Canada 2017 – Fort Steele to Blairmore, Alberta

24th June, 2017.

Another beautiful clear day and a few early morning photos before we packed up to move on.

We were once again heading east and I was reading the tourism literature we had collected from a Visitor Centre looking for what might be interesting to see along the way. The town of Elkford at the end of the road north from Sparwood sounded like it might be worth a visit. The drive up there was quite pleasant but despite the literature making it sound interesting it was just a mining town without any features at all. So we retraced our route to Sparwood, another mining town, where we refuelled and decided to have lunch at a “Tim Horton’s” restaurant many of which we had already seen on our travels. It turned out to be just another fast food restaurant and not a particularly good one either.

We crossed the Crowsnest Pass into Alberta and headed to the town of Blairmore which was close to the highway junction with the Cowboy Trail which we planned to take north in the direction of Calgary before turning off onto the Kananaskis Trail, closed between December and June, which would take us through a couple of Provincial Parks before meeting up with the Trans Canada Highway between Calgary and Canmore.

The strangely named Lost Lemon RV Park was our choice for the night. The owners were a Swiss couple who had moved to Canada in 2003 to buy the park.

While I caught up with the washing, Erich was out and about with his camera getting some shots of the Rockies and the area around the Park.

The stream running behind the park looked fairly benign but this plaque tells a different story.

Almost everywhere we stayed during our trip had a railway line nearby and Blairmore was no exception.

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Canada 2017 – Golden to Fort Steele via Kimberley

23rd June, 2017.

After an early visit to the dump point to empty the grey and black water tanks and a quick refuel of the motorhome, we were soon motoring south with no set plan apart from following the road. We had thought that Radium Hot Springs would be an interesting place to look around but there was not much to the town and certainly nothing of interest to us so we didn’t stop. The town of Kimberley required a slight detour off our route to Alberta but it sounded as though it could be worth a visit. As we had been in the Kimberley area of Western Australia last year, we were keen to compare.

The mall area is certainly very “kitsch” but we enjoyed it all the same.

We had lunch at the Bavarian Schnitzel House where the owner brought out this array of homemade mustards to complement our schnitzels, a few of which we sampled. The vivid green Madagascar Peppercorn mustard was very good.

This impressive pedestrian bridge spanned a creek running through the middle of the town.

We now planned to spend the night at Fort Steele but rather than retrace our path, we decided to do the loop through Cranbrook as the camp ground we had chosen was to the south of the Fort Steele township.

Shortly after leaving Kimberley we came to the village of Marysville where the Mary Falls are just a short walk from the main road.

We found our way to the Fort Steele Campground where the owners proved to have a sense of humour. Apparently, campers regularly get this campground confused with the one in town. No reservations here and cash only. It was quite rustic and though there were other campers, we were around a corner completely on our own, just the way we like it.

The weather was inviting for Erich to take a walk with his camera before we settled down for a quiet evening.

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Canada 2017 – Summit Lake to Golden

22nd June, 2017.

Leaving Summit Lake Provincial Park, we drove west towards Nakusp and then north for a couple of hours to reach the ferry crossing from Galena Bay to Shelter Bay on the Upper Arrow Lake. This is said to be the longest free vehicular ferry crossing in the world. We arrived just in time to be the last vehicle aboard.

This tanker was refuelling the ferry as we made the crossing.

The scenery was spectacular and the crossing very smooth.

Approaching our disembarkation point at Shelter Bay.

Our loose plan was to head to Revelstoke and decide what to do once we checked out the town. Our first stop was at the Visitor Centre where we bought a map of a few self-guided walking tours. We have always found these to be a great way to see a town. Unfortunately the route we chose looked better on paper than in person and after wandering around for a while we abandoned the exercise and found a place to have lunch and contemplate our stop for the night.

Following are a few photos from our short walk around Revelstoke.

This map shows our route to this point. Ignore the driving time. It took us a week to get to this point.

After lunch we decided to press on to Golden over Rogers Pass in the Glacier National Park. There were massive roadworks all the way through the pass which meant that we could not stop for any photo opportunities and the windscreen was far too dirty to get any decent shots from the vehicle.

We were able to book a spot in the Golden Community RV Park situated right on the edge of the Columbia River. Unfortunately, the railway line was directly on the opposite bank and was quite noisy. We walked back into town along the river to have a look around but there was nothing very remarkable about the town.

