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Old 08-11-2013, 05:12 PM   #106
MickeyMomTo2
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Skagway, Part Two: Glacier Fun

We flew over the mountains near Skagway to the Meade glacier. The first sign of glacial ice was this:


347 by baseballsandbows, on Flickr


349 by baseballsandbows, on Flickr

From the sky, it seemed like we were flying over large roads covered with ice. The cracks looked tiny, but as you will see from the pictures, they were actually very large.

We landed on the glacier and walked over to a base camp. The glacier guides are dropped off in the morning, and they stay there all day. The helicopters shuttle people back and forth every 40 minutes. The guides had a tent set up, and they take some food, but they don't have heated facilities, and I didn't even think to ask where they use the bathroom!!! One of our guides, who happened to be from Tennessee like us, said they are usually out there about 12 hours a day or more. Most of them are seasonal workers who go to Alaska for the cruise season. Our Tennessee guide had been there several summers in a row. We also had one guide who was a native Alaskan. Throughout all our excursions, I really enjoyed asking the native Alaskans questions. Alaska may be one of the 50 states, but it is so different from what most of us are used to!

From the base camp, we set off to explore the glacier. The guides offered us hiking poles. I didn't really think they were necessary, but my DD thought she looked more official using one.


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Off we go...


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The first thing we did was check out the cracks. They are very deep. The guides were cautious and held on to people as they looked down. Only a few people at a time could go to the edge.


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We walked over to an area where the water was flowing on the glacier. The guides encouraged everyone to taste the pure water. I would have, but I didn't want to get my clothes wet on the ice--I was cold enough! My DD, however, never misses an opportunity for a new experience, so she got a taste!


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We did a little more exploring and asked questions, and then it was time to head back. The 40 minutes flew by! Before boarding our helicopter for the return trip, we took the time for a final photo.


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The return flight was as amazing as the trip to the glacier. We took a different route, so the scenery changed a bit. It also started sprinkling some as we flew back.


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As we flew over the Wonder, it was odd to see that there was NO ONE on the top deck. The place that had been full of activity was empty while we were in port!

Sadly, our trip ended. We really enjoyed this excursion, and it was one of the highlights of our trip. As neat as it was to walk on the glacier, we all thought the helicopter portion was the most amazing. I had considered a flightseeing excursion over Glacier Bay out of Skagway (not a Disney excursion). The company I researched also lands on a glacier, but because it is a plane, they have to use skies. It had been so warm in Alaska that the snow had melted, so they weren't able to land (helicopters don't need skies, so they can land without any snow). In some ways, I wish we would have done the flightseeing over Glacier Bay because we would have had more time in the air. BUT, my DS really wanted to walk on a glacier, so I am glad we got to fulfill his request. We had a wonderful time, and I would recommend this excursion to anyone!

I think it was a little before 10 when we returned. It was sprinkling lightly, so we went back to our room to get an umbrella before heading into town.

Coming Up...Skagway, Part Three: Exploring Town and Playing with Puppies!
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:23 PM   #107
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That excursion looks amazing!!!! Were your kids at all frightened in the helicopter? What unforgettable memories for your family!
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Old 08-11-2013, 09:48 PM   #108
MickeyMomTo2
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Originally Posted by ProudMommyof2 View Post
That excursion looks amazing!!!! Were your kids at all frightened in the helicopter? What unforgettable memories for your family!
It was amazing and one of the highlights of the trip! No, my kids weren't scared. The entire experience felt very safe. My DS is not a risk taker, but he has never expressed fears about flying. My DD, on the other hand, tackled Summit Plummet at Blizzard Beach (12-story drop) as soon as she hit 48" when she was still 6! She will try almost anything!
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Old 08-12-2013, 10:06 AM   #109
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It was amazing and one of the highlights of the trip! No, my kids weren't scared. The entire experience felt very safe. My DS is not a risk taker, but he has never expressed fears about flying. My DD, on the other hand, tackled Summit Plummet at Blizzard Beach (12-story drop) as soon as she hit 48" when she was still 6! She will try almost anything!
We did a helicopter dog sled excursions. Kids are 7,8 and 10. They loved it! No fear. We all loved the ride. Did a float plane as well. Copter is much smoother.
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Old 08-13-2013, 08:42 AM   #110
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Sounds like a great experience. I so want to go back to Alaska to try different excursions.
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Old 08-14-2013, 02:54 PM   #111
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Originally Posted by meajuly5 View Post
We did a helicopter dog sled excursions. Kids are 7,8 and 10. They loved it! No fear. We all loved the ride. Did a float plane as well. Copter is much smoother.
I would like to try the floatplane, but you definitely can't beat the helicopter for a nice ride, I'm sure!

