Two young 50-something females. One big adventure exploring the Americas. Have liquidated everything they own and packed a Saturn Vue with bare necessities to set out on this journey. Planting seeds at each juncture symbolizing their new growth. With an open mind and heart, ready to get a true view of this world.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Making Victoria Home

As we depart the ferry, we travel to James Bay in downtown Victoria. It is absolutely gorgeous as we hit the inner harbour. Our beautiful condo overlooks charming Fisherman's Village, housing several floating homes, a great seafood market, harbor cruises, and quaint eateries. The views afforded from our balcony are out of this world!

After strolling the little village, we set up housekeeping for our visit. Kimberly has offered to create one of her amazing dinners this first evening and armed with her necessary glass of wine begins preparation.

Dinner on one of our two decks overlooking the float planes runway as sun sets is the perfect start to our time here. We drink our wine and enjoy a feast of smoked salmon stuffed mushrooms, baked goat cheese with peppers, sauteed swordfish and scones with strawberries and fresh cream. We sure have missed Kimberly's little creations.

The harbour is quite busy at dusk with ferries, barges, tugboats and sea planes. It is quite something to watch these little planes take off and land with the bay as their runway. Mixed with the spectacular color of the little village, the sun setting over the city and the night lights starting to shine, we could not ask for a better evening!

Here's to a week of good friends, good wine, good food, and spectacular Victoria!

Vancouver to Victoria

Flying from Anchorage to Vancouver presents some truly spectacular mountain vistas from the plane windows. A fond farewell and reminder of the majesty we've witnessed these past few weeks.

Vancouver is really lovely and seems like we've been away from here so much longer than the only two weeks it's been since we sailed. Our dear friend, Kimberly, is flying in from Orlando and meeting us this evening. We are so excited to have her join. Dinner in downtown Vancouver at a recommended pub begins our "catch up" session and the three of us rest extremely well this first evening after all of our long journeys to reach each other.

Morning brings more beautiful skies and the 1 and 1/2 hour ferry ride to Victoria is absolutely breathtaking. Mountains reign all around the crystal clear waters of the Sound and Orca whales are spotted often. A good sign of what's in store.

We are all in awe of the beauty surrounding us everywhere. The excitement is mounting as we plan for our fun week ahead!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Adieu Alaska

Alas, it is time to bid farewell to Denali and board the wonderful McKinley rail to Anchorage. The journey today will take about 8 hours, but the comfortable train is a welcome transportation venue and we are thrilled to have this as our exit. The day is beautiful and we are afforded magnificent views as we travel south.

Bloody Mary's once again flow and both lunch and dinner served. This is the way to travel! I love trains...

The day is clear enough to even see Mt. McKinley, towering over the foothills that are the Alaska range and clouds. It looks like a cloud in itself. Truly remarkable.

Salmon spotted in the crystal rivers we pass are an added bonus. All we need is a bear fishing for it's dinner!

A dragonfly lights on Celeste's hand while she's photographing - a sign of the magic we've all experienced. The group is tired but thoroughly enjoys this finale. As our tour is coming to an end, we are all just really getting acquainted and comfortable. It's a shame our adventure is coming to a close. We will stay in touch with several from this group as we have with other new friends we've met on this amazing journey. A little melancholy but lovely at once.

The rail arrives in Anchorage where we rest for one final evening in Alaska before flying back to Vancouver. Our view from our balcony shows water and mountains surrounding and we wish we would have a little time to explore this city. We are surprised by what we find. But, that will need to wait for an upcoming visit - which is bound to happen. There is so much more to see in this grand state and we have barely scratched the service. Next time the Northern Lights!!!!

The Canyon and Tundra

This Sunday morning we awake to the long halted rain - it can stay away no longer. We have scheduled an early excursion to paddle down the Canyon River and, as we are sure to get wet anyway, we concur that we can deal with the rain today! (It is tempting to skip this outing and stay in bed with coffee and watch Sunday Morning, but we are virtuous and venture.)

We are joined by Steve (Celeste's photo buddy) and his wife, Evelyn, as it turns out this is their 40th wedding anniversary. Steve's first paddle, he's a bit apprehensive. We are blessed with the most skillful and entertaining guide, who keeps us all laughing thoroughly, as we traverse the rapids and brace ourselves against the cold and rain. Brrrrrrrrrr!!!!

The afternoon brings the much awaited Tundra Wilderness drive. An 8-hour trek into the wilderness of Denali. Only these buses are allowed, no cars. The beauty is inescapable and as the afternoon progresses, the rain begins to abate. The wildlife comes out with the clearing skies. It is a stunning environment.

Bears, red fox, moose, wolf, golden eagles, prairie dog, mountain goats, all make an appearance this afternoon amidst the incredible wonder that is Denali. Though the bus ride is long, the beauty rewarded makes it well worth the effort. A must do in the wilderness of Alaska. Seemingly, a grand finish to this great state's wealth of scenery.