Friday, August 30, 2013

The Great Alaska Quilt Cruise - pt. 2

I apologize for the long delay in posting this so I will make it brief. Most of the draft was completed when I wrote part 1-- eek, 3 months ago. My dilemma was what I was going to say about the promoters of this cruise and why I will never, ever do another quilt related trip with them. Nor can I recommend them to others. 

Our time in Juneau was short because the rest if the day was spent cruising to Tracy Arm and the Sawyer glacier. Late in the afternoon we entered Tracy Arm, a twisting fjord with incredible granite hills on either side and at the very end, the breathtakingly beautiful Sawyer glacier.

This is just a taste of what Tracy Arm looked like. Nope, that isn't Sawyer this point in the cruise, they opened up the very bow of the ship and we layered up and headed out.

All along the way were waterfalls and small fields of snow. The water really was this amazing aqua/teal color. The further in we went, the more chunks of ice we saw too.

There was also another large cruise ship just ahead of us. Made for a few interesting moments as it turned to head out as we were coming in....

Eventually we rounded the last bend and there it was, Sawyer Glacier.

After Sawyer Glacier we cruised on to Skagway, Victoria and then on back to Seattle. We rode the train to the top of White Pass and back. There was yet more breathtaking scenery and lots of fog at top. Being the daughter of a rail fan, I enjoyed it, except when I looked down, wheee. 

Those first few hours after leaving Skagway were truly spectacular. Snow capped mountains, glaciers, picturesque towns like Haines and more unspoiled beauty, as far as the eye could see. I really did leave my heart in Alaska. Wow! I can't wait till we can go back and explore the interior of this beautiful state. 

 This quilting cruise was sponsored by Sew Many Places. We paid a premium  price for it, when you compared the price of the cruise per the cruise line's website we paid $700 for a class. For this we received a tote bag. That's it. Nothing else. When I asked the "facilitator" about a map for the first port of call she looked at me and said "why should I have that for you?" There's a whole lot more I won't go into here. But, suffice it to say, there's not a whole lot of value for your money with Sew Many Places. 

My friend and I went to QuiltMaker's Block Party in Portland back in March. 3 days, 3 classes with 3 different teachers. 3 trunk shows/lectures by famous quilters, 2 dinners, a swag bag that was stuffed with all kinds of goodies and more given out each day. And the price for all of this, $500 plus the cost of our hotel room.  Value, you bet! Had I known before I signed up for this cruise that Block Party was going to be doing a cruise in 2014 you can bet I would have waited. 

Several of us had discussions about this cruise versus other quilt cruises or tours and the consensus was all unanimous, other cruises and tours offered a whole lot more value for your money. When I arrived home I wrote to Jim West, the owner of Sew Many Places. I received a short note back saying that once he returned from Bali he would address my email. That was 3 months ago and I'm still awaiting his response.

The Great Alaska Quilt Cruise - pt. 1

So, what do you do when you hear that Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville fame will be doing a Quilt Cruise to Alaska? You convince one of your best quilting buds to go along. So, that's exactly what Janet and I did for a week.

We left Seattle on a beautiful, sunny day.

Unfortunately the seas got pretty rough overnight and made for a dreadful time trying to do any quilting Sunday. Not to mention the very cramped conditions we had available for sewing - not ideal for quilting.

Early Monday we pulled into Ketchikan under cloudy skies. Fortunately the quilt shop was directly opposite our dock and yes, it was open at 7:00 a.m. and yes, we were there at that hour (QB's take note!) What a great way to start the day and our first stop in Alaska. We definitely helped the local economy.

Eventually we met up with our excursion and headed out to see the Saxman Indian village where we watched the kids do some native dances and saw the totem poles and learned all about how they were made.

There were some pretty talented kids and the button blankets were beautiful.

Next stop was Juneau. We crammed in whale watching and a quick trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. What a great morning. We saw 6 adult Humpback whales and 1 juvenile and then, along came 3 Orcas! We also managed to see both harbor & stellar seals and a couple bald eagles.

Stay tuned for part 2.....

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Long Time....

It's been a long, hot summer filled with boxes and more boxes. When I last posted, way back in April we were counting down to our big move to central Washington. Well, the movers showed up right on schedule and with an efficiency I could only dream of possessing, had us packed and loaded into the moving van in two days.

Upon arrival at the new house they were none too pleased to see all the stairs they had to traverse to bring my fabric up to its new home in my lovely new studio, above somebody's ginormous garage. The guys decided they needed to start a new reality show, "Fabric Wars."

It has taken me most of the long, hot summer to get things unpacked and organized. There are still a few miscellaneous boxes left to sort through, but I'm getting there, ever so slowly.

In between all that I've been trying to get some plant life into our barren yard and make it look a little more inviting. Not an easy feat when the temps were over 90 for most of the summer. Now that fall is around the corner, we are looking at getting some trees planted. This black fabric was removed and we covered the yard in bark since its too steep to plant and tend grass. The rock from the terrace level is slowly being moved to the lowest part of the slope that is too steep for bark.

The Spotted One made the transition to the new house surprisingly well. Mr. Heat Lover actually discovered that the patio gets way too hot to sunbathe.....he also rediscovered his fear of thunderstorms. He's decided that any overcast after days of sunshine mean thunderstorms are on the way and he MUST climb onto my lap and pant and shake....

I've also thoroughly enjoyed the benefits of living smack dab in the center of fruit country. First we started with cherry season where I discovered sweet, dark cherries at a local farm stand, can you say yum....the better part of 20 lbs. were pitted and frozen. From cherries we moved on to apricots and now peaches and nectarines. I'm looking forward to apple season. My dehydrator has been humming along all summer.

A little quilting has been accomplished, but more just scattered sewing of rediscovered UFO's. I do believe I need to sit down and start tackling some of them.......