Friday, August 31, 2012

August Quilt Square Quilt Along

I wrote this post on August 5. I had my August square done and quilted that early - amazing isn't it! Now, we are on a rather lengthy  trip and somewhere on the Kenai Peninsula, AK. I hope to have Internet access to link up on September 1.

The August Quilt Square Quilt Along at Jo's Country Junction was to make our choice of blocks from the ones left in Lori Smith’s pattern Quilt Squares #4.

I chose to use some Stonehenge fabric by Sunshine Cottage (Northcott). I bought this fabric a couple of years ago and could only get the brown/rust/cream color family. I decided it would be great for placemats which I recently made. With the scraps, I decided to do the block with 9 stars.

The only problem was with the flying geese. I don't know why but my pieces did not fit. Maybe it was because I was doing this in a hurry! Anyway, I had to cut all of the little triangles a second time. I didn't have enough fabric to really make this scrappy - I really like that look too.

I machine quilted this with Cucumber Vine from Leah Day at The Free Motion Quilting Project Quilt Along

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Alaska - the interior - part 2

I think we've found a little piece of Heaven - of course the sun is shining - that might influence us a little! Our two-bedroom cabin is on Teack Lake. We have 2 bedrooms, a bath, kitchen, and a small living/dining room. The building to the left is our sitting room. This is all 'ours'.
Here's a view more from the front (although the lake is really in the front and I did not stand in the lake!). Maybe you can see our fire pit too.

Teack Lake is a private lake owned by just three or four families. Our hosts, Ted and Elaina own 40 acres - they have the majority of land here. 

Both Ted and Elaina are hunters, big game hunters. Their collection of hunting trophies is quite impressive. The water buffalo from Africa is huge. Ted returned from a hunt this morning with caribou. They are super nice people and we would gladly return here.

We can see Redoubt Volcano

and some other mountains across the lake. At 10:30 PM we can still see reflections in the lake. This setting is absolutely gorgeous. The weather is wonderful - cool and calm.

One night we ate in Soldotna at Buckets, a sports bar. The deep fried halibut was delicious!

What a gorgeous drive it was to Homer! The scenery was fantastic. I think there are four volcanoes and many mountain ranges. We saw a cow moose and her calf.  Homer is a unique community - kind of a throw back to the 60s. The quilt shop, The Sew-ciable Quilt, is really nice. Homer Spit is a little more commercialized but fun to see.

Kenai and Soldotna are bigger communities with more restaurants/bakeries and shopping but not the kind of shopping we are used to. There is an abundance of shopping available for sporting goods and outdoor activities. The malls are quite small and we never found a downtown shopping area. Both communities had quilt shops! Robin Place Fabrics in Soldotna was a great little shop. Kenai Fabric Center in Kenai was full - almost too much fabric for the space! I found wonderful fabric everywhere! 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Alaska - the interior - part 1

We got off of the ship at 8:45 AM in rain. The free Seward shuttle took us to our motel. Of course, we were too early to check in - by 7 hours! We were able to check our luggage. We went for a walk and stopped at a bakery for hot chocolate and a treat – it was nice to get out of the rain.

About 11 AM, we boarded our boat for the Major Marine Tour of Kenai Fjords National Park. Although it was very cool (actually cold), we were comfortable inside the boat. Ray did spend a lot of time outside though. We saw sea lions, 
porpoises, sea otters (they are adorable floating on their backs!), many pods of Orca whales (at one time there were at least 50 whales around us!), 
humpback whales, puffins (so fun to watch), a black bear, cormorants, eagles, and seagulls. It was a great trip but a little rough sailing at times. For dinner on the boat, we had salmon (some of the best I’ve ever had!) and prime rib. It really was a great day and the rain stopped when we got out a ways. When we returned to the dock, about 6 1/2 hours later, it was still raining is Seward!

The next morning, breakfast at the motel was interesting - instead of a waffle machine, they had a pancake machine! This is a new one for us - you just dial in the number of pancakes you want and push the button!
I just wanted one so I put a plate there to catch it and here it comes.
 It was pretty darn good!

