Alaska: The Last Frontier

I just got back from a two week Alaskan cruise with my aunt on the Golden Princess. Actually we did back-to-back 7-day cruises. We started off cruising from Vancouver, BC to Whittier, AK then stayed on the ship to cruise back to Vancouver. We did the same thing six years ago on thw Island Princess and this time was even better! I also cruised the Inside Passage in 2003 on the Mercury (Celebrity.)

We had incredible weather on our Northbound journey. It was so hot that I even went swimming two days because it was so hot reading at the pool. I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to posting about each individual port so I’ll include one photo from each in this post.

Our first stop was Ketchikan. We were only there until 2pm so all I did was walk to Safeway because there was a Starbucks inside. I needed to get the Alaska Been There Series mug. I got the last one!

Out next port was Juneau. I spent a few hours browsing around shops and grabbed a coffee from Heritage Coffee, a local chain.

We were in Skagway on July 4th and there were tons of things going on. I met up with a few of the Assistant Cruise Directors from the ship and we wandered for a bit. Aleks, one of them, and I decided to continue walking around and pop into a few of the shops instead of getting lunch with the rest of them.

We visited Glacier Bay the following Day which was spectacular. The weather was amazing and we saw some pretty incredible calving.

The weather was also fabulous in College Fjord the next day.

We arrived in Whittier just before midnight and it was still light out. I love that! I didn’t get off the ship the next day because there isn’t really anything there and I’d been off last time I was there. I enjoyed the quietness of the ship – at one point it was only us, the crew and a few others who were also doing B2B cruises. We met a couple from my city! It turns out they live down the street from the school I teach at. Small world.

The weather for the return trip wasn’t great so I was thankful for the sun the previous week! It wasn’t cold but it was cloudy and rainy at times.

We were at Hubbard Glacier First.

We were back at Glacier Bay next. I think my pictures actually look kind of neat with the fog.

I wandered around Skagway a little more and went into some stores I hadn’t visited the previous week.

I began my day in Juneau walking away from the touristy area near the cruise ship terminal. I kept walking until I ran into a woman we had chatted to at breakfast the day before. She told me there was a whale fountain that was worth seeing. She was right! On my way back towards the stores I decided to walk up the 107 stairs it took to get me to the State Capitol. I had a look around inside for a few minutes. It wasn’t anything special. I liked going in Sacramento much more!

Our last port day on the way home was Ketchikan. This time I headed to Creel Street first, which I love. Then I browsed in some stores picking up a few last minute gifts.

The two weeks were fantastic. I met some great people and have some amazing memories. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep in touch with a few. One couple we sat with at dinner the first week live outside of Seattle which really isn’t too far. It would be nice to see them again!

If you’ve never cruised Alaska before I would highly recommend it!

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Day 10: Gratitude Challenge

Open your phone or photo album and find a photo that you like. Why are you grateful for this photo? What are you grateful for in this photo?

I’m grateful for this photo for so many reasons. Here are my top 3:

1. Opportunity to Travel

This photo was taken in the charming little town of Cochem, Germany in August 2016. I am grateful that I have the time and the means to explore the world. This was part of my solo trip to Europe and I’m so thankful for that experience. You can read more about it here. ๐ŸŒŽ

2. Happiness

The smile I’m wearing in this photo exudes happiness. I’m grateful that I live a happy life. I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by people who care about me and look out for me in all that I do. ๐Ÿ˜

3. Coen

He’s over 7000km away but he’s always there for me. I’m grateful for this man and the adventures we have been on over the last couple years. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us.๐Ÿ’œ

Day 5: Gratitude Challenge

Write about someplace you’ve been that you’re grateful for:

Antelope Canyon

I’ve already written about it in a previous post but this place is absolutely stunning. I’m thankful that Coen and I were able to plan a trip that included a visit. It was certainly worth the three hour drive.

Pictures don’t really do it justice. You’ve got to experience it to see is true beauty.

To check out my more detail post click here๐Ÿ’œ

Day 1: 30 Day Gratitude Challenge

A little while back I completed a 30 Day Blogging Challenge. I’ve been keeping an eye put for another one and I just came across a Gratitude Challenge on Pinterest.

Just last week I was having a conversation about gratitude with my friend (and amazing RMT) Susanna so this one seems especially fitting.

Day 1: What’s something that you’re looking forward to?

That one is easy. My Alaskan cruise! My aunt and I are doing a 7-day cruise from Vancouver to Whittier then staying on the ship for the 7-day cruise back to Vancouver. We did the same back in 2012 but on a different ship. We had a great time and I know this time will be just a awesome!

I’m looking forward to starting the summer off with a little relaxation, gorgeous scenery and indulging in delicious food! I’ve decided I need to make sure I’m getting some extra exercise in over the two weeks – I don’t want to ruin all my hard work from the last little while and up until the cruise.

This is my 3rd Alaskan cruise but if anyone has any recommendations for Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Whittier please comment! ๐Ÿ’œ

3ish Days in the Phoenix Area

I struggled with what to call this post because we stayed in Mesa but explored surrounding areas. We also only spent two full days there. The third(ish) was split over three days. Anyway, here’s what we accomplished!

Day 1:

We arrived in the early evening and checked into the Best Western Plus Mesa. We really enjoyed our stay here. Our room was great and the hot breakfast buffet that was included was quite impressive – there was even bacon!

