Warm, Sunny Get-Away to Moab Utah

We love our home, in the lush green forested foothills of the North Cascades. But, this past winter provided a bit too much lushness, countless cool, wet and gloomy days, what many people think of when they imagine the Pacific Northwest. By winter’s end, we felt in need of a change of pace.Curt Remington at Deadhorse Point State Park, Utah

What could be better than a warm, dry and sunny place, more of a desert location, at the opposite end of the color wheel? We opted for the red rock canyons of Nevada and southern Utah, far different than the lush green forest of our western Washington home.

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

Moab, Utah sounded like a good base, so we rented an Airbnb just outside of town. Moab is definitely different, clearly catering to outdoor adventure sport enthusiasts. Along with cars, streets are lined with ATV’s, Jeeps, and a whole variety of serious off-road contraptions. For those of us that prefer quiet in the wilderness, the area also has mountain biking, rafting, hiking and lots of photography opportunities. On this short trip, I focused on the last two, hiking and photography.

For hikes, we crammed half-a-dozen or so short ones into three hiking days, including: Devil’s Garden, Delicate Arch, Dead Horse Point, Wave of Fire, White Domes, Las Vegas Strip, and Negro Bill or Grandstaff, depending on who you ask.Mary Remington in Arches National Park, Utah

Even on the trip, we saw some sharp contrasts, like the throngs of people in Las Vegas versus the empty, wide-open freeway with 80 mph speed limits or the noisy casino versus the peace in remote desert canyons.

On an earlier trip, discovering Teddy Roosevelt National Park was a real treat. We had driven by it countless times, not realizing it is well worth the stop. On this trip, Valley of Fire State Park, an hour outside Las Vegas, was a similar find. There are spectacular and surreal red and white rock formations that have been used for both science fiction, western, and action movies and television shows, such as Total Recall, Star Trek Generations, the Professionals, One Million BC, Wasteland, Transformers, and lots more. Highlights included bighorn sheep, a slot canyon and the wave of fire, a masterpiece created by the greatest artist, mother nature.

Mary at Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Mary at Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Like so many, this trip was too short. We did manage to dry out, relax in the southwestern sun, and we came home with some beautiful memories and pictures. We even came home with a tan.

Desert Bighorn Sheep

Desert Bighorn Sheep

Rafting the Main Salmon River

Our Aire Super Puma Raft

Six Spectacular Days with a Primitive Tribe

Rafting the Main Salmon River held a prominent place on my bucket list for years. It turns out, I had it there for good reason. This past summer, my wife, Mary, and I finally made that trip and spent six sunny days surrounded by beautiful scenery, thrilling rapids, and learning the special customs of a unique and friendly tribe.

Our Aire Super Puma Raft

Our Aire Super Puma Raft

Trip Details

On this run, the clear waters of the Main Salmon River, plunge deep into Idaho’s 2.4 million acre River of No Return Wilderness, “the largest contiguous federally managed wilderness in the United States outside of Alaska.” This area contains parts of three mountain ranges, a 6,000-foot-deep canyon, almost no roads or stores, and far more wildlife than people, including bears, mountain lions, wolves, and rattlesnakes. The 80 miles of river we covered holds countless rapids, vast white sand beaches, and canyons lined with steep granite cliffs.

As to logistics, I was a bit flabbergasted when I learned it would cost $475 to have our truck shuttled to the takeout, 80 miles downriver. Then I mapped the driving route and found that because of the vast wilderness area, it was a nine hour, 409 mile drive, with many miles on exceptionally rugged and remote roads. I decided maybe the $475 was quite a bargain.

