Jamaica – Caribbean Island Paradise

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Before Columbus first visited the picturesque island in 1494, the tropical, coral reef island was colonized by the Taino tribes.

Enslaved and ravaged by the Spanish, later plagued by European diseases, the Tainos were all but extinct by the 1600’s.

In 1655 the English concurred the island through military force from the Spanish, soon building Port Royal. Port Royal quickly became a base for pirate and pirateer operations such as Captain Henry Morgon.

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Jamaican Pirates

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Sugar cane fields

Over time, due to militaries interventions, piracy was slowly eliminated, and in the 1800’s sugar cane replaced piracy as the dominate income for the English island. Enslaved Africans by the thousands were shipped to Jamaica to provide the labor force needed to produce sugar from sugar cane.

 

Due to the large population of African – Jamaicans, outnumbering natural natives 2 to 1, uprisings were due to follow. During the 18th century, over a dozen uprisings were credited to them; including Tacky’s Revolt in 1760. Also skirmishes with the Maroons resulting in the First Maroon War of the 1730’s and the Second Maroon War of the 1790’s.

Jamaica became politically independent in 1962, after WWII.

The birth of Jamaica’s motion picture industry was in 1972 with the release of The Harder They Come. Since then, numerous movies have been made on the popular vacation destination island.

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Filmed in Portland Jamaica

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Exporting bananas and tourism continue to be the primary sources of income for this Caribbean island today, with tourism now accounting for more than 60% of the annual GDP, at over a million tourists yearly.

Popular attractions of Jamaica include:

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Montego Bay

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Ocho Rios

 

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Pool view at Sandals Negril beach

 

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Kingston

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Bob Marley Statue Kingston Jamaica

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Falmouth Jamaica

 

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Dunn’s River Falls

 

Popular Resorts

sandals

 

Cruise Ship Industry

Disney Fantasy

Disney Cruise Line

NCL to Bermuda

Norwegian Cruise Line

 

 

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Carnival Triumph

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Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

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Whether one chooses a tropical island vacation on Jamaica with a relaxing beach visit or a brief visit via one of several cruise ships, this mountainous, coral reef island is as beautiful as it is relaxing. The motto, no worries, says it all. This is an island paradise that once there, I didn’t want to leave.

May good fortune guide your travels,

J.A. Ireland

Alaska’s Auke Bay – Yukon Wonderland

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Downtown Juneau

Downtown Juneau

While sailing aboard the Disney Wonder along the northwestern shoreline, we enjoyed a magical day in Juneau Alaska. Juneau is the capital city of Alaska since 1906 and the second largest city in the U.S. by area.  Located on the Gastineau Channel in the Alaskan panhandle, at the foot of Mount Juneau, more than 32,000 people make their year-round residence in this Yukon town.

Looking north up S Franklin St., Juneau, AK

Tourism is a major industry for Juneau. Several cruise ships dock there on the channel.  Many thrilling attractions are provided for tourists, including shopping for locally made trinkets.Mount Roberts Tramway

Mount Roberts Tramway departs from South Franklin Street close to downtown Juneau, from directly across the cruise ship piers. It transports excited passengers up the mountain for a picturesque view of Juneau and the cruise ship terminal.

Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier

The Mendenhall Glacier is a popular attraction in Juneau.

Alaskan Cruise Whale Watching in Stephens Passage

Whale Watching in Stevens Passage

Whale watching is also a favorite attraction. For our shore tour we enjoyed a thrilling afternoon aboard a narrated flat-bottom boat as our captain sailed us along Stevens Passage and into Auke Bay.

Auke Bay Alaska -2

Auke Bay

The scenery was dream-like, the vastness—incredible.  As our captain narrated it was difficult to comprehend how the shoreline and mountains could be so… far away. Many miles.

Whales in Auke Bay

There were numerous whale watching boats afloat on Auke Bay. The captains kept in contact by radio. When a humpback fluke was spotted, the captain reported the location and many other captains followed quickly with their tourists.

Whale Fluke in Auke Bay

Our captain received many reports then speeded across the enormous bay to give us the most opportunities for humpback sightings. We thought he did as excellent job as we saw numerous whales fluking, swimming, and puffs. From a distance, they look like logs floating on the water until the waterspouts. When they dive deep, that’s when they fluke.

Eagles in Auke Bay

On this tour, our captain also gave us numerous opportunities to observe eagles both nesting and soaring freely in the vast skies overhead.

