Phillips 26 Glaciers Cruise

After spending the night in Anchorage, we headed to Whittier for another cruise through Prince William Sound with Phillips Cruises & Tours. This cruise was also supposed to be 6 hours. I was almost afraid to say anything about the 6 hours for fear my mom would complain. But then she asked, so I had no choice but to tell the truth.

This cruise was different. The weather wasn’t much different though. Of course I’ve mentioned before that for such cruises/trips, you really shouldn’t worry about things like rain as long as it’s not a deadly storm. We didn’t see whales on this trip, but we did see sea otters and steller sea lions along with tufted puffins and other sea birds. We also saw porpoises, but I gave up on trying to get a shot of one. They’re just too quick. I also managed to get a shot of a bald eagle, shown in the featured image, though he’s far away. At least it’s proof that I was there and saw it with my own eyes.

And on this cruise we also saw more ice dotting the waters closer to the glacier. And speaking of glaciers, we were able to see different types of glaciers and little waterfalls making their way down the mountains. What I learned on this trip is that I have become fascinated with glaciers and icebergs.

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We visited a glacier that calves a lot. Guess what? It calved, and I missed it. So close! What could I possibly do? I have an idea though. I need to make more trips like this one.

 

Bye bye, Denali

When we got back from our Denali adventure, we were finished. And by finished, I mean we were completely out of energy. We were hungry and tired. It was 8:30pm and all we wanted to do was eat and sleep. We ate, but when we wanted to sleep, my husband asked about the activity for the next day. I was sure it was a free day to drive back to Anchorage at our own pace. So, I decided to check the itinerary and lo and behold, we did have a scheduled activity for the next day. What?! That’s all I could say. What was worse was that it was an early morning activity which might have been interesting had we not been so tired. We all agreed that we simply wouldn’t go. It was paid for, but we were willing to take a little hit to get some rest. And so we did. And then the next morning we got a call from the front desk reminding us that we had a trip. My husband calmly said, “We canceled it. We all canceled.” We were a party of four and not a single one of us could be bothered. We decided to sleep and then get ready to head back to Anchorage.

Even though we didn’t go on our scheduled river float down the Kantishna River, we most definitely enjoyed the views on our way back to Anchorage.

We saw a moose along the roadside as my dad zipped by. There was no way to stop. But, it wasn’t a problem because I did get shots of one in Denali NP. So, by this point just seeing one was enough.

After 4 hours, we stopped at a Wal-Mart and made our way to the hotel which was the same hotel we stayed in when we first arrived to Anchorage. Funny thing was that my husband and my parents didn’t seem to get that fact. My parents both said, “I’m sorry but I liked the hotel we stayed in when we first arrived.” And it took everyone a minute to realize that it was in fact the same hotel. From that moment forward I had to start watching what everyone was drinking :).

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Before traveling, I had read so much about the Icefields Parkway. I got advice and remember being told, “It can take the whole day.” My husband wasn’t feeling well, so it didn’t take that time. But I could definitely see spending an entire day on this magnificent drive. I had also seen many lists of places of interest along the way, so I was prepared with that. And yet, I didn’t think I would be interested in making all of those stops. I was wrong!

So, as soon as we got started, we were stopping. The interesting thing is that this lake wasn’t on all the lists I had seen though I do believe I had heard of it before.

Herbert Lake


Yeah. No words are necessary. I was driving and simply said, “Oh my God!” And of course we stopped. The lake was so still, so serene. So unbelievably beautiful. I remember asking my husband, “Why didn’t anyone mention this?” As if he had the answer. It is simply stunning, and I’d love to see it again.

