This is the story of our family’s first adventure to Alaska on Holland America’s cruise ship, “The Amsterdam.” On our way we would make a stop in Oregon for Trevor’s grauation and pick up Nana, who would be our fellow adventurer. Where are we off to? Alaska! Brynn, will you check under the car? Any cats? After checking the garage carefully for cats we headed to Billings where we spent the night and fueled up on breakfast. Then we were off cross-country headed for Oregon where we would meet up with Trevor. We saw a lot of great places along the way and we enjoyed some great food. The drive from Sheridan, Wyoming to Ashland, Oregon is about 20 hours so we tried to break it up as much as we could with stops along the way. This was a refueling stop. We stopped in the tiny town of Grass Valley, Oregon so that the kids could let off some steam. Well, all of us were able to let off a little bit of steam. We leaned over the bridge at the Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint. We entered Crater Lake National Park where there was still a lot of snow in June. Brynn loved it. Crater Lake Lodge is located 1,000 feet above the lake on the southwest rim of the Crater Lake Caldera. It’s almost 100 years old having been built in 1915 to provide overnight accommodations to visitors. We arrived in Ashland after dark. Go knock! Hi, Trev! Hey, you guys made it! As soon as we arrived in Ashland we took Trevor with us to the Medford Oregon Airport where we picked up Nana. She flew in this evening from Dallas to see Trevor’s graduation. and, of course, to see the rest of us. Yeah, now we say, “Oh, isn’t it great they graduated,” “and they have a job.” As soon as her bags arrived, we headed out for ice cream, and then back to our hotel. Trevor’s graduation! Yeah? What time is it, Krista? It’s 7:17 … in the morning! Today Trevor would graduate with his master’s degree in music from Southern Oregon University. He already has a job lined up this fall teaching elementary school kids music in Portland, Oregon. [music playing] There he is. He just came past. I see him. I see him. Trevor Scott Bateman [wild cheering] [applause] [more applause] [music playing] After Trevor’s commencement ceremonies at Southern Oregon University’s campus were over we took Trevor and Moses out to eat lunch. We chose Smithfield’s in downtown Ashland where we sat outside under the shade of a live oak tree to eat our meal. [music playing] They had great steaks and ribs and all kinds of things on their extensive menu. [music playing] Last but not least. All right! When we were done eating our meal we all went outside and stood for a family photo. It was late in the day and we had to head for Seattle. We stopped in Portland on our way to see my nephew Zach Parsons who had just moved to Portland after graduating from BYU in landscape management. We had a fun time eating a buffet meal together even though the restaurant was suspiciously empty. Happy Father’s Day! Happy Fathers Day! Today was the day we would finally board the ship and we were all very excited to head for the port in Seattle. There’s the Space Needle over to the left. You can see it now. This is kind of ruining my video, rain! Well, welcome to Seattle! It’s right there: the smaller of the two. We arrived dockside at Holland America’s cruiseship, the Amsterdam. Tate, turn around. She’s gonna band you like a goose! These little red guys, don’t they look like they’re from a 40s movie? Let’s go explore the boat! [music playing] [ship’s announcement tones sound] Well, once again ladies and gentlemen, this is your cruise director. [unintelligible announcements overhead] Again, welcome on board. So glad you made it. And you are in for an Alaskan adventure! [music playing] You’re not going to be overdressed for this place. Tess, what’s happening? we’re moving! I’m so excited! It is. It’s pretty cool, huh? Daddy, will it go fast? Yeah. It’s going to go much faster than this. Are we in the sea? Yeah. That’s a sail. Oh, so you need cloth so the wind will push it? That’s right. The wind pushes the sail. but we don’t need cloth? No. We have a different kind of boat that we’re on. We’re on a diesel ship. A diesel ship? Yeah, so we don’t need the wind to sail with. So … so how do we get across? We have an engine and propellors. Oh. What are propellors? This evening we got dressed up and went to the ship’s fancy restaurant The Pinnacle Grill. Scoot around and I’ll sit by you. How was the escargot? Actually I thought it was pretty good. It was good, wasn’t it? How was the escargot, girls? It was actually … it was not bad. It was surprisingly good, wasn’t it? I got a ribeye. It’s very good. Your ribeye looks pretty good. My filet mignon is delicious. It’s really good. After dinner we went down to the lounge to see shows and comedians. Okay, ask any one of the girls. The best part about a cruise ship is breakfast in bed. You just check boxes the night before and it magically appears. The pool isn’t bad either. And then there’s ice cream available 24 hours a day. Our cruise ship even had a shopping mall set up outside around the pool so that we could buy