Exploring The Kenai Peninsula
By Jim Farber
Alaska is so vast that trying to take it all in during a single visit is practically impossible. And while Denali National Park (crowned by Mount McKinley) is certainly the state’s marquee nature attraction, focusing a visit on a less remote, more diverse area of the state — say the Kenai Peninsula — may ultimately prove more rewarding.
Here is a landscape of towering snow-capped peaks, rushing rivers and mighty glaciers that have carved their way to the sea. This is also one of the great wildlife centers of the world, where boisterous rookeries of gulls and puffins nest, colonies of sea lions bask in the sun, and pods of orcas, other whales and dolphins slip gracefully through the waves.
The Kenai Peninsula extends approximately 150 miles into the Gulf of Alaska south of Anchorage, separated from the mainland on the west by the Cook Inlet and on the east by Prince William Sound. The towering Kenai Mountains form its southeast spine. But the region’s crown jewel is the Kenai Fjords National Park.
Getting to the Kenai Peninsula is at least half the fun. Anchorage and the peninsula’s two major cruise ship ports, Seward and Whittier, are connected by the Alaska Railroad, which features some of the most spectacular stretches of track in all of Alaska. The railroad has a package that allows passengers to get off the train, hike to a glacier, then return and board a later train.
Many visitors arrive by way of the Alaska Ferry system or aboard any number of cruise ship lines. Visitors can also take advantage of the state’s ever-popular floatplanes.
Renting a car is another great way to explore the peninsula’s mountainous interior and historic seacoast towns, such as the fishing port of Homer, where, incidentally, the road comes to an end.
If fishing is on your itinerary, the Kenai River offers a yearly salmon run that is world-famous.
From fish camps to luxury resorts, the Kenai Peninsula offers a wide range of accommodations for visitors. One of the most unusual of these getaway spots is the Tutka Bay Lodge. Accessible by small boat from Homer or by floatplane, the lodge is located on the piney wooded shore of Kachemak Bay.
In contrast, the town of Seward (named for U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward, who fought for the purchase of Alaska in 1867) bustles with visitors. The city is located at the picturesque end of Resurrection Bay and is the primary port for the fleet of day boats that ferry visitors to the Kenai Fjords National Park.
Seward is also home to the Windsong Lodge. Located close to town but secluded in a woodland setting, the lodge is the gateway to Exit Glacier, one of the few easily accessible glaciers in Alaska and ideal for hiking.
For those who are seeking a different form of escape, however, few experiences can match a two-night, three-day stay at the Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge on Fox Island. Dropped off by boat, overnight visitors stay in one of nine rustic cabins that line the pine-fringed, rocky beach.
Mount McKinley is one heck of a mountain and a must-see for anyone’s first trip to Alaska. But the Kenai Peninsula offers a whole other experience, which is why it is where Alaskans go to spend their vacations.
For general information:
By John Blanchette
As I flew into Quebec City in late March, I thought of my father, who was French Canadian and born in the small town of Chateauguay in the province of Quebec. He was proud of his heritage and every few years would drive us 300 miles from our Massachusetts home, across into Vermont, through upstate New York, around Lake Champlain and across the St. Lawrence River to visit his boyhood home. I loved visiting the farm where he was born and, remarkably, the shed where he was actually born was still standing on the property.
We would feed the livestock and chickens, milk the cows, make cheese, tend the fields and dine on vegetables, eat the honey from the hives on our morning toast and marvel at the imperial quarts of milk delivered by horse-drawn carts through the streets of Montreal and Quebec City. They were bigger than those in the United States, with a bulging neck that would collect the cream for the adults’ coffee.
Then there was the delicious honey butter that came in crocks and also graced the toast when we dined with our big-city relatives in Montreal. The distinctive flavor of fresh-pressed cider from Macintosh apples and the maple syrup and candies have a special place in my memory.
My father loved hockey and golf, the major Canadian pastimes. He was good at them both and played on the Boston University team before World War II interrupted his education. The last time I had visited the city I was 16. College would interrupt my return for many more years.
When I landed, the city had just gone through a very mild winter and the previous week temperatures had reached into the 70s. Alas, when I arrived, temperatures plunged into the teens and brave new buds were shivering in the cold along with me. It even snowed on my final day in the city.
My memories of Quebec City were dim. I remembered wandering the narrow and enchanting streets of Old Town (Vieux-Quebec), now a UNESCO World Heritage Site composed of Basse-Ville (Lower Town) and High Town (Haute-Ville). The period architecture dates back 400 years and reminds one of Europe, especially with the sounds of French floating in the air.
