family · Liv · travel · vacation

Alaska: Part 1

When I first started this post, I typed: “We just got back from Alaska!”  Well, that was weeks ago, and I’m full of excuses, as always, but I’ll simply blame it on the Olympics.  They were just. so. good.  The gymnastics, the swimming, and of course, the track and field… To distract myself from the post-Olympics blues, let’s talk Alaska!

Part 1 of our trip was a Princess Cruise, which set sail from Vancouver — so not only was this Liv’s first cruise, but it was her first international travel!  We got her a passport, renewed ours (mine still needed a name change after 6+ years of marriage!), and took off for good old Canada!

We had to snap a pic at the Life is Good store in honor of my mom/Liv’s memaw, who really should be a LIG ambassador!

It was late when we arrived in Vancouver, so we went right to bed after a hug-filled reunion with our family, who’d just flown in from Ohio.  The next morning, I squeezed in a quick run around Richmond, which was gorgeous and green!  And, like, 60-degrees!  In July!

After months of Liv asking: “How many more minutes til we go on the cwooze?” it was finally time to board the ship!

We spent our first day exploring, eating (of course), and enjoying having all 12 of us together, in one place!  I’ve got to shout out my mom, again, who was the mastermind behind this once-in-a-lifetime adventure for our family!

The first “Movies Under the Stars” was The Jungle Book with Bill Murray, which we all watched together.  It was so cool with the giant screen, lounge chairs, blankets, and popcorn; unfortunately, it was the only night that it wasn’t too cold or rainy (for me…).

They showed movies during the daytime, too, so we caught Zootopia, while swimming!

There was more exploring, eating, cards and games, drinks and dancing.  Jared was Mr. Amazing (as always), giving me lots of time to run everyday, and I even took a yoga class with my mom & sis!  And I tried to return the favor by napping with Liv a couple times, so he could hit the gym and happy hour.

Of all the cool features of the cruise ship — the heated swimming pools, glass elevators, endless entertainment, Fruit Loops for breakfast(!!), and chocolates on our pillows — Liv really loved the “phones with curly cords,” and convos with Uncle Rhino, just two rooms away!

Our first port was Ketchikan, where we explored a bit before all 12 of us met up for an excursion.

My mom booked us on a “Duck Tour,” which I knew nothing about, except that it’d be family-friendly for our 3.5 year old (i.e. not hiking or ziplining).  Turns out we didn’t see any (quack quack) ducks… We rode on a duck vehicle!  A couple fun-spirited hosts drove us through the city on what felt like a bus until it cruised straight into the harbor for a waterside tour, too.  We got to see bald eagles, seals, and salmon jumping out of the water!

And Liv slept through at least half of the tour…

When we docked in Juneau the next day, it was gloomy, gray, and drizzling as we headed to go whale watching.

I’ve been whale watching before in Hawaii and knew it would be cool, but wow, this tour was amazing!  We got to see dozens of humpbacks “bubble-net feeding;” though, sweet Liv zonked out, again!

After whale watching, we went to an all-you-can eat “salmon bake,” which surpassed all of our expectations.  There was fresh-off-the-grill salmon, the most amazing au gratin potatoes, coleslaw, salad, beans, cornbread, chowder, cobbler and…

A campfire for roasting MARSHMALLOWS!  It was rainy and cold, but Liv’s marshmallow-fueled joy (and my bottomless cup of coffee!) made this one of our favorite moments of the trip!

Family sour faces!

Next up was Skagway, where we took the “White Pass Scenic Railway Tour.”  The duck tour and whale watching blew us away, but the railway was a bit sleepy and slow.  I felt a little carsick (trainsick?) for the first time and Liv was bored, but the whole fam was great about helping entertain her.  Uncle Rhino even recruited Liv to be his assistant photographer!

And with about 15 minutes left on the train, Liv fell asleep in my arms.

After three busy days of ports and outings, we had two “scenic cruising” days of Glacier Bay and College Fjord, ending up at Whittier.

It was nice to stay put on the ship, relax together, and simply soak up the scenery.

Liv calls this the “melting chair game!”

With sunset at 10:00 PM and sunrise at 4:00 AM, it was easy to stay up late!  We caught a few night shows that Liv loved.  There was a high energy vocal impressionist, who kept her entertained for a solid hour, and the dance production shows, which blew her away with the lights and costumes, singing, dancing, and music!  I’m pretty sure theater is in her future…

With several tours and talks about dog sledding, they brought some puppies aboard for us to snuggle.  This dog-loving family was among the first in line for that cuteness (and it got us talking about maybe, just maybe, adopting a dog…)!

All 12 of us dressed up for both formal nights together.  And we got to celebrate Clara’s 18th birthday and Uncle Kevin’s retirement!

We made it to happy hour one night, during the hilarious Marriage Match Gameshow (virgin daiquiris for Clara & Kirsten)!  And Liv was in heaven with the endless princess-treatment (and dessert… She is so my child).

At the end of the cruise, they had a balloon drop dance party that Liv still talks about: “Mom!  It RAINED balloons!  How can we make it rain balloons in our house…?”  (*Note to self: 4th birthday party?!?!).  It was a magical finale to the cruise and a memory I won’t soon forget!

Alaska: Part 2 — Up next!

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