souvenirs from Alaska without even having to get off of the boat. Tess found a wolf who would be her companion on the boat. By far one of our favorite activities was just sitting and talking after eating a meal in the lido buffet. Hi, Brynn! Hi, Dad! Both Tate and Tess made friends in the kids’ program Club HAL We soaked up the sun in the crow’s nest while we listened to people cheer for the United States in the World Cup games. At 3 o’clock in the afternoon they served High Tea. Maybe a strawberry on top. We experimented with all kinds of herbal teas. Okay, what kind of tea is it? Orange spice. Orange spice. All right let’s see it change color. Ready? Yeah, I’m ready. I’m excited. Is it changing color yet? Not yet. I’ll shake it. What did you get? All sweet. [laughter] Well, it’s kind of a … I can’t remember what it’s called but it’s not bad. and then I got chocolate and white woven bread and an eclair. I got banana bread and whatever this is with berries. And I had a big dollop of cream here that I used on my almond roll. But what was the best part? Better, even better than the chocolate? Breakfast in bed. Breakfast in bed. You just ordered breakfast and had breakfast in bed? So what did they bring you for breakfast this morning? I had orange juice, hot chocolate eggs, ham Froot Loops That’s it. Toast. I’m going to get toast tomorrow with a bunch of things of Nutella Nutella, huh? How many packets of Nutella are you going to order? Ten. All right. Time for a nap? I’m feeling the ship move here. What did we get, Tate? We got a sting ray! A sting ray! It’s a sting ray on the bed! It’s quarter till ten and the sun’s still up! It looks like it’s five! Isn’t that crazy? The midnight sun. Are you going to bed? Say, “No, I’m waiting for my shrimp cocktail.” If you fall asleep, what happens to your ice cream? Dad will eat it. Don’t you dare do it! It’s Tuesday morning and we woke up and this is what we encountered outside. We’re supposed to go sightseeing today in a fjord to see a glacier but it’s pouring rain outside. The winds are going. There’s probably … ten-foot swells. There were five-foot yesterday and these are at least twice as high. And there’s a dense fog that’s settled in. [excited chatter] Tate brought this back to the table and I said, ” Ah,” “Tate, that looks good.” “What kind is it?” And she said, “I don’t know,” “I just wanted the raspberry.” And it’s gone. Yeah, it’s self-serve now. Krista says the eggnog mousse tastes like Christmas. Does it? Oh, yeah. What did you find? I don’t know. It just looked good. Eggnog. Eggnog mousse. Mint tea? It’s very good. Did you know you can make them from the fresh mint leaves in our garden? Yeah, but I … I don’t want to. Oh. The rain and fog continued in Stephens Passage off the southeastern coast of Alaska. We were headed for Tracy Arm Fjord where we would see a large glacier at its end. We found ourselves jockeying for a good position where we might be able to see the glacier better maybe somewhere dry and warm. Pretty wet out here, isn’t it, Tate? Yeah. Look at that fog! Hey, cool. It’s kinda moving in. Tracy Arm Fjord is a long narrow waterway just wide enough to allow a cruise ship to pass. It’s gorgeous! Isn’t it beautiful? Steep granite walls rise right up out of the ocean and waterfalls stripe the sides of the fjord. Over 30 miles long up to a third of the fjord is covered in ice. At the end of the fjord are the twin Sawyer Glaciers I don’t know why anybody wouldn’t be inside either. We weren’t sure how close we would be able to get to the glacier because of large chunks of ice floating in the water. But there it was: Sawyer Glacier. it’s huge! Do you see it, Tess? Do you see the big glacier down there? Dad, that’s the thing where they did the thing for the Titanic! I took a picture of her family and they were standing in front of the glacier and it was a very nice picture and then right before I snapped it she went … [holds up fingers] like that. [laughter] So now they’re letting the port side of the boat see the glacier so everybody gets a chance from their stateroom. – There was a family that was taking pictures – Uh huh? with a little girl who was about two, two-and-a-half and they were holding up a packet of saltines and she would smile because she saw the saltines and then they’d take it away and then they’d take another picture and hold it up so she’d smile. Go inside where it’s warm now? – Yes. I got on the elevator and this little kid ran off laughing. So I get on the elevator and I see all the buttons have been lit up like a Christmas tree and I went, “Oh!” No, I didn’t think it was very funny Now it’s … Now it’s a little funny [laughter] Tate is all dressed and ready to go to dinner. Tate is ready or Tess is ready. [laughs] one of those T and T kids I think you can get that as your side dish. I think we should get the seafood platter and the duck paté for dinner. – I want to try duck paté. – Duck paté? Brynn: What happens on the cruise, stays on the cruise. Like in “The Office”? On a cruise anything can happen. I’m eating it the fancy way … but not the fancy way. 10:12 at night! It looks like it’s 7 or 8 