I remembered the Marche, where the local farmers sold their goods on the weekends, and the immensity and utterly stunning beauty of The Chateau Frontenac, perched above the city wall (the only one still standing in North America) next to the cannons and gunnery placements that guarded this narrowing of the St. Lawrence River. This area was crucial in the fighting between the English and French for control of the Canadian Territory and entry into the Great Lakes and mid-America. According to local lore, it is the most photographed hotel in the world.
The British may have won the battle that ceded them the country, but they could not pry the language or the heritage from French Canada. The name Quebec is not French, however. It is derived from the Algonquin language and means “narrowing of the river.”
Mayor Regis Labeaume has made revitalization of the working-class Saint-Roch neighborhood a priority, pouring money into redevelopment. New galleries, restaurants, clubs and shops have turned it into one of the chicest locations in town. Cirque du Soleil has set up headquarters here and offers free shows in the summer. Saint-Roch Church is the largest in Quebec City and the focal point of the community.
The best way to get a full view of this city of just over 500,000 is to take the ferry across the St. Lawrence River to Levis. The ancient skyline reveals itself upon the promontory, and the Frontenac’s full majesty is impressive. When I returned to the dock, I took a walking tour of Old Town, both lower and upper. For only $1.50, it’s possible to ride on the Old Quebec Funicular up to Haute-Ville, a relatively compact town that can be covered in a few hours at a leisurely pace. The buildings and town squares are distinct and lovely, and the narrow lanes make for great window shopping.
The Musee des Beaux-Arts is on the grounds of the Plains of Abraham battlefield (1759) that determined British dominion over Canada and the end of French colonization. In the 1763 Treaty of Paris, the territory was officially ceded to England for good.
I enjoyed La Korrigane brewpub on Dorchester Street (www.korrigane.ca), where I asked for the five-glass taster so I could enjoy the range of beers from a fresh blueberry lager to a dark chocolate stout. And speaking of chocolate, the sweetest part of the city tour is a visit to 634 rue Saint-Jean and the Chocolate Museum (www.chocomusee.com).
One of the more unusual shops was Benjo (www.benjo.ca), a toy store on steroids with a staff of grown-up 10-year-olds who love teasing the customers. Here a zany train ride takes visitors around the store and through the tunnel into a back-room fantasy land. I was also surprised by the employee-operated flying sharks and darting toy helicopters as well as the 5-foot robot who loved to squirt water on shoppers.
The hockey-mad city is building a $400 million sports complex to try and lure a new club to replace the Nordics, who left for Denver a few years ago.
About seven miles northeast of Quebec City are the thundering Montmorency Falls, named by explorer Samuel de Champlain for his patron, the Duke of Montmorency. At 227 feet tall, they are the tallest in North America and nearly 100 feet higher than Niagara Fall, but far narrower. For the brave of heart, there is a footbridge that spans the falls with spectacular views. In winter, snowboarders make use of the spray from the falls that coats the nearby rocks with continuously falling powder snow. There are also a number of excellent ski resorts within an hour of town.
Visiting Quebec City again after so many years brought back a flood of memories to me, and first-time visitors are in for a real treat.
WHEN YOU GO
For housing options, restaurant information, shopping tips, event listings, guidebooks, brochures and maps, contact the Quebec City Tourist Office 877-783-1608 or www.quebecregion.com.
I stayed at the new TRYP Quebec Hotel PUR (www.tryphotels.com) in the Saint-Roch District. My favorite area was the spa, with a dry sauna to chase the winter cold, a large lap pool and exercise room.
Restaurant Table, Bar Gastronomique is run by inventive young chef Francois Prive. The restaurant kitchen is in the center of the room surrounded by well-spaced tables that allow easy conversation. Food is eclectic, seasonal, creative and often on small plates. — CNS
By Jim Farber
When it comes to visiting the Hawaiian Islands, most travelers arrive by plane, check into one of the many resorts or go aboard massive cruise ships the size of floating cities. There is, however, another, more intimate, more adventurous and luxurious way to explore the islands—on board one of the small ships operated by Un-Cruise Adventures.
A fine example is the company’s Hawaiian Seascapes voyage, which begins with a one-hour bus ride away from the bustling town of Kona, past lava fields and luxury beachfront resorts to a secluded wharf where the Safari Explorer and its gracious crew await.