More Swiss connections with Canada.

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Canada 2017 – Castlegar to Summit Lake via Kaslo

21st June, 2017.

Before our departure from Castlegar, Erich had time to take a few more photos.

Today’s route would take us to what looked like being an interesting town, Nelson. Along the way we stopped to take some photos of a hydro-electric installation on Kootenary Lake south of Nelson.

Unfortunately our timing was not favourable as it was market day and the town was teeming with people. Nelson is a very hilly town and we could not find any suitable parking within a reasonable distance of the town centre so we just kept going, planning to stop in the small town of Kaslo if it looked appealing.

It did turn out to be a very attractive little village where we had lunch and restocked with groceries.

Some very pretty architecture as well. The City Hall circa 1898.

The town library was located in the basement.

A fancy looking resort further along the lake.

“reserved”

From Kaslo we headed west in search of a camp spot for the night with the intention of spending our first night in a Provincial Park with basic facilities such as bins and drop toilets. Along the way we stopped to take a few photos of the river rapids which ran close to the road.

The system for Provincial and National Parks in Canada is very well organised. Some parks are on a first come, first served basis and others can be booked online. In the latter case, a ranger puts a “reserved” or “available” sign on each camp spot so it is simply a matter of walking or driving around to find an available spot. As we only planned on staying one night, this site backing on to Summit Lake suited us perfectly. The ranger called around later in the afternoon to collect our camping fee.

Looking across the lake from our campsite, there is an RV Park on the opposite shore.

Around the other side of the park there was even a spot for swimming or a picnic.

Obviously a popular fishing and canoeing spot as many of our fellow campers had boats.

How wonderful to wake up to another beautiful day.

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Canada 2017 – Osoyoos to Castlegar

20th June, 2017.

I was a bit ahead of myself with the previous post and should have saved the photos of the views leaving Osoyoos for this one. Never mind. There is no shortage of photos!

Our route from Osoyoos took us further east and almost parallel to the US border, located just to the south, until we passed Grand Forks where we turned north towards the town of Castlegar, our planned stop for the night. We arrived at around lunchtime, had lunch in a very nice Greek restaurant (The Wandering Greek Oven) and went for a walk around town. It’s great to see these small towns making an effort to attract tourists. In this case the Sculpture Walk was well worth a look.

Each sculpture is accompanied by a plaque explaining the meaning of the art work.

I’m not sure about this one.

Castlegar is located at the confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers as referenced below.

We set off to look for an RV Park for the night and were very happy to find the Kootenay River Kampground (sic) situated right beside the Kootenay River. There were various warning signs about the dangers of swimming in the fast flowing river but the water would have been much too cold in any case.

Again we had a lovely grassy green site with plenty of room even though the park was almost filled with the huge 5th wheelers that are so common in Canada. This little bird hopped around outside our van for a while.

The grounds were beautifully kept making it a pleasure to stay there.

Our spot for the night.

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Canada 2017 – Keremeos to Osoyoos

18-19th June, 2017.

Having studied the map and making the decision that we would keep heading roughly east, we drove only around 40kms to the lakeside town of Osoyoos, which we quickly discovered was a popular tourist destination. There were a number of RV Parks but they all looked very full, cramped and not at all appealing. There was a small provincial park on a peninsula jutting into the lake that looked like it might suit us but all the sites bordering the lake were booked and our only possibility would have been to pull up along the edge of the access road. Not our idea of a nice spot. However the caretaker gave us a tip for an RV Park located on the lake, though a fair drive from town, where there would be plenty of room and where she said they “snowbird” over the winter months.

Armed with this information, we headed back into town to have lunch and stock up on groceries. The RV Park turned out to be ideal with plenty of space available and we were able to get a spot close to the laundry so I could catch up on the washing.

Although our site was not close to the lake, we had some pleasant walks to the water’s edge for lovely views across the lake.

It was always fun to watch the squirrels busily going about their business.

As we were in no real hurry, we decided to spend a second night there and discovered a small Mexican themed cafe where we had an early dinner on the second night.

The beef and chorizo burgers were nice and spicy and I enjoyed my Mojito.