We also saw countless sea otters in their communities. They are very social animals and cuddly, not to mention adorable.

Alaskan Seal

Along the waters, we also saw harbor seals, but many more sunbathing on the shore.

Our captain went above and beyond to make sure we saw the wildlife promised on this tour. And did we see humpback whales? We saw a lot of whales.

On the long, picturesque boat ride back to Juneau, he mentioned that under the surface of Auke Bay was mountainous just like above the lake.  That never occurred to me.

Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay

We also sailed past the entrance of Glacier Bay both, going to Auke Bay and returning. Having spent a day inside Glacier Bay a few years previous, also on the Disney Wonder, we were fine with only a view of the entrance.

Our day visiting Auke Bay was one of the most memorial days in the Alaskan Yukon we’ve ever had. The scenery was so amazing it was dream-like. It was like being in another world, a place untamed, untouched by people.

Mendenhall Glacier-2

Mendenhall Glacier

 

Humpback Jumping close to boat

There were several times when the Humpback Whales rolled so close to the boat we could almost touch them.

Humpback Whales in Juneau

The next time we vacation in Alaska and visit Juneau, Auke Bay will be must see, again for more whale watching.

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Thanks for stopping by.

J.A. Ireland

Bermuda – Tropical Island Paradise

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Bermuda Island

The beauty of this United Kingdom Island in the Atlantic Ocean is beyond measure. Discovered in 1503 by Juan de Bermúdez when the 16th Century Spanish navigator sailed from Haiti, then called La Española( Spanish ) back to Spain for a provisioning voyage. Settlements began on this remote island in 1609.

Pirate ShipBermuda first was famous for its piracy. During the 1700’s, it was discovered that the island was rich with sturdy cedar trees that grew all over the island. Building and shipping naturally evolved.  Along with industry came civilization and people and of course, privateering – or in other words, piracy.

The Isle of Devils, as it was called, was a strategic location. Ships sailed from England, Spain, and France to the Caribbean and the New World in North America.

Pirate Ship-2Bermuda pirates were legendary for not only capturing merchant ships that made the misfortune of sailing into their local waters, but they also plundered all the way from North America to the Turks Islands and Bahamas. Privateering died out in the early 1800’s due to strong militaries interventions.

We visited Bermuda while sailing on Norwegian Cruise Line. Embarked from Boston Harbor, enjoyed a fun day at sea.

Bermuda Royal Naval Dockyard -1024x360Our ship docked at the Royal Naval Dockyard, in Bermuda where we spoiled ourselves with  four glorious days of the most beautiful and scenic tropical adventures we can ever recall.

During our heavenly vacation we explored the picturesque island several ways, from the Dockyard, we enjoyed a scenic ferryboat ride to the charming city of Hamilton, the capital. We sailed across the Great Sound and enjoyed a spectacular ocean view of the rich and famous’ residences. A narrated aquatic tour that was both fascinating and informative.

Catherine Zeta Jones, Michael Douglas, Bermuda House

We saw Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas’ Bermuda House

Rich Homes

Multi-billionaire’s homes

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Beautiful Bermuda homes and boats

bermuda-open-air-trolleyWe also enjoyed learning interesting facts about the island while riding an open-air trolley. One result of the high permeability of soil and rocks is the absence of freshwater streams and lakes. There is almost no fresh water on Bermuda.

The first Bermuda houses were similar to those in England, but construction quickly adapted to indigenous materials of cedar and limestone. The strong European influence in architecture is unmistakable. The houses are painted in soft pastels with white, limestone, roofs.

Military House on BermudaA unique feature of Bermuda roofs is their role in catching and containing water. Until the 1930s, rain water provided the only source of fresh water. Water was collected on rooftops, where wedge-shaped limestone, glides, were laid to form sloping gutters on the roof’s surface, funneling rain water into vertical runners and then into storage tanks. In this photo of a military home the unique roof design is apparent.

Early storage tanks were rum puncheons or cisterns made of cedar, while others were made by excavating rock and sealing with mortar. Before the 20th century, tanks were located at the rear of dwellings outside, partly or entirely above ground. Water was removed by bucket or hand pump.  Later systems, hand pumps transferred water to elevated indoor storage tanks. Today’s systems with storage tanks under buildings use electric pumps and pneumatic tanks. Most households today are provided with piped indoor water supplies.

