Alaska Cruise Tour 2006

This trip was a little different from the normal.  We had a week of Land Tour followed by a Cruise.  Both the Land and Sea was thru Holland America Line.


We began in Fairbanks and ended in Vancouver








Here was the daily itinerary.

Arrive in Fairbanks and transfer to your downtown hotel. Meet your Tour Director and enjoy your first night's stay in 
this former gold rush boomtown. 

Your EXTRA DAY in Fairbanks starts at the riverboat landing. Here, you'll board a sternwheeler Discovery III for a 
cruise along the storied Chena and Tanana Rivers. Soak up native culture, gold rush history, and local color as you 
visit a replicated Athabascan native village and view native crafts, see a fishwheel in action and watch a dogsled 
demonstration. You'll see a bush pilot take off and land on the water and meet Susan Butcher of Iditarod fame, or 
members of her family, at her famed sled dog kennel. At the Gold Dredge No. 8, a National Historic Site, you get to 
browse the mining exhibits, pan for gold and enjoy a hearty miner's stew in the dining hall. 

Fairbanks/Denali National Park 
This morning, board the McKinley Explorer domed rail car for the sights and sounds of the Alaska Railroad, an 
Alaska Scenic Byway. Sit back and relax in the observation lounge and watch magnificent scenery glide by. You'll 
arrive and check into your comfortable room and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. This is your opportunity to craft 
your own wilderness experience with an array of optional adventures from which to choose. And for dinner you have 
just as much choices from a choice of river-view eateries to the rustic family-style barbeque and musical at the 
Cabin Nite Dinner Theatre - a popular favorite. 

Begin your EXTRA DAY at Denali with an early morning Tundra Wilderness Tour that travels to mile 53 of the 
park road and offers opportunities to view wildlife from caribou and moose to Dall sheep and grizzly bears. A 
viewpoint at Stony Hill Overlook provides fabulous views of Mt. McKinley, weather permitting. The rest of the 
afternoon is free to craft your own wilderness experience with an organized tour. The Nenana is an exciting river to 
run and you can opt for a wild ride through the canyon or a calmer float trip past majestic scenery. Horseback riding 
is peaceful and quiet, flightseeing lets you see Alaska as few get to do, and you can fly fish, golf, explore the 
backcountry by jeep, or journey into the past aboard a covered wagon. These are the kinds of experiences that 
make your stay in Denali truly memorable! 

Wake up to a morning at leisure. Then re-board the McKinley Explorer for the continuation of your rail journey to 
Anchorage. Optional lunch and dinner are available to enhance your sightseeing experience. Soak in the 
magnificent views as you cross the Hurricane Gulch Bridge and glide from one mountain, forest and river scene 
after another. Here you'll enjoy an overnight stay with mountain views in every direction. 

This morning depart by luxury motor coach skirting Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm as you cross through the 
Chugach and Kenai Mountains on your way to Resurrection Bay and the port town of Seward. You can spend the 
afternoon exploring the downtown shops or take an optional tour. 

The highlight of the morning's adventure is a cruise through spectacular Kenai Fjords National Park (included), 
often called the "Denali of marine wildlife." You'll sail aboard a day boat that cruises up close to bird rookeries and 
seal haul-outs. Watch for whales, Dall's porpoise, and sea otters as you cruise through this intricate maze of 
secluded inlets, bays and island coves. Then say "good-bye" to your Tour Director and embark on your cruise. 

College Fjord cruising

Glacier Bay National Park with interpretation by National Park Rangers and a Huna Totem native speaker.
Inside Passage scenic cruising
Disembark in Vancouver




Three happy campers (and your photographer is happy too) waiting at Detroit Metro for our Flight to Minneapolis, and then onward to Fairbanks.



This is our boat that took us up the Chena river.




The paddle wheel at the stern of the boat actually powered the boat.  It wasn't just for show.






Looking back at the river boat HQ.  

Binkley and Barrington Navigation.


The floating dock shown here was made by Mr Binkley with leftover Alaska Pipeline pipe.   

The dock also doubles as a drydock for the Discovery II in winter.  Just fill the pipes with water to sink the dock, put the boat on it, and then pump out the water from the pipes.




Here we are on the river getting a bush pilot demonstration.





