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Glacier Bay

May 31, 2022 – Glacier Bay National Park, Gustavus, Alaska, USA

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

I ordered breakfast from room service last night (continental, bagel and lox, coffee), so I don’t have to contend with the inevitable crowds that will be up at the Lido this morning. By 9AM we are into the Glacier Bay channel, heading north to the glacier viewing area. The bow is opened up on my deck 5, so lots of people are going by my door to access that forward view. I’ll go up there later, but I’m quite happy observing all the beautiful scenery from my verandah. It’s great to be able to duck into my stateroom to warm up, work on my journal, consult the maps to determine where the ship is located, and sip cappuccino. I’m so glad I decided to go for a verandah stateroom!

Our Timing (port side)

  • Northbound – proceeding NW, facing SE
    • Geikie Glacier (snow-covered) – 9:45AM
    • Gilbert Peninsula – 10:45AM
    • Reid Glacier (snow-covered) – 11:10AM
    • Lamplugh Glacier (blue) – 11:30AM
    • Johns Hopkins (blue) – 11:45AM
    • Margerie (blue) & Grand Pacific Glaciers (dark) – 1:00PM – 2:45PM
  • Southbound – proceeding SE, facing NE
    • Rendu & Queen Inlets (Rendu & Carroll Glaciers both snow-covered & dark) – 3:45PM
    • Muir Inlet – 4:45PM
    • Bartlett Cove

I go up to the Explorations Cafe mid-morning to get a cappuccino, and end up being given some Dutch Pea soup as well, which is a very good mid-morning nourishment break. I won’t bother with lunch! It is crowded and noisy in the Crow’s Nest, since the park rangers have setup there, and believe it or not some people are playing board games as well.

Cruise ship route map in Glacier Bay
Cruise ship route map in Glacier Bay – Glacier Bay National Park

Our ship slows to give way to kayakers, who are paddling from the Safari Endeavour excursion boat by Lamplugh Glacier. We then enter the narrow Johns Hopkins Inlet to view the beautiful glacier by the same name. I go to the bow viewing area on my deck and take a few people photos and a couple of selfies, but quickly retreat back to my stateroom, since I have great views from there without the crowds.

As we round the corner and head into Tarr Inlet, the National Geographic Quest excursion boat is heading south out of the inlet, and the Seabourn Osyssey cruise ship is at the head of the inlet giving their passengers a closeup view of Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers. I take some photos of Grand Pacific Glacier, which is already visible in the distance on our Port quarter. Since Grand Pacific Glacier is quite dirty-looking, the star of the show is Margerie Glacier, which still has lots of blue-coloured ice on a distinct wall close to the shoreline. There is also a significant ice field above with dramatic chunks of ice sticking up. Mt. Fairweather is visible behind the glacier – the tallest peak in British Columbia, my home province!

The ship stays in position for at least an hour with the port side facing Margerie Glacier where my stateroom is located. The ship then turns to give the starboard side staterooms a view of Margerie Glacier for another hour before sailing SE down Tarr Inlet away from the glaciers at about 2:45PM. I take the opportunity to grab another cappuccino from the Explorations Cafe. By 3:45PM we are offshore from Rendu & Queen Inlets. The toe of Carroll Glacier in Queen Inlet comes into view first, then the viewing angle for Rendu Glacier is favourable about 10 minutes later.

This is the end of the glacier show, as we sail SE to Bartlett Cove, where the park rangers disembark to return to their headquarters. The US Parks Service only allow two cruise ships per day to visit Glacier Bay, with Holland America and Princess having priority since they have cruised Alaska the longest. Obviously Seabourn and some other ships also gets some slots.

Cellist in the Lincoln Center Stage - aboard Nieuw Amsterdam
Cellist in the Lincoln Center Stage – aboard Nieuw Amsterdam

The view from my west-facing verandah on the northbound route through Glacier Bay is nothing short of spectacular, however the east-facing southbound view isn’t too exciting. We make our way eastward through Icy Strait and then turn north at Point Couverden into the Lynn Canal, on our way to Skagway tomorrow.

