Happy Anniversary!

I woke up with a card next to my pillow-Ray had found a honey bear (which is his nickname) and a card that made smooching noises! How sweet! I know I say this all the time now, but how quickly time has passed. In just five years of knowing each other, four years of being married, how much we’ve learned about each other, experienced in our lives together and apart and how much we’ve grown in general. Just in the last five years, Ray has been to 15 countries and I’ve been to 18 countries. The amount of learning and experience that takes place in a few years of marriage is immense and adding these experiences on top of everything just makes you think about how much more there is to learn and understand in this beautiful world.

This morning, after having our blackberry pancakes, we headed up to the bow and looked at some pictographs which were possibly Klinkit. These were territorial markings. Although Klinkits are a matriarchal society, the women were responsible for grinding up the paints by chewing fish eggs in their mouths. The deepest red pigment would come from sockeye salmon eggs. I can’t really grasp why in a matriarchal system women still took on that job! :o) I certainly would not be willing to grind fish eggs in my mouth; however, I’m one of the very few in my circle of friends who doesn’t like sushi either!

There has been a revival of the Klinkits in the past 40-50 years and traditions such as totem pole carving are coming back into the learning regime. I suppose it’s a useful tool since some carvers make between $3000-$5000 a foot! A tradition which is quite unusual is where children are raised by their aunts or uncles because they believe a child raised by parents will be spoiled too much.

After we arrived at Yes Bay, we went on a rigorous hike through the Tongas National Forest. It was a perfect day with no rain even though we were in a rainforest! We trekked through mud and rocks and trees, sometimes creating our own trail. The hike was tough, but well worth it because we were in deep in the rain forest in a location that not many people have gone to, since no town is connected to this part of the forest. You either have to arrive by a small boat or sea plane. Along the trail, we ate watermelon berries, thistle berries and other tart and tasty berries. Our feet got stuck in mud, we?d use momentum to jump over bear skat and little streams and crawled over boulders. We walked for hours and then turned around and walked back for hours.

When we got back to the boat, we quickly changed into warmer clothes and jumped in a sea kayak. Ray and I paddled through to little islands and chased after bald eagles. We kayaked for a couple of hours and then headed back for a well deserved dinner of rosemary wine reduction sauce atop delicious lamb, almond crusted halibut, Columbian wine, Belvedere vodka and a surprise chocolate upon chocolate anniversary cake! Another couple was celebrating their 14th anniversary and the crew surprised us with the cake and cards they made with our photos they had taken throughout the two days.

It was a perfect anniversary day complete with everything we love to do!

Misty Fjords and Walker's Cove

We woke up early since our room is above a propeller and headed to the 8am breakfast. After the feast, I grabbed tea, Ray grabbed coffee and we headed to the deck to read and write. After a few hours of relaxing, the yacht got into Walker’s Cove, fjords surrounded us and a light rain created a mist off the mountains, certainly a glorious sight. We jumped into our sea kayak in our rain gear and spent the rest of the day exploring coves, chasing after harbour seals and birds and watching the shoreline for bears. This was certainly a tranquil location. Looking up at the mountains and the vast seas makes you realize how glorious God is and how amazing it is that we can see His work around us.

At one point, the captain put the bow up to a big waterfall and Ray and I got a bit of cold water rushing over us! The Misty Fjords area we were in had thousands of water falls. Pulling your kayak up under a waterfall creates an impression. There are many people in this world that have never even seen a waterfall and here we were, almost taking them for granted. This is only the beginning of our trip and it has exceeded all expectations.

Rough Waves & Sea Planes

We took an early morning flight from Vancouver to Prince Rupert Island, Canada. Upon arrival, a bus took us down a road and onto a ferry which crossed over the sea to the main part of the island. A large amount of the population of 12,000 people own boats as their major source of transportation. Prince Rupert is one of these towns that peaks my curiosity. I often wonder how people can live in such small and remote towns. Prince Rupert’s only industries for quite some time were fishing and mining. However, they now have plans to expand the shipping port and related infrastructure. If all goes according to plan, they will be one of the largest ports in the northwest. Apparently, the in the winter, when there is light only from 11-3pm, people in the town read a lot or become really good at video games. Because of a performing arts center installed in 1987, the children of the town have become experts at dancing and several of them have gone on to make careers out of the sport years later. The common sentiment is that in a small and remote place, a person tends to become really good at his undertaking because there is little to distract and plenty of time to truly learn your particular interest.

Ray and I took the morning to walk around the town a bit. After exploring the Museum of Northern B.C., we headed to the Crest Hotel for brunch. I had a Canadian breakfast, which consists of the same things as an American breakfast, but I guess you can label it according to the country you are eating in!

