farmers market, Travel

To Market, To Market

Most travel from Alaska goes through Seattle.  It’s been some years since we visited, so it seemed a good idea to spend a little time there.

One thing that has not changed is the Pike Place Market.  

Throngs of people crowd the area, many there out of curiosity and some actually trying to shop.

Now, I’ve been to farmers markets in many different places, but the Seattle market may be among the most interesting.  Fresh seafood is a specialty, and its fishy smell permeates the market.

There are foodstuffs of every kind from baked goods to pasta

and sweet smelling fruits and vegetables. 

There is a section for arts and crafts, and if all the wandering makes you hungry there are a number of restaurants and food vendors inside the market.

No where have I ever seen so many flowers.  It was hard to pick favorites with such an abundance of choices.

Selecting was made easier by the women behind the flowers who combined beautiful blooms into works of art.  From what I observed, many folks had a hard time resisting their creations.

Being surrounded by so much temptation, it was impossible not to indulge in a few things which made for a most enjoyable tini time on our hotel’s rooftop sitting area.  

From there we could take in all the action below us, watch the ferris wheel go round and round and take in the comings and going of cargo ships and huge cruise liners.  Somehow I enjoyed that as much as being surrounded by mass humanity.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Travel

Days of Wonder IV

IMG_1252As wonderstruck as I was  being surrounded by Alaska’s natural beauty, there is more to its southeast coast.

There are mountain goats climbing high on craggy mountains, 

sea otters floating on the water, bears and moose coming out of the woods, birds of all kinds fluttering about.

There are harbor seals floating on beds of glacier ice

and sea lions soaking up the sun.

Eagles soar over the water,

their sharp eyes looking for a meal to snare.

Once I spotted an eagle’s nest and only after looking at my photos did I see a white head sticking out of the twigs.

Perhaps most exciting of all are the whales that make way to Alaska’s waters to feed.  Every time a blow was spotted, everyone on the boat ran forward or back to get a view.

More often than not all we saw was the whale’s back,

but sometimes it came out of the water, mouth open wide.

Other times its tail came up and we learned that was followed by a big splash fluke.

There is so much to tell about the wonders of Alaska, and I hope you’ve gotten some insight from what I have shared over the last several days.  One trip is not enough to take it all in, but one is better than none.  Oh, should you decide to visit, I highly recommend a small boat cruise as the smaller boats have much more flexibility than the big ships.  We chose Alaskan Dream Cruises and couldn’t have been more pleased.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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nature, Travel

Days of Wonder III

Alaska abounds with breathtaking natural beauty.

Snow capped mountains and islands covered with hemlock, spruce and cedar are enough to satiate the senses, but there’s more.

Even the sunsets are  wondrous on drizzle free days.

We were fortunate to witness two technicolor skies, one intense and dramatic.

The other was softer and cast its pastel glow over mountains and water.

When I see sights like this

and this, it renews my faith in a power greater than man and fills my heart with gratitude.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

nature, Travel

Days of Wonder II

Glacier Bay…..a land reborn, a world returning to life, a living lesson in resilience.

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I’m not sure what I most wanted to experience on this trip, but each new thing provided a special thrill, none more so than the glaciers. It is said there are more than 1,000 in Alaska continually retreating and advancing,  often creating changes to their environment.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhatever is seen at sea level is only a portion of the glacier which is likely to have originated some distance away and higher on the mountain.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe visible portion may not look large from a distance, but do not be deceived. It is likely to be hundreds of feet tall and more than a half mile wide.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMuch of a glacier appears to be some shade of icy blue which I learned is a function of density and the way light is reflected.

D2960263-A736-46EF-A10E-E23FB44F94E0The more color the denser the ice meaning that it contains very little air.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASometimes a glacier has dirty looking areas resulting from mudslides that leave behind dirt that gets locked in the ice.

68702EB4-83D3-4405-A6EA-201D10E4CC29On occasion there is a loud crack followed by a chunk of ice breaking off and becoming an iceberg only 10% of which is visible above the water. These lovely pieces of floating ice can be very dangerous as the Titanic sadly experienced.

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Though spotted in other areas, Glacier Bay is glacier heaven. There are hundreds of glaciers here most of which form in the Fairweather Mountains where snow builds up over the years and becomes ice. This one, that from a distance looks like a cloud, is Grand Pacific Glacier and stretches some 24 miles from the Canadian border to Glacier Bay.

