Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Alaska Memories

Dusty and I noticed that we didn't add pictures from our Alaska trip in our pictures from last summer. I would guess this is because I was thinking of all the warm memories from our summers past. So now as it is snowing again in Pullman, I have come to the fact that winter is here to stay. Here are some photos that look a bit like winter time but they are actually from our cruise to Alaska last June.

We had some time to kill while we were waiting for the ship to leave port in Seattle. The first thing we did once we were on board was go and find somewhere to eat. Then we went made our way on a little self-guided tour around the ship while we waited for our stateroom to be ready. Then after we set sail, we got to settle into our room. We went back on deck to watch as the pretty Seattle skyline faded away. Can you guess what we did next? You got it, back to the dining hall for more food. So what if it was just shy of four hours from our last meal, we were just trying to get into the cruise spirit!
Our second day, (the first full day) on the ship was spent at sea. It was nice because we had lots of time to wander around and get to know the layout of the boat. We found one of our favorite places on this day. On one of the top floors they have a big lounge area with odd shaped, peacock blue couches and floor to ceiling windows. It was a neat place to just sit and watch the world go by. We did just that quite often, despite the fierce competition for a couch.

Monday evening we went to an early dinner and then a dance show in the theater. When we came out of the theater we were surprised to see an amazing sunset. It was quite a shock because we had assumed it would be dark out already. What I had forgotten to consider was that our ship was traveling north. Every day we moved north we gained a few minutes on our total daylight hours. Our trip was the middle of June so I was used to long summer evenings but Alaska took it to a whole new level. It was so strange to wake up early to see bright daylight, and stay up late but still make it to bed before the sky was totally black. Just think of how much you could get done outside in an Alaska summer! We are dressed up because it was formal night.

The next day, Tuesday, we made it into Juneau. It was a very neat town. While we were there we wandered through the shops. We hadn’t planned an “excursion” in Juneau. However we came across a tram that looked like fun. It went straight up the side of Mt. Roberts. From the top there was a little walk to a viewing platform. We almost didn’t take the short ½ mile hike because the trail was so muddy. I was very glad we did though! From the platform we could see the town and our ship docked down below. It was absolutely gorgeous. Here are a couple pictures of us at the top and our photo tip of day: look around to find the person with the nicest camera then ask them to take a picture with yours. Chances are it will turn out pretty good. As you can see it worked well for us on this day.

Wednesday, we stopped at Skagway. Literally, our boat dock was practically on the main street of town. When we stood on the deck in the front of the boat, you could actually see people walking in and out of the shops. I felt like I was watching an ant farm. You can see in some of the pictures here it is really close. We had signed up for a great excursion in Skagway on White Pass Rail Way. The train ride was awesome. It took us up the same path as the miners took in the gold rush. Except they did the treacherous trip without a train. Parts of the original path were still visible from the train. Dusty and I couldn’t believe how rough the land looked. I couldn’t imagine walking a short distance on the uneven terrain, not to mention the trek it would be from the town of Skagway to miles beyond the Canadian border. It was very interesting to see a bit of history first hand.

Our next stop, on Thursday, was Glacier Bay. When we first got into the area we had a few park rangers join our boat. They made regular announcements over the intercom system about our gorgeous surroundings. There were more glaciers than I could count but the main glacier we stopped at was so blue and the air was so cold. The rangers also told us there was a chance we could see sea lions lounging on the ice. We did see a couple swimming in the water but they never stayed on the surface long enough to catch a picture. The ice fields, while still moving, made it much easier to get a picture.

