Our Alaskan cruise-part 1

DSC_1691_tonemappedIt wasn’t my intention to take so long to follow up on this part of our adventure, but between the oppressive heat & the need to get a number of orders crated & shipped, I never got around to posting anything new.DSC_1637_tonemappedAfter a very scenic train ride along the coast from Seattle to Vancouver we boarded the m/s Noordam, of the Holland America line. As I believe I mentioned in a previous post, this was the first time for Nikki, Nick & I to be on a cruise ship & needless to say we were impressed by all the amenities & especially the food. It was like being on a 5 star hotel with a constantly changing view from our balcony. I had booked a couple of nice suites, but at the last minute Nick & Alexis surprised us with an upgrade to the deluxe accommodations (now totally spoiled for any future cruises).DSC_2667_8_9_fused

DSC_2693_4_5_tonemappedBetween the 2 suites we had 40′ of balcony to enjoy the inner passage from Vancouver all the way to Alaska so relaxing on deck was quite enjoyable as the sun arose at 5 AM & didn’t set until 10 PM.DSC_1804_tonemapped

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DSC_1956_tonemappedOur first city of departure was Juneau, Alaska’s capitol & accessible only by boat or seaplane. Of the many excursions that were offered, Nikki & I decided to go whale watching & visit the Mendenhall Glacier while Nick & Alexis were more adventuresome & went sea kayaking.DSC_2076_tonemapped

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DSC_2148                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Harbor seals

DSC_2197_tonemapped                                                                                                                                                                                           Mendenhall with the “blue ice” glaciers are known forDSC_2194_tonemappedMendenhall Glacier falls, a 100′ wide rush of water that cascades 300′ from Nugget Creek which in turn is fed by Nugget Glacier. We wanted to make the hike to the foot of the falls but were afraid we wouldn’t get back in time to catch the bus back to our ship.DSC_2204_tonemapped

DSC_2217_tonemappedWas hoping to see some bears but had to settle for a porcupine. At least I could get close without the fear of being mauled.

DSC_2174_tonemappedAlaska has a very large population of eagles, so spotting them was always a treat.DSC_2096_tonemapped

DSC_2219After a little snack of king crab legs it was time to get back on board & set sail for our next port of call…Skagway.

 

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Rialto, Ruby & the Ridge

Ruby beachAfter exploring Lake Crescent on the day we arrived, the next day we made our way over to the beaches & coastline the Olympic Peninsula is known for. There are many of these treasures, but we picked 2 of the most recognized ….Rialto & Ruby Beach. It didn’t hurt that these were also the easiest when it came to traversing our way to them. In my never ending search for anything driftwood related, I’ve been particularly fascinated with the amount & size of the logs & root systems that find their way to the shores of the Northwest coast. DSC_0916DSC_0885_tonemappedThese trees are actually known as drift logs & are found as far as the eye can see & in some places are stacked like cord wood. Western red cedar, Douglas fir & Sitka spruce are the signature trees of this temperate rain forest & these monsters make their to the beach when huge winter storms cause rivers that flow through the forest to flood and trees on the edge can topple in. After a time the bark will rot away, the wood will become smooth & turn to a silver gray patina. The majority of the driftwood was certainly nothing I could use for my furniture but it was definitely a treat for the eyes.DSC_0695_6_7_tonemapped

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DSC_0667_tonemapped                                                                                                                                                             A dining table for 50?

DSC_0992_tonemapped                                                                                                                        Now this one I could use, but Nikki said we couldn’t bring it back.

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DSC_0872_tonemapped                                                                                                                     Apparently logged upstream before the stump made its way to Rialto.

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DSC_1081_2_3_fused                                                                        At the mouth of the river. Must be quite the spectacle when it’s raging & these giants are tumbling down to the beach.