I say “ship,” but the Safari Explorer carries just 36 passengers with a crew-to-passenger ratio of almost one-to-one. And 10 minutes after you come on board, every crew member knows your name. The atmosphere combines comfortably elegant amenities with ever-attentive service and a friendly sense of easygoing camaraderie.
Originally built in 1998 as a no-frills, dormitory-style expedition ship, the Explorer (as it was then known) was purchased by Un-Cruise Adventures in 2008, given a $3.5 million facelift and renamed the Safari Explorer. Her totally renovated 18 ocean-view cabins, suites and staterooms feature individual climate controls, spacious beds, sitting areas and private bathrooms.
The focal point of the ship is the intimately scaled and elegantly appointed lounge, bar and dining room, which is set about with leather couches and lined with large picture windows. Anything you care to drink, from fresh juices to wine, beer and cocktails is included in the single price of the tour, as are all on-ship, on-the-water and onshore activities — whether it’s speeding over the waves in a high-powered Zodiac, hiking to a remote waterfall or exploring a lava tube by kayak.
The canopied top deck provides a perfect place to sip a glass of wine at sunset or take part in one of the early morning yoga classes. Meals are expertly prepared and feature the freshest produce, meats and seafood from regional farms and markets.
For eight memorable days and seven star-filled nights the ship cruises among the islands — from the Big Island of Hawaii to Maui, Molokai and Lanai. And everywhere it goes, ample time is allowed to experience the onshore and undersea wonders the islands have to offer, whether it is the chance to meet the Hawaiian crew of a seagoing outrigger, a tour of a macadamia plantation or a stroll through the fragrantly blooming trees of a plumeria farm. In addition, throughout the cruise native Hawaiians are invited on board to discuss their religion, tribal traditions and language, even the history of surfing.
The glories of the sea are, of course, the primary focus of the trip, with hours devoted to snorkeling in crystalline coral coves surrounded by schools of rainbow-hued tropical fish and gracefully gliding sea turtles. There are also kayak expeditions through the shadowy caves that penetrate Hawaii’s steep lava cliffs. But no watery experience compares with the opportunity to go night snorkeling with giant Pacific manta rays.
This encounter begins at sunset as the boat anchors just off the Kona coast. Once in the water, swimmers hang onto floating surfboards that have been outfitted with bright lights that point downward into the water. The lights attract swarms of plankton, which in turn attract the hungry manta rays.
The sight is quite amazing as these enormous creatures glide in graceful loops that channel the plankton into their waiting mouths. These looping movements, however, can be rather disconcerting as they bring the manta rays within inches of the swimmers’ floating bodies. The goal of every Un-Cruise Adventure is to combine action-filled activities with an abundance of time to relax and enjoy the friendly intimacy that comes of being one of only a handful of passengers. From the beginning of the voyage to the time you say goodbye, the crew is there not only to serve, but also to share in the adventure.
The islands of Hawaii have so much to offer visitors, from their natural wonders to the richness of their native culture. Traveling aboard an Un-Cruise Adventure makes these wonders available in a manner that is at once personal and unforgettable. And while this level of luxury cruising is definitely expensive (the cost for the Hawaiian Seascapes cruise begins at $5,695 per person), compared to the cost of traveling aboard a traditional cruise ship, then adding on the costs of spa packages, alcohol and numerous onshore activities, the difference may be surprisingly less than you think.
Un-Cruise Adventures, 3826 18th Ave., Seattle, Wash. 98119; 888-862-8881, www.un-cruise.com. —CNS
Anyone looking for the perfect early fall outdoor vacation could do no better than to head for Jasper National Park, the northernmost of four extraordinary preserves that are among the best reasons to visit Canada. There are actually four contiguous parks, all protected as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Jasper and Banff are in the province of Alberta, while Kootenay and Yoho are in next-door British Columbia.
Early through late September offers the best chance for encountering the bright blue skies that are perfect for seeing soaring mountaintops and fascinating wildlife. This is also a fine time for colorful fall foliage.
Picking the right time to visit is critical. While the parks are open year-round, wintertime driving can be quite challenging and outdoor activities largely limited to skiing. Later, even after lake ice starts breaking up during late spring, sightseeing is much less appealing because gray skies and rains often dominate the scene. At that time mountaintops are cloud-covered and animals generally stay deeper in the forest, away from easy viewing.
