Journey to Alaska part 5

Skagway

I spent most of the day hanging out with my parents during the Skagway port day. We started out in the dining hall, as we did most days, with a hearty breakfast. The general consensus is when on a cruise people tend to gain weight. With breakfasts I expect I did too. Family friend Gilda the flamingo accompanied us throughout the day. 

I caught my Mom off guard here with a sneak shot. I can’t tell if she is angry or surprised. What do you think?

An interesting thing about the port in Skagway, there is a cliff a few feet away from the ship. And on that cliff is a whole bunch of nautical graffiti. Apparently the graffiti represent all the ships to visit the port over the years. There are some old entries, some new. Many have faded away into illegibility. The overall effect is very cool though.

One of the big attractions in Skagway is the train ride up the Yukon railway. This is as close as I got to taking that train ride, but thought it was worth mentioning. I hope to get a chance to take the train ride in the future. Many people on the ship say it is one of the best parts of the whole cruise.

As we disembarked for our day trip in Skagway, I took some shots of Mom and Dad and the surroundings.

We decided to take a trolly tour of the town. Skagway is a really small little place. Most of the commerce is likely centered around the cruise ships that periodically dock here. I imagine that every time a cruise ship allows its passengers to disembark the population must go up a few hundred percent.

Skagway Pano

Skagway trolly

The trolly tour was very interesting. We learned about the rich history of Skagway, which has been an outpost of scoundrels and colorful characters. We also got to enjoy some wonderful scenery.

When the trolly tour ended it dropped us off in the middle of town to fend for ourselves. In Skagway the most dangerous thing you are likely to encounter is a tourist trap. We did get trapped by one of them. There is a brewery and pub room that snared us for an hour or so. The specialty was beer brewed from the tips of baby spruce trees. It was an interesting brew. It had an IPA flavor. They also had this really neat neat old cash register that I thought was interesting.

After leaving the brew pub we walked around town enjoying the scenery.

I saw another wild bald eagle in Skagway. This one was pretty far away though. I looked like a golf ball in a tree to my naked eye. Luckily, I had my camera with a zoom lens, and managed to get a shot. But due to the distance it is a bit blurry.

bald eagle

And here are a couple boats for good measure.


Journey to Alaska part 4

Juneau

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.

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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.

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Addition:

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.


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