2020. We. Have. Had. Enough.

This will not be my usual post. It won’t be full of humor or “teachable moments”, but, instead a blog that puts 2020 to “bed” as we turn the proverbial calendar to 2021.

The year started off with such hope and promise. While tensions over elections were predicted to be high – no one really grasped the enormity of impact that could be made by a microscopic terrorist that was to ravage our globe. During 2020 Covid 19 became the devil that walked among us – everywhere – 24/7.

I stopped sleeping last January. I know the exact day that I started to only rest for about 4 hours a night – it was the day our daughter flew China Air to Asia. Her wanderlust took her on a great solo-preneur journey throughout Cambodia, Singapore and Bali. But, I had heard about this global terrorist – then called CORONA – and was petrified that the two would meet up. Thankfully, our daughter traversed Asia without crossing paths with CORONA.

By the time she returned to the US, the now termed “Covid 19” was at our shores. But, just a “few cases” – mostly isolated. People seemed to not take it seriously or thought it was “fake news”. Nor did we quite expect that within a few months in to 2020 this disease would take hold of the US from coast to coast and across the globe.

I equate my March birthday with QUARANTINE. At first it was a novelty. Happy hours every night on the street – physically distanced, of course. People stirring their creative juices, pivoting their careers and learning how to assume the role as their child’s teacher. Zoom became a noun and a verb in March – meaning to meet online and not to physically race past another person or vehicle.

By summer we thought we were going to get “sprung” and travel. Some folks did. Some stayed put. I continued to be one of those people who did’t venture more than a mile or five from home.

I discovered this past July that I have Covid 19 anxiety. Every time I see people in crowds I start to sweat and my heart races. I have left a store with a basket full of items upon hearing a single person across the store cough – once. No joke – I literally ran out of the store and to the car at a speed that may have broke my personal best running time due to a single little cough. That my friends is situational anxiety. I got it. It ain’t fun.

In August I started a new virtual job – pivot, pivot, pivot! I pivoted so many times and in so many ways that I found myself becoming dizzy. But, my new job is really good and replaces the dire straights I was feeling with trying to make my “old gig” work financially and spiritually – especially during a pandemic. (So, this may be the 2020 silver lining). While I still work in social media from time to time, I am really enjoying helping kids and their families as a School Psychologist.

By fall I realized that 2020 would end but Covid wouldn’t. I must admit the sadness started to really drift in to my psyche when it hit me like a brick the cumulative toll that 2020 took on so many of my family and friends. People had become seriously ill. People had died. People had lost their jobs, relationships and for some – hope. Covid was indeed the name of the new Satan. It had no mercy. It had no rationale. It was just the devil. It took too much from so many.

Then today happened. The devil took someone else. Someone I knew and admired. Her name – Dawn Wells, and on this second to last day of 2020 she died due to complications from Covid 19. You may know her as Mary Ann from the TV show, Gilligan’s Island, but, I knew Dawn for herself – a great person. Dawn and I met several years ago at the premiere for a web-series directed by the very talented, Steve Wishnoff, and starring her called, Life Interrupted. My “assignment” at the premiere was to snap some photos and “do” some social media postings. My goal was to at least introduce myself to Dawn – and I did. I snapped the photo below, and several others, and that was the start of our first “meet and greet”. She invited me to sit next to her and we chatted for what seemed like quite a long time. We talked about her work with the awesome ensemble cast and crew of the series. Then we chatted fashion, how great she looked in the color she was wearing, and how I could never don an outfit in that hue of yellow. We gabbed, we laughed, and we said good-bye. I didn’t know it then – but we would cross paths again.

Dawn Wells at the LA premiere of
Life Interrupted,
May 2015 Photo: Louise Sattler

Photo by Louise Sattler, October 2017

Life Interrupted also was my pick for opening the San Pedro Film Festival (SPIFFEST) in 2017 – where Dawn and I met up again. I was helping put together the festival and thought it would be fun to celebrate the opening night with a party. Dawn attended and again we spent quite a bit of time talking and sharing funny stories. She was a huge “trooper” as she wasn’t feeling her best that evening – but you would never have known that!

