Monday, 30 April 2012

A post from GrannyJanny's Jeffy

Thought I would get in a quick post as unsure of WiFi over the next few days as we head to Juneau then the ferry for 2 days then Ketchikan.
Here is what I look like now, I have turned into an Alaskan. (The fake Davey Crocket hat Janice bought for me)

We have had so much fun and seen such beautiful scenery and met such lovely family over here,and our holiday is moving quickly.
A couple of things. We saw the 'Northern Lights' in Fairbanks @ 2:30am so that is something off my Bucket list. I was really excited, they sort of danced across the sky for a minute or so, kept changing, disappeared then appeared again. You would have to watch them every night for months to see all the colours and combinations.

Also saw Mt Redoubt near Anchorage 'steeming'. It is one of 5 active volcanoes in the region.
Having a great time. Bye Jeff

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Anchorage to Seward by Car
John and Doug hired an 11 seater Ford Van for us to all travel together.  It was so much fun with lots of funny stories passing to and fro.  We past through some small settlements and saw lots of weekender type cabins and camping grounds where people holiday and fish, hike, berry pick blueberries and raspberries, in wintertime they snow board and ski, and of course hunting.
The road followed the Turnagain Arm side by side with the railway.  Turnagain Arm was named by Captain Cook.  The mountains and rivers were spectacular.

Our Ford van parked outside Van Gilder Hotel

Dinner in the Apollo Restaurant
John and Doug spent some school years in Seward and that was where they met their wives, Linda and Diane.

Seward is a fishing port as well as a coal loading port.  In the summertime cruise ships also stop their where passengers disembark and catch the train up to Anchorage to fly out.
We had dinner in a lovely Greek Italian restaurant and stayed at the historic Van Gilder Hotel established in 1916.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Fairbanks Alaska
Ray took us for a walk along the frozen slough (pronounced slew) at the back of their property.   We were a bit nervous until he told us the ice was about 4 feet thick.  It was amazing to see leaves and twigs  frozen into the ice.  We walked along the frozen slough until we reached the bigger river, but Ray said it wasn't safe to walk along as it was beginning to break up.  Two days later when we went back the river had completely broken up and was flowing swiftly.

On Sunday we went to church with Karen and Ray.  The church was decorated beautifully with stained glass windows.  The music was provided by some young singers with a couple of guitars.  The catholic service was almost identical to our Anglican service.  Karen and Ray's daughter, Alda, will be married in that church in a month's time.

After church we visited a Wildlife refuge on a former dairy property with some gorgeous buildings including a typical American barn.  We watched the Canada geese take a break from their long migratory journey home for the Spring.  We did a gorgeous walk to see the seasonal ponds, formed by the snow melt, and wander through the flooded forest.  Both will dry out by the summer. 

We also visited this fabulous vintage car museum which also features a magnificent collection of vintage women's clothing displayed with the appropriate age of vehicle.  We loved staying with Karen and Ray and were very sad to leave on the next leg of our journey.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

More Photos of the Train Trip

From Anchorage to Fairbanks

 and capWe left Anchorage at 8.30am with the eight staff members of 'the depot' standing in a straight line outside the station house, waving goodbye to us in true American fashion! There was only one passenger car, with about 20 passengers, a baggage car, and a dining car, plus the diesel engine.  The staff were very friendly except for the conductor in his uniform and cap.

The train was very comfortable with a lovely dining car.

The meals were very nice.  The chef didn't have a great deal to do so spent a lot of time wandeing up and down the carriage chatting to the passengers.

We picked this girl and dog up when she literally flagged the train down, by placing a brightly coloured flag on a long pole.  There are no stations along the way. People get off the train wherever they need to and head off into the bush trudging through the snow.  one man had a snow machine and sled awaiting him and got off with about a months worth of supplies.  The track was a bit wet between the train tracks and his snow machine, so the train offloaded two wooden pallets for him to make a bridge across the little creek to get to his machine.

The train stopped on a trestle bridge at Hurricane Gorge for us all to take photos of this spectacularly deep gorge, so named for the hurricane that blows down the gorge.  The scenery was spectacular, and between the four of us we took about 900 photos.  We ended up with RSI!

The Nenana River which runs through Denali National Park was still mostly frozen and the frozen waterfalls were just incredible. We saw Dall sheep perched precariously above the river on very steep cliffs.  We saw a moose and her young, caribou, eagles and swans. About 8 young people got off at Denali and were met by the ranger.  They were going to be park guides for the summer holidays. 

We stood a lot of the trip to have a panoramic view, we also lounge in the lounge, and visited the dining car about 4 times to fill in the 12 hour trip.  We LOVED our journey.  It was the best way to observe the spectacular scenery in a relaxed way.  The train tavelled at a leisurely pace until we got to flatter country just outside Fairbanks.  At this time of year the sun doesn't set until 10pm so our entire journey was in the light.  We thoroughly recommend this fantastic train trip.
We past a few towns along the way.  Some just a few building, others a little town of shops and services.  Very isolated and rustic.  Everything is quite messy now that the snow is thawing.  Things that were covered by snow and either lost or forgotten are now being exposed.  Some things  collapse under the weight of the snow.  Alaska still is the last fronteir especially up here in the Interior.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Auntie Dot's 100th Birthday Party in Anchorage Alaska 

19th April 2012

Auntie Dot is reading her card from the Queen as she has dual citizenship with the USA.  She also got a card from President Obama.  She read her special cards out loud, with great expression, and not needing any eye glasses.
 She enjoyed her party of  around 51 guests, the biggest entertainment being the 45 mins the professional photographer took to take the family photo ,then the extended family, then the friends as well.   The photographer was so funny and worked so hard that I ended up videoing her antics.  She was a large American lady and ended up in a lather of sweat.
The beautiful cake had a map of Australia for the 37 years of her life she spent there, then the map of Alaska for the 63 years she spent there.
 Here is Auntie Dot with her four sons, daughters-in-law , except for Carla who is awaiting bypass surgery, the grandchildren and 4 of her 10 great-grandchildren.

Julie and I with our special aunt.
Auntie Dot was terrific during the two hours of her party.  I am sure she slept well last night. 
The party continued without her, at the LoneStar restaurant where all the relatives and friends renewed friendships and caught up, some after years of separation.  It was a grand occasion.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Hawaii, holding hands on the sands of Hawaii.  Waikiki Beach  with Diamond Head behind Jeff and Daryl.
Our view from the 19th floor of Waikiki Beachcomber where we are staying, overlooking The Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Waikiki Beach.

 It is lovely to see the catamaran take off from the beach when the Hawaiian blows on the conch shell to warn the swimmers to stay clear.
The outriggers still ride the waves with willing passengers. 
 This is an information officer who is not permitted to say no to any tourists question.  He was so friendly as are all the Hawaiins in the shop, restaurants, transport, hotel.  Super friendly and ALWAYS greeting you and wishing you a lovely day.

Julie minding our drinks at the Moana Surfrider.  Jeff and I had a Lava flow, Moana coconut.

Gorgeous Hanauma Bay where we snorkelled with the fish.

Tonights cocktails at the Hula Grill restaurant, Waikiki Itch, thus the backscratcher inn her drink and mine was a Pina Colada.

Entertainment while we ate.

Daryl and Julie about to snorkel in Hanauma Bay.   I am having trouble with this tiny laptop keyboard, so Hope to master it soon.