Sunday, July 10, 2016

Homeward Bound

Departing Sitka the all aboard is 15:30....or 3:30 p.m.  Just as's a blustery and rainy afternoon.  We are glad to be back aboard, with a whole sea day ahead and half if another one.  Great way to wind down the cruise.  

The captain comes on the speaker system and says since everyone is aboard we will leave a little early.  The weather is not "the best" and there is a storm front and after we're clear of it, there is another one. (Hum, I think). We will have some "wind" and possible 15 meter seas.  Oh well.  Who hears that?  15 the math, that's 3X15...=45 FEET???  (Very few do the math or realize that one meter = 3 ft.).  Ok then.  

Yep.  Restless seas for sure.  

Dinner still goes well!

Scott, Lori, Don, Lynne, Steve and Nan enjoy shrimp cocktail all around!

Since it's going SO well, why not the piano bar too?

It's a fun evening of singing around the piano....lots of old favorites.  

Upon return to our room...who should await us....but...

....the towel monkey!!!  And what do you know...the towel monkey works his magic charm ( it's actually dark after 10:30 p.m.) and as the ship carries on with the the "rock 'n roll" motion of the ocean...I am rocked to sleep.

Steve puts our morning breakfast order on the door.

Who will do this at home?

In the morning we are sure we are sailing along through the second weather front.  Take a look at the waves in the pool!

Here's a little look at the sea from our balcony in the morning!

We follow our usual schedule with a visit to the gym and then the main dining room for a wonderful breakfast.  There are no lines today!

We notice the daily New York Times in the holder by the elevator has been replaced by little white bags!

Next we find ourselves invited to the "Medallion Ceremony."  What's this about?  We have no idea, but, yes, we will be present!

First, it's about mimosas and fine music.  

Wow!  Then it's about the presentation of a "Copper Medallion" to passengers who have cruised on Holland America Line for 100 days at sea!?  Us? All we have to say is, it didn't start that way!!?
There are also Silver, Gold and Platinum Medallion gentlemen had 1,180 days at sea on HAL!!!  (He also dressed as Santa! ......Honest!)

Off to a lovely champagne brunch for all the returning customers.  Can't pass up that!

Somehow the day slips by.  Another fine dinner, and trip to the piano bar.  

Victoria, Canada is the next, and the last, port.  The wind never really "sets down" and although we are almost on time into Victoria, the docking takes extra care and patience.  All clear to go ashore at 1:45 p.m.

A tug awaits our arrival, just in case the Maasdam needs a little "push" this way or that.

The gangway is down and Victoria supplies the flower lamp-post!  

Our plan for today is simple.  We will ride the horse drawn carriage and tour downtown Victoria....just as we have done over the years with our daughter. Jessica....since she was 11 years old! (Just had the 40th birthday in June!!)

Steve and Herbie.

Don and Lynn  think Herbie and  Molly make a terrific team.  

Time for back aboard for us.  One last afternoon to enjoy the ship...and that we do.  Lunch and then off to the pool!

The breeze is cool, but the water is warm. to our stateroom to pack....all those clothes we didn't wear!  What were we thinking?

Not thinking.

Steve says, champagne helps the packing pain.

I think he's right.

Our last dinner is great, as always...and there is a big round of applause for the dining and culinary staff.

It's the swinging napkin thing.  

Of course there has to be another visit to the piano bar.  Then, all the luggage is piled out in the hallway.  One more sleep....although we'll have no recognition of traveling...and we will awake tied fast to the pier in Seattle.  

The party's over.  Wait...there's a song in that!!

Friday, July 8, 2016

If it's Sitka, it Must be Otters!!!...and Eagles, Whales and Seals!

It's 08:00 and we are safely moored to the new tiny cruise dock five miles outside of downtown Sitka.  Today is a day to photograph sea otters.....I hope!  Even though I tell myself, over and over, this is's not a matter of scheduling's a matter of being available for an opportunity to experience it.  I KNOW this...and yet...

The new facility has a tour boat pick up dock right across from the gangway.  We are aboard our "Sea Otter Quest" tour boat in no time. (Yes, that's actually what the shore tour is called....not that it leads to expectations or anything...yet, it IS a "quest" not a "sea otter tour."  And I know the difference!)

Sitka is rich, rich, rich with wildlife and we are allowing ourselves the "opportunity" to experience it in the wild.

First stop, Bald eagles.  The sun is shining and the greens and blues very vibrant.  

And even a peek-a-boo shot!

And a fly by...

The new 150-600mm lens is pretty amazing, but heavy and shooting moving targets from a moving platform is challenging.

But WAIT!!!  What's this?  YES!  Sea otters!  We have found what turns out to be our first group of sea otters floating on a glassy grey sea.  Are they smiling?  (I am!!!)



Family portrait of mum and pup.

We have a great on board naturalist with a few handy teaching tools.  Here's the sea otter lunch box!  It's full of all things delectable for sea otters.

I try a nibble of bull kelp.

Steve tries one of the kelp pickle samples.  Pretty yum!

Which encourages cousin Don to do the same.  Boys will be boys!

The sea otter pelt sample is oh so soft!

Ah, but the boat captain has discovered another raft of otters.  The "boys" he says.


Sea otter yoga pose?

Hey!??  Who is this?  

Can't ignore the Harbor seal, now can you?!

Now, on this "otter quest cruise" we sight five humpback whales and we head right over.  As in, I mean, RIGHT over.  

Yikes!  The big lens is almost too big!

We are surrounded by diving humpback whales for 30 minutes.....and they don't seem to be bothered at all by the boat.  We float there with them, and with each surfacing the exclamations of "Ohhh, and Ahhh..." is heard everywhere around the boat.  The camera shutters are clicking away!

Now it really IS time to head back and we arrive at the dock in downtown Sitka, which saves us the trip from the ship.  We head for the Sitka Raptor Center....which turns into a long, long walk in the rain. Pouring rain.

We stop to admire some flowers along the way.

At the Raptor Center there are 14 Bald eagles and 3 baby blue heron in the rehab part of the facility.

These birds are in the "flight" enclosure.  They are fed about 20 lbs. of salmon a day, which they share. There is a "running stream" for them to bathe and enough room to practice short flights.  Most of them will be able to be released.  

There are also birds on display that are permanent residents as they have injuries that would make release unsuccessful.  They have great outdoor accommodations.

The wing span of an adult eagle is 6 1/2 - 7 1/2 feet!  

I love this great visual on the wall!  Maybe we need one like this in Friday Harbor?! 

Good reminder of size....when you are watching eagles in flight.

It's a long soggy walk back to our cozy, warm and dry stateroom.  

No problem with 10,000 steps today!