The plane is center screen














As you can see, the river drops quite a bit in the fall.  The captain had to navigate carefully.




One of the nicer homes along the Chena.





Another person's home.




Close-up of his sign out front of the house.





Another nice log cabin home.




Huskies!  This is the Susan Butcher sled dog kennel.  Susan won numerous Iditarod races.  Sadly, she passed away (I believe from Cancer) in August 2006 just before we arrived.




One of the dogs and her puppy being lovied up by the staff.





Getting ready to pull.





In summer, they use this 4 wheeler in place of a sled.





They're flying flat out around the exercise track.




Some of the doghouses are on this "merry-go-round" device the dogs can pull around in circles.




Another home along the river.  This one has a grass roof.  Not sure why he's got it covered (and tires holding down the cover).





The happy owner.





Approaching our stop at the Chena village.




Reindeer (Caribou).


Reindeer and Caribou are the same critter.  Just that Reindeer are domesticated.






A Busy Beaver





Taking some more pieces of stuff to build with.





Sandbars created by glacial silt.





Another view





How Salmon are dried by the Indians





Our friendly Beaver again




An Athabascan lady about to show us a demo of filleting a Salmon so it can be hung to dry.





Some of the sled dogs from earlier in the trip arriving at the Chena Village




Here were some Alaskan Huskies up close as we were getting a talk at the village.





Just the tips of the paws sticking out.



Happy dogs.  

You'll notice that Alaskan Huskies don't look at all like what people think of when they think of sled dogs.  Contrary to the movies, they're not the big puffy furry Malamutes.





Ho hum.




Our talk about trapping and storing the furs.




The fur coat made by the same lady from our Salmon filleting demo.

This coat was sold for $16,000.  I believe they said it took her 6 months to make.





The houses have grass roofs.  Helps with insulation and provides good drainage.




An operating fishwheel.  It rotates round and round with the current and fish get caught in the basket area and then go down the incline.




Welcome to Chena village.  Notice the grass roof again.




Some pretty flowers along an example garden.  The gardens are all elevated due to ground conditions.




Patty next to some absolutely HUGE cabbage growing in the garden.





Another home as we head back down the river.




An Alaskan Hot Tub.






Ride side (business end) of a Gold dredge.





The left side where the tailings (sand and rock) are exhausted.





The buckets that scoop up the land.






The trommel.  This rotated around and around the gold would fall through the holes.





The pieces with the holes in them were filled with Mercury and the gold would mix with the mercury to form an amalgam which was later revered to process the gold. 





One of the gold molds.





Another shot of Gold Dredge #8



No this is note the business end of a rocket.  It's a piece of Alaska pipline with a PIG in it. 

Two pic below explain what a Pig is.




A cutout view of the Pig in the pipe.






The actual Alaska pipeline near Fairbanks.

What you see here is actually an outer shell over insulation which is over the pipe itself.




These fins on top of the support posts are to cool the posts so they don't conduct heat down into the ground and melt the permafrost. 





The Alaska Pipeline is 800 miles long going from North slope to Valdez.


This is the Mileage post at the Visitor Center just outside Fairbanks.









One of the first Pigs.  Read about it below.



This is the inside of the upper part of the Holland America rail cars that take you from Fairbanks to Denali and then down to Anchorage. 

It's domed seating on top, and dining down below.  Good food too.  

Holland America has 10 of these cars at a cost $3 Million each.

Patty's way back there on the left






Smile Patricia




The front of our train leaving the RR yard in Fairbanks.





A distant shot of Denali (Mt McKinley) on our way to Denali.





Just scenery. 





Another shot of the front of our train as it bends around a corner.  You can see some of the older dome cars. (not the Holland America ones)




Here is a shot of the resort area in Denali as we pull into the station.  The McKinley resort where we stayed is a much of small 10 or 12 room, 2 level cabins that are buried in the trees below.




Here's a shot out the front of our jet boat as we went up a river back up to a camp where the guides explained how they make their living as trappers.





Another shot on the way up the river.










Here's our Jet Boat.




Here we are at the beginning of our Bus tour through Denali park. 



We had exceptional weather our entire trip.  This is a shot of Denali (Mt McKinley) where our driver said we'd better take an "Insurance shot" here just in case because it usually clouds over later in the day.