For Bermuda residents, tropical storms and hurricanes are a much-needed source of fresh water to fill their underground storage tanks.

Coral Reef

Coral Reef-2

Diving in Bermuda

Bermuda Island is a coral reef island. Bermuda’s coral reef is mostly made up of organisms  from the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Florida via the Gulf Stream. The same Gulf Stream that carries the warm current that has created this tropical paradise in the Atlantic Ocean. The waters are so clear and shallow snorkeling is accomplished in some areas offshore Bermuda for up to seven miles into the Atlantic, a paradise for snorkelers, less for ship captains.

Bermuda triangleDue to the colorful homes, soft pastels with white limestone roofs, and the vastness of Bermuda’s coral reefs, as planes fly over the island low at night, the island and surrounding ocean is almost gemlike for the pilots. From space, the island glows.

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Pink Sand beach in Bermuda

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Bermuda Horeseshoe bay

The famous pink sand beaches are a result of dark red skeletal animals that grow on the underside of Bermuda’s coral reefs. When the red animals die, the skeletons plummet to the ocean floor. Wave action erodes the forams. They become mixed with other debris on the seabed such as the white shells of clams, snails and sea urchins then form sedimentary sand. This is what causes Bermuda’s white sand to take on its pink hue. It’s simple beautiful.

Royal Navy Dockyard

Anchor in Bermuda

On our final evening, we toured the Royal Naval Dockyard. We enjoyed visiting the fort and learning more history. Many of the artifacts were reclaimed from the sea, badly rust decay but authentic.

The next morning was a sad day as our ship sailed away from the tropical island oasis in the Atlantic, supported by the Gulf Stream.

We enjoyed two fun days at sea while sailing back to Boston Harbor.

The island of Bermuda is one of the most beautiful places on earth beyond a doubt. The picturesque European homes, sparkling coral reefs, pink sand beaches, and tropical island aura.

Moped Scooter RentalThis cruise allows ample time to explore the United Kingdom island in whatever manner one chooses. There was no shortage of bicycles and mopeds available for renting. Cars drive on the left side of the road.

Bermuda-7Bermuda is unique with its dream-like beauty, fascination history, and topography. An island oasis in the Atlantic Ocean, fed by the Gulf Stream, a tropical island paradise  that I recommend everyone places on their want to visit someday list.

May good fortune guide your path.

J.A. Ireland

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

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Disney's Animal Kingdom LodgeWhen I think of Florida, I think of Walt Disney World and of course, Mickey Mouse.  We’ve enjoyed more than one vacation at the theme parks.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge-2During our Disney vacations we’ve stayed at numerous resorts.  Always staying on resort at one of the Disney hotels.  One of the resorts that have become our favorites is the Animal Kingdom Lodge in Kidani Village.  Of the deluxe resorts, AKL is one of the least expensive, the other being Wilderness Lodge, also least expensive among deluxe resorts.

Map of AKL

Left is Animal Kingdom Resort, Right Disney Vacation Club Villas

Animal Kingdom resort is designed in the shape of two giant horseshoes side-by-side connected by the enormous, multi-level atrium.  The horseshoes are the guest rooms and other amenities. The entire structure is designed in African motif, it’s amazing.

We chose to be picked up by Disney’s magical express at Orlando International Airport ( MCO ) and be transported to AK lodge.  Upon arriving at the deluxe resort, a porter handled our luggage.

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The entrance is spectacular, open-air wooden vestibule, with African design. Colorful and interesting native artifacts decorate the area to read and photograph as we walk inside.

The gigantic atrium will astound you; it is so enormous and fantastic.  It looks even better than on the internet. Complete African design with art, gods, paintings, statues…  Multi stories high with ample sofas for lounging. Also included, a lookout area for observing safari animals in the savanna.

AKL Atrium

Atrium

Guest services in the atrium, everyone is fast and friendly.  The uniforms are colorful and African.  Soon, we were on our way to our room.  A porter would bring our luggage to our room.

Disney Animal Kingdom Savannah BalconySavanna View, for just a little extra, we like the close-up view of the African safari and animals.  Sitting on the large patio deck while watching and photographing the different animals makes for a fun time.

Our room was spacious with African furniture, floor coverings, mirrors, and wall hangings—a deluxe room to be sure, delightful.

