Saturday, 25 June 2022

Getting things done, taking it easy

It has been a quiet week around here so this will likely be a pretty short post. I did my errands on Monday; grocery shopping, dropped off a donation and did a little shopping at the thrift store, made a run into Michaels that netted more than I anticipated, and ended with my annual mammogram appointment. It was a full day!

I'm on target to remain under budget on grocery shopping this month despite the continual increases in prices. There are four grocery stores within a five'ish minute drive from my home, (though I only visit three at most), and I use their flyers to determine where to get what I need. Since I got rid of the old freezer, I am limited to the volume of frozen items I can keep but I'm finding it works well for us. Nothing ends up at the bottom of the freezer and forgotten like it used to! 

The thrift store took the stereo that I mentioned last week, along with a bag of pillows and a small bag of clothing. This netted me another 20% off coupon which I immediately used. Another oops happened that morning. I had put my car keys in the front pocket of my capris, rather than my purse, and apparently the cloth was close to threadbare as the keys tore a hole. I realized it as the keys fell to the ground (not once, but a few times before I clued in). I was happy to find three pairs of capris, and two t-shirts for less than $20. 

The trip to Michael's was made to pick up a package of alphabet stickers for a sign I'm making. Yikes those things are expensive, but I had checked at the dollar stores and none carried what I was looking for. I'll share a photo once I decide on the wording. Of course, since I was there I had to take a wander through the yarn section where I found clearance yarn for $3 a ball. The marked regular price was $14.99. I purchased seven balls, three yellow and four cream colored, at that price. They are different weights so I can't use them together but I've got a couple of ideas already for all of it. 

The mammogram appointment was quick - I think I was the only client there and the tech did her job efficiently with a minimum of discomfort. I don't expect any issues but with a family history of breast cancer (on my dad's side), I'm willing to undergo the procedure to be safe. The appointment was a lot sooner than I expected - when I had called to make it, the earliest they could see me was December 29. There must have been a cancellation as I had a call two days later that I could get in this week. 

Other than that, I did some of the always needed housework and a bit of yard-work. The weeds are certainly enjoying the weather we're having! Back indoors, there was baseball, hockey and football to watch. I do enjoy the games and the time it gives me to knit and crochet. I finished the mittens, and used the remainder of the yarn to make a slouchy hat, as well as finishing the straps on the bag I made on the cruise, and a doll blanket and pillow. This used up a small amount of stash. :) I've since pulled another UFO, a tank top I started a few years ago, and decided to unravel it for another project. It took me awhile to find the pattern I wanted to use, but there is the start of a sweater on the needles. I realized that the top wouldn't use up all of the yarn I had on hand. Wish me luck, because I'm sure this project will be a lengthy one. I'm much better at finishing the small ones.

I did get out to walk one morning too, rather than walking in the house. Here are a few of the photos from that day.


I'm always happy to see the wild roses. These are flowers of my childhood.

The wildflowers were prolific along the path on the opposite side of the creek. This is the area where there is no sidewalk so unless one ventures off the path they wouldn't see these.
At the pond, there aren't as many geese, and I was a little surprised to see this late batch of goslings. Most of young geese have lost their yellow fuzz and are starting to spend time on the water.
This pair and their youngster have been constants at one end of the pond. They were obvious because there was just the one gosling.



And another female red-winged blackbird posed for me!

Today, it's been raining most of the night and expected to continue throughout the day. It's also very cool, especially in comparison to temps we had earlier in the week. We'll be lucky to reach 19C (66F) later today. More time to knit this afternoon and evening, while I watch baseball and football. Before that I need to get my walk in - with the basement mostly empty it makes a good walking track.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Saturday, 18 June 2022

Here comes the heat

Hooray, summer will officially be here in three days! We've had several days this week of cool and sometimes rainy weather. We even had hail one afternoon. I made a mad dash out to the deck to pull the containers of tomatoes and peppers under cover, though I probably didn't need to, as it was just pea-sized. The heat arrived on Friday and will last through the weekend. Now I realize this is relative but when the average temperature has been around 19C (66F) for much of the week and then it suddenly jumps to 28C (84F) and 35C (95F) - Friday and Saturday - it is a shock to the system. Most welcome, though I'm grateful for the a/c.

