This one came about thanks to the Amarillo Symphony. My wife has played Cello for the Amarillo Symphony ever since she was a junior in high school which now has been 50 years, any way ever year the symphony sponsors throw a party for all the players and they give away door prizes at this party. My wife has won a few little prizes now and then but this night at the end of the season 2005 we were at the party and it came time for the drawing we were setting in back visiting with some friends when we heard a commotion coming from the front of the room, finally we heard someone say where is Charlotte, we looked up and Charlotte said what is going on and some shouted you have won two airline tickets to anywhere in the lower 48 states or Canada. We were so excited and I made the comment after working for the symphony for 40 something years she finally gets a bonus. We have been trying to decide where we wanted to go and we had been looking all over the map in the states and even thought about Canada, I came home from work one day and my wife said guess what? I said what and she said guess where we are going, I said were you going to keep me guessing, she said I have booked us a cruise to Alaska. We will use the free tickets to fly into Vancouver BC catch the ship for a seven-day cruise through the inside passage and back to Vancouver then fly home, she was so excited and I could not believe she did this on her own, usually I have to talk her into this type of thing. Well it came time to go on our trip and we packed up headed for the airport, Charlotte had to have a pacemaker and this was the first time we traveled where we had to worry about going through a metal detector which she is supposed to avoid. She was nervous when we got to the airport but when she told them that she had a pace maker they had a woman take her aside and they wand her and patted her down we loaded into the plane and we were off. It does not matter where you are going from Amarillo you have to go either to Dallas or Houston first. So we flew to Dallas changed planes flew back over Amarillo to Vancouver Canada.
We had a cabin with a balcony and this was great we could set out and watch the land go by and watch for whales, seals, eagles, and whatever else came by. That first night out we walked around looking the ship over, later I picked up some coffee and Charlotte fixed her some hot tea and we went down to our cabin, set out on the balcony and just enjoyed the sound of the waves and we were just so amazed how God had blessed us again with the opportunity to be on another cruise. The next day we were up early and went to breakfast, we decided to go down to the restaurant where they have what was called open seating. Normally at the restaurants you are assigned seats but that is only at dinner, it was so neat talking with the other people, they were from all different parts of the globe, some we had difficulty understanding but we would figure out some way to communicate. This day we could see land but it was on the horizon, we spent most of the day looking for whales but most of the time we could see where they would come up and blow water as they were taking a breath, we did learn though if you spot one blowing and if you count how many time they would do this that after the third time is when you would see their tail come up out of the water for they were fixing to dive deep.
We pulled into Hubbard Glacier It was beautiful and cold, the sky was a little overcast which made the ice a beautiful blue color, it was called blue thunder because you would hear a pop and a big chunk would fall off and when it did it would sound just like thunder. After the ship left the glacier we went to our first port which was Skagway Alaska it was a beautiful little town nestled between two mountains. We took a train ride up on top of the mountain until we reached the Canadian border where we got off the train while they turned the locomotive around we could not cross the border unless we had our passport with us, then we headed back down to Skagway this was a beautiful train ride and I would recommend it to anybody. The ship left that night and we headed for Juneau AK, the next morning you could see land from both sides of the ship in fact if you had a rock I think you could hit land. We were walking around Juneau and we noticed that to get to some areas you would have to go up some steep steps and I mean a bunch of steps. We were told by some locals that those steps are called streets and the city takes care of them just like streets. We stopped at a local Pizza shop and had lunch, while we were in there I asked one of the men, what was the easiest way to get to the capital building? He said see that tall building across the street, he said go in there take the elevator up to the third floor and when you exit the building the capital will be across the street. It was neat to see the capital building; after we left there we headed back toward the ship and enjoyed the sightseeing. Our next port of call is Ketchikan AK the only way you can get here is by boat or plane in fact the only way you can build a building is either blow away some of the mountain to get a flat place to build or build out over the water most of the town is built on wooden decks. If you look at the green building you will notice it is built on pier & beams also this building back in its time was a whore house and the men could come in underneath so they would not be noticed. We were also told that their trash is their biggest export; they have to send it on a barge to Seattle Washington because the bears kept getting in to it. No matter what they did, they even tried capturing the bears and then took them to other islands but the bears kept swimming back. After leaving Ketchikan we went down thru some Fjords then headed for Vancouver.
We had dinner with the other two couples that were assigned to our table and while we were eating one of the couples said that they watched the Northern Lights last night, we said we did not know you could see it this far south and we also did not know when to even look for it. She said that they had looked it up on the internet and that they were supposed to be visible last night and again tonight. So we stayed up and found a good dark spot where the lights on the cruise ship would not bother us. It was cold where we were at but we could
see the stars great, I guess it was about 10 or 10:30 and Charlotte said is that the lights of a city or maybe the sun set, I told her the sun had set the other direction and we are to far from any cities so we started looking a little harder sure enough after a bit we could see the lights dancing in the sky it was wonderful we got to see the Northern Lights thanks to our new friends telling us about it. The next morning early we pulled back in to Vancouver, when the ship docked we rented a car for our plane was not to leave for a couple more days, we got to drive around and see a little more of Vancouver before we had to fly out.