Delaware, Ohio – October 2017 – Can’t Be Bored at a Gourd Show

The Delaware County Fairgrounds in Ohio was the host for the annual Gourd Show. Apparently a lot of people like making art out of gourds. With the results it is obvious there are some skilled gourd-artist around.

2017 10 07 3 Delaware OH Gourd Festival.JPG

 

 

2017 10 07 9 Delaware OH Gourd Festival.JPG

 

 

2017 10 07 13 Delaware OH Gourd Festival.JPG

 

 

2017 10 07 21 Delaware OH Gourd Festival.JPG

 

 

2017 10 07 36 Delaware OH Gourd Festival.JPG

 

 

2017 10 07 41 Delaware OH Gourd Festival.JPG

 

There was also entertainment. While we were there a band called the ‘Rum River Blend’ played a mix of acoustic rock, bluegrass and folk. Their fiddle player, Carl, was 95 years old (he was the 1948 Ohio Fiddle Champion)!

Let’s give it up for Carl!

2017 10 07 26 Delaware OH Gourd Festival.JPG

Southeast Alaska Panhandle – September 2017 – “Uncruise” Part 1

(please note there are 20+ photos on the next few postings, they might take a bit of time to load)

One place we had always wanted to see was Alaska, but much of it is very difficult to get to. We decided the best way to see it was on a cruise.

I had been on a large ship cruise once for 3 days and kissed the ground when I got off, the tacky shows and lines for everything got old fast. For this trip we chose to go on a small ship cruise from a company aptly named ‘Uncruise’. And no this is not an advertisement for them, but an honest assessment on how great this turned out to be.

We set sail on a rainy Saturday evening from Juneau. The next day we arrived at a fjord called Endicott Arm. The walls soar 1000′ above the water for dramatic effect.

2017 09 17 12 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

At the end of the fjord is Dawes Glacier, a tidewater glacier.

2017 09 17 14 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The main ship was close enough to get some dramatics up on the glacier with a zoom lens.

2017 09 17 16 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The difference between the large ships that most people cruise on and the small ships like Uncruise is you get off the boat and do things other than shop at trinket stores in ports. For this portion groups of 8-10 people took ‘skiffs’ the last 6 miles up the fjord to within 1/4 mile of the 200′ high face of the glacier.

2017 09 17 31 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 17 32 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

As we neared the glacier a guide plucked what she thought was going to be a small piece of ice out of the water. It turned out to be much larger. This piece of ice was brought back on board the ship for a contest when it would finish melting. It took 3 days.

2017 09 17 56 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

We spent about an hour at the base of the glacier in the skiffs. Every once in a while you would hear loud cracking sounds and nothing happened. For us though, we were fortunate enough to see a major ‘calving’ event, when a large chunk of the glacier fell off into the sea.

2017 09 17 60 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

As noted this face is 200′ high, so the splash it made is likely + 75′. Amazingly it does not create a tidal wave, just some small ones like someone went by with a small boat and created a wake.

2017 09 17 66 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

We returned through the icebergs on our way back to the ship.

2017 09 17 70 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The Wilderness Adventurer is about 190′ long with 30 passenger cabins. Our trip had 55 passengers and a crew of 20 (or so – I didn’t do an exact count !). As shown below the ship has a number of 2 person kayaks, some paddle boards and the skiffs (which are missing on this photo since they are out at the glacier.

2017 09 17 74 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

After everyone had returned to the ship we continued on our way we came upon a number of whales who were diving for food. They came upon a couple of sea lions, one of which took refuge on the back of the ship, which got the crew all excited as they said they had only heard of this only ever happening once before.

Since we were stationary at the time he sat there for a while. Once the crew was confident these particular whales had moved on they shoo-ed him/her off the back.

2017 09 17 93 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Even things as simple as the wake on the very calm waters made for great photo ops.

2017 09 18 30 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Later we came across more whales feeding.

2017 09 18 36 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 18 52 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 18 53 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 18 64 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 18 73 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Finally (for this portion of the trip) we passed a small island filled with more sea lions.

2017 09 18 96 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 18 100 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 18 101 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The day ended with a great sunset.

2017 09 18 113 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

More to come…..

 

 

Southeast Alaska Panhandle – September 2017 – “Uncruise” Part 2

With the small ship the entire crew, and other passengers, quickly become familiar with each other on a first name basis. One of the great features was the permission to go onto the bridge anytime you like during the day, unless they were in an especially tricky navigation spot.

This day I went up and it was just the Captain and me, jamming out to ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd, while we cruised along at about 5 knots looking for whales.

2017 09 19 1 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Later we anchored in a bay and set the kayaks out.

2017 09 19 10 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 19 15 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

This bay offered more wildlife, which if I recall the information from the guides correctly are Cormorants.

2017 09 19 29 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 19 33 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

A mama otter with her baby on her chest floating in the bay.

2017 09 19 37 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 19 41 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

One of the paddle boarders and a kayak backed by 8000′ mountains.

2017 09 19 50 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Later on the same kayak outing we passed this otter, who was not happy we were in his space as he bared his teeth and hissed at us.

2017 09 19 49 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

You can tell the females as their noses are dinged up from rough sex where the male apparently bites their noses in passion.