A panoramic shot of the Denali Park area.  Scroll right to see the whole pic.





Long shot of some Dall Sheep.





Our bear siting.






The road our bus traveled on through the park





Another shot of Denali





A mama Grizzly bear digging for food.  






Food in this case is usually ground squirrels.





Big butt





Here's the "baby"





Patty meets My McKinley.





Just the mountain, no Patty





A panoramic shot with Denali.










The 4 travelers from Michigan.







Here's the inside of the McKinley resort we stayed at in Denali.  This was looking right toward the fancy restaurant.





Looking left toward the front desk.





The gift shop.





Looking straight in from the entrance.


Patty in her glory holding a 4 week old Sled dog puppy.  Perhaps destine to be one of the winning sled dogs in the future.

We were at Jeff King's Husky Homestead.  Jeff is the 1993, 1996, 1998, and 2006 Iditarod winner.  






Here's she's got a 14 week old puppy.

Don't worry, they frisked her when she left to make sure she didn't have a puppy under her wrap.




They had this overgrown hamster wheel thing that the older puppies could run on.

Sled dogs LOVE to run.




Just relaxing on our front porch on the "merry-go-round".




Two puppies doing the wheel.


In this pic, the dogs were actually pulling the merry-go-round and the dog that had been relaxing on the porch is standing there barking at the other dogs pulling him/her around and around.

Sorry, didn't think to get a video clip.




Back at our McKinley Chalet.  This was the our room for the two nights we were in Denali.

There was a living room, bath room, and bedroom.





Looking toward the bedroom.





The other side of the living room.





Bedroom.  A double and a single bed.




Here's a panorama of the front of the McKinley Chalet.

 To the right of the picture, there were "Bear Busses" that took you to your cabins down the hill behind the main part shown here.




One of the helicopters that took us to a Glacier landing.






Patty all set for take-off.




Up, up and away as we look at the river which ran right behind the heliport.






There were ponds everywhere in the mountains as we flew along.





Closer view of one.  We saw some moose at one of these ponds along the way.





Fall color






Here's a part of the Glacier we ended up stopping on.





Another shot





In many cases, there was a lot of rock, sand and gravel on top of the ice.





One of the other helicopters that had already landed.




A big "hole".  Not sure of the proper term.  This goes down hundreds of feet to the bottom of the glacier.  The pilot dropped a rock down and you had to wait a long to time to hear it hit bottom.




Patty using her glacier walking skills.





Our helo.  There were 4 of us plus the pilot.





It was very chilly up here.  Guess who needed some more clothes on.




One of the amy crevasses' around.  This one was not terribly deep though. 





Another shot






Note that Patty had on the special boots they gave us to wear for added traction.  

And I was wearing my trusty tennis shoes because they didn't have size "super huge" in the boots.





Glacier people.






One of the other helicopters way off in the distance.





Another feeding glacier.





Glacial sand that melted into the ice.





Just some shots as we were flying.







Getting ready to board the McKinley Explorer for Anchorage.  It was an 8 hour trip down to Anchorage from Denali.

You can just see the Holland America dome cars at the back of the train in this picture.



























We made a stop at Talkeetna to pick up some Princess Cruiseline passengers.  There were Princess dome cars at the back of the train behind us.

Talkeetna was the town the TV show Northern Exposure was based on.





This was the Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm we had to go around on our bus ride from Anchorage to Seward where we would eventually board our ship.






Another shot of the inlet.




We stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center on the way to Seward.

Mr Elk was on a stroll.  







Mr Moose lounging in the rain.






These are Muskox.  They are members of the goat family.





This is a Plains Bison.





And a Deer











A bear in the air





Just a waterfall along the way.






Here's our room at the Seward Lodge.





Looking back toward the door





The outside of our cabin.





The front lobby and registration






The view from across the street from our lodge.





Another shot





The Veendam awaits us.





First, we depart on a boat tour of the Resurrection bay area.








A seal relaxing in Resurrection Bay











Sorry, don't remember this glacier's name.






A Puffin bird.





Zoomed view approaching Aialik Glacier.

Pronounced like "I-Al-ick"









Tea Cup formation on our way through the Aialik Bay




Getting closer





The boat in the picture is the sister to ours.  It's a 150 passenger boat to give you size perspective.







