Greetings from Seattle, Washington, USA

Monday, October 8, 2018

Red HazMat Caboose

Just last week noticed this brand-new looking HazMat Caboose at BNSF's Interbay Car Shop here in Seattle. As one who loves trains I miss the cabooses that use to be common on freight trains. As with so many things, technology changed the need to have a real person at the end of a train making sure all was well. We now have "end-of-train" devices that wirelessly report conditions to the crew in the power unit. So, most freight trains today operate without a caboose. However, this particular one, of course, is very specialized. I'm guessing here, but suspect it might be intended for use at locations where a hazardous event has occurred such as a major derailment, chemical spill or fire. It would then be used as a sort of operations base for the recovery effort.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

North to Alaska 2018 (11, 12, 13, & 14)

Click here for my Introductory Post

Sitka - Last Port Stop in Alaska

It's Friday, September 7th, and the 11th day of our 14 day cruise.
Only a few days left and it seems to have gone by quickly!

Looks like I'm up (as usual) before most other cruisers.
This is actually a good time for walking the decks as you
will usually have it all to yourself.

On the way up for breakfast I stopped to snap this photo
of the main lobby and the Guest Services desk.
This is where you can get help from the cruise staff.

It is raining this morning but we expected it based on the forecast.
We signed up for a tour to a walk through the Tongass Forest
This walk is similar to the one we did in Kodiak.
There were about 12 cruisers on this tour.

Lots of steps on the walk.

Despite the rain there was just so much beauty to see!

Along the trail.

A church that seems to be a favorite subject
of Sitka photos. Sitka is one of my favorite ports in

In the afternoon the rain stopped about the time we returned
to the ship. Its just difficult to appreciate the size of these
ships until you are outside and right next to one.

Aft Promenade Deck.

Day at Sea

No stops today as we are heading to Victoria, British Columbia for our final port stop before returning to Seattle.

One last look at the Naturalist's white board.
"Wildlife Sightings this Cruise"
Wow, more than I expected!

At sea ... no land in sight.

These coulds were pretty fascinating.

Victoria, British Columbia

We are docked in Victoria, BC and the workers are
putting the gangway in place.

We have signed up for a tour to the
The Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden

A short 20 minute bus ride gets us to the Garden.
It turns out to be quite a nice spot!

Later, returning to the ship, we pass the famous
Empress Hotel.


Our 14th day of a 14 day cruise and it is Monday again.
Although this is the 14th day, we must be off the ship this morning
so all the passengers for the next cruise can board this afternoon.

Back home. We had pretty skies after sunset.
The Zaandam was on its way again to Alaska!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

North to Alaska 2018 (10)

Click here for my Introductory Post

Hubbard Glacier

Thursday morning, September 6th
We are enroute to Disenchantment Bay to see Hubbard Glacier
The Chugach Mountains make a dramatic backdrop as we pass another cruise ship.
Since we left Kodiak yesterday afternoon, we have been heading across the Gulf of Alaska for Yakatuk Bay and on to Disenchantment Bay were we will see Hubbard Glacier.  For most cruisers this will be one of the highlights of the whole cruise. As we get close to Yakatuk Bay the Captain has said we will board a Pilot who is very familiar with these waters to help us navigate to the Glacier.

Our Pilot has arrived.

Hopping aboard here seems a bit tricky but
I guess Pilots are accustomed to this.
Hubbard Glacier flows into Disenchantment Bay. Here's what Wikipedia has to say ...

"Disenchantment Bay extends southwest for 16 km (10 mi) from the mouth of Russell Fiord to Point Latouche, at the head of Yakutat Bay in Alaska.

Named "Puerto del Desengano", Spanish for "bay of disenchantment", by Alessandro Malaspina in 1792, upon finding that the bay was not the entrance to the legendary Northwest Passage. He sailed up the bay as far as Haenke Island, before discovering the passage blocked by ice.

During the earthquake of September 10, 1899, parts of Disenchantment bay were raised 47 feet 4 inches (14 metres). This is the greatest recorded vertical displacement by an earthquake."

Up on the bow folks are getting excited and looking for that place
next to the rail to get a great picture.
I'm holding the camera overhead for this shot.
No, that is not my bald head! :-)

As we arrive at the Glacier the Captain calls for the ship's flag
to be raised at the bow.

View from Deck 6 looking out over the bow.

A panorama I put together from several shots.
The most amazing weather made this a memorable moment!

You may not see this view too often.
Haenke Glacier also flowed into Disenchantment Bay but it
has completely melted. Note the piles of debris it carried down from above.

Yet a third glacier flowing into the Bay here.
This is Turner Glacier.

Thought you might get a kick out of this photo.
This pic is great to show the scale of things.
At the red arrow is a small boat with 2 people aboard.
Not sure where the boat came from!
Next time:  Sitka

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

North to Alaska 2018 (9)

Click here for my Introductory Post


Wednesday, September 5th
Another beautiful day with smooth seas as
we approach Kodiak Island, Alaska. 

We have arrived in Kodiak, Alaska, and stepped off the ship.
We are about to board a bus to take us to Fort
Abrcrombie State Park for a hike through
the forest. The bus ride is about 15/20 minutes.

We are on the trail through Fort Abercrombie State Park.

There are about a dozen of us on this hike.
The lady on the right, with blue jacket, is our guide.
She did an awesome job of telling us all about what
we were seeing. She lives in Kodiak full time.

About this photo:
Note the contrail. Our guide told us this: go home and, if you have a
good world globe, put one end of a string on Tokyo and the other on Seattle.
The string will pass directly over Kodiak Island.
This is, of course, the path international flights take and there are
quite a few of them. The locals love to watch them passing over.

Surprise: We get to see a history museum.
Check it out ... Kodiak Military History Museum

WWII ... Searchlights like this one were on the lookout for invaders from
several locations here on the Island. By the way, can you imagine ...
these things were remotely controlled!

Command desk inside the bunker.

Giant guns were installed.
Fortunately, they were not needed.

Our guide tells us about the turret the big gun was mounted on.
The turrets started decaying and the guns were set aside.
This one has been kept as a display.

Almost done with our hike and for a few minutes I'm
near the front of the group. The entire walk took us
about 2 hours. I would recommend this to anyone who
loves a nature hike!

Pulling away from the dock in Kodiak.

I like this photo!
Here is the runway for Air Station Kodiak
The largest Coast Guard Command in the entire
Pacific Area!

My apologies for adding so many pictures. It was a tough job picking out the ones to share. :-)

Back to my usual late afternoon work out.
Next time:  Hubbard Glacier