San Francisco

Yesterday while I was touring Cyprus with a new friend who is my tour guide here I mentioned having gone to San Francisco recently.  Surprisingly, she told me she had also lived there and we had fun remembering places we both knew.

I moved to San Francisco in 1974. I’ve never liked any place more. With a couple of brief exceptions, I had not been back there since I left in 1980. My “slow travel” journey for 2021-22 began there. AirBnB enabled me to find a good place to stay for a month at a reasonable cost.

More than anything else, discovering how little the city has changed in 40 years was a joy to me. I celebrated my birthday in my favorite restaurant. I had a beer in the same bar where my friends and I met after work on Fridays. In the first few days I took pictures of the places where my son and I had lived. I remembered street names and bus routes. It was fun to return to Golden Gate Park and North Beach and Chinatown and Haight-Ashbury. When I lived there I couldn’t really afford to shop in the fine department stores but I loved browsing in them. They are all gone now but the buildings they inhabited are still serving customers. One of the best days in the month I was there was discovering that the old City of Paris department store is now located inside Niemann-Marcus, with the glass dome intact. Every day was a good day!

Covid was continuing to keep people from going to their offices and other workplaces when I arrived on June 1st.  The streets were empty then but by the end of the month there was more traffic. Cable cars weren’t running while I was there but the bus and trolley system was serving the public as it always has. I was tickled by how many street names and bus route numbers popped into my head!

Going to San Francisco was the best gift I could have given myself.  I’m happy to share it with you in the few pictures posted below. If you want to see more, tell me in the comments section what you’d like to see. If I have a picture of it, I’ll post it or send it to you. If you ever lived in San Francisco, please write a note about your best memories in the space below.


Union Square in the shopping district.
China Town and North Beach are near neighbors, and the Transamerica Pyramid is not far away.
A view of Fishermen’s Wharf.
Since my time there the Ferry Building has been restored.
It hosts many retail shops and outdoor markets on weekends.
Dolores Park, in the Mission District and near Mission Dolores,
gathers crowds of players and picnickers on warm weekends.
After the picnic there’s great ice cream nearby.
San Francisco is famous for its colorful Victorian homes.
This is one of the best, found in Noe Valley.
I loved the mix of old and new buildings in the Financial District.

A New Orleans Weekend

For the Memorial Day weekend last year my brother Joe and his wife Susan and I met in New Orleans. It was one of the few important American cities I had never visited and I really looked forward to going there. It was not disappointing! We stayed in an AirBnB on a street of the narrow houses that New Orleans is famous for. The houses on this street looked like they had all been renovated since Hurricane Katrina created so much damage there nearly 20 years ago. Here are a few photos I snapped.

Here’s the famous church that’s the center of every visitor’s New Orleans.
We boarded a hop on/hop off bus here and toured much of the city.
We left the bus in the Garden District and
enjoyed walking past the old mansions there.
We walked all around the French Quarter on the second day.
There were too many cars, parked and trying to park, but we enjoyed seeing the colorful homes.
The best part of the trip was finding this small jazz band and the singer who led them on the street on Sunday afternoon. They were great!
We found Preservatio Hall but it was still closed
due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
We went to the enormous City Park where we enjoyed a break with strong coffee and beignets which are famous New Orleans pastries, similar to doughnuts.
Our last stop was at the Botanical Garden in the enormous City Park.

It was a fun trip, and a good way to begin my very long journey to many places I’ve wanted to see. I hope you’ll return. Next I’ll tell you about my month in San Francisco.


The Towns of Marshfield and Duxbury, Massachusetts

Marshfield is a collection of villages. It’s a beach town – but only in a couple of those villages. It inherited – but not officially – a piece of Scituate. One village called Marshfield Hills is an old, charming place centered around a small store cum post office. The Marshfield fair is the equivalent of a county fair for the South Shore, and everyone goes there, at least on fireworks night.

Scituate and Marshfield are separated by the North River. The picture above is the scene near the mouth of the river. One part of Scituate, called Humarock beach, is only reachable via Marshfield. In 1898 a gale moved the mouth of the river over night from the south side of Humarock to the north. Although it makes perfect sense to incorporate Humarock into Marshfield, so far it hasn’t happened.

