Cruise to Alaska May 2017

On May 29 my wife and I flew out of the Orlando international Airport to Seattle to start our cruise from Vancouver to Alaska. We spent three days in Seattle then flew to Vancouver where 16 other members of our cruise group joined up with us. From Vancouver we took the Royal Caribbean, Radiance of the Sea ship (pic 1) to start our cruise with another couple who had organized the cruise.

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For me the highlights of this journey were meeting some interesting people. This happened in Seattle at a Memorial Day Festival at Seattle Center. At this festival a group of Native American Indians were performing under the big tent (pic 2). During this performance I met two Native American Indian women (pic 3) who operated one of the stalls near the tent. I talked to them for a while and they told me they were from Alaska and took pictures with them.

Moments later after talking to the two Native American Indian women I saw man dressed in his splendid Indian costume obviously taking a rest after the hectic dancing that they had put up under the tent. I went over to him and start talking with him expressing my appreciation for the Native American culture which he himself appreciated. He told me his name was Jumping Buffalo (pic 4) and that he was a great grandson of the great Sioux Chief leader, Sitting Bull.

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From my conversation with Jumping Buffalo, I learned that he had participated in the protest over the Keystone pipeline in Idaho. His website shows pictures of him at this protest.

My second encounter with an interesting personality took place in Juneau, Alaska when we visited a dog form called Dream of Dreams. This place is all about the popular Iditarod racing which takes place every March in Alaska. The owner of the place is a former judge from Nebraska, Van Halter  (pic 5). To the regret of his mother, he gave up his judgeship to start his life as an Iditarod racer and later operating the dream of dreams dog farm (pic 6).

After Jim told us everything we need to know about Iditarod racing including his history we went out into the yard where we were eagerly greeted by several yapping husky dogs (pic 7) that were yapping and obviously knew what was about to happen. Jim got his two jeeps in position and hooked up the long ropes to each. Then he and his helper went about selecting eight or more dogs and hook them up to the rope. The dogs were jumping and yapping as if to say pick me, I’m ready to go (pic 8).

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Another interesting woman at the Dog farm was Cindy Abbott (pic 9). Not sure what her relationship is to Jim (she could be a business partner) but she herself is an experienced Iditarod racer. Iditarod racing is not her most important accomplishment though. That accomplishment is being one of forty women to have successfully reached Mt. Everest’s peak. And what is amazing about that is that she did it while fighting health problems. Her story is documented in the book, Reaching for the Clouds that she authored.

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Last but by no means least the other interesting person I met was a man from Fiji who worked at the IT hotel the group I was with stayed in Anchorage. Members of the group were gathered in the hotel lobby waiting for a bus to take us to Denali when he walked towards me with a look of surprise or call on his face and said, “Where are you guys from?” Obviously he had never seen so many black people in Anchorage. “We are originally from Jamaica but most of us live in the US and Canada,” I replied. “You look just like me,” he said (pic 10). After a brief conversation, he told me he was a math teacher but did the hotel work during the holidays.

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At Denali, we stayed 2 days at the Grand Denali Lodge (pic 11). While there we did a tour of Denali National Park. We did not get see the Denali Mountain (formerly McKinley Mountain) peak which is the highest in North America because it was an overcast day.

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Alaska is truly an amazing place as it provides a tape history of a land rich in its diversity of plants, animals, and people. The phenomenon of global warming was also evident in the spectacular glaciers (pic 11) and the massive sheet of ice that peeled off and crashed with a thunderous sound into the sea. One woman I met at the Grand Denali Lodge (pic 12) said that for her, Alaska was a spiritual experience.