After having an early dinner in the main dining room, I go to the first performance in the Lincoln Center Stage. There are three performers: a cellist, a violinist, and a pianist. The cellist plays an innovative piece, while both the violinist and pianist play more traditional chamber music.

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Hubbard Glacier

May 30, 2022 – Turner and Hubbard Glaciers, Alaska, USA

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

Early this morning, I am a bit worried about not seeing the Hubbard Glacier later today, since when I’m out on the stern deck, there is a lot of fog. The ship sails past the very impressive St. Elias mountain range eastward through the Gulf of Alaska to Hubbard Glacier this morning, while another cruise ship is sailing westward. I attend the Mariner Society Welcome Reception at 11AM, where I meet some of the officers and chat with my fellow passengers with 3, 4, and 5 star Mariner status as we sip wine and snack on peanuts.

This afternoon, it clears up nicely as the ship turns into Yakutat Bay, with beautiful Mt. Cook visible. As we turn into Disenchantment Bay, I spot both Turner and Hubbard Glaciers, taking photos as we proceed. The ship eventually gets very close to the ice pack in front of the glacier face, slowly turning to allow all passengers to get views of this magnificent area.

Daniel E. Lawson – map of the Hubbard Glacier area

There is commentary from the Explorations Lounge on Deck 11, which can also be heard on outside decks. I go down to the Promenade Deck to have a look, but quickly realize I will see everything from my verandah, with the added benefit of being able to duck inside my stateroom to warm up. This is the coldest day of the trip so far, with a cold wind coming at us from the glaciers, so I wear my toque, scarf and winter coat.

Filet mignon main course in Pinnacle Grill

As the ship starts pulling out of Disenchantment Bay, I get dressed in a suit and tie for my dinner reservation in the Pinnacle Grill. I have a lovely Tanqueray 10 Gin martini to start, then crab cakes, filet mignon with sautéed mushrooms and loaded baked potato, finishing off with creme brûlée. I have a sparkling French rose with my main course. Despite the daily program saying attire is “dressy” this evening, it’s obvious that HAL no longer enforces a dress code, since I see people seated in the Pinnacle Grill who are wearing winter coats and jeans, and all manner of dress that is certainly not even close to being dressy.

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Anchorage to Whittier

May 29, 2022 – Anchorage to Whittier, Alaska and board the Nieuw Amsterdam

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

We don’t leave the hotel until 12:10PM, so I finish annotating my photos this morning, posting a new Denali-Anchorage album to my Flickr account before I leave. The hotel Wi-fi is pathetically slow, so I’m glad I have my mobile LTE roaming from Fido to work with.

I say goodbye to our Tour Director Cassandra Joy, encouraging her to look me up if she finds herself in Victoria. We board our bus to transfer to the rail station, and take an Alaska Railway dome car to Whittier, which is a 3-hour scenic trip. There is snack and drink service to the seat offered by each car’s attendant. We pass through a tunnel that is shared by road vehicles and trains – a unique approach to saving the expense of building and operating two tunnels!

The Nieuw Amsterdam is waiting for us at the dock. Check-in is slow due to the health check requirements before boarding, but it takes well under an hour before I’m in my lovely verandah stateroom on the ship. A short time later, my checked bag shows up, so I unpack and settle in.

First order of business is to find my Muster Station and register with the crew there, and then watch the safety video in my cabin. Gathering all passengers on deck at their muster stations is no longer done, in order to avoid crowding and risk of infection. I have a wonderful dinner with 4 others in the main dining room: snow crab cocktail, Alaska salmon fillet, and strawberries with ice cream. Since I have the drinks package, I have two glasses of Italian Pinot Gris with dinner. The ship leaves at 6:00PM while I’m still at dinner, which is earlier than the scheduled departure time of 10PM stated in my itinerary.