Dawn impressed me as a consummate professional and genuinely an amazing person. I didn’t know her well – but I was glad we had an opportunity to meet and share some laughs. She was indeed very special.


Today, the news of Dawn passing came to me via text as I was leaving the dentist office. That was it. 2020 finally got to me. I broke. I cried all the way to my car and then the whole drive home. It was a sucky day.

Then this happened. A sunset. A glorious sunset with random formations of clouds and blue skies peaking through. I noticed that in the photo a little glimmer of yellow – perhaps nature’s tribute to Dawn?

If nothing else, the sunset reminded me that there is a lot wonderful days ahead. We just need to have patience, grit, and hope.

See you in 2021.

~Louise

Photo credit: Louise Sattler, Dec. 30, 2020

OY! What a Year! Photos Included.

I have started and stopped writing this “Retrospect of 2020” blog – a dozen times. Seriously. I started to organize my thoughts into a succinct blog days ago – each time with the intention to write about why we need to be hopeful and positive as we turn the calendar to 2021. I wanted to write about being grateful . I wanted to write how I learned so much by literally staying home. Yet… what I ended up typing (and deleting 12 times) was a potpourri of complaints. My rants ranged from a tirade of how so many people ended the year with unfathomable heartache due to Covid 19 to my disgust with the polarization of our country – largely due to politics. Delete. Delete. Delete… etc.

Finally – on my 13th attempt to write this blog – I found clarity.

2020 was about survival. I don’t have any words of wisdom for 2021. No big resolutions. No grand plans.

So, I end the year with a blog of photos from the year. Hard to believe that 2020 was a year that we saw LA Zoo Lights New Year’s weekend- back when the year held so much promise. Then off to Nevada to see Alan Parsons in concert and hike red rocks! January, February and early March also brought fabulous times including with the cast of THE CUBAN at the PanAm Film Festival followed by the LA Travel and Adventure Show, cheering our favorite films of 2019 the Oscars at a party at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, working on The Salon Digital Series for Emmy consideration, and celebrating Margaret McSweeney’s induction in to the Hall of Fame for the Taste Awards! Then Covid hit and we pressed the pause button. That is when you will see my photos become more of my surroundings -including starting a fairy garden for neighbors to enjoy. I learned to listen to nature and appreciate the simplicity of life. Enjoy my photos and please drop your blog in the comments for me to check out your year in review.

Be well. Be safe. Happy 2021. ~Louise

All photos are the property of Louise Sattler. Snapped with an iPhone 8 or iPhone 11 Max. 2020 All Rights Reserved Louise Sattler


A Driving Vacation to Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Sedona

If you ever want to feel small while delving in to nature –   drive to the many outrageously big canyons that grace our national parks. Including the Red Rock Canyon National Park  in Nevada. There is where Hubby and I started a week long vacation to visit the Red Rocks of Nevada followed by many places, including the Grand Canyon and Sedona, in Arizona.  

And, because I am often best telling a story through a lens versus the printed word, I offer you many a photo.

DAY 1

The excitement of the trip began days before we even packed when I was diagnosed with bronchitis and tonsillitis.  Should we go? Should we stay home? Well, I hate to be told I CAN’T do something, so we packed and went anyway.  By the time we hit the Nevada border I was glad I had stopped at my doctors for much needed prescriptions, including an inhaler. That little medication literally saved me later on in the journey. 

When you drive in to Nevada from California it is hard to not notice the billboards for Vegas hot spots  and note the lack of announcements for much of anything else. Yet after we found some quick bites to eat we  wandered in to the Red Rock Canyon National Park.  WOW! A mere 30 minute drive from downtown Las Vegas, it is a delightful place to spend an afternoon.

Tip #1 - When traveling with a cold be sure to bring all your "must have" sniffle supplies! Purchasing them on the road can be a hassle and also expensive!

