Departure – Canada Place, Vancouver
We took a break from our Canadian Adventure to go on a 7 day (There and Back again) cruise to Alaska via the “Inside Passage” departing from Canada Place Vancouver. Our ship was the Holland America line “Nieuw Amsterdam” (New Amsterdam). We had arrived earlier and as a result we had to wait, but the good news we were one of the first to board, the bad news it was a long wait for our luggage. I shall say right off I will never sail with Holland America again. The cabin was fine, the food was excellent and the crew very polite. However, what you pay is not the final price, they add on hotel service charge, and a service charge for a drink. We are used to all inclusive with complementary drinks with meals, no hidden surcharges and gratuities left for us to decide on. It did not help that they confiscated my dress sgian-dubh (ske-an do) an imitation knife which is part of my highland dress outfit and the KILT pin. As this was my formal dress my partner and I felt reluctant to attend the two formal evenings. As a result of that we ate our meals in the Lido Restaurant and had a great selection of meals around the world. Really loved those salads.
Our fist night cruising allowed us to explore the ship, the shops and go to a show (the only one we did go to). The show team were very talented, but the volume was deafening. I do stage photography and am used to shows, but this really was loud and yes it was colourful.
The first port of call was Juneau – the State Capitol City. (Following from Wikipedia) Juneau, Alaska’s remote capital, sits in the state’s panhandle, at the base of 3,819-ft. Mount Roberts. It’s a popular cruise-ship stop, reachable only by boat or seaplane. A tram carries visitors 1,800 feet up Mount Roberts to an alpine area with hiking trails, wildflowers and views of Gastineau Channel. This is also the site of the Juneau Raptor Centre, dedicated to local birds. A port that has four cruise liners in is going to be busy. While nearly all passengers headed for the Mount Roberts Tramway or other tourist attractions we opted to explore the city and visit the museum, which was very interesting on local history. We wandered around the town making our way back to the dock plaza and the Mt. Roberts tramway station. It takes about 5 minutes to get to the station at the 1,800 foot point. Feeling hungry we partook of lunch – very nice it was too. Making our way to the Ranger Station we asked if there was a circular trail that would take about an hour to walk. There was indeed, and we were advised to take the right hand as that would be easier for us going down the large flight of stairs rather then climbing them. (We were glad we took that advice). The views at that level we good, they got even better as we climbed up the trail. The Ranger had given us a map and there was a point marked “Father Brown’s Cross” which was a 1/2 mile up from the Alpine loop trail we were on. In for a penny in for a pound, we plodded up that extra 1/2 mile. Those kind souls coming down gave encouragement to stick to it as the view was worth it. I’ll let you decide if it was.
We thought it was, and very pleased we were to have taken the time and energy to get there.
Our next stop was Skagway: Skagway is a compact city in southeast Alaska, set along the popular cruise route the Inside Passage. It’s home to gold-rush-era buildings, now preserved as part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. The White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad runs vintage locomotives past the famously steep Chilkoot trail and offers sweeping mountain views during its climb toward Canada.
If it was not for the modern traffic I would have thought we had stepped back in time. As the blurb above states “gold rush era buildings each one with its own story. Even new builds have to comply with “the look”. Gateway to the Chilkoot trail Skagway had an unsavoury reputation thanks to one Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith II. We strolled up and down “Main Street” like many tourists and the spirit of “Soapy Smith” lives on with retailers enticing customers into shops with free charms. Two routes to the Klondike Goldfields originated from Skagway – The main being the Chilkoot Trail, the other the White Pass Trail (aka The Dead Horse Trail). Each have their own bloody history and tales of woe. It was at Skagway the second highlight of our adventure occurred, again it involved a train journey up the White Pass on the White Pass & Yukon Railway.
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
The second highlight on the cruise – Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a vast area of southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage, a coastal route plied by cruise ships and other vessels. Stretching north of the town of Gustavus, the bay is flanked by high peaks, including Mount Fairweather, and glaciers like the huge Grand Pacific Glacier. Bartlett Cove is the starting point for forest and riverside trails. Wildlife includes humpback whales and puffins.