I can’t stop taking photos and video on this trip, and today is no exception. The train ride down was through a scenic inlet and moose flat wetland, and then the ship sails past snow-capped mountains and through a lovely channel with lots of islands as the sun sets behind us. I can already appreciate the charm of an Alaska cruise, and we are just starting out!

Anchorage

May 28, 2022 – Anchorage, Alaska

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

Today is a down day for me – no excursions booked. I have breakfast with a couple from my tour group. These buffet breakfasts are expensive at US$23 (with tip) / CA$30! I save money be skipping lunch.

We then decide to walk the few blocks to the Anchorage Museum to have a look at the exhibits, which include aboriginal artifacts in glass cases and multimedia info, and two floors of art exhibits, which change after a few months. Admission is US$15 for seniors for the day, or US$20 for adults.

Holland America arranges for everyone in the group to be tested at the hotel for COVID-19 again today in preparation for boarding the ship tomorrow in Whittier. Thankfully, I receive notice of a negative result an hour later, however our Tour Director tells me one of the group tested positive. They won’t be boarding the ship tomorrow, and will have to stay in Anchorage for a 5-day quarantine before flying home, if I remember the rules correctly.

I annotate my photos on my notebook computer this afternoon in my room, thinking I will make enough progress to post a new Denali album online, however it goes slower than I expect. I have a lot of photos from the first half of this trip!

I go for dinner across the street again to Orso restaurant, since I enjoyed my meal there last night. I splurge a bit more this evening, having a draft beer with Seafood Gemelli, a lovely seafood stew made with local gemelli pasta, mini clams, salmon and rockfish in a light cream sauce. I finish with a cappuccino, since the last time I had coffee was at breakfast. This meal ends up costing US$53.35 with tax and tip, which is a whopping CA$70!

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Denali to Anchorage by train

May 27, 2022 – Denali to Anchorage, Alaska by dome car train

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

i put my bags out at 7AM for pickup and then go to Karstens Public House for a cappuccino before we leave at 8:30PM by bus for the short ride to the railway station. The two McKinley Explorer dome cars we ride in today are owned and operated by Holland America. The train and engine is operated by Alaska Railway. We leave the station at 9:00AM, arriving in Anchorage at 5:30PM, an 8.5 hour, 233.4 mile trip, at an average speed of 27 mph.

McKinley Explorer train route - Denali to Anchorage
McKinley Explorer train route – Denali to Anchorage

It is a wonderful ride in the deluxe dome railcar. Since I only had a coffee at the resort, I go downstairs to the cafe for breakfast, having coffee and a continental breakfast. I chat with a young Alaska couple who I am seated with. Upstairs, we have our own bartender, who also brings us snacks, so I order some salmon spread and warm pita bread to go with a Golden Ale. The big bonus for me and many others in our group is that we spot Denali (the mountain) near the halfway point to Anchorage, and I manage to take a good photo of the tallest mountain in North America with my Canon mirrorless camera and telephoto lens.

We are staying at the Westmark Anchorage Downtown hotel, which is owned and operated by Holland America. It’s nothing special, but the room is clean and the bed is comfortable, so I’m happy. Once my bag arrives and I get settled in my room, I go for an early dinner across the street at Orso restaurant having a lovely Cashew Crusted Alaska Rockfish, with vegetables and cous cous.

We have experienced exceptionally good weather so far on this trip. The weather report for Anchorage today: 23°C, windy and hot. Warning: risk of wildfires.

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Denali

May 26, 22022 – Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour, Denali National Park, Alaska

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

The Tundra Wilderness Tour is an included excursion for everyone in our group. We are picked up from the main entrance to the resort this morning for our 3.5 hour road trip into Denali National Park. This was originally an all-day excursion, however we now turn around at mile 43 near where the road crosses the Toklat River. Access to facilities and services in Denali remain altered due to the Pretty Rocks Landslide and the associated closure of the Park Road at Mile 43. Nonetheless, we have a successful excursion, seeing a good selection of wildlife along the shortened route, and the scenery is spectacular. Due to cloudy weather, Denali the mountain escapes us today.

