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Postcards from Judy

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Tuesday

Husband Gary and I were in Juneau today and started early with a walk to the state museum. We were so preoccupied with seeing the exhibits, Gary in the history of the gold rush and my main interest in the native people, that we had to rush back to the ship to get ready for an excursion to Mendenhall Glacier and an afternoon on a boat looking for wildlife and whales.

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Mendenhall is receding about 60 feet a year. However, at 12 miles long and one mile deep, it's a long way from melting away. I'm not convinced melting is due solely to global warming but that's probably part of it. Park rangers say another glacier from the Juneau Ice Fields is growing.

Mendenhall was an awesome sight, even with thousands of others from four cruise ships.

On the boat trip, with about 50 other passengers, we did see humpback whales and I photographed parts of them. The naturalist said Steller sea lions can be "rambunctious," but all we saw were seals taking an afternoon nap.

But the trip was worth it and the marvels of Alaska surround us.

Tomorrow is Skagway and a train trip to what used to be gold fields.

Best, Judy

Monday

Leaving Ketchikan, Alaska

Seems like husband Gary and I are living in a dream.

The hills, mountains, trees and Pacific Ocean sit just outside our stateroom balcony. I walked the promenade deck this afternoon and felt overwhelmed with the beauty of it all. Hard to believe we are only at the end of Day Two.

Last night, Santa and Mrs. Claus (me) - with Santa dressed in his red dress suit with red dress shoes and me in my boa coat with a red headband and bow - were the hit of the Diamond Princess Captain's formal welcoming party. The maitre'd invited us to start the proceedings with Santa pouring Champaigne into a waterfall of glasses.

Santa was even more popular than the captain.

After two hours of people wanting their pictures taken with us, we looked around and found we were the last to leave.

That, and a great shopping day in Ketchikan, dinner with humpback whales swimming by and me, totally alone on the top deck in a whirlpool.

Tomorrow, Juneau and a special excursion by boat to see whales up close.

Best, J

Sunday

Husband Gary, also known as Santa Gary, and I are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary with a cruise to Alaska.

After flying into Seattle, we were bussed to Vancourver, Canada, to board the Diamond Princess headed to Alaska. While we waited in line with the other 3,000 passengers to go aboard, Gary and I, wearing "Believe" sweatshirts with Santa Gary's picture on them, we were suddenly pulled out of line and taken to the Princess Cruises office.

The office staff was celebrating Christmas, complete with a Christmas tree and presents, to help keep up staff morale for the rest of the cruise season. They took many pictures and we were taken though staff security ahead of the other passengers. We were given a tour of the ship and taken to lunch.

What a way to start our cruise!

Our stateroom is great. We are on the ocean and will be in Katchikan tomorrow.

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