Also incredible at AKL are the dining options.  Our choice that we seem to flock back to like migratory birds is Boma, the African themed buffet with of course, African decor.  The meal is multiple chefs prepared with a wide variety of delights to choose from including, numerous meats, many vegetables, salad choices, soups, breads, pastries, and deserts.  Don’t miss the Zebra domes, yummy!  Beverages are served at the table.

BomaFrom my perspective, while staying at AKL, Boma for dinner is a do not miss.  It’s delicious and memorial.

Disney TransportThe next morning, we boarded Disney transportation to Animal Kingdom.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, we scanned our wristbands and entered the park designed like walking along an African village.

The thrilling rides include, Expedition Everest-Legion of the Forbidden Mountain and Kilimanjaro Safaris.

The shows are, Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo-the musical, and It’s tough to be a bug.

Disney's Tree of LifeThe Tree of Life, a spectacle all to itself, a unique exhibit, an enormous artificial tree carved with 300 animal sculptures on Discovery River.  Don’t worry, you can’t miss it.  It’s gigantic.  Don’t miss; It’s tough to be a bug.  A 3D show in the stump.  If you don’t mind bugs and spiders, the show is awesome.  The theater is even damp and moldy like a stump.

Festival of the Lion King

Legend of the Lion King is a spectacular, Broadway worthy musical complete with its own theatre, professional singers, acrobats, costumes, lighting, props, theatrical smoke, etc.  An amazing show, not to be missed.  It’s so good, when at AK, we see it twice.

Kilimanjaro SafarisKilimanjaro Safaris, Animal Kingdom’s premier zoological attraction, offers an exceptionally realistic, albeit brief, imitation of an actual African photo safari.  Thirty-two guests at a time board tall, open safari vehicles and are dispatched into a simulated African veldt habitat.  Animals such as zebras, wildebeests, impalas, Thomson’s gazelles, giraffes, and even rhinos roam apparently free, while predators such as lions, as well as potentially dangerous large animals like hippos, are separated from both prey and guests by all-but-invisible, natural-appearing barriers.  Although the animals have more than 100 acres of savanna, woodland, streams, and rocky hills to call home, careful placement of water holes, forage, and salt licks ensures that the critters are hanging out by the road when safari vehicles roll by. We’ve been very lucky each time we’ve ridden in the safari vehicles and seen lots of animals, many times the animals block the roads for minutes at a time—great photo opportunities.  The drivers stop and wait for the animals to move, it’s their home not ours.

Finding NemoFinding Nemo-the musical, gave us the chance to be literally immersed in the story of Marlin and Nemo through the combination of acrobats, dancers, puppets, and animated backdrops. A beautiful and heartwarming performance.

There are numerous other events and small attractions throughout the enormous park plus a lot of African animals in their natural habitat.

Rainforest CafeFor our meal on this wonderful day of fun we walked back to the entrance to Rainforest Café.  The minute we entered the property, it was like being in an African jungle.  Vines with monkeys and parrots and other jungle birds filled the room, all very good imitations.  Snakes hung from the vines, also animated but very fun.  Accompanied by jungle sounds, all enclosing a gift shop.

Rainforest Cafe-2As we were escorted inside the enormous dining room to the back to our table, we delighted at the jungle atmosphere and sounds.  Wall-to-wall birds, elephants, gorillas, monkeys, snakes, and vines enhanced by the accompanying noises.  Even gods and miniature waterfalls were present, all very lifelike just like outside.

We enjoyed cob salads and exotic fruits; all while being amazed by the African jungle atmosphere.  After the lengthy meal, we walked back to the park for more fun.

After a thrilling day at AK, using Disney’s transportation, we went back to our resort.

 

For that evening’s meal, we enjoyed a quick service dinner at The Mara, an AK restaurant.  A variety of easy, burgers, salads, wraps, and beverages all fast.  Mara works with the Disney dining plan.

MARA-STORY

I found this interest, maybe you will too

After Mara, we spent the remainder of the evening, watching the 100 grazing animals and 130 birds from our savanna view balcony while drinking cold beverages in our Disney mugs, part of the Disney dining plan.  A fun and relaxing evening after a thrilling day at the park.

Savanna ViewThis was a fun-filled vacation full of magic and very good meals.  Animal Kingdom resort is a place we’ve stayed at numerous times.  We love it above the rest.  And what can I say about Disney World?  We’ll definitely be back.

Mickey Mouse

As Mickey Mouse says, “See ya real soon.” 🙂

May good fortune guide your path.