This classic old home in Marshfield Hills serves as the home of the historical society.

Wikipedia says, “Native Americans lived in Marshfield for thousands of years before the white settlers came. These people included members of the Wampanoag Tribe of the Algonquin nation and members of the Massachusetts Tribe. Evidence of Native American habitation extending back to 9,000 to 10,000 B.C. has been found extensively in the area.” This is true of all the South Shore towns. Like the other towns, Marshfield’s first white settlers were transplants from Plymouth. It was first established as a separate settlement in 1632. It became a town in 1640.  There’s an extensive Wikipedia article about the history of Marshfield here.

Daniel Webster lived in Marshfield in his later years and died there.  Steve Tyler and two other  members of the rock band Aerosmith have live in Marshfield. (Steve Tyler came into my store once, and I had no idea who he was, but my son was very excited about it!) Steve Carell and his wife Nancy live there (according to the web).

Duxbury is the southernmost town of the South Shore and is adjacent to Plymouth. A number of the best known members of the original Pilgrim party that settled Plymouth later lived in what is now Duxbury, among them John Alden (whose house survives) and Myles Standish, who is said to have named the town. There is a very large, very old cemetery adjacent to the first church in Duxbury named the Mayflower Cemetery. Members of the Alden family and other original pilgrim settlers of Plymouth are buried there.

The original church in Duxbury is, of course, long gone but this replacement has been standing for nearly 200 years. The graves of early members of the Alden family are marked by stones facing the church.

The old Boston Post road, now known as Route 3A, runs through the center of Duxbury. It’s the site of three impressive white buildings: the first church, the old town hall (now a meeting hall) and the newer town hall.

Duxbury is a wealthy Boston suburb today.  It’s always been a well-to-do community and many large, colonial era homes are found there today.  They were built by merchant whose ships sailed the world, creating great wealth for their owners, some of whom became ship builders – by 1840 there were twenty shipyards in Duxbury.

A miles long beach extends as a peninsula along Duxbury’s shore.  It’s reached by a long wooden bridge. It’s one of the most popular beaches in Massachusetts.

This concludes our virtual tour of the South Shore. I hope someone will be inspired by these posts to drive the slow road through these beautiful towns while making the trip from Boston to Plymouth and Cape Cod. If you do (or if you have) I’d love to read your thoughts about it in the comments section below.


Scituate, Massachusetts

I love the small New England town called Scituate – pronounced Sit-chew-it, said very quickly).  It was home to my family during the years when our sons were growing up. Looking back, I think I probably didn’t appreciate it then as much as I do now. We moved away nearly 20 years ago and I don’t return often, but recently I spent a week there and enjoyed every moment.

Scituate lies at the corner of the Atlantic Ocean and the North River. It is exposed to the worst Nor-Easters (bad storms) because it’s on the southern point of the large “C” formed by Boston Harbor. You may have seen it on television – the Weather Channel seems to always post a reporter in Scituate when a big storm threatens New England. Some of the storms have been very destructive and occasionally deadly.

The 18th century Cudworth house and barn (shown here) are part of the Scituate Historical Society’s property and are open often for touring. They abut the town green and are across the road from the Unitarian church, Scituate’s first church.

Scituate was settled not long after Plymouth. It’s famous “Six Men of Kent” England arrived in the 1620s and settled near Satuit Brook, which gave its name to the town. Satuit is a Wampanoag Indian word meaning “cold stream” – the water here is chilly indeed! The town became a legal entity in 1636 and is said to be the second oldest town in Plymouth Colony.

A typical old but updated home in Scituate. The tumbledown stone wall, like the one in the foreground, is commonly found throughout the town.

Once called the “Irish Riviera” Scituate in the late 20th century was home to many large Irish Catholic families. One British newspaper called it the “most Irish town in America.” It’s a small town with a year-round population around 18,000. Geographically it seems larger because it’s spread over several miles. Gently rolling hills are laced by very old roads with names such as “Country Way.” The town is graced by many homes that date from the 1700s and 1800s. The oldest house in town, built in the 17th century, has housed an excellent restaurant called the Barker Tavern for many years.