Bow Lake


At first I thought we’d skip Bow Lake. Obviously, that was simply not possible. How could I pass it up? It only required us to stop. There was no hiking involved. It took no effort at all other than walking down to get closer to the water. The funny thing was that my husband wanted to stay in the car initially. I took too long I guess and soon he was right there with me though we were kind of on opposite sides of a rock in the water. When I was happy with the shots I got, we plotted the climb back up. He said, “Give me your hand.” But I knew I couldn’t make that little jump without falling, probably flat on my face into the water. And finally he said, “Just step in it. Aren’t your boots waterproof?” He was right, 😜, but I had forgotten about that fact. And then we were off until…

Peyto Lake


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​Peyto Lake was more of a challenge for us. I had seen pictures and read that it was a short hike. My first thoughts were, “Please define ‘short’.” Well, it would have been short had we been in better shape. I’m not proud of that, but hey, it is what it is. As we climbed, and I do mean climbed, I wondered if we should bother. It was pretty much all uphill and I was tired. So, we asked a couple ladies how close we were and were told 5-10 minutes. That could have easily meant 15-20 for us, but we pushed on as everyone said it would be worth it. And as you saw above, it was so worth it. And what was even better, the  walk back to the car would be downhill. Woohoo!

As mentioned, my husband wasn’t feeling well, so we decided to head back to Lake Louise after stopping briefly at Saskatchewan River Crossing. Also, our bank cards weren’t working when we stopped at the gas station nearby.

We didn’t even scratch the surface with that short drive, but it was still worth it. Driving through the mountains with out of this world scenery was enough to say it was a great drive. I feel blessed that I was able to experience it.

Bright and early on June 29th we left Lake Louise for Johnston Canyon. We wanted to beat the crowds, and we did 😉. When we got there there was only one other car there. And it was c-h-i-l-l-y. I had on several layers to prepare for the cool, brisk air. And then we were off. As I mentioned before, we were there early. And my husband actually found it slightly creepy. I don’t know what he would have thought of my non-hike in Thailand then. That was actually beyond creepy, especially since I’m a chicken and there were monkeys swinging everywhere. But, back to Johnston Canyon.

I had big plans for us when we started. I wanted to make it to the upper falls since I’d read that the extra trek would be worth it. Well, I guess I have to take everyone’s word for it because we did not make it. Perhaps you may have read about us being out of shape and know the deal. We just didn’t have it in us to continue though I wished it had been otherwise.

If anyone is in Banff, I highly recommend a hike through Johnston Canyon. It is an amazing place to see. But I must say, you do need to be in shape. We were tired before we even made it to the lower falls which was only a half-mile hike. That said, a lot is also uphill. Fortunately, there are points to stop and rest as well as take in all that the creator has created.

Look at what you see before even reaching the lower falls.

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Honestly, I would have been happy to stop at that point. Listening to the water rushing through the canyon was relaxing. The palette of pale blues and white dancing around each and every crevass and embracing the rocks is something we should all be so lucky to experience. And when I see the never ending beauty in Banff and other parts of Canada, I often wish Canada was home for me.

And finally we reached the upper falls. ​​


​​As you can tell from the clip, we soon headed back. We tried, with zero success, to continue on but another mile just wasn’t happening.

I am glad that I got to see at least some of Johnston Canyon. And who knows, maybe we’ll be fortunate enough to visit again.

Lake Louise, Banff

So let me be honest. I went to Banff for two things, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. And if I had only seen those two, I would have been satisfied. Mostly 😜

My husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to stay at the Fairmont Chateau. Our room had a view of the lake which made sitting in the room when we were tired so much more pleasant.


Though the water was not yet at its bluest, it was perfect. I’ve read that by the end of July it will be a deeper blue. But for me, it looked like a tropical drink. It looked deliciously unreal. 

​​The first couple of days, it was windy and chilly. Well at least by our standards it was. And I worried about what it would be like on our last morning. Our plan was to go for a sunrise canoe. Coming from extremely hot weather I simply wasn’t sure if I’d be warm enough. I also worried that we wouldn’t be able to move very far in the canoe since I hadn’t been in one since the 5th grade. Fortunately, it was actually warmer on that day, even at 5:30am. And it turned out that I can in fact move more than two feet in a canoe.

So what was it like?


