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  • Emily Ellet

Whales, Horses, and GoKarts

Well, this post was supposed to be published last Sunday, but I got distracted by the arrival of my husband, Mike, and the coolest Star Wars costume exhibit ever.  (Thanks for understanding, and I’ll share pictures later this week.)  Anyway, buckle your seatbelts, because I’ve got plenty of adventure to report from two weeks ago.

On Tuesday, I got up with the sun (that’s the sound of me crying into my breakfast) for an absolutely gorgeous day in Ketchikan.  Then I jumped on a bus that drove us north aways to an old logging road, for Adventure Karts!  What’s an adventure kart, you ask?


After a quick safety speech, we jumped into some waterproof overalls in a lovely prison shade, and immediately following we were in the karts and on the road.  I confess, I was a little taken aback at how simple it all was.  I don’t know, I guess I thought with a vehicle, they’d be more worried about our driving skills.  But nope!   I suppose that’s why they require proof of insurance…


I tell you, it took everything in my power to override my safe driver instincts and steer into those potholes.  The bounce to my jaw and neck took some getting used to, as well, but the ride was so beautiful and fun that it was totally worth it.  I also tried spruce tips for the first time – incredibly good for you (it’s how the Alaskan pioneers held off scurvy!) and delicious, like Christmas in your mouth.

The next excursion I took was a two-parter.  First, we visited the Mendenhall Glacier just north of Juneau.  I hadn’t realized that Juneau was a completely landlocked city, due to the huge ice fields to the east.  From those ice fields come the many glaciers surrounding the area, including the Mendenhall Glacier.

An absolutely gorgeous day!

An absolutely gorgeous day! (Click to open the full size panorama.)

The gorgeous visitors' center

The gorgeous visitor’s center

I had a lovely little walk out to a beautiful waterfall near the glacier, though.  It was so funny to stand on sand!  I haven’t seen sand in years.  Forgot how much I dislike sand in my shoes.  (I’m not a huge beach girl.)  Otherwise, I spent most of my glacier time talking to my family – sooo good to catch up with people.

Obligatory glacier selfie

Obligatory glacier selfie

The second part of my Juneau excursion was whale-watching.  Now, not many people know that I reeeeeeeeally don’t like deep water.  Titanic terrifies me, and I can barely watch the oceanic portions of Planet Earth.  But my dance captain encouraged me to try things that scare me on these trips, and so, ever the obedient student, I signed up for whale-watching, prepared to face my fear.

I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day.  Sparkling clear skies, warm sun, and a refreshing breeze off the water.  The boat was much bigger than I expected, too, sort of the size of a small ferry boat.  I was prepared for a little fishing boat, which would have been much rockier and closer to the water.



Well, imagine the crew’s surprise when an adult whale decided to give us a show.  He breached not once, not twice, but over a dozen times (I think I lost count around 15).  Catching a photo was incredibly difficult, because I had no clue when he would jump, but here are a couple of the shots I got.


Interestingly, I discovered that I had no fear of the deep water that day.  Maybe it was because I couldn’t see into it (very opaque), maybe because it wasn’t the ocean itself, just a channel, or maybe it was because I was safely on a boat and not swimming in the water.  Whatever the reason(s), I was grateful to have faced one of my fears and dispel it.

Heading home in the sunset

Heading home in the sunset

The next day was Skagway.  Regrettably, it was heavily overcast and drizzling rain almost the whole day, but given how much sun we’ve had on these trips, I really shouldn’t complain.  Especially because I got to ride a horse!


I admitted my lack of experience to the guides (I’m honest to a fault), but I followed it up with a request that I not be given a pokey pony.  “Something with spirit?” was my exact request.  I got my wish!  Johnny was the name of my horse, and he liked to walk a little faster than the rest of the pack, meaning I constantly had to pull him back.  He didn’t like to be told no.

Left, Johnny - determined to eat the forbidden grass.  Right, me reining him in (to his frustration).

Left, Johnny – determined to eat the forbidden grass. Right, me reining him in (to his frustration).

It was a very boring ride, to be honest.  We had to ride single-file, so we couldn’t chat with each other, and it was raining quite steadily, and it was a very flat trail we followed out to the Dyea tidal flats.  However, I still had a blast, as you can see.  (I wasn’t able to take very many photos because of the rain.)

Visible behind me, my passenger friends Joy and Sara!

Visible behind me, my passenger friends Joy and Sara!

Later that afternoon, I got to visit my ship’s bridge!  I wish my father-in-law had been there; as a retired Navy guy, he knows all the cool questions to ask.  But I had a great time with a couple other crew members, seeing the wheel (it’s so tiny!), the sensors, and the indicators.  It was such a clean, pristine room – I think I had been expecting lots of papers and people.  But you could have held a cocktail party up there, so much open space was there.  And the view!  What an office.



Though I am an employee of Princess Cruises, all opinions are mine only and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

#MendenhallGlacier #adventurekarts #butterflygardens #gokarts #Alaska #Victoria #ButchartGardens #whales #Canada #whalewatching #Skagway #facingyourfears #glacier #horses #PrincessCruises #horsebackriding #excursions #Ketchikan #RubyPrincess #Juneau #viewfromthebridge

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