Scituate is lined with beaches. The best, shown here, is probably Minot beach in North Scituate. Great for sunbathing but the water is icy! Minot light is shown in the distance.

There are two principal commercial areas. The larger one lies at the water’s edge and so is referred to as “Scituate Harbor.” There are several good restaurants there as well as a good small hotel. The northern end of town has its own small business district with a number of shops and eateries. There are two lighthouses. Scituate Light is on the beach at the entrance to the town harbor while Minot Light stands on a rock in the ocean about where Scituate meets Cohasset.

Commercial fishing was one of Scituate’s main industries for centuries. The picturesque fish pier still serves a small number of fishermen.


Today Scituate is a mix of new and old. Many new streets have been created to accommodate large new homes.  In recent years the commuter train from Boston was rebuilt (the original having been closed in the 1950s). One rail line now ends in Scituate. It’s brought new residents and increased real estate prices.

The beach areas are lined with old summer cottages that have been “winterized.” Many of them are available for rent and made a good base from which to explore the South Shore, Boston and Plymouth. I found a good place to stay on AirBnB.

We have one more stop to make on our South Shore tour: Marshfield and Duxbury are next.

The Towns of Hingham and Cohasset, Massachusetts

Hingham is the furthest north of the South Shore towns and Cohasset is just to its south. Both of these beautiful places have long been upscale residential neighborhoods for Boston commuters. Riding a ferry to work in Boston is a great way to begin the day.

The main road through Hingham (shown above) has been called “the most beautiful Main Street in America.” A carefully managed row of 18th and 19th century homes and churches line both sides of the street for several miles.

Hingham’s best known landmark is the Old Ship Church created in 1681 by shipwrights. It’s name comes from the interior roof beams which look much like a ship’s hull. It is the oldest church in America to be continuously used for worship.

Abraham Lincoln’s ancestors made their first American home in Hingham. The town fathers long ago erected a statue of the president as a memorial and a reminder.

The home of Samuel Lincoln, the president’s ancestor and one of the original founders of Hingham, was built in 1649.  It is well preserved and remains someone’s home.

The town of Cohasset is just to the southeast of Hingham. A small town in a perfect location near the sea, it has been an enclave of the well-to-do for many years. The center of the town is a classic, oval New England green, lined by old white houses as well as two churches, the town offices and a meeting hall. The historical society is housed nearby, assuring that the modern era doesn’t creep into the village center.

Not far from the town green a charming mercantile block provides good food and other services to the community. The Red Lion Inn proudly proclaims its founding in 1704. Across the street a charming bakery/café called French Memories is celebrating its 25th anniversary.  Either of these is a good choice for lunch as you make your way south along the Atlantic shore.

Minot Light seen from the beach in Cohasset.

Cohasset has a long shoreline. For more than a century large mansions have lined Jerusalem Road and Atlantic Avenue overlooking a white sand beach. Originally summer homes for Boston’s elite, today these grand houses still stand proudly above the sea. At the north end of the beach there’s a cluster of small, once-affordable beach houses.

In my next post I’ll tell you about my home town in this beautiful region, Scituate.

Have you been to Boston’s South Shore?  Have you lived there?  Do you miss it as much I always have?  Please leave a comment below.

Boston’s South Shore

Between Boston and Plymouth, along the Atlantic shore, lie historic small towns that are among the oldest towns in America. Visitors to New England often miss these towns as the hurry from Boston to Cape Cod. If one day you find yourself driving south from Boston, choose the old colonial road now called Route 3A rather than the faster highway (Route 3). You’ll pass through five ancient towns founded in the early 1600s by the first white New Englanders. Each of the towns faces the Atlantic ocean making them both historic villages and beach towns. These towns are (from north to south) Hingham, Cohasset, Scituate, Marshfield and Duxbury.

Cohasset has the most perfect New England town green. Shown here are the town hall and the town’s old assembly hall. Just out of view is one of the two old churches on the green.