On our Canadian Adventure we walked over a minute part of the Athabasca Glacier here we stood on a ship looking at nature in the raw. In fact we saw 3 active glaciers out of the seven: Margerie Glacier, Grand Pacific Glacier and Johns Hopkins Glacier.
We stood on the deck listening to the sound of silence being disturbed by the groans and creaks of the living glaciers as the slowly moved their way to the sea. On 4 occasions we heard a deep rumble vibrate through the air. We later found out from a passenger on another ship that was the Margerie Glacier Calving. Alas we never saw a calving.
Ketchikan is an Alaskan city facing the Inside Passage, a popular cruise route along the state’s southeastern coast. It’s known for its many Native American totem poles, on display throughout town. Nearby Misty Fiords National Monument is a glacier-carved wilderness featuring snowcapped mountains, waterfalls and salmon spawning streams. It’s also home to rich wildlife including black bears, wolves and bald eagles.
According to Wikipedia: Ketchikan has the world’s largest collection of standing totem poles, found throughout the city and at four major locations: SaxmanTotem Park, Totem Bight State Park, Potlatch Park, and the Totem Heritage Center. Most of the totems at Saxman Totem Park and Totem Bight State Park are recarvings of older poles, a practice that began during the Roosevelt Administration through the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Totem Heritage Center displays preserved 19th-century poles rescued from abandoned village sites near Ketchikan. We never saw any of them due to the fact that it lived up to its title as “Rain Capital of Alaska”. We did enjoy a light snack as we wandered around the city before returning to the ship for our journey back to Vancouver.
Alaskan Adventure Video
The Icefield Parkway trip was the base line on which I would compare with the other excursions on this 21 day combined Canadian/Alaskan Adventure.
So far we had flown out to Banff via Toronto, Calgary from Glasgow. Then the coach trip through the rockies, all in the first 4 days. Today’s adventure was Part 1 of a 2 day journey on one of the great railway trips in the world. We were travelling on the Rocky Mountaineer on the “Through the Clouds” route from Jasper to Vancouver. A two day sojourn from the Rockies to the plains all in the comfort of a domed rail coach. We had opted for the “Gold Leaf” service as opposed to the Silver Leaf service.
We arrived at (the now opened) Jasper railroad station where our two large cases were whipped away – the last we would see of them until we got to our hotel room in Kamloops. As the time approached for boarding and departure the excitement mounted in the station waiting room – Finally with the ringing of
a bell and the traditional time honoured call “ALL ABOARD” we made our way to our allocated seats in our allocated coach. Our personal coach crew of two chefs and four lovely ladies were introduced and drinks were served for the departure toast.
Fife Circle to Tweedmouth and Back
SRPS (Scottish Railway Preservation Society) Railtours Fife Coast and Border’s Railway steam special. Hauled by Sir William Stanier’s iconic Black Five 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier.
We set off at 08:50 from Linlithgow on time. Our train of 10 passenger coaches + 1 service coach was headed / hauled by Ex LMS Stainier Black Five 44507 “The Lancashire Fusilier” and tailed by a type 37 diesel. The day promised to be interesting and hopefully the weather would be mild with no rain.
(1) Our train arrives
(1) Technical details: Canon 500D, f6.3, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 50 mm, Shutter 1/100th sec ISO 100
On this trip we would cross the river Forth four times. Twice outbound and twice return. We would travel round the Fife Circle picking up passengers at Dunfermline Town (Photo Stop), Kirkcaldy, Dalgety Bay
(2) Crossing the River Forth for 1st of four crossings.[/caption]
(2) Technical details: Canon 500D, f7.5, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 20 mm, Shutter 1/125th sec ISO 100
There was a planned photo-stop at Dumfermline Station whilst we awaited our path on the circle. Most photographers stayed on the same platform. As we would be here for some time I opted for a different less crowed photography point i.e. The other platform.