A revelation for us was the prevalence of “full service” (power, water and sewer) sites at the majority of RV Parks throughout Canada. We have only come across this once in Australia, at the G’Day Mate Caravan Park in Alice Springs. It became obvious to us that all RVs (motorhomes, caravans and 5th wheelers) in Canada are fitted with both grey and black water tanks so emptying these tanks is never an issue there. This park was the first that we booked with full service as we were getting due to empty our tanks.

So much easier and more pleasant than having to empty our caravan toilet cassette.

The drive south-east out of Osoyoos was quite spectacular with great views back over the town and lake.

This peninsula is a small provincial park with RV camping but was fully booked at the time.

The RV Park we stayed at is in the centre bottom of this photo running in a straight line left to right from the lake.

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Canada 2017 – Bridal Veil Falls to Keremeos

17th June, 2017.

Leaving Bridal Veil Falls, we decided to drive approximately 50kms north of Hope to have a look at the Hell’s Gate Airtram spanning the Fraser River. It was a pleasant drive with the river in view for most of the way.

Photo from the bridge crossing the highway to the upper terminal.

On arrival there was nothing to see without taking the gondola ride of around 200 metres across the river to the lower terminal. It really was quite spectacular gliding down over the waters gushing their way through the narrows.

Waiting for the gondola to dock at the upper terminal.

At the lower terminal.

Looking across to the lower terminal from the suspension bridge with the concrete fishways in the foreground. The fishways were built in the mid 1900s following rock slides in the early 1900s that prevented the salmon from venturing upstream to spawn.

The first of many bowls of delicious seafood chowder that we enjoyed throughout Canada.

A closer look at the fishway on the eastern side of the river. Quite ingenious.

A partial view of the fishway on the western side of the Fraser River.

As we ascended to the upper terminal again, a freight train wound its way along the eastern bank.

Most of the gondolas that we travelled on in Canada had a Swiss connection.

As we had no plans to head further north on this road, we retraced our route back to Hope and continued east while I studied our various apps and camping literature to find somewhere suitable to stay. We decided that Keremeos looked a good prospect distance wise and it had an RV park on the western side of town that had good reviews. What a great little find the Eagle RV Park turned out to be. Lovely green grass and drive through sites. The only drawback being that it was around 3kms to town if we wanted to have a look around. Rather than pack up the motorhome and drive in, we decided to walk along a disused railway track that had been turned into a cycle/walking track which would lead us right into town. It was obviously not that well used and certainly would have been a challenge for anyone on a bicycle but negotiating it on foot was not too bad. We passed between many of the fruit orchards for which this area is famous.

As we came into the populated area of town and cut across to the main road, this wood carving took our eye.

We took the advice of the RV Park manager and headed to the Branding Iron Restaurant for dinner where we had one of the better meals of the whole trip. Having seen that the walk back along the main road allowed us to stay away from the traffic, we decided it would be interesting to see all the fruit barns selling local produce along the way. Unfortunately no photos.

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Canada 2017 – Vancouver to Bridal Veil Falls

15th June, 2017.

Having finished our time in Victoria we now had to get to Vancouver to collect our rented Motorhome. Again there were a few choices but taking the BC Ferries Connector worked well for us. It was about a 10 minute walk from our hotel to the BCF pickup point in Victoria and then about an hour’s drive north to Stanley where our bus drove onto the ferry that would bear us to Vancouver.

Once again the weather was less than ideal but it was a pleasant crossing and interesting to see all the small islands we passed on our way to the mainland.

We were dropped at the central Railway Station where we were collected by taxi and driven to Langley, approximately 45 minutes drive away, where we were to collect the Motorhome. All went smoothly with the pickup and we were soon on our way to stock the larder and find somewhere to stay for the night. A combination of rain and a certain amount of angst driving in unknown territory meant there are no photos at all for the rest of that day. We found an RV Park on the outskirts of Fort Langley, a very pretty town with some interesting buildings. You will have to take my word for that. We walked to the local pub for dinner that night and had our first experience of taxes and tipping Canadian style. We never did get used to the advertised prices not being what we ended up paying. As far as we could establish the only commodity or service that included tax was fuel. Everything else had tax added on to the advertised price and then tipping was on top of that.

16th June, 2017.

