The Untamed, Majestic Beauty Of Sitka Alaska

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Mount Edgecumbe Sitka, Alaska

Mount Edgecumbe, Sitka, Alaska

Alaska is an untamed land of wonder like none other. A world of its own. A must see for nature loving travelers.

One of the many unique attractions in Sitka Alaska  is the Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest. The tour offers a wonderful opportunity to see Alaskan Wildlife up close as well as picturesque scenery, like Mount Edgecumbe, a real volcano.

Our boat captain sailed the open-air vessel through the inlets and waterways of Sitka while showing us the exciting wildlife. There were Alaskan naturalists aboard who kept us informed of what we would see coming around every bend.

On this shore excursion, people are guaranteed to see a sea otter, harbor seal, or whale. Our captain went out of his way to make sure we saw Humpback Whales. He made an extra effort for us to have a fantastic time.

Bald eagles
Numerous bald eagle sightings thanks to the captain. We saw soaring eagles and their nests high in the treetops.

Sea otters
We saw adorable Sea Otters. Lots of them. They seemed very affectionate with one another. Kept in groups.

Harbor Seals-2

We also saw Harbor Seals on the rocky shores.

The captain made sure we saw more than half of dozen humpback whales. He kept in constant contact with other whaleboat captains so he would know where the whales were fluking. Then he drove the boat quickly to that area of the water. Whale fluke

Humpback Whale Fluke

He waited for us in one place for everyone to get one final picture of a whale’s tail fluke. What a guy!

Our adventure in Sitka Alaska on the Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest was memorable. A day of nature and whale watching.  Amazing and beautiful.

Earlier that day, when sailing into port, we noticed the Russian inspired, onion dome roof buildings, including the famous St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church.

Also part of our day in Sitka, we spent walking the downtown area, going through  St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church with its onion dome roof.

St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Church, Sitka, Alaska.

St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church

The Native Indian and Russian-American cultural influences were impressive.

 

Next, as a compliment, we saw the Tlingit Indian totem poles in the park and a harbor of fishing boats. This scene was set against a backdrop of snow-covered mountains.

Russian-American Era

“In 1741, the Vitus Berring expedition recorded the location of the Tlingit settlement at Sitka and recognized the value of the location and resources, recording this in their log books. The world of the Tlingit people came to a calamitous turning point in 1799 when the Russians returned, built a fort and trading post, and named the site “New Archangel.” In 1802, the Tlingit destroyed the Russian outpost; however, the Russians returned in 1804 and retaliated by destroying the Tlingit fort in the Battle of Sitka, a site commemorated at the Sitka National Historical Park. Just a few years later, in 1808, Sitka became the capital of Russian-America, a vast territory that extended from Northern Alaska, south to Fort Ross, California.

Sitka was the capital of Russian-America from 1799 until 1867 and during the mid-1840’s Sitka was the leading economic center of the Pacific Rim with the first boatyard, lighthouse, sawmill, iron, brass and bronze foundries, and flourmill. Sitka, with scenic beauty possessed by few world communities, was known as the “Paris of the Pacific” and was the largest European-style settlement on the West Coast of North America.

When the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million, the Stars and Stripes were first raised on Castle Hill in downtown Sitka. Sitka was the capital of the Alaska Territory until 1906 when it was moved to Juneau.”

Article retrieved from http://www.sitka.net/sitka/culturehistory.html

Visiting Sitka, we saw both Russian and Tlingit culture and heritage.  There were Native Indian artifacts and dancers, Russian inspired onion dome buildings and churches, and the New Archangel dancers.

Porky’s Prank

In the Port of Sitka, we were told about this local legend known as Porky’s Prank.

On April Fool’s Day in 1974, the residents of Sitka were startled when the dormant volcano, Mount Edgecumbe, started to blow out smoke.  Since Mount Edgecumbe hadn’t erupted in 8,000 years, residents were very concerned. People ran out of their homes to watch the volcano, fearing the dormant volcano was about to erupt.

Mount Edgecumbe Sitka, Alaska

Mount Edgecumbe, Sitka Alaska

It turned out that the incident was not because of the volcano, but because of a local prankster named Porky Bickar.  Porky had thrown hundreds of tires into the volcano’s crater and lit the tires on fire, causing black smoke to pour out of the volcano.  He was trying to convince his fellow villagers that the volcano was on fire.  He also spray painted “April Fools!” in the snow by the fire.  He explained later that he had been planning this event for three years.  It also proved to be an expensive prank for him as the Coast Guard required him to pay for the cleanup.

By the time it was over, the event was worldwide.   Porky will be remembered for ages because of it.

