Farewell, New West

June 20, 2009

new west farewell

to be cont’d

new west crofton







Back to where it all began…

June 20, 2009

ihop - kan







To be cont’d

ihop - fare







to be cont’d

Deep Cove & Indian Arm

June 20, 2009

With only a few weeks left before finishing our work commitments this was the perfect way to farewell Vancouver. Deep Cove in North Vancouver is at the entrance to Indian Arm, a steep sided fjord adjacent to the city of Vancouver itself.

Ind Arm 1

We spent the day with my colleague and friend from Vancouver Public Library Janet Tomkins and her brother Greg who has a boat at Deep Cove Marina. Dan joined me for the boat trip on the fjord with Greg’s son Sam. We later met up at Greg’s place for a BBQ with our respective families.

i dave


i dd

It’s hard to believe such a place exist so close to a major city – just a short boat ride from Burrard Inlet in the city centre. As you can see the boys had the time of their lives with Greg stringing a dinghy to the back of the boat for a wild ride.

i gdd


i ds e

The narrow fjord extends north for about 20 kms and forested mtns rise steeply in all directions. About halfway into the trip we docked at Granite Falls. Here there’s a pebbly beach and campground. Here waterfalls run down sheer granite rock faces characteristic of the region.







i gp

The return journey was my turn to have a bit of fun and experience the high speed dinghy ride.


Alaska – Skagway

June 20, 2009


Last port of call on our northward journey, Scagway. This was the main port of entry to the Klondike goldrushes of the 1890’s.  The town is pretty much as it was – the original goldrush buildings lining the main street for a trip back in time. 

In port for the day we rented two cars to explore further north, following the trail of the early gold seekers. The route intersects the US and Canada so a border crossing into British Columbia soon followed, as we made our way over the White Pass, dubbed “Dead Horse Pass” by the Klondikers.

A railroad was built over the pass for their benefit, and we glimpsed it’s route throught he mts from the highway. Unfortunately for the Klondikers the railroad came too late. By the time it was completed the gold rush was over.

Crossing into US territory once again we entered a wonderland of alpine scenery blanketed in snow.

Then back into Canada and it’s Yukon Territory (the gold rushes centered around where the Yukon and Klondike Rivers meet). We went as far as Carcross a remote Yukon village about 100kms from Scagway.

Carcross Public Library

With our ship waiting for us it was time to return, but not before a pit-stop at the Carcross Public Library. Even in the Canadian wilderness this great institution survives!

Alaska – Fjordland

June 20, 2009

You don’t get much time for these shore excursions – in Juneau it was just 4 hours before we were embarking again for our next port of call. This time we didn’t have far to travel, barely 50 miles to a renowned Fjord, “Tracey Arm”.

tracey 1


Tracey 3




We had a perfect afternoon to appreciate this wonder. It was reminiscent of Milford Sound which Jen and I had the privilege of seeing all those years ago on our first overseas trip. That fjord is considered one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.  These waterways are 1000 feet deep with mountains plunging vertically into the water on either side.

Tracey 2


tracey dave




This fjord however is pretty special because you also have small icebergs floating toward you as you approach another impressive glacier. We seemed to get as close as a stones throw away from South Sawyer Glacier. As with Milford there are waterfalls and seals sunning themselves on the rocks.

Tracey 4


Tracey 5

Alaska – Juneau

June 9, 2009

alaska ship rick

alaska ships

Next stop Juneau, the Alaskan State Capital. It’s an awe inspiring sight for a cruise ship passenger. Gliding down the narrow waterway you’re greeted by the towering, snow-capped mountains. Most notable is Mt Juneau, a perfect backdrop to the town.

Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier

The number 1 attraction here is the mighty Mendenhall Glacier. It’s a 13 mile bus trip out of town. This massive icefield descends from the Coast Mts behind Juneau spilling down to sea level. As with all such glaciers it’s receding at an alarming rate but is still a magnificent sight.

Alaska turns 50

Alaska turns 50

alaska open

Dan was keen to visit the Alaskan State Capitol so we made an early exit and headed back to town. With Alaska celebrating it’s 50 year anniversary of statehood it was an ideal time for a tour of the Capitol. Sarah Palin had also raised the profile of the 49th state and it was a large & curious group that met the young tour guide. We made a stop outside the Govenor’s office and viewed her beaming portrait before heading into the humble legislative chambers.

look familiar?

look familiar?

The young guide proud of her home state enumerated it’s many assets. Utilising the imagery of the State seal she drew our attention to it’s resource rich industries of fishing, timber and mining. It was Joe Juneau who effectively put the town on the map, striking gold with the aid of an Indian Tlingit guide in 1880. Juneau later became the Capital when Alaska became the 49th State.


