2016 a year in review.

Well 2016 I am not sorry to see you go, it has been a year of ups but with more downs for me. Looking forward to 2017 and what is ahead.The year started off as good as any of the last few years with travel plans and family visits and was looking to be a pretty good year shaping up.

Starting off, a wonderful trip to Walt Disney World for 9 full days with 8 split between the 4 parks and a rest day. It was wonderful but tiring for us. Jodi was a trooper as usual, she walked as much as possible for a couple of hours then she had to use the wheelchair for the rest of the day.

Back from the trip Jodi was tired but pushing along pretty well. A clinic visit went well in mid-March but then she had an incident and died on the 31st of March. This completely shattered me, she had a spark of life that I cold not explain. It just radiated from her.

Then I was able to get to 2 local events a Concourse Car Show and the Taste of Huntington Beach, both in HB Central Park, these two afternoons were just an amazing time out of the house.

Next up on the agenda was to get up north to see my grandson’s 1st birthday at the end of April. It was a wonderful time but sad for all of us adults at the same time.

Then a cruise to Alaska that was planned in 2015 with family and extended family in June. WIth 9 of us it was an exciting time and a very lovely trip.

Then in October it was another trip up north to visit my grandson with an overnight stop in the Redwoods for the night.

My daughter and the 2 grand kids moved back into the house the first  week of November to fill up the 4 bedroom house. Now it is a lively house again with non-stop activity.

Finally the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas have been happy but hollow with something very important missing in our lives.

So looking forward to planning new adventures for 2017, enjoying travel again and seeing new places. My Bucket List is long and constantly growing so we will see if I can visit these places in the time left.

Planning and preparing for the 2018 Alaska adventure will take a lot of 2017 and really be exciting.

Possible Alaska Journey

I hope everyone has a wonderful 2017 and your adventures all come true.

May the calm be widespread, may the sea be as the smooth surface of the greenstone, and may the rays of sunshine forever dance along your path” Maori Prayer.


Flam, Norway Railraod

We leave  Copenhagen, Denmark on a cruise ship so we can see the Norwegian fjords in our vacation time frame. First port was Flam, Norway.

We scheduled an excursion on the Flam Railway to see the sights of the scenic Norway countryside.

The Flåm Railway has been named one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. The train runs 12.6 miles (20.2 kilometers) from the end of Aurlandsfjord, a tributary of the Sognefjord, up to the high mountains to Myrdal Station. Along the journey are some beautifully stunning scenery of Norway.

In about an hour you go from sea level in Flåm to the Myrdal mountain station at 2,844 feet (867 metres) above sea level. In Myrdal you can connect to trains running between Bergen and Oslo.

The Flåm Railway is one of the steepest standard-gauge railway lines in the world, with 80% of the journey at a gradient of 5.5%. Along the trains route you see small villages and hamlets, beautiful mountainsides, foaming waterfalls and pass through 20 tunnels. It’s longest tunnel is the 4,401 foot (1,341.5-meter) long Nåli Tunnel.

The first engineering surveys for the Flåm Line were performed in 1893 with the plans approved by Parliament in 1916.  Construction started in 1924, with track laying starting in 1936 and the rail line finally opening for service in 1940. Of the 20 tunnels along the route only 2 used machines for digging, the rest were dug by hand.



Train at Flam RR Museeum

Train at Flam RR Museum

After the trip  we stop at the Flam Railway Museum to learn more of the history of the Flam Rail Line and how this rail line was constructed. The models, photos, illustrations, actual equipment and older train engines was a great way to understand how this rail line was built and used, the engineering and the hard labor that went into constructing this rail line.

After the museum it is time for walk around town, visit the tourist information center and a tourist souvenir shop next door with interesting nic-nacs. After our walk among the shelves, and a few laughs at some of the items for sale, we must stop at the local grocery store to pick up a few items to enjoy for snacking as they are not available on the ship. As it is getting close to the time for the ship to depart we head back to get ready for dinner with the 5 other couples at our assigned table.