Our guide tells us the slide area is sinking several inches each day due to permafrost thawing, so the Parks Service cannot keep up with hauling in all that gravel daily to keep the road open. Building a new road using a different route is not an option, since it would take years to build and it is likely to suffer from the same sinking problem. This is being caused by climate warming – average temperatures in Denali have risen 7ºF since 1950, and are rapidly increasing over the last few years.

Wildlife sightings

  • Savage River
    • Spruce Grouse
    • Ptarmigan 
    • Caribou
  • Sanctuary River
    • Caribou
  • Teklanika River
    • Grizzly bear
  • Igloo Mountain
    • Dall sheep
    • Ground Squirrels
Denali Park Road map - Mile 0 to 43
Denali Park Road map – Mile 0 to 43

Resources

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Fairbanks, Gold Dredge, Denali

May 25, 2022 – Fairbanks, Gold Dredge No. 8, Denali National Park, Alaska

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

Flying out of Dawson City, bound for Fairbanks. Gold dredge tailings along the Klondike River, Bonanza Creek & Dawson City on the Yukon River.

Check-in for our morning flight to Fairbanks happens at our hotel since there is no terminal building at the Dawson City airport. The security check happens on the apron in front of the aircraft before boarding. It’s a good thing the weather is clear with no rain! Apparently the runway was only paved in 2019. Our small group flies to Fairbanks aboard a chartered Air North Boeing 737-500 – a 1-hour flight.

We have a couple of hours to see Fairbanks, so our group wanders around a bit, seeing the Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center museum, but Fairbanks isn’t much of a tourist city. I have a very tasty hot and sour soup for lunch at Bhan Thai restaurant (TripAdvisor) with a couple from the tour group. JoeTourist recommended!

Dredge bucket line and bow gantry - Goldstream Dredge No. 8, Fox, AK
Dredge bucket line and bow gantry – Goldstream Dredge No. 8, Fox, AK

We then board our bus and are taken to nearby Gold Dredge 8 where we first encounter the Alaska Pipeline at the site entrance. We wait around for an hour for other tour buses to arrive before we are all taken to the main site on a miniature train. They give everyone a small poke bag and then everyone (except me) pans for gold, has their flecks of gold weighed, and can take them home as-is or have it made into jewelry on the spot. I’m more interested in the history of the place, so wander around taking in all the mining artifacts on display – a big old safe, accounting machines and records, clothing, equipment, and even dinosaur bones!

The dredge is partially flooded, so we aren’t allowed to go inside – a disappointment. There are bunkhouses, machine shops, a hydro generation station – complete infrastructure to support the 24-hour a day operation this dredge was built for. This was remote wilderness, so this operation had to continue to function without much support from outside. The small town of Fox is nearby, where many of the miners and their families lived.

Later in the afternoon, we board our bus and drive Highway 3 south to Denali, a 2-hour drive. We make a stop at the hamlet of Nenana, where there is an historic train station, a grocery store, a bar, and not much else. We arrive at McKinley Chalet Resort at about 7PM. This is a resort owned and operated by Holland America, so in their usual efficient manner, they are ready for us, so we are quickly assigned our rooms.

Our group is staying in the Ridge View building, which our Tour Director tells us most resort guests ask to upgrade to. My room is very nice, with two big beds, nice appointments, and a view of the mountain. I don’t wait for my checked bag to appear before going for dinner at Karstens Public House, which is part of the resort, and the only option for meals without leaving the resort grounds. I have Rigatoni with Italian sausage and garlic toast with an Alaskan ale, which is very tasty and comes with very good service.

Denali Square is the main common area of the resort, where guests can hang out, listen to outdoor performances, patronize the small shops on the perimeter, and of course partake of the food and drink from Karstens Public House on their large patio.