We had a rough itinerary in mind but had nothing pre-booked until our return to Vancouver on July 15th so we more or less followed our noses for the whole trip. I had read about Bridal Veil Falls on a friend’s blog so we headed east on back roads using an iPad app called Sygic to guide us as there was no GPS provided with the vehicle. We found an RV Park close to the falls and, while I had a rest, Erich went off with his camera.

The RV Park had a lot of permanents, mostly in big 5th wheelers, and we seemed to be the only itinerant travellers there that night. There was a roadhouse with a restaurant next door where I had my first Reuben Sandwich. Yum! I am going to try to replicate this next time I cook a piece of corned beef.

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Canada 2017 – Butterfly Gardens & Butchart Gardens, Vancouver Island

13th June, 2017.

One of the main reasons for our stay on Vancouver Island was to visit the Butchart Gardens. As we did not have our own transport, we booked a bus tour which also included a stop at the Victoria Butterfly Gardens, a wonderfully set out enclosed tropical garden filled with exotic (for Canada) plants, animals and, of course, butterflies.

We passed this beautiful house along the way.

It was fascinating to watch butterflies emerge from their chrysalis in a specially constructed glass-fronted case.

This Giant Owl butterfly looks a little battered around the edges.

A beautiful Macaw.

There was even a pair of Flamingoes.

There were a number of highly coloured Poison Dart Frogs.

After an hour wandering around we moved on to the Butchart Gardens which are quite spectacular and reminded us very much of Mainau Island in Lake Constance, Germany which we visited a number of times during our years in Switzerland. We were a little early in the season to see the rose gardens fully in bloom but there were enough.

Just outside the gardens it is possible to take a boat tour.

The beautiful Himalayan Blue Poppy was growing prolifically in the Japanese garden.

It was a lovely way to spend a day.

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Canada 2017 – Victoria, British Columbia

11 – 14th June, 2017.

We flew out of Sitka on a grey and drizzly morning, bound once again for Seattle and an overnight stay close to the airport. We planned to take the light rail, located 3 blocks from the hotel, to the station closest to the harbour where the Victoria Clipper departed. When planning our trip we had a number of options for getting back to Canada from Seattle – plane, train, hire car or ferry. As we wanted to spend a few days in Victoria on Vancouver Island before picking up our hired motorhome on the mainland, we decided the passenger ferry would suit us best and chose a Victoria hotel just a short walk from the ferry terminal for our 3 night stay.

We managed to get ourselves and our luggage to the train station without problem and spent the next hour or so whizzing through the Seattle suburbs to the city centre. Then it was quite a long walk to the ferry terminal but the weather was kind and the walk fairly pleasant though controlling our rolling luggage down some of the steep hills was a challenge. We were quite early for our scheduled 1.30pm departure but were able to immediately check in our luggage and have a light meal at the adjoining cafe. While I studied our maps and itinerary, Erich went off in search of photo opportunities.

Views of Seattle from close to the ferry terminal.

The Clipper arrived and we were soon underway.

The 3 hour crossing was incredibly rough with many passengers suffering but fortunately we are both good sailors and had no problem with the rough seas even though we were seated in the first row of seats and therefore had the worst of the ride.

Our entry through Canada’s border security could not have been in starker contrast to our US experience. Friendly and chatty, our passports checked in short order and we were on our way with an “enjoy your stay” farewell.

Our hotel, Best Western Inner Harbour, was just a couple of hundred meters walk and we were very happy with our choice.

Though I had no plans to do any cooking!

Victoria is a lovely city and very popular with tourists.

The British Columbia Parliament building.

The imposing Fairmont Empress Hotel overlooking the inner harbour.

Queen Victoria, the city’s namesake.

Thunderbird Park, Victoria.

We didn’t see the baby whale the first time Erich photographed this bit of whimsy.

Captain Cook had a connection with Canada as well as Australia. http://www.captcook-ne.co.uk/ccne/timeline/voyage3.htm

We enjoyed the walk from our hotel into town but decided to take a hop on hop off tour bus to get a better overview of the city.

Oak Bay viewed from the bus.

An interesting church along the route.

We chose Beacon Hill Park as a hop off point.

There was a children’s petting zoo close to the bus stop with beautiful peacocks strutting about showing their lovely colours.

