Alaska 2016 Part 2: The Cruise – What Happens When Someone Has a Heart Attack on a Cruise Ship

Sunday, August 21, 2016       The cruise begins          

With a series of loud blasts of its horn, causing a man on shore to cover his ears,  the Noordam, our cruise ship, pulled away from the dock at Vancouver harbor.

Lots of people apparently like to watch this spectacle of a floating city taking its leave, because there was suddenly a crowd of people stopped at the railing of the Canada Walk, watching.  Before we left, I was sitting on our little verandah and saw a man gesture to his wife, pointing his finger and moving it across the air from left to right – the front of the ship to the back.


From our stateroom verandah, I also watched waves of people coming up the gangway at 3 pm, all the way to past 4 pm!  A few were admitted even after the required safety drill had begun.  Those people would barely have time to get their bearings before having to head to their emergency stations.

I’m still amazed by the massiveness of these cruise ships.  And this one is only medium sized – the stats say its capacity is about 2,000 passengers.  (The Cruise Log we received at the end of the cruise states that there were 2,015 passengers on board.)


The front half of the Noordam


The back half of the Noordam

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Leaving Vancouver harbor


Monday, August 22, 2016                 at sea

Exciting day at sea today!  There were several activities we wanted to do plus we were invited to a fancy brunch at 11 am in the dining room, as members of the “Mariner Society” – meaning anyone who has been on a Holland America cruise before.

The brunch was elegantly set up with white tablecloths, napkins folded to look like sails, and glasses of both water and champagne already waiting for us. While we ate our 3-course meal,  the ship’s Location Coordinator, Jude, got up to give a pep talk and mentioned that the captain would be coming to see us.  We had a couple of choices for appetizer and main course, and dessert was a raspberry cobbler – delicious! But I was worried about gaining weight again!

A little while later, Jude told us the captain would not be able to come because he was needed for some sort of emergency.  What kind of emergency, I wondered. I hope we are not going to have to implement the procedures we practiced in the safety drill!

Soon afterward, the captain gave an announcement that there was a medical emergency on board and we would have to turn around and go back to somewhere near Vancouver Island, where they could send out a rescue helicopter to pick up the patient.

By the time we saw the spotter plane, Dale and I had gone to Deck 9, “Lido” poolside with our books to read.  The plane was yellow, the color of the Canadian Coast Guard. It began circling overhead, and many of the people at the poolside began to watch the proceedings. After a delay in which the plane continued circling overhead, it dropped smoke bombs because, we were told, that would indicate the wind direction to the helicopter pilot.


The Canadian Coast Guard helicopter arrived to pick up the patient for transport to a hospital.

When the yellow helicopter came into view, I snapped several pictures as it approached. Soon it was right overhead.  It hovered to let medical personnel out.  They would stabilize the patient and prep him for transport.

The captain had called emergency personnel on the ship to be at the ready, and also called for evacuation of staterooms on Deck 10, as well as those in the most forward section of Decks 4-8.  He asked us to please cooperate if an employee told us not to go to a certain area.

It took a long time – half an hour or so – to stabilize the patient.  When they were finally ready to airlift him, we found out later, his wife and their luggage were also loaded into the helicopter! Thinking about this, it did make sense. When else was the patient’s wife going to be able to disembark to be with her husband? And there was no sense in leaving any of their luggage on board either. The cruise was over for them just as it had begun!


We saw a pilot boat approaching, also of the Canadian Coast Guard, which was rumored to have come to pick up the medical personnel still on the ship. I mused that with the patient, his wife, their luggage, and probably at least one medically trained person on the helicopter, there was no room for anyone else.  As we thought, the boat pulled up alongside the ship, where the paramedics got on.  We couldn’t actually see this, of course, because when the pilot boat was alongside the ship, it was out of our line of sight.  However, soon we saw it speed away.  Then the airplane stopped circling and left and the Noordam was now at liberty to resume its journey.

The captain told us that because of this delay, we would have to make up time by taking a more direct route, instead of the southern part of the Inside Passage, and we would travel at a faster speed than expected.  I couldn’t tell when the ship was turned around, but we headed north again at a good clip and we could feel the ship rocking as it plowed through the rough sea.


Alaska 2016 Part 1: Other Vancouver sights

I have written two posts about Vancouver, focusing on the Bill Reid Gallery and our walk to Stanley Park. The following photos highlight other sights we saw in our brief visit, mostly in the downtown neighborhood of Gastown, a hub for tourists and “hip” people, full of restaurants, shops and art galleries.


Taken from Vancouver Lookout: Senior admission Can$13.25 allows as many rides as you want the same day to the tower at the top of the building, with 360 degree panoramic views of the city. This picture shows many of the modern skyscrapers with the peninsula of Stanley Park behind.


The Lookout tower from below




Kitschy souvenir shop


This is a statue of “Gassy Jack” (1830-1875), considered the founder of Gastown. His real name was John Deighton and he was born in Hull, England. Adventurer and boat pilot, he was best known for his “gassy” monologues as a saloon keeper. ON Dec. 25, 1986 this statue was dedicated to the city of Vancouver.


Gastown street scene – crowds cleared away probably so this bride & groom could have their pictures taken.

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August sunset in Vancouver (taken from 8th floor of Pan Pacific Hotel at Canada Place).

CFFC: Alaska green

Our recent trip to Alaska took place at the end of August & early September. Normally Alaska gets a lot of rain around this time of year, but we were lucky to have clear, sunny days. By this time, there are many signs of fall, but summer green is still flourishing.  For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Light Greens, therefore, I present Alaska green, both natural and man-made:

In Fairbanks:


Handpainted vent in Fairbanks – there were several of these in