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Dawson City

May 24, 2022 – Dawson City, Yukon

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

I go over to the hotel’s restaurant for breakfast. It is a buffet, so I have some insipid scrambled eggs, toast, a bit of bacon, some fruit and yogurt, and of course coffee. The staff are still learning their jobs, since the restaurant has only been open for a few days. It costs me $29 – these breakfasts are expensive!

I spend the rest of the morning doing a walking tour of the city, taking photos as I go. There are lots of funky buildings to see – some very old and some new. Some of the historic locations include Jack London‘s cabin and the Robert Service cabin, both of which are closed, so I see them from the outside. The Klondike Mines Railway Locomotive Shelter has several steam engines on display inside, but it is closed too, so I take photos through the dirty windows. They also have some derelict tracked vehicles outside that I speculate (despite missing dozer blades) were probably used for hauling goods through the bush, building roads and moving gravel and dirt.

Robert Service cabin
Robert Service cabin

A condemned St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church – 1901 shows how a building foundation can be destroyed by permafrost heaving. The memory of the O’Brien Brewing and Malting Company is now reduced to a single beer wagon on a back street behind the Yukon Hotel. I walk back along the dyke on the Yukon River and approach the SS Keno sternwheel paddle steamer on display in a dry dock beside the Yukon River. This historic site is also closed, a recurring theme today! I pass by a former bank building where Robert Service once worked, the Flora Dora Hotel, another former “dance hall” in its heyday (Lulu Mae Johnson) and Klondike Kate’s restaurant & cabins.

The Dawson City Museum has some very interesting artifacts representing much of the rich history of Dawson City during the Gold Rush. The museum also houses an active Courtroom. The Riverwest Bistro on Front Street comes recommended by our tour director as the only place in Dawson City which offers espresso, so I enjoy a cappuccino and some lunch before resuming my walking tour this afternoon. Brown’s Harness Shop, 3rd Ave Blacksmith Shop, Red Feather Saloon, Ruby’s Place (historic brothel), the Downtown Hotel (home of the infamous Sour Toe cocktail) are all on my way back to our hotel.

Holland America arranges COVID-19 tests for the whole group late this afternoon in the hotel. We all test negative, so we are ready to enter the USA on our charter flight to Fairbanks tomorrow. Our hotel has a steak and salmon dinner buffet this evening. I avoid the steak since it looks like shoe leather, but the salmon fillets are nicely done in a light sauce. It makes a nice meal with rice and veggies.