After breakfast, we checked out the quilt shop, Sew’n Bee Cozy, a nice little shop! Seward is a neat little town. We actually wish we 'd had more time there. This was a neat building. 

While walking around Seward in a mist, we saw a magnificent rainbow against the mountains.  
There is still a lot of fog above it.

We headed over to get our rental car – ended up with a Dodge Durango. Before leaving the Seward area, we hiked to Exit Glacier. Can you see the people in the picture? They are a little more than halfway down on the right side.

It is really impressive to get so close to a glacier and to see how much it recedes each year. This one loses about a half inch every hour!

Zaandam Cruise - part 3

Some interesting things:

1. About 2 hours into our cruise, the Captain said there was a medical emergency. A boat had to dock with the ship and the patient was off-loaded.

2. We saw the firemen practicing one day in full uniform!

3. The next day there was a fire on board! Those firemen had it taken care of in no time!

4. We finally say the movie The Hunger Games.

5. After the movie, we were outside on the deck and met 2 couples that live 30 minutes from us!

6. We watched the National Park Service boat dock with the ship and watched the Park Ranger leave our ship.

7. We did the 5K for Breast Cancer.  That was 12 trips around the deck. I might have been a few short!

8. You can always tell the day of the week by the carpet in the elevators. They have the day of the week on them!

9. Most of the crew are from Indonesia and the Philippines and work 10 months contracts – that is 12 hour days 7 days a week! And they still smile!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Zaandam Cruise - part 2

We stopped at three ports on our way north.

First port was Ketchikan. 

We walked miles that day! A lady told us that Ketchikan is an island with 15,000 people and only 30 miles of road!
 We saw many of the totem poles.
 They are all around town.

Second port of call was Juneau. We took a photo safari trip on a boat just like this. (We were on our boat so I couldn't take a picture of it!) We had 7 people, our guide Annie and our driver Jim.
 We saw many humpback whales.
 Later we spent time on land hiking in the Tongass National Forest. Look at the size of the leaf that Annie is holding!
 We hiked to Mendenhall Glacier. Yeah - it was a cloudy, rainy day! And we were drenched by the time we got back to the ship. But we had a great time!
 Later in the day we took a pictures of Juneau from the ship.

Our third port was Skagway. We visited quilt shops at every port, of course! - this one is in Skagway.
 This building is made of driftwood.
 The old buildings are really interesting.

Even though the weather has been less than desirable, we had a wonderful trip! 

Zaandam Cruise - part 1

We are once again on land but Wi-Fi is a little iffy in rural Alaska. I'll post when I can.

We cruised from Vancouver, British Columbia to Seward, Alaska on the Zaandam, one of the dam ships! Most of our days were overcast and cool. We did have some rain but we had a great time and met some interesting people including two couples that live 30 miles from us!

A great part of any cruise is food!

Most of the time we ate on the Lido Deck, deck 8. The dining area was at the back of the ship.

It is cafeteria 'plus' style. It is set up like a cafeteria line but the food was great and you could get many things cooked to order. The crew would gladly get you whatever you wanted while you were in the line and/or while you were seated. We usually chose window seats as did most people.

The Dining Room was on decks 4 and 5 at the back of the ship. Every meal was four courses and everything was served. My chair was always pulled out by a crew member and my napkin was placed on my lap for me.

One afternoon we were fortunate to have a tour of the kitchen. This is the head chef - he was really friendly and we saw him often in the dining areas.

This crew member was preparing vegetables.

 We had many kinds of bread everyday.

One night was the dessert extravaganza - the pictures can't begin to show the beauty! There were ice sculptures.

 Lots of desserts and flowers!

The extravaganza was set up around the pool (we didn't get a photo of the pool that night - the dome was closed.) The seas were a little high that night and the pool water was rolling over the sides of the pool. 

And I just had to include a couple of the flower arrangements - they were beautiful!

I don't think I ever sat anywhere inside the ship where I couldn't see fresh flowers!


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