 After I had seen about as many red rocks as I could handle, we ventured in to Las Vegas and parked for the night at the Westgate Resort and Casino.   This well appointed room was found on TripAdvisor who then connected me with one of their recommended third party sources. Easy as pie! Plus, I made some ‘dough” on both the cost of the room and  thanks to a quick trip to  the Quick Hits slot machine at this location. 

Bonus: A Youtube video to explain Quick Hits 

 

DAY 2

I never heard of Williams, Arizona before. But, it seemed like a place to stop given two factors, 1) The signs for Route 66 2) There was a Dairy Queen located in the town.  Now neither of those may be compelling reasons for you to want to stop. But, for me – it was worth it as Dairy Queen’s are not common in our part of California.  And, I am a sucker for any store with Route 66 tchatchkes. I loved meeting the local people,  many who gave us tips about visiting the Grand Canyon and Sedona.  

Tip #2: Sometimes the best photo is found off the highway.

Day 3

The majestic Grand Canyon!  Despite my feeling like a ton of red rocks were resting on my chest – I managed to still enjoy the mighty Grand Canyon.  (But, warning… it is up high! Like 7 thousand feet above  sea level. )  All the photos uploaded on this blog were snapped on my iPhone 8 plus.  They are unfiltered and uploaded as is. 

Tip #3: And, sometimes the best photo is found in the quiet of a canyon. But, remember to pack water to stay hydrated as you hike, snap photos and enjoy the vistas all around you.

Bright Angels - Grand Canyon
Mohave Point at sunset
Tip #4 - Spend at least two days or more in Sedona, Arizona. There is way too much to see and enjoy in a single day

DAYS 4 & 5

Sedona is like no place I have ever seen.  We entered this hamlet from a road that was recommended to us by a new “friend” from Williams.  He said to take this longer trek  to truly enjoy the scenery and be wooed by the mountains.  By the time we hit our hotel – The Bell Rock Inn – I was in love with this area. The rocks formations are like no other ones I had seen on this trip.  They seemed to be humongous towers from a movie set standing tall among the village. They were a backdrop to the town, the residences, the parks and schools. These mountains aptly called by appearance – The Cathedral, The Bell Rock,  Snoopy, etc. – were to this part of the southwest like the Pacific Ocean is to Southern California – the grande dame! 

When you visit Sedona be sure to go to the visitor center. There are several and each one is chocked full of great information.  Sedona itself is known for its’ artist colony, healers and diversity. Among the maps and tourist info I even found guides   for LGBTQ travelers and residents.

Sidenote: I always am curious as to the housing market in areas we visit. Compared to Southern California, most are cheaper than we are used to seeing. But, Sedona does present itself with a wide array of price points for housing, much of it pricey and some more affordable.  I can see why many retire to this state. Although I may need a lot more convincing knowing the heat index is well over 90 degrees much of the year.  

The food is also a mixture of Tex-Mex and “eclectic coffee house”.  Don’t expect to see a Starbucks on every corner – they are few and far between. But, do wander in to the several local coffee establishments that will gladly serve you a very fine espresso or latte. 

Without further adieu, I present you the sights of enchanting Sedona, Arizona…

Thanks for taking this journey with me. Oh, and in case you are wondering.. I am feeling much better! 🙂 

Celebrating the Emmy Awards- Celebrity Connected Style

Did you know that one way a start-up can really garner a spotlight position is by signing on to be part of the Celebrity Connected award show gifting suites?  Here is where talent (actors, social media influencers, top athletes, etc.) converge with brands and media to help promote top-notch products and services. Plus, it is a TON of fun to attend!

Last week, I had the privilege to be a VIP guest at the Celebrity Connected gifting suite to celebrate the upcoming Emmy Awards.  The location was one of my favorites in all of downtown Los Angeles- the Millennium Biltmore. The grand ballroom was all “abuzz” with dozens of vendors hailing from all over the world.

While all were amazing, several were standouts, and I would like to highlight them here. Also, I will sprinkle my vendor spotlights with a few anecdotes from the red carpet and the ballroom  – you may see some familiar faces!


 

First up:  Unicorn Cupcake Boutique

Meet Tracy Lombardi from Unicorn Cupcake Boutique.  She is one smart entrepreneur! Her Unicorn Cupcake Boutique was amazing ! This brand truly is adorable!  Cupcakes and a unicorn theme! Plus,  the SWAG (gifts) were very clever, including unicorn soap and a sassy t-shirt that read “ Less Bitter, More Glitter!”

Also note, that they donated several SWAG bags to be used for a pre-Emmy event.  As I came home  from Celebrity Connected with a dozen bags I opened my email to a special request.  I received a note from a Mom who has a child attending the Parkland HS in Florida (Stoneman – Douglas), asking for any donations for an upcoming event.  Knowing that these children have experienced the unspeakable, I saved most of the goodies from the Unicorn Cupcake folks and will ship it to this family. So, Tracy and Unicorn Cupcake gals, I hope you don’t mind, but your donations are helping young women in Florida feel less bitter with more glitter!

Connect:
Tracy Lombardi
Unicorn Cupcake Boutique
Big Cupcake Truck
Instagram and Facebook: unicorncupcakeboutique

SPORTAMIX:  Bringing Coaches and Athletes together 

 

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When I first arrived at Celebrity Connected, owner Gene Sheynis invited me to spend time at the SPORTAMIX booth in order to learn more about this “matchmaking” for athletes to professional sports, colleges, etc. and to meet sports agent, Leigh Steinberg.   Luckily, I  love sports, especially football and soccer,  so interviewing Mr. Steinberg later in the day proved to be a pleasure, despite no real preparation.  What I learned is that this UCLA/ BERKLEY graduate does not predict Penn State to be in the Rose Bowl, but he does have a winner with SPORTAMIX! 

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Toasting to the success of SPORTAMIX with Celebrity Connected Founder and CEO, Gene Sheynis

 

Here is the description of SPORTAMIX straight from their website: 

Sportamix is a sports networking platform that enables direct communication between athletes, coaches, recruiters and fans.

Any athlete from anywhere in the world, despite nationality, age, geographical location, or social status, can be discovered and connected.

Follow on Instagram: @SportamixLive

 


Scenes from the Celebrity Connected Red Carpet and Ballroom:

There are only a handful of “celebrities” that would reduce me to becoming a “fan girl”.  Two of those celebrities happened to show up at this Celebrity Connected event. Sadly, George Clooney did not show.

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Steven Webber is a character actor known for his roles in WINGS, NASHVILLE and countless other shows and movies.  I love his evilness in NCIS and truly it was an honor to meet him.  He was funny, gracious and after 20 minutes I stopped being a “fan” as he declared us “new friends”.  Steven, if you read this blog – know that  I appreciated our conversation, the laughs and hope you get to say “alive” in upcoming roles! (wink, wink).

 

Judd Hirsch! Oy Vey! Ordinary People is one of my very favorite movies.  Taxi was a favorite TV show and Superior Donuts, was light entertainment – but he made it work!  It was a pleasure to be in his presence.  A true master at the craft of acting and a “helluva” nice guy, too!

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 PIECE JEWLERY

I like bling.  And, bling with style made with clever design gets my attention every time. That is why I really enjoyed meeting Dana from Piece Jewelry.  Her passion “overfloweth”.

In their own words:

The Story Behind PIECE:

Many years ago I fell in love with another local jeweler’s website and designs, and seeing her pursue this dream gave me courage to go after my own. I always wanted to create and sell items from my own hands. My love for jewelry started when I was very young, and I have always been a one PIECE kind of jewelry girl. Finding that one PIECE that’s your favorite, and then picking your whole outfit to match that one awesome pair of earrings or that one amazing necklace. Hence the name of our business “PIECE” and our tag line “Find Your Favorite”. I hope everyone finds a PIECE that is their favorite, just like I have for so many years!

PieceJewelry.com        Instragram/ PieceJewelry 

 

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COFFEE LOVERS:  LIGHTHOUSE ROASTERS

 

The “family” at Lighthouse Roasters are so kind, generous and knowledgeable about one of my very favorite topics in the whole world- COFFEE!!!  Their brews were excellent and they gifted many social influencers during Celebrity Connected and other events that weekend a generous boxed set of TWO of their signature coffees and a drip coffee maker!

