Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lumberjack Sky!

Today has been a weird day for me. I feel strangely bored, and yet I've accomplished quite a bit today. I guess washing dishes and doing four loads of laundry and making a bed and fixing meals IS boring! I was going to make cookies with the kids this morning, but somehow we never got around to it. I also needed to run to the grocery store, but decided that could wait till later. I think you get the idea! Maybe I'm just relaxed for the first time in a long time! The kids are definitely bored and whiny - I put them to work helping me with the laundry for awhile and they actually had fun! I don't have the camera today because Joshua had to take it to work for something. So, the picture for the day is from Saturday. Sky was building a set for a lumberjack show like the one we saw in Ketchikan, Alaska. (I guess I didn't write about that - O.K., I'll put a picture of that too!) That's what the big pile of "junk" is! He was performing some things for Daddy and Joshua got some great action shots! This one was the most dramatic! That boy can jump! Here's a couple of pictures from the Great Alaska Lumberjack Show. I went with the kids while Joshua and his dad were on a floatplane adventure! I think we had more fun, personally! It was absolutely hysterical! There were two lumberjack camps pitted against each other, so the whole thing was a competition. (I think it was mostly rigged!) We unknowingly sat down on the Canadian side, so that was fun! The crowd was split down the middle so we were pitted against each other too. The guys did things like log chopping, pole climbing, cross cut sawing, log rolling and chain saw carving! There was a lot of yelling and screaming, cheering and jeering! You really had to be there - it's hard to describe adequately!

Well, I finally occupied the kids by turning on the sprinkler outside! I need to go cheer on their antics and then start supper! And things are ALWAYS more exciting when Daddy's home!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Life Back In Calgary

Maybe you're not bored with Alaska stories yet, but I wanted to take a break and talk about what's been going on since we got home! Last week was actually pretty busy with chiropractor appointments, grocery shopping to stock the depleted fridge, taking our truck in for an oil change, helping some friends move to a new house, wedding rehearsal and ceremony..... We still managed to find time for fun in the sun too, as you can see in the pictures! It's been very hot in Calgary since we got home, so we're finally enjoying a real summer! The only problem when it get this hot, is that we don't have air conditioning or swamp cooling - just a few fans and open windows! The open windows haven't been much help because there wasn't ANY breeze for a few days, which made for some difficult, restless nights. We did get some breeze yesterday morning, finally! And yesterday there were some clouds at times, so that gave us some relief. It was a much more restful night last night!

On Friday, my friend Trina invited us to the water park and playground in their neighbourhood. You can only get in if you live in the area, but they're also allowed to bring guests. They have this great little wading pool, complete with big guns that shoot water! Sky was so excited to try the guns! He raced over to one, grabbed the handle, but before he could even figure out how to use the thing, he was blasted by another kid's gun! Poor kid, he was NOT happy and it scared him pretty good! I actually asked the other kid not to do that because it was Sky's first time there! But, after awhile, I decided he needed to get over it and roll with the punches! Sara and Sky both enjoyed spraying other people, but when it came their turn to get sprayed, it didn't seem like so much fun. I told them it was part of the game and if they didn't like it, to leave! They eventually did! The playground was a big hit too, so they played for a long time there. Here are a few pics of the fun! The one of Trina, having fun splashing with her two kids, Eric (3 3/4) and Katelyn (16 months), is my favourite!

On Saturday, the hottest day of the week, we were at an outdoor wedding! One of Joshua's good friends from his seminary days, asked Joshua if he would perform the ceremony for his wedding. Of course, he agreed! Miguel and Melissa chose to be married in the botanical gardens at the Calgary Zoo! It was beautiful, but HOT! They were well prepared, though. As each guest arrived, they received a bottle of water, and all the ladies received a pretty little fan as well! In the pictures, you can see the baskets of water bottles on ice! Sara was enthralled with the fan! Fortunately for all the guests who were wilting in the heat, Joshua doesn't believe in long wedding ceremonies! He says that the bride and groom aren't going to remember a thing he says anyway, and no one is there to hear him talk - they're there to see a couple get married! So, the ceremony was short and sweet and very lovely! Afterwards, Joshua changed out of his soggy suit and we had some time to see some of the animals at the zoo! We went out for supper afterwards. There was a reception with a meal, but for whatever reason, kids were not allowed. (But they were at the ceremony.) We didn't find this out until the day before and it was too late to find a babysitter. But, that's O.K. - we had a fun time eating out somewhere where there was air conditioning!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Alaska's Glaciers

My favourite part about the entire trip to Alaska was the glaciers - those awesome rivers of ice! The glacier above is the Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau, Alaska. During our third day at sea, the ship toured around Glacier Bay National Park. We stopped in front of three major glaciers so everyone could get on deck and take pictures, etc. As we entered Glacier Bay in the early morning hours, we heard there were a lot of whale sightings. (Around 6 a.m.) When our family was finally awake and moving around, we could hear over the intercom that they were still seeing whales. We pulled on our clothes as fast as we could and raced onto the outside deck! Breakfast could wait! We were walking around the deck trying to find a good spot, when we heard the announcer freaking out about a whale! We rushed around the corner, poked our heads over the railing, just in time to see a humpback whale jump out of the ocean! I only caught the splash with my camera! Oh well! It was incredible to be greeted by this whale as we entered Glacier Bay! After he jumped he rolled around and around for awhile showing off his huge flippers. Then he was gone and we didn't see anymore whales the rest of the day.