Situated on gently rolling terrain, the locations of hundreds of early American houses, these towns are worth exploring on any trip to Massachusetts. The first Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth in 1620. Once their community was established other brave settlers followed. They cleared the forests along the coast and built tiny homes. (A visit to Plimoth Plantation provides a good demonstration of the lives of the first New Englanders.) Scituate claims to be the first town after Plymouth. There six men from County Kent in England were the first to arrive and to claim plots of land for themselves and their families.  The official date of town incorporation was the date the first church was established. In Scituate that’s 1636. Duxbury, home to some famous pilgrim families such as the Aldens, may in fact be older, as a sign on the church there says it was founded in 1634.

This old house in Scituate bears a sign that says it was built by an early resident named Job Vinal in 1783.

None of those earliest home survive today. Built of wood with wooden foundations, they quickly rotted away. There are, however, many houses that date from the 1700s and 1800s. The oldest of these are simple story-and-a-half homes with huge fireplaces, two rooms down and an attic for hay storage and sleeping children. Most of these homes have been expanded over the years.

This is the historical society’s headquarters in Cohasset. Each town has a society housed in one of its oldest buildings.

Active historical societies in all these towns welcome visitors. Each town’s historians are found in some of the regions oldest buildings. Genealogists with New England roots may discover ancestors here. When a friend from Texas visited us 20 years ago, we found the grave of one of her ancestors in Scituate. Very old cemeteries are found in all of these towns.

For the next few days I’ll be sharing photos and brief histories of the five towns along the South Shore. I had fun photographing these towns during my recent visit there.

Tip: Some of these towns have long been summer towns, beach towns for Boston families. Renting a beach house in this area or an AirBnB room and a rental car is the best way to discover this area.

On the Appalachian Trail


This is a guest post written by one of our sons, George Griffin III, about his first experience hiking the Appalachian Trail.

“If we find you collapsed beside the trail, George, we will pray over you.”

I laughed, but Tex wasn’t kidding. He saw I was hurting, and along with his wife Beverly, knew what it was to hurt along the Appalachian Trail.

An elderly couple from Dallas, they hiked slowly but consistently, for weeks. Purposefully, but burdened with heavy packs and hampered by Bev’s ankle — injured long before their mission on the Appalachian Trail — on they went. When we said goodbye that morning, that offer of intervention was, I felt, sincere and I might need it. I also knew I would see them later, hours behind me but before nightfall, at the next shelter. These two were no-quitters, and by my third day on the trail I was genuinely impressed.


My friend “Just Bryan” invited me to join him on a small portion of his trek across half of the Appalachian Trail’s nearly 2,200 miles. He began Mother’s Day at Harper’s Ferry, W.Va. and was determined to reach one end, Mt. Katahdin, Maine, another 750 miles north of where I joined him in southeastern New York State.

By now a baptized-by-trail “LASHer” under any interpretation, Just Bryan had hiked more than 350 miles. “Lasher” stands for “Long Ass Section Hiker.” That’s one degree less hardcore perhaps than the “Through Hikers” who dedicate their full time and fuller stamina to the complete distance of the Appalachian Trail, from Maine to Georgia, or vice versa, in one fantastic march. No small feat his, if he can manage — besting over 1,100 miles of trail, including the trail’s second tallest peak, Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, before summer’s end.


My end appeared much closer. Three days of 10 mile up-and-down, hardscrabble hikes had ruined my feet and I openly questioned whether I could do the eight miles tomorrow to reach a highway and egress to the motor lodge, a shower, and beers.

At the shelter that night, I gently removed the boots I bought used on Craigslist, slipped on my “camp shoes” (cheap green flip-flops) and hung my hammock. Just Bryan lit a fire. He had already unpacked and claimed his space within the shelter. I didn’t understand it, but to him this was paramount.


Shelters punctuate the Appalachian Trail but can be far apart, 20 miles or more. Long stretches of trail offer no shelters at all. Threadbare, the three-sided structures of wood are a foot or so above the ground and open to the elements on one side with an overhanging roof. Roughing it for sure, but for hikers who don’t want to haul and pitch a tent, shelters are critical. Just Bryan shaped his hiking plans on securing himself a space each night — most shelters sleep only six — so he hiked with fervor. When I complained that this pace kept me from enjoying the woods as fully as I hoped, he said dryly, “This is not camping, dude, it’s hiking.”

