ms Zuiderdam, of the Holland American Line Inc.After spending the night of August 9 in a hotel close to the airport, we left for D/FW at 5:00 am. Arriving at Frontier Airlines, we discovered a line waiting to be processed but no employees to do it. So we waited...and waited...and waited. When we were finally processed, we went through the airport screening, and then (guess what) waited, and waited, and waited to board the plane. Then we flew to Denver (Frontier's home...so every flight must go through Denver). We transfered to another flight...at the other end of the Denver airport, and guess what, waited...waited...waited.
We finally arrived in Vancouver BC a little after noon. The travel agent/tour guide told us were would not be able to get into the hotel (Sheraton Wall Centre) until 3, so we boarded a bus and toured Vancouver until 5. Why 5? No one seemed to know, but we did know we were exhausted!!
Then after a two hour rest one of the best parts of the trip happened...we met Violette and G, Giggles and Pepper and Bryan, and Nicci for a great meal. I had borscht, which I had never eaten before...yum. Raf had perogies. These were new to us, and very good! I was the only woman at the table who hadn't made them...but I WILL!
We had to much fun getting to know each other in person, visiting, sharing, smiling, laughing. What a great night...one of the true highlights of the trip! Here are the photos:
I treasure the friends forged on the net which came alive in person. Thanks, gals...and Bryan and G, for a wonderful, wonderful time! We WILL be back to Vancouver!
The next morning we caught a cab and boarded the ms Zuiderdam for our 7-day cruise. Now before I get into everything that happened, let me say, that how we got on the cruise was by hearing an ad of WRR Classical Radio. Thinking that WRR was a good station, we decided to call the travel agent, Sharon Carr Travel in Dallas. The agent in charge of the cruise was Pat Ryan. I never met Sharon Carr, but that she hired a complete, unprofessional ditz like Pat Ryan speaks volumes for me. She never stayed in contact with us,
The first day at sea we went into Tracy Arm Fjord. It was spectacular, and, in my opinion, the most beautiful part of the trip. And, yep, the ice is really blue!
From Tracy Arm Fjord we went into Juneau, the capital of Alaska...and unreachable by land! Below is the Mendenhall Glacier. We took a shore excursion into a temperate rain forest. It was beautiful, but the guide wouldn't shut up so we could enjoy it. It was one Green sermon after another, all quoting St. John of Muir! It was about 2 miles up and down and quite tiring for me, but I did it!
We went on to Skagway, and we rode the Skagway to White Pass railroad. That was really a treat. The trail climbed and climbed up to the pass at the top of the mountains. You could look out the car and the the wooden trestle you would be on way up on the mountain. The flowers were beautiful, as were the lakes, rivers, and water falls.
From Skagway we went to Glacier Bay. I didn't get many good photos, so I will put some of Raf's on later. Here is the only photo...but take my word, the glacier is blue. It calved a lot while we were there. Beautiful.We traveled from Glacier Bay to Ketchikan, where we chose not to take the shore excursion as we had planned as we were knackered! By the end of that day, we were very thankful we had not taken that tour, and I will explain more about it at the bottom of the page. In Ketchikan, we mailed our dirty clothes home. This totem was at the harbor.
This is the local Anglican Church...St. John's Mission...across from the post office.This is downtown Ketchikan. It was the nicest of the towns. I found a wonderful fabric store, and another yarn and bead store! Got some beautiful yarn...but it's a secret...shhhh, and some fabric for a quilt...another secret.
A couple of interesting things on the ship included fresh flowers and orchids on every table.
Every night our bed was remade...it had been made in the morning, too, and every night there was a different animal on the bed...and chocolate.
Now, there are two things I plan to NEVER do again.
1) I will NEVER will go on a tour or with a tour group (this gal was so mad at us because we didn't want to do what she wanted us to do, that she had a cocktail party, and when it had to be moved to a different location, she didn't let us know...she also wouldn't speak to us...and she was so loud you could hear her coming a mile away...talk about the Ugly Texan).
2) I will NEVER go on a cruise again. Most of the people go, so far as I can tell, to get drunk...the bar is open at breakfast and stays open all day. The people move around drinking, laughing loudly, being obnoxious. It was WAY too organized for us free spirits, too. Again 'nuf said.
But I WILL go to Alaska with the trailer, I hope, and I WILL go to Vancouver again with the trailer. I WILL visit with Violette, Nicci, Giggles and the rest!
Now for what else happened. The first night of the trip one of the crew had a heart attack and had to be air lifted out. Two days later a minister who was a passenger had a heart attack and had to be taken away in the tender. Then the day we were in Ketchikan the weather changed about three o'clock in the afternoon. We had gone out about 1 pm to mail the dirty clothes back home, but we forgot the postcards and went back to get them. It had been hot, and we had removed our jackets. When we came back outside the wind had come up, and the weather changed and it was cool and the wind was gritty. Clouds formed over the mountains. We walked back to the town and shopped. I had seen an Alaska fleece vest, and Raf found us each one for $9.99!
We we boarded the ship, we dressed for dinner, and during the meal the cruise director called over the loud speaker asking for certain people to contact the front desk. We thought it was people who had just lost track of time, but by the time we were in the show there was an announcement saying there had been a plane crash. News filtered very slowly, but we stayed in the harbor until the next morning (we were supposed to leave at 8 the night before).
You can read the story here. This was the letter our captain, Werner Timmers, sent to the passengers:
We have been in contact with authorities in order to provide you with an update to the terrible accident that occurred yesterday on an independent sightseeing tour out of Ketchikan. The cause of the accident is under investigation and not known at this time. The National Transportation Safety Board have a team traveling to the site to conduct the investigation.
Alaska State Troopers have released the names of those in the crash. The four survivors, including the pilot and guide, were medically evacuated from Ketchikan to a hospital in Seattle early this morning for treatment of multiple unjuries. They are:
Clifford Kamm, pilot, 44, of Ketchikan, Alaska, is in stable condition with burns. Mindy Mayer, 60, or Oregon City, Oregon, is in serious condition with a broken pelvis and chest injuries. Allison Smith, 3, of Taulatin, Oregon, is in critical condition in Pediatric intensive care. Sara Steffen, guide, 27, of Ketchikan, Alaska, is in stable condition.
We pray for their complete recovery.
Tragically, the following passengers did not survive the accident:
Daniel Herron, 49, of Irvine, California. David Mayer, 60, of Oregon City, Oregon. Eric Smith, 37, and Christine Smith, 36, and Trevor Smith, 3, of Tualatin, Oregon.
Please join us as we extend our deepest sympathies to the family and loved ones of the deceased. Holland America Line's thoughts and prayers continue to go out to all of those affected by this tragedy. Thank you for your espressions of kindness and concern.
Mrs. Mayer is the mother of Mr. Smith. Mr. Mayer was her husband, and the 3-year-olds were twins. This was the third such accident at Ketchikan in the last month! The other two had fatalities, as well.
Please pray for all the injured and for the repose of the souls of the dead, and for the families of all concerned.
I am exhausted, still, so I will stop here for tonight. I just had to get this much out.
Blessings to all of you, and we will hopefully "talk" to all of you soon.