Saturday, August 27, 2011

The not so rainy Seattle

After our fantastic trip to Alaska we decided that we would play the tourist a little longer and spend some time in Seattle. I was worried it would rain the entire time but it only sprinkle one day. We saw some interesting exhibits at the Science Fiction Museum. Brian enjoyed seeing the replicas and props from Battleship Galactica. They had items from the new series as well as the old. I thought the Avatar exhibit was fun. They had all kinds of interactive displays. I really liked the light sensitive screen that let you dance with the floating flowers. We went through a children's museum as well that had all kinds of fun games and experiments to do. If the line hadn't been so long I think Brian would have tried out their fear of falling experiment. Why anyone would enjoy being dropped backwards onto a mat is beyond me. I liked the butterfly house. We tried to take a picture of a butterfly's iridescent wings but it wouldn't sit still long enough. We got to see a lot of the harbor and heard about some of Seattle history. We enjoyed going to the top of the Space Needle and seeing the harbor and city. It was fun to watch the sunset from the view deck. We learned a lot about the history (good and bad)of Seattle in a tour under its streets. Seattle is a city on top of a city. They have a unusual past. Brian really like the tours and I was impressed with how well our tour guide explained the unsavory history considering there were young children in the group. Seattle has a small aquarium where we got to see some sea otters (much bigger and furrier the river otters) and seals that seagulls kept trying to steal the fish from. The Seattle zoo was much bigger then I was expecting. We spent an entire day enjoying all the different animals and habitats. Some we had seen before but others (like the Komodo Dragon) were new animals to see. We suspect a set of ostrich eggs was a display but we're not sure. They didn't have any polar bears but the lions and elephants were active and fun to watch. We were sad to leave but were ready to go home and relax.

a day at the zoo

so many starfish

sunset in Seattle

boating extravaganza

an underground shop

The Science Fiction Museum

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A garden from a mine pit

In Victoria Canada we were introduced to the most amazing gardens. These botanical gardens were started by the Butchart family years ago and remains in the family today. They require four full time gardeners to maintain them. The Butchart gardens are a combination of many gardens including a Japanese garden, rose garden and Spanish garden. The most impressive garden by far though was the Sunken garden and to go along with it's fantastic flowers it has an amazing story. The garden started as an open mining pit. The family Butchart was doing well and earning a lot of money from their mining operation but when the ore ran out they were left with an unsightly hole in the ground. The wife of the family didn't like that much so she started planting trees and flowers. Little by little the gardens grew and now you can't tell where the natural landscape stops and the garden begins.
I enjoyed the rose garden but wish we could have see it in bloom. They had hundreds of rose bushes all given by different countries in different years. The Japanese garden was pretty with all the statuary and shaped trees. They even had a couple of those cruved bridges you always see in pictures of Japan. They had an impressive fountain that would shot feet into the air and change shaped. It reminded me of the fountains a the Belogio in Las Vegas. They had a carousel there but we didn't have time for a ride unfortunately. Brian's favorite garden was the Sunken garden. It was by far the most impressive botanical we have seen.

Now for Ketchikan Alaska

We saw an interesting show while in Ketchikan Alaska. It was a lumberjack competition show. The lumberjacks showed how to throw axes, slice wood circles and chop from a spring broad stuck in the side of a tree. They also had a tree climbing competition and log rolling fight. I think Brian enjoyed the show more then me. We also went to a place that had dozens of totem poles and a native clan house. The clan house reminded me a lot of the pictures from a book I loved in grade school called "The Angry Moon". The stories the totems told were interesting and very imaginative. The area also had a bald eagle that apparently had a nest somewhere close by. We did a little shopping in Ketchikan before heading back to the boat. Ketchikan was an interesting little town because some of it's roads are so narrow that cars cannot go on them. One of their roads was actually a staircase up the side of the hill. Most of the homes are built on the side of the hill so they have staircases, so quite long, to get to them. We enjoy seeing Ketchikan.

Springboard tree cutting

Ax throwing contest

the log rolling contest that lumberjacks are famous for

Just a few of the totem poles we saw

the clan house

Aimee and a totem pole

Brian leaving the clan house

Friday, August 5, 2011

Glacier Bay National Park Alaska

One of the most impressive sights on our cruise was a trip through Glacier Bay National Park. It is a national park that few get to see. In an effort to protect the evironment of the area only two cruise ships and 25 priviate ships are allowed in the park a day. They don't allow any fishing and the distance the ships can travel is limited. The water is a different color in the bay then the rest of the sea due to the melting of the glaciers. The glaciers vary in size, shape and color. Some are the typiical walls of white and blue ice but others are just flat sheets of ice. Some glaciers though are not white ice at all but dark muddy brown ice. Some glaciers are hard to see becuase they are surrounded by trees and covered in snow.
While floating silently through the bay we saw many sights. We got to see a bald eagle seating on an ice float and a couple of noisy puffins. There are birds (kittiwakes)that live in cliffs and eat the plankton that is stirred up by the calving of the glaciers. It was impressive to see the large chunks of ice break free and fall into the sea water below. This was the coldest day of our cruise. I was so glad that we had packed our heavy winter coats.