Journey to Alaska part 4


The ship glided into Juneau Alaska mid morning. We cruised up the inside passage. Many people were out on the decks from the early morning to enjoy the splendor of the scenery. There were many whale sightings. I mostly saw the whales come up for a breath once in a while. And even more rare I would see a tail diving. I didn’t get any tail, but I did get some blow holes for your enjoyment. 

In Juneau there is also a pretty decent chance to see wild bald eagles along the shore line, or possibly hunting fish along side the many seagulls that were present. At least that is what the shipboard naturalist says. I believe him. I did see a lot of bald eagles, but I did see two. One was nothing more than a small white dot in a distant tree, but I’m confident it was a bald eagle. I didn’t get a shot of wild eagle, but a little further down you will see an eagle who seemed happy to pose for you and me.

Forgive the fuzzy nature of the goat photos. They were very far away, and this was the best I could do. I had to include them because how often does one see a mountain goat on the side of a mountain.

This first set of photos concentrates on the cruise into Juneau. For the most part there was no color grading other than some white balance adjustments, but I did crop and rotate several of these. I didn’t bring a tripod on this trip, so some needed a little work.

I really liked this landscape, and wanted to give it a little more treatment. I hope you enjoy it.

We docked and disembarked in late morning. Pretty much the whole ship poured out onto the streets of Juneau.There were also  at least two other ships, pictured here. I think there may have been more ship, but I only have pictures of three. So without pictures they didn’t exist, right?

One of the first things a cruise ship tourist sees when they get off the boat is the the Mount Roberts Tramway. You can see it even before you dock actually, andIt takes you to the top of… you guessed it Mount Roberts. It takes you up 1,800 feet to a scenic overlook, park, and gift shop. The tram-car ride is pretty fun in-and-of itself. It takes a few minutes to get from the bottom to the top, and for those few minutes you get some great views, and songs. At least on my rides we had the same host on the ride to help guide people. He offered some relevant commentary about the area, and sang a native song. Our host identified himself as a member of the tribe indigenous to the area the Tlingit, pronounced (klink it).

At the top of the mountain there was an artisan working on crafting a new totem pole. I heard that you can buy a custom totem pole, but it costs in the neighborhood of $8,000 per foot. For all the work that is involved, that seems about right to me. I bet shipping is a pretty penny as well. At the top there are also several trails for those who are inclined to do some exploring. After seeing the sign which was guarded by its own totem displayed in this set, I thought perhaps on my next trip. 

During the summer months at the top of Mount Roberts there lives a bald eagle named Lady Baltimore. She was majestic. She also has a sad story. She is a rescue  raptor, and when she healed she was unable to hunt. Since she couldn’t be released back into the wild, she now poses for pictures. You can learn more about her at Wikipedia. I am happy to say that her handler was close at hand the whole time I was there to answer questions and keep the lady safe.

Of course at the Mount Roberts visitor center there were some magnificent views to be had of the town below and the the ships. Here are a few shots I got. The first two shots of a ship are the ship I was privileged to make home for a week. The Ruby Princess.


Adding on to the Juneau pictures, I am putting up a set of shots from walking around the town. It is a cool little town. I imagine tourism is one of the major industries. Some of the biggest streets are lined with gold, fur and other tourist shops. Im sure there are some good deals to be had if you search for them.

Edited: September 23, 2018

I love Rock ‘N Roll

So put another dime in the juke box baby.

I was blessed to see an awesome rock show this weekend. Like the blog title says I do love Rock ‘n Roll. And I went to see some of the grandfathers of rock Judas Priest and Deep Purple. It was very good.

The opening act was a band called The Temperance Movement. I caught the end of their set. They were pretty good too. I added a few shots of them.

I took along my little Sony DSC-HX80 point and shoot camera. It is a sweet little rig for taking into concerts, or if you want something in your pocket that is better than your cell phone. The HX80 has some really nice zoom capability. The product literature says it has a 30x optical zoom. Im not sure what focal length that is equivalent to, but Im not writing a review for money, so that detail will be left alone. But it also has digital zoom on top of the optical zoom. This can get me pretty darn close to the stage at a concert, as you can see here. Granted digital zoom isn’t that great, but in a concert situation I’ll take what I can get. Most people can’t tell the difference anyway.

Luckily most concert venues allow point-and-shoots into the gate. I would love to figure out how to get some press passes though. I got some through friends when I was younger and that is the way to go if you can. Of course it isn’t like they are handing these things out to everyone. But now that I have a good camera it would be so awesome to get that opportunity again.

