We set sail out of Seattle and the first stop on our itinerary was Ketchikan. A small fishing village at one time, these days it's pretty touristy but still full of charm even with its harbor jammed with cruiseships. I wasted no time finding a bar with a liquor store in it.
The next day we arrived in Juneau. My nephew lived there for a stint, and to pay the bills he worked at a place called Glacier Gardens, fifty acres of reclaimed rainforest and gardens on the site of a landslide. There are flower baskets galore, and it's a popular place to get hitched. I only came for the tour; my nephew's buddy Ky hooked me up. We left Juneau in the afternoon and swung by the Mendenhall Glacier for an evening viewing. (The days are long up there.) The harbor, full of chunks of ice, sounded like a giant cocktail being stirred. While Sea Lions swam amidst the bergs and eagles circled overhead, the cold air flowed off the glacier with a relentless persistence. The closer we sailed, the cooler it got.
We continued on that night to Skagway - gateway to the Klondike - a town of boardwalks and helicopters. The smallest of the ports we visited, it was the most fun, and felt like I imagined the Alaskan frontier should feel. From there we made our only stop in Canada at Prince Rupert - a town that looks a lot bigger on the map than in real life - where I celebrated my birthday. The next evening as we made a run for home we found ourselves in a massive migration of Humpback Whales. There were hundreds of them as far as the eye could see, breaching and spouting and roaring. Yes. Roaring. What a fantastic trip.