Sitting down to dinner we all relate our days adventures and thoughts on Flam while enjoying the wonderful food and the scenery floating by outside the large windows of the Dining Room. We enjoyed the small town feel, the scenery on the Rail Journey and walking around town. This would be a town to stay in to enjoy for a couple of relaxing days exploring the local area with a vehicle or just hiking. Our table is one of the last to finish as we all are enjoying the company and conversation. I think we would all stay longer but there is another dinner service they must get ready for. As the others leave for their nightly adventures, it’s back up to Deck 10 for the evening walk enjoying the scenery as we sail away from Flam to our next destination Alesund, Norway.

June 2016 Alaska – Days 8 and 9

Today we have a cruise to Victoria and will not dock until 6:00 PM. So after getting up early for breakfast the buffet and aft decks are empty as everyone on the ship sleeps in. It is wonderful to be out here on the last day of breakfast with my son, peaceful, relaxing and enjoying the early morning with pastries and hot chocolate. It is so empty when breakfast finally opens, there must be about only a dozen of us in the buffet area, so I take out my pocket camera and start getting photos of the food service and dining areas while they are empty (these were shared in a previous blog post).

The family trickles in slowly and we enjoy our last full morning together.

Today I am going to take it easy, in the morning while everyone else on the ship are still resting I walk to get photos of the different areas of the ship, watch a documentary on the Alaskan Gold Rush in the Theater then just mosey around enjoying people watching.

Last Day Food-6At lunch they are having a Bavarian BBQ by the pool and that sounds pretty good to me. Everyone else is doing their own thing at lunch so I gorge myself on pulled pork, pork sausage, breads, sides and wonderful Bavarian desert cakes.


When we finally dock in Victoria at 6:30 PM I am exhausted, I was going to walk the couple of miles to downtown but just decide to stay on the ship, find a quiet spot to relax to do some reading and writing. Boy am I getting old, but I am missing Jodi so much today. It has been a difficult but very enjoyable trip and a real re-learning experience on how to take a vacation alone.

I decide to go to the room early to pack my bags as we will be docking and leaving the ship early tomorrow morning.

Up early one last morning to grab breakfast and enjoy my last day of sitting on the Aft Deck with my son enjoying the cruise into Seattle. We dock and leave the ship at around 7:30 AM and I say my goodbyes to the family and make my way to the Light Rail Station about ¾’s of a mile away.

After the 40-minute ride to the airport I exit the train for the long walk to the terminal through the parking garage. Going inside the terminal I head for the announcement board to determine which gate my plane will be in, but my flight is not until 3:15 PM and does not show up yet for the gate location. I see which gates Delta flies out of then head to the crazy long security line. Boy this makes Disneyland’s lines look short but at least it keeps moving and is well organized. About an hour later finally through security I walk the Main Terminal looking for an interesting establishment for lunch. Finding one or two that interest me I find an empty gate to relax and do some more reading until I am hungry.

Early afternoon and I am finally hungry so I head for a gourmet Hot Dog stand and get a dog, fries, candy bar and drink. Not good for you but it sure hit the spot and tasted real good and I have eaten bad all week so what is one more day. I’ll worry about good nutrition next week.

Boarding the plane at 2:30 PM I settle into my seat at the rear of the plane, read, gaze out the window and think about the week I have just had and what to do for my future adventures while just trying to keep my mind busy and not wander.

This would have been a vacation Jodi would have loved but hated at the same time as it would have been very difficult for her to walk and use the wheelchair with all the hilly terrain and crowds in the towns.

Well I am rethinking the BUCKET LIST and will be posting it presently along with a some of the past adventures I have been on.


June 2016 Alaska – Day 7

Well after the fun evening I wake up at 4:30 AM and head to the buffet for another pre-breakfast. Grabbing my goodies I make my way to the aft deck as we are in the channel entering Ketchikan. My son joins me and we eat our breakfast as we dock at 7:00 AM and are able to leave the ship at 7:30.

Ketchikan-7We are the last ship on the far end of the dock and walk along the Waterfront Promenade to town. Heading straight through town we turn away from the water to Creek Street along Ketchikan Creek. This is an interesting area of town as it was the red light district at one time. Once prostitution was banned in Alaska the houses of ill repute relocated themselves to the creek as the law banned this practice on land but not over water. The Madams’ were resourceful and built the new houses over the creek bed to skirt the law.  Now a pedestrian tourist shopping area there is one house left that is a museum to the ladies of the night.