This ranks as one of the greatest April Fools Day Pranks ever.

Whether taking a cruise or visiting Alaska by other means, Sitka Alaska is a port city full of natural wonder and beauty. The wildlife alone is worth exploring but there’s so much more. A pacific coast city worthy of exploring, if an Alaskan vacation is in your plans.

May good fortune guide your path.

J.A. Ireland.

Honey Glaze – Soy Chicken Thighs

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Here’s a delicious chicken recipe. It’s easy and fun. Hope you like it.

Ingredients:

3 pounds chicken thighs

3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon cilantro

2 cloves garlic – chopped finely

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon thyme

1teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

¼ teaspoon basil

¼ teaspoon oregano

¼ teaspoon parsley

½ lemon juiced

fresh ground pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons canola butter, melted

save for later – ½ cup honey for glaze

save for later – sesame seeds for garnish

save for later – fresh parsley for garnish

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together except honey, sesame seeds, and fresh parsley in a medium mixing bowl then put the marinate in fridge. Next remove the skin and fat from chicken thighs before rinsing well with cold tap water. Place the cleaned thighs in a large, deep oven baking pan; then spread evenly. Remove the marinate from the fridge and spoon over the chicken evenly covering each piece generously; using all the marinate. Place in fridge for 6 hours to allow the chicken to absorb the flavor.

Tic Tock Tic Tock

Six hours later. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Remove chicken from the fridge. The marinate should still be on top of the chicken; if not use a spoon and spread back onto top. Bake for 30 minutes on a higher rack.

Tic Tock Tic Tock

After thirty minutes. Remove the pan from oven. Using tongs, remove each piece of chicken and place on a plate for a moment. Carefully pour the marinate into a metal bowl; use oven mitts for safety. Place the chicken back in the oven baking pan with the other side up. Next poor or spoon on the marinate over the top of the chicken; cover all pieces generously using all the marinate. Place back in the oven and bake for 30 more minutes on the higher rack.

Tic Tock Tic Tock

After thirty minutes remove chicken from the oven. Using tongs, remove each piece and place in a large frying pan. Pour the ½ cup of honey over the chicken and cover. Cook on medium/low heat for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, uncover and turn chicken over; then cover again. Cook  on med/low heat for 10 minutes again.

After 10 minutes, remove from heat and leave in pan covered until ready to serve. The honey will continue to glaze as long as you turn the chicken over every few minutes and keep covered until ready to serve.

When serving, garnish with sesame seeds and fresh parsley. Here’s a picture of what my Honey Glaze – Soy Chicken Thighs looks like. There’s an exciting new flavor that you’ll just love; it’s something different.

This recipe can be used on chicken legs, thighs, and wings.

The leftovers can easily be frozen for later meals.

I hope you enjoy my Honey Glaze – Soy Chicken Thighs recipe.

May good fortune guide your path.

J.A. Ireland.

Honey Glaze – Soy Chicken Thighs

Honey Glaze – Soy Chicken Thighs

My Heart Healthy Baked Alaskan Salmon with Crunchy Pecan Topping

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Heart Healthy Cooks,

Here’s a recipe for baked Alaskan Salmon that my family just loves. It’s teaming with Omega 3’s.

Ingredients:

Heart Healthy Baked Alaskan Salmon with Pecan Crunch

Heart Healthy Baked Alaskan Salmon with Pecan Crunch – Two pieces of my delicious fish

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons canola oil butter, melted

5 teaspoons honey

½ cup Italian bread crumbs

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans; leaving some a bit large

3 teaspoons fresh parsley chopped

7 ( 8 ounce ) fresh Salmon fillets

fresh ground pepper

lemon wedges

Prep work:

In a small bowl, mix together the Dijon mustard, melted butter, honey, parsley, and freshly ground pepper.

In another bowl, mix together the Italian bread crumbs and pecans.

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with extra-virgin olive oil non-stick.

Remove the fresh Salmon from the seafood deli counter wrapping. Remove scales and rinse well with cold tap water. Check for any remaining scales. Rinse again.

Cut your Salmon into desired fillets and place each on the baking sheet skin down. Spoon on the sauce. Cover each piece generously. Use all the sauce. Next cover each fillet with the crumbs / pecan mixture by spooning as well. Use all the crumbs to cover generously.

For baking. Ten minutes per inch at the thickest part of the largest fillet is the usual baking time. The salmon should flake when tested with a fork. If not, bake two or three more minutes. My family likes our fish more crispy than most. A rule for us is always to bake five more minutes. I baked my Salmon for 15 minutes. My family went crazy over this dish. Salmon is a very heart healthy protein; it’s high in Omega 3’s. Also, the Dijon mustard compliments the Salmon so well you won’t believe it. I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading. J. A. Ireland.

