Alaska

An adventure to the last frontier!

Alaska is one of those places that reminds you of how lucky you are to live on such a beautiful earth. When you gaze out in any direction you’ll see snow capped mountains and evergreens growing on top of each other from the meeting of land and deep green water all the way to the tip top of mountains. I was lucky enough to see this amazing land on the Disney Wonder cruise ship with my family.

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Disney Wonder in Skagway, AK

Day 1: We left out of Vancouver Monday afternoon and set out to a day at sea.

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Day 2: During our time at sea, we spotted dolphins and whales from our balcony. My family & I spanned across 4 balconies & worked as a huge mega unit of whale watchers… excitingly passing the binoculars off to each other like a baton in a relay race. Laine and Bree spent time coloring and participated in activities at the “Oceaneers club/lab” (a space created for kids just their age on the ship).

Day 3: We arrived in Skagway, Alaska on Wednesday. The Beard family signed up for a zip lining excursion, the Mathis family signed up for a city tour, and the Dodson family signed up for a dog-sled adventure. My mom, brother, & I walked through the town which has kept its old town character. We stopped in a few places to read about the small town and its role during the Klondike Gold Rush.

Day 4: The next day we were supposed to cruise down the Tracy Arm fjord, however the water was iced over. Our captain took an alternate route down Endicott Arm fjord to Dawes Glacier. As we cruised down this fjord we spotted seals on an iceberg & a bear on the shore. Though our route changed, we were NOT disappointed. We were impressed with the scenery and glacier. We even got to see the calving process (chunks of the ice break off) take place also!

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Endicott Arm Fjord
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A Princess cruise ship on the other side of Endicott Arm Fjord
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Hanging glacier spotted along Endicott Arm fjord
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Endicott Arm fjord, one of my favorite pictures
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Where liquid meets ice
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Dawes Glacier
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Family selfie on our balcony. Missing Bree, Matt, & Eddie.

Day 5: The next day we arrived in Juneau, Alaska. We signed up to do a whale watching and hike excursion through Disney. We hopped in with Gastineau Guiding Company (they were great) and headed toward our whale watching boat. On the way we saw a massive amount of bald eagles!

After we boarded the boat, we went by the company’s crab pot to see what it had caught. Joaquin leaned over and pulled it out of the water to find a variation of fish, crabs, and snails in the pot!

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Joaquin pulling up the crab pot!

After learning about the different species in the crab pot, we set out to see some whales. Luckily it was a great day for it- we saw multiple humpback whales, harbor seals, & even dorsal fins belonging to a pod of killer whales! Thankfully the company provided binoculars for us to use.

After whale watching we were given snacks & headed to Tongass National Forest. Throughout our hike, our guide pointed out different types of plants and Laine, Bree, & Joaquin took water samples before we arrived at the beautiful Mendenhall glacier.

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Laine & Mendenhall Glacier in the background
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Mendenhall glacier
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Tongass National Forest

After our hike, the Beard family, my mom, brother, & I hopped off the van in downtown Juneau.  Jon, Laine, & Joaquin raced to the Mount Roberts Tramway lift while my mom, brother, & I went to the famous Tracy’s King Crab Shack.  Jacob & I ordered their #1 combo while Mom ordered the crab bisque for lunch. Sara ordered a crepe at the Alaskan Crepe Escape. It was worth every penny. 🙂

After lunch, we walked through the downtown area of Juneau. It reminded us of Skagway but just a little larger.

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Juneau, AK

Day 6: After Juneau, we cruised the next day to Ketchikan, Alaska. We debarked the ship and attended the Great Alaskan Lumberjack show. It was a competition between the US & Canada in skills requiring saws of all sorts (including chainsaws). Afterwards, we walked through the town & stopped into stores that looked interesting. My mom & I discovered a cute gourmet chocolate shop called KetchiCandies and bought an assortment box and chocolate covered mint patties… I will confess, they didn’t last long mainly because of me. IMG_2479

After exploring the town, my mom & I split fish & chips at the Alaska Fish House, conveniently right by our ship. It was delicious! We went during an off time so we actually found a place to sit inside. Other members of our family hung out & ate pizza at Fat Stan’s nearby.

After we had enough of shopping around, we called it a day and headed back to the ship.

Day 7: We had one more day at sea & luckily the weather was absolutely perfect- clear sunny skies with a perfect temperature. We made sure to enjoy every moment we had left.

We were also given a beautiful evening.