However you arrive at Jasper — by road (roughly 10 hours from Vancouver or four hours from Edmonton) or rail, the town of Jasper will almost certainly be your first stop. Contained within the park, the 4,000-plus population hamlet has many restaurants (most fairly pricey), a movie theater, some interesting century-old stone structures and accommodations at many price levels. This former fur-trading outpost was where the predecessor to Jasper National Park was established in 1907. It became a stop on the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in 1911 and the Canadian Northern Railway in 1912.
The actual designation as Jasper National Park happened in 1930, when Canada passed the National Parks Act. Park rules severely restrict growth, both in the actual size of the town and in the height of its buildings. No structure can block views of the surrounding mountains.
To hear a bevy of interesting tales and lore, join one of the free two-hour evening walks that start at — and are sponsored by — Jasper’s Tourist Information Center. A terrific overview can also be seen by taking the Jasper Tramway to its observation deck. Every nine minutes a seven-minute ride climbs to the peak of 7,424-foot-high Whistlers Mountain. While weather rarely halts the ride, on clear days the mountain vistas are absolutely stunning.
Jasper provides great opportunities for hikers at every skill level. For almost everyone, a 10-minute ride from town is Lake Beauvert, adjacent to Jasper Park Lodge. Guests and non-guests are welcome to stroll around the lake, take in spectacular views of a snow-capped Whistlers Mountain and hopefully spot some photogenic animals. Jasper also boasts some 200 miles of bike-friendly trails that reach deeply into some of the park’s most scenic areas.
While Jasper visitors soak up the scenery, they are also advised to be aware of the diverse creatures that call the park home. In mountains and meadows these include the Rocky Mountain goat, bighorn sheep and the hoary marmot that communicates by intense whistling. According to locals, it’s their whistle that gives mountains in Jasper (and even Whistler, British Columbia) their names.
In forested areas, mammals include moose; white-tailed, red and mule deer; caribou; and red squirrel. Also present are the gray wolf, grizzly and black bears, wolverine, lynx and puma. Guides note that Jasper is home to some 280 bird species.
The 144-mile-long Icefields Highway, stretching from the town of Jasper to the Jasper-Banff park border, should not be missed. Open year-around, it provides major-league challenges to wintertime drivers. Between late spring and early fall, however, this excellent road offers seemingly endless incredible views and stopovers.
For example, 18 miles south of Jasper is Athabasca Falls. Here, mists caused by the Athabasca River crashing into the canyon below spray visitors, and numerous trails here can easily tempt visitors to extend their stay. Some six miles farther south is Sunwapta Falls, quite close to the highway, where another impressive waterfall that plunges 60 feet is viewable.
The best of ice fields occurs around midpoint, some 60 miles south of Jasper, at the Athabasca Glacier. Here many travelers stop to take a ride on a motorized vehicle with oversized wheels that regularly ventures onto a portion of the actual glacier.
This excursion, which runs almost continuously during warm-weather daylight hours, provides safe access to those who want to stroll on a real glacier without worrying about the potential deadly accidents that can occur by stepping into crevices hidden by recent snows. Tour passengers who ride contraptions that combine bus cabins with oversized wheels are taken to a strictly controlled, constantly examined area. There they can walk on what is essentially a sizable icy parking lot with clearly marked boundaries.
For many, an even more fascinating experience is a guided hike that skirts the glacier’s front and perimeter. During much of the two-hour walks, visitors cross terrain the glacier itself used to cover. Indeed, the whole experience of encountering areas from which the glacier has retreated during the 160 years since explorers first encountered it is truly amazing.
The Icefield Center, directly across the highway from the glacier, is the starting point for glacier vehicle tours. It is also home to the Glacier View Inn, which occupies its top floor. This is essentially the only place between Jasper and Lake Louise available for a meal or overnight stay.
WHEN YOU GO
The nearest major airport is in Calgary, some 80 miles east of the town of Banff.
Travel Alberta is a great source for everything you’d want to know about anything you’d want to do in the province: www.travelalberta.com.
By Stephanie Choate
Vermont is filled with stunning vistas, charming towns and peaceful countryside.
This summer, explore some areas of the Green Mountain State you’ve never seen before by getting off the main roads and traveling some of Vermont’s loveliest back roads, suggested by the Vermont Department of Tourism.
Stowe and the northern mountains
Begin in Stowe — 125 miles
- From the village of Stowe, take Route 100 north about 2 miles, then the left fork onto Stagecoach Road, follow it for about 6 miles.
- Turn left at the stop sign onto French Hill Road (Walton Road at the far end). Follow it to a right turn onto White Road, which is not marked.