(3) Dunfermline Photo Stop
(3) Technical details: Canon 500D, f5.6, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 50 mm, Shutter 1/80th sec ISO 100
From Dumfermline made our way around the Fife stopping for passenger at Kirkcaldy and Dalgety Bay before making our way to Edinburgh Waverley to pick up our final passengers. Then it was full steam ahead to Tweedmouth and the Borders Railway
(4) Gathering Speed towards Edinburgh[/caption]
(4) Technical details: Canon 500D, f6.3, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 110 mm, Shutter 1/160th sec ISO 100
We arrived at Tweedmouth on time and made our way to lunch at Abbotsford.
(5) Technical details: Canon 500D, f6.3, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 50 mm, Shutter 1/100th sec ISO 100
(6) Technical details: Canon 500D, f5.6, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 200 mm, Shutter 1/250th sec ISO 1000
Unfortunately due to a signal check we lost our right of way and had to wait for a suitable space in traffic.
(7) Technical details: Canon 500D, f5.6, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 200 mm, Shutter 1/200th sec ISO 1250
We reversed our Outbound route Stopping at Dalgety Bay, Kirkcaldy, Dumfermline and a 45 minute water stop at Winchburgh Junction.
(8) Technical details: Canon 500D, f5.6, Canon 18-200 mm Zoom @ 200 mm, Shutter 1/250th sec ISO 1000
Despite losing time on the return journey prior to Edinburgh we had made up time and arrived back at Linlithgow as scheduled. Throughout the journey the volunteer SRPS staff had provide a very professional service to the passengers.
Scottish Youth Festival Final
Regulars readers will recall that my partner, Susan is heavily involved in the Am-Drama scene in Scotland. She holds the Posts of
- Edinburgh District Secretary
- Eastern Divisional Secretary
- Member of the SCDA Scene Magazine Committee
- Member of the Festivals Committee
SCDA – Scottish Community Drama Association more commonly called, SCDA or Scottish Community Drama hold an annual Youth Drama Festival (1-Act Plays) and an Open Festival. In both festivals clubs enter at district level and winners go onto Divisional level. Winners from Divisional finals go to the Scottish final. Youth teams festival finishes with the Scottish Final.
My involvement is minimal – I take pictures and find the challenge in getting a production shot which shows the actors portrayal of character and not a posed shot and taking into account the stage lighting.
This year the Scottish Youth Final was held at Birnam Arts Centre in Dunkeld and organised by SCDA Northern Division on 17th June 2017.
Kirkintilloch Players: The Wall
Winners and Scottish Champions SCDA 1-Act Festival 2017 Click here or on image to see full album of The Wall
(1) The Wall – Technical details: Canon EOS 5DMkII, f2.8, Canon 70-200 mm Zoom @ 160 mm, Shutter 1/80th sec ISO 3200
Thurso Players: Box
Box by Linday Price – Performed by Thurso Players at SCDA 2017 1-Act Youth Festival
(2) Technical details: Canon EOS 5DMkII, f2.8, Canon 70-200 mm Zoom @ 142 mm, Shutter 1/160th sec ISO 1000 (Click on image for full album)
Indelible Arts Theatre: Sparkleshark
Indelible Arts Theatre production of Philip Ridley’s Sparkleshark at the SCDA 2017 1-Act Youth Festival
(3) Technical details: Canon EOS 5DMkII, f2.8, Canon 70-200 mm Zoom @ 102 mm, Shutter 1/100th sec ISO 1000 (Click on image for full album)1/400th sec ISO 2000
Unmasqued Drama Company: Remembrance
Unmasqued Drama Company’s production of Mark Rees’ Remembrance at the SCDA 2017 1-Act Youth Festival – Scottish Final
(4) Technical details: Canon EOS 5DMkII, f2.8, Canon 70-200 mm Zoom @ 110 mm, Shutter 1/125th sec ISO 320 (Click on image for full album)
Scarborough Spa Express
My birthday was in May and my partner asked what I would like as a present. Hmm tough question with so many answers. However, we have a bucket list, not a real fanciful one though it has one really must do before we go trip. On our list was a trip to Scarborough behind steam. A quick check on the net showed that West Coast Railways has an Express to Scarborough on the North route starting from Carnforth. The route – Carnforth, Hellifield, Skipton, Keighley, Shipley, Leeds, Lancaster, Preston, Blackburn, Hebden Bridge, Brighouse, Wakefield KG and York. Train would be deisel hauled from Carnforth to York (Network Rail’s conditions), Diesel would be swapped for steam locomotive at loop outside York and thence to Scarborough. For our trip we would be hauled by two diesel loco Type 37 and 47 and our steam locomotive would be the ex-LMS Stainier Jubilee class Express passenger engine 45699 Galatea.
