Back from vacation

I haven’t forgotten about you all. I’ve been on a vacation. We went on a cruise. It started in Japan for 2 stops, then S. Korea, Russia, Alaska, and ended up in Vancouver Canada.

To get to Japan from Alaska, we were routed through Dallas. That means we spent all day traveling the wrong way before we could start going west. Oh well, the price was right. We finally arrive in Tokyo and found our way to the hotel. We got on the wrong train at the airport, but it took us to a station near where we wanted so it worked out anyway. The next 2 days we spent exploring the city.

Then it was off to Osaka for another 2 days. We took the bullet train down and it was great! Much better than American trains. Very smooth. It felt more like a great airplane ride than a train.

In Osaka, the hotel made a mistake. They said they had no more non-smoking rooms that would fit the 4 of us, but they did have another room they thought we would like. There was a price difference but they agreed to waive that. OK, just get us some beds. Turns out the new room was the Executive Suite! An $800 room for $110. I wish that kind of mistake happened more often.

After 2 nights in the suite, we headed for the port to board our cruise. The ship wasn’t scheduled to leave until the next afternoon, so we had another day to explore. We took the local train to their China town area.

We went to Nagasaki, where the second atomic bomb exploded during WW2. There is a park, museum, and memorial where the center of the blast was. Rather disturbing seeing all that, but interesting.

My dad was stationed in Korea when I was a baby. I grew up hearing stories about it so I was excited when were found Bouson was on the itinerary. However, none of the tours were particularly interesting to us so we just took the shuttle into town. We went up in a tower and took pictures of the city. Turns out when I showed Dad them, it was a place he had also been to.

After Korea, we went to Vladivostok Russia. It was pouring rain. Luckily, we had each bought an umbrella in Osaka. We wandered around a bit, going to a submarine turned into a museum, listening to church bells. We were scheduled to have a couple of sea days before arriving in Petropavlosk on the Kamchatka peninsula. However, we never make it.

We didn’t make it because we ran into sea ice. There had been a north wind and heavy swell all day and into the night until around 4am. Then it quieted down. Upon awakening, we all knew why. The sea was slushy. The ship had slowed to around 4 knots. The ice was getting thicker and more dense as the morning went by. Plus a thick fog had formed.

At around 1030, the captain announced that due to the ice, we would be turning around. The ship was now traveling at just 2 knots. Some of the ice pans were large enough you could feel them jarring the ship as we plowed through. Around 530pm he announced that due to the ice and time lost we would no longer be able to stop in Petropavlosk, but would try to reach Kodiak on schedule. That was very disappointing because that was one of the most interesting stops to us and a major reason we went on this trip. Oh well. Better safe than sorry.

We arrived about noon to Kodiak. That was later than scheduled. We had managed to hire a private tour boat and went out with a group of 12 friends (including both guest lectures) from the ship. We saw lots of sea birds, sea lions, otter, and bald eagles.

From Kodiak, we went to Glacier Bay. Here we were joined by 2 park rangers. Karen was impressed because they were both women. They had both an adult presentation and spent an hour with the kids in Club HAL. One of the glaciers was quite actively calving. That was interesting. It was also louder than I thought it would be.

After Glacier Bay we went to Sitka. Here we walked to the Totem park, Raptor Center, and ocean science center.

Then we went to a nice small town in Canada called Prince Rupert. We weren’t able to get any tours because they were sold out. So we took the shuttle into town. Turns out that was a tour in itself. They took you around and showed the sights. Our bus had the ex-mayor telling us about the city. After returning to the ship, we went to the train station museum and Safeway.

Finally, we arrived in Vancouver. The kids are I were expecting to ride a train over to Spokane. However, when I checked the reservations they were from Vancouver WASHINGTON, not Cananda. OOPS. After a few minutes of panic I was able to get them changed and that only put us into Spokane an hour later than planned.

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