Way of Life on the River

With that background info out of the way, we can get onto the part about life on the river with a primitive tribe. I better clarify things a bit here, because the tribe wasn’t really that primitive. In fact, they looked a lot like normal people. They just had some interesting, primitive customs that we had to adapt to. Our group consisted of 15 people in seven rafts. Many of these were serious outdoors people that had rafted together for 25 or so years. Three of them had spent their careers working for the US Forest Service.  Their interesting customs included:

  • They pooped in ammo cans and peed in the river. Actually, the forest service requires people to do this, otherwise this tribe might not have followed this custom. These requirements force tribal members to become pretty uninhibited about their bodily functions, often continuing a conversation while nonchalantly urinating into the river.
  • Most tribal members slept on the beach, tent-less, amongst the spiders and snakes. We did notice that after a rattlesnake encounter, two of the tribe members started sleeping in a tent, like Mary and I.
  • Upon finding a rattlesnake that made threatening gestures in the poop can vicinity, tribe members eliminated the rattlesnake. For safety’s sake, this actually made a lot of sense. I may have even taken part in this.

    Tribal Members on a Big Beach

    Tribal Members on a Big Beach

  • Once at a campsite for the day, male tribe members spent a lot of time sitting in, arranging, and adjusting their rafts and gear, while the female tribe members drank intoxicating beverages and focused much of  their time on food preparation. This sort of behavior seems common to many tribes, although many primitive tribal males might focus on carving weapons rather than fiddling with rafting gear. Something that surprised me about this particular tribe was the quality and the elaborateness of meals and intoxicating beverages they prepared. It seemed to me as if the tribe had developed such a strong bond that they strived to honor each other with outstanding meals, including appetizers, side dishes, desserts, and a drink of the day. My wife and I found ourselves enjoying this custom immensely and will try to better honor tribe members during the next trip, with more elaborate gourmet food and unusual drink.
  • On the river, tribal members watched out for one another, waiting at the bottom of a rapids, ready to assist if another member needed help. Then, they generously complimented each other on river-running prowess, after avoiding the majority of boulders in a particularly challenging set of rapids. When tribal members smashed their boats into boulders, others politely pretended not to notice. I appreciated that.
  • Cooking and cleaning was accomplished without electronic appliances or devices. This also applied to communication. Rather than using texting, email, or even phone calls, people actually spoke to one another, telling jokes and breaking into spontaneous laughter.
  • On certain nights, tribal members would have celebrations and ceremonies that included dressing up, dancing, birthdays, and river stories around the campfire. They did use an electronic device (iPod and speakers), rather than traditional drums, on the dance night.

What Set this Trip Apart

Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn Sheep

On a Lower Salmon River trip we took, Mary, our daughter, Heather, and I had only each other, and Mary and I do most of our wilderness trips alone. On our Main Salmon River trip, the tribe is what really stood out. We had been a bit apprehensive about joining a group of people we didn’t know, but they turned out to be a very nice and welcoming bunch of people, with some fun customs.

One of the retired rangers told me that they had been more than a bit apprehensive about letting a raft join their group, without actually knowing the skill level of the people that would be running the rapids. I absolutely understand that, because it could be life-threatening having unskilled people on a remote wilderness whitewater trip. He assured me that after the first set of rapids, the group knew we were perfectly competent to run the river. That was nice to hear.

As we fell into the rhythm of sunny days on the river, we became tanner and more relaxed, increasingly feeling like part of the tribe. We also grew in our river-running confidence and competence. Reading rapids on the fly, and sliding effortlessly past boulders became second nature.  I had initially thought that six days sounded like a long trip, but the days streamed by and were over before I knew it. On the way home, I started thinking about our next rafting destination.

Mary & Curt

Canadian Rockies: Great Vacation Destination

What characteristics make for a wonderful vacation destination? I suppose the answer might vary depending on the person, but the Canadian Rockies has a lot to please just about anyone.

My wife Mary and I spent nine glorious days camped there this summer, and I think it was the best choice for us. We’d planned to visit Italy, but we came up short on frequent flyer miles. Our next thought was to hike a 74 mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail. A drought brought forest fires and water shortages to Washington’s high country, so two weeks before departure we switched our plans to Banff and Jasper National Parks, along with Mt Robson Provincial Park.

Not knowing better, we scheduled our trip to start during Canada’s busiest camping weekend, Civic Holiday or “August long weekend.” We figured it out when we couldn’t find a camping reservation anywhere near Banff. Lucky for us, our time freed up and we departed a couple of days early, just in time to grab one of the last first come first serve campsites at Castle Mountain Campground. Those that weren’t so lucky got to pitch their tents a few feet from each other on the edge of a big gravel parking lot (overflow camping).