Since the weather wasn't great for puttering in the yard, I spent most of the week indoors. Monday, the plumber arrived just before lunch to replace the bolts in the downstairs toilet. Thankfully that was all that was needed. Because it wasn't a big job, he gave me a break on the labour cost. On his way out the door he jokingly asked when I thought I'd need his services again. I laughed and said, hopefully not until the work in the upstairs gets started. 

The rest of the week was fairly relaxing. I've started the process of de-cluttering once again. I needed to move several boxes of photo albums, photos and books that had been stored in the now-renovated room and temporarily stored in the furnace room into the storage room. Don't ask me why I didn't complete that task in the first place; I don't know why I didn't. Of course, this meant moving things around in the storage room to make room for the additional boxes. I had my son give me a hand with some electronics - an old computer and a stereo system. He removed the hard drive from computer and loaded it in the trunk of my car so I can take it to the recycling. The stereo, he tells me, is a gift I gave him for Christmas more than 20 years ago. He no longer wants it so it will end up in the donated items.

I realized I really need to do additional paring down of decorative items (especially Christmas), but I left those tubs alone for now. I did clear out a few items that didn't fit into the tubs that I no longer want. As well, some exercise equipment (fitness ball and weights) have been donated to a youth center here in the city; those were picked up by one of the staff mid-week. By the time I finished, all the boxes were on the shelves and one shelf is empty. 

One of the boxes that I pulled off the shelf to go through was a box of old ledgers from my dad. He farmed for close to 50 years and these contained the records for about twenty years or so. The oldest is dated 1945, the latest was about 1984. Obviously there were many years that were missing. I've recycled most of them, but have decided to keep one for myself and will distribute three others to my siblings. They can discard them if they wish.

Later in the week, I tackled my bedroom closet. When C moved upstairs all of the items that were stored in the spare bedroom closet were moved to my closet. This included extra pillows and bedding and a few other random items. The latter have been returned to their appropriate locations or put in a box for donation, along with the pillows. The bedding remains as I expect I'll need it at some point. Or perhaps I'm just not ready to let it go. Maybe in the next purge.  

On Thursday afternoon I wandered into my craft room. Oh boy! I'd forgotten that we'd moved other items in there from the spare room - Eli's toys and another big box of framed photos. I really need to go through these photos (and the ones in the boxes downstairs). Most have been packed up for a year or more so....I probably don't need to keep all of them. I did a bit of re-organizing but that's a room that will need more time and some ruthless culling. 

Some of my down-time was spent doing other things I enjoy. I had picked up a jigsaw puzzle last week on my trip to Value Village so I started that on the weekend. It was a real surprise that it went together so quickly and none of the pieces were missing. Isn't it pretty?

The other activity that kept me on the couch was watching sports. I've really gotten into baseball this year watching the Blue Jays. They split their series with Baltimore this week and lost the first game of the next series with the Yankees. I've got the television on now, and it is scoreless after the first inning. 

The NHL (hockey) playoffs also started this week, and it is week 2 of the CFL (football). I'm rooting for Tampa in the hockey, only because one of the players is a friend of my daughter, and I'd be happy if he is able to be on the winning team as I expect he'll likely retire if he does. Our Riders won their first game last week coming on strong in the fourth quarter. They're playing Edmonton this evening so you know I'll be yelling at the television. 

While watching television, I finished three more dishcloths for D, and pulled a UFO from earlier this year - a mitten that was barely started. I had done some crocheting during the cruise and finished the body of a small bag; it's been pulled too and I'll crochet the handles and finish it this weekend. 

Finally, I did get out for a couple of walks this week as well. Once with my camera so there is evidence. I'll end with a few of my favorite shots.

Two curious gophers - one my second walk (no camera) one ran on the path in front of me. I wish I'd had the camera as it was just a couple of feet ahead.

