Sunday 30 September 2012

Nottingham half marathon

Got back home last night and went to see the half marathon this morning.
Over 8,000 runners in the event and we saw most of them including Mike and Sarah down near the station.
No idea why Mike is dressed as a fairy as Darren told me he was joining in the  'most Robin Hoods in one place ever' attempt. Maybe they sent him the wrong outfit through the post.
Love his Team Jamaica running shoes.

Friday 28 September 2012

Action shots

Arrived back in London this morning and staying overnight with Darren's mum.
She is at work so we decided to take her dogs for a walk. Not very exciting or active, you might think, but I am really scared of dogs, so I am pleased with myself.
Fortunately we didn't see any other dogs otherwise it could have been as frightening as yesterdays experience.
It took two of us to walk them as when I tried with all three I got tangled up in the leads and had to be a bit of a contortionist to sort it out.
Also, keeping with the action theme, we were amazed to find a sandy beach in Chicago so I had to have a quick paddle.
Ps, I do own a few other clothes but this is my 'cold weather on holiday look' so I have no option. Look closely and it is a different jumper.

Thursday 27 September 2012

Stress, tension, headache

How many symptoms do I have today?
I am shaking as I write and have a thumping headache.
We are at the top of the Sears Tower and they have a little glass capsule off the edge where you can stand if you are crazy.
Daz did fine and I was on it very briefly, but I am a nervous wreck now.
Amazing views of Chicago though.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Anish Kapoor - wow

Firstly I probably need to correct my earlier blog which may have given the impression that Paul was singing 'overweight lover' to Susan. I would like to say that both of them are slim and I actually meant that the blues singer we went to see was rather heavy. Please don't sue me.
Chicago has loads of massive skyscrapers, but today I am enjoying sculptures.
I am surprised to find that Anish Kapoor has made sculptures for both Nottingham and Chicago. In fact I took a photo of the Nottingham one about a month ago. It seemed impressive at the time, but like the difference in the size of the buildings between the two cities, the 'bean' in Chicago is much bigger than the 'dish' in Nottingham.

Chicago sculpture - sponsored by Visit Scotland

Arrived in Chicago yesterday afternoon and went to a great blues bar with Susan and Paul who are also here on holiday.
He sang a couple of his own songs, one called 'Overweight lover' was pretty good.
Sightseeing this morning and the best thing so far is this beautiful sculpture.
Unfortunately, more than a couple minutes have passed since we saw it so I have forgotten what it was called. There was no explanation , but it had a little tiny silver man staring up at a gigantic horses head.
It might have been 'the kelpies' -sponsored by Visit Scotland. Well, I am inspired to go there so it must be worth the effort.

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

We are just passing through the area where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid held up their final Great Northern Flyer.
We have also just stopped at Havre where they have one of these massive locomotives on display.
I have not seen the film for years so I can't remember how they stopped the trains, but it must have been an impressive sight.
The weather is sunny and warm today, but our train is keeping close to the border with Canada and some places on our journey have up to 200 inches of snow per year.

Monday 24 September 2012

Amtrak to Chicago

We boarded the train for a 48 hour journey across north America to Chicago.
We have a sleeper carriage with drop down bunk beds and we are having a great time.
They gave us champagne on setting off and this afternoon we are signed up for cheese and wine tasting.
The scenery is amazing and we are heading through Montana, just leaving East Glacier Park.

Joe Nathan - Texas legend

Arrived back in Seattle and caught a bus to the Amtrak station. Left our luggage there and walked almost next door past the Seattle Mariners baseball stadium. They had a game starting at 1pm so we bought tickets and went in.
Surprisingly it was kids appreciation day and we joined in the kids parade that went right down to the pitch and walked all the way around it.
We watched the players warming up and there was one thrower right next to the walkway who looked really good.
I asked a staff member who it was and she didn't know so she asked him and he drawled 'my names Joe.' I asked if he would start and he said he was a closer. I also asked who he played for and the answer was Texas.
I looked him up in the programme and he was called Joe Nathan and he earns $7,000,000 per year.
It was a bit like watching Man Utd warming up and asking Wayne Rooney the same question!
Really looked forward to watching him close out the game but we had to leave at the end of the 8th innings and he kept them in the lead in the 9th.
Final score 3-2 to Texas Rangers.
Good way to spend the day.

Sunday 23 September 2012

Victoria - My first trip to Canada

We made a very short stop in Canada to see Victoria, named after the queen.
Alaska is a very funny shape and the whole south east area where we have travelled is very long and thin and hugs the coast. Some of it is only a few miles wide.
It must be very frustrating for Canada as they have all of the inside bit, but not the seaside. However, they do eventually get some coast, and Victoria is on it.
Here is a day and evening shot of the government building.
Maybe you are getting the impression that I am short of things to say about this place. Pretty but very similar to England.