Journey to Alaska part 3

We made it to the ship. It was a little bit hectic, but it was worth it. By hectic I mean the embarkation process is a bit chaotic. With several thousand people being funneled through an automobile drop off area, then line after line, and check point after check point all to end up on a gangway way funneling people into a ship at one relatively small entrance where attendants check your credentials and take a picture of you for the official record. But as chaotic a process it was, the Princess people did a good job. It was a little confusing for a first timer, but it went relatively smoothly.

The first day on the ship was really a half-day. After the embarkation there is a mandatory muster, where the entire ship is broken up into sections and the crew briefs all of us about what to do in the case of an emergency. It’s not a particularly fun activity, but necessary. After that I took a bit of a nap because I had a long few days. But that evening I had some energy to explore the ship.

I got the premium drink package for this cruise, which I highly recommend. I figured doing a little drinking on my cruise sounded like a good idea. So after my nap I did some drinking. In fact I ended up closing down the last bar on the ship. I think there is one place on the boat that is open 24-hours a day, but I didn’t really learn about it until much later. It isn’t a bar exactly, it is an all purpose coffee shop, bar, snack-bar thing. I had enough to drink that night anyway. But I still had a little bit of energy, so I grabbed my camera and wandered the ship.

It is pretty cool being on a giant cruise ship when you are one of the only people around. No crowds, no kids running and yelling, just you and your thoughts. I saw a few maintenance guys that probably don’t see too many passengers. I got some shots that I thought were pretty cool. These may not be spectacular, but I like them. I think they’re an interesting view of this amazing ship.

The next day I spent some time with my Mom and Dad. They got a room with a view. They had a balcony. Man that was sweet. Considering this is a cruise to Alaska the balcony would only get limited use I suppose due to the generally chilly weather. I know Mom and Dad didn’t keep the door open most of time. But it was very cool to be able to go out there and enjoy the view from time to time. One of those times can be seen below. My Mom and her plush traveling companion are enjoying a nice sea breeze with a view of the ocean.

A little later that morning we went to a presentation by the ships environmentalist. He is like a nature guide for the ship, providing insight and information he thinks could be useful to the passengers. He is pretty good at what he does. My Mom really like him, and went to all of his presentations. She even bought a copy of his book, which she is reading now. Gilda the doll also enjoyed the presentation.



I decided to amend my blog post instead of creating a new one. The pictures I am adding are from the same day as above.

I am interested in engineering and often find beauty in many man-made structures. People put a lot of work into their creations, and that often involves an aesthetic sense especially when the object of their creation is facing the general public. A cruise ship is probably more concerned with the aesthetic value of its infrastructure than most man made structures, as it is intended to impress a sense of awe and wonder in the clientele it hopes to attract.

The first picture in this set is the ocean, without which there would be no cruise. The ocean is pretty awesome. So big. So wet. What else is there to say about it really.

The next two shots show some contrast between the mountains in the background and the ship in the foreground, which interested to me. I particularly like the curvature of the railing with the stairs contrasted with the mountain range.

The ingenuity  to design and the hard work to build and maintain these structures is very impressive to me. So much work goes into providing a good cruise.

Photoshop skills

Taking a brief interlude in the “Journey to Alaska” blogging, I would like to show an example of the kind of editing and retouching work of which I am capable. This is just a small practical application of some Adobe Photoshop retouching. 

In my experience when taking photographs in a candid environment there can be unwanted artifacts in an otherwise good picture. In this example, I thought this was a nice candid picture  of my family that could be featured on my blog, but didn’t like the background environment. I thought the parking lot took away from the family somewhat. I would have added to my previous “Journey to Alaska” blog post, but I wanted to make an example of it here instead.

So in this case I cropped the shot a good bit. Unfortunately the crop gets rid of some of the good background elements, but I judged that losing the background mountains and trees was preferable to keeping the parking lot.  But even with the crop there were still some undesirable artifacts I wanted to eliminate. So I used the power of Adobe Photoshop to remove the unwanted artifacts. I also made a few adjustments to the color.