out there! And … It’s still light out there! We’re in Juneau. Here’s the view from the window. We got off the boat in Juneau and it was our first time in Alaska. We were sure glad it was June because it was freezing cold. We found some benches where we sat down to put on hats, gloves, coats and scarves whatever we could find. The tram takes us up there to the top of Mt. Roberts. – Thank you. Alright. Jump on. The Gold Belt Mt. Roberts Tramway opened in 1996 It connects downtown Juneau to the top of Mt. Roberts which is high above downtown Juneau. The people here say that it’s the only aerial tramway in southeast Alaska and it rises steeply 1800 feet. [laughing] That’s the halfway point. The tramway took us high above a rainforest to the mountain house where we had great views of the city of Juneau and Gastineau Channel which is a narrow strip of seawater between two mountains. The people who operate the Mt. Roberts tramway claim that it its one of the most vertical tramways in the world. Don’t rock the tram! We weren’t sure exactly what we would find at the top but we did find a goat and a gift shop, so… it was pretty fun. Ah, that’s nice. We did find a theater where we learned about the Tlingit Indian tribe native to Juneau and we did see some people playing Christmas music in the lobby. That’s how cold it was. We left the gift shop and went out to the observation deck to look out at the city and water below. Oops! Careful, Nana! We also checked out the map and found the Nature Center. Do they make you carry that in your teeth? He’s taking me hiking with my walker! How’s the Nature Center? It was soon time to leave our perch atop Mt. Roberts We headed back down to sea level and then boarded some buses that were waiting for us. We had tickets for the ‘Best of Juneau’ whale watching tour and so we boarded busses to take us north to Auck Bay. Here we would board a sight-seeing boat to see humpback whales on their annual summer migration to Alaskan waters. The boat was named the St. Gregory. Sounded safe enough. [overhead] All right, good morning everyone and welcome aboard the St. Gregory. As we get underway this morning I do have a few safety announcements for you. Today we do have some complimentary beverages We have hot chocolate and then we’ll be setting out some donut holes here in just a few minutes and those are complimentary, as well. Nana found the hot cocoa and Tate found the donut holes so all was right. [overhead] So we do have to keep our eyes all around the boat looking in the water and also along the shorelines. You never know what we’re going to see out here on the water. And all of a sudden, there they were. We saw them. [announcer] It looks like we have two right there. So the humpback whales do travel From Hawaii back to Alaska every summer. So this is their feeding ground. So the humpback whale population around the Juneau area is here right now for one reason and that is to eat as much as they can before they return back to Hawaii where they have their breeding and feeding grounds. – Oh! – He’s slapping the water! Oh! [laughter] [camera shutters clicking] Look there’s one right here close! … so getting to see that pectoral fin is a sight that we don’t usually get to see at all. I didn’t even mention the pectoral fin in my “what to look for” … We waved goodbye to the whales and they waved back with their pectoral fins. We had been watching the whales in a place called North Pass just off the southern tip of Lincoln Island. Now we headed south to Colt Island where we would eat a salmon lunch at Orca Point Lodge. The tide was out and it was pretty windy when we arrived at Colt Island but we brought our appetites with us. We walked up the dock in search of the lodge and its dining room. What kind of tea is that? mint? mint herbal tea? As long as you have no hand sanitizer on you can pretty much touch anything You’re not going to touch that one are you? After lunch we got back on the boat and they took us back to the dock at Auck Bay. Here we boarded a bus which would take us to our next stop Mendenhall Glacier, just north of Juneau. The buses dropped us off and promised to return. We walked along a pathway with lots of others to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center part of the Tongass National Forest operated by the United States Forest Service. The center receives half a million visitors a year most coming, like us, from cruise ships. Mendenhall Glacier is a 12-mile-long glacier fed by hundreds of miles of smaller glaciers. We had some great views from the balcony and windows of the visitors center. We had to put up with a little bit of shaming about receding glaciers and how evil people are but I thought the glacier was beautiful and the ice was really blue. How old is it? 200 years old. Is it cold? [laughter] Turn around … and pose. The buses did come back as promised and we got on board and headed back to the cruise ship. We managed to stay dry as the rainstorm didn’t hit until after we boarded the buses. Of course, it was still sprinkling when we arrived back at the cruise ship. We were all very happy to find the Lido Buffet