- Travel into Johnson on Railroad Street to the intersection with Route 15. Turn right onto Route 15 through Johnson village and go past the junction of Route 100 and Route 15.
- Travel about 6 miles, then turn right onto Route 100 at the stop light. Follow it to a blinking light in Morrisville.
- Turn left onto Greaves Hill Road, then left onto Couchaine Farm Road (becomes Elmore Pond Road), and follow it to Route 15. Turn left onto Route 15, then take the first right turn onto West Hill Road.
- Take a right onto North Wolcott Road and go 8 miles, turn left just past the cemetery to the Gulf sign, then left again 7 miles to Eden Mills.
- In Eden Mills, turn left onto Route 100, go abut 1 mile then turn right onto Route 118. Follow it to the intersection with Route 109 in Belvidere Corners, take Route 109 west through Belvidere Center to Waterville.
- Take the second left onto unpaved Hogback Road. Take a sharp right onto Route 15, and follow it through Cambridge and Jeffersonville, to the intersection with Route 108.
- Turn right onto Route 108 and follow it through Smugglers Notch, about 18 miles to return to Stowe. Note that the Notch road is winding and narrow (unsuitable for large vehicles) and closed in the winter.
Alternative: Take the Toll Road up to the top of Mount Mansfield, and take in the views.
Northern Mountains and Islands
Begin in St. Albans — 120 miles
- Take Route 105 from St. Albans east through Steven Mills to the intersection with Route 101.
- Take 101 south 1 mile, then turn right onto Route 242 and follow it to Montgomery Center.
- In Montgomery Center, turn left and go south on Route 118 to Belvidere Coners, then turn right onto Route 109 and take it to Jeffersonville.
- Take Route 104 from Jeffersonville through Fairfax on Route 104. About 2 miles north of Fairfax, turn left onto Route 104A, and follow it to Interstate 89. Take I-89 south to exit 17 at Chimney Corner, turn onto Route 2 all the way through North Hero, Grand Isle and South Hero.
Take a side trip on Route 129 to Isle La Motte, then return to Route 2.
Other lovely stops include Sand Bar State Park, Niquette State Park.
To shorten the route and stay on the lake, head east on Lake Road (Route 36) in St. Albans. Follow it along the shore until you connect with Route 78. Follow Route 78 north, then turn south onto Route 2.
Short Charlotte and ferry loop
Begins in Hineburg, approximately 30 miles, plus ferry travel
- Take Hinesburg Road into Charlotte, turn left onto Mount Philo Road.
- At Mount Philo State Park, drive up to the top of the mountain ($3 fee per person) for a panoramic view of Lake Champlain and the Charlotte farmland below.
- Take State Park Road and turn right onto Route 7. Turn left onto Ferry Road, through the village of Charlotte.
- Turn left onto Lake Road, then right onto Converse Bay Road, which is unpaved. Follow Converse Bay Road to the ferry dock.
- Take the ferry across the lake to Essex, N.Y., stopping for a bite at the Old Dock or an ice cream cone.
- Return on the ferry, and take Ferry Road, which will become Hinesburg Road.
Classic Vermont Villages and Covered Bridges
Begins in Middlesex, 110 miles
- Beginning in Middlesex village, take Route 100B to Moretown.
- In Moretown village, take a sharp left, turn up a hill and onto an unpaved road, Moretown Mountain Road, which meanders for several miles before becoming Cox Brook Road. Near the end of the unpaved road, you will pass or pass through three covered bridges.
- In Northfield Falls, turn right onto Route 12. Take it to the intersection with Route 12A. Take Route 12A to Roxbury village, then turn right onto an unpaved road, Warren Mountain/Roxbury Mountain Road, and follow it to East Warren. Turn left to Warren to see another covered bridge. The Warren Store in Warren on Route 100 is a good place to stop for lunch—eat out on the deck overlooking the river.
- Backtrack on Common Road to East Warren and take it to Waitsfield Common, then take North Road (later becomes Pony Farm Road) back to paved Route 100, just south of Moretown.
- Turn left onto Route 100 and follow it through Waitsfield. Look for covered bridges on the left in the village. Continue through Irasville and take a right turn onto Sugarbush Access Road.
- Take a right onto German Flats Road, then left onto Route 17. Travel west for about 8 miles. Take a sharp right onto unpaved Gore Road/Main Road through Hanksville, Huntington Center and Huntington, where the road becomes Huntington Road.