I'm going to put up some pictures of the glaciers and let them speak for themselves. The first one that we viewed that day (the first one below), had pieces of it falling into the ocean. First, you heard the crack of the ice as it separated from the glacier and then it tumbled and splashed into the water. Most of the pieces were fairly small, but right before the ship moved on to the next stop, a HUGE tower of ice broke away and crashed down! It was very exciting, but I was the only one that saw that, because Joshua had just left to go take the kids upstairs to their class! And don't laugh too hard at my hair in this picture! I was just finishing a shower when this glacier came into view and Joshua yelled at me to come see. So, I came out wrapped in a towel and was squealing and exclaiming so much that our neighbours, who were also an their verandah, were laughing at me! After I quickly got dressed, Joshua wanted me to pose right away to capture my excitement over seeing my first glacier!

This last one is one of my favourite's. It was just fascinating to see all the ice floating in the water. This was one of the bigger chunks - most of the pieces were fairly small.
Everyone has asked about the blue in the glaciers. Yes, they really are blue - it's not trick photography! And the reason....something about the way the ice crystals are compressed....they can absorb all the colors of the spectrum except for blue. So, the blue colour is reflected for us to see! Very beautiful!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Alaskan Cruise - The Food!

O.K., O.K., I know it's been forever and you all are dying to hear details! I hardly know where to start....there's so much to say! I'm going to do this in parts because I don't have time to do this all in one sitting!

So, I'll start with the FOOD! The royal treatment you've heard about is true! We traveled aboard the ms Noordam, one of Holland America's newest and biggest ships. Holland America is also one of the most elite ship lines, and I can definitely recommend them! The food was truly amazing and PLENTIFUL! We could eat anywhere on the ship, at any time, and nothing ever cost extra (for all of you who traveled with Steve Canfield....the food really does come with the cruise!)! There was one ultra fancy restaurant that needed reservations and cost $30 extra per person, but we never felt the need to do that! The formal dining room we could eat in each evening was elegant and wonderful enough for us! Our dinner sitting each night was at 8:15 p.m., which made things very interesting for the kids. Once we got to Alaska, the time change for us was 2 hours! So, essentially, we were sitting down to eat at 10:15 p.m. Calgary time finishing up around midnight! Of course, the issue was not that we were hungry at all. In fact, I usually found that by that time in the day, I was so full I could hardly enjoy my fancy dinner! The problem was more like trying to not fall asleep!! We ended up only bringing Sara and Sky to the late dinner with us twice on the whole cruise. Both those times they were hard pressed to sit in their chairs properly and Sara spent the majority of her time whining. Sky was slightly more cheerful and simply amused himself by using the plentiful array of utensils to "build" creations! Both of our kids usually do really well in restaurants, but it was asking a little too much for a dinner that lasted 2 hours and kept them up 3 hours past their bedtime! So, a couple of nights, we put them to bed early, and the other nights we took them upstairs to Club HAL (more on that later) where they could chill out and watch movies and eat snacks or do crafts. Then we all enjoyed the evening much better that way! So, as far as food taste and quality, both were excellent! I got to try things like Alaskan King crab legs, lobster tail, filet mignon, beef Wellington, all kinds of soups and chowders, brioche and more! It was so fun to eat elegant, expensive food and not pay for it! During the day, there was always something yummy to eat. They went from breakfast, to lunch, to afternoon snack, to dinner, to bedtime snack and then all over again the next day! Even in the half hour or so breaks between the major meal and snack times, there was always ice cream, pizza (Bryan would have been in heaven!), a make-your-own taco bar, burgers and hot dogs, and a huge salad bar. You could order room service at any time for no extra charge too! We ordered breakfast to our room a few mornings and that was so nice. We just checked everything we wanted on the breakfast order card, including what time you wanted breakfast, and hung it from our door handle. The food would magically appear the next morning right at the time specified! So fun! One afternoon, on the pool deck, they had a bratwurst and saurkraut festival and we really enjoyed that! The kids had fun with the pretzels, as you can see here! They had German potato salad, Dad! Mmmm! So, we definitely never went hungry, but we can still fit into our clothes, so that's really good! We tried not to be pigs! It was hard not to at breakfast - Joshua and I both love breakfast food, so we probably ate a little more every morning than we should have! Our family favourite was the waffles. They came in the shape of a flower and they were sooo yummy! Sky and I preferred ours with butter and plain syrup, but Joshua and Sara enjoyed the strawberries and whipped cream! It's been hard to come back home and eat toast and yogurt again!

The most spectacular display of food during the whole cruise was the night they presented the dessert extravaganza! This was set up around the pool deck at 10:30 p.m. one evening. The lights were turned down low and a string quartet was playing festive music. There were lighted ice sculptures, chocolate fountains, bread sculptures, and more dessert options than you can even imagine! It was beautiful! I was so full that night, I only had a small piece of chocolate torte, but just to see the presentation was more than satisfying! Joshua and I had to put the kids down for bed, so did the tag team thing and each took a turn admiring the sights and eating dessert! It was all so lovely! You just can't beat the food on a cruise!