O'Sullivan family travels and beyond


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Greetings from Alaska. “Awa’ Ahdahaanda ‘laxsa’a’ch’i” which of course you knew means “We are happy you are here with us” in Eyak.  Sadly as the last traditional speaker passed away in 2008, it is a language which is now classified as extinct so you won’t get much chance to use it, but ‘hello’ anyway.
We’ve made it to Alaska, … still with all three kids in tow.  Our last port in Asia was great. At  Kushiro, Japan, we spent at little time learning origami.  Well, the lady teaching me kept correcting and refining my and Orla’s efforts and Ian’s lady was equally ‘hands on.’ However, we all attempted to make paper cranes with varying degrees of success.  Afterwards the kids were invited to try on traditional Japanese clothes.  I know it is touristy, but I absolutely loved it and I thought they looked great. Although once they had given Seamus a toy samurai sword, it was difficult to get him to look up for any photos.
Thank you to the tourist office of Kushiro and the teachers and students who spent time with us and provided all the activities for free.
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Then we had six days/ seven nights at sea and lost an hour every day as the clocks were moved forward at noon.  However, as we crossed the International Date Line, the clocks were put back 24 hours meaning we had two Sunday 24th April. Try explaining that to the children! “Today is Sunday, and tomorrow is Sunday.” It is Sunday again tomorrow (1st May) and Orla is convinced we will have two Sundays again.
The time on board has been going well. The seas started to get rougher in some spots but everything carries on as normal- even the poor entertainer who has an act involving standing on ladders and juggling. The entertainment has been good, the kids especially loved The Alley Cats, a US Doo Wop a capella band. The talks/lectures have been interesting and there is lots to do. The kids enjoyed watching their favourite chef, Esteban compete in ‘Chef Wars’ a cooking competition in the fantastic studio kitchen theatre. They even made a posters to support Esteban, which went down really well and the host wants to send their picture to the Holland America Media Department.
It has been especially lovely to see the two shows performed by the Filipino and Indonesian crew, showing their talents in singing and dancing and sharing traditional dances. Knowing that they work so hard in their jobs on board, they still found time to put on a show to share their culture and language. We kept the kids up late to see both shows and Aoife and Orla really enjoyed the Filipino dance involving jumping over bamboo sticks and the Indonesian dance of a thousand hands … Seamus however couldn’t handle the pace and the fact it started at 11pm when they finished their shifts – too late even with the clock changes! All three kids continue to enjoy Club HAL Kids’ Club and have had invitations to a magical Harry Potter evening, un-birthday parties, paper snowball fights, lots of sport, art extravaganza evenings and movie nights.
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We’ve all been swimming, but sadly we were too wimpy – sorry, I mean otherwise engaged – so didn’t take part in the icy outdoor deck pool challenge whilst our ship was surrounded by small icebergs in the sea. Brrrrrrr!
We were accepted by US immigration and took our first steps on US soil in Kodiak. After our American school bus shuttle (how cool is that, I want one), we walked to the sea life conservation centre, where the kids handled star fish and crabs and touched sea urchins and anemones. We looked at the Russian Orthodox churches. Seamus loved the big fire trucks at the fire station and Ian was equally smitten by the Kodiak Island Brewing Company (When we get internet which doesn’t cost so much, we’ll do a fabulous Trip advisor review) Fortunately/unfortunately, Alaska has a state law where they can serve you a maximum of two pints. Perhaps that’s good if you are spending time on a ship sailing in a gale later that evening. In Kodiak, people were very friendly and it was great to be on land after a week on water.
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We saw totems and eagles as we walked around. Some people (not us) saw bears. Orla made me giggle when she explained how disappointed she was as the huge, wild eagles didn’t land on her arm when she held it out!
After another full day at sea, we have been fortunate to be the last ship of the season to be allowed into Glacier Bay.  We spent the day cruising up to John Hopkins’ Inlet.  From May 1, the sea lions will be pupping and as it is a National Park, conservation means no further visits until September.  It was a lovely day.  Ian rose first and spent the early hours on deck seeing a whale, dolphin/porpoise and sea lions.  We all spent time looking for various wildlife and all managed to spot things, including some mountain goats …still no bears for us. The kids got to spend time with the Park Rangers who came on board via a pilot boat, and they each earned their Pee Wee Rangers awards by completing some activities.
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The glaciers were stunning and we were lucky to see ice crashing down into the sea making thunderous noise. It was even snowing. For some of the crew, it was their very first time seeing and feeling snow and I was more than happy to take photos of them on their phones as they went on deck. There was Dutch Pea soup and cocoa dished out during the morning, spirits to buy and there was a huge Salmon Bake on the Lido deck whilst at lunch time featuring salmon bought in Kodiak. The Rangers stayed on board until the afternoon, giving commentary over the tannoy and then talks in the theatres. It was really lovely and I hope the kids will remember some of this, however when I asked them this evening about the best parts of the day, responses included ‘food’, ‘painting a picture’ and ‘x-box’. Sigh.
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Orla is now convinced she is American, saying ‘elevator’ for lift and ‘jelly’ for jam. “Mom, can I have Jell-O after dinner?”  Seamus was genuinely worried the other day that he can only speak Japanese after spending so long there! Seamus: “My not able to speak Eng-ger-lish anymore mummy, look ..” followed by a lot of gobbledegook and a very sad face.
We are now heading towards Juneau, famous for diamonds and gold and we are still on the look out for bears, although Seamus wants to see zebras too!
So, I’ll leave you by saying “Tsu yei Eekwasateen”, which is ‘until we meet again’ in the Tlingit Language which is still used here … but of course you and I both knew that, didn’t we? Sending our love to everyone xx

Author: threekidsintow

We are Caroline and Ian. We recently undertook an adventure, packing up everything and travelling with our three children. Our blog started as a way of capturing our memories of the preparation and interesting aspects of our journey. After a twist of fate, we're back in the UK much sooner than expected so who knows what's next for us now we're back home with our three kids in tow!

One thought on “Alaska

  1. I couldn’t resist commenting. Very well written!


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