On Friday we went to our favorite place in Alaska, Ketchikan. We went on an awesome excursion; it was on a crab fishing boat. Although it meant we had just a little time to run around town it was totally worth the time and money. I would highly recommend it to anyone taking a cruise. The now retired, crab fishing boat that we were on was called the Aleutian Ballad. It was briefly seen on the TV show Deadliest Catch. Our guides were so amazing. They made our tour really feel like we were on the Bering Sea, minus the gigantic waves and freezing ocean spray. They made it feel real with their stories of adventure from years on the ocean.On our tour we got to see a humpback whale, three types of crabs, an enormous octopus and bald EAGLES! There were so many eagles. We were told that there were somewhere between 35 and 50 eagles swooping around our boat. Our guides provided fish for the little kids to throw off the edge of the boat. Between the eagles’ competitive natures and the kids’ short tosses we had birds flying right over to our boat. It was the coolest thing we have ever seen! I can’t even begin to describe how great it was, so take a look below and see for yourself! Oh yeah, and we got to sit in the captain’s chair.


The last day of our trip we stopped at Victoria, British Columbia. It was a warm sunny day as we sailed south. Dusty took advantage of the nice weather and tried the climbing wall onboard our cruise ship. It was really fun to watch him. Dusty did so well on the medium difficulty wall that the cruise staff manning the climbing wall “made” Dusty climb again on the most difficult. The worker, with his strong Caribbean accent, encouraged Dusty all the way up the second wall “Go Spider Man, go!” It was seriously funny. I almost didn’t get a good picture of Dusty ringing the bell because I was laughing.

Once we got docked in Victoria, Dusty and I took a pedal cab tour. It was a nice pace to see a lot of the town but not so fast that you would miss things like if you drove around in a car. Since it was just the two of us we got to pick what we wanted to see, which made it very personal. When our tour was over we walked around downtown and visited a local street fair on the pier. There must have been some sort of special demonstration going on earlier in the day because there were old fashion pirate boats docked in the harbor. Just before dark we headed back to our cruise boat and got to look at the well known Empress Hotel and the capitol building with their lights on. Both looked beautiful all lit up.

As we boarded our ship for the last time, I couldn’t believe our cruise was almost over. The cruise was so luxurious and relaxing but if, no, when we go back to Alaska I think I would like to fly in and to have more time to explore. We had a great time, and are sure we want to go back someday!


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thanksgiving Business

This is Dusty's first blog, so go easy on him, please.

Hello, so it's been awhile since we started this blog, and I haven't made a post yet, so here it goes. We've been really busy the past few weeks and have much to share with you. Look for another post by my beautiful wife later in the week.

I was lucky enough to be able to get the whole week of Thanksgiving off from school and research, except for giving a short presentation Monday morning. It worked out really well because I had a big project to get done back home on the farm.

My high school 4-H project cow herd has gotten a little out of hand over the years and has grown from 7 head to 20 cow-calf pairs, a bull, and 8 steers, that's 49 animals all together. As anyone who has dealt with cows knows, their destructive capacity is unrivaled except by a bulldozer. Lately the cows have been taking their aggression out on my feeders, which means I needed to build another feeder for winter.

Tuesday Erin and I picked up steel in town then Dad and I started construction. With all the other activities around Thanksgiving we had to be quick at building the feeder. We made pretty good progress by Wednesday night we had the frame together and painted. Then Erin and I went out to dinner with friends and played games.
Thanksgiving day was a great day of good smells, good tastes, and good times. Erin cooked a great turkey and some awesome pies, and we had both of our families over to the farm for dinner. It was really great to get everybody together.
Friday was back to the feeder and we got all the wood in the feeder and attached it to the barn.

Said and done the feeder has 24 head stalls, is 16' x 5', and weighs in at 1,400lbs. The outside frame is made of 2"x3"x1/4" angle iron. The head dividers are made of 2"x2"x1/4" angle iron. Hopefully it will keep the bulldoze... I mean bovines, at bay for awhile.

Saturday night we went out to dinner with Erin's family to celebrate Kim's birthday at Prospector's. It is always fun to have dinner with my new sisters.Then on Sunday, Erin and I helped my grandparents decorate their house for Christmas. Christmas is my grandma Lois' favorite time of the year and it is always great to see her light up when we decorate for the holidays. Once the tree was trimmed and the stockings hung it was back to Pullman to decorate our own house, but I'll save that for Erin.

Overall it was a very productive break filled with lots of time with friends and family, and for that I am Thankful.