Dawson City
51 photos, 1 video
Klondike River and the highway below with snow-capped mountains in the distance
Klondike River and the highway below with snow-capped mountains in the distance
Snow-capped mountains in the distance
Snow-capped mountains in the distance
Klondike River below with snow-capped mountains in the distance
Klondike River below with snow-capped mountains in the distance
The Klondike River from the air - final approach
The Klondike River from the air – final approach
Westmark Inn rooms
Westmark Inn rooms
Joe, our guide and others outside Diamond Tooth Gerties
Joe, our guide and others outside Diamond Tooth Gerties
Show lounge and casino
Show lounge and casino
Stage
Stage
Diamond Tooth Gertie
Diamond Tooth Gertie
Dancing girls performing the Can Can
Dancing girls performing the Can Can
Dancing girls performing the Can Can
Dancing girls performing the Can Can
Dancing girls performing the Can Can with Gertie
Dancing girls performing the Can Can with Gertie
Diamond Tooth Gerties Can Can Show
Diamond Tooth Gerties Can Can Show
Photo taken at midnight of our hotel with a bright sky
Photo taken at midnight of our hotel with a bright sky
New salmon-coloured house
New salmon-coloured house
Sign: Robert Service Cabin
Sign: Robert Service Cabin
Front of Robert Service Cabin
Front of Robert Service Cabin
Back of Robert Service Cabin
Back of Robert Service Cabin
New log-style house
New log-style house
Jack London Museum, Square and Cabin
Jack London Museum, Square and Cabin
Artifacts inside of Jack London Cabin
Artifacts inside of Jack London Cabin
Roof and log construction Jack London Cabin
Roof and log construction Jack London Cabin
Derelict home
Derelict home
Classic 3-gabled house with a front porch
Classic 3-gabled house with a front porch
Derelict tracked vehicle
Derelict tracked vehicle
D.Y.M.C.O. steam engine
D.Y.M.C.O. steam engine
No. 3 steam engine
No. 3 steam engine
No. 1 steam engine
No. 1 steam engine
Rebuilding a street with underground services
Rebuilding a street with underground services
A condemned St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church - 1901
A condemned St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church – 1901
Old beer wagon
Old beer wagon
Historic Yukon Hotel
Historic Yukon Hotel
Souveniers and cafes on Front Street
Souveniers and cafes on Front Street
SS Keno  sternwheel paddle steamer
SS Keno sternwheel paddle steamer
Stern of the SS Keno  sternwheel paddle steamer
Stern of the SS Keno sternwheel paddle steamer
Derelict Flora Dora Hotel
Derelict Flora Dora Hotel
Klondike Kate's restaurant & cabins
Klondike Kate’s restaurant & cabins
King Street with shops, boardwalk and dirt street
King Street with shops, boardwalk and dirt street
Tired-looking old house
Tired-looking old house
Dawson City Museum
Dawson City Museum
Post Office artifacts
Post Office artifacts
Active Courtroom inside the museum
Active Courtroom inside the museum
Food and drink wooden boxes
Food and drink wooden boxes
Brown's Harness Shop, 3rd Ave Blacksmith Shop, Red Feather Saloon
Brown’s Harness Shop, 3rd Ave Blacksmith Shop, Red Feather Saloon
Derelict log cabin with tin roof
Derelict log cabin with tin roof
Sign: Ruby's Place
Sign: Ruby’s Place
Ruby's Place
Ruby’s Place
Downtown Hotel
Downtown Hotel
Sign: Home of the SourToe Cocktail, Toe Hours: 7-9 Thu-Sat
Sign: Home of the SourToe Cocktail, Toe Hours: 7-9 Thu-Sat
Dawson City on the Yukon River with the Klondike River
Dawson City on the Yukon River with the Klondike River
Gold dredge tailings along the Klondike River, Bonanza Creek & Dawson City on the Yukon River
Gold dredge tailings along the Klondike River, Bonanza Creek & Dawson City on the Yukon River
Divide Mountains
Divide Mountains
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Vancouver to Yukon

May 23, 2022 – Fly Vancouver to Whitehorse to Dawson City

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

I wake up around 7:30AM, get dressed and cleaned up, and then go down to the restaurant for breakfast. I have regular coffee and a seafood frittata, which costs $35. I go for a walk along the same path as I used last night – it feels good to walk the 1 km loop, and get some fresh air this morning. When I return to my room, I pack my things and sit around for awhile before rolling my bag downstairs to check out. I will be wearing my mask all day, which I’m not used to when I’m at home.

I walk the full length of the airport to the Air North gate, but I’m too early for the afternoon flight, so there are no gate agents yet. The Holland America check-in lane is marked, so I find a seat and watch the people entering the security lines. Once the Air North agents arrive, I check in and get my boarding passes for the two flights: Vancouver-Whitehorse and Whitehorse-Dawson City. The security process is relatively painless, and the procedures are exactly the same as pre-pandemic. I find my gate and settle in to wait for the flight. The notice board says the flight is delayed an hour, now departing at 2:30PM, so we’ll see how our connecting flight to Dawson City works out. 

Snow-covered mountains, the highway and river through the windows as we approach Whitehorse
Snow-covered mountains, the highway and river through the windows as we approach Whitehorse

There is an incident as we board the aircraft, where a young male passenger refuses to wear a mask and eventually leaves the aircraft. The captain announces they will be starting engine 1 using the power cart, and then starting engine 2 from engine 1 after push away, which takes a bit longer. We take off from Vancouver at 2PM, so the flight isn’t seriously delayed. I’m stuck in an aisle seat, since I didn’t have a choice of seats when I checked in, so other than taking a couple of zoomed in photos through the window across two seats from me, I don’t get to peer out the window like I usually do on flights.