After brunch, we met the 10 other people that would be on the yacht with us, consisting of a very interesting group of people: a lawyer, doctor, liquor distributor, voice teacher, physicist, oncology researcher, candy packager and us! We drove around the town a bit and visited a home of two people named Gunther and Lucinda who recue and take in injured animals on a volunteer basis. We had a chance to see rescued bald eagles(by the way, I think it?s hilarious to see bald eagles walking, they look like they?re sneaking!) and owls. Just to nurse the eagles back to health so they are able to continue their lives in the wild costs the couple around 40,000$ a year and that doesn’t include the costs of the 750 other animals they take in throughout the year. The two rely completely on their own pensions and donations. They said, you know we have enough to get by on our pensions and donations, but don?t tell the city they?ll have to pay to bury us!?

At that point, we learned that our boat never made it to Prince Rupert because of 12 foot crests and we would be taking a sea plane to Ketchikan. We were pretty excited about it because when we had flown into Prince Rupert, Ray and I talked about how great it would be to try flying on a sea plane at some point in our lives. Only a few hours later, our wish became reality, though we had no immediate plans to do so. IA sea plane has an incredibly smooth take off. I didn?t even feel a change at all. The landing was rougher, but not nearly as rough as a land plane. It really is part plane and part boat! The pilot was a bit crazy, telling us how he does BASE jumping and likes taking risk, so I was wondering how the landing would be, and it was a little like a roller coaster when landing, but not nearly as rough as a land plane. I really enjoyed being low enough to see things I wouldn?t have seen on a regular plane and low enough to see the incredible rock formations and patterns that I wouldn?t have seen on our yacht.

The sea plane flew us into the very beginning of Tongos National Park, which is the largest national park in the country, consisting of 17 million acres. We flew into a rainforests and sure experienced it! They apparently get 24 feet of rain a year, which means it has to rain 200 days out of the year.

In Ketchikan, customs officials came to our plane and checked us in after a quick phone call. Then, Ray and I walked around the downtown area. Our first order of business was to go to Dolly’s , a museum made out of a prostitute’s home. What I found rather amusing was that my style was similar to this brothel, which was kept intact from the depression period. There were several hidden doors that Dolly kept alcohol during prohibition where a male patron could pay 50 cents for a teaspoon and a half of some sort of spirit.

We eventually exited through the married man’s trail, which was a back entrance into the woods, so no one would know who visited Dolly, which was important since Dolly never closed her doors for the day unless she made at least 75 to 100 dollars! She would charge 3$ a person. You can do the accounting on that one!!

After that, we watched thousands of salmon fighting their way upstream, went to the Discovery Center, which is my favorite style of museum – it looks like a big interactive collage, not just a few artifacts behind glass cases.

We then hopped into a cab with our group to check out an area where brown bears were feeding on salmon. This is the last week of the salmon run, so the bears are working hard to fill up on the fatty salmon(not very delicious for human consumption, which is why we don’t fish for these types during this part of the summer) before hibernating for the winter. A few bears jumped around the white waters attacking the fish, but there were several lazy bears that got tired of the river, walked up to a hatchery, undid the lid and grabbed the fish out of there. I suppose it’s like bobbing for apples if you are smart enough to find the hatchery!

After a full day of traveling, sea planes and visiting two towns, we were exhausted! We had an excellent dinner with prime rib, white salmon and strawberry salad. With our tummies fully satiated, we climbed into our private sauna in our cabin and then enjoyed a restful sleep on the waters of the Inside Passage of Alaska.

Our Route!

Here’s a map of the route we’re going to take on our trip! Grizzly bears, killer whales and glaciers, oh my!

Vancouver for One Day

We’ve arrived in Vancouver and are headed to Prince Rupert tomorrow, on one of two flights that go there every day. We’ve bought a Frommer’s Alaska book, so it should be enough to get us by in most of the towns we’ll be in while on this trip. Not sure about Prince Rupert, but luckily it is a small city and I’m sure it’ll have an information center that is walkable from the airport! :o) Anyway, Ray and I are too exhausted to even have dinner, so it’s lights out for us. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get wifi reception and keep updating our trip.





Exploring Beijing and the Temple of Heaven

Ray and I slept in a bit today, walked around Beijing, walked through some hutongs, ate at some random duck place, went to South Cathedral Church which is the above ground Catholic Church since the real one is very much illegal and underground. Then we headed to the Temple of Heaven, which was completed during the Ming dynasty. It’s the largest temple complexes in China. It was a beautiful and bizarre place as it was in the temple that the emperor would make sacrifices and pray to the ancestors in heaven. As I stood in the middle this large marble platform decorated with dragon carvings, I wondered how much was sacrificed here.

We’re both exhausted and I’ve got an early flight tomorrow, while Ray gets to gallivant around the Forbidden City and Tiennamen Square all day, so I’m outtie. Night!

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