Saturday 22 September 2012

Alaska - the big four

A while ago I did the Italian big four which were pizza, wine, ice cream and cappuccino. However, in Alaska I think it should be living creatures, so I have chosen bear, salmon, eagle and whale.
Darren took the photos on his new camera, so here are our best efforts...

Thursday 20 September 2012

Skagway - gateway to the Klondike

We are as far north as we are going now, in the gold rush town of Skagway. I think it only still exists because of tourism from the cruise ships and everything nowadays caters for the soft tourists.
You can pan for gold in troughs and they heat the water so you fingers don't get cold.
The town is only three streets wide and has a railroad that was built in 1898 to help the prospecters get to the Klondike.
I am stood in front of the massive snow clearer that was in service until 1964.
Thought about taking the scenic train journey but it cost $125 each for 40 miles. I thought trains in England were the most expensive in the world per mile, but maybe they haven't heard of this place.
Very nice though.

Glaciers and icebergs

Got up at 6.30 this morning as it is a very exciting day. We are going to cruise around Tracy Arm Fjord.
It is about 25 miles long with a massive glacier at the end. Right from the start of the fjord the ships naturalist was surprised at the size of the icebergs floating towards us. He said they were the biggest he had ever seen in 20 years of visiting the area.
The bad news is that there is loads of ice in the fjord so we can't get near to the glacier, but we can see it glowing blue in the distance.
The whole fjord is filled with icebergs, bergy bits and growlers (all scientific terms for different size chunks of ice - allegedly).
It is freezing then for about ten minutes the sun comes out and the whole place is like fairyland.

Mendenhall Glacier

Arrived at Juneau, the capital of Alaska this afternoon and caught a bus up to the glacier.
It is about 20 minutes out of the town and the driver told us that there are no roads out of Juneau and a total of 44 miles of tarmac. Surprising for a US state capital.
Excellent trip, we even saw a bear and Darren got a photo of it's bottom, but I wasn't quick enough on the drawer. I also saw it first and told Darren and an American lady overheard. She hollered out 'theres a bear' at about 100 decibels, which I don't think helped it stay around.
Huge generalisation, but many Americans have a volume control issue.

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Ketchikan - lovely drinking street

Finished our walking tour with map and back to Creek Street. Found O'Brien's bar which is an outdoor offshoot from the bar round the corner.
Had a few wines which come in their own glass with a tear off lid and sat in the sunshine while the tide came in.
The Bartender, uncle Ted told us that a bear cub comes every day to eat salmon next to the bar and we were going to stay until he turned up. Unfortunately, we thought we might miss the boat so missed him, but a lovely time was had by both.

Ketchikan Alaska

Ketchikan is one of the rainiest places in the world, and a crew member said it is only the second time this season that they have arrived here when it hasn't been raining, and this is the last cruise of the year!
They get over 13 feet of rain each year, but none yet today.
The cruise ship is the biggest thing in the city, and with 13,000 inhabitants, it is the sixth largest city in Alaska.
Walked along the old red light district, seen some massive salmon spawning and saw a bald eagle sitting on a post.
Been on a bus trip where one of the highlights was the driver pointing out where he lived with his mum and dad. But then again, there aren't that many things, apart from the scenery and wildlife to point out when you have to talk for a whole hour.

Sky tower and giant spiders

Queued for ages to get to the top of the Sky Tower.
Excellent view and I can see our hotel. We are just behind the black triangular shaped building in the middle of the picture. We can see the Tower from our hotel room although it is partly obscured by a half built building across the road. Darren has solved this problem by opening our patio doors and walking along what could possibly be called a balcony, but is actually only about a foot wide and with a very flimsy looking railing to take a photo from a different angle. I took about two steps but was too frightened to go further.
Paul sent us a newspaper article that said that two giant 3D daddy long legs had been painted on the roof of a factory in Seattle and we saw them from the top of the tower. It looked pretty realistic, particularly when you weren't expecting to see them.

Way, way up north

On a cruise that left Seattle on Sunday afternoon and are heading directly north to Alaska.
Lovely bright sunshine today and we keep looking out for whales, eagles and other wildlife. We have seen what we think are a few porpoises leaping in the waves along the side of the ship.
The ship is massive and we have a cabin on the 14th floor, which also happens to be the same floor as the pizza bar and the swimming pools.
There is a nightclub on the 18th floor on a raised platform. It has a moving walkway to get to it as it is slightly uphill and we have spent a while messing around on it trying to recreate a video I saw on you tube where the band have a load of running machines and they dance backwards and forwards on it in time to the music. (You need to see it to understand what I mean.)
It's a sea day today so you can either go to the onboard entertainment, or make your own.