This led to an interesting discussion on Alaska’s short history. The Russians thinking they had exhausted the lucrative fur trade agreed to sell Alaska in 1867 for a mere 2 cents per acre ($7.2m). Considered an American folly the reverse was true. Unprecedented wealth flowed into America’s new territory, firstly with the Gold strike on the Yukon River in 1896, and again in 1968 with billions of barrels of oil reserves discovered in Alaska’s north.

Juneau town - moosehead

Juneau town - moosehead


farewell Juneau

farewell Juneau

Alaska – Ketchikan

June 4, 2009

First port of call on the week long cruise was Ketchikan – “Salmon Capital of the World”. The  first day and a half we’d spent cruising up the British Columbia Coast until finally reaching Alaskan waters – a beautiful stretch alongside forested and snow capped mountains.

ketch 1

The ship docked in the early hours of the morning, giving us a half day to see the sights of our first Alaskan town.  The view that greeted us as we breakfasted on deck was magnificent. Snow capped mountains in brilliant sunshine and several cruise ships moored along the wharf of the picturesque town.

ketch 2

Fortunately the sights were all within easy walking distance so our touring party set out on a self guided walking tour.

Ketchikan - "Salmon Capital of the World"

Ketchikan - "Salmon Capital of the World"

This town began as a fishing camp “kitschkhin” of the indigenous Tlingit people. Of course the first white settlers cashed in with salteries and canneries soon producing millions of cans of salmon – hence “Salmon Capital of the World”.  So the salmon hatchery, today producing 400,000 salmon per year,  is a mandatory stop . The fish are released into the Ketchikan Creek. After a hazardous life at sea the surviving fish miraculously find their way back to the hatchery to spawn.

salmon hatchery

salmon hatchery

The Totem Heritage Centre is another worthwhile stop. Here totem poles have been returned from deserted Tlingit villages. The centre exhibits native art and teaches native crafts.

old town dolly's

Old Town - Creek Steet

Old Town - Creek Steet

Back into town Creek Street is the most popular place to be. The Old Town sits on a boardwalk built on pilons above the creek. It’s touristy but picturesque and has a colourful history. Many of the stores formed a red light district in days gone by. The most notorious dwelling “Dolly’s House” is painted red and peppermint green. Now restored, it operates as a museum named after the former Madam Dolly Arthur.

Ketchikan Museum

Ketchikan Museum

I also popped into the Historical Museum to dig a little deeper into the town’s past. Native culture is represented as are the industries that have flourished here over the last 100 years: fishing, timber and mining.

ketch jen

Today it’s tourism that keeps the town alive, primarily the passengers of the cruise ships (the Norwegian Sun alone has 2000 of them!)

Farewell to Ketchikan

Farewell to Ketchikan

Shipboard Life

May 30, 2009

Nothing can really prepare you for life onboard a cruise ship. You could say it’s a bit like a floating 5 star hotel. This hotel had 12 levels. This elevator leaves reception reaching all the way to the the top.


Level 11 is the main deck of the ship. All of us enjoyed the pool and spa, with warm spring weather for the duration of the cruise.

SL Pool

SL Spa

The stairwell from the main deck leads to the outdoor Games area

SL Bask

The basketball, table tennis and driving range are popular pursuits

SL Sports

A popular activity for the Berrys and Bradings was the table tennis


and still more table tennis…



Shipboard Life in the 21st Century


As far as shipboard entertainment is concerned, however, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Ane endless array of activities are scheduled throughout the day beginning with the “Wake Up and Stretch Class” (7.30am) to the “White Hot” dance parties into the wee small hours

Jen led the way, enticing Karen to a “girl’s night out”on the Dazzles Disco dance floor. Comedians and magicians were also popular. The highlight for the Berrys and Bradings was “Cirque Pan” a stage production tribute to Peter Pan. The acrobatic displays by the dancers were fantastic.

<image: Peter Pan>

and the show concluded with a grand finale featuring the staff, officers and crew of the Norwegian Sun. A great way to end the cruise.

<image: crew>

Activities for the kids

<image: activities for kids>

Children are also “taken care of” with a program running each day from 9am – 10.30pm! The B&Bs (Berry and Brading kids) preferred their freedom for the main but did enjoy a couple of activities including the Pizza making party in the Pacific Heights Restaurant!

<image: pizza making>

Freestyle Dining

Of course all the above was “free” to passengers, hence the term “freestyle” appearing in the ship’s literature. Perhaps the most enjoyable (and decadent) aspect of freestyle is the dining experience. With a choice of 10 restaurants, including the exclusive Seven Seas and Four Seasons we will not eat this well again. No doubt it was appreciated by the Bradings, weary from their RV Road and Camping trip. It was certainly a contrast to the more spartan diet endured by the Berrys on their North American road trip in the months that followed.