- Take a right on unpaved Dugway Road. At the end of the road, turn right onto Cochran Road, and follow it to Route 2. Turn right onto Route 2 and follow it through Bolton and Waterbury to the intersection with Route 100.
- Take Route 100 through South Duxbury. Turn left onto Route 100B, follow it through Moretown and back to Middlesex and the intersection with Route 100.
For more scenic drive suggestions, visit the Vermont Department of Tourism’s website at www.vermontvacation.com.
By Molly Arost Staub
Today’s families want to create and preserve lasting memories shared with their loved ones, and my family is no exception. With that in mind, my husband Bob and I recently joined my son, a daughter and their families (a party of 10) to sail aboard the Norwegian Pearl on an Alaskan itinerary. The four grandchildren are ages 15 to 20.
As it happens, I first learned about traveling with grandchildren — which has become my special delight – on my first of three Alaskan cruises in 1989. There I met a set of grandparents who took each of their grandchildren on a cruise as a graduation gift.
“Since 9/11, we see many more multiple generations sailing together rather than just grandparents and kids,” said Kenneth W. Watson, COO of Silversea Cruises.
My family has traveled broadly with me, but now the kids wanted to see Alaska for its stunning scenery and wintertime wildlife. And my favorite memory of Alaska was having tea served on white linen napery from a silver teapot while sitting at the prow of a long-gone cruise ship. A harpist was playing as the sun streamed through the windows when suddenly humpback whales breached in front of the ship — delightful. This time my children and their spouses chose the Pearl for its many activities and laid-back freestyle-cruising atmosphere.
We started our vacation with a three-day pre-trip in Seattle, where we visit frequently because of family there. Everyone repeatedly loves checking out Pike Place Market, where fruit, flowers and handicrafts vie for browsers’ attention. But the must-see stop is its legendary fishmongers’ stall, where the salesperson flings each customer’s fish to the cashier.
At the waterfront, eateries, boat tours and a small aquarium are among the attractions. The latest is the new giant 175-foot-tall Ferris wheel, dubbed the Seattle Great Wheel. It extends 40 feet from the pier, and its 42 glass gondolas are heated and air-conditioned.
Another high priority is zooming to the top of the iconic Space Needle for its views of the city and the myriad waterways spread out below. It is located in Seattle Center, where the EMP (Experience Music Project) will wow parents who are fans of 20th-century music. Our group loved its “On Stage” exhibit, where we sang and “played” instruments for a song for a TV tape. Children especially enjoy the interactive Pacific Science Center here.
Also new is the Chihuly Garden and Glass for fantastic glass sculptures, which may remind the middle generation of times spent blowing odd shapes using bubble plastic, but in glorious colors.
Once we boarded the ship the kids checked out the bowling alleys, rock-climbing wall and teen club, Entourage for Teens, where they made new friends. The line offers complimentary programs for both kids and teens. That night we celebrated my daughter Deborah’s birthday with a lovely steak dinner in Cagney’s. The Pearl offers 19 dining options, some for an additional cost.
As we sailed past increasingly taller mountains, we spotted a huge rainbow, boding well for our trip. Although many passengers indulge in the buffet, we enjoyed eating in the full-service Summer Palace, reminiscent of St. Petersburg, Russia, and included in the cost. We also chose special dishes in the Lotus Garden to celebrate my husband’s and my anniversary. NCL has electronic displays where passengers can see tables that are available if they haven’t made reservations. Evening entertainment included some production numbers and hilarious shows by the Second City.
Our first port was the state’s capital, Juneau. The two younger generations helicoptered to the top of the vast Juneau Ice Field. This was the highlight of the trip, they all later said.
“It was amazing,” they claimed in unison when they returned. I had done this before and felt like I was on the top of the world.
We grandparents visited the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center by taking the shuttle from town to view the gorgeous glacier and learn about glaciers’ formation. I was shocked by how far its blue face had receded. On my first visit in 1989 we had watched the film and the curtains then opened to reveal the glacier right there. In 1995 we had to walk down a boardwalk to see it farther away. Now it’s even farther back. The glaciers are melting back faster than moving forward, a phenomenon experts attribute to global warming.
When we awoke the next morning, my husband Bob looked out the window at the tall, dark mountains crowned with gleaming snow.
“I don’t think there’s a more beautiful sight in the world,” he said.
