You probably read lots of things about Alaska cruise already. Here are just some personal notes about the trip we have.
Alaska trip is fun. Now I know how come the bear in Katmai could just stand in the river and catch a salmon that easy, cuz even I could do that easily too on the river bank! J( 团长的儿子）caught 8 or 9 and HL said it was like her dream come true~Alaska ’s salmons are amazing! They are everywhere, all go back to the same river or stream where they are born to spawn. It is said that all river or streams have their own unique odor, that’s why salmons could smell their way back~ spawning salmons are all swimming upstream against the current. Salmons swimming in the middle of the streams sometimes were washed off. Sometimes they need to jump high to go forward. So only the smartest and strongest could make it to their destinations to produce their next generation. Lots of them die on the way, maybe too weak, got sick or got killed by bears or us . Too bad they were not anywhere near home, otherwise, we could have some home made sashimi. We thought salmon must be real cheap in Alaska , so we went to eat sushi. But guess what; they are even more expensive than here in NJ, though wild Alaska salmon did taste sweeter and better.
There is a scenic highway from the city Whittier that we disembarked at to Anchorage . One of the stops is Beluga(a kind of white whales) point. People told us the day before, they saw about 200 belugas were there. They were chasing the salmons from ocean to river in high tide. So we wait there, from low tide to high tide. Guess they may be tired of salmons and want to eat shrimp or tuna or something else, we didn’t have luck to see any of them .
I also like the trail we took to one of the Glaciers. We are so blessed cuz the weather was so good all along. Walking along the ice cold water stream towards the glacier with a warm sunshine over us was so refreshing. Again I wish life could freeze at that serene moment. And could you imagine that some of us have pictures of standing on the glacier with a T-shirt? Hehe. Not all of us finally got to the Glacier though, cuz there was a sign in the beginning of the trail says there is high concentration of bears there, and we all need to sign in and sign out and indicate which state we are from when we pass by. The sign also says a fed bear is a dead bear. J joked that he only need to out run one of the little kids like L(另一个朋友的儿子) then he should be safe. Upon hearing that, L cried. And of course J got into trouble for that. We only saw a black bear once in the distance. The bear went to the stream to get salmon and went back to the tall grasses. Seems bears don’t like to encounter people if they don’t need to, especially in the salmon spawning season. We did smell bear stool from time to time in salmon hatcheries. One funny thing is though we all knew when encounter a bear, need to back off slowly, still when one time people did see a bear real close by, they all freaked out and ran back in such a speed. When I saw this running panic crowd, I can’t help joining them either! Hehe, of cause when we decided to go back again and checked on the black bear, all it left is the stinky bear baba. Locals seem to get along with the bears very well. Our tour guide said once bear visited her garbage every night for a few months and she had got up every morning at 5am to cleanup the mess in order to avoid a fine. She later locked her garbage can but then the next day she found out her garbage can was in the middle of the road blocking the traffic and she got a bigger fine.
We didn’t get to go to Denali National Park . I saw pictures, real breathtaking, the mountain is a bit like Tibet ’s. Taking a helicopter to the glacier and going snow dog sledding takes more than $500 a person, a bit out of my budget . Or maybe we should have gone, that will save us a trip in the future if there is one.
Talking about Glacier, I don’t know what else could be a better way to see glacier than soaking in the hot tub in the cruise while quietly staring and admiring the mile long glacier. Not that quiet though, from time to time, you could hear the thunder like calving of the glaciers and see the ice falling down to the ocean and splash and spread the waves to our ship. Kids don’t appreciate the glaciers as us, they took a peak and went right back to their computer games. They saw that on TV or Hollywood movies already, virtual world seems more exciting than the real thing. Glaciers are disappearing fast, hopefully there are still some left for my kids’ kids.
Alaska ’s summer is nice, but winter must be devastating. All the ports are tourist town, in the winter, only 1/3 of the population remain. Tour guide said, there are three things that you could do to keep yourself busy in winter: drinking, drugging and breeding. She does all three of them, 4 kids already at her young age. There are no burger king or dairy queen or duncan donuts or JFC in Juneau , when the first Mcdonald opened, the line of people was more than 2 miles.. Another tour guide drives the bus in summer and becomes an artist making arts to sell to tourist in winter. He is one of the champions in ice carving . And another guide likes to carve totems when she is free. Maybe they never have the stress we have and their natural resources are so abundant or maybe people are too isolated here. I do find people there are real nice, real patient with even tourists.
You thought cruising must be slow pace and boring. Not really. The three families of us only find time to play poker 2 to 3 times. I didn’t finish one of the books I brought with me. And I never get to eat the late night buffet , went to the late night party or gamble cuz I was always too tired or sleepy by the time. The ship seemed like a paradise for J, there are swimming pool, hot tub, computer game, library and hearty foods though he usually still just ate pizza and hot dogs. He sometimes even refused to go off board to the excursion, thinking it is a waste of time. There are always lots of things to do on and off the ship like excursions, or shows and endless eating. Usually it is like we just finish a meal and another one is already there. We were scared of the fact that average weight gain is 5-7 pounds per person, so in order not to be too guilty eating after eating, we all went to gym, sweat, walk around the ship(the view is spectacular, very different from Caribbean cruise..), and then eat again. I even went to the detox SPA program, one kind of experience.. The average age of the people on ship is 55. I guess when you are that old, you more or less have high blood pressure, diabetes or something. When we were young, we didn’t have the time or money to cruise like this, now that we could afford, our body can’t take it anymore.
A, one of our ladies, said, if money is not an issue, once retire, she would like to cruise the world for 3 months. Hmm, sounds like a great idea. I am looking forward to that too, if money is not an issue:)
ps. I can't type Chinese in office, so bare with me.