At the end of Creek Street there is the Tongass Historical Museum exhibiting artifacts, text and photos telling the history of this first city that was a Native fish camp, mining hub, salmon-canning capitol, fishing port and timber town.

Further along the creek inland is the Totem Heritage Center with a collecting of unrestored totem poles of the Tingit and Haida villages.

We walk back to town and make our way over to stop for a snack back at the waterfront; I purchased a Mountain Dew and a very large thick piece of Snickers chocolate fudge, YUMMY. We go out side the store to sit on a bench and eat our food while we rest as we wait for the rest of the group to exit their show, “The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show”. Still having some time until the show finishes we walk through several stores to see if I can find anything for my grandson, no luck again.

At 11:00 the show ends and we all decide to go to a little food shack on the dock next to the Visitors Center for some fish and chips. The food was vey good but expensive as it was fresh halibut caught that morning and they catered to the tourist crowds, I must say that I was not disappointed it was that good.

We head out to do some additional shopping but must be back on board by 12:30 PM so walking back down the seaside walkway I stop in one of the shops along the Promenade and there is the gift, a nice baseball style hat for the grandson.

The boat leaves for our final destination Victoria, British Columbia at 1:00 PM. So having an afternoon to rest I notice there is a show in the theater at 3:30 PM on “30,000 Years of Art History” which was fun, educational and very relaxing. I almost fell asleep during one part in the dark theater with comfy seats; I guess an old man needs a nap every so often.

We have a quiet restful dinner with everyone in the Main Dinning Room then my son , daughter-in-law and I head to the theater at 6:00 PM for a musical highlighting 3 Rock Legends; Michael Jackson, Madonna and my favorite of the 3, Elton John. It was a very good, entertaining show, which we all enjoyed.

After walking 20,359 steps in 7.5 miles and climbing 25 stories today I head back to my room after the show to rest and I fall fast asleep very quickly around 10:00 PM.

June 2016 Alaska – Day 6

Leaving Skagway last night we retrace our route down Lynn Canal going around Point Couverden heading to Glacier Bay on our last full cruise day to a dramatic, remote, beautiful wilderness reachable only by boat or plane. Cruise boats ply this bay to fulfill the multitude on the Inland Passage route, I can only imagine staying here at the campsite or lodge, and enjoying the area in a kayak or small ranger led boat tour (bucket list). Glacier Bay National Park is 3.3 million acres of the 25-million acre UNESCO World Heritage Site that stretches from Alaska into Canada.

morning bkfstUp early again to watch the sunrise at pre-breakfast. My son makes sure to join me today and we enjoy a beautiful peaceful morning with outstanding scenery on our cruise to the National Park. Later in the morning we all head to the main dinning room for an enjoyable breakfast.




Before we enter the park I grab a quick lunch and have some snacks in my pocket as I do not want to miss anything. Even though there are excellent window views from different parts of the ship it is not the same as being outside for photo opportunities in this magnificent landscape.

Pano b 1 megThere is a ship following us all the way in and as we get closer a National Park Ranger joins us onboard to provide a history and background talk of Glacier Bay and to explain to us over the Public Announcement System what we are viewing as we are cruising bay.

We head to the aft of the ship to Deck 7’s outside perimeter walkway where we can go from Port to Starboard of the ship as it sits and spins several rotations at each spot. Everyone must be up on decks 12 and 13 as we have very few people on the lower deck with us.

Well I am just going to let you view some photos of the bay, explaining the beauty is difficult as I will run out of adjectives and adverbs for this wonderful landscape.


John Hopkins Glacier

Glacier Bay

John Hopkins Glacier

Grand Pacific Glacier

Margerie Glacier

After cruising Glacier Bay we have dinner at the restaurant we ate in the first night then part ways to explore different activities that night. I go to a throwback musical of the songs of 1969, ah Woodstock and the Hippie era when I was 14. They do snippets for one and a half hours of all the good songs that year and I relax to enjoy myself. After the show lets out I walk to the front  of the ship to head for a closer Stairway to my room but the wind is blowing so hard the group of us walking are huddled together and fight our way there. Made it back and rest comfortably as the ship is really rolling in the wind.

June 2016 Alaska – Day 5

If this is Wednesday it must be Skagway.

