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July 31, 2000

Dear Journal,

Wild Waters

We went to Wild Waters, a water park with water slides and a wave pool, on Monday, July 3rd.  Aunt Beth and Trevor were going to go with us but Aunt Beth was sick and couldn't go, so just me, Mom, and Dad went.  Aunt Beth packed us a great lunch though!  I had a good time.  I liked the water slides, especially the ones you rode on a tube and had some tunnels.


Cocoa Beach

Mom, Dad, and I went to Cocoa Beach the weekend of July 7-8th.  We stayed at the Hampton Inn right on the beach.  It was overcast both days, and rained real hard on Friday night.  I had a good time.

Alaska Vacation

Me and Mom at the Seattle Spaceneedle

Saturday, July 15th

We went to Alaska from July 15th to July 29th.  On Saturday, the 15th, we flew to Seattle, Washington.  On the flight I finished the fourth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  We rented a car at the airport.  Then we went up in the Spaceneedle and walked around the park area by the Spaceneedle.  We could see Mt. Rainier.  They said that it was covered in clouds most days and that we were lucky to see it.  You can see it in the middle of the picture above.  Later we went to the mall so Mom could try to find See's candy.  The candy store was closed by the time we got there.  That night, Dad and I swam in the hotel pool.  The pool was heated and the water was really, really, hot.  It was almost as hot as a hot tub!  (Dad liked it.)

Sunday, July 16th

The next day we drove to Vancouver, Canada.  This was my first time out of the United States.  We picked up Grandma and Poppop at the airport.  Then we picked up Grandma and Grandpa, and finally Dave, Debbie, and Stephanie Garrison.  We all stayed at the same hotel that night.  The next day our ship didn't leave until 5:00pm, so we walked around downtown Vancouver and did some shopping.  In the afternoon we all got on our ship, the Dawn Princess, for our seven day cruise.  Judy and Roy Jones and two of their grand kids, Kenny and Allison met us at the ship.  We stopped several places and took land tours.  I'll rate the tours I took on a scale of 0 to 5 stars.

Me at the Canadian border

The Dawn Princess

This is where we sailed on our 7 day cruise

Monday and Tuesday, July 17-18th

The first two days we were at sea.  I got to explore the ship.  I signed up for the kids program.  They had activities for kids during the day.  If I liked the activities, I went to the kids program.  If I didn't like the activities, I hung out with Mom and Dad.

There was lots of stuff to do.  One night they had karaoke in the disco.  Mom, Dad, Debbie, Judy, and Kenny sang the song "My Boyfriends Back".

Karaoke night
Grandma loves sushi!

Dad, Grandma, Poppop, Grandma and Grandpa all tried sushi for the first time.  Doesn't Grandma look like she really likes it!

The night of the Captain's Dinner we all dressed up and had our pictures taken.  Grandma did my hair.  Everyone called me "Princess" that night.

Our whole group on formal night

Creek Street in Ketchikan

Wednesday, July 19th

On Wednesday we woke up and the ship was in Ketchikan.  Mom and Poppop went on a fishing expedition while Dad, Grandma, and I went shopping.  I used lots of great coupons to buy souvenirs.  Ketchikan gets lots of rain and it was raining the whole day.  There is a river right in town that the salmon use to spawn.  Dad, Grandma, and I also walked to a salmon hatchery and to an Indian totem pole museum.  When we got back to the ship, we met back up with everyone else.  Mom and Poppop had caught four fish each.  They brought two of them back on the ship to give to the chef to cook for dinner later on the cruise.  The rest they had packed up and sent to our house.

One of Poppop's fish One of Mom's fish

Thursday, July 20th

This morning when we woke up the ship was in Juneau. My mom, dad, and our friends Debbie, Dave, and Stephanie, and I went on the Mendenhall Glacier Float Trip. It was really fun, but I hoped there would be more rapids. The best part of the trip was the big rapids. The worst part was having to wait for all the rafts to catch up to us. Mom liked the scenery because we had a good view of the glacier from the water. We didn't see any wildlife except for bald eagles. The water was 34 degrees so it was cold.  The guide was just wearing sandals on his feet and he would walk in the water!

They gave us hot chocolate and reindeer sausage after the trip. I liked the reindeer sausage. Rating: 4 stars.

Shooting the rapids
Don't worry Mom, no one's going to touch your gold!

Later in the afternoon, we panned for gold.  We took a short bus ride to the side of a stream.  They gave us a small pan of dirt which we rinsed out to find gold.  Then we could try our luck at finding gold in the stream.  My grandma had a really good time searching for gold in the river.  It was exciting.  I got about 13 specks of gold.  You had to use an eyedropper to get the gold out of your pan.  The best part was finding gold and the worst part was it rained on us again.  My mom says that it was definitely not worth the money and was her least favorite thing.  She says that the gold mining in Fairbanks was a lot more fun and she found more gold (she did that the last time she went to Alaska -- without me!).  She said you got to go into a mine and on a train ride in Fairbanks.  Rating: 2 stars.