Ice floating in the water after "calving" off the glacier into the water.





Yes, the blue color is the correct color.  That's basically because of the thickness.  The blue light is the only light that makes it in and reflects back out.









The mist at the bottom is a from a piece that just fell off and into the water.  It's called "calving".





Seals find safe haven on the ice burgs.





The ice princess.






A rock-o-sea lions.







Ho hum, just snoozing in the sun.


Click on the picture right for a short video clip of these guys and to see the wave conditions around their little rock.





More loungers











A mountain goat perched on a small ledge munching





A lot of work just to find some grass.





A close-up.




Some Cormorants. 

 These birds are great divers.  Some species can dive to 180 feet deep going after fish.





Here we are in College Fjord.

This is the Harvard Glacier





Early morning glacier watcher




Mountains around the College Fjord just starting to get the light of morning shining on them.





A little more sun.





Just the tops.




We're on the MS Veendam, cabin 162.  Fuzzy pic though.  My bad.





This is our Verandah room.





Looking back into the room from the verandah.






Our towel critter the first night.



Holland America recently renovated many aspects of your room with their Signature of Excellence program.  Note the 3 pillows which ranged from soft feather to firm foam.  And the plush mattress and high thread count sheets.  Very comfy.




We're in Glacier Bay National Park.  This is the park boat coming to drop off rangers to give narration and a program on the park.






Transferring to the ship.





Entering the park.





Nothing to say other than beautiful.






The Reid glacier





Distant view of the Johns Hopkins glacier.


Click on the picture to the right for a video approaching Johns Hopkins glacier.  Some calving in the distance.


Click on the picture to the right for some calving action.



Some more calving

Turn up the volume for this one when you click right. 

No there were no dogs aboard.  That was Marcia's camera at the end of the video.  :-)







more seals lounging on the ice.





We met up with the Westerdam while in Glacier Bay.

Only two cruise ships are allowed in the park at one time.





Another shot





The Grand Pacific glacier.  

The edge of the water is Canada.





Margerie glacier





Close-up of left side





Right side



Click on the photo to the right for a video or Margerie calving




Leaving Glacier Bay.

Background is the Westerdam and foreground is a Cruise West ship.  I believe it's the Spirit of Endeavour






Another towel critter




We're now in Haines, Alaska.

This was taken while en route to Skagway via a Jet Catamaran shuttle.






Waterfall on the way.




An eagle perched a top a tree as they so much like to do.






A looooong waterfall.





Two NCL ships docked in Skagway.




A Princess ship as well.  

By the end of the day, there was also a Royal Caribbean ship docked there.





A harbor view from on top of a nearby lookout.





The Skagway International Airport.





A panoramic view Skagway.

The runway runs pretty much the entire length of the town.




The largest nugget in the world at the Gold Rush Cemetery





Click on the image at the right for a larger version you can read.  Some interesting stories.




The narrow gage White Pass railroad.  

It takes tours up 3,000 ft thru White Pass and to Dead Horse Gulch.






Reid falls, named after Frank Reid who laid out the site plan for Skagway.





A rather unique building with a "stick" front.





A busy side street




Looking up the main street in town.  

The Red Onion Saloon was where the ladies of the evening used to hang out.




An old snow blower from the White Pass RR.





Looking down the main street toward the docks.






A long waterfall on the way up to dead horse gulch.





The pipe coming down to the right of the waterfall is used to power a electric generation station at the bottom.





The White Pass RR bridge over the falls above.


The Moore Creek Bridge.

This was the final single sided suspension design that ended up working.  It was built twice before this one and each lasted only a little over a month per our bus driver.  Apparently the rock in this area has a lot of movement.


Click on the photo to the right for a larger image.

The mean snow depth in this are in the winter months is 6 feet.  There are inverted L shaped poles (about 12 feet high) all along the road in this area so the snow plows know where the edge of the road is at.





Very strange landscape on the top of White Pass.  This is actually in BC, Canada.





Here is the Klondike Hwy dedication plaque at the U.S. and Canada border.





Back from our 10 minute tour of Canada.





Back in Haines, on our evening wildlife watch.  Mr (or Mrs) bear out for a swim.





