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Cross Country Trip, Alaskan Cruise, part 2: THE END!

I know two people in Alaska: Santa, and my best friend from growing up, Kenny. They both live at the North Pole. Sadly, we saw neither on this trip. In fact, we saw relatively little of Alaska. It’s 14 times the size of Ohio, twice the size of Texas, four times the size of Montana, three times the size of California…you get the idea. It’s huge! I would love to come back again and see more, but getting here is daunting.

Our cruise started at the top of our journey and went south, so our next stop was the capital, Juneau. Juneau is only accessible by boat or plane.

What does one do in a remote capitol first thing in the morning? Find a bakery, of course!


At 44 miles long, Juneau is the 3rd largest city in the world, though the population is only around 35,000 people. The town had a fun, funky feel to it. It reminded me of Portland—there seems to be a new and young food movement, which is how we happened upon a half dozen other bakeries.

It was so hilly that it’s sometimes called Little San Francisco, and it receives little snow because it’s actually a rain forest. (It also receives very little sunshine.) The town had one fast food drive-thru—a McDonald’s. Their arrival was so heralded that 90% of the population ate there on opening day. That may be the last time anyone over the age of seven was that excited about McDonald’s food.


There were a lot of murals in Alaska, as well as a lot of flowers, and rhubarb, tons of rhubarb.


Back on the boat, we searched for entertainment. Without alcohol and gambling, our closest friends became karaoke and trivia. Have mercy. Apparently the only words to “We Are Family” that we know are “We Are Family.” There are verses, lots of verses.

The next day we landed in Ketchikan. In both Juneau and Ketchikan, the cruise lines had built up little touristy meccas immediately in front of the boat. It was challenging to get past these and see the true heart of the city. In Ketchikan, we walked up the hill to a park and saw some salmon spawning. We also saw some harbor seals and bald eagles. We have bald eagles where I live, but this was the first time I ever heard their beautiful (and loud) call.


This guy and his mate were in the center of town, totally undisturbed by people.


These seals came in for a closer look at the kayakers.

Ketchikan had a dearth of bakeries. Let us observe a moment of grief-filled silence for their lack.


While we’re on the subject of food (as if we’re ever not on the subject of food), let’s talk about the cruise. For years, I had heard about the awesomeness of the food on cruises. After having experienced it for myself, I can tell you that this is both true and not true. There is a. lot. of. food. Tons. Even if you only open your mouth to breathe, someone, somewhere will try to stuff a piece of food in it. I respect that. Most of the food is okay. Some of it is good. Occasionally it’s excellent. Mostly, it’s just a lot.

There’s breakfast, a breakfast buffet, lunch, a lunch buffet, a formal supper, 24 hour room service, 24 hour pizza, and 24 hour ice cream. Thankfully there’s also an awesome workout room that’s better equipped than my local YMCA. (And with a better view.)

They were big into celebrations on the cruise. The waiters sang to my parents for their 50th, and to my sister and brother-in-law for their 25th.


*Cruise tip: Bring a travel clock. There’s no clock in your room and no way to wake up for those early score excursions, should you choose to take them. Speaking of shore excursions, choose wisely. Most are overpriced, crowded, and touristy. Personally, we had much more fun exploring on our own.

Our final stop was in Victoria, BC, which I recently discovered is an island. Sadly, we arrived too late for many things, but it was still pretty.





There was this soda shoppe that made milkshakes. Finally, some sugar on this vacation!




The next morning we were back in Seattle. What’s the logical thing to do when you’ve spent a week being force fed like a pate goose? Immediately look for more food, of course!



Piroshky, Piroshky: Russian pastries so good they named them twice. The huge line was a good testament to how great these things were.



We were foiled in our attempts to get crumpets, so we got Greek yogurt instead. What’s so great about Greek yogurt, you may ask. Well, this is unlike any yogurt you’ve ever had. It’s perfectly smooth and creamy with only a slight hint of tang. Think of the best most perfect custard you’ve ever had, make it ten times better, and you’ll be close to this yogurt.



Next we tried Dahlia’s bakery. They’re known for their ($35) coconut pies. We tried a pie bite. It was meh, but the triple chocolate cookies were good.





Finally, the piece de resistance, the thing I’ve been hoping to try on my previous visits–insert drumroll–Top Pot Doughnuts!



Friends from back home will be wondering how these compare to Schuler’s…plug your ears if you’re unwilling to read this blasphemy…they were better. At least the glazed and sour cream old fashioned were better. Schuler’s still holds the title for chocolate covered cream filled, but these glazed were amazing. They tasted like the inside of a popover–perfectly soft, rich, and custardy. They were awesome and the perfect end to our wonderful vacation.

How do you wrap up such a marvelous trip? What was best–the breathtaking, marvelous sights? The view of our marvelous country? The food? It was the food, definitely the food. Of course family time trumps all of these things. Not only did we get to take the trip of a lifetime, but we did it together. And we ate. A lot. Thanks for reading and sharing with me, Vanessa.


About vanessagraybartal

Author. Eater. Wife. Mother. Not necessarily in that order.

One response to “Cross Country Trip, Alaskan Cruise, part 2: THE END!

  1. Betty and Bob Moore ⋅

    Sounds like this is the end…….have a safe trip the rest of the way home. Enjoyed travelling with you so very much. Thanks for the fun………….

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