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park

Mountain Thrills and Dangers

For thrill-seekers, the Rockies have mountains to conquer, rock faces to climb, and whitewater rivers to raft. Even backpacking in the mountains holds a number of dangers. There are cliffs to fall off, storms that can move in quickly, potential for getting hypothermia, getting lost, and of course, there are bears. We camp regularly in the North Cascades, which has lots of black bears but few grizzlies. The Rockies have a lot more grizzly bears, and grizzlies can be big, mean and ornery. In fact, Banff and Jasper National Parks have frequent trail closures, an electric fence around the Lake Louise campground, and lots of bear boxes for food storage. I kept bear spray close by and heard from a fellow backpacker at Mt Robson that he actually used his. If you’re going to Banff and want to see bears, try the Lake Louise Gondola.Grizzly bear warning sign

We never got around to riding the Gondola, but we did see a couple of bears. They left us alone and seemed far more interested in doing their own thing. The biggest danger we actually faced was our long drive across British Columbia on Highway 1, the major east-west truck route across Canada. We’d left in early afternoon, and I was road weary and still driving past dark, on a section of Highway 1, that winds through mountains with only two lanes. This meant temporary blindness as semi headlights came at me at a combined speed of over 220 kilometers per hour. To make matters even more exciting, we came across plenty of warning signs for deer, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep.

We were very relieved to reach the Husky Travel Centre truck stop in Golden, BC, where we found semis, and a few smaller rigs, parked for the night in every available spot for blocks in both directions. Eventually, we found an opening, crawled into the back of our pickup, and slept until 6 am.

Canadian Rockies: International Destination

I think we heard just about every language and encountered nice people from all over the world. If you’d like to practice your language skills, this could be a good place to do so.

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Our Luxurious Accomodations

French seemed to be almost as common as English. I realize French is the other official language of Canada, but I thought most French speakers were in Quebec. At Lake Louise, we encountered a teenage daughter yelling at her dad about a picture of her he apparently had threatened to post on Facebook. She started her tirade in English then switched over to French, when things really got heated. I chuckled and was glad my youngest of three daughters is now 20 and past that stage.

We also heard a good deal of what I suspect was Chinese (Mandarin), especially while camped in the Lake Louise campground. Our campsite sat in very close proximity to the neighboring site, which held two large tents and lots of young Asian children. The weather continued to drizzle, so we didn’t bother setting up any gear. We just sat in our truck and listened to our neighbors chattering, joking in Mandarin and laughing loudly until long after we’d climbed in the back to go to sleep. I actually thought it was great that they were having so much fun, and exhaustion put me to sleep quickly.

Toyota Tundra

Home Away from Home

The next morning, the neighboring kids started in again early, until their parents noticed us climbing out of the back of our truck. Up to that point, since we had no tent, they must’ve assumed it was just an empty truck sitting next to their campsite. When we wished them good morning, they just smiled nervously and waved. Until we left that morning, they kept shushing their kids.

World Class Hiking and Scenery

People come from all over the world to see some of the best scenery in the world. We love to hike, and there is some fantastic hiking in the Canadian Rockies. I have to admit though that there is an awful lot of spectacular scenery that can be enjoyed without getting far from your car.

Curt at Lake Louise

Curt at Lake Louise

Our first day in Banff, we had clear blue skies, so we decided to cover lots of ground and shoot lots of pictures. We visited Lake Louise then travelled up the Icefields Parkway to Bow Lake, Peyto Lake and finished off the day with a stop at Moraine Lake. That’s a lot of alpine lakes in one day, but each is unique, with a different shade of water, varying from deep blue to milky turquoise.

On our second day in Banff, we got up early and headed back to Lake Louise for a 10 mile hike that brought us high into the mountains above the lake with stops at two teahouses. The Lake Agnes teahouse is a solid log and stone structure sitting at the edge of the lake’s outflow, with a babbling creek on one side and a cascading waterfall dropping off behind it.