Our Holland America Tour Director Cassandra Joy is waiting for us in Whitehorse airport. She gives us name tags on lanyards to help her remember our names, and she also hands out some information sheets covering the Dawson City portion of our tour. I chat with a few of our group, since this is the first time we’ve gathered together. Our chartered flight aboard an Air North 737-400 Whitehorse to Dawson City is delayed a bit, but eventually we are lead through a “gate” to board the aircraft waiting for us on the apron. There is an actual wire fence gate we are checked through outside, just like the old days! There are 16 of us, so the Boeing 737-500 cabin is nearly empty. Our route follows the Klondike River as the 45-minute flight takes us over the Tombstone Mountains.

Diamond Tooth Gertie
Diamond Tooth Gertie

Once we arrive in Dawson City and get settled into our rooms at the Westmark Inn, I join our Tour Director and two other people from the group to see the dancing girl Can Can show at Diamond Tooth Gerties gambling hall and saloon. We have a slice of pizza and a beer, since we will otherwise miss dinner. The show is quite good, but costs a $20 entrance fee per person. There is also a small casino in addition to the stage show and bar. Two RCMP officers walk through the establishment while we are paying our admission and showing ID. 

After I return to my room, I settle in for the night. The Wi-fi is too weak from my room, since I’m across the street from the router, so I make use of my mobile LTE service, hot-spotting to my notebook computer. At midnight, I go outside to take a photo of the hotel at midnight, since the sky is still bright blue – the midnight sun at Dawson City, located at 64° North latitude.

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Victoria to Vancouver

May 22, 2022 – Flying from Victoria to Vancouver

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

I finalize packing this morning, since I leave this afternoon on a 1:05PM flight to Vancouver – the first leg of my Alaska Cruise with Holland America.

We leave for Victoria airport at 10AM, which is incredibly early, but I want to check in and navigate security without having to stress about the new procedures. The Pacific Coastal Airways agent tells me I have about a half hour before the security area will be very busy, so I proceed directly there. It is all very easy – all I need is my boarding pass QR code, my passport, and my federal COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination QR code. I have a couple of hours to kill, but after a few flights depart, my aircraft arrives and the flight is announced. We take off 5 minutes early at 1:00pm in a Pacific Coastal Airways Beechcraft 1900D (10 rows of 2 seats). Chad is our pilot, Tyrone is our copilot, there is no flight attendant, and there are about a half dozen passengers aboard the flight. Once we arrive at the South Terminal of Vancouver Airport, three of us collect our checked bags and then take a shuttle to the main terminal. I walk back to the Fairmont Vancouver Airport hotel, which is right inside the terminal at the east end and check-in.

Joe having a martini with lunch in the Fairmont Vancouver Airport hotel bar overlooking the gates and mountains

Once I unpack a few things, I go downstairs to the bar for some lunch. There are seats right beside the windows that look out on the gates and aircraft aprons, with the North Shore mountains and the City of Vancouver visible in the distance. My lunch is rather expensive ($60 with tip), but I don’t care since I am hungry and feel like a martini to celebrate my first time travelling in over two years. When I return to my room, I freshen up and have a nap. After waking up, I go for a walk through the pocket park, which is just east of the hotel, located between the main road approach to the terminal (Grant McConachie Way) and the servicing areas for the aircraft. The Canada Line Skytrain runs overhead, but it’s good to get outside for some exercise – the fresh air smells good believe it or not!

My room faces south over the southern 08/26 east-west runway with the South Terminal visible in the distance. The main road approach to the airport is directly below and the Skytrain is there as well. Despite all this, my room is quiet and very comfortable. Since I had a late lunch, I don’t bother with dinner.