I truly believe the photo says it all. While so many are looking for the perfect selfie, I wonder if they truly take a moment to simply take it all in. The above photo was taken by my husband without my knowledge.

And what was it like maneuvering our way through the water?


Perhaps it could have been included in a movie like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Unreal!

And as beautiful as it was, there is so much more.

Day 1 in Percé

July 15 was our first official day in this lovely city. We woke up to a fascinating view. And to think, this would be our view for the next few days. Not bad at all. We woke up and immediately checked the time. We wanted to have breakfast, and we also wanted to go to hotel reception as we were advised the previous night. So, we called my parents and left for the reception desk. Thankfully, we met a receptionist who spoke fluent English. This meant I wouldn’t have to fake my way through “speaking” French. And it turned out that the gentleman we spoke with the previous night only asked us to go in the morning to make sure we’d be able to communicate with someone. We asked about breakfast and made our way into the dining area.

We were given a table by a window with a view of Pèrce Rock. Our waitress came over with the menu and I went straight for what I knew.


French toast and scrambled eggs, yum 😋. It was the best French toast I had ever eaten. And because I know what I like, I ordered the same thing for the next two days. My husband and parents caught on and soon all of them were ordering the French toast. The teeny tiny dish of beans was just part of the meal I guess. I asked the waitress if there was any meat in the beans because they looked a lot like pork and beans. She kindly told me, “No, there’s no meat. If you find a little piece of pork, you can just take it out.” Um, that sounds a lot like meat in the dish. And of course, it would be pork since I don’t eat it. But I’m glad I asked.

We finished breakfast, went back to the room, and then sat out on the balcony while we waited for my parents to finish breakfast. Once they returned to their room, we all decided to head into town. It wasn’t really a long walk, but it was downhill which would mean a walk uphill to get back to the hotel. I wasn’t really looking forward to that, and secretly I hoped we’d be able to teleport back to the hotel later on.

The weather was lovely, as you can see in the photos below. But, it wouldn’t stay that way. My parents had returned to the hotel, and we decided to stay in town. We stopped at a little cafe and had fries. My husband had coffee because he’s all about the coffee.

We were sitting outside until it started raining. If it were just a light rain, we could’ve handled it. But it was really coming down. We were forced to go buy an umbrella from the gift shop owned by the cafe owners. But, it wasn’t enough for the walk we had. So, I called my dad and asked him to pick us up. Look at that, I managed to not climb that hill afterall. 😉

 

Note to self: When traveling outside of Saudi Arabia, it might actually rain. So, be prepared! Carry an umbrella or rainjacket or something.

Puffins!!!

Once we got off the speedboat at Puffin Island, my mother rode up the little hill with our hostess while my dad, husband and I walked. Puffins were flying around and I could barely contain myself. We were there because of my obsession with puffins, so I couldn’t wait to get inside and settled a little bit so that I could go out and attempt to take pictures. Once we got inside with all our things, we were more formally introduced to our hostess Louise. She had a lovely accent and very friendly demeanor. She explained the ins and outs of how things would work. First, we were asked to remain on the paths so as to not disturb or possibly harm the puffins’ nesting areas. Also, she would be staying in the house with us. We’d all be sharing a bathroom. Not something I’m too fond of, but it was necessary and I figured I could deal with it for a couple days to see puffins. 😀 The toilet was a composting toilet which I was admittedly afraid of. I have my standards! But again, I was willing to deal with it because I knew I’d be rewarded with the opportunity to observe puffins in real life. And it turns out it wasn’t as scary as expected. Our bedrooms were upstairs, steep stairs. So, we all decided that we didn’t need to take our bags up. We simply took what we needed as we needed.

Since we were basically settled in, I wasted no time and I went out. The weather was perfect. I heard that it had been miserable the day before. So we lucked out. I was shutter happy. “Shutter happy” is an adjective used to describe an individual who, when in the midst of a photo opportunity, can’t control the urge to push the shutter release button. I was like a kid in the toy store, grabbing every chance I could to snap. And, it probably comes as no surprise, but I was not always so successful. My heart raced from the excitement. Who gets that excited about such things? Well, I guess I do. They are magnificent little creatures, and I enjoyed seeing them more than they enjoyed seeing me.