Munching on a fish after the swim.






Looking for some more fishies.





where are they??





Any over there?





How about over here.




video clip, click right



and another clip.  click on the photo right





What's down here?





Just goofing around




Nothing up there, back to the water.





A couple of Eagles hanging out 






Our bear came up on the road.  Actually there were 2, but didn't get the second one in the shot.





A little tamer critter.





Here we are in Juneau visiting the Mendenhall glacier.





Watch out, it's an iceberg. 





And the Mendenhall








The Glacier Princess once again.






A waterfall next to the glacier




This is our wale watch/wildlife tour.  We had some fog in the first part of the trip but it cleared quickly.




Our tour guide provided a very valuable tip.  She said the whale will always hump it's back in the air prior to diving down and showing the coveted tail in the air.





Ta da.




This one was a bit of a distance away, but here's a rapid shot sequence.












Whale gone





Here's another 









Just a pretty shot with a little fishing boat. 




I couldn't decide which shot I liked best, so you get both.







Wall to wall sea lions.





Oh ya!  What are you gonna do about it!



Click on the photo right for some video





Sorry, don't remember this glacier's name




We had a friend escorting us back to the dock.







Ooooh.  Pretty




A little different shot of Mendenhall from a roadside lookout.





Panoramic shot of same.


Here we are in downtown Juneau at Red Dog Saloon.  Your typical Hard Rock type tourist trap.

Of course I bought a hat.

Did I mention that you can only get to Juneau by air or sea.  No roads into Juneau.




Looking toward the old town area.





Looking away from "downtown".  Our ship (the Veendam) is on the right.




A cablecar that takes you up the hill to the top of Mt Roberts.  There's a restaurant and some other activities up there.  Didn't go up though.





A car at the top.





So long Juneau







We were a the dock right downtown.  Here's the Coral Princess at the dock to the right of us a little ways.






Parting shot of Juneau





Watch out for this critter




The Coast Guard on patrol a ways outside of Ketchikan






Arriving in Ketchikan.  Busy place.





The local small boat dock.






We're waiting here for the Westerdam to move out of our spot.  




If ship and boat traffic isn't enough, there are a ton of flightseeing float planes constantly taking off and landing.  Notice the center of this picture coming right toward us.





Looking back behind us.  The airport is on the left.




One of those float planes I mentioned.






And another




The Mist Cove.  Part of "The Boat Company" wilderness tours.  She has 10 staterooms and accomodates 20 people and has 8 day cruises of Alaska.





Another flightseer taking off.





The dock where some of the float planes depart from.





Another dock





And another.






This one was landing




Here we arriving at the dock in Ketchikan.







Tons of shopping here mostly Jewelry shops.  It looks like St Thomas of the north.






Hey, it's a waterfall.  





Salmon heading up stream to spawn.




A pretty backwater created by the dam below.







A visit to the totem village.  






Here was our hummer that we toured in for a few hours.





The following totem's are all part of the Totem Bight State Park





Example of how the new trees just use the old ones as a new jumping off point.






An example of a Clan house.  Many families would live inside here.  Each had a little patch of floor (and I mean little) where the family would live/sleep.  There was a fire pit in the middle.









Hey it's our last towel critter of the cruise.




The main show lounge on the Veendam





The exercise area at the front of the ship.




The covered pool on Lido deck.  The roof opens for warmer climates.




The continental B-Fast Buffet/Icr Cream area in the Lido.





The Lido buffet





The pool at the stern of the ship.  Not much use this trip.  :-)  The workers were working under tarp re-grouting and fixing things up.




A special Kids only are on the ship way up top near the basket ball court.





This is a sheet of water style waterfall when weather permits.




The other side of the kids area.





Round ball.





Looking down through the open roof to the Lido pool.




Way up topside at the bow.




The traditional coin at the mast of the mast of the ship.




Starboard side of the Crows Nest lounge at the bow of the ship.





Looking out over the bow.




Port side of the Crow's Nest





The atrium area.





Another view with the front desk.




The movie theater plus Culinary Arts center.  They had numerous cooking demos while on the trip.  There's a full kitchen behind the curtain of the movie screen.





The teak Promenade deck where you can walk all the way around the ship.











            The End......