Lake Agnes Tea House

Lake Agnes Tea House

At the second teahouse, Plain of the Six Glaciers, we spent $30 (including tip) on two pieces of blueberry pie and a “mocha coffee,” which tasted like a mixture of instant cocoa and coffee. The price almost seemed worth it when we considered employees had to haul ingredients in by backpack and prepare everything without electricity. Besides, the glacial view was fantastic.

During the trip, we hiked a variety of trails and covered more than 60 miles with elevation gains of over 10,000 feet, a good deal of hiking for a sight-seeing trip. We chose our hikes carefully, with exceptional scenery as the highest priority. I do like to take good pictures. The most scenic hikes are also the most popular, so there can be a lot of people on these trails. To escape the crowds, we got up early (5:30 to 6:30 am) and hit the trail hours before the less serious hikers. Less serious hikers also don’t tend to hike more than a few miles, so you lose much of the crowds by choosing longer hikes.

Johnstone Canyon, Banff National Park

Johnstone Canyon

Our Hikes

  • Lake Agnes, Big Beehive Mountain, Plain of the Six Glaciers and Lake Louise Lakeshore (combined together)
  • Johnston Canyon – This unique trail winds up a canyon past waterfalls and pools, with catwalks over much of the creek. The trail is only 3.4 miles round-trip to the upper falls, and it is one of the most popular day hikes in Banff.
  • Lake Minnewanka – The entire lakeside trail is 18 miles long. We only did a small section of this, since we came to a place that requires hiking in a group of four, due to grizzly bears, or face a $5000 fine. Coincidentally, another hiker told us a grizzly bear was on the trail just ahead of where we turned around. The lake and trail looked quite scenic, but there’s boat noise and you may need to have a group of at least four.
  • Bourgeau Lake and Harvey Pass – We felt out of shape as a group of young Banff employees and a number of serious hikers passed us by on this steep, very scenic trail.
  • Bow Summit Lookout – There is a network of trails here, in the vicinity of Peyto Lake. I’m not sure we we’re on the right one, because where we ended up doesn’t look anything like the guidebook photo. Looking down on Peyto Lake is stunning!
  • Parker Ridge – The trail climbs to a high, extremely windy ridge with excellent views of Saskatchewan Glacier.
  • Moraine Lakeshore – As far as I’m concerned, this short hike ranks amongst the most scenic I’ve ever seen.
  • Mt Robson and the Berg Lake Trail – This trail is reported to be one of the most popular backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies, and I now know why. We’ll be back to do this one again sometime.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Banff Springs Hotel

Banff Springs Hotel

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Banff Springs Hotel

We decided to take a break from hiking and drive our truck, which also served as our home, into Banff to see how the other half vacationed. At $600/night, the Banff Springs Hotel was a bit beyond our budget, but it was well worth wandering around in. It was built in 1887, in the Scottish Baronial style, and looks more like a castle than a hotel. The interior has an old elegance that definitely reminded me of The Shining or Titanic. Extensive patio areas to the rear provide wonderful places to enjoy the mountain views. In fact, a wedding was taking place there.

Mt Robson

Rangers cabin in Valley of 1000 Waterfalls

Rangers cabin in Valley of 1000 Waterfalls

Our backpacking trip to Berg Lake, in Mt Robson National Park, brought us deep into a very beautiful and rugged wilderness area. We departed early, in a light rain, and the rain kept up all day. This turned out to be a great opportunity to learn of the shortcomings in our gear, which managed to get very wet. We now have new hardshell jackets, gloves, and a tarp. At Berg Lake, we reached a crowded day use building with a woodstove and lots of wet gear hanging from the rafters, nails, and anywhere else you could put wet clothes. We leisurely cooked dinner while our gear dried.

Mt Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, towers over the lake. Unfortunately, low clouds and fog blocked the view our first day. The next morning we woke to more low clouds, so we packed early and were on our way back out. A brief break in the clouds and a message from a spirit guide told us to stick around for a few hours, so we turned around and made our way further up the valley. The low clouds lifted and a little sun broke through, making for a stunning 14 mile hike out past Berg Lake, down through the Valley of a Thousand Waterfalls, alongside Kinney Lake and the Robson River.

