There’s been a bit of work happening to the car since I last posted. The big addition is the canopy which increases our storage capacity and allows us to put the drawers back in that we had in the Prado. The sides can store the battery box and smaller items and the drawers are lockable so will also be great to store items when we park the car. The side windows open outwards to allow access behind the drawer unit.
We’ve also added –
Side mirrors for reversing and towing
DC to DC battery
So the car is now ready for travel. It’s only four weeks to the Brisbane Caravan and Camping show for more research and it’s now eleven months till departure.
While I was at work yesterday, Glenn had a very busy day ….. spending money on the car. He has
- ordered the canopy and arranged the paint matching.
- ordered the 2.5m x 2.5m Adventure Kings side awning and side wall
- arranged for the side mirrors, brake controller and dc-dc battery to be fitted
The side awning will increase the coverage outside of the van if the weather is inclement and just the awning will give us a great lunch space for stops along the way.
Everything will be fitted by mid May.
In amongst finalising the plans for the Canada/Alaska trip, we are also looking forward to our retirement travel plans within Australia. Glenn has retired by accepting voluntary redundancy and is busy with our plans for the car and caravan for our travels. I’m still working but starting to count down but just over eleven months to go. I will finish work 29 March 2018 and we will set off for a six month trip in mid April. So twelve months from now.
Our first purchase has been the car. We have upgraded the Prado to a Ford Ranger dual cab ute. This car is auto and diesel and can tow up to 3.5 tonne, so it has plenty of grunt to tow a caravan. We have already added roof racks and put the solar panel on top.
Glenn has taken off the tray top and a surround and managed to sell them through a facebook site so that we can add a canopy. This will allow the drawers from the Prado to go back in and we will have the height for our fridge/freezer. Our gear will also be more secure and we will be able to fit more.
If you can forgive the colour, the car will then look more like this.
We set sail at night and then arrive in Skagway the next day at 7am and do not depart until 10pm so we have a full day. We have booked a tour titled The Best of Skagway which departs at 9am and takes 6 1/2 hours.
We start right next to the cruise ship by taking the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad which shares the history of the Klondike Gold Rush. In Fraser, British Columbia, we detrain and then embark on a motor coach to travel the Klondike Highway taking in the sights of Tormented Valley and Pitchfork Falls along the way.
At the foot of the pass, next to a waterfall we stop at Liarsville Gold Rush Trail Camp where we take in a sourdoughs and dancehall girls show, poetry reading and are taught the art of gold panning. We have some free time here and a buffet lunch is included.
Back in Skagway we visit the world-famous Red Onion Saloon and brothel museum. That sounds like a full day but we still have time to wander Skagway, find some time for a light dinner or even have a late dinner back on the ship.
The Alaska cruise portion of the trip covers 7 nights with three days of cruising the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay and also three ports of call before docking back in Vancouver. Our ports of call are Tracy Arm, Juneau – Skagway – and Ketchikan. There is only so much time allowed at each port so working out the best way to see the most is a research nightmare but I was able to spend some time doing just that yesterday. We can log on to the Holland America line and book the shore excursions now before they are booked out.
Tracy Arm is just outside of Juneau and the ship docks there at 10am for half an hour to allow passengers to view Sawyer glacier and the fjord and take photos. Some passengers will hop off to do the Tracy Arm Fjord and Glacier Explorer trip and we had thought we would do this as well. It is a 6 1/2 hour trip by high speed catamaran which cruises the glacier area for close up photos and an on-board naturalist provides information. During my research I found this website which compares the Tracy Arm trip with the day we sail through and visit Glacier Bay – http://www.cruisecritic.com.au/articles.cfm?ID=1894. I think we will be happy with views this close.
Given this information we have decided instead to continue to Juneau on the cruise ship where we will dock at 1pm and not depart until 10pm. Sunset will not be until after 7:30pm so we will have a good time to look around and take photos. We have decided to take the trip – Mendenhall Glacier and Mt Roberts tram. The trip is outlined below and we will head up on the tram about 5pm allowing us time to look around and have dinner at the restaurant at the summit. Hopefully we will get some good night photos as well.
Your journey begins with a narrated tour of downtown Juneau and the city’s highlights en route to Mendenhall Valley — home of the mighty glacier. Your guide will point out many of the attractions that you’ll want to see during your approximate 1½-hour stay at the Mendenhall Glacier area. Scenic Photo Point and the Visitor Center are well worth a visit. Take time to watch the short film about the glacier and the 37 other glaciers that make up the Juneau Ice Field. The area boasts several self-guided scenic trails that allow you to learn about the role the glacier had in carving the landscape. Each of these trails offers a different view of the Mendenhall through trees or along the shores of Mendenhall Lake.
Return to downtown Juneau for a ride on the Mt Roberts Tramway. You can either head straight up the mountain or detour into town and ride the tram at your leisure — your ticket is good all day. You’ll want at least 90 minutes to take in the beauty of Mt Roberts. On the ride up to 1,800 feet, take in the beautiful views with the Chilkat Mountains to the north, Stephens Passage to the south, Douglas Island to the west and, in the east, Silver Bow Basin where gold was discovered in 1880. At the top, learn about Alaska’s raptors from a naturalist at the live bald eagle exhibit and visit Raven Eagle Gifts at the Mountain House — an educational experience because you can watch local artisans crafting traditional objects. Looking out at the surrounding mountains and islands that make up the Tongass area, it is easy to understand why Juneau-ites feel so isolated from the rest of Alaska.
Well it’s a while since I have put fingers to the keyboard. Life seems to get out of control and there is not enough time to write. So what’s on the holiday agenda!!
Glenn and I spent five days relaxing at Moolooaba on the Sunshine Coast mid March at Mantra Mooloolaba which is a favourite of ours. We parked the car on Monday and didn’t get it out again till we were leaving on Friday. The week was an easy one. Morning walks, a surf each day for Glenn, evening walks after dinner, spas at the apartments and some reading and relaxing.
The big trip for this year is three and a half weeks visiting Canada and Alaska. We are taking the 21 day Reflections of the Rockies and Alaska Cruise with Travelmarvel and then having three extra nights in Vancouver.
This trip is our last hurray for our working lives as Glenn has already retired via voluntary redundancy and I will make my exit at the end of March 2018. It’s THE trip we both have wanted to do and we have added in all of the upgrades. We are flying Premium Economy with Air Canada, taking the gold class option of the train, staying in a lake view room at Lake Louise (my dream) and we have a verandah stateroom on the cruise.
It was three years ago that we were in Berlin. In fact on 18/12/13 we visited the Christmas market and church at Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. I remember being disappointed that the building was covered in scaffolding as they carried out restoration works and hoped I would return to see it in its entirety. We wandered the markets that today were the sight of carnage . They were quiet in the day time compared to the night.
The original church on the site was built in the 1890s. It was badly damaged in a bombing raid in 1943. The present building, which consists of a church with an attached foyer and a separate belfry with an attached chapel, was built between 1959 and 1963. The damaged spire of the old church has been retained and its ground floor has been made into a memorial hall. The chapel was beautiful inside and a direct contrast to the building works outside.
This building and these words should remind us of the humanity we seek to find in the world and that while very disturbing and sad these poor souls are a blimp on our radar who test our forgiveness each time.
I still hope to return. Berlin is a wonderful city and the people are lovely. Today I am sad that once again those sad misdirected souls seek to ruin the lives of others. I took a photo of a verse within the church which I thought was precious at the time and is so poignant today. Parts read
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class, Father forgive
Our indifference to the plight of imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee, Father forgive
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4,32)