Bits & Pieces... by David Sundman

Our Alaska Cruise

[photo: High Alaskan peaks above a receding glacier]

High Alaskan peaks above a receding glacier

[photo: Ice breaking off from the glacier]

Ice breaking off from the glacier

[photo:My wife and I next to a colorful, artistic totem pole of the native Tlingit people in Ketchikan, AK.]

My wife and I next to a colorful, artistic totem pole of the native Tlingit people in Ketchikan, AK.

This past June my wife and I took a cruise through the Alaska Panhandle, better known as the Alaskan Inside Passage. Although anticipating some wet weather (it is a rain forest) we escaped with barely a sprinkle the entire time. Thanks to Maine outdoor gear expert L.L. Bean, we were warm as toast in our light weight down jackets, ready for the coolest weather. I think we only wore the jackets this one time in Ketchikan! It was a nice place to kick off our adventure and here we saw some amazing totem poles of the native Tlingit people – truly works of art.

One of the biggest thrills at nearly the end of the trip was viewing a majestic glacier, with large icebergs crashing into the sea, as the glacier grinds toward the water. This glacier was 6 miles across and over 400 feet thick. The ice is blue, as the weight of the snow, over hundreds of years of pressure, squeezes nearly all the oxygen out of the ice. You would not think spending two hours watching a glacier "calve" (an iceberg breaking off from a glacier) would be fun, but it was riveting, even to my wife.

Although our quarters were deluxe, and the food "over-the-top," once you set foot on dry land in such towns as of Ketchican, Wrangell, Juneau, or Sitka, you can still imagine what it was like over a century ago for more than 100,000 gold rush wayfarers.

[photo: Stereograph photo of a Klondike gold rush couple wearing their summer attire during the warmer months in the Klondike.]

Stereograph photo of a Klondike gold rush couple wearing their summer attire during the warmer months in the Klondike.

These adventurers came from all over the world, mainly by ship, to the goldfields of Western Canada and the Alaskan Klondike or Yukon from the 1850s to 1913.

We cruised roundtrip on the Oceania Regatta from Seattle, Washington with 575 other happy cruisers. The crew was wonderful and there were about 400 of them altogether. The menus were varied and the dishes were delicious. Needless to say, we did not lose any weight! I highly recommend this cruise line if you are thinking of an Alaskan cruise.