Skagway-19Skagway is a small city in southeast Alaska, with a population of 920 residents as of 2010 that is set along the popular cruise route, the Inside Passage. This city is part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park that is home to many gold-rush-era buildings and the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, finished in 1898 that runs vintage locomotives past the famously steep Chilkoot Trail and offers sweeping mountain views during its climb into Canada.


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June 2016 Alaska – Day 4

We continue our day at sea as we will not dock in Juneau till 2:30PM. So we use the morning to watch for whales and just enjoy the restful morning. We are fortunate to see numerous whales, orcas and sea lions, such a wonderful sight.


We are finally able to disembark the ship at 3:15PM and I walk the 1-mile into downtown Juneau. Quickly I walk through the crowded tourist shopping area as there are 4 other cruise ships docked today and the streets are packed with people.

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June 2016 Alaska – Day 3

Alaska trip 6-13-2016

It is Monday and a cruise day so not much going on except for exploring the ship. There was a time change last night but I did not catch it so I was up at 4AM showering, doing laundry and getting ready for pre-breakfast with my son.

Yes I said pre-breakfast. Up to the buffet for fruit, bread and hot chocolate we sit on the aft deck watching the scenery pass by in quiet solitude. I do not get to see my son much, as he lives in Washington, so we catch up on life and family. At about 7AM the full buffet opens for breakfast so we head in for our full breakfast courses with the family joining us shortly after we sit down with our meals.

My son, his wife, his son and I start walking the Decks 12 and 13 after breakfast and notice some whales spouting close to the ship. This makes it a great day seeing these majestic creatures in the wild.

After a while I start exploring the the interior of the ship and then get ready for lunch. Yes the theme of the cruise is eating, walking, exploring and then eat some more. I walked a total of 6¾ miles, 17,500 steps and climbed 48 floors on my exploration of the ship today.

Well enough of the day, here are some photos of the ship for you to enjoy as tomorrow we visit the capitol of Alaska, Juneau.

June 2016 Alaska – Day 2

Well I sleep pretty well and do not need to be at the ship till 11AM but I am up at 6AM, so I take a shower and pack everything I used the night before. I walk next door to Top Pot Donuts and a delicious breakfast of some large donuts; a chocolate cake donut and a chocolate old fashion donut with milk. Yes, I am on vacation so I will eat things I do not normally have and be bad. I sit comfortably upstairs on the mezzanine level and slowly eat while I read my magazine.

Well it is about 8AM and I decide what the heck, might as well go for a early Sunday morning walk. I head down to see that the ship is in port and continue on for about another hour exploring a quiet downtown. After walking a lot of the streets I decide to get my bags and see if I can get on board early, so I check out of the room and head for the cruise terminal.

Norwegian Pearl

Ship Docked at Skagway

I check my carryon bag but carry my shoulder bag with the camera gear on to ship, The Norwegian Pearl, my home for the next week. Check-in is easy but I have to wait another hour or so to board until they have the ship cleaned up. As I sit the waiting room becomes clogged with fellow travelers. I have group #5 boarding time so when they start calling people I get on pretty quickly.

On board I find a nice window seat where I can view the entry on deck 7 Promenade and see when the family is boarding. In just about an hour everyone is on board and we all head for the buffet on Deck 12 to grab lunch and enjoy catching up on lost time. We hear the call that rooms are ready after about an hour and a half so off we go to Deck 10 where all the rooms are very close together.

At 4PM it is time to sail so we head back to Deck 12 aft and watch the Seattle skyline fade into the distance.

When the skyline fades away we have the first decision of the cruise; where shall we eat dinner? Since my daughter-in-law and her mother have been on this cruise once before it is decided we shall eat at the dinning room on Deck 7. Good choice as the food was excellent and we had a great window view.

Sail Day-2

Pool on Deck 12

After a leisurely dinner my son and I head to Decks 12 and 13 to walk off some of the rich meal we just finished. Casually we stroll the decks going up and down enjoying the evening air and just relaxing watching the shoreline glide past.

Sail Day-1

I mention all the decks as I have made up my mind not use the crowded elevators all week to fight off gaining weight and stay in somewhat good shape with all the good food I will be partaking in. Well it works today as I have walked 7.39 miles with 19,365 steps and have climbed 66 flights of stairs. Who needs a stair climber in the gym?

