Skagway


White pass Railway in Skagway
Originally uploaded by simmogem.

Skagway is our longest stop on the cruise and is a historic Gold Rush town that has been preserved to appear as it did in 1898. Reminds me of visiting Old Sydney town when I was about 5.

Skagway claims to have invented the board walk in an attempt to keep mud out of the shop fronts. Speaking of shopfronts, on entering Skagway I commented to Gemma that buildings all had false fronts or facades much like a movie set. Initially we thought this was to provide the illusion of being in the late 1800’s however, our tour guide later that day explaine that this was actually historically acurate. Skagway began as a tent city and some stores/resturants errected false building fronts in front of their tents to give the impression of a more classy establishment. Some of the buildings even have given the impression of additional levels through the facades.

The gold rush in Skagway lasted all of 3 years between 1897 – 1901. Skagway has survived ever since as a tourist attraction drawing visitors to the White Pass Railway which transported gold seekers from the sea port to the gold fields in the mountains 3000ft above.

This brings us to our shore excursion. At 9am we departed aboard the last carriage of the White Pass rail. The steam engine has been replaced with a diesel motor but the carriages are authentic. The railway was fantastic. Starting at…well sea level and climbing to just under 3000ft in about 15 miles is an experience. To think that the tunnels were carved from the solid granite mountain by hand over 100 years ago seems impossible. However considering the alternative of dragging food, tools and other supplies up the mountain by hand justifies their labours.

You can ride the railway to Yukon which is well into Canada but is a 6 hour return journey. We opted to take the 3.5 hour trip that takes you to the peak (which is also the Canadian border) and then turns around. We choose to do the trip in the morning as we thought the ‘evening’ summit may not provide as good photo opportunities. I guess we forgot that the sun sets at 11:45pm here.

Once back in town we had a bite to eat then took a free guided walking tour of historic Skagway provided by the parks and wildlife authority. They actually buy and restore historic buildings and then rent them back to the retailers for a tidy profit. A government authority that seems to be doing quite well and giving back to the community?

We finished off the day with a drink in a Saloon on the mainstreet. Having the longer time makes for a much more relaxing experience.

Check out the photos to see more.

Simon

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Sawyer Glacier


Sawyer Glacier
Originally uploaded by simmogem.

After seeing a distant view of the Mendellhall Glacier while Kayaking I felt content that I had seen one of the main features of North America that had given interest in doing this cruise. I never imagine that later today our cruise ship that is `10,000 times bigger than our kayak would sail right up to the Sawyer Glacier through ‘Tracey’s Arm’.

An absolutely spectacular sight cruising through a fjord full of icebergs. Some the size of houses. It is quite humourus thinking about how many photos I took of that first iceber we saw, only to round an island and find the sea dotted with thousands of them. Some of the photos of the first iceberg are probably the best though as there was less things to draw your attention making it easier to focus.

We saw several Harbour seals sunning themsleves on top of the ice bergs. Many of them with baby seal cubs. Still no whales that are worth mentioning though.

As you can imagine it was a little cool outside. The water obviously only just above freezing and the wind, which was very strong, was like ice. Gemma lasted about 2 hours outside before retiring to the warmth of the observation lounge. I battled on for another half an hour until I had drained my second camera battery and my shutter finger was frozen.

Many of the photos will require some post production editing that I can’t do until we get a laptop so I have uploaded a few of the ones that look ok as-is onto flikr and will put more up when I can manipulate them.

I hope you can get a feel for the scenery we saw today but can’t strongly recommend enough how much better this is in person. Those who can, should definitely come and see this for themselves.

On a sadder note, I lost my beanie this evening in the observatory lounge. No one has seen it so I think it has found its way into someone elses bag. I haven’t seen anyone with similar headwear so I’ll keep an eye out for anyone wearing it, but otherwise I’ll have to buy a new one in vancouver.

Thanks for reading,
Simmo

Appologies on our lack of updates.