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Cheers to great times exploring beautiful Alaska with the ones you love most! Thanks, Disney!

-Chesney

 

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

A Voyage to Vancouver!

Vancouver reminded us of a mini, less crowded, & clean NYC. During our stay the weather was perfect- sunny skies with the temperature in the upper 60’s low 70’s (the locals said their winter season consists of constant rain & we chose the perfect time to come in late May when rain was less frequent… the only day we saw it was on our way to the airport to return home).

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View from the Hampton Inn

We stayed at the Hampton Inn on Robson St & by the time we arrived it was time for dinner. We went just around the corner to Fanny Bay Oyster Bar & Seafood Market. Mom & I ordered the Oyster Trio while Jacob had the Squid Ink Linguini. For dessert we all split the Lemon Semifreddo.

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Lemon Semifreddo

The following morning we ate brunch at Cafe Medina. It was an 1 1/2 hour wait by the time we got there (around 10 am) but it was totally worth it.

Mom ordered freshly squeezed orange juice, I ordered the  lavender latte (one of their most popular drinks), and my brother ordered a dark chocolate mocha.

For eats at Cafe Medina I ordered the Saumon Fumé, Mom ordered 3 Belgian waffles & chose the Fig Orange Marmalade, Dark Chocolate, & Milk Chocolate Lavender as dipping sauces, and Jacob had the Fricassée. Though they were all amazing meals, Jacob’s was the absolute best.

After brunch we caught a free shuttle to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Luckily the bus picked up at the public library which was really close to our hotel & Cafe Medina. We bought our tickets online in advance so we were able to skip the lines once we got there. It was so worth going too! We walked the famous suspension bridge, “cliff walked”, did the “tree top adventures” which allowed us to walk at the tops of enormous Douglas-Fir trees (some as high as 110 feet!) , and walked throughout the trails on the forest’s floor. We came across 2 guides, 1 holding and teaching about a falcon while the other talking about an owl.

After the park, we were ready for dinner and walked to a Lebanese restaurant called Nuba (their Gastown location). For an appetizer we ordered the Najib’s Special (cauliflower tossed with lemon and sea salt, served with tahini). For our main course Mom & I split the grilled chicken which was amazing . Jacob ordered the stuffed eggplant and honestly wasn’t a fan of its slimy-ness but managed to eat it all anyway.

The next morning we boarded our cruise to Alaska!

When we returned from Alaska, we had one last day in Vancouver. For breakfast, Jacob & Mom ordered waffles at La Petit Belge which was close to our hotel.

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After breakfast, we decided to go to Granville Island. We took a ferry, located right behind the BC Place (Vancouver Whitecaps FC arena) specifically at the Plaza of Nations, to the island. We arrived at Granville Island around 9 am and fell in love with the Public Market (partially because no one was there yet).

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I immediately got some freshly squeezed grapefruit juice at Fraser Valley. 🙂

After exploring the island for about an hour, we sat out on the dock near the market to enjoy the view and sunny warm weather (quite contrary to our previous few days in Alaska so it was extra nice 🙂 )

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We made one last run through the market to purchase a few items to eat later- fresh cherries (sooooo good), roasted bbq chicken/baked mac n cheese/butternut squash, Chinese food, sushi, and of course a few freshly baked cookies.

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On our last night, my mom & I ate a light dinner on the bottom floor of the Hampton Inn at a restaurant called Bogart’s Bar. We enjoyed a glass of Pinot Noir and split a pizza. Jacob went down the street to a noodle house called Delicious Pho.  Afterwards, Jacob & I went to get nitrogen ice cream at Gelato Express N2. I got the Mint Moose Tracks and lets just say it was the perfect way to end our last night in Vancouver. 😉

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Until we meet again, Canada!

–chesney

Side notes-

  • Be prepared to use credit card. Most places, with the exception of 2 places at Granville Island, take American dollars “on par”, meaning its 1 for 1 rather than the current exchange rate.
  • Transportation:
    • Uber & Lyft do not exist here. Only thing similar is Car2go
    • The Hampton Inn downtown does not have a shuttle to the airport (taxi fee is in the $30s.)
    • Main means of transportation: Skytrain, bus, taxi.
  • One thing that threw us off with customs:
    • GOING THERE: American Airlines from SAT –> DFW –> YVR (went through customs @ YVR)
    • RETURN: American Airlines from YVR (went through US customs @ YVR. We had originally thought we would go through customs in Dallas.. thew us off) –> DFW –> SAT