Mt Robson, British Columbia

Mt Robson, British Columbia

What Makes a Great Vacation Destination?

Like I mentioned, it may depend on the person, but here are some of the things that people look for in a wonderful vacation destination:

  • Luxurious lodging and fine dining – Like we discovered at the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise, you can find it here, but we were perfectly content in our truck.
  • Lakes and Beaches – There are beautiful lakes, but the water is cold.
  • Things to do – There is plenty to keep you busy, especially if you like to hike.
  • Opportunity to learn about another culture – You may have to be outgoing and make an effort to talk to some of these fascinating people from all over the world.
  • Spectacular mountain scenery – The Canadian Rockies are amongst the best in the world!

We had a great time in the Canadian Rockies, and I’ll bet you would too.

Photo Tips

FrogPhoto

Basic Photo Tips


Wednesday, April 30th, 2008 Cabin on Lummi Island Washington

Subject-

By looking at nature the way a camera might, you may start to notice great subjects all around you.

Close-up, this shack doesn’t look like much, but by applying a few techniques, it became a very worthwhile subject.

Your subject’s could include close-ups of plants and animals, night shots, buildings or countless other things from new or unusual angles. Oh yeah, there’s always people too.


Composition-

There are many ways you can shoot the same subject, each making a slightly different picture. Moving in on the subject usually makes for a stronger photo, leaving out distractions from your main focus. In this case, I was more interested in how the shack fits into its surroundings, so the whole scene was important.

Centering a subject can make for a static picture, but offsetting it, using the rule-of-thirds, makes for flow, causing your eye to travel around the picture. The rule of thirds suggests placing the subject a third of the way from the top or bottom of the frame and a third of the way from one side or the other.Cabin on Lummi Island Washington

The framing and angle I used above was in hopes of achieving balance between the shack and tree. Some pictures end up lob-sided, due to a strong subject on one side and nothing to balance it. In balancing a wildlife or people picture, consider which direction the movement or gaze is and leave some space there.

Contrast, like between the light shack and its darker surroundings, draws attention to your subject, strengthening your photo. This can also work with a subject that’s darker, more colorful or larger than its surroundings.

After shooting your picture, you may want to try a few different angles, moving closer or farther, including or removing different foreground or background elements. Be sure to leave out distractions, like the tree that seems to be growing out of Aunt Edna’s head, but including that row of daisies might really add some pizazz to your picture.

Horizontal pictures can be more dramatic and may work better, especially with a tall subject. For this shot, I moved in, focusing more on the shack and tree.


Lighting-

Like many, I once believed that bright, sunny middays made for great pictures. After editing many pictures, and reading many photography books, I now realize that sunny midday light can be harsh with little color and problematic shadows.

The first or last light of the day is softer with warm, flattering or dramatic colors, great for landscapes. In the first picture above, there are pink hues in the clouds and a warm cast to the whole picture. The sunny blue skies help too, but for wildlife, people, waterfalls and many other subject’s, bright overcast lighting can be better. It’s great for color saturation, softening shadows, smoothing contrast and preventing squinting.
Madrona tree at Sunset, Larrabee State Park, WA.

There are some tricky lighting situations that might require adjusting your camera’s exposure compensation setting. If you’re not familiar with this, please see your manual, or just buy my prints and forget all this monkey business. Anyway, your camera may try to balance things that shouldn’t be balanced, like making a snow scene gray or a sunset scene bright. For sunset’s, I usually start by dialing down my exposure one f-stop, then experiment some more. Never heard of an f-stop? Please see the above comment again. Otherwise, I intend to eventually add more articles describing fascinating things like f-stops, depth of field, white balance…


Most Importantly-

Shooting a lot makes it far more likely that you’ll capture that great photo, especially if you experiment with different techniques and analyze what did and didn’t work. I carry my camera everywhere, just in case a bear and a mountain lion decide to wrestle at the side of the road I’m on. If you carry your camera too, maybe you’ll catch that perfect sunset or the rainbow after the storm.