My favorite shot of the day; this is a female red-winged blackbird. I so rarely see them, as they seem to hide out in the reeds along the edge of the creek or pond. I wonder, was she taking a break from the kids?

There is nothing exciting about this photo. I took it only to demonstrate how thick the pollen is this year from the trees. All that yellow you see at the water's edge is pollen! I'm so glad not to suffer from allergies.

Edited - Marie has commented this isn't a cormorant but rather a red-necked Grebe. She is absolutely correct. I'm accustomed to seeing the cormorants on this pond so this one is new to me! Over at the pond, a pair of Grebes cormorants have actually built a nest at the standing pipe. This bird has a distinctly different coloring than the cormorants I've seen in the past. 

Finally, here is the male red-winged blackbird, happily singing his song as I walked by. They really are one of my favorite birds.

One more thought before I hit publish on this post. It's clear that comments are being marked as spam by Blogger. Now that I'm aware of this, I've been able to retrieve a couple on the latest post and going forward, I'll keep an eye for them. I'm not sure why it doesn't catch the real spam comments and once reported, not allow them to comment, yet it marks these. SMH!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! 

Thursday, 16 June 2022

Heading home hiccups

I'd like to say that the end of the trip went as well as the beginning but there were a few bumps along the way. We docked in Vancouver around 6:30 or 7 a.m. which would normally mean we'd start disembarkation around 8 or shortly thereafter. I had a flight booked for noon, the airport is about a 45 minute train ride away, and I needed to be there around 10 a.m. I had selected walk-off, which means I did not check my luggage the night before. I was actually out of my cabin by about 6:30 or so as I wanted to ensure I was near the front of the line. 

Ha! Normally, the walk-offs are well on their way before the next groups start lining up. Not this cruise. First off, although we were docked at a reasonable time, the clearing of the ship by Customs was delayed well past 8:30 a.m.  That meant no one was leaving the ship early. Second, and probably most frustrating for many passengers was a change that was announced mid-cruise. Until that point, the US travellers who were flying into the States on disembarkation day would have been able to get a Covid-19 test managed by Princess at the port. For some reason, this had changed and Princess was unable to provide this service. This meant that hundreds of passengers had booked tests (mostly) at the airport and everyone was in a rush to get their tests completed so they could fly that day. As a result it was chaos at the off-ramp. 

I did manage to get off the ship shortly after 9, cleared customs, and caught the train with minutes to spare. Otherwise I would have been waiting for another half-hour for the next one. The Vancouver airport is in the midst of summer construction - or at least that's what it looked like to me but I reached the line-up for the WestJet check-in fairly quickly. There I stood in-line until an employee came by and asked if I was just dropping off luggage. I had my baggage tags and boarding passes so I said yes. She checked me in, and then informed me that I had to put my luggage on the moving belt. (Be prepared to laugh - I did, eventually).

I grabbed my suitcase and went to swing it up and on the belt. Unfortunately, my right foot got caught and ended up under the bag on the belt. I didn't quite end up doing the splits but it was close. I managed to pull my foot out and get it off the belt, but my shoe went with my bag.  The employee simply laughed and informed me there was no way to get my shoe back. Uh, thanks. For some reason, I hadn't tucked my flip-flops or sandals in my carry-on...I won't ever forget those again. The next passenger in line offered me a pair of shoes from her luggage but I said I'd buy a pair of flip-flops once I got through security.  (This after asking the employee if I would be able to clear security with only one shoe.)

Of course, as I went through security, my bag was selected for secondary screening. She noticed I was missing a shoe, as did the next officer. Yeah, yeah, I'm fully aware. At least they were polite enough not to laugh - at least until I was out of earshot. 

It's a rare airport that doesn't have a Flip-flop shop. YVR is one of them. I ended up in a fancy-schmancy shop were I could buy a pair of embellished flip-flops for just over $40 CDN. I told my tale of woe and the clerk was kind enough to give me a 10% discount. I finally had a pair of something to wear on my feet and made my way to my gate. I always like to know where it is before I do anything else. 