DSC_0938_tonemappedAlso of particular interest were these giant rock formations known as sea stacks. As I came to find out sea stacks are blocks of erosion resistant rock isolated from the land by the sea. They began as part of a headland or sea cliff but relentless pounding by the waves eroded the softer, weaker parts of the rock first, leaving harder, more resistant rock behind. This would also explain the trees that continue to flourish on the larger sea stacks. Obviously, there has been quite a bit of erosion over a long time period as some are hundreds of yards offshore. DSC_0716_7_8_fused

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Reluctantly it was time to leave, but I did have to stop at this roadside display on our way back to the lodge. For a mere $1900 I could have this magnificent root system to display in the yard of my shop.DSC_1106

DSC_1099                                                                                                                                          We almost even share the same first name.

Although we didn’t have time to visit all that Olympic is known for, we did manage to make our way up to Hurricane Ridge (named after the hurricane like winds that occasionally blow through). At the top, most of the trails were closed due to snow which I thought made it more interesting.DSC_1315

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It was now time to catch the ferry back to Seattle at Bainbridge Island but due to the incredibly clear day, Mt Ranier was clearly visible looming over the city.DSC_1358_tonemapped

Next…..catching the train to Vancouver to board the m/s Nordham departing for Alaska.

 

 

 

 

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Taking a break

DSC_0412_3_4_tonemappedThe last couple of  years have been quite busy for me as we’ve transitioned away from the art festivals that were the staple of my business for over 30 years & now rely strictly on my customers finding me on the internet.  I felt a little time off was needed, so I took my CFO, CMO & tech support team (also known as my family) to several places that have been on my bucket list…..the Olympic Peninsula & Alaska. Because of the great support I receive from  Nikki who handles everything financial, Alexis, my daughter in law, who redesigned my website & convinced me that utilizing social media (including writing a blog) was vital in people from all over finding my work and my son Nick who fixes my tech mistakes & on occasion lends a little muscle when I have a heavy table to load in a crate, I am able to pursue my passion of creating driftwood furniture for my great customers.Lake CrescentI told Nick & Alexis what I had in mind & they did all the research & planning and came up with a detailed itinerary for a very special 10 days. If they ever decide to give up their jobs as attorneys, they would make great travel planners.

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Upon arriving in Seattle we drove to the Lake Crescent Lodge located on a beautiful glacier carved lake in the Olympic National Park. Needless to say, with my love for photography I captured an abundance of memories that I brought back.

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DSC_0289                                                                                                                                                              Marymere Falls

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The giant western cedar trees were abundant & the deer unafraid.DSC_0376

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These are more images than I normally will use in one of my posts, but with the beauty of this place it was hard to leave any out (which I did). By clicking on any one picture it will become full screen. Next….Rialto & Ruby Beach plus the snow covered Hurricane Ridge.

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More driftwood center pieces

driftwood center pieces

As mentioned in previous blogs, I’ve started putting together a collection of very nice completely weathered driftwood pieces to be used in special events but especially for weddings. This will be wood that I’ll rent to wedding coordinators, florists & brides to be for a unique look for that special day.

Recently I was contacted by Michelle Lewis, owner & lead designer of Bluegrass Chic, a local wedding and special event florist. These are images sent to me by Michelle & I was told the table arrangements were a big hit. For more info on Michelle’s talents check out bluegrasschic.com or contact her at bluegrasschicweddings@aol.com4

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In the near future I hope to add a link to my site giving more details on pricing, wood sizes, rental policies, etc.

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A new driftwood piece for an old customer

I’m currently creating a small driftwood base for a TV stand for a customer who originally purchased some of my work back in 1988. Carolyn had originally seen my driftwood lamps & table when we were doing the Melbourne Mall (Florida) art show. The mall shows were our initial avenue for selling my furniture. Thankfully, those days are long past as spending Thursday-Sunday from 10 until closing in a mall has made me allergic to them to this day.

Carolyn took my card & came to see me at my showroom/shop in Orlando, saw some pieces in the raw & was intrigued. I mentioned that they would be finished in time for my next art show (this one outdoors) in her area & suggested that she come look at them at that time.driftwood & glass coffee table

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IMG_1515She decided on a kidney glass coffee table & 2 floor lamps all in the lacquer finish. It’s very gratifying to know that almost 30 years later those pieces still look the same and customers such as Carolyn are still displaying them in her home. And within the next couple of weeks a 4th piece will be joining the others. Thanks Carolyn for sharing those with me & I hope you enjoy them for 30 more years.

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