketchikan we got lucky and booked the float plane tour.  Riding in the float plane was an experience in itself but the views of the fjords were gorgeous.  Along the flight our pilot landed in a lake, and we were able to get out and look around on the planes “floats”.  What can I say — gotta love Alaska. 

Ready to take off! 

Ladies and gentlemen, here are the misty fjords of Ketchikan. 

Just hanging out on the “floats” of the float plane in the lake.  Yes, I do love Alaska. 

And when we weren’t adventuring, Shari & Red were the best audience members ever, frequenting all our shows.  My whole cast fell in love w/ them. Here we are after the Abba show. 

 And the Motown show...

And my country show...

It was a wonderful week with two dear friends, close as family to me.  Thank you Red and Shari for coming, and I hope you as wonderful a time as I did with you both! 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sea Lions, Starfish, & Bears

In the past few weeks, I have gotten to see even more of Alaska -- some that surprised me & some expected.  In Sitka, I took a great kayaking tour.  On the boat ride there we had some sea lions show up and swim alongside our boat.  They were so cute; although, the boat driver said the local fisherman do not hold the same sentiments and see them as more meddlesome to their fishing.     

                      While kayaking, we went to a narrow inlet where salmon were spawning.  There were salmon jumping all around us.  I was hoping one would jump in my kayak so I could take it back :)  We also found two different types of starfish.  I felt like I was back in the Carribean. 

 Here is the view from my kayak.  What a perfect Alaskan day for kayaking!

One thing I have not seen "in the wild" yet is a bear.  For fear of missing a bear while in Alaska, I visited the Fortress of the Bear in Sitka.  It is a sort of refuge for bears that are not able to live in the wild for various reasons.

 At least they warn people.  Comforting...

They looked so cute from where I was standing.

I am still hoping to meet a bear in the wild, but these views were great because  I do not hope to meet a bear this close in the wild. 

And in Juneau, I visited Glacier Gardens.  The whole concept is the owner used trees that had been turned upside down by an avalanche to create a garden where the flowers were planted in the tree roots.  It was a really neat concept; although, I do think the price was a little steep for the small amount of gardens to be seen.  Here is a view from the top of the mountain.  Behind me is the airport.



Here is a view of the gardens in the tree roots.

And a view of the beautiful hanging flowers on the inside of the lobby. 

Hope you enoy the pics!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Side Projects

After a month of having no computer, I am now happy to own a new MacBook Air!  Connection w/ the outside world is again possible.  Recently I picked up a short read entitled Steal Like an Artist.
One of the things the author mentioned is how important it is for artists to have side projects because creativity requires the "practice of productive procrastination".  Taking that advice and with the help of my fellow cast mates, I took up knitting.  It is a hobby that I have always been interested in learning so with their expertise, I embarked on my first knitting project.  Here is the scarf I just finished.  While basic, I felt so accomplished after finishing it.  The process was also a good reminder of how much time and re-working any project requires in order to be done well.  I plan to keep knitting for enjoyment and also to feed my creative soul while reaping an extrinsic reward. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I have read that one of the best cures for the uninspired is travel.  Alaska's unparalleled beauty is enough to inspire even the dullest soul. Fate must be on our side because sunshine has visited Alaska a good bit in the past two weeks. Below is a view from a boat dock that I used as my writing room last week in Sitka.  Inspiration was the host of this setting. 

We passed the Hubbard Glacier last week on a perfectly sunny day.  Wanting to make the best use of my time, I used this as my vocal practice room.  I have a sneaking suspicion I am getting spoiled :)  

Yesterday the sun was out in Skagway! I took an AM bicycle tour of the Tongass National Forest in Dyea.  From the forest to the beach in less than three hours time! 

 When I arrived back to the ship, my cast mate & adventure buddy, Krystle, wanted to go out so we biked to a Skagway waterfall called Lower Dewey Falls.  It is a hidden treasure on the edge of town.  

 And here is the sail away view from Skagway. When it comes to beauty, I am not sure Alaska can be beat with variety of what can be seen here.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bringin' bluegrass to Alaska

I was able to do a country- flavored show on July 4th onboard. My talented cast mates Krystle Simmons & Jessica Brust were kind enough to join in for " Will the Circle be Unbroken". Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Victoria, BC, & Harbour Mountain Trail, Sitka, Alaska

Besides the fact that I thoroughly enjoy my job, my colleagues, and my surroundings, another benefit of being at sea is that we sail to Victoria, BC, where my best friend lives.  She and I met on ships in 2004 and have been friends ever since.  A little over a week ago we docked at Victoria’s port, and I was able to spend the entire day with Tara.  What a wonderful job perk!  It was a great day with a dear friend.  My only wish was I wish I could see her more often. 

While in Victoria we visited a theatre friend of Tara's. She and I immediately hit it off, plus her backyard is the beach.  Her view isn’t bad :)

The sun finally came out on Saturday in Sitka, Alaska, so Krystle, my fellow cast mate, and I decided to get a good workout.  We set out for the Harbour Mountain Trail – a seven-mile hike up and down with spectacular views.  I must say that the bloggers did not lie.  The views were unbeatable.  The photos don’t do justice to what our eyes drank in.  

Krystle was ready to go.  She had a little Beyonce playing to scare away the bears.

 Here I am enjoying the scenery WITH BEAR MACE IN HAND – just in case.

 There were beautiful flowers along the trail.  Below are the rocks we had to hike through.  I was hoping there was no boiling mud ....

Views, views, and more views........

We made it to the top!  So glad to be there.  Snack time! 

A few more of the picturesque scenes we saw while hiking back to town. 

After four hours with steep ascents we felt we deserved the night off from the gym…. and a nap.

Hope you enjoy the photos from Victoria and Sitka.   More to come…