Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Voyage of the Glaciers (2015)

It's all over (well, nearly)

Waking up in Whittier

Everything felt different this morning; it's simply not possible for life on board to seem normal when everyone's focus is either leaving the ship or getting ready to do so. After breakfast in the International Café, we made our final preparations and suddenly it was time to say farewell to Grand Princess.

We easily found the airport transfer bus on the quayside and took our seats to await the scheduled departure time of 0840, designed to catch the 0900 tunnel opening. I had driven through the Whittier Tunnel in 2006, and therefore knew that it was long, narrow and claustrophobic, with space for road traffic in only one direction at a time. I also knew that road traffic had to share the tunnel with trains, and that their schedule had absolute priority.

I recognised most of the route to Anchorage, based on that first visit nine years previously. The highlight on this occasion was when the guide pointed out some Beluga whales (an endangered species) in the Turnagain Arm, the body of water to our immediate left for most of the drive. The inlet's odd name was bestowed upon it by none other than William Bligh, of Mutiny on the Bounty fame. In due course we arrived at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (another name that doesn't exactly trip off the tongue) and checked in for our Delta flight to Seattle. This was the first leg of another deliberately leisurely transcontinental and transatlantic journey, which would be completed by some final hopping between the neighbouring islands of Great Britain and Ireland.

With the sightseeing effectively over at this point, it's time to wrap up this account of yet another amazing trip. There was plenty to reflect on during that long journey home, including visits to two new states for me (Montana and Idaho); a succession of breathtaking landscapes in Montana, Washington and Alaska; wildlife encounters including bears and whales; fabulous hotel stays in places as diverse as Dublin, Spokane, the hinterland of Seattle and Vancouver Airport; another hugely enjoyable week on board a great cruise liner; a face-to-face encounter with the Margerie Glacier, in near-silence; a spectacular train ride from Skagway; and a 40-minute ride in a very small plane that showed just how fine the dividing line can be between being on top of the world and feeling utterly miserable!

If I felt a little sad that this latest visit to the USA was over, all I had to do was remember that I would be back for another substantial visit before the year was out!

Saturday 05 Sep

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