Radiance of the Seas and the 76 miles long, 6.5
miles wide, and 1200 feet deep Hubbard Glacier. Photo
courtesy of Royal Caribbean
A Return to
Alaska By Ringo Boitano
eople just want more. The Alaska cruise continues to be the second most
popular cruise in the world, with many of its visitors repeat passengers.
It all makes perfect sense to me. What can be said about a state that
is one-fifth the size of the continental United States and four times
the size of California. It is a land of spectacular Ice Age glaciers,
Native American culture, breathtaking mountain ranges and fjords, historic
Russian settlements, the Midnight Sun, and world-class sport fishing.
Ive often thought that the Aleuts name for the region is
still the best: ALYESKA THE GREAT LAND (www.travelalaska.com).
Sitting on the deck of the 2,501 passenger: Royal
Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas with the Vancouver sun at my back,
I couldnt wait for the cruise to begin. Soon we would be gliding
through the stunning the Inside Passage. Yes, I am one of those repeat
visitors. I knew what to expect, and relished the attractions that awaited
me. I opted for the cruise/land tour package, which would also include
transportation by motor coach and train into the states mighty
interior. I was also ready for a serious dose of RCCLs seemly
endless amenities: Themed bars and lounges, specialty restaurants, indoor/outdoor
country club, spa and fitness center, Las Vegas-style shows and Casino
Royale. Perhaps this time I really will climb the rock climbing wall.
I recalled that after a long day of excursions retuning to the comfort
of the vessel always felt like a return home.
Credit: Deb Roskamp
Today Ketchikan is billed as the Salmon Capital of the World. If its
a fishing excursion that you want, this is the place for it. My own
personal pick is a tour of the Totem Heritage Center, which feature
a collection of carved totem poles and caring demonstrations.
Spread along Gastineau Channel, Juneau is
the only US capitol city inaccessible by road. A trip to Mendenhall
Glacier is the most popular excursion, but my pick is the 1800
foot tramway ride to the top of Mount Roberts for wildlife viewing
platforms, Juneau Raptor Center and breathtaking views.
Credit: Deb Roskamp
Located the northern tip of the Lynn Canal, Skagway was born as the
land entryway for thousands of gold-crazed miners to the Klondike Gold
Rush of 1898. The town is well-preserved and rich in gold rush history.
My pick: A trip aboard the vintage White
Pass & Yukon Route railway, for a train journey back into time.
Credit: Deb Roskamp
My own personal favorite of all of Alaskas destinations, Sitka
is nestled on Baranof Island and offers an amazing mix of Tlingit Indian,
Russian and American history and culture. The attractions are endless.
My pick: The Sitka National Historical Park. The 113-acre coastal park
features the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center, plus beaches,
hiking trails and scores of totem poles.
One of Alaska's oldest communities, Seward is considered the gateway
to Kenai Fjords National Park. This where land packages begin, and I
look forward in the future to spending more time is this historic community
in the future.
Based 120 miles south of the Arctic Circle, Fairbanks is the ideal venue
to experience a real living history, highlighted by the majestic midnight
sun. My pick: An excursion on the Riverboat Discovery Sternwheeler,
with a stop at an Athabascan village, for traditional fishing, hide
tanning and dog sledding demonstrations.
National Park: Departing from Fairbanks, the Wilderness Express
train travels deep into the Alaskan interior to the 6 million acre Denali
National Park. Seeing one of the world's last great frontiers from the
comfort of this luxurious glass-domed train car only enhances the experience.
My pick: A seven-hour bus ride on the Tundra Wilderness Tour for undisturbed
A locale thats perfect to just bask in the beauty, Talkeetna also
offers fishing, nature and float tours, and white water rafting. My
Pick: A helicopter ride above Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in
North America. To experience such a heavens view was like being
there at the moment of creation.
Alaskas largest city, Anchorage boasts all the urban pleasures
of fine dining, shopping, nightlife, and world-class museums. My Pick:
The twenty-six acre Alaska Native
Heritage Center, which provides a fascinating insight into the arts,
customs and lifestyles of the five distinct native cultures found in
Alaska. Not a bad way to end my return to ALYESKA.
Feedback for Ringo
I love Ringo's piece on historic hotels. I once stayed
at the Laurentian in Montreal - is it still around, is it historic?
And then there was the Heups in Bismark.
It is interesting that two of your entries are in CANADA.
Brent, Seattle, WA
It's no mystery that you are great at what you do.
Sandee, Seattle, WA
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The Mystery on the Oasis pics are very funny!
Ramon, Kansas City, MO
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Ha ha ha ha ha...love your "schtick" Ringo!!
Dolly, Las Vegas, NV
Hello the travelling Boitano's hope you enjoy. Best
My Irish roots understand terrible beauty. So do my
human roots. The concept has such a ring of truth to it, doesn't it?
Great article, Ringo. I hope to get to Ireland eventually, and thanks
for blazing the trail!
Sandeee Bleu, Seattle, WA
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No wonder I've been hearing all these wonderful stories
about Ireland. I used to think that it was just for Irish Americans
seeking their ancestral roots but your article seems to call out to
the non-Irish like me. Fascinating and intriguing.