Instagram: LighthouseRoasters

Label me a FAN FOR LIFE!! 

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Lighthouse Roasters from SEATTLE had AMAZING coffee! A blend of four different coffees – delicious!

Yes, Virginia it is a SOLAR POWERED HAT with a FAN by KOOL BREEZE!

Have you ever sat outside to watch your child play soccer/ football/ softball/ baseball ,etc. IN THE HOT, HOT SUN?  You end up sweating from the top of your head to your toes! Well, the creators of the KOOL BREEZE hat came up with a solution that uses a mini-solar panel to operate a small fan in the core of the hat.  It works! The minute you step outside you hear the BZZZZZZ of the fan.  Bring on the summertime concerts! (The photos below looks like I am dreaming of all the applications this hat / product design could have! Shark Tank??)

Instagram: KoolBreezeSolarHats

 

 


 

 

Now there were many more brands, but due to space, I will give them shoutouts and upload photos on my Instagram account.  

Enjoy the photos taken by the amazing JOY DAUNIS of JOYDAUNISPHOTOS.com

 

In this featured image from Left (top) to Right (bottom) are: Unicorn Cupcake Boutique and social media influencers (and pals) Tommy Geraci and Amanda Greene/ Actress Nikki Soohoo with Tommy and myself/ Steven Webber (centered)/ Tommy and I with singer Kirsten Collins and host and fitness expert- Shaka. Smith/ Camryn holding Sheree make-up.

 

Creating social media images with your own quotes and photographs.

 

I love quotes. I love photography. Like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich- they are “perfect” when paired together. I am confident that I am not the only one who thinks that the combination of a witty or motivational statement superimposed on a whimsical or lovely photo can make you smile or feel inspired. In fact, social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, have dedicated days that lend themselves to just these type of posts with images –  #MondayMotivation #TuesdayTravel #WednesdayWisdom #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) and more.

Never one to miss an opportunity to showcase my favorite photography, I have embraced creating images with my own or others’ quotes as passionately as I have ingested many a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Related:  Check out this link that “highlights” my “famous quotes”. 

In the social media world there are people who are content creators (people who use their skills to create engaging posts.). There also are people who are known as social media influencers. This second group are folks who have an audience that reacts – usually  positively (and often profitably) – to the endorsement or reviews posted by the influencer.  Some may say I am both. But, if I have to pick one- I would love to be known as a content creator.  I think developing fun and meaningful messaging on social media posts for my own or another’s brand leaves far more a lasting impression than endorsing product after product after product. My favorite is when you can meld the two together- such as working for a brand that wants you to promote a social good / philanthropic agenda.  Or if the brand has an interesting story to tell – that is heart- wrenching, inspirational, or teaches a life lesson. Plus, posting on your own social media platforms images or video that you have created, is for a person like me, an enormous amount of fun!

Photos taken in unique places are often my favorite backgrounds for posts with quotes.

 

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 Photo from Waimea, Hawaii. December 2016. Photo by Louise Sattler

 

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Waikiki Beach, Hawaii 2016  Photo: Louise Sattler

 

I also like to create posts that promote education and travel together

 

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Skagway, Alaska (near the Canadian border) June 2018. Photo by Louise Sattler

 

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 Nara, Japan February 2018. Photo by Louise Sattler
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Kyoto Train Museum in Japan (February 2018)   Photo by L. Sattler

 

Sometimes you can forgo a quote because the objects in the photo are message enough

 

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Photo by Louise Sattler Paso Robles, California 2018

 

Or nature provides you the perfect composition and no words are needed

 

 

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California Sunset – 2016   Photo by Louise Sattler

 

 

 

Don’t forget that people make great social media photo posts, too!

Lastly, a photo for a social media post can include people! Some of my favorite photos are not the ones that are posed, but the candids of friends taking a photo of themselves as they live – “in the moment”.  Below is  Marlee Matlin and her interpreter, Jack  with Camryn Manheim (center) at the Nyle DiMarco Foundation party in Los Angeles in 2016. Just look at their joy!