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Even with climate change being a concern, as long as snow keeps falling on the mountains it will be a long time before the glaciers disappear.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Random, Travel

Days of Wonder

Some things you’ve thought about doing for a long time aren’t always what you’d hoped they’d be, but that isn’t what we found to be true of an Alaskan cruise. Our seven days on Admiralty Dream exceeded expectations and took us to places full of wonder.

Most Alaskan cruises focus on southeast Alaska, particularly the area between Sitka and Juneau. Ours began in Sitka where there is evidence of both Russian and Tlingit culture.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs with other places we would visit, much of Sitka’s economy depends on fishing for halibut, salmon and rockfish.

On our short stay here, we hiked a rain forest to become familiar with the growth common to the area and which is a food source for the wildlife.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe days of wonder began when Admiralty Dream left the dock at Sitka and headed to open water and sights startlingly beautiful.

As lovely as snow capped mountains were clouds hanging low splitting the mountains in half.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThough it doesn’t seem so, most of the mountains are higher than 5,000 feet which explains the snow. At that height, precipitation is snow and ice whereas at lower levels it becomes rain.

Because of those rocky surfaces rain cannot be absorbed so it is not unusual to see water cascading down the mountain creating some pretty impressive waterfalls. Should there be a few days without rain, rare I’m told, the waterfalls disappear.

 Along the coast we stopped in places where we were exposed  to new opportunity for discovery whether it be beachcombing

or learning about the Tlingit culture that has existed in southeast Alaska for hundreds of years.

p6027463Theirs is a complex, socially organized matrilineal society whose stories and tradition are communicated in many ways. Tlingit stories that have been passed down through generations enhance knowledge of the physical changes that have occurred in southeast Alaska over the years.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is impossible to capture the experience of seven days in one post, so you will have to come back for more about the days of wonder.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Texas, Travel

The Wild West

Compared to Houston, West Texas is like another country.  

It is wide open spaces with rolling hills and deep canyons.

It is where animals roam free

and cactus blooms add  their own kind of beauty.  As you can see, they are for looking, not touching! 

There’s not much to do in most of West Texas, but if you like to be away from it all and experience the great outdoors, Cibolo Creek Ranch, literally in the middle of nowhere, is perfect.

The decor fits the environment, rustic with wonderful accents.

While at the ranch, it’s OK to take siestas on the inviting sleeping porch

or lounge by the pool under blue Texas sky.

Before the day gets too hot, going with a ranch hand to explore the surrounding area is a real adventure.

The ride is teeth jarring and can be a little scary as the trail gets a bit close to the edge.

It appears that the craggy landscape is best handled by mountain goats who seem nonplussed by its roughness.

Though pretty desolate now, there is evidence that the area was once occupied, likely by Indians who were tough enough to survive its challenges.

As amazing as the sights are,

it’s good to get back to the ranch for a refreshing pause.  A stay at the Cibolo Creek Ranch doesn’t make the west seem too wild.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

 

 

Travel

Prague: A City of Contrasts

If you’ve heard of only one place else in Czechoslovakia it is likely to be Prague, a city of amazing contrasts.

Unlike many of the cities visited on our river cruise, Prague was not damaged during World War II meaning that the Old Town is intact.  Away from it, everything is newer, more modern indicating that Prague is a thriving 21st century city.

Though Prague is full of attractions, what I liked best was wandering the  streets paying attention to all that was going on whether it was men  restoring an aging facade,

meticulously relaying a cobbled street

or  working to attract a crowd and hoping to be rewarded with a few coins.

Markets were a great place to people watch,

 sample a few local goodies. 

and observe vendors, some of whom were busy demonstrating their skills, preparing food for jostling customers or passing the time until someone came along.

It was surprising to see a canal in Prague.  My first thought was how that resembled Venice.  The only thing missing was gondolas being managed by striped shirt gondoliers!

IMG_0946Walking miles every day means there had to be time for some refreshment, and I liked stopping in at some random place

IMG_0948and having Czech food and a Pilsner Urquell.  Talk about a pause that refreshes!

Yes, Prague has much to offer.  Architecturally, it is a jewel with its buildings representing many centuries.

IMG_0979Oh, and have I mentioned gingerbread and that Czechoslovakia is famous for it?  It comes in many forms, but when I tell you that foie gras served on thin slices of gingerbread is over the top, believe it!  I’d go back to Prague just to have it again.

So much for this journey of three plus weeks.  It’s time to go home.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind