Columbia Glacier Cruise from Valdez

On July 9, we set out on our last trip/activity for our Alaskan tour. And it was the third and final cruise. The night before it rained non stop. It was real nippy out, and I really didn’t know whether anyone would want to go on the cruise. I told them all that they could stay in the hotel if they didn’t want to take this last cruise. I was afraid they were sick of cruises, long cruises. I have to say, we saved the best for last. I can honestly say that I enjoyed all three and they were all special in their own ways. But this was really different.

First of all, this cruise was operated by Stan Stephens Glacier & Wildlife Cruises. All crew members were actually living in Alaska unlike the other cruises we had been on. The boat wasn’t full so we had a more intimate experience as the captain, Alan, invited passengers to come talk to him and ask questions or just to get a better view.

Second, we didn’t see as much wildlife as the first cruise. We did see the ever-elusive porpoises, stellar sea lions, birds and seals. I guess we DID see a lot.

One of the most amazing things about this cruise was watching how the scenery changed from, “I can’t believe this is Alaska” to “Oh, I’m really in Alaska.”

I can’t believe this is Alaska.

 

Now THIS is Alaska!

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On this cruise, we got to see more ice. Sure we had seen glaciers and seemingly small icebergs, but this time we got to see much more floating ice. Larger icebergs and the ever impressive Columbia Glacier. Once we got closer to the face of the glacier, I felt like that was the Alaska I had been dreaming about. We were freezing and it was spectacular. I stayed outside a lot because I just couldn’t resist the scenery around me. Seeing that towering mountain of glorious ice was an experience I won’t soon forget.

And now more of Columbia Glacier…

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Heading to the land of the midnight sun

We left Banff for Anchorage on June 30. It was bitter sweet as I really wanted to stay. But it was time for part 2 of our vacation.

We arrived to Anchorage around 11:30 at night. I really liked the airport. I liked that there was a simple way to call hotels for shuttles. There was a digital board with names of hotels and a two digit number you could call to reach the hotel. This was one of the nicest things I’ve ever seen in an airport. It saved me the headache of having to make an international call while roaming from my cell phone. It’s a convenience that should be found in all airports.

The photo was taken around 12:30am. Though it’s something I’ve always known about, experiencing it in real life is something different. 

The days and nights caused us lots of confusion. We live in Saudi Arabia and Alaska is 11 hours behind. It meant that we’d have some difficulty adjusting which I will mention in another post.

It was great to be in Alaska and our first stop was in Seward. 

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.

Turkey: Day, Um I don’t really know. (Antalya)

I went to plenty of places in between and I’ll share the pics later, but I couldn’t help but remember my first tour in Antalya, a beautiful area of Turkey I hadn’t heard out before this trip.  It was nice to

I got up early on a, uh, morning to make sure I didn’t miss the tour bus.  It was “cool” out and felt great.  The bus arrived and I got on.  This group was smaller and I still didn’t have to share a seat which was nice.  Our very “pleasant” guide got on and we were off.  I had no idea where we were going I just hoped it would be nice.  Turned out that we were headed to a region of Antalya, the Kekova Islands, which was 3 hours away.  The distance wasn’t that great but a good part of the route was through a mountainous area filled with winding roads.

Anywho, the guide walked through the bus speaking to everyone.  And when he got close enough to me he said good morning.  I’m telling you that man must have had some bourbon for breakfast.  Well, I don’t know that it was bourbon but it was definitely alcohol.  I thought to myself, “Oh great! Our guide is drunk already.  This should be interesting.”  He stood there at the front of the bus asking people where they were from and that’s when the silliness began.  I know that on the surface I don’t look “American” per se but when I talk, you would know that I couldn’t be anything else.  Anywho, he asked where I was from.  I said, sounding like a typical Ohioan, “America.”  He asked, “Saudi Arabia?”  Whatever, man.  Even though other people repeated that I was from America, he apparently didn’t get it.

Twenty thousand hours later we reached the Kekova Islands.  What can I say about this place?  Lovely!  And that’s an understatement.  I tried to choose one of my best shots to post.  As if I’m a photographer, lol.

I was really liking the view.  It was so peaceful and serene.  And to think I was planning to cancel this part of my trip because I was so tired from everything, the walking and climbing.  Anywho, the tour guide, still in a drunken stupor apparently, asked me again where I was from.  So I decided to go with something else.  I said, “The US.”  His response, “Tunis?”  Are you freaking kidding me?  He just didn’t want to accept that I was American I

lotspart2 181guess.  But I did get a laugh out of it.  To add to the humor, someone else asked me where I was from.  I thought, “Here I go again.”  The lady’s son told her that I was from Ohio.  So, she asked me about my parents.  I told her that my mom was from Michigan and that my dad was from Ohio.  And she decided to dig deeper.  Her son said that she kept saying, “Something’s not adding up.”  How far did she want me to go back?  My ancestors include Africans, American Indians, English and more recently I discovered also Turkey.  Finally, when I said that I was the only one in my family that looked like this, she was able to accept it.  Darn foreigners!

As part of our trip that day, the boat stopped and we were told we could take a swim for 30 minutes.  “Do you wanna go for a swim?”  Oh, silly tour guide!  I chuckled and said no.  He asked, “Oh, you’re not prepared?”  Again I chuckled and said no.  Picture it, I’m covered from head to toe.  Did he really think I planned of drowning myself as I tried to maneuver myself in the water the way I was dressed?  I must admit, it was tempting though.  Here’s where we stopped to swim, lol.  I can’t help but laugh when I think about it.

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Since I wasn’t “prepared” to swim, I did what I had been doing all day.  I took pictures.  I also started thinking that I would definitely like to return to Turkey, this area in particular.  Prior to my trip I had never heard of Antalya and when I added the stop to my itinerary I no idea what I would see.

I’m glad I went and I highly recommend it to you.  I was there in October which was nice.  The temperature hovered right around 75 F.  Don’t ask me about C temperatures because I have no idea.

Antalya!  I loved it.

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