We hadn’t eaten yet and the woman at the front desk recommended Native Grill and Wings which was right next door. It had a Sports Bar feel and there were several TV’s playing different games. I’m not a huge fan of chicken wings because I don’t really like eating around the bones so I was happy to see they also had boneless wings and strippers, which were essentially small chicken strips. With all three, you could choose which flavour. I ordered Asiago Parmesan strippers. I paired them with a side of Loaded Tots. Although my meal was super greasy, I admit I thoroughly enjoyed it. Both were delicious and I was happy our room had a mini-fridge and microwave so I could take leftovers back to our hotel!

Day 2:

We woke up our first morning and headed out to wander around Old Town Scottsdale.

I love this part of Scottsdale. This was my third time checking out all the shops. There are also tons of places to eat. I insisted we go to the Sugar Bowl for ice cream. It’s a pretty popular place! We hadn’t had lunch so we decided we would have a sandwich there as well.

After a few hours we went for a bit of a drive and headed towards Camelback mountain. We drove from one end to the other and checked out where the trailhead was although we weren’t planning to hike it. Maybe another time.

Next, we drove to Carefree. I had been there once before and knew it had a pretty cool cactus garden.

It’s also home of the world’s largest sundial. We tested it out and it actually worked! It showed the accurate time!

On our way back we stopped at Fountain Hills. The Fountain Hills Fountain can reach 560 feet at it’s full height. Crazy! The Fountain runs every hour, on the hour between 9am and 9pm, and lasts for 15 minutes. We caught it around sunset which made it pretty beautiful.

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Day 3:

We weren’t quite sure what we wanted to do, so we picked up some brochures from the display at our hotel. We ended up deciding to check out Goldfield Ghost Town which turned out to be better than I expected. It sounded interesting, but I wasn’t quite sure how it would actually be. In all honesty, even if it wasn’t great, I was just happy that I would be spending some time outside…hello, suntan!

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When we first arrived we saw there was a train so we decided to find out what that was all about. We ended up grabbing a ticket, as the train would take us around the perimeter of town and the conductor would share information about the town’s history as well as the surrounding area.

We made a quick stop at Apache Junction on the way back to snap a few pictures.

That night….BALL! I love Spring Training! It’s such a fun atmosphere. Not the most interesting game…my Giants beat the Diamondbacks 14-0!

The next day we headed to Sedona for the next leg of our trip!

Day 4:

We spent a little time in the area before our flight home. We stopped at Frontier Town in Cave Creek.

Happy Travellingโค

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

After our tour of Upper Antelope Canyon we headed to Horseshoe bend, which was just about a 15 minute drive away – after a brief stop at McDonald’s for a much needed coffee! Unbeknownst to me, it’s a bit of a hike to get to the bend from the parking lot. Of course, I get into my own head right away, and start to doubt myself. Coen, as always, encouraged me and reminded me we could go as slow as I wanted. Not too far along we saw a man sitting on the side of the trail – great, just what I wanted to see! Fortunately it wasn’t actually that bad. I should probably try to stop worrying about things before I even get started!

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It was a beautiful day – warm, but not too hot and the clouds looked so pretty in the sky! It was pretty busy, but we were able to get pictures without a bunch of people standing in the way.

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Horseshoe Bend is definitely worth a trip, especially if you’re visiting Antelope Canyon since it’s so close! โค

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

If Antelope Canyon isn’t on your bucket list, it should be. And I don’t say that lightly. I honestly can’t think of anywhere I’ve been so far that is quite as breathtaking. My pictures really don’t do it justice.

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Antelope Canyon is located just east of Page, Arizona and is on Navajo land. Coen and I drove from Sedona, which took us a little over three hours. Some people would say that’s too far for a day trip but I say it’s absolutely worth it. It’s important to know that you must book a tour in order to go into the Canyon. There are a few different tours available, as well as different tour companies. Coen did some research and booked us a 10:30am Upper Canyon Tour with Antelope Slot Canyon Tours by Chief Tsosie.

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The tour began with a bumpy ride – definitely go to the washroom before climbing into the back of the truck! When we arrived at the entrance to the Upper Canyon our tour guide, Leonard, introduced himself and told us a bit of information and a few funny jokes and stories while we waited for our turn to enter the canyon. He also gave us a few camera tips!

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Upon entering the canyon, I was totally mesmerized. I’d never seen anything quite like it.

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The colouring, formation and markings were stunning. I was awestruck. We moved through the canyon fairly slowly, stopping at points of particular interest. Leonard took our camera’s at these points so he could take photos for us from the right angles!

There were several other tours going on at the same time so it was pretty busy at points, but not so busy that it was frustrating. When we got to the other side (not THAT other side – one of Leonard’s jokes) we were treated to Leonard playing his flute!

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On our way back through we were asked not to take pictures, but we couldn’t help but sneak a few more when we were stuck behind other groups!

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Once the tour as over we hopped back into the truck and they took us back to the tour company’s building. I can’t rave enough about the whole experience. Antelope Canyon is NOT to be missed and I highly recommend booking with Antelope Slot Canyon Tours by Chief Tsosie. I can’t wait to check out the Lower Canyon another time and I would also do the Upper Canyon again. It’s truly breathtaking.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to post them and I’ll do my best to answer! โค