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Sounds like a great experience. I so want to go back to Alaska to try different excursions.
Me, too!
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Old 08-14-2013, 04:57 PM   #112
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Skagway, Part Three: Exploring Town and Playing with Puppies!

After the helicopter excursion, we went back on board the Wonder for a bathroom break and to get an umbrella. It was misting a little bit, but we ended up not really needing the umbrella after all.

We walked into Skagway, which was about a 5 minute walk from the ship.
Skagway is tiny, so it's very easy to walk around town, and it definitely doesn't take very long! Skagway was the gateway to the mountains during the Klondike Gold Rush, so there is lots of history surrounding the White Pass train, the explorers and the gold rush itself.


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Both my kids had souvenir money burning holes in their pockets, so we set out in search of treasure.


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This was the only bear we saw the whole week.


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I loved this sign!


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My DS collects souvenir baseballs, so he had his heart set on some Alaska baseballs. Sadly, after much searching, we did not have luck finding baseballs in Skagway. My DD, knowing she had limited funds, restrained herself and only bought some rock candy so she could save the bulk of her cash for a better find in another port.

When it comes to the souvenir shops, most ports have similar places. We ended up buying most of our souvenirs in Ketchikan, simply because it was our last chance. We didn't really explore the pricier souvenirs: jewelry, knives, etc..., but there is plenty of opportunity to spend money in all three ports!

After walking around, we went back to the Wonder for lunch. We could have eaten in Skagway, but we are the type of people who would prefer to eat the food we have already paid for! We enjoyed the buffet at Beach Blanket, and then headed back off the ship for our Summer Dog Camp excursion.

We booked this excursion directly with Alaska Excursions, which was the same company Disney used. Our guide picked us up at the bottom of the gangway at 1:45ish and drove us to Dyea (Die-yee). Of all our guides, this one was my favorite. She was a Skagway native, and she had lots of information and stories to tell. She talked about going to high school there, which was very interesting. I asked how the kids managed to participate in sports, and she said the high school teams fly to their sporting events! My kids thought that was cool! She also told us that when new roads are built outside the town, the owners of the land get to name them. There were some interesting names, and also some that she had to point out without saying them aloud. They weren't kid friendly!

We got to the base camp in Dyea where we had a bathroom break before heading up the mountain to the dogs. The ride up the mountain was beautiful and STEEP! As we neared the dogs, we could hear them barking. They knew we were coming and were ready to run! We were told that we shouldn't pet the dogs before the run because they were so fired up, but there was time for petting afterwards.

Our musher's name was Wade Marrs. Both he and his dog team have competed in multiple Iditarod races. He was like a parent as he told us about each dog: he gave us their name, whether they had finished or competed in an Iditarod, and more.

Our sled team:


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Ready to go...


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After the first lap, Wade let the dogs rest, and he offered to take pictures for us.


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We then got to take another lap, which included a high-speed turn at the end. It was fun, and we wished the sled ride could have lasted even longer.

After the sled ride, we got to interact with the dogs. My DD was the first to jump out and pet them. DH and I pet them as well, but DS preferred to watch from a distance.


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On the way back down the mountain, we stopped at an overlook. It was cloudy and misty, but very beautiful!


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Back at camp, we were offered hot chocolate and water, and then we listened to a presentation by a musher. This was very informal, and she did a great job answering questions from the kids.


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During part of the presentation, she showed us how they work the puppies and teach them commands. As she was telling us that one of the dogs was showing promising signs of being a lead dog, the dog reached up and grabbed her watch off her arm. He then took off and hid with it. It was so funny, and it reminded me of our little dog who often takes off with things she knows she is not supposed to have!


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Finally, we played with the puppies! They were so cute. There was one litter less than a week old, but the mom wasn't wanting anyone near them at that time. This was one of DD's favorite parts of the cruise (I knew it would be--that's why I chose this excursion!). Again, DS watched, but the rest of us got some cuddle time in with the precious pups!


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It was time to head back to the ship, but we stopped at one more overlook on the way back. You could see the entire town of Skagway, as well as the two ships in port for the day.


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We had a great time on this excursion. It wasn't our favorite out of everything we did, but it was wonderful experience that we were glad to have. We could have combined the dog sledding with the glacier experience and enjoyed the sled ride on the glacier, but we did our helicopter excursion and the summer camp for LESS than the helicopter/dog sled trip. We got to spend more time with the dogs and mushers with the summer camp, so we were happy with our choices.

