This morning we arrived in Juneau, the capital of Alaska, a little city nestled by the sea, surrounded by vast mountains. Did you know there are no roads leading to Juneau? The only way here is by air or by sea. There are three massive cruise liners docked here at the moment. The passengers have the full day to explore the town, visit the glaciers, ride the tram, take a helicopter ride to a glacier high in the mountains, etc etc etc.
So far this “cruisetour” trip has been an incredible blast. Only one downer. Virtually no Internet access. That’s why I haven’t updated the blog since Fairbanks. I hope to post some pictures eventually.
A cruise is one of the very few things I have experienced that I would truly say you have to do it to understand it. You float in incredible luxury, eat gourmet food virtually around the clock, enjoy the unending amenities—sort of like a floating resort and spa. We have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The ship has everything—a spa, basketball court, several pools, restaurants and grills and pastry stands everywhere, music, a casino, nightly entertainment, a shopping emporium, a large theater, libraries, huge deck areas, a list of maybe 75 daily on-board activities, on-board movies, TV, and almost 1000 staff members who make up a kind of floating United Nations—servers and waiters and hosts from every corner of the globe.
Marlene and I are part of a Word of Life group of about 34 people. I’m giving eight messages during the week, though I must confess that preaching on a cruise has been a challenge, mostly because this is a cruise and not a Bible conference. After eating a four-course gourmet meal, it’s not easy to get people in the mood to listen to a message at 8 PM. Still, it’s going well. Our little group is one tiny fraction of nearly 2000 passengers on the cruise, some of whom have joined us for the sessions.
Our friends Dave Esther Claus are also on the cruise, not as part of the Word of Life group but simply as part of the larger group of passengers. They are dear friends from our years at Calvary in Oak Park. This morning we spent several hours together at breakfast.
Since last Sunday we’ve been in Fairbanks, rode the domed car on the Alaska Railroad to Denali, took the Tundra Tour into Denali National Park were we saw moose, caribou, seven grizzlies, trumpeter swans, Dall sheep, arctic squirrels, snowshoe hare, the Willow Ptarmigan, nesting ravens, and we even saw a lone wolf silhouetted high on a ridge. We’ve seen most (but not all) of Mt. McKinley, eaten reindeer sausage, and some members of the tour have seen Alaskan huskies, taken a jet boat tour, visited a gold mine, and we’ve all experienced 20 hours of sunlight because during this time of year, the sun doesn’t go down until almost midnight. We loved Talkeetna, a funky little town that served as the model for the town in the TV show Northern Exposure. Most of the McKinley expeditions leave from Talkeetna.
Some people get seasick on a cruise. Marlene and I both were a bit dizzy when we woke up yesterday but like most people do, we adjusted to it by the end of the day. Our stateroom is small and cozy, with no balcony or porthole, but that just means we don’t spend much time there.
So far we’ve been in Fairbanks, Denali, Talkeetna, Anchorage, Seward, we’ve visited the Hubbard Glacier, now we’re in Juneau, and tomorrow I’m not sure where we’ll be–Skagway maybe. You sort of lose track of the details on a cruise like this. As I wrote a few friends the other day . . . Alaska rocks! I’m glad we’ve finally had a chance to explore this great state. Time to wrap up. The evening meal starts in an hour and then I teach after that. We are having a wonderful time. The whole trip has been relaxing and encouraging. Marlene loves it. And I’m doing fine even without the Internet.