As the afternoon faded into evening, I understood. More and more hikers came to stop for the night. Shelter space tightened. Tents popped up, hammocks were hung. People who said goodbye hours earlier reunited, strangers became temporary friends. Shelters offer more than just weather cover and water — they are a social center that breaks the lonely miles of trail. At peak season they hum with interesting folk.gjg-3

Tuna Roll — his trail name — is an Iraq War vet. Maine or bust for him. Many former service members appear on the Appalachian Trail this time of year, Afghanistan vets too. Some know both wars. They huddle together at the shelters like some kind of self-help group, trading stories. I think the trail offers its own kind of therapy; these guys pack light, move fast, push on through pain. From the moment he arrived to the time he went down for the night, Tuna Roll chugged Coors tallboys he had hiked up the mountain that afternoon.

While he spoke very little with us, Tuna livened up when a mother and teen daughter team of redheads emerged through the forest. He had seen them before, but they were new to us. I wished Tuna had kept quiet, for he indulged in use of the “f” word, sentence, phrase and thought. When he hushed, I found out they were from Burbank, Calif., on the trail since school ended and hoping to make it from the Delaware Water Gap to New Hampshire. The night before, camped in a state park on the trail, their food and toiletries were stolen as they slept. I gave them a lot from my overburdened pack.


George on the Trail.

Good — because I brought too much, and was feeling it. My shoulders ached, my hips, where most of the pack weight is borne if you are doing it right, were chafed and bruising. My feet were a mix of blisters, cuts, moleskin, tape, and pain. The first night, I jettisoned a lantern, some Gold Bond, and a book a neighbor lent me. He puts his name and address on stickers in his books so I left a note and $3 for whoever found it, asking it be returned. (Sorry, Conley.)

The hiking, however, was beautiful. Rich oak-heath forest of trees old, new, and reborn splayed out uphill and down and when we peaked, after a long, torturous, switchback ascent, I was healed by an expansive Hudson Valley view, or uplifted, unexpectedly washed in rich, white mountain laurels. Spectacular in full bloom. Despite the lingering pain, I am hooked. I want to LASH again, slow down, perhaps take my son and do the length of the Appalachian Trail through Virginia (550 miles, its longest single state stretch) which many say is its most scenic.

If I do, I hope to find Tex and Bev again, for an update, good news and celebration. Early in their trek north, word came from home — a young granddaughter named Harmony had been diagnosed with lymphoma. Instinct said quit and return — their daughter said go on. Instead they wiped tears, shaved their heads and continued, hiking and praying, and asking all their fellow trekkers to sign the cards they send back to Harmony regularly from the trail.


George Griffin is a reformed television news producer now working on his fatherhood skills. He’s not much of an outdoorsman.


Denali National Park & the Glass-Top Train

Bus ride north

Our cruise ended in Seward, Alaska. It’s a small city, mostly a busy port, located a couple of hours south of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula. This area’s proximity to Anchorage combined with its many natural attractions makes it a very popular destination for those who want to hike, fish and camp in a beautiful wilderness. Along the west side of Kenai toward Anchorage the road runs beside the shores of “Turnagain Arm.” Called one of the most scenic roads in America, the route follows the shoreline around a narrow bay cutting deeply into the peninsula. Outlined by mountains, it is among the most beautiful places in Alaska (and in America).

Tundra Tour Moose

From Anchorage the highway travels north toward Denali National Park and on into northern Alaska. Along the way we saw such interesting sights as moose grazing beside the highway and the tall fence around Sarah Palin’s former home in Wasilla. The two-lane highway winds through mountains covered in spruce trees. We stopped briefly at Talkeetna, a native town south of the national and state parks at Denali. Some of the cruise lines offer overnight stays and excursions at Talkeetna but our destination was the cruise line’s resort near the entrance to the park. We stayed there for three nights. The accommodations were very comfortable. There’s a small business district at the town called Denali, mostly featuring expensive restaurants. One memory I will keep forever is of dining on planked salmon at 11:00 in the evening with the sun shining in my eyes through the blinds on the restaurant’s window. We were there in early June and the days were very long indeed!

Tundra buses passing

Two buses passing on the Tundra Trail with Mt. Denali (McKinley) hiding behind clouds in the rear.

tundra bear 1

We saw wild grizzly bears several times — from the safety of the bus!