Skagway is a town right out of the Klondike Gold Rush days where visitors can stroll the streets or take a horse-drawn carriage or a 1927 motorcar past the colorful clapboard buildings. The 900-fulltime-resident town, which once offered 30 brothels, now showcases 22 jewelry stores. At the interactive Junior Ranger Center kids can learn about the state’s fur and gold industries. The 1904 Historic Moore Homestead offers a photo exhibit about the period and two furnished rooms. A playground gives youngsters a chance to burn some energy.
In this port my kids and grandkids went zip-lining and loved it. My grandson Andrew said, “It felt like I was flying.” Anna, the cheerleader, did stunts. The whole group thought the guides added hilarious commentary.
We spent some time cruising Glacier Bay, an absolute highlight. My son Adam said, “I can’t get over seeing Glacier Bay. To think that a glacier is the height of a 25-story building to the top and a mile wide — the size is really impressive.”
On a previous visit to Marjorie Glacier we watched in awe as a chunk of the glacier’s face — the height of a 250-foot-high apartment house — crashed into the water. The youngsters spotted a pod of whales, American bald eagles and an occasional black bear on the shore.
Our final port visit was Victoria, B.C., Canada. The city boasts a decidedly British flavor, including the architecture on government buildings and the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Government House offers 26 acres of English gardens, but true flower-lovers head to the Butchart Garden, where gorgeous displays cover 55 acres in a former abandoned stone quarry. Specialty gardens include a rose garden, Japanese garden and greenhouse exhibits. Little ones will delight in the Children’s Pavilion and the Rose Carousel. Wheelchairs and strollers are available.
Unfortunately my husband suffered from congestive heart failure on the ship. As he gasped for breath, I called 911. Within about seven minutes, a team arrived at our cabin (four decks above the infirmary and at the opposite end of the ship). Two nurses immediately gave him oxygen and checked him out with cardiac equipment. A third person put him in a wheelchair and we raced to the clinic, where two physicians gave him more tests and monitored him for six hours. The care was outstanding. And it certainly was comforting having my two children and their spouses, Marci and Mike, along, to stay with us in the hospital. If Bob hadn’t improved by the next day, the staff said, they would have airlifted him to Seattle.
Other than that, the cruise provided a wonderful bonding experience. Another eight-member multigenerational group from San Diego told me they felt the cruise had met all their needs. Dolores Green, the grandmother, said, “The kids have the opportunity to be together and they have activities together. I chose this ship because there’s so much for young people to do.” Susan Green Pollack added, “On a ship, the entire clan can do what they want. And it’s most rewarding that nobody’s fighting!”
WHEN YOU GO
To book a cruise with your family: Norwegian Cruise Line: www.ncl.com or call 800-327-7030.
The Largest Summer Event for Baby Boomers and Seniors in Vermont!
Vermont Maturity Magazine is proud to present the 1st ANNUAL Central Vermont 50+EXPO on Saturday, June 9, 2012 at the Killington Grand Resort Hotel & Conference Center in beautiful Killington, Vermont from 9:30am-4pm!
The EXPO is open to all ages and offers a wide variety of exhibitors, art workshops, seminars, live entertainment, silent auction, wine tasting $5, microbrew tasting $5, great giveaways including tickets for two to see the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots, plane tickets to Boston and much more!
Win a flight for two to Boston!
Cape Air will give away two round-trip tickets from Southern Vermont Regional Airport in Rutland to Boston’s Logan International Airport.
Tickets expire June 9, 2013.
(Trip value -$300)
Enter to win at Vermont Maturity Booth 4.
Win an Exciting Theatre Package featuring ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ at the Weston Playhouse
Visit Vermont’s Green Mountain Tours booth (# 33-34)and register to win!
Fiddler on the Roof was the first Broadway musical to surpass a 3,000 performance run after opening in 1964. This heart-wrenching yet funny musical has won nine Tony Awards.
PACKAGE FOR TWO INCLUDES:
- Reserved orchestra seating
- Lunch and Dinner
- Round-trip transportation aboard Premier Motor Coach
(Trip value -$300)
By Andrew Daniels
The world today encompasses very real concerns of crime, health risks, natural disasters and terrorism that can disrupt the best planned vacations. Travelers need to be aware of the risks they can face when vacationing to an unfamiliar territory.
Whether you are a family or group vacationing together or are traveling strictly for business, there are some items that you should ensure are checked off of your pre-trip list before you depart for your destination.
Protect Your Identity
Proof of identity and citizenship are critical while traveling abroad. Your personal safety, and ability to travel, will be at risk if your passport and other identification are lost or stolen. Remember to take a photocopy of your passport and other identification with you on your travels. Keep it in a safe place, in the event something happens to the original.