A Western Caribbean Cruise on the Disney Fantasy

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Greetings fellow cruisers,

If a Western Caribbean Cruise is in your future, you’ll enjoy reading this article. We sailed on the Disney Fantasy to Costa Maya, Cozumel Mexico , and Grand Cayman. We had a wonderful cruise; so many highlights to write about.

SatelliteFallsDisneyFantasy-300x212

Satellite Falls on the Disney Fantasy

For us, the Disney Fantasy is a breathtakingly beautiful ship, with unbelievable wonders.  The service was impeccable, our food and dining experiences were delicious, as with all our Disney cruises. The entertainment was pure Disney “Magic” as well. In all, we had a wonderful time.

Our ship was filled to capacity; as usual. Although, it seemed crowded on the open decks, and at Flo’s, the quick service eating areas, we found some special ways to escape for some adult only experiences. We discovered a lovely, quiet, hideout called Satellite Falls. There is a beautiful waterfall were a person can sit in the water and read; a lot of people were reading their Kindles. There are multitudes of fold out chairs that are covered by an awning for shade. You can see the waterfall and the chairs with awning in the picture. Also, the view of the sea from there is out of this world. This picture shows the blue waters off the shore of Cozumel Mexico. We enjoyed the day at Satellite Falls as the Disney Fantasy parked at the dock at Cozumel.

Cozumel Pier and Disney Fantasy

Cozumel Pier and the Disney Fantasy

Many people exited the ship and explored Mexico for the day. The dock makes it incredibly easy to come and go as many times as you want.  The food, shopping, and spirits in Cozumel are not to be missed. Señor Frog’s is close by.

The beaches are restful and breathtaking.  In the past, we’ve spent the day exploring  the beautiful city and relaxed on the tranquil beaches. Cozumel is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico. Today we relaxed and enjoyed the day at Satellite Falls; and the incredible view. The view really was spectacular; as you can see.

I have so many memorable highlights to share of our week aboard the Fantasy.  Another fantastic memory is the Spa.  Part of my family enjoyed spa treatments at the luxurious Senses Spa, and enjoyed  spending time in the Rainforest room. The treatments were relaxing and spectacular;  the Rainforest room was relaxing and entertaining. Disney brings spa treatments to a whole new level; of course they do.

senses spa

Senses Spa

Mickey's Pirates of the Caribbean

Mickey’s Pirates of the Caribbean

Our evening of dining experiences were exceptional in the character dining rooms.  One of the best meals in the regular dining rotation was Pirate Night. Many families, along with all the staff, dressed as pirates for the fun dinner. The menu is Caribbean.  We thought the Caribbean Jerk Ribs were yummy. “Rrrr me maatee!”

The Pirate Party later on deck is a spectacular, not to miss show and fireworks. Disney is the only cruise line that has fireworks at sea.

We also enjoyed reservations at the Italian inspired, Palo restaurant, and the elegant French restaurant, Remy, enjoying a three-hour dining experience.

At Palo, we particularly enjoyed the variety of fresh breads, cheeses, and seafood at the buffet. That’s only the beginning; the food keeps coming to the table. Every time we finish one item our server brings us something else. There’s also Italian Pizza; yum. For the main course I ordered the lamb. Every time we eat at Palo I order the lamb; it’s heavenly. Also, Palo’s wine and champagne list is exceptional.  The servers are truly Italian and love to talk about their home country; Italy. Our dining experiences at Palo are so memorable that every time we sail on a Disney Cruise, we make a dinner reservation at Palo. One point to make; for men, a blazer is required. Also, there is an additional charge.

Remy on the Disney Fantasy

Remy on the Disney Fantasy

Palo Seafood Buffet on the Disney Fantasy

Palo Seafood Buffet on the Disney Fantasy

Our  evening at Remy was exquisite. We enjoyed a small room to ourselves  where the French servers brought us one sample after another and explained the meaning behind each dish. The French delicacies kept coming along with their names and explanations.The wine and champagne list here is exceptional as well. Finally, when we were over stuffed, our French server rolled in the cart that was full of french chocolate and cheeses. The samples were so delicious we couldn’t resist even though we had no room left. We had never tasted so many rich flavors. The meal lasted the entire evening as advertised and was romantic; also as advertised. If we sail on a Disney Cruise Ship that has a Remy restaurant, we always enjoy an evening of dining at Remy. Also a point to make; there is an even stricter dress code and an even higher extra cost for this exquisite French restaurant.