Hay House Cruise to Alaska

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Trip Report: Alaska Cruise with Hay House

by Curt and Mary Remington

Monday, August 3rd, 2009


Alaska Cruise and Port Details

We boarded the ship to Alaska with anticipation, knowing this cruise could be a key turning point in our lives. Hay House (see ad to the right), a major book publisher, reserved the entire 1,380 passenger ship, the MS Amsterdam. Part of this group, myself included, signed up for a writer’s workshop with a contest for a book deal. As you may know from my blogs, I’ve been writing a book on meditation. You may also  know that my wife and I are in regular communication with the spiritual realm. The book idea, Hay House as a publisher, and signing up for this cruise were all ideas strongly encouraged by advanced spirits. They didn’t exactly promise I’d get the book deal out of this cruise, but they did strongly allude to the possibility. That’s close enough to get me excited.CurtFamily

Mary, my wife and a talented clairvoyant, eagerly signed up for another on-board program, featuring eight keynote speakers: Wayne Dyer, Brian Weiss, Sonia Choquette, Gregg Braden, Caroline Myss, Iyanla Vanzant, John Holland and Cheryl Richardson. Mary wrote the last section of this blog, describing her experience.

Heather, one of our teenage daughters, had some mixed feelings about the cruise. She looked forward to fun activities, great food and a chance to shop, while maybe feeling apprehensive about a cruiseship full of psychics and spiritually enlightened people. We all found the fellow passengers to be very warm, friendly, open-minded and quite normal.

ziplineAs an added bonus for all three of us, these seminars were taking place on a Holland America ship that would be cruising past the rugged islands and coasts of British Columbia and Alaska, visiting places like Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Hubbard Glacier and Victoria, British Columbia. While boating in Washington’s San Juan Islands, close to home, I’ve often dreamt of continuing north to these places. In fact, I have an earlier manuscript about The Passage. That link will take you to a chapter that was published in a canoe magazine, while Goat Hunt will take you to a chapter about a man facing aging and his mortality.

For the first day, the ship, Holland America’s Amsterdam, made mountainpasssmooth, steady progress through the open Pacific and waves which would’ve tossed my 23′ boat around violently. Along with Hay House programs, the ship offered a whole variety of activities like working out, shopping, gambling and of course eating.

The second morning, the Amsterdam cruised up sunny Gastineau Channel, with views of fishing boats and snow-capped peaks, arriving in Juneau at 11 am. Although it’s the capital of Alaska, Juneau can only be reached by air or sea, unless you have a dog sled and are very adventurous. The downtown cruise dock area is lined with tourist shops and surprising bargains, like an Alaska t-shirt for $4.99 or a small bag of quartz for $2.99. For someone with more expensive tastes, there’s also perfume, watches, electronics, furs and artwork. There are even free items stores give away, just to get you in the door.

We left the shopping behind, as a jet boat brought us across to Douglas Island and a ”rain-forest canopy and zip line adventure.” The thrill comes as you launch yourself off a tree-platform, hanging from a climbing harness and pulleys, then slide “zip” on cables as much as 180 feet above the ground. Approaching the next platform at over 30 mph, you reach up and grab the cable, stopping your zip just before crashing into the tree. The course has ten cable sections, covering 6,000 feet of cable, along with treetop suspension bridges, finishing with a rappel to the ground.

cruiseOnce back in Juneau, we boarded the Mt Roberts Tramway. It departs from the dock area, carrying passengers 1800 feet above downtown, to a visitor’s center. Mt Roberts has a network of hiking trails, with spectacular views of Juneau, Gastineau Channel and the surrounding mountains.

After a few miles of hiking, Heather returned to the ship, tired from the day’s adventures. Mary and I had just enough energy left to drink a cold Alaskan beer at Hangar on the Wharf Pub and Grill, a renovated seaplane hangar. Beyond Mary and the beer, you can see the Amsterdam towering over the red jet boat from our zipline tour. As we made our way back to the ship, three floatplanes descended to the channel and pulled up to the dock in front of the bar.