As soon as you know you are going to travel abroad, locate your passport and make sure all of the information is correct. If you need to apply for a passport, do so at least three months in advance of your trip to avoid fees associated with expediting the process.
Check for Travel Warnings and Advisories
The U.S. Department of State’s website, www.travel.state.gov, should be your first stop when planning for international travel.The website will provide locations that currently have a travel warning or alert. There is also information about foreign countries’ laws and policies as well as other international travel resources.
Even if you don’t think the weather will stop you from a great vacation, it could delay your travel arrangements or even cancel them altogether due to a natural disaster. Check your destination’s local weather forecast for storms and warnings. Remember to check on your travel status before leaving if the weather is bad in your departure or arrival area.
Register with the State Department
Register your travel plans with the State Department through a free online service at www.travelregistration.state.gov. All U.S. citizens travelling or residing abroad can provide travel and personal information to the State Department so that in an emergency situation, you can be contacted.
No one ever plans on getting sick or being hurt while traveling, but it could happen. Be prepared by reviewing your health insurance to find out if it will cover you in a foreign country.
If your health insurance does not cover you, there is the option of purchasing travel insurance. This insurance provides health coverage, protects you if your trip is delayed or cut short, or if
you need to cancel your trip for one of the covered reasons such as illness or a natural disaster.
Contact Your Credit Card and Cell Phone Company
If you plan on using credit cards during your travel, alert your providers to your travel dates. This way they do not put a hold on or decline a purchase because they know that it is actually you using the card. It is also suggested to use credit cards rather than debit cards because credit companies offer fraud protection required by federal regulations.
If you plan on taking your cell phone with you, check with your provider to make sure your service will work wherever you go. There may be an extra charge for international or roaming calls or data services. Make sure that your phone is pre-programmed with important emergency numbers at home and you have a charger that will work where you’re heading.
Make Arrangements for your Home and Animals
If you are leaving for a long period of time, it is best to alert a neighbor, nearby family member or friend of when you are leaving and returning. Ask them to keep an eye on your property and outside belongings. You may also want to consider having your house sitter pick up your mail or you can put a hold on your mail being delivered at the post office.
If your house sitter and your animals are familiar with each other, they could keep each other company while you’re away. However, if not, a great alternative is sending your animal on their own retreat while you are gone. Many facilities offer great amenities to keep animals happy while their owners are away.
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121 Tranquil Sites in the City and Beyond
By Lynn Schweikart
Living in the fast paced city of Boston can make each day exciting, but occasionally, a break from the hustle and bustle is needed. Inside “Peaceful Places: Boston,” author Lynn Schweikart helps Boston residents and visitors to the city find the tranquility they are seeking.
“Peaceful Places: Boston” is the fifth installment in the innovative and rapidly expanding new series of guides to serenity in the top metro areas across the country. This unique guidebook reveals 121 of the most peaceful sites in the city. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Beacon Hill, Jamaica Pond, Uptown Espresso Caffe, and Franklin Square are just a few of the author’s diverse choices for a little respite. Plus, Schweikart highlights escapes for day trips and overnight excursions beyond the city’s borders.
Most locations listed in the guide are free and many are accessible via public transportation. “Peaceful Places: Boston” is conveniently organized by categories including: Enchanting Walks, Historic Sites, Museums & Galleries, Outdoor Habitats, Parks & Gardens, Quiet Tables, Reading Rooms, Scenic Vistas, Shops & Services, Spiritual Enclaves and Urban Surprises.
For nearly 40 years, Boston resident Lynn Schweikart has nurtured an unabashed love affair with her adopted city. She loves wandering around its varied neighborhoods, returning to favorite haunts and discovering new places.
A marketing communications specialist, writer and brand storyteller, Schweikart has been the recipient of numerous national and regional advertising creative awards. She also writes the blogs Savoring the Seasons and Peaceful Places Boston.
As someone who’s spent her career in the high-pressure, fast-paced advertising world, she recognizes the restorative power that comes from moments of peacefulness and serenity. She enjoys travel, cooking, music, bird watching, storytelling, kayaking, cheering on the Red Sox and singing with the women’s’ chorus Voices From The Heart. She’s particularly fond of relaxing with her journal, camera, watercolors and binoculars amidst the marshes near Plum Island Sound.
Schweikart holds a B. A. in sociology from Northwestern University. She divides her time between Boston and her vacation home on the New Hampshire seacoast.