J.A. Ireland

 

 

Key West; Florida’s Southernmost Gem

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The sunshine state is full of wonderful attractions as most people know. Disney World in Orlando being perhaps the biggest and best known but certainly not the only one.

If an easy tropical island experience is your game, Key West, in the Florida Keys might be the answer. The keys stretch from Key Large to Key West along state highway 1 from Miami. Also accessible by cruise ship.

A party at Mallory Square

Sunset party at Mallory Square

We visited Key West on a cruise sailing from Miami, on Royal Carribbean’s, Majesty of the Seas. A 4-day cruise from Miami to Nassau, Key West, and back to Miami. We’ve found shorter cruises have their own unique advantages, they leave room for more adventures with the vacation, as this one did. More on that later.

Upon docking at Key West, we walked the boardwalk at Mallory Square, known for its evening sunset celebrations.The sunsets are spectacular from the southernmost point in the continental U.S. During the evening, locals perform their talents for the tourists and locals as well. It’s quite the festive evening.

Sunset at Mallory Square

Sunset at Mallory Square

If shopping is your thing, there’s plenty of booths for that perfect souvenir. Some items authentic and some, not so much, you can decide.

The sunset alone is worth a visit to Mallory Square, magical.

From the pier, it was an easy walk along tropical streets to many interesting downtown sites, Duvall Street, the Shipwreck Museum, and a Trolley stop.

Red Trolley Train at Key West

Red Conch Train, many seniors aboard

For our shore excursion, we chose this adorable red conch  train. The driver drove around the small island on the tropical streets, laden with palm trees and other equator-type vegetation, as our driver narrated the scenic trip. Beautiful, very picturesque.

We saw numerous large, perfectly maintained, older homes on the island. Many of the homes and business displayed flags on their porches and windows. No doubt each flag told its own unique story due to the interesting varieties and colors.

Being a writer, one of my personal joys on this tour was seeing the home of the now deceased Earnest Hemingway, who lived there from 1931-1939. Now a National Historical landmark open for tours, both home and museum. Disappointed, the day did not allow a  tour of the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning author’s home.

Ernest Hemingway's house- Key West, FL

Ernest Hemingway’s house

The trolley tour driver drove us by the southernmost point buoy  of the continental U.S.  We saw numerous stores selling conch shells on Duvall Street and Jimmy Buffets, Margaritaville.

It would have been a crime to be in Key West and not delight in a slice of authentic, Key Lime Pie. After the Conch Train, we stopped at a small shop that advertised the real McCoy, Key Lime Pie Shop, home-made. Made with Key West limes. It was simply fantastic, tart, and sweet, to die for.

There are a variety of trolleys and buses ready for tours. Any of which are an excellent way for an overview of the island, then explore at your leisure, the highlights that peaked your interest.

Conch Shell

Conch Shell

For us, Key West is a tropical island getaway we will definitely visit again, given the opportunity. The friendly people, tropical vegetation, warm gulf breezes, and picturesque landscape and buildings made for a fun, memorable day in the tropics.

After our cruise ended in Miami, we had three days left on our vacation. After driving up the state to Orlando…

Walt Disney World Resort entrance

We enjoyed two fun-filled days at Walt Disney World.

Cinderalla's Castle, Magic kingdom

Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse at Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom

On the first day we visited Magic Kingdom.

Epot Ball, Walt Disney World

Epcot ball and the monorail. Inside the ball, a spectacular ride called Spaceship Earth

On the second day of fun, we visited Epot.

This was a fun, memorable vacation we’ll never forget. Our cruise on the Majesty of the Seas, the day in Key West, followed by two magical days at Disney World. Amazing and unforgettable.

May good fortune guide your path.

J.A. Ireland

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.

The Conjuring – Movie Review

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The Conjuring

Debbie is frightened just thinking about it.  Ed and Lorraine are there and want to hear her story. The Annabelle Case, 1968. A doll keeps moving around their apartment. Debbie and Camilla are roommates, both nurses.

A seven-year old girl named Annabella Higgins died in the apartment. Debbie and Camilla gave Annabelle permission to inhabit their doll. They went out and left the doll in the spare room. upon returning, the doll was sitting in the hall and the apt was trashed. “Miss me?” wrote on the ceiling in red crayon.

