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,


Kayaking in Juneau

Originally uploaded by simmogem.

I have to admit I was a little nervous at the thought of sea kayaking, especially in water that was only 1 – 2 degrees, but the sun was shining and the wind was down so we were promised a good day on the water. When we reached Douglas Island, about a 15min drive from the capital, we jumped off our old school bus and straight into our wet gear – big rubber pants, gumboots and our life jackets. As you can see the ensemble was quite stylish. Simon sat in the back so he could steer and I sat in front so I could set the pace and get a good view. The fjord where we were kayaking was at the foot of the Mendall Hall Glacier and whilst we were still about 10 mile from the glacier the veiws were fantastic.

Along the way we saw a number of eagles and in the distance (which I was glad of) was a whale. The highlight though was a seal that kept following the kayaks and popping his head up to have a look. I maintain that I did most of the rowing but even still the trip was very peaceful and the water was like a sheet of glass. The guide said that it was the best weather that they had had in a long time.

After the kayaking the bus dropped us back into town which gave us a chance to post a few letters and buy some home made fudge -peanut butter of course. Simon has also started collecting fridge magnets so we went hunting for a good Juneau magnet. Overall, we weren't impressed bythe city of Juneau, apart from the governmet buildings the rest of the town was tourist shops. The sea kayaking however was well worth the trip and I am looking forward to doing a bit more of it on our other trips in Canada.

Ketchikan – do you Partake…

Port one on our cruise – Ketchikan the salmon capital of the world! There is so much salmon here I’m going pink just thinking of it – tinned, canned, boxed, dried you name it and you can find it here – I’m bringing you all home some salmon jerky, sounds appetising doesn’t it!

Ketchikan is one of the oldest fishing villages in these parts and as I look out of the cafe window the only thing that reminds me that it is 2006 is the mobile phone tower in the background. The town itself is what you would expect of a fishing village, it is colourful and messy and has a cheeriness that only a shoreline of timber shacks can produce. Rather than take a bus tour with the other ship dwellers we decided to grab a walking map from the info centre and explore ourselves which turned out to be a good idea. We saw the back streets of Ketchikan, where there were no tourists, as well as the tourist hot spots like Creek Street (Ketchikan’s former red light district).

It was on part of this walk that we headed down to the fishing docks and met a real life fisherman (white beard, sailors cap and overalls – the whole bit). He was strolling back from his rusty van toward is apartment. Actually apartment is probably the wrong word, his room in one of the big timber houses that line the waters egde. He was inspecting the side of the building to see if he could some how fit gas heating for the upcoming winter – this was his first winter here, he has lived in Ketchikan for 18 years but  always on his boat. This year he is renovating the boat so has stepped onshore till it is completed – not bad for an old fella. His final commments give title to this post, as we invited him to get on with his morning he commented that he was busy, carrying his glow lamp up to his room to set up his pot. I kid you not – in Ketchikan pot is very popular – he explained. He asked very politely if we partook of pot – we politely declined and with that we were all on our way. Looking back I am quite lucky that our morning did not end in Simon and I sitting cross legged on the floor of a dank fishers apartment… well you know. Till our next adventure on the high seas Gem

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.


Simon and Gemma


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,


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.