After sitting for 20 minutes or so to unwind/calm down, I headed back towards security to grab a bite to eat and a treat, some licorice. Nothing like eating your feelings, right?  I was in line-up in the candy store when a young man bumped into me but I thought nothing of it. I grabbed a burger and a drink and went to the gate to eat my lunch and read. 

When the gate attendant announced that boarding would begin in about 20 minutes, I checked my bag for my boarding pass and passport. OH NO! My passport wasn't in the pocket. I immediately went to see the gate attendant and explained that my passport had gone missing - I knew I had it when I went the security and now I did not. He explained he couldn't help me with that, and when I provided my driver's license as proof of identity he said I should see him when boarding and it would be okay.  The issue I have is I use my second name most often. My driver's license and most of my identification reads second name first name, while my passport and health card are first name second name. My flights were booked with my passport and thus were different than the DL. I was relieved when he told not to worry.

Boarding call was made and I went to his desk, even though the line-up was being managed by his peer. She wasn't very happy when he told her he'd handle my check-in. Phew, I was on the plane and in my seat shortly after. Surely that would be the end of my comedy of errors. But no.

We were delayed taking off and arrived in Calgary just a half-hour before my flight to Regina - about the time the flight would be boarding. Of course, I'm in concourse B on landing and need to be at D for departure. Another woman and I made the mad dash across the terminal, only to learn that our flight was delayed for at least an hour. I went straight to the gate to talk to the attendant about my predicament. She was not nearly as accommodating as the fellow in Vancouver. She discounted my driver's license with photo and insisted she needed another piece of identification with first name, second name. I had a copy of my passport, but she wouldn't accept that, I had forgotten my health card at home, but did have a copy of my vaccination records which listed my health record details. She took that from me, as well as my DL and my boarding pass, sent me to sit and wait and got on the phone. It was anxious fifteen minutes or so. I was trying to decide how I would get home if she refused to accept the identification I had. There are no buses or trains between Calgary and Regina and it is a long walk. I finally went up to the desk and she told me that she'd talked to someone and their records indicated I'd booked tickets before under my regular name so she changed my boarding pass so it was correct. I thanked her and took my items, but I laughed when I checked the boarding pass - she had listed me as Mrs. Hmmm...not correct as I've never been Mrs. anything but I wasn't about to ask her to change it. 

The delay stretched out for nearly an hour longer, as we had to wait for a crew to transfer from another flight that came in. But finally we were on the plane and I was on my way home. Thankfully there were no more mishaps along the ways...there had been quite enough.

The following day, I contacted the airport lost and found and made a report about my passport. A week or so later, I had a call they had located the passport, and I was able to arrange for a courier to pick it up and deliver it to me. I'll never know if the young man who bumped into me took it from my bag, or if I simply dropped it somehow. In any event I'm thrilled not to have to replace it - even the cost of the courier was significantly less than the cost of a replacement.

Some final thoughts on the cruise itself. I now know why so many people cruise to Alaska numerous times. One couple I spoke with were on their eighth cruise, another couple nearly twenty times! The scenery is phenomenal and there is so much to see and do, as one chooses. I've been talking with L, my travel agent, already and mentioned I'd like to do the cruise in September (not this year - maybe in a year or two) when the fall colors are at their best. 

The ship was big and beautiful and had some wonderful spaces including the Hollywood Conservatory and pool and, of course, the Wakeview Bar. But I'll be honest, I prefer the smaller ships - most have an aft area with a bar and in some cases that are also has a small pool. The venues may not be as big, but it's often easier to meet other passengers.  Also I anticipate that as the supply chain disruptions ease, the dining options and food quality will improve. I can't say I ever went hungry, and I did find a new favorite specialty restaurant. 

The staff and the crew work just as diligently to ensure that guests have a great experience. Some things are out of their control, and while communication can always be improved, I always remember I'm so fortunate to be able to travel. It was so very wonderful to be back onboard a ship at sea, and travel to destinations that were merely words in a magazine or pictures on television before. Cheryl mentioned in a comment how wonderful it is to have the memories I'll keep from this trip. She's absolutely right.