(1) Technical details: Pentax K-50, f8, Sigma 18-270 mm Zoom @ 31 mm, Shutter 1/80th sec ISO 800
(2) Technical details: Pentax K-50, f8, Sigma 18-270 mm Zoom @ 31 mm, Shutter 1/80th sec ISO 800
(3) Technical details: Pentax K-50, f8, Sigma 18-270 mm Zoom @ 155 mm, Shutter 1/125th sec ISO 400
(4) Technical details: Pentax K-50, f8, Sigma 18-270 mm Zoom @ 250 mm, Shutter 1/400th sec ISO 1600
(5) Technical details: Pentax K-50, f8, Sigma 18-270 mm Zoom @ 128 mm, Shutter 1/200th sec ISO 200
(6) Technical details: Pentax K-50, f8, Sigma 18-270 mm Zoom @ 128 mm, Shutter 1/200th sec ISO 200
I was tempted to use that old essay title used by many of us on return to school after any holiday break – “What I did on Holiday”. In a sense this was a very special holiday in many ways. I had watch my partner battle her cancer, facing decisions on treatment and her battle to regain strength. At the start of 2016 we planned this holiday and we had set three objects to attain:
- Travel on Strathspey Railway
- See Dolphins
- See White Tailed Eagle
- Enjoy ourselves
We had hired a caravan at Coulmore Bay, North Kessock, Inverness from Val Beales Chalmers. We hired her smaller caravan before, but this 6 berth was a superb base for our touring around Sutherland etc.
21/08/2016 – Strathspey Railway: We boarded the steam hauled train at Aviemore Station. It was hauled by Ex-LMS 2-6-0 Class 2MT no. 46512 “E. V. Cooper, Engineer” for our return trip to Broomhill. (Click here on image right to view album). We arrived at the caravan unpacked and had dinner. The journey had tired out Susan, so a quiet night sitting down at the old ferry dock in North Kessock.
Following day 22/08/2016 – Two Castles and A Canal: An early start of the day saw us heading east towards the Moray Firth in search of Macbeth’s Cawdor Castle. It was not until I entered the basement of the castle did it dawn on me that I had previously been to this castle. We enjoyed a walk around the grounds and garden, alas we could not tackle maze as it was being renovated. From Cawdor we headed east for a long drive to our next historic castle Urquhart. (Urquhart Gallery) This was a tactical error due to the site being a tourist attraction with nearly all the tour busses stopping to drop off their passengers. In fact it was too much for the both of us – so we cut short our visit and headed for Fort Augustus – see Gallery.
A Special Trip – Orkney: Susan was invited by a drama friend to visit Orkney I was included in the invite. We were sailing from Gills Bay to St Margaret’s Hope by the first ferry of the day. We left our caravan at 5 am on a very foggy Monday morning. I had set up TomTom (SatNav) to give me directions. Even as I type this I shudder at that drive up via unclassified roads, single track (to me farm tracks) lanes as well as the main roads. I’ll give the programmers of the SatNav their due – the device got me straight there in less time I would have taken using just the main roads. Never again I tell you. I turned left and came face to face with a family of deer fine in clear weather but in fog!. We did get to Orkney and Susan friends made us welcome and took us round the tourists spots like the Italian Chapel, Skara Bra etc. (Click here or on image at left to view Orkney Gallery)