Our cruise package included a “Tundra Wilderness Tour” into Denali National Park and Preserve. We were told that the only wheeled vehicles allowed deep inside the park were the school bus type chosen for official park-run tours. (Private vehicles can only go about 15 miles into the park.) A narrow dirt road has been dug into the sides of mountains. It loops around and up and down over an essentially empty landscape. Our tundra tour lasted nine hours. We were slowly driven deeply into the park toward the great mountain we know as Mt. McKinley, the highest in North America. Our naturalist-driver was a very pleasant woman who clearly enjoyed her job and her life in Alaska. (She also bred and trained sled dogs and in winter she raced them.) Here’s a tip for anyone planning to take this tour: bring your own lunch unless you really want to survive for nine hours on reindeer jerky and one small bottle of water!

Tundra rams

Wild mountain goats grazing alongside the road.

The dictionary definition of “tundra” is a vast, treeless area in the far northern regions of our planet. That describes the Denali tundra perfectly. We were too early to see the flowers, but we were told the mid-summer color in places is quite beautiful. We did see many strange trees: short trees with no leaves or needles in the first ten feet of their height. We saw grizzly bears. They are a pale color in Alaska, presumably a natural adaption to the color of the tundra. We saw moose and mountain goats and reindeer.

Wayne in Denali.

My friend Wayne posing for the cameras.

During our time at the resort some members of our group enjoyed white water rafting. Others hiked and some shopped and some took photographs. The visitor center included a small museum which we found to be educational and interesting. Food is expensive, as you would expect in an area with a short growing season located so many miles from the food-producing areas of the U.S. It was quite good — especially the native salmon.

Train - Tom & Ruth ann

A view of the train and the view.

train view

The train was quite long; it pulled cars from several cruise lines.

For me the best part of the Alaska cruise and tour was the eight-hour journey back to Anchorage via glass-top train. The train was very comfortable and the dining car served fine meals but the highlight was the spectacular scenery all around us. We were able to stand between cars as the train slowly followed its curving tracks around mountains and over the cleanest of rushing streams. These pictures are truly “worth a thousand words” in describing the scenes we passed.

so beautiful

A favorite photo taken from the train.

Upon our return to Anchorage we spent the last evening of our cruise/tour in a hotel in the center of the city. Imagine our surprise when one of our group discovered that by standing on the sidewalk outside and looking to the north along a city street, we would find our only view of the mountain called Denali.

Mt McKinlay seen from Anchorage

Mt McKinlay seen from Anchorage, 200 miles south of the great mountain.

Now it’s your turn! Please use the Comments section below to share your best memories of your own Alaska vacation. What did you like best? What surprised you most?

Here’s a link to an excellent article about Kenai peninsula.

North to Alaska!

Departing Vancouver 2We boarded our ship in Vancouver, BC and sailed beneath a high bridge. We headed north into the Inside Passage, the route that slips past islands and along the northwestern coastline of North America. The first day on most cruises with a south-to-north itinerary is a relaxing sea day because of the distance to the first stop, Ketchikan. The scenery surrounding us as we sailed was green with evergreen trees, laced with deep water and mountainous – perfectly northern Pacific coast.

Ketchikan classic

Ketchikan’s waterfront

Ketchikan is an old gold-miners town and the town’s leaders keep it just as it was more than 100 years ago – “house of ill repute” and all! The buildings at the entrance to the town have appeared in many ads and brochures for Alaska cruises. They house gift shops and other tourist favorites and make good subjects for amateur photographers. We enjoyed a tour on an amphibious vehicle – one that drove us around town and sailed us around the harbor. As in every Alaska tourist town, pontoon airplanes and adventurous activities are very available.


Juneau and the mountains that cut it off from the world.

The next day we were in Juneau, America’s smallest state capital. Juneau can’t be reached by road because it’s surrounded by mountains. Travelers to Juneau must arrive by plane or over the water. Some of our group took pontoon-plane tours and enjoyed seeing mountains and glaciers from the air. There’s not a lot to see and do in Juneau besides tourist shops. That makes this a good day for an adventurous excursion.

Skagway 1

Skagway, where ships practically tie up on Main Street.