Peter Paul, Pasadena, CA
Thanks for this great post wow... it's very wonderful.
Key Logger, New York
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Lets not forget that the Marriot Harbor Beach is within
walking distance to the world famous Elbo Room - Fort Lauderdale's oldest
Jeff, Fort Lauderdale, FL
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Thanks for taking the time
for the message and reminder. Indeed, I had a quick drink at the Elbo
Room. My trip to Ft. Lauderdale would not have been complete without
a visit to this historic institution.I have been reading about it for
years, and was not disappointed. It felt like a real local's hangout.
thoroughly enjoyed your article about Dick and Liz. I remember seeing
that article back in the heyday of Life Magazine.
To remember the "behind-the-scenes" stories
like that makes you genuine fan of the 60's. The famous couple's turbulent
relationship was just a precursor of today's headline-grabbing media
stars like Britney Spears and her colleagues. Life was simpler then.
The paparazzis still had some sense of decency. You "coulda"
been a good paparazzi. I say "coulda" because you kept this
to yourself all these many years.
Looking forward to other media trivia you can remember.
Peter Paul, South Pasadena, CA
Enjoyed your article on Antarctica --- cool photos,
too. One thing, you mentioned that Ushuaia in Argentina is considered
the most southern city in the world. I read that Chile lays claim to
that distinction, with Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in the world.
Mick, Greenbay, WI
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Now that football season is
over --- Ive often wondered what you Packer fans did in the off
season ---- its great that you took the time to visit TravelingBoy.
Great question, unlike my older brother, I adore all lamb products,
and Patagonian Lamb --- cooked in a restricted area at the restaurant
in an opened wood-fueled fire pit --- is amazing. The chef actually
uses an ax to carve it. Frankly, I found it superior to Norwegian fjord
lamb, Irish Burren lamb and even those much esteemed creatures down
in New Zealand. The crab in Ushuaia is the other thing to eat. Wait
a sec, you asked about Punta Arenas vs. Ushuaia as the furthermost city
in the world. Well, they both have little disclaimers re populations
--- you know, whats a city, which one is a town, ect so
better let Chile and Argentina brass it out. They seem to be able to
argue about any subject.
Three Musical Pilgrimages: Mozart, Grieg and Hendrix
Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
could read and compose music, plus play the violin and piano, when he was
five years old. Born into a musical family in Salzburg, Austria (then the
Holy Roman Empire), he had a unique ability for imitating music, which first
became evident when he recited a musical piece by simply observing his father
conducting a lesson to his older sister. This led to a childhood on the
road, where the young prodigy performed before many of the royal courts
Treasures of Ireland: The Irish Goodbye (Dispatch
The Palladian Traveler brings to a close his 20-part
series on the Emerald Isle from an upscale restaurant in downtown Dublin
where he files his final dispatch and then quietly slips away.
Two "MUST SEE" Truly Spectacular Places
in Europe. Here's Why.
The Han Grotto and Culzean Castle. As the name
of my Traveling Boy feature is "Travel With a Difference," it's
important to me to always bring you offbeat and unusual tourist places around
the world you may not know about. These two fit that category to a T, and
they're absolutely worth a visit. One's in Scotland and one's in Belgium.
Culzean (pronounced CULLANE) Castle is located near Maybole, Carrick, on
the Ayrshire coast of Scotland.
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's
In the 1840s, the population of California was only
14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived
from all over the world and they came for one reason: gold. James
Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutters Mill in El
Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.
Lake Charles Family-Size Low-Key Mardi Gras
The Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras in Lake Charles,
the second largest in Louisiana, does not need parents there to avert their
childrens eyes. This is family entertainment and children are very
much part of it. The main office of the Lake Charles CVB has costumes from
last years Mardi Gras but it also has figures to fascinate little
ones from country boys fishing for their dinner to alligators who have already
fed and are rubbing their stomachs.
Puerto Vallarta: Magic and Mayhem on the Malecon
So I heard that you could spend from dawn to dusk on
the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and never get bored and I thought,
"Okay, I'm up for that challenge." Well, maybe not the dawn part
I'm not a morning person so I had no problem leaving those
early hours to the joggers and those seeking an early start to catch their
red snapper for dinner.
Relaxing at The Inn at Laguna Beach
There is nothing like sleeping in an ocean-front room
and awakening to the sounds of waves crashing against the sand. It is
one of the finer things in life. And it is exactly what I experienced
recently on a memorable getaway to The Inn at Laguna Beach. The adventure
began when a friend I pulled off the 5 Freeway in Orange County and took
SR 133 south nine miles through winding lush hills and wilderness areas
to the ocean.
Tim Robbins On His Road To Stardom
Award-winning Tim Robbins began his career on episodic
television. Robbins' film work, however, is what catapulted him into becoming
a major movie star including "Bull Durham" and "Mystic
River" for which he won multiple awards. Equally at home behind the
camera, he directed the riveting "Dead Man Walking." He is Founder
and Artistic Director of The Actors' Gang, which he formed thirty-five
years ago and has directed multiple provocative productions.