Day four, the ship made slow progress through fog and small icebergs in Yakutat Bay. Early afternoon, the fog lifted, revealing the jagged peaks of Fairweather Mountains along with Hubbard Glacier, the longest tidewater glacier in Alaska. It extends 76 miles from its source, with a ”calving face” stretching for six miles across the bay. The glacier appears very blue, since the ice absorbs other wavelengths of light. At the steepest part of the face, large chunks of ice rumbled, then cracked off, sending up immense plumes of spray.

Sitka is a beautiful town and an important part of Alaskan history. The port was originally settled by Tlingit planenatives. Through negotiations and fighting, control passed between the Tlingits and Russians a few times, with Sitka becoming the Russian capital of Alaska in 1808. The US bought Alaska in 1867 and kept Sitka the capital until 1906.

After taking a tender (lifeboat) to shore, we picked up our reserved mountain bikes. This turned out to be a great way to see a lot, with limited time. We managed a trail to an alpine lake, an eagle center, historic park, Bishop’s mansion tour, lunch and still fit in some downtown shopping. Who needs to rest while on vacation?

Ketchikan is the rainiest city in the US, with 152 inches of “liquid sunshine” a year. Sure enough, it rained. The local weather forecast joke goes, “If you can’t see Deer Mountain, it’s raining. If you can see it, it’s about to rain.” Our original plan to hike up Deer Mountain didn’t make much sense, because if you can’t see Deer Mountain, you probably can’t see much from the mountain either. We settled on a walk around town and exploring the marina. Creek St, an old red-light district, has very quaint shops with some true bargains, like fleece jackets for $20.

boattwoDowntown Victoria, British Columbia is spectacularly scenic and has a long list of things for tourists to do. This city is close enough to home that we’ve visited regularly. The harbor has float planes, yachts and tourist tugs, along with views of the Empress Hotel, Parliament Building and the distant Olympic Mountains. Having seen most other sights, we walked the harbor and visited the Royal Canadian Wax Museum, which you can see just above the old yacht’s stern.

Writer’s Workshop

Between all the adventures and sightseeing, I did manage to attend the on-board writer’s workshop, learning powerful techniques for writing and for improving and marketing my book project, Simple Meditation: Connecting With Spirit and Finding Your Life’s Purpose. As I mentioned earlier, my book proposal will be entered in a contest (winner picked in December) for a deal with Hay House, the publisher highly recommended by my spiritual contacts. Along with the quality of the book, publishers also look at the number of contacts writers have, so please sign up for my new Facebook fan page. You might help ensure the success of my book, get more people meditating, and improve the quality of life on the planet Earth. Thanks!

As you may have noticed, I was so enthused about Hay House that I signed up as an advertiser. Clicking onfloatingbuildings any of the Hay House banners will take you to the appropriate page of their website where you can find enlightening books, cd’s and cards. Buying and reading some might dramatically improve your life.

The night before the cruise, we went to see Wayne Dyer speak in Seattle. My daughter, Heather, was so moved by his talk that she asked if she could listen to all the speakers on the cruise. We signed her up, so she and Mary attended them together. Heather enjoyed and learned a great deal from all eight speakers. Unfortunately, I missed these, so Mary wrote the rest of this blog, describing the talks she attended.


Mary’s Write-Up of Hay House Program

When I look back on this life changing and inspirational experience, it will be remembered with great reverence and gratitude. I am grateful to our spirit guide “Chief” who, without a doubt, was the guiding light that inspired my husband and I to go. I would also like to extend my greatest appreciation to all of the Hay House authors who have inspired me and touched my soul forever. They have devoted their lives to such worthy and healing causes, which is surely having a ripple affect throughout our planet. Although I couldn’t possibly sum up all of the invaluable information I absorbed during the seminars, I would like to share some of my thoughts and say “thank you” to each author.

