Alaska Holiday 2

“One of the symptoms of approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important, and that to take a holiday would bring all kinds of disaster,” says The Conquest of Happiness.

With this in mind, Dave and family go on an ambitious Alaska cruise. Last week’s column describes Dave’s experience of a “stress free” holiday, mixed with food, fun and laughter.

Today, Dave tells us about the beauty of Alaska and the activities he enjoyed with his family during the short time he was there.

Let us start with a brief history.

In 1867, United States’ Secretary of State William Seward purchases Alaska from Russia for two cents an acre! Critics laugh. They call it foolish. But soon Alaska surprises the world with its wealth of natural resources (gold, oil, tourism, fishing, and lumber).

Alaska is the largest state in the U.S. It is 2.5 times the size of Texas, with a population of only 609,300.

The cruise ship’s first stop is Juneau, the capital city with a population of 26,800. It is inaccessible by land. Mountains, islands, saltwater bays, forested valleys and flatlands surround it.

With the few hours we had in Juneau, we had to decide whether we should go sea kayaking, canoeing, trail hiking, rain forest nature walk, glacier trekking by helicopter, wildlife cruise, salmon bake, pan for gold or sportfishing.

Our children decide that we go glacier trekking by helicopter! Well, dad has the plastic card! The helicopter soars over Juneau’s wild backcountry and spectacular glaciers. The tour covers 65 miles of Alaskan wilderness and makes a brief glacier landing within the massive Juneau Icefield. The view is spectacular and breathtaking.

Our pilot/guide unveils the beauty and the mystery of the area. Walks us through some interesting spots (require special boots) and help us explore its surface.

Juneau icefield is North America’s fifth largest icefield. It covers more than 1,500 square miles of land. It is estimated that icefield’s snow and ice depth to be from 800 to over 4,500 feet deep. Annual snowfall on the Juneau Icefield exceeds 100 feet.

During the flight, we see mountain goats. The goats favor the high ridges surrounding the icefield during the summer months. We see deep icefield crevasses, hanging icefalls and jagged spires.

Well, it is time to board the ship. In the next couple of days, we disembark at Skagway (population 700), Haines (population 1,200), and Ketchikan (population 8,300).

Each place has its own history and beauty. But there is something special about Skagway – the White Pass and Yukon Route railroad tour in search of gold!

Well, the Klondike Gold Rush was 100 years ago! But there is still high adventure and scenic drama. A ride along the shoulders of granite mountains.

The train (some train cars straight out of the 1890s), leaves Skagway (elevation: 0) on a narrow gauged railroad (built 1898), climbs through the Coast Mountains in Tongass National Forest, through mountain tunnels to the White Pass Summit (elevation: 2,865 ft). Takes you through unforgettable spectacular scenery.

Well Dave, what’s left?

The Glacier Bay! Naturalist and adventurer John Muir is credited with discovering the bay in 1879 but continues to remain isolated and undeveloped. Enter Glacier Bay and you cruise along shorelines completely covered by ice. As water undermines some ice fronts great blocks of ice break loose and crash in to the water. A beautiful sight to cherish.

Well, it is time to cruise back to Vancouver and to the real world. But you cannot disembark until you have cleared your bills, tipped all the kind people who made your trip a delight and cleared the customs!

Dave jumps in the cab, looks at the ship and says, “Alaska, we will be back!”

This series of articles explore the health problems of Dave and his family. They are composite characters of a typical family with health problems.

Start reading the preview of my book A Doctor's Journey for free on Amazon. Available on Kindle for $2.99!

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