The less spectacular but still pretty Mrs Peahen.

Interesting feather detail under the tail.

During our walk we were entertained by plenty of squirrels rushing about

Victoria and District Cricket Association.

Later in the afternoon, Erich decided to walk back to the Legislature building to have a look inside. He was encouraged to take photos there.

Actors dressed in clothing of the architectural period imparting the history of the building.

Lots of interesting church architecture as well.

A full shot of the church photographed earlier in the day from the tour bus.

There is certainly plenty to see in this very interesting city.

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Alaska Cruise – Part 14

9-10th June, 2017.

A very grey day greeted us and all too soon our cruise was over as we disembarked in Sitka early on the 9th and were transferred to our hotel for the next two nights.

Although small, Sitka is a very interesting town and we were pleased our travel agent recommended spending more time here than in Ketchikan. Unfortunately, we were too early to check in to our hotel but were able to leave our luggage there and spend time at the Alaskan Dream lounge where we made good use of the free wifi. We farewelled many of our fellow passengers as they were transferred to the airport for their various flights. We wandered off in search of lunch after checking out some online recommendations and settled on an Asian cafe away from the main part of town.

The Bento box made a nice change from our recent fare.

Once we were able to check in to our hotel, I made catching up with the laundry my mission for the afternoon so we left our sightseeing until the following day.

The weather was still rather grey but pleasant enough for a walk around town.

That is a live Bald Eagle sitting on the top of the totem pole.

We walked up to the Lutheran Cemetery to see the Blockhouse and Princess Maksoutoff’s grave. The Princess was the first wife of Alaska’s last Russian American Governor. Unfortunately the writing was in Cyrllic so we were none the wiser but it was very pretty with the wildflowers in bloom.

St Michael’s Orthodox Cathedral

This beautiful old building houses a recently opened restaurant, Beak, and advertises that taxes and tips are included in the advertised meal prices. Quite a change and something we have not seen anywhere else in our North American travels.

Despite the very traditional exterior, the inside was decidedly quirky. Run by a young and obliging team, we enjoyed our reasonably priced meals.

We spent some more time walking around before returning to the hotel then Erich decided to walk to the Sitka National Historical Park where he found plenty of photo opportunities.

There is a pub on the upper level of this building where we discovered a new culinary delight – deep fried pickles. They were delicious!

And so ended our Alaskan adventure. The next morning we flew back to Seattle.

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Alaska Cruise – Part 13

8th June, 2017.

Our last full day of the cruise was spent quietly cruising towards Sitka where we would disembark the next morning. However there was no lack of wonderful scenery.

We had the most wonderful whale watching experience as a pod of around 12 humpbacks put on a marvellous display of bubble net fishing. This really has to be seen to be believed. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to photograph.

The following 4 photos were taken by someone else on the cruise and are better than anything we captured.

Back to Erich’s photos.

That evening we were treated to a very special Captain’s Dinner.

It certainly was a special day.

The following photos of our progress map were taken by me on my iPhone. Although they are not very good and the whole map would not fit in one photo, I hope they give some idea of the route we followed.

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Alaskan Cruise – Part 12

7th June, 2017.

Early in the morning we briefly stopped off at Bartlett Cove to pick up a National Park Ranger and a native Cultural Heritage Guide before proceeding into Glacier Bay, containing 8 tidewater glaciers and a haven for wildlife.

The wildlife certainly was in abundance.

We saw our first brown bear of the trip.

The magnificent Margerie Glacier.

Being a small vessel, we were able to get quite close to the face of the glacier and, with the engines cut, the silence was quite eerie.

On our return to Bartlett Cove, we were treated to plenty more wildlife sightings.

We docked at Bartlett Cove, where the ranger and guide left us, allowing the passengers to spend around 2 hours exploring around the small outpost.

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Alaska Cruise – Part 11

6th June, 2017.

Next morning we arrived at Alaskan Dream Cruises’ docking facility at Auke Bay across the channel from Orca Point Lodge and some 20km north of Juneau, Alaska’s capital. There we were taken by bus to Mendenhall Glacier before being dropped off in town for a free day.

Mendenhall Glacier

The waterfall cascades down the cliffs quite close to the glacier.

Lupins were growing wild everywhere.