I also got a few pictures of guillemots that were also hanging out on the cliffs with the puffins. But let’s face it, they weren’t my real interest though I appreciated the added bonus.

Later my husband came looking for me. As if I could go anywhere. We were on a teeny tiny island in the middle of the water. And, I had no intentions of swimming for it. He walked with me as I continued to chase puffins with my camera, and then it started raining. We stayed out as long as we could without melting and then went inside. Louise was preparing dinner, so we all sat at the table looking out the window. Even in the rain, it was a beautiful scene. The rain didn’t last long, so I went out again.

Because we were caught up in the scenery, the weather, and the birds, we opted to wait a little while for dinner. The sun was setting and it was absolutely breathtaking. It’s not that I’ve never seen a sunset, but this was one I was able to truly revel in. There were no loud noises, except the sounds of the water and seabirds. There were no street lights. No cars going by. Nothing getting in the way of the view.

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Eventually, we would have to go inside. And soon we were surrounded by darkness. Dinner was ready, and we sat down to a lovely table setting. We started with fish soup. Yuck! I am not a fish person. When Louise wasn’t looking, I swapped my husband’s empty bowl with mine. She saw me. Oops! We were then served grilled chicken bruschetta and vegetables which included broccoli, my favorite. 🙂 For dessert, we had strawberry mousse and there was something else chocolate, but I didn’t eat it.

Puffin Island really agreed with me so far!

 

Off to a Puffin Getaway

The speedboat arrived, and all we could think about was the headache we would have moving our bags across some sand to get to the floating boat ramp. Fortunately, we got some help from the company. I looked at the boat and then my mom. Once again, I suspected she might be cursing me, disowning me. This wasn’t like the large boat we were on for our whale watching trip. And then, she had the option to be inside away from the elements. It would be cold on the water, and my mom is always cold.

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The ride was supposed to be 10 minutes. But who’s counting when you have views like this? We watched as the place we left got smaller and smaller.

It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. In a way we were. My first thought was that it would be nice to get away from it all. Away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. A time to get back to nature.

Along the way, the only sounds we heard were from the boat’s motor, splashing water, and the various songs of seabirds, seals. We saw seals, and we also saw puffins flying by. Puffins! What’s not to love about puffins? I couldn’t wait to land on the island that I convinced my parents and husband to go to. I couldn’t wait to get a closer look at these birds that I came to love in the past couple of years. It would be my second chance to see them with the first time being in England. But when I was there it was the end of their nesting season. This time we would be right in the middle of it.

Up next, puffins!

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not exactly an Olympic runner. Being a teacher in Saudi Arabia doesn’t give me many opportunities to get out a lot. I go to class, and then I sit at my desk working on things related to class. After that, I go home and sit some more except when I’m cooking or cleaning. I’m usually too pooped to even think about exercise. So when we go on vacation that requires me to do more than sit, it can be a challenge. Luckily, Tadoussac had the perfect solution. A trail for lazy people. One that wouldn’t kill us.

Sentier de la Pointe de l’Islet Trail. Even the name was music to my ears. It was an easy and relaxing walk. My parents sat this one out. So it was nice to take this little hike with my husband.

Many people walk the trail for the trail, but many more take it in order to reach the shore in hopes of spotting whales as they’re known to make appearances from time to time. We had the same hopes, but the walk itself was nice even if we didn’t see any whales.

We knew we had arrived when we reached a little bridge, the subject of many of my photos. Even the bridge tells a story of sorts, but you are the one who shapes that story. A part of my story began here looking out at the Saguenay River/Fjord.

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Ah, how marvelous Tadoussac is. Beauty surrounds you wherever you are. From every corner, the story is the same. Look at what is before your very eyes, take a deep breath and soak it all in.

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