Shipboard Life in the 19th Century

In a quiet moment while reclining on deck it suddenly dawned on me how different this was to the shipboard experience of my maternal ancestors! I had recently read the newspaper reports of the ill fated voyage from Aberdeen to Melbourne, 150 years ago. It carried my 4x great grandfather, his wife and 5 children. As was common in those days the provisions were insufficient for a voyage of months. To quote the editorial in the Melbourne Argus

“The lives of a great number of passengers were endangered, and sacrificed,  from the despicable  economy of the attempt to save a surgeon’s salary…with a supply of provisions either bad or deficient. We trust that the case of the Nerbudda will act as a warning…very considerable disgust has been excited by some late cases both here and in the adjacent colonies”.

That story had a bitter twist. On arrival my ancestor was stretchered to Melbourne Hospital where he died leaving a wife and 5 children. The result was a 50 pound fine for the Ship Captain – the money being used to support the widows and orphans in their new life in the colony!

Cruising the Inside Passage

May 30, 2009

Well the big day arrived. Morning was spent at Church with the Bradings who were keen to visit our Canadian Brethren (facilitated by a luncheon in the Church’s basement)

Good ol' Canadian hospitality. The Bradings like us felt an instant connection!

Good ol' Canadian hospitality. The Bradings like us felt an instant connection!

After some farewells it was a skytrain to Waterfront, and as we exited the station this is the sight we encountered – the Norwegian Sun Cruise Liner

C Ship

We had planned a more modest 2 day cruise of the Inside Passage (B.C. Coast only). That one week break would have required a road trip up Vancouver Island and a comparatively short ferry trip (2 day return). When I discussed our plan with April my work colleague she suggested we take the cruise instead. A veteran of many such cruises she mentioned the affordability once food and accommodation are factored in. Of course for us there’d be no fuel costs either, and the savings to be had by qualifying for the North American discount rate, it was really a no brainer. Now, all of a sudden we were going all the way to Alaska, with all the luxuries of shipboard life to look forward to.

Inside Passage: Vancouver, B.C - Skagway, Alaska

Inside Passage: Vancouver, B.C - Skagway, Alaska

So it was farewell to Vancouver…

C Farewell

and we were on our way at last…


setting sun, Day 1

C Set Sun

Vancouver welcomes the Bradings!

May 25, 2009

welcome 2

This last week we’ve had the pleasure of welcoming our good friends the Bradings to Vancouver. Richard, Karen and their tribe of girls: Mel, Hannah and Jasmine have embarked on an adventure of their own – a 10 week road trip of the US, primarily the National Parks of the Western United States. For more on their epic journey click here


winn back

Beginning in LA they hired this 28 foot Winnebago, heading north, until last week crossing the border from Washington State into B.C Canada. Rolling into Smokey Smith Place, New Westminster, our home for the last 9 months the Bradings are visiting for 9 days. The visit consisting of a week long cruise up the Inside Passage to Alaska, and a days sightseeing in Vancouver either side.

…well the ship has arrived back in port after the 7 day cruise to Alaska. It’s a perfect spring day in Vancouver as I look out on this beautiful city, prior to disembarking. The cruise was amazing, truly a once in a lifetime experience. Where to start? Let’s re-cap with the Vancouver experience, before re-living the cruise!

Sightseeing in Vancouver

It was great playing host and providing a guided tour of the city which has been our home since Sept last year. We’re well connected to the transit system here in New West so got some day tripper tickets for for unlimited use of bus, train and ferry options.





Taking skytrain from New West to Downtown Vancouver we connected with Seabus (aka Ferry) for a trip across Vancouver Harbour to Lonsdale Quay on Vancouver’s North Shore.



For a Sydneysider it’s a bit like catching the ferry to Manly, except that mountains not beaches await you. We didn’t have time to explore the mtns but we did have time to check out the covered market and have a picnic lunch on the boardwalk which affords great views across the harbour to the city skyline. As Rick observed it’s more of a working harbour than Sydney’s so more industrial, but picturesque nonetheless.

Lonsdale Quay - Picnic lunch

Lonsdale Quay - Picnic lunch

After lunch it was back on the ferry to downtown and a connecting bus to Stanley Park, the favourite city destination for Vancouverites and tourists alike.

Rick - an old seadog, loved this sheltered harbour & marina

Rick - an old seadog, loved this sheltered harbour & marina

Seawall entrance to Stanley Park

Seawall entrance to Stanley Park

Rose Garden

Rose Garden

Rick Karen and Jen decided on a hike across the park while the kids came with me to Prospect Point for a view of the Lions Gate Bridge and an ice cream.

Stanley Park - Coal Harbour

Stanley Park - Coal Harbour

Stanley Park - Lion's Gate Bridge

Stanley Park - Lion's Gate Bridge

As if on cue a racoon appeared just as the adults came back from their walk. This was a critter the Bradings hadn’t seen on their National Parks tour.

SP Racoon final

Prospect Point was an appropriate stopping point as the cruise ships sail past here under the Bridge and out to the Pacific.


Pacific bound

Pacific bound