2017 09 19 54 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Why paddle board with your feet on the board when you can do a handstand.

2017 09 19 62 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Nothing better than to be in a still bay in Alaska checking out the sea life near the rocks.

2017 09 20 15 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

A Harbor Seal.

2017 09 20 17 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The waters were so calm everything had great reflections.

2017 09 20 19 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The next morning there was thick fog that gradually lifted through the morning.

2017 09 20 44 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 20 53 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

An eagle soaring above the fog.

2017 09 20 62 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

A skiff returns across the calm waters.

2017 09 20 72 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The afternoon was spent ‘bushwhacking’ through the forest. No bears or other wildlife was found but there was evidence of foresting that once occurred there.

The ground was so thick with the moss that it was spongy.

2017 09 19 45 Alaskan Cruise

 

more to come….

 

 

Southeast Alaska Panhandle – September 2017 – “Uncruise” Part 3

As we arrived at Glacier Bay National Park we went ashore for a hike. A Long House greeted us as we passed the visitor center.

2017 09 21 8 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The house is made out of cedar which gives it a great smell.

2017 09 21 7 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The hike through the forest was filled with scenes of fungus growing everywhere.

2017 09 21 18 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

As we reached the river at low tide there was evidence of animals, as shown with this bear paw print. The guide indicated it must be a baby since it is so small, but they have great claws.

2017 09 21 25 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

We returned to the ship and continued past Gloomy Point, where mountain goats populate the steep terrain.

2017 09 21 65 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The flow from a glacier ends up at the sea in a small river.

2017 09 21 84 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

We stopped by Margerie Glacier, or “Large Marge” as the crew call her.

2017 09 21 73 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 21 88 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 21 99 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Nearby we dropped the anchor near Lamplugh Glacier, where the kayaks were put out for exploring.

2017 09 22 45 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

We paddled around the small icebergs to get a close look at the Glacier.

2017 09 22 4 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Trying to avoid the larger ones, recalling that 10% of the ice is above the water, the rest is below. They also at times will ‘roll’ and you don’t want to be close to one this size if that happens.

2017 09 22 16 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Around the corner from the ship was an impressive waterfall with glacier melt water.

2017 09 22 25 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

We returned to our home for the week thoroughly in awe of the opportunity to kayak in such an amazing setting, while wishing we could spend more time and go on the other adventures such as hiking up the ridge next to the glacier, or along the shoreline in front.

2017 09 22 33 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

While checking out the beautiful scenery one of the large cruise ships went by. Amazingly despite they fact there are 2000 people on the ship, and they are passing the glaicer behind us, I counted about 40 people out on the decks or their balconies checking out the scene.

2017 09 22 64 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The day ended with a polar bear plunge for the daring.

2017 09 22 70 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The crew of the WAV were amazing. It was obvious that they are passionate about the sea, glaciers, wildlife and the opportunity to share it with the passengers. The great thing about the Uncruise people is the crew gets opportunities too, and many of them participate in the polar bear plunge.

2017 09 22 88 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The bartender Heidi was celebrating her birthday by going into the cold water.

2017 09 22 100 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

One of the Stewards Jessi had a goal of doing the polar bear plunge each of the 18 weeks she was working, and since she had missed a couple early, was doubling up on the last 2 weeks (we were the second to last trip of the season), so Jessi went in twice!

2017 09 22 107 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

As we began our return to Juneau we passed more Sea Lions, these guys are caught on a small rock island at high tide

2017 09 22 160 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Plenty of birds.

2017 09 22 162 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Early Saturday morning we returned to the harbor, where Captain Gavin carefully parallel parked the ship at the dock.

2017 09 23 2 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Our week had ended, but the memories will last forever. Most of our fellow travelers were from Australia and New Zealand, with some Americans mixed in. They were fun, friendly people who shared a passion for not just seeing the scenes roll by their ship windows, but get into the kayaks and paddle around, go into the forest and get muddy, or just sit around in the evenings sharing stories or learning about America.

As I noted on the first posting very few times do things turn out better than their advertising but the Uncruise folks came through. Even the weather was better than expected with very little rain (although I don’t think they get credit for that!).

Thanks to Captain Gavin and the entire crew of the Wilderness Adventurer.

2017 09 23 4 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Port Angeles, Washington – September 2017 – Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park makes up most of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Our visit took us up a long hike to the top of Hurricane Ridge, which offered excellent views of the mountains, as well as back across the Straight of Juan De Fuca to Victoria.

The 17 mile drive up the mountain featured a few tunnels.

 

2017 09 11 133 Olympic National Park WA.JPG

 

The views at the top were great, as was the weather.

2017 09 11 70 Olympic National Park WA.JPG

 

2017 09 11 84 Olympic National Park WA.JPG

 

Port Angeles and beyond.

2017 09 11 94 Olympic National Park WA.JPG

 

The trail was long, but worth it.

2017 09 11 96 Olympic National Park WA.JPG

 

2017 09 11 103 Olympic National Park WA.JPG

 

Mountain Flowers

2017 09 11 114 Olympic National Park WA.JPG

 

Mt Baker in the distance.

2017 09 11 134 Olympic National Park WA.JPG