Buena Vista Theatre on the Disney Fantasy

Buena Vista Theatre on the Disney Fantasy

We enjoyed all the Disney Broadway style musical production shows of Aladdin, Wishes, and Believe. Our family’s favorite was Aladdin.

We attended many of the movie showings in the Buena Vista Theatre; it was beautiful, as you can see.

There were six movies showing on a random schedule, including Iron Man 3 and Oz The Great and Powerful.  We particularly liked this one.

Aqua Duck

Aqua Duck

On our last day we rode the Aqua Duck; as it took me that long to get up my nerve and the lines were short. This was the first time during our sailing that the wait to ride was less than ½ hour. It was a very entertaining and thrilling ride, sailing high over the deck and ocean, in individual rubber rafts.

There is so much to write about; several articles on our various highlights will follow.

This vacation was wonderful, the weather was beautiful, and we had a fantastic time.

We smiled as we left the ship, walking past the cast members and Mickey Mouse waving us off the ship, saying “See Ya Real Soon.” I’m sure they will. I thought as I inwardly cried. I wanted to fork out my card and sail for another week. It was so much fun. Writing this article makes me want to book another cruise. I hope you book one too.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy cruising. Ja

TANGY TILAPIA

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Orange Glaze Tilapia

Ingredients:

Six large pieces of fresh Tilapia Fillets

One orange

A dash of fresh pepper

One quarter teaspoon of garlic powder

One and ½ tablespoon basil

Two tablespoons red wine vinegar

One tablespoon caraway seeds

One tablespoon olive

One tablespoon ginger

½ cup orange marmalade jelly

Preparation:

Orange Glaze Tilapia Fillets

Orange Glaze Tilapia Fillets

First I zest my orange; then juice. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. I mix all the ingredients together in a small mixing bowl and whisk well. Spray a large baking pan with canola oil non-stick spray. I place my Tilapia fillets evenly on the baking pan then spoon on the orange glaze evenly over the tops of the fish. I coat evenly until each piece is covered completely. I’m baking my fish today for ten minutes. We like our fish crispy on the edges. Here’s a picture of how my Tilapia looks when baked and ready to eat. Yummy!

Thanks for stopping by.

May good fortune guide your path.

J.A. Ireland

ALASKA; Glacier Bay or Tracy Arm Fjord

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The Fjords Are Like Being In A Dream

Humpback Whale in Glacier Bay

Humpback Whale in Glacier Bay

When we booked our Alaska cruise, we didn’t know what to look for. Some people will choose to sail on their favorite cruise line.  Others say to book for the port adventures, or onboard adventures. For many the question will be, do I want to see Glacier Bay or Tracy Arm Fjord? Both are enchanting and dreamlike, but different experiences.

When we cruised through the Tracy Arm Fjord, the ice, mountains, nature, and waterfalls seemed close enough to touch with the stunning Sawyer Glacier as a conclusion.

Glacier Bay National Park,  with it’s vastness, huge bald eagles soaring high over the mountain tops,  glacier carved mountains, and streams ragging down the mountains.  After getting a wide perspective of Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm Fjord’s vastness, we were able to see more of the small details.

Glacier Bay National Park

Glacier Bay National Park

Glacier Bay National Park– Our day in Glacier Bay National Park on Holland America’s Zaandam was breathtaking. We were blessed with a nice sunny day, with temperatures in the mid 50’s. We cruised through the St. John’s Inlet, and viewed the magnificent John Hopkins Glacier. Even though it was partially dirt covered, its majesty and splendor were breathtaking.

We were approximately 6 miles from it, but due to its vast nature; it looked to be only a quarter-mile away. Imagine our amazement when we were informed that we were 6 miles away from this giant natural wonder. As we gazed upon her beauty and splendor, we could see the light blue ice, which marks her timeless journey that began on the Fairweather Range on the eastern slope of the Lituya Mountains. John Hopkins Glacier, like many others in Alaska takes a journey that requires several hundred years to complete. Also, during our dreamlike cruise, we were filled with the wonders of hundreds of smaller glacial formations and picturesque waterfalls.

Alaskan Mountain Goats in Glacier Bay

Alaskan Mountain Goats in Glacier Bay

We spotted, with our high-powered binoculars, many cream colored mountain goats that are living very happily on the rugged slopes of the snowy mountains. They are actually very easy to spot, high up on the mountainside due to their cream color. The cream color contrasts with the white snow and the green vegetation of the mountain side.