We were bussed to Juneau where we were greeted with the sight of no less than 5 cruise liners which poured around 10,000 tourists into the town, most intent on hitting the tourist shops. As it was approaching lunchtime, we found ourselves a table at a waterfront cafe and had a nice halibut lunch. We did a short walk around the waterfront area but the press of people was all too much for us so we opted to take the early bus back to Alaskan Dream.

The top deck on Alaskan Dream.

Once again we were treated to more whale watching.

And another beautiful sunset.

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Alaska Cruise – Part 10

5th June, 2017 Orca Point Lodge

Our dinner this evening was to be a feast of King Crab, Prime Rib with various salads and vegetables followed by desserts and then S’mores cooked over the camp fire.

What a view to enjoy with our dinner.

The Prime Rib was fabulous.

But the King Crab was amazing!

Delicious Salmon.

Who had room for dessert?

And it was Bartender Amy’s birthday.

Time to cook those S’mores over the campfire.

We were fascinated by the Hummingbirds at the bird feeder.

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Alaska Cruise – Part 9

5th June, 2017 continued.

One of the pitfalls of writing this blog so long after the event is that sometimes my memory fails me. As it happened, we did have landfall on the 5th. At Orca Point Lodge owned by Alaskan Dream Cruises where we were to have dinner ashore before returning to the vessel for the night.

Before that though there were plenty of photo opportunities cruising from Endicott Arm to the Lodge.

When the bridge was open, we were encouraged to chat with the crew or simply take in the view from their vantage point.

Once again there are too many photos for one post so I will make Orca Lodge a separate post.

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Alaska Cruise – Part 8

5th June, 2017.

Today we were scheduled to cruise Frederick Sound and enter Tracy Arm Fjord with no scheduled landfall.

Entering the Fjord we began to see lots of floating ice which only increased the further we travelled.

A large cruise liner had entered the Fjord earlier and the Captain had word that they were having some difficulty negotiating the ice and getting out again. So the decision was made to abandon our attempt and to move on to Endicott Arm Fjord. The scenery was just magnificent, with Bald Eagles and Whales thrown in for good measure, so further commentary would be superfluous.

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Alaska Cruise – Part 7

4th June, 2017. Petersburg Alaska continued.

Following lunch on board, the local school bus collected us for a drive around town and to drop us off at the start of the Muskeg Bog trail walk. Emily, our Expedition Leader, guided us along this easy walk stopping at points of interest along the way. Muskeg consists of dead plants in various states of decomposition (as peat), ranging from fairly intact sphagnum moss, to sedge peat, to highly decomposed humus.

On the drive back to the boat, Erich asked to be dropped off in town so that he could take photographs as he walked back to the docks.

 

 

This little Buddha certainly seems out of place in its surroundings.

Soon we cast off – the following photos along the shore/

Moody skies as we motored out of the harbour.

Steller Sea Lions were fighting for a spot on the buoy.

It seems that every cruise we take involves some kind of assistance to fellow boaters. One of the passengers noticed this boat in distress as we passed. Their outboard motors had died and their battery was flat so they could not call for help. Our tender was deployed to tow the small boat back to harbour. We had a similar experience on our Kimberley Cruise last year. https://nussbaumerweb.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/day-25-odyssey-expeditions-kimberley-cruise-day-3/

During the whole cruise we could check our position at any time on this screen. It was quite a focal point for most of the passengers. We also had something similar on our Kimberley Cruise.

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Alaska Cruise – Part 6

4th June, 2017.

Due to our weather enforced itinerary change, we were now a day ahead of where we should be. The Captain, being a resourceful fellow, arranged for us to dock in Petersburg, a town with a rich Norwegian history, and in short order organised a local Norwegian heritage dancing group to entertain us and provide morning tea.

Despite the slightly gloomy weather, Erich took some great photos of our approach to the town.

Again the weather was less than inviting but the local youth wandered through town in their traditional costumes without a care for the weather. We, tourists, were bundled up against the rain.

The venue for our morning tea and traditional Norwegian dance display.

Whilst waiting for the appointed time, we wandered around town taking photos of some of the Norwegian-inspired architecture and artwork.

The morning tea was wonderfully prepared by the locals with traditional Norwegian delicacies. I bought one of their cookbooks and will try to replicate some of the yummy treats we enjoyed.