Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Skagway, Alaska Part One

Wed. morning brought us to Skagway. Nestled between mountain ranges, I thought it would be warm and protected. Not so!  The valley acts as a wind tunnel, and I immediately regretted not bringing my jacket. I stood behind Jack in the wheelchair at the dock, blocking him from the wind, while we waited for our excursion group to assemble. Suddenly I felt a rain poncho being pulled over my head, and there stood my brother, with another windbreaker/poncho for Jack. It was amazing how much that cut the cold!

Our first activity of the day was a glass-blowing experience. The bus dropped us off at Jewel Gardens and our guide, Nick, took us to the shop, where we donned blue lab coats and goggles, for those who weren't wearing glasses.  We were shown examples of the different patterns we could request: twirl, drapery, "hurricane", and were told to choose either ornament or globe style and up to 3 colors.

Our expert (I've forgotten her name) loaded up a rod with molten glass and dipped it in trays of the colored glass and then inserted it into the furnace, where we were to twirl it around .

If we wanted the drapery or hurricane pattern, we used the "tweezers" to pull and twist the pattern.


Once we had it in a semblance of symmetry, our hostess cupped it in a water-drenched holder and shaped it.

As she did, we were to blow through a mouth piece to "inflate" it, like a balloon.
Then she clamped it to seal it off.

Next, she took another rod of glass and melded it to the top of the sphere to make the loop, if you wanted an ornament.

Once done, you got a quick shot at a "photo op" before the ornaments were placed in a 900-degree oven to slowly cool.  In the morning, they would be removed and packed for shipping to our homes.

Once all 6 of us had had our turns, she made a large bowl, based on the colors all 3 couples chose. Frank started off with orange, the next couple chose white, and I really wanted to go with black (Halloween!), but I hesitated to allow Jack to choose for us. The gal jumped in and said "Cranberry makes a nice combination", so cranberry it was.  We had the option to buy the bowl at a discounted price, but none of us wanted it. Now, if I'd said black.....

The finished product:

After this, we were taken through a gorgeous garden, where glass "flowers" and globes bloomed next to brick paths and nature's pride.  Those bluish purple flowers in the center are glass. (As usual, you can click on the photo to enlarge).

I couldn't believe how many gorgeous flowers and gardens we saw in Alaska.  For a place that didn't get a lot of sun, it was so colorful.

I think these were called "goats beard".

As part of the excursion, we were taken to the tea room and given a "girly" lunch, as my brother put it.  First there was a mushroom and tarragon soup.  I loved it, so Janell gave me hers. Frank pushed his away after a sip.

Then we had a delicious veggie quiche.  Janell gave hers to Jack. Frank ate a bite or so, and pushed his back.

Dessert was a rhubarb something, not a pie, but something soft and luscious. Janell ate hers, but Frank was grumbling about needing a "corn dog on a stick."  The other couple felt the same as he. My brother looked at me and said "I know you weren't raised like this."  "No," I told him.  "I overcame MY upbringing!" lol

The iced tea was made from rosehips. I thought it was wonderful, but Frank was shaking his head. It definitely wasn't Southern iced tea. I mentioned that it would probably be delicious hot, so Nick got me a cup of hot tea, and yes, it was just as wonderful.  Everything we ate was from their own gardens, and I wish we'd had more time to tour them, but we only had a few minutes to go through the shop.  I started to buy a cute glass-blown mushroom to put in my own garden, but then I found this:

 a glass-blown pumpkin!  I had to have it for my growing collection.

After a snafu with the van they sent for us (Jack couldn't get into it), they sent another and took us away. My brother and sister-in-love and the other couple got off in town (I know they were looking for someplace to eat!) but Jack and I were dropped off at the ship. Our next excursion was later in the afternoon, so he decided to rest awhile and I grabbed my jacket, because I wanted to explore this little town.

A week later after we arrived home, our ornaments were delivered.

Jack's ornament:


I can hardly wait for Christmas to display these!

(Next: Afternoon in Skagway)


audreypawdrey said...

I am totally enjoying your vacation pictures, and I am living vicariously through you, too! I love the ornament and it must have been so cool to do glass blowing. I must mention that someone has an awesome Auburn shirt on in these pics.:)

AnnieO said...

I'm smiling this whole post! Thanks for the wonderful glass blowing excursion and all the lovely flowers. Your brother is funny! I would have gone for the pumpkin too :) The ornaments turned out just lovely and are a great souvenir to enjoy for years to come.