Skagway was our final stop on the Inland Passage. The town is mostly owned and leased by the U.S. Department of the Interior. It’s a retail national park. The shops are carefully chosen to keep both the sense of gold-rush Alaska and to offer a wide variety of merchandise. Many of the buildings date from the late 1800s and the more recent buildings are in the “gold rush” style. Skagway the most fun of the three cruise-port towns.

Tom Ganner

Tom Ganner and a couple of French-speaking photography students.


haines alaska

A view of the nature preserve near Haines Alaska

This was my favorite day of the cruise because my friends and I enjoyed a photography excursion with professional photographer, Tom Ganner. Click the link at his name to see some of Mr. Ganner’s nature photography. Our day with Tom began with a short but interesting ferry ride to the town of Haines, Alaska. This gave us an opportunity to see a small town that’s not a tourist haven. Tom showed us around, gave us a history lesson, and introduced us to totem poles. Then we drove outside the town to a wildlife preserve along a small river. Tom pointed out nesting eagles in this area of serene beauty. We aren’t expert photographers and two of the four of us didn’t speak much English but Mr. Ganner was very patient with us and that excursion was a highlight of the cruise for me.

Glacier Bay 1

A much smaller ship than ours approaches the great glacier.

As our cruise days were dwindling we entered Glacier Bay. We were there at the very beginning of June, still a cold time in Alaska. We saw and heard the enormous slowly moving glaciers. We watched small tour boats approaching the pale blue ice, dodging mini-icebergs. Global warming is causing the glaciers to shrink more each year. If seeing the great glaciers is important to you book your cruise for early in the season.

Glacier Bay

The shrinking great glacier.

I know some of you have cruised in Alaska. Please use the “Comments” section below to tell us about your favorite experience on your cruise. You may be more adventurous than I am. If you ventured farther from the ship by seaplane or kayak, please tell us about it.


Find Tom Ganner’s photos and arrange a photography excursion with him by going to


An Alaska Cruise & Tour

train imageHave you taken an Alaska cruise? Have you gone to Alaska without a ship? If you have, I hope you’ll share your thoughts in the Comments section below. I enjoyed a cruise and land tour of Alaska a few years ago. It was one of my most-enjoyed travel experiences.

My Alaska vacation began with three days in Seattle. What a great city! If I were younger I think I’d live there. It reminded me of the way San Francisco was forty years ago! (My next post will tell you more about the wonderful days we spent in Seattle.) We were bused to Vancouver to catch our ship. A quick taste of that fascinating city has put it on my short list. I can’t wait to return!


This map is found at via WikiCommons.

Once underway we sailed north in the “Inside Passage.” If you look at the map shown here, you’ll see that the United States somehow got possession of most of the coastline of Canada along the Pacific coast. The area includes the towns of Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. Each of these popular cruise ship ports-of-call is quite “touristy” but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interesting and fun. The scenery of mountains and water along the Inside Passage is gorgeous.

If you take a cruise that is a round trip out of Seattle or Vancouver you will travel only in this lower part of Alaska. To experience more of that great state you must take a one-way cruise which will begin or end in the center of the state. My cruise included days at the cruise company’s resort hotel at Denali National Park where I spent one (long) day on a bus, taking a “tundra tour” deep into the park. We spotted bears and other wild animals from the bus windows but we didn’t see Mt. McKinley — it was fogged in that day. Surprisingly we saw it when we returned to Anchorage. We could see America’s tallest mountain from the street outside our hotel although it was about 200 miles away! (Incidentally the name of Mt. McKinley was changed back to “Denali,” its original name, in 2015.)

The best part of the journey for me was the glass-top train trip from central Alaska to Anchorage. A day-long adventure, the trip allowed us to see many miles of wilderness beauty.

In the posts that will appear here over the next few days I’ll tell and show you more of my experience on an extended Alaskan cruise/tour. I hope you will join me by sharing your experiences in Alaska in the Comments section below.


P.S. I have been trying to make some changes and improvements to the structure of this blog – trying off and on for weeks. For the moment I’ve given up and will be posting new content regularly. If things look a little odd, that’s why. I hope to find a way to make changes – I’ll keep trying!