I was glad to get home safely, and now I get to look forward to the next time. When will that be? I'll be sure to let you know. :)


Wednesday, 15 June 2022

College Fjord and Hubbard Glacier, oh my!

College Fjord is so named because the glaciers of the fjord were given their names by John Muir, an Amherst professor and Harvard mineralogy instructor, Charles Panache, after various Ivy League schools. The glaciers of the northwest side feature the names of women's colleges, and the glaciers of the fork and the southeast side sport the names of men's colleges.

We visited College Fjord on May 13.  While it was a cool and gray day, I would suggest this was my favorite visit to the glaciers. There are currently five tidal glaciers to see and five large valley glaciers one can view, and the stark beauty was simply amazing. Since I cannot name any but one of the glaciers, I'll simply share some of the photos.




Just to break up the photos, here's a bit of wildlife.




The next few photos are of the Harvard Glacier.






We remained at the Harvard Glacier for about an hour, again with the captain turning the ship mid-way through.



It wasn't all snow and ice. At certain points these gave way to towering evergreens and waterfalls.

But then, at the next inlet there would be another glacier.

On our way southbound, on May 15 we had a chance to visit Hubbard Glacier. The glacier is considered the largest tidewater glacier, at 120 km (75 mi) long, and 11 km (7 mi) wide. Again, without my notes, I seem to recall we were told that the glacier is just over 60 meters or 200 feet tall at the ocean face. We were there on a day when the glacier was calving. That was certainly evident by the number and size of the icebergs. The naturalist mentioned that 90% of the iceberg is actually under the water and these were huge! 



And then there it was in front of us. This is the right side of the glacier face.
This is the left of the face of the glacier. 

Capturing a photo of the calving is difficult. The fall happens and then the sound carries like thunder. I was constantly swiveling, hoping I'd catch the ice falling. 




I must admit to being a tad bit concerned by the icebergs. That evening I decided to have my dinner at Alfredo's, the pizzeria restaurant on deck 6. While I was eating my meal I could hear the ice hitting the side of the ship as we sailed out of the bay. Yikes!

When I ran into him one day, the naturalist had mentioned at one point, that we were fortunate as the ship's captain was very good at getting us as close as possible to the glaciers. I guess Captain Tuvo knew what he was doing.  

I should note too, that unlike many of the glaciers, Hubbard Glacier, continues to increase in mass and advancing further into Disenchantment Bay. It is believed that the size of the glacier's catchment basin, which extends into Saint Elias Mountains, allows for the accumulation of snow and melting snow that flows down to the terminus in the bay. It is one of the few glaciers that is considered stable. 

The cruise I took was called the Voyage of the Glaciers, and it did not disappoint. Whether sunlit or shrouded by the clouds overhead, the glaciers are a reminder of a time when much of Canada and parts of northern United States were covered by ice. Today, only remnants of these glaciers exist in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Tidal and valley glaciers are limited to Alaska, Antarctica, Greenland, Svalbard in Norway, and Patagonia in South America. I can only feel truly fortunate to have been able to make this trip of a lifetime. 

I'll have one final post to wrap up my thoughts and then we'll be back to regularly scheduled programming. Thanks for coming along with me.
 

Monday, 13 June 2022

Glacier National Park

From the pamphlet we were provided: "Comprised of 3.3 million acres of mountains, glaciers, forests, and waterways, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a highlight of the Inside Passage and part of a 25-million-acre World Heritage Site - one of the world's largest protected natural areas - designated by UNESCO."

All I can say is wow! The park is enormous and the scenery beyond spectacular. We visited on May 12 and May 16 - the first day the sun was shining brightly and on the second day it was cloudy and overcast but I don't remember any rain. Each time we met up with the park rangers at Bartlett Cove near the opening of narrows leading into Glacier Bay. They arrived on a smaller boat and climbed a rope ladder to reach one of the lower decks. Throughout the day, the rangers were in various areas of the ship providing information to the passengers. This included announcements from the Bridge as we neared the two main glaciers, Margerie and Grand Pacific. 