Friday, July 21th

The next morning the ship was in Skagway.  We took the White Pass Railroad up into the mountains.  It was pretty neat.  The best part was that you could still see the path the gold miners walked during the gold rush.  We got on the train right next to the ship.  It was a long ride.  The conductor looked like I think an old-fashioned conductor would have looked.  Rating: 3 stars.

Mom and me on the train 

Then we walked around Skagway.  The town was restored like an old gold rush town of the early 1900's.  There was a neat gold rush museum.

The conductor
Me on the glacier

In the afternoon we took a helicopter ride which landed on a glacier.  It was so cool!  This one is my favorite excursion.  The best part was getting to fly around to look at all the glaciers and getting to look in the cracks on the glacier.  The worst part was this lady who was always in the way and it rained again.  Everyone who went on the helicopter excursions thought they were one of the best things that they did on the whole trip.  My grandma and grandpa loved it and mom and dad took a ton of pictures.  Rating: 5 stars.

Saturday and Sunday, July 22nd-23rd

We spent the next two days at sea.  We sailed through Glacier Bay and through College Fjord.  We saw lots of glaciers.  Mom, Dad, and the Garrisons saw a killer whale.  We all saw lots of seals.  We saw a few sea otters too.

Me in College Fjord

While we were at sea, they held a horse race using wooden horses.  I got to be a jockey.  So did Romy.  She was a friend I met at the kids program.  That's her next to me.  There were two races.  Romy's horse won the first race.  My horse lost both.  It came in last place in the second race!

Horse racing


The chef cooked the salmon that Mom and Poppop had caught and served it as part of dinner for our whole group.

Monday, July 24th

On Monday morning the ship was docked in Seward.  We got off the ship and took a bus to the Anchorage airport.  On the way to the airport, there were two big moose right next to the side of the road.  We took a plane to Fairbanks.

Most of our group on the Riverboat Discovery

In Fairbanks, we did a Riverboat Discovery Cruise on a paddlewheel boat.  It was included in our land tour.  The best part was getting to see the sled dogs and petting them.  They belonged to Susan Butcher.  She was the first woman to win the Iditarod dog sled race.  I also liked seeing the reindeer.  I fed them leaves.  The worst part was when they talked about trapping animals and how the Indians lived.  A lady also cut up a salmon really fast.  Overall, it was fun.  By the way, it rained.  Rating: 4 stars.

We spent the night at a Princess hotel in Fairbanks.

Tuesday, July 25th

Today we got up and went to the Alaskan Railroad.  We took the train to Denali National Park.  We rode on Princess Ultra-Dome cars.  Our seats were upstairs and downstairs was dining tables.  We ate breakfast downstairs.

All my grandparents and me on the train
Me, Allison, Kenny, and Stephanie on the bus in Denali  

We got to Denali National Park at noon.  After lunch we went on a wildlife seeing tour and we saw two red foxes, some caribou, moose, birds, and an arctic ground squirrel.  It was great because we saw lots of animals.  Rating: 4 stars. 

At the midpoint of our wildlife tour of Denali, we got off the bus for some hot chocolate and to take some pictures. 

After the tour of Denali we took a bus to the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness lodge.  We stayed there for 2 nights.

The Rhodes's in Denali

Wednesday, July 26th

My dad, our friends Judy, Roy, Ken and Alison, my Poppop, and I went horseback riding.  It was awesome!  I saw a mother black bear and her 3 cubs playing.  The worst part was when my horse took off through the trees because it was scared of the bears.  My horse's name was Lady.  My Dad's was Chip.  This was my second favorite excursion.  It didn't rain this day. :-)  Rating: 5 stars.

After we got back to the hotel we jumped into the hot tub.

Horseback riding
View from the senic overlook at the lodge

Thursday, July 27th

Today we took a bus to the town of Talkeetna.  It was a tiny town.  We ate lunch and did some shopping.  Then we caught the train again to take us to Anchorage.  We ate dinner on the train and when we got to Anchorage we went to our hotel.  We stayed at the Anchorage Hilton for two nights.

On the train again

Poppop and me under a whale's jaw bone

Friday, July 28th

A city tour was included in our package.  It took us to a seaplane base and to the Alaska Native Heritage Center.  The best part was going in the replicas of the Indian houses.  There was also a lady who told stories and sang Indian songs.  She was interesting.  This was my least favorite excursion except for the gold panning, but it was still OK.  Rating: 3 stars.

That afternoon the Blue Angles were having an air show at the Air Force base.  We watched them out of our hotel window.

On Saturday morning we got up really early to go to the airport.  We had to transfer our flight in Salt Lake City.  The flight was over booked and we got to take a different flight but we got to fly first class!  We got steak for dinner and they put table cloths on our trays.  We got more foot room and squishy chairs and good headphones.

Overall, Alaska was fun and exciting.  I liked the cruise part of the trip better than the land part.  I really enjoyed the food!