waiting for us back on the ship. It’s just after seven in the morning and we have arrived in Sitka, Alaska. This is our first view. There’s no dock or anything so we have to anchor and then they have little tender boats that bring us in to the dock. So … I bet that was that crashing sound and big splash. Nana’s already down there. – Oh, Nana’s on another one? – Okay. Down you go. Thank you. Over you go! Wow! In the confusion of getting to the tenders Nana had left before us and so we were separated. She had taken the boat just ahead of ours. We caught up to her when we got to the dock, though. We have our own welcoming party! Look! Well, that was fun! Our first goal was to find a post office so that we could send post cards. – Okay, so where’s this post office you speak of? – I think I was just appeasing you for the time being. [laughter] We did find a post office and a gift shop as well. We found that Sitka didn’t have a whole lot of attractions if you weren’t going whale watching and we had just been, in Juneau, yesterday. Get it? Good job! We made the best of it and we explored the green space along the waterfront. We looked at boats. Yeah? If we lived here … If we lived here is this where we’d keep our boat? Yup! We found a boat with a tent on it for camping. We decided our boat was more comfortable than the one with the tent. We arrived at the Sitka Sound Science Center and saw and touched all kinds of starfish, mollusks and anemones. What’s that Tate? An anemone. [laughter] – Oh-oh-oh! They just disappear! – I want to do it! – Okay! – Okay. Touch it. – Touch it. – Ooh! – Ixnay on what? – I don’t know. – I was so confused. I was, like, wait. [laughter] -What were we pointing out, Nana? – The amorous starfish? – Those loving starfish. Yes. Until my smart-aleck granddaughter said It was … a reflection! With that, we left the Sitka Sound Science Center and headed back along the waterfront to Harrigan’s Centennial Hall where we enjoyed a free concert featuring a cellist and a pianist playing Bach. [cello and piano music playing] [applause] Ketchikan, Alaska and wouldn’t you know it it was pouring rain. The first thing we did when we got off the ship was find a portico where we could hide out from the rain and figure out how to put our rain ponchos on. – It’s just a poncho, honey There’s no … there’s no arm hole. We made our way along the docks in our rain gear to our Bering Sea Crab Fisherman Tour aboard the ‘Aleutian Ballad’ This fishing vessel was one of the ships featured in season 2 of the Discovery Channel’s show “Deadliest Catch” and now it gives tours to cruise shop passengers who want to see how their dinner is caught. We found some seats in the stands up out of the rain and waited for the show to begin. – The spines are venomous. Now it’s not enough venom to kill you but it will enhance the experience. They took us out to an island inhabited by scores of bald eagles and we watched in amazement as they tossed chunks of fish to the eagles. who were obviously very happy to see our tour boat arrive. – They swooped down, swooped over, swooped … You could not take a picture and miss an eagle. – How many eagles do you think there were? – I think there were about sixty. – Yeah. – Maybe. Maybe more. – And what kind of eagles were they? – Bald eagles. Big, massive, American bald eagles. – Yeah. – They were gorgeous. And then they pulled up the first crab pot and the fun really began. Hold it up closer to your face. It makes a better picture. There you go. [laughing] – It’s creepy. – Nice work, Tate. – Are you going to hold this one Nana? – Yeah. Ooh, he’s touching me. – Yeah, but, but, he can’t … he’s not going to hurt you. – ah ah ah ah ah He’s not going to hurt you. – Okay. – Okay. Let’s do this quick. He kind of scratched me. Well, but he’s not going to pinch you. [nervous laughter] Nana, you look so brave [laughter] – Ooh, his little legs get you. – I know, but he’s … his pinchers are kind of close to me. – Tip his head down a little. There. Hold it up. Hold it up! Well, this one looks like you might have pulled him off the buffet. Tess, do you want a turn? No? Okay. Can you grab him right there? Now his tail can flip. He’s got a … What’s that? – He’s exuding black stuff. Is that caviar? [laughter] – I don’t know. – Yeah, that’s the first thing that looks delicious to me. – I’ll take your picture with him. – No. … right behind my fingers. They also showed us king crab and a large octopus they pulled up as well. [applause] It was a great voyage and we had lots of hands-on fun with sea creatures. While the rest of us headed back to the ship by way of the souvenir shops by the docks Brynn and I made a quick detour to see Creek Street. We had to hurry to be back on the ship by midday. Creek Street is a historic boardwalk shopping area built on wooden pilings along Ketchikan Creek. A century ago it was a red light district. but now there are art galleries, museums, and clothing shops along the creek. – Look at this and look at this. – Look at the size of her spoon! – No, you should just scoop it all in at once! Do it! – Ooh, that’s good! – Isn’t that