Journey to Alaska part 2

Im pretty new to this blog stuff. My past self would have scoffed at doing this type of thing. But here we are. If you have read any of my other stuff it is most likely obvious I don’t really know what I’m doing. I suppose that is part of the fun of this project. Like most of the other tings in my life I am unsure about what this blog is supposed to be. Is it just a vehicle to get my pictures somewhere someone can see them and hopefully appreciate them? Is this a journal of my thoughts at any given moment? Is this blog personal or professional? Should I try to approach it as a strict marketing device or should I just approach it as a hobby? There are a lot of serious questions there. At this time, I am just going to do whatever I want with this blog at any given time. I suppose the purpose and structure will reveal itself in time.

What does any of this have to do with Alaska you may ask. I know my thoughts seem all over the place. Bear with me, I’m getting back on subject. I took a vacation with my family recently, see part 1. We flew to Seattle and met up with my Dad’s sister and her husband. This is the first time in my adult life I have met my Aunt Connie and her husband Mike. I met them once a long time ago when I was a little kid too young to remember anything that happened. Even the adults in that long-ago scenario don’t remember much about that visit approximately 40 years ago. It’s difficult to visit with family when they are on the other side of the country thousands of miles away. And pretty much all of my extended family has been very far away and I have seen very little if any of them. So it is very nice to have had this opportunity to in essence meet my aunt for the first time.

We spent a two days with my aunt before embarking on the Alaska cruise. My aunt was invited, but she declined due to health reasons. There was a lot of catching up to do and sharing of ideas and opinions among relatives who haven’t seen each other in a long time, and that was the bulk of the first day of the visit. Plus there was a little recovery time from a long day of traveling and jet lag. From that day, I present you pictures of my aunt, her husband, and my mother and father. I’d also like to add a picture of neat model ship they had at their house. I didn’t take a lot of pictures of their house, and I regret that. It was decorated with a lot of interesting artifacts and artwork. Unless I’m outside or specifically taking pictures for some reason I don’t often think about lugging around my camera. Part of me want to always have my camera with me, but part of me feels like a weirdo for doing so.  In my experience, most people are not particularly excited about having someone around taking pictures of everything, especially with a big ole DSLR camera. Even the proliferation of cell-phone cameras and selfie-people, a lot of people are uncomfortable with cameras and think it is weird for someone to taking pictures of random this and that. I am sure I have crossed that “weird” line many times. I can feel it, and it doesn’t feel good. But I need to stop worrying about what other people think and just get comfortable doing what I like to do.

Beyond the general visiting we did with my Aunt Connie and her husband Mike, they took us on a trip to visit the Mount Saint Helens Volcano National Park. I was a kid when this volcano most recently erupted, and still remember how crazy people got at the time. If my memory serves, we got a little ash from the eruption where we lived in Oklahoma. But I was a kid, and my mind may have blown things out of proportion/imagined this into my reality. Regardless, it was a pretty big deal.

The park was amazing. It was pretty remote. It took about an hour to drive there from the interstate exit. There were quite a few people there, but it wasn’t too crowded. It was a very nice park with a very nice observatory/information center for people to visit. There was a good bit of parking, and probably a mile, give or take, of paved trails along a ridge for visitors to enjoy. There are also more rustic trails and camp areas for the people who want to spend more than an afternoon visiting this monumental park. I would love to camp out here and do some hiking at some point. I am very glad I got the opportunity to visit this majestic site at all.

Of the pictures I took at Mount Saint Helens I have a few comments and thoughts:

My first thought is that the small amphitheater you see here would be an amazing place for a small concert with your favorite band. Granted the noise pollution would be a factor, so it would have to be a bit dialed back or completely acoustic. And getting a group out that far would be a bit much to ask of most people, but true fans would certainly make the journey. Im not sure about the acoustics there either. The sound may just drift off into the expanse. I wonder if it has ever been done.

My second thought, did the builders of the observatory work around these old tree remains from the volcano blast, or were they placed there after construction? Both seem possible. That one stump looks like it may still have some roots in the ground. Not sure why I thought this, but once I did it really got stuck in my craw. The park makes a big deal about not disturbing the plants and wildlife, so I wonder how careful they were during construction. Just a random thought from a random mind. Also here is a  picture of some uprooted trees and several tree stumps that were destroyed in the eruption. Pretty amazing the devastation that hit this area all those years ago.

Here are a few pictures of the park facilities. A few signs to let you know where you are, and where you are going. I like taking pictures of signs. There is a topographical relief map that plays a light show to educate and entertain. And the park has a nice film you can watch, and when it ends the screen raises up and reveals the volcano for a spectacular finish.

These are the photos I most liked of the mountain. I played around with some panoramas as you can see. 

Finally here is a lucky volcano grasshopper for a strong finish.

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