This very picturesque journey through the seemingly narrow channels of this unchallenged and vast ice wilderness will leave any traveler with perhaps the best memories of a lifetime. Glacier Bay National Park will live in our hearts. It was a glorious day.

Tracy Arm Fjord– During our day of sailing through the majestic Tracy Arm Fjord, the weather was more typically Alaskan. We were bundled in layers, as the cold drizzly rain fell from the overcast sky. Fog engulfed the ship at each turn along the fjord and gave us more unexpected surprises with it.

7935 Near Tracy arm fjord, Alaska

Tracy Arm Fjord

We sailed on this cruise with Disney Cruise Line on the Disney Wonder. As the Wonder turned into the vast entrance to the breathtaking Fjord, we were immediately taken in with her heavenly beauty. The vastness of her incredible size was unfathomable as we slowly sailed through her still waters.

The mountains appeared to be only one quarter mile high from the cruise ship deck even though we were told they were 4-6 miles high. Slowly sailing along, we saw more cream colored mountain goats walking on the sides of mountains and bald eagles soaring majestically above. Sea otters and seals were also plentiful. Seals were lying on the floating, blue ice chunks from the calving glaciers.

Seals on Glacial Ice

Seals on Glacial Ice

While standing on the cruise deck we felt as though we were experiencing another world.  A world that was untouched by man and by man measurements. Objects appeared a half mile away but were actually seven or eight miles away.  Alaska is so big. It’s vastness is something one must experience from a cruise deck or other means to understand.

We began to see large chunks of blue glacial ice, from a calving glacier, floating by in the calm water. Often times we could spot a seal lying on the floating ice, watching us curiously as we sailed by. With each turn of the fjord, we could feel that we were going to experience something very special.

While approaching Sawyer Glacier, we noticed that the ship was sailing even slower. As we were now approaching a large field of floating blue ice, we began to see more seals, moms and their pups. To determine safe passage, the captain had to very slowly navigate around these large chunks of blue ice. This is there home. We’re the intruders. The captain was very slow and cautious.

Sawyer Glacier

Sawyer Glacier With Humpback Whale Fluke

Reaching Sawyer Glacier at last, our cruise ship remained a safe distance, as to not disturb the hundreds of seals sunning themselves on the solid blue ice bergs that were calved from the glacier. As we viewed the awe inspiring creation of nature, we were captivated by the vast splendor of this famous glacier. We were stunned when we were informed that the face of Sawyer Glacier was over six miles wide, and 300 to 400 feet tall. To us, it seemed only a fraction of that size. This was a further testimony to the vastness of these incredible Fjords. We watched as Sawyer Glacier slowly calves many small and large pieces. We heard the crack, like thunder, and down the ice crashes into the freezing waters below. I remember standing there in awe as the calving continued. The journey these glaciers make down from high in the Alaskan mountains takes several hundred years concluding by slowly calving in the fjords.

The cold rain was still coming down. I had a coffee mug in my hands. But this moment was not to be missed. We realized that time and distance have no meaning to a glacier. One hundred years is merely an instant, and for this vast untamed wilderness, several feet can equal many miles. Our senses are rendered useless as we span this heavenly, unimaginable land. We were standing on the deck  watching, while taking it all in for about 45 minutes.  Our ship was just quiet. People were quietly captivated and immersed in their own reflective experiences.

Disney Wonder in Tracy Arm Fjord

Disney Wonder in Tracy Arm Fjord

Slowly, one by one, people started leaving the deck. The ship slowly swirled around and began the slow, still awe inspiring, journey back through the Tracy Arm Fjord. Even though the deck was practically empty, we stayed top side to enjoy the magnificent splendor even more. This is when life long memories are created. The deck was all but deserted when we finally went in to warm up. And regrettably. Sailing the Tracy Arm Fjord was truly another world that we sailed through. We remember staying on deck to soak in every possible moment of this heavenly, magical, mesmerizing sight. It too, was a glorious day that will live in our hearts.

Is a cruise inside Glacier Bay National Park or Tracy Arm Fjord in your future? Often times the decision of which fjord is decided by which cruise company a person chooses. If you shop Alaska Cruises you’ll see what I mean.

If you want my opinion, from the perspective of a Disney Castaway Cay Gold Club Member, experienced traveler, fantasy / fiction / spiritual author, chef, blogger, with a family. In my opinion, either choice will provide you with a heavenly vacation and fill your minds with awe and wonder. Alaska is a world of it’s own; it’s a place you can visit over and over again. As we have. If you are planning an Alaskan Cruise, and I hope you are, you will leave this Yukon paradise with memories that will last a lifetime. Guess what? Just as we have, you can always ad more. Thanks for stopping by. Ja