I voted!

I got to vote in my very first presidential election after work today. Figured everybody would be trying to get in early to vote, so I planned on heading out from work a bit early to try and beat the after-work rush.

My polling place was at the Pimlico Community Center not too far from the house. I hadn’t been there before but it wasn’t too hard to find.

Encountered no lines at the polling place. A lot of cars out front, but I think a lot of them must have belonged to poll workers. I walked right in, showed my ID and went to the voting station. In and out in about 5 minutes.

Sadly they did not have any “I voted” stickers to give out when I was there.

Podcast list v2

Since I started with the podcast listening on the commute, I’ve found a bunch more podcasts to listen to over the last few months to deal with the longer commute from the house.

Depending on how much I’m listening during the day, this gives me plenty to listen to throughout the week, keeps me entertained and educated.

Cruising to Alaska – Victoria, BC

After a day of cruising from the Endicott Arm, the final port of call for the cruise was Victoria, BC.

By now, I had managed to come down with a cold that left me a little drained and worn out, but not bad enough that I couldn’t enjoy the rest of the cruise.

After getting some breakfast, I headed off the ship with my sister and niece into Victoria. She wanted to go to Craigdarroch Castle, so we found a map (conveniently provided at the border entry) and walked over. It’s a bit of walk from the cruise terminal, but not hard and the weather was nice.

Our walk took us through some residential neighbourhoods, past the BC Legislature building and along the streets of downtown Victoria.

BC Legislature building
BC Legislature building
Giant sequoia tree
Giant sequoia tree

After about 30-45 minutes of walking (wasn’t really paying attention), we arrived at Craigdarroch Castle, a large Victorian mansion built by Robert Dunsmuir who made a lot of money in coal mining.

Craigdarroch Castle
Craigdarroch Castle
Craigdarroch Castle
Craigdarroch Castle

It’s a large, impressive building with an interesting history. The Dunsmuir family only lived in it a relatively short time (Robert Dunsmuir died before the castle was completed), and the mansion spent the rest of the time used for institutional purposes (military hospital, college, music conservatory, office space). The restoration and use as a museum was only a fairly recent thing. They’ve done a pretty good job of preserving and restoring the interior, including re-acquiring some of the Dunsmuir’s possessions.

One of the dining rooms in Craigdarroch Castle
One of the dining rooms in Craigdarroch Castle

After the castle, we walked back toward the downtown area and stopped for lunch at a place called J & J Wonton Noodle House. I went with the wonton noodle soup bowl, and it was pretty tasty. Would definitely go there again.

Walked over to Victoria’s Chinatown area and saw the big Chinese Gate.

Chinese gate in Victoria's Chinatown
Chinese gate in Victoria’s Chinatown
Lion statue
Lion statue

It was about time to head back to the ship, so we didn’t get to wander around Chinatown too much.

On the way back, we wandered through some open air markets near Chinatown and also at the marina near the Legislature building.

Marina market
Marina market

At the cruise port, we found this neat sundial type thing where you stand at a spot depending on the time of year and use your shadow to see what time it is.

About 3-ish (+1h for DST) according to my neice
About 3-ish (+1h for DST) according to my niece

Had a good time doing this little bit of wandering around Victoria. Will have to visit again and spend some more time here.

Back to the boat!
Back to the boat!

Next stop, back to Seattle.

Cruising to Alaska – To the fjord

The original cruise itinerary called for the ship to head to the Tracy Arm fjord and the Sawyer glacier at the end of the fjord. According to the ship captain though, there was too much ice in the Tracy Arm so he took the ship down the neighbouring Endicott Arm instead.

The ship was offering an all you can eat breakfast buffet in the Izumi Japanese restaurant (one of the specialty restaurants on the ship) for the fjord trip for $25/person, so we took advantage of it. The breakfast buffet (more of a brunch thing really) consisted of a ramen station, several types of sushi (rolls and nigiri) various dumplings, omlettes, skewered meats and sliced fruits. Being up on deck 13, Izumi offered a pretty good vantage point for the journey up and down the fjord.

As we ate a leisurely breakfast, we watched the mountains drift by. Quite remarkable. Soon chunks of ice started appearing in the water, and then the glacier was visible up ahead.

Cruising up Endicott Arm
Cruising up Endicott Arm
At the end of Endicott Arm
At the end of Endicott Arm

At the end of the arm, about 0.5 nautical mile from the glacier, the captain stopped the ship and made it do a 360° spin so that everybody on the ship could get a view of the glacier.

Endicott Arm glacier
Endicott Arm glacier
Endicott Arm glacier
Endicott Arm glacier

(I did some colour level adjustment of my photos with Gimp, so the glacier appears a little bit more blue than it actually is, but not too much).

It’s a pretty remarkable sight. From where we were sitting in Izumi, the end of the fjord looked pretty narrow without a whole lot of extra room for the ship to spin around in. At a later Q&A session with the captain and some senior officers, the captain said there was at least a couple hundred meters of space between the ship and the sides of the fjord. Plenty of room.

The ship stayed there for a while, letting everybody get a good look at the glacier, then sailed back up the arm.

Returning up the Endicott Arm
Returning up the Endicott Arm
Returning up the Endicott Arm
Returning up the Endicott Arm

This was a pretty cool side journey on the cruise.

Next stop – Victoria, BC