Whoa am I tired when I get to bed that night and sleep like a little baby as the ship gently rocks me to sleep.

June 2016 Alaska – Day 1

Alright the first trip on my own, well not quite as there will be 6 family members and 3 friends going along on this Alaska Cruise but I still count it being my first vacation trip since my wife’s passing. On this trip will be my son, his wife and 1 year old son, her mother, father and brother and 2 fun friends from Casper, WY I met at my sons wedding. The Wyoming friends are also bringing another friend along, also from Casper. So I won’t technically be alone but at times I will be exploring the towns we visit alone as I am not taking any ship excursions with the family.

I was up at 4:30AM Saturday morning to have my daughter take me to the airport for the 2 1/2 hour flight to Seattle, WA. Flying out at 7:30AM we landed at 9:45AM after flying a large circle around Seattle, as we were way early due to a tailwind.

I have good directions for the Light Rail line between Sea-Tac airport and downtown, buy my $3 ticket and board the train for a 40-minute carefree ride to town. Very easy system to comprehend with clean train cars. Getting off at the downtown Westlake Station I walk the ½ mile to my room for the night.

This little motel was not the best place in downtown but it was clean, safe, inexpensive and my room was actually ready for me when I arrived. So I placed my carry-on bag in my room, got my camera gear for the day packed in the shoulder bag and head out for a walking tour of downtown Seattle.


First stop was to walk the 1/2 mile down to the cruise terminal and see how the walk would be in the morning. Well a 15 minute slow walk got me there to see the sister ship to mine, disembarking and embarking passengers for the sailing later that day.

OK, now knowing how to get there and how long the walk would take, I start my second part of the journey along the shoreline to Miners Landing – Pier 57 to see what this is all about. A ferris wheel is outside and a small shopping mall is inside the old pier building.

Walking quickly through this crowded shopping area I stumble upon an interesting antique shop across the street and go inside to look and see if there are any interesting subjects to photograph. Yes there are but the lighting was very poor and I had to really work the camera just to get any shots worth processing.


Seattle-28Continuing on I head uphill for Pikes Place Market to see this world famous fish market. Well it was interesting and there was a lot to see but it is so overrun with tourists in the afternoon that it is impossible to get any good photographs or to enjoy the sellers stalls. I wish I could have gotten there early in the morning before everyone was up. This place is soooooo crowed I found the first exit point to get outside and get a breath of air.

Done here with the crowds I walk over to the small Victor Stein Brueck Park, resting and gazing over the harbor for a while as I eat a small snack and have some water.

Rested I decide to walk the approximately 1 mile to the Space Needle to check it out. I am still very hungry so  I decide I need a lunch, the snack did not satisfy me. Finding a Subway sandwich shop I go in to get a quick 6″ Cold Cut Sandwich, chips and a drink.

Finishing the meal I continue my walk searching for a place to have dinner along the way. Several restaurants interest me so I at least have a pick for my meal later.

Seattle-34Arriving at The Space Needle it starts to rain, yes we are in Seattle and I must get a little wet. After a brief hour-long shower the skies open to a beautiful sunny day and sky. As I walk around the park I enjoy getting shots of the Space Needle, other museum buildings and play areas. Sitting and relaxing for a while, I just unwind from my flight and walk.



I am finished exploring and it is about 4:30PM so I head back to the room to drop my camera gear off, clean up and decide what I want for dinner.

I decide on the Bahn Mi sandwich I saw in a little shop a few blocks away on 5th Ave and head down the street to eat. Sitting there enjoying the sandwich I think about the day I have had, write down some notes and contemplate what is upcoming the next week on the family cruise. The sandwich is good and filling but I have had better Bahn Mi. Finished with dinner I head back to the room to rest and get ready to board the ship in the morning. But first I must see what Top Pot Donuts has in store for breakfast tomorrow morning. OH good, everything looks so YUMMY.

Back at the room I get everything ready for my embarkation and jot down my walking information for the day: a little over 10 miles and 25,174 steps, quite a day of plane travel and exploring. I fall fast asleep for a good nights rest, I don’t even remember my head hitting the pillow at somewhere about 10PM.