Only two large ships are permitted in the bay each day. We were lead in by one of the Norwegian ships. We also saw a couple of smaller ships who were able to get even closer to the glaciers. They do have to keep a certain distance as the ice falling can cause large waves.


As we were sailing in, I spotted this small boat hauling an ice shack...or at least that is what I assume it would be. 

It doesn't appear to be large enough to be a house.

I believe this is Willoughby Island. The sight of the snow on the mountains beyond the island was just amazing in the sun.

The next photo was to the starboard side of the ship, and still in the shade. Those two white dots in the center are Dall sheep, named for William Dall, a paleontologist and geographer who was part of the Harriman expedition.


It took several hours to actually reach the glaciers, and I spent most of that time watching from one of the lower decks for 20 minutes or so, then running indoors to warm up before venturing out again. It wasn't terribly cold but it was chillier than it had been in the ports, especially as we got closer to the glaciers.


The glaciers are visible from a great distance but we knew we were getting closer when we started seeing ice in the water.

Little did I know that on that first visit that these small chunks of ice were nothing in comparison to what we would see later.


I believe this is the Reid glacier. 


I was fascinated by the ripples of rock, ice and snow on the top of the glacier.


The stars of the show were the Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers. Margerie in on the left, and the Grand Pacific on the right, distinguished by the dirty appearance, the result of silt carried by the glacier as it recedes. 

Two hundred and fifty years ago, the Grand Pacific glacier reached as far as Bartlett Cove. By 1879, when John Muir named the glacier, it had carved out a good portion of  Glacier Bay. In 1892, it was discovered the glacier had split into three separate glaciers. One of those, Reid Glacier is named for the man who made this discovery, Harry Fielding Reid.

  

We were able to stay at the glaciers for about an hour. The captain turned the ship half way through so that both sides of the ship could enjoy the view. This was for the people who watched from their balconies. I just moved from one side of the open deck to the other.

One of the two smaller ships we saw that day. The Admiralty Dream. It is available on various itineraries in the Alaskan waters, carries 54 passengers, and is able to visit areas not open to the larger cruise ships. The cost of the passage is a bit beyond my means, but it would be a wonderful way to see Alaska.


You might think I took this next photo on black and white, but I did not. It was an area called, if memory serves, Bear Beach, and this was truly the color of the rocks and sand. It was is in the shade and there were no bears. 

Back at the narrows, late in the afternoon we dropped the park rangers at their boat to return to the ranger station. I've no photos of them climbing down the rope ladder...I couldn't lean that far over the edge. 
Our second visit on May 16, was cloudy and cool. I was up on deck as the rangers made their way to the ship.

Again I spent a lot of time on deck 7, but wandered in an out more frequently as the temperature got quite chilly. I didn't bring a winter parka, but wore several layers, gloves and scarf. Most often it was my hands that got cold.

On our way through the bay, I took many photos of the sea lions on the rocks. I'd missed them the first time, as I'd be on the opposite side of the ship. I'll only share a couple few.





Again, as we closed in on the glaciers, there were several icebergs to be seen, including this one covered in sea birds. This was fairly large but not as large as we had seen.

Back at Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers, I didn't take many photos. I simply stood and watched and listened to the sounds around me. 


The cruise ship was clearly stirring up the fish below, as the birds swarmed to get a feed.






This fellow seemed to be as interested in me as I was in it. 

Throughout the day the tops of the mountains were mostly obscured by the clouds.

What was interesting was the colors within the glaciers. On the sunny day, you could certainly see some color but it seemed to be more a reflection of the blue sky, but on this grey day the colors within the glaciers were incredibly vivid. These photos are of Reid Glacier. 



Contrast this with the last photo I took as we sailed out of Glacier Bay. The landscape is harsh, but oh so beautiful.

So ends the visit to Glacier Bay National Park. It was two very interesting days, with the commentary from the rangers, and especially seeing the difference in the views based on the weather. Having said that, it wouldn't turn out to be my favorite series of glaciers.

Next up - College Fjord and Hubbard Glacier.