Annabelle doll

Porcelain-faced Annabelle doll

Debbie tossed the porcelain-faced doll in the outside dumpster. That evening, a knock on the door. “Miss me?” wrote on a piece of paper in red crayon outside the door, in the hall. The doll was back in their cushioned chair.

Ed and Lorraine agree to help. They deny the existence of Annabelle. An inhuman spirit lives within the doll, something that has never walked the Earth in human form. Demonic. The doll is a conduit to possess them.

Lorraine and Ed first meet the Perron's

Lorraine and Ed Warren

A priest blessed the apt and occupants. Thus ending the demonic event, according to Ed and Lorraine. They hid the doll someplace safe. They are Demonologists. Ghost hunters, paranormal researchers. Kooks. Wackos. Ed and Lorraine Warren.

Since the 1960’s, Ed and Lorraine have been known as the world’s most renowned paranormal investigators. Lorraine is a gifted clairvoyant, while Ed is the only non-ordained Demonologists recognized by the Catholic Church.

Out of the thousands of cases throughout their controversial careers, there is one case so malevolent, they’ve kept it locked away until now. Based on a true story.

The-Conjuring-new-home-for-the-family

The Perron family excitedly enters new country home

1971- Harrisville, Rhode Island. Roger Perron is an over the road truck driver. Kenworth.  He and his family move into an old country home on a swampy lake. Wife Carolyn, and girls, Andrea, Nancy, Cindy, Christine, and April. Sadie the dog. Just moved from New Jersey.

Everyone enters the home except Sadie. She stays on the front porch and barks. Afraid to go inside.

While playing hide and clap, the girl’s find a hidden cellar. Roger investigates. The lights don’t work. Lots of old furniture and spiders.

Sadie stays outside for the night, refusing to come in. Roger puts her on a chain.

The next morning, the clocks all stopped at 3:07a.m. Sadie is dead!

Annabelle doll in arcives room

Annabelle doll in archive room

Monroe, Connecticut, Warren’s home. Ed and Lorraine keep artifacts from cases. Everything is haunted, cursed, or used in a ritualistic practice. They have a priest bless the room every month. The Annabelle doll is there.

Georgiana, their younger daughter sneaks into the archives room as Ed talks to a reporter who is writing a story on the Warren’s. Ed rushes her out immediately for her safety. “You didn’t touch anything, did you?”

At Roger’s home, the next night, the clocks stop at 3:07a.m., again.

Cindy sleepwalks. Carolyn, mom, is getting unexplainable bruises.

When sleeping, something grabs Christine’s foot. A voice told her, “That it wants her family dead.” She wakes crying.

Carolyn

Carolyn

Carolyn is becoming covered in bruises. She’s prescribed Iron Polysaccharin for iron deficiency.

Roger is gone for a week, on a Florida run.

At 3 a.m. the family pictures are knocked off the staircase wall. Most broken.  Carolyn is awake and hears noises, clapping, piano playing in the cellar. She looks and falls into the cellar. She hears girl’s voices down there.

Cindy is sleep walking again. Noises are everywhere in the house. Andrea is attacked by a girl spirit.

Massachusetts Western University, Wakefield. Ed and Lorraine are speaking about an exorcism and showing a film. Maurice killed himself, the exorcism failed. Three phases of demonic activity; infestation, oppression, and possession.

Ed and Lorraine Warren

Ed and Lorraine Warren

Carolyn is there. She wants Ed and Lorraine to see her house. They agree. The next day. They meet they family. Report that, everyone is sleeping in the living room. Feels safer and warmer. A smell of rotting meat moves around the house. The house is always cold, no matter how warm Roger sets the t-stat. Birds fly into the sides of the house and kill themselves. Clocks always stop at 3:07a.m., all of them. Always hear three bangs on the doors and walls, an insult to the trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Rancid smells indicate demonic activity. The family pictures kept falling off the stair walls so they left them down.

In the cellar, “Something awful happened here, Ed,” Lorraine said. She hears the screams.

Ed and Lorraine begin their work. November 1, 1971. Roger and Nancy record the events on tape.

Lorraine sees Rory-2

Lorraine sees Rory

Lorraine talks to April about Rory, her imaginary friend. He’s sad. Something bad happened to him. He lives in her music box she found on the property on the first day. Lorraine saw Rory in the box, he’s a boy about 12.

Lorraine sees a corpse hanging by its neck from a tree in the yard, for a moment. A woman.