Coming up...Back on Board!
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Old 08-17-2013, 12:17 PM   #113
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Thank you for taking the time to write your report! I love the details and your pictures are great. We will be taking this journey next June.
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Old 08-18-2013, 01:18 PM   #114
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I've subscribed to your TR. Thank you for sharing. It has been very informative!

I have been taking notes for our upcoming trip in June 2014. I am looking forward to the rest of your report as it is making me more excited about my own trip! I don't fly, but your helicopter excursion makes me want to do this with my DH. He would love this! I try to get over my own fears to do things I think he would enjoy. I guess I will have to take a Valium with a shot of Bailey's before heading out!

Love the photos. The scenery is beautiful. I'm sure the pics don't do it justice, but I'm loving it just the same
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Old 08-18-2013, 03:44 PM   #115
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucy0558 View Post
Thank you for taking the time to write your report! I love the details and your pictures are great. We will be taking this journey next June.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArmandXG View Post
I've subscribed to your TR. Thank you for sharing. It has been very informative!

I have been taking notes for our upcoming trip in June 2014. I am looking forward to the rest of your report as it is making me more excited about my own trip! I don't fly, but your helicopter excursion makes me want to do this with my DH. He would love this! I try to get over my own fears to do things I think he would enjoy. I guess I will have to take a Valium with a shot of Bailey's before heading out!

Love the photos. The scenery is beautiful. I'm sure the pics don't do it justice, but I'm loving it just the same
Thanks to both of you for reading! I hope to post the next update tonight or tomorrow!
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Old 08-18-2013, 05:45 PM   #116
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After our amazing day in Skagway, it was time to get back on board this lovely lady (this picture would be much better without the machinery in front of the Wonder, but I love the mountains in the background).


494 by baseballsandbows, on Flickr

We returned a little after five, so we were in a hurry to dress for dinner, but I had to stop to take this picture:


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Can you see the face?

During our dog sledding excursion, our guide told us that this was Face Mountain. It took me a while to see it, but my DD never did, and it was driving her crazy. When the clouds lowered just below the top of the mountain, I was able to capture this picture that made it easier for my daughter to see the profile (I think it looks like Abraham Lincoln). I took the picture from Deck 4 near the desk where you book return cruises. The CM at the desk had never noticed the face before, so it was fun pointing it out to him. I told him he would have to remember us every time he pulled into Skagway and saw the face!

Dinner that night was the Island Dinner in Parrot Cay. I had the Baked Crab Martinique appetizer (I love this), the West Indies Romain Salad (fine, but nothing amazing), the Island-Spiced Grilled Rib-Eye of Beef (I thought this was very good), and the Chocolate S'More Vanilla Cake (I can't remember this). Overall, this menu was one of my favorites.

At this point, the kids were wanting to use my camera, so here are some not-so-flattering pictures they took.


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Between the time changes and the full-day of activity in Skagway, we were EXHAUSTED. My DH and I made the executive decision that everyone was going to bed early. DD and DS were not happy, but they didn't really miss out on anything because for the show that night, they were playing Monsters University. The kids hadn't seen it yet, but we knew they would show it in the movie theater later in the week, so we told them they could see it then.

Before heading to bed, DD asked to see a few characters, so we had some fun with Hook, Smee, and Peter Pan.


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By 8:30ish, we were all tucked into bed!

Coming Up...A Whale of a Good Time in Juneau!
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Old 08-18-2013, 07:30 PM   #117
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Looks like another fantastic day! Face mountain is very cool!
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Old 08-19-2013, 08:52 AM   #118
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Thank for sharing. Your TR is fantastic!!!
We'll take alaska adventure in June 2014!!! Question: how did you take this gorgeous photos? CM? Shutters? Is it worth the money?
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Old 08-19-2013, 10:03 AM   #119
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Love reading your report. Makes me look forward to ours next summer! It's so difficult to pick excursions! Because you booked later, did you have issues getting the excursions you wanted? Our kids will range in age from 11-17, so I want to pick ones they'll all like....not easy! Any tips for this?
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Old 08-19-2013, 10:09 AM   #120
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Love reading your report. Makes me look forward to ours next summer! It's so difficult to pick excursions! Because you booked later, did you have issues getting the excursions you wanted? Our kids will range in age from 11-17, so I want to pick ones they'll all like....not easy! Any tips for this?
Don't be afraid to go through private companies. Some let you customize tours and some offer things Dcl does not. Very easy to search through trip advisor to get good starting ideas
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