Firstly I must appollogies for not posting yet.  There has been limited internet access that is affordable (were trying to survive for 12 months remember).  Rest assured we are safe and sound and are keeping journals so that we can back date posts when we get a chance.

The cruise is great, flights have been fine (except for a minor problem with Gemmas Luggage).  Look forward to telling you more soon.

Thanks….aye,

Simon and Gemma

mmm…Burrito

Touched down in San Fransico at 11am and the first US$ I spent bought a Giant Burrito… not to bad at all.

San Fransico airport, at least the terminal we are in, is pretty borring.  It was only meant to be a 5 hour stopover but that just turned into 6 after what hopefully is the first of only a small number of hicups on our travels.  Otherwise the flight was good so far.  We flew with the New Zealend Mauri rugby team on board who put it upon themsleves to try and consume all Vodka on the plane… at least they didn't talk about their win on Friday night too much (I'll miss you chris!)

A quality selection of inflight movies including 'Big Mommas House 2', 'The Pink Panther' and '8 Below'.  None of which I would recommend to you.

 I expected upon stepping out of the plane to be confronted with large and loud Americans but have yet to experience that, everyone has been very pleasent.  The toilets will take some getting use to (I won't go into details) and I am surprise how dry San Fran is for a costal city, it looks a lot like western NSW.

Thanks for reading, I hope I haven't bored you to much but writing this has helped pass some time in the airport.  I"ll make sure Gemma Writes tommorrow so she doesn't dissapoint her fans.

Till next timed,

Simmo

I couldn't ask for anything more


My Beautiful wife
Originally uploaded by simmogem.

We did it!

The wedding went as smooth as one could possibly dream of. A few nerves before hand but I had nothing to worry about at all. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves thoroughly which was the main thing we wanted.

We took a ferry ride on the Sunday after the wedding to Cockatoo island only to find they only let you off for private tours now, but ended up having a lovely walk around Balmain instead.

Later in the evening we went to the Theatre and saw a small productin of Lord of the Flies, very enjoyable. And finished things off with a Port in the bar at our hotel… very elegant!

I've posted a few photos of our weekend onto my new flickr account. Click on the stunning princess to the left to see them. Unfortunately I had a custom white balance on for the photo of gemma and forgot to change it back while out the next day.

I don't have time to try and fix them right now… lots of packing to do. Hope to have some photos of the wedding up before we leave.

Bucks day fears

The Best Man, Daniel, has planned a bucks 'day' for me tommorow.  An entire day sounds a bit extreme but I'm not really fearful and think we will actually have a great day but am a little concerned what my other friends (Pete and Degrassi) have in mind for me. 

I'm fairly confident I will end up wearing a dress at some stage of the night.  I can live with that.  As long as they don't end up getting me arrested somehow.

The plans are to play bowls at Mortdale for a few hours in the afternoon then head in to the city for dinner and a few drinks at the James Squire hotel.  I've never been there before but James Squire is my favourite beer so it must be good. 

 Gemma is going to be out with her mum, sister and some other girlfriends for a similar themed day in Darling harbour.  I don't think she has much to worry about though.

 1 week to go till our wedding, 2 weeks till our departure… lots of loose ends to attend to.

Welcome and hope you enjoy your stay

A bit of background….

Gemma and I are getting married on May 27 and heading off to Canada for ~12months. This blog will become our travel diaries and a place where we can keep in contact with family and friends. I thought that it might be a good idea to make a few posts here prior to the trip too.

Last night I sold my Datsun 260z. I had accepted that it needed to go as it would deteriate if it was left sitting back in Australia while we were away. Gemma turned up just as the new owner was driving away and she looked very sad, she gets attached to things easily.

Here is a photo of it:
My 260z

Anyway, its gone now, hopefully the new owner (18 year old kid) looks after it and continues the restoration. Mabye I can buy it back off him when I get back…haha unlikely

Well hope you enjoyed the first post ever. I’m still new to this so it should get better. I’m off to play bowls. My first game playing pennants… could be a disaster.