Ed and Lorraine feel the house needs a cleansing, an exorcism. This dark spirit, entity, has latched itself to your family and it’s feeding off you. Ed suggests the entire family gets baptized.

Bathsheba hanging herself

Bethsheba hanging herself

Lorraine learns through research, the farmhouse was built in 1863 by Jedson Sherman. Bathsheba was his wife, related to Mary Towne Estye accused of witchcraft in Salem. Hung during the trials. After Bathsheba married Jedson, they had a baby. At seven days old, Jedson caught her sacrificing it in front of the fireplace. She ran out to the tree by the dock, climbed up, proclaimed her love to Satan, cursed anyone who tried to take her land, and hung herself. Time of death, 3:07a.m.

Last name is Walker, lived there in the 1930’s. She had a boy named Rory who mysteriously disappeared in the woods. Then she killed herself in the cellar.

This property has been sub-divided, the new owners committed suicide and drowned.

Clock

Bathsheba’s time of death, 3:07a.m.

At 3:07a.m., screaming and moaning is recorded in a woman’s voice on Ed’s recorder.

Officer Brad Hamilton, Harrisville, Rhode Island P.D. is at Roger and Carolyn’s home, helping with the exorcism. Ed sets up a camera at the tree where Bathsheba hung herself, in the back yard.

Carolyn hung the family photos back up. Later as she takes an afternoon nap, Bathsheba possesses her, by vomiting in her mouth.

Each case Ed and Loraine work on takes a little of Lorraine’s soul. The last case she saw something so horrible that took an awful toile on her. She didn’t eat or drink for eight days, locked in her room.

The closet

The bedroom closet

Ed, Lorraine, and Officer Brad are seeing and hearing things in the house, girl’s voices, doors slamming, footsteps …

Bathsheba hid Cindy in the wall behind the bedroom closet. Cindy doesn’t remember a thing. Rory hides in the same place when he’s scared.

Lorraine falls through the floor, rotten boards, all the way to the cellar, Rory’s mother is there, in ghost form. After seeing the ghost. Lorraine tells everyone. “I know what she did! She possessed the mother to kill the child. She visits Carolyn every night. That’s what the bruise marks are! She’s feeding off of her!” Hysterically!

Being drug around the room

Carolyn being drug by the feet

The spirit begins dragging several of them around the room by the hair and feet. Everything is being recorded. Ed sends the footage to Father Gordon. He’s expecting a fast response. Ed leaves but will be back with the exorcist.

Lorraine sees Judy’s spirit in the water, at the dock, her older daughter. In a panic, she calls home. Her mom says Judy is fine.

Father Gordon is uncomfortable that the kids are not baptized. The family is not members of the church. The approval would need to come directly from the Vatican. He will push it through himself.

At Ed and Lorraine’s home, Judy is awakened during a thunderstorm. She’s frightened by ghostly noises, voices, doors banging… A spirit was rocking in the chair with Annabelle.

Carolyn driving away with two girls

Carolyn taking Christine and April back to the house

Roger’s family is staying at a motel. Carolyn drove away with  Christine and April. She smells like rotting meat. She’s taking the girl’s back to the house.

Everyone drives speedily back to the house.

Carolyn has the girls in the cellar. She’s been possessed by Bathsheba and trying to kill her daughters with scissors. They try to take Carolyn to the priest for an exorcism but are unsuccessful. Bathsheba will kill Carolyn if she leaves the house.

Ed begin the exorcism

Ed and Lorraine begin the exorcism

Ed and Lorraine perform the exorcism. They tie Carolyn to a chair, cover her with a blanket, as she screams.

“In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit… He begins in Latin…

She breaks free but the wild exorcism continues as Carolyn tries to kill April.

She fought Bathsheba and finally vomited her out. Carolyn is freed from the possession.

At Ed and Lorraine’s home, Ed puts April’s toy marry-go-round that Rory hides in, in his room of archives.

The Vadican approved the exorcism. The priest wants to meet with them tomorrow. There’s a case in Long Island he’d like to discuss.

The Conjuring-2“Diabolical forces are formidable. These forces are eternal, and they exist today. The fairy tale is true! The devil exists. God exists. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges upon which one we elect to follow.” Ed Warren

The Perron Family, The Warren Family, both real families.

The End

According to the story, this really happened. You decide.  It was very creepy and frightening. Good movie, overall.

My rating: 4 stars

May good fortune guide your path,

J.A. Ireland