Wayne Dyer

How can I begin? I would consider him one of the greatest inspirational teachers of this generation. My husband, Curt, has been a big advocate of his for many years, since he read “Your Erroneous Zones.” He has promoted this book to the whole family, from time to time, for various reasons. If you had a problem, it was always “go read Your Erroneous Zones”. He read it as a teen ,at a time when he was searching for answers, and it changed his life. I have

great admiration for Wayne Dyer. From all of the turmoil in his childhood, he found a way to transform his life into something with great meaning and purpose. He had a vision and he followed it and continues to follow it. He truly motivates and inspires everyone he touches.

Caroline Myss

What a smart, tough, no excuses approach to heal your life. She tells it like it is and teaches us to take a hard look at ourselves, stop blaming others and stop trying to find a reason for what’s gone wrong in our lives. She emphasized forgiveness, gratitude and being of service. This was my first con tact with Caroline Myss and will definitely not be my last. I feel that my life’s purpose is in healing and I’m like a sponge for any information about it. Thank you Caroline for your inspiring words.

Brian Weiss

He’s definitely good at what he does. He had the entire audience in a state of hypnosis in a flash with his caaaalm, soooothing voice and description of beautiful, peaceful places. Who wouldn’t want to go there? I’m a strong believer in re-incarnation and know that healing can come from discovering events or trauma in our past lives, that keep us stuck or unhappy in our present lives. Brian Weiss is well respected, and his revolutionary techniques are revered world wide. He’s certainly an advocate of meditation, which I think is a healing and powerful practice that we should all adopt.

Sonia Choquette

Sonia is a gifted psychic with a colorful, creative and energetic personality, and she knows how to have fun! Sonia teaches us how to wake up our spirit and our sixth or psychic sense. We need to listen to our higher self, which has important information that we cannot get from our conscious mind. She also stresses the importance of connecting with the creator, our spirit guides and angels who help guide us on our path. To help us let go of our inhibitions and wake up our spirit, a little dancing didn’t hurt either. Very fun!

Gregg Braden

Gregg’s talk was a mix of science, history and spirituality that was fascinating. It was interesting to learn that we’ve had cycles throughout history and these cycles or patterns repeat themselves. Most importantly, the choices we make as a species, can have a big impact on these cycles. The Mayan predictions about the end of time in 2012 have many people questioning, is it true and, if so, what can we do to change it. Getting in touch with our inner spirit, letting go of fear, helping others and healing the planet are some of the things we can do now. Gregg’s vision of our future left me very encouraged and hopeful

Iyanla Vanzant

Iyanla is a vibrant, free spirited, crazy kind of woman and I loved her! Starting with some Hallelujah’s, some movin’ and swayin‘, connecting with ourselves as spirit and having great gratitude for life was a wonderful way to start the day. What a beautiful soul she is. She is a minister of God and seems very devoted to helping us get beyond our past and find our purpose. Again, this was my first experience with Iyanla, and I left feeling truly empowered.

John Holland

John is a gifted psychic medium who connects with the audience in a unique and compassionate way. He is very dedicated to what he does and delivers such healing messages from the spirit world to those that are grieving. It is so wonderful to see the audience reaction, knowing that their loved ones are still around and want to communicate with them. Tears of happiness pour from them and they’re surrounded with comfort and peace. It brought me to tears to watch. I’m finishing my clairvoyant training this fall, and I know how good it feels to be able to help people in this way. The healing goes both ways and it’s very rewarding.

Cheryl Richardson

I really connected with what Cheryl Richardson had to say, because I too, am the general manager of my universe. I am constantly busying myself and doing doing doing for everyone else, leaving what I want for last. Often, this time in the day never comes. Cheryl teaches us to make our own selves a top priority, which is something I don’t often do. My own family recognizes that in me, more than I do. This was a big wake up call for me. I need to get to know me! Wow! What a concept! I’m reading Cheryl’s book “Stand Up For Your Life” and I’ve scheduled a solo vision quest for myself in early August so I can get started getting to know me and my purpose in life. Thanks Cheryl!

Conclusion

In conclusion, I would also like to say a great big thanks to Louise Hay and all of the staff and help that made the Alaska cruise possible. I’ve had a very tough past year with one of my daughters, and this was just what the doctor ordered to nourish my soul. I feel that I can get back on track and move forward again. Thanks to all of you! Mary Remington