good? [laughter] [laughter] – She does a little lemon mousse dance every time she … – It gives me a chill when I … Are you going to film this entire thing? – So far it’s been pretty entertaining! [laughter] Okay, watch … watch. [laughter] And yet you keep eating it. – I know. I can’t stop. Don’t you guys feel bad you didn’t get a lemon mousse? – We think it’s the giant spoon. that’s our theory. [laughter] – It gets you right there. I really enjoyed that! [laughter] – Where’d you get that? You guys look good. [chatter] [clapping and rhythmic singing] [cheering] I’ve got some herbal tea and some cheese and crackers coming with room service. I’ve got my show. – And what’s outside your window? – Huge waves! – Is it rocking? -And they’ve been hitting the window! – Yeah? – which is not comforting. After I called room service I was thinking … hot chocolate! On our last full day at sea the ship had a talent show for the kids on board. Both Tess and Tate invited us to come and hear them sing. – We’re going to go ahead and get started. So first please welcome Isabella and Tess [singing] …and here I’ll stay Let the storm rage on The cold never bothered me anyway. [applause] All right. Tate is nine years old from Wyoming and she’s going to be singing a song. [singing] Didn’t know I was lost Didn’t know I was lost Didn’t know I was lost I didn’t know [applause] What do you have there? Is that … lemon tea? Yeah, I got the last one. Well, at first I didn’t like it but Mom won’t let me have them at home. – Good idea. We should wave to those people! Wave to them. They’re waving to you. – Wave back, stupid people from Victoria! Our last port of call was the city of Victoria in beautiful British Columbia. We left the sea terminal to board a bus that would take us on a tour of the city sights a tour that was a bit abbreviated because the ship had arrived an hour and a half late. The bus took us to The Empress Hotel on the Victoria waterfront where we enjoyed sandwiches and pastries in The Empress Tea Room. The Room is furnished with rich fabrics tapestries and hand-carved tables and has hosted royalty and celebrities. They even accommodated us with pineapple herbal tea. – …classic cucumber Moroccan chicken on a marble rye roasted ham on cranberry bread and egg salad on a mini-croissant. Our signature raisin scones with our Empress cream and strawberry jam and the trick is to lather both on very heavily citrus shortbread Earl Grey mascarpone tea cups and girls, those are chocolate tea cups, so eat away! … and a Verona dark chocolate tart. – That’s a little tea cup of chocolate – And what’s it filled with? – Sugar and cream. – Roasted ham on cranberry bread. – Ooh, that looks really, really good. – Ooh, the egg salad is good. – Hi, Brynn. [laughter] – That was just a little message to future Brynn? – I just gave myself the eye. – Oh! – and that means something – Future Brynn just said something back. When we had eaten as much goodness as we could we headed outside to enjoy the bright, late evening sky of the longest day of the year as we looked out over Victoria’s Inner Harbour. We left The Empress Hotel on the bus which took us back to the Amsterdam The kids couldn’t wait to see what the stewards might have left in our cabin. – An elephant! – An elephant? – and they gave us chocolate! – You guys got an animal? – We got an elephant! – We didn’t get one! – We got an elephant! – Take a picture of it! It was our last evening on the boat and Brynn and I took a late walk on the Promenade Deck to take in the night sea air. [announcement] You can disembark the vessel at this time please remember to have with you your stateroom key card available to scan at our security terminal one final time as you make your way off the vessel. and on behalf of all of us here on Amsterdam we hope you have a safe and very pleasant journey home. – My favorite thing was breakfast delivered to my door every day. – Wasn’t that the best part of the trip? – That was the best. Yes. I loved that. – Yeah? What was the best part about being on a cruise ship? – The attractive guys. The attractive guys on the cruise ship, huh? All right, mom, what did you … ? I liked the attractive men … [laughter] especially, there was a couple of old geezers I saw coming down the … I loved the crab ship “The Deadliest Catch” That was my favorite and I loved the whale … the whale watching Ah that one was so fun! [announcement] We will now continue with our disembarckation procedure any persons holding luggage tags purple 1, 2 and 3 … – This is us! – Did you have fun? – mmhmm – All right. I think we’re ready. And with that, we headed off of Holland America’s Amsterdam and back to the real world. We took Nana to the Sea-Tac Airport to head back to Dallas and the rest of us returned to Sheridan, Wyoming by way of the Trans-Canada Highway. We had seen great sights beginning with Trevor’s graduation and then on to our Alaskan adventure: blue ice glaciers breeching whales swooping bald eagles monstrous crabs beautiful mountains great food and great fun. It was everything a vacation should have been. – Yeah but … but he’s not going to hurt you. – Ya ha ha ha!