 

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Marlee, Camryn and Jack … Photo by L. Sattler

Last thoughts…

Social media allows you an avenue for creativity to flow from your brain to the world wide web! I would be remiss if I didn’t conclude this post with a few cautionary tales…

  1. Be sure you have permission to post photos of people.  Especially those who are not adults, but minors.  It is just common courtesy to skip posting a photo with people who happen to be in the background without their permission. At the very least, blur their faces. Portrait mode on a camera can help focus on the subject matter or people you wish to capture and not ancillary folks!
  2. Limit the selfies!  Enough said.
  3. Every moment doesn’t need to be photographed. Nor does it need to be to shared on social media. Especially each and every milestone of your life or that of your child’s.
  4. Put your name on photos that you care about or have them watermarked.  I had the misfortune of having my photos “hijacked” by another social media poster. UGH
  5. Give credit to photos that you use from others. So, if you have a photographer helping you at an event and use their photos- credit them! If you use stock photos- acknowledge that, as well.
  6. You don’t need a fancy camera – although that helps. I use either my OLD Nikon 60 or my iPhone.  Once in a while I will grab my Samsung phone/ NOTE because the camera is so amazing!
  7. Simply enjoy the creative process. I may not be a “top photographer”, but I enjoy photography and am hoping others enjoy my efforts.

 

A few more to close out this post…

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Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California 2015 . L Sattler.

 

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Scenes from San Pedro, CA – all photos by L. Sattler

 

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3.pngThis post dedicated to my dear friends, Sue and Bob, who over dinner last week complimented my travel photography .  Thanks for the encouragement, laughter and sharing the baklava!

Traveling the Pacific Northwest: Alaska!

This is part two of a series on traveling the Pacific Northwest.  Part one may be found here.

 

“Wherever there were glaciers, the world was in a constant state of                        creation.”
John Muir, Wilderness Essays

 

First Stop: Icy Strait Point/ Hoonah

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Hoonah is located on Chichagof Island, less than 40 miles from Juneau. While once known for the canning of salmon,  only since 2004 has the town of Hoonah been known as a cruise destination.  The construction of an elaborate and “official” pier and tourist center known as Icy Strait Point has turned this fishing / canning port in to a great location for travelers to explore.

We were welcomed at the entry to “Icy Strait” by a group of teens singing and playing their ancestral instruments. (Little did I know that these teens comprised the majority of the high school students who remained in Hoonah for their education.)

HICCUP #1: WE NEEDED A PLAN B

One thing a person learns when visiting remote areas, even in the United States, is to be flexible with your plans.  Case in point – the  tour jeep company oversold their excursions so instead of a guided tour throughout the Hoonah area, we took our backpacks and hiked sans tour guide.   Getting to the town “center” was easy as the hike was only 1.5 miles over flat paved terrain. (Note: Bikes, strollers and wheelchairs could make this trek without problems as there are sidewalks and paths.)

Our initial stop on this impromptu hike resulted in us stumbling upon a small restaurant/ bar. The  Office Bar   is a lot like the infamous (albeit fictitious) pub, CHEERS – as you enter a stranger and leave with everyone “knowing your name”.    Jess, one of the bartenders,  was a fountain of information and on the “ready” to pour your beer and tell stories about the history and people of Hoonah.  Ask about snow accumulation and she will show you the “family album” of local residents helping each other during snowstorms and more. When you have had your fill of beer and peanuts, head on down a few more blocks to try local fare. Fish is the menu favorite and the Fisherman’s Daughter  is a fun little place with outside seating that attracts both local families and tourists.  When you leave this restaurant turn left and walk about two more blocks. There you will find the bald eagle’s nest across from the school.  There also is a totem pole demonstration.

Best of all…  whales grace the Icy Strait region in late May and June.  While we were at Hoonah we watched more than eight whales swim and feed right in front of us.  There is no mistaking that whales are a force to ‘reckon with.”  I held my breath, as a whale watching boat seemed drifted within a 50 meters of a pod of whales. But, all were safe! Below is a video of the whales eating from the strait gobs of fish! Apparently, one “lead” whale will catch in his/her mouth enough food to supply to the others in the pod.  The tell tale sign that they are involved in this activity is the “bubbling” that happens on the surface.   When you watch the video below look carefully for the bubbling formation in the water followed by four whales coming to the surface in almost perfect unison.

 

More about Hoonah and culture… 

The culture of Hoonah fascinated me.  The town is around 700 people and the depths of their pride is immeasurable.   Children are educated about their heritage by locals and their formal education occurs in the local public school until the 9th grade. Then they can opt to remain in Hoonah or go to high school school in Juneau. (Interesting fact: The graduating class of 2018 from Hoonah was nine students.)

Hoonah is a remote area and to access it means you either arrive by plane, helicopter or boat.  There are no roads that connect this village to another town across Alaska, including Juneau.  To view a map of the area click here. 

Hoonah residents are proud of their heritage and what the legacy they have built.  I thoroughly enjoyed our time and the gracious hospitality of all we met.  If you have an opportunity to visit – do it!

Related information: Princess Cruises

Juneau – The Land of Glaciers

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TAKU GLACIER

Do you remember the show “Northern Exposure”?  I swear it is about Juneau, Alaska.   Juneau is a small town with lots to offer and if you are like me, you will fall in love with it!  Cut off from other parts of Alaska, you can only access Alaska’s capitol by sea or air but there are a lot more amenities in Juneau than “nearby” Hoonah.

Juneau, perhaps, could best be described as quaint and mighty at the same time.  There are quaint small shops and restaurants, but then you have the mighty glaciers nearby.  Mendenhall Glacier is the closest and most famous of those available for viewing by tourists.  Our family ventured on a helicopter and went to Taku, a glacier that took about a  15 minute helicopter ride from downtown Juneau.  Kudos to Coastal Helicopters  for this educational experience, but first and foremost keeping us safe!    Our helicopter tour found us soaring high above the glacier field and parkland.  Nothing can quite describe what it feels like to view glaciers from above and then walk on one. We drank clear and clean “glacier water” and took a ton of photos. Our helicopter operator was knowledgeable, humorous and most of all – experienced!

 

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Want to really experience a glacier? Visit by helicopter!
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The thickness of the trees makes for a striking view from the air. 

 

Special Note:  I wish I had studied more about glaciers and icebergs before I traveled to one. I think it would have made the experience much more enriching.   Also, for those less adventurous, consider the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.

 

Stepping back in time with a trip to Skagway!

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Skagway reminds me of a movie set.  Nothing seems real because it all looks so perfect and as if time stopped 60 years ago.  I kept thinking that I was in the backlot of a movie studio – that is how clean and perfect it is! Our intent was to walk the town and then hop on the Skagway White Pass and Yukon Railroad.  Mother Nature had a different idea as a rockslide prevented us from being able to make that excursion, so our family resorted to “Plan B”.    The guys went on tour of the area via bus, while the “gals” hiked the village by foot.

A few notable highlights… 1) Go to the SKAGUAY NEWS DEPOT! It is charming and IMG_1495also reminds me how much I miss establishments that sell printed material! I had a lovely conversation with one of the salesclerks and she told me that Skagway has over two-thousand residents during the Summer.  However, when the snow flies, so do the cruise ships, and the town shrinks to a mere 900 or so.  When the winter becomes a deluge of snowstorms all comes to a halt. Like Juneau, Skagway is dependent on ships to bring goods or planes.  Newspapers are flown in daily except during the winter months.

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2) Sweet Treats  is one of those stores that you walk in because it just smells so yummy!  But, once you clear the doorway you realize that you are on sensory overload!  Decorations from Mexico cascade down from the ceiling alongside Japanese lanterns and other “party decorations”.  I was curious if there was a “theme” to this place and was told, “It is meant to be colorful.”  My friends at Sweat Treats – you succeeded!

3) Be sure to visit the White Pass train depot.  Even though we couldn’t travel by train to visit the Yukon due to the rock slide, the depot itself was worth a visit! (Note: Railroad crews were working very hard to remove the rock and check the train track for any issues. They were hoping to open the White Pass railroad for business very soon.  Get updates here via their email.

 

GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK

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There are not enough words in the universe to describe the majestic beauty of the Glacier Bay National Park.  I awoke early to grab a “front row” seat on the cruise ship and photograph every glacier, iceberg, mountain goat, etc. that I could see!  What I learned from the park ranger who gave the passengers a very nice description and running commentary about Glacier Bay, was that we need to do MUCH BETTER in taking care of our environment.  The glaciers are receding at alarming rates and perhaps global warming is to blame.  If you do only ONE THING on a trip to Alaska – please see up close glaciers and icebergs.  And, if you are on a cruise, please don’t make references to the Titanic or sing the theme song from the movie.

Related; Here is a link to help learn more about the wonders of Glacier Bay.

And, this link will bring you to some terrific footage taken by photographers and videographers.

Below find my video of the ice pulling away from the glacier. There is a sound, similar to the rumble of thunder, right before the tumbling of ice and rock occurs.  I am certain that I didn’t try

 

BLUE ICE?

There is a phenomenon with glaciers that is called “caving”. That is when the ice starts to separate and fall in to the water below.  It is fascinating to watch.  The glaciers, by the way, often have a blue hue. Read here for an explanation about why this happens.

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FINAL CRUISE DESTINATION- WHITTIER

Our last stop was the small coastal village of Whittier, Alaska.  We arrive at midnight and there was still enough light to see across the region.  I was amazed that this part of Alaska truly gets nearly 20 hours (or more) of light during late Spring/ Summer.

Here is a photo I snapped about 12:15 a.m. from our cruise ship of the small village of Whittier. This photo is unfiltered / unretouched. Shot with an iPhone 8 Plus.

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LAST THOUGHTS and SOME RECOMMENDATIONS….

On a scale of 1-10, I would rate seeing Alaska by cruise a solid 8.  There were a few hiccups that impacted our cruise, but, overall the experience was very, very good!

Here are a few quick recommendations:

  1. Do read up about glaciers, fjords and the history of the region you are visiting in Alaska.  I wish I had and I couldn’t really “google” from the ship as we didn’t have an internet package.
  2. Prepare for rain and mud.  We were REALLY LUCKY to have had great weather for the majority of the cruise, but it could easily have been foul weather.  BOOTS are a necessity 12 months a year!
  3. Bring sunblock, bug spray/ ointment and moisturizer as you can get a lot of sun, bugs or dry air in this regions.
  4. Have a very reliable camera/ cell-phone and protect it from wet weather and breakage with sturdy cases.
  5. Be sure to take photos of important documents and your cruiseline card, in case of theft or loss.
  6. Consider tacking on a land adventure – such as visiting Denali National Park, Seward or Anchorage.
  7. Don’t sit in your cabin or stay on the ship. Go and explore, take excursions and make memories!
  8. I used a travel agent and highly recommend doing so.  Linda Kahn – Ferrell of the Travel Store in Malaga Cove was excellent! 

 

Coming soon from this blog:

  • We found the last of the Blockbuster Stores – In Anchorage, Alaska!
  • It Takes a Village to Make a Cruise Successful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Photography

While I am not the best photographer, I am passionate about photography and travel. These photos are unfiltered / unedited.  I love connecting with others who find the adventure of travel and / or photography to be their vocation or hobby. So let me know if you are a travel blogger and/or a photography blogger by commenting below. Don’t forget to leave the link to your blog for us to peruse!

And most of all…  Enjoy.

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Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
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The Northern Lights should be on everyone’s “bucket list”. Simply extraordinary.  This photo from Alyeska, Alaska

 

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Anchorage Alaska, Late December 2016
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The road to Napa is without much greenery during the Summer
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Chicago Ferris  Wheel on the Pier. Taken from within the glass enclosure
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Southwest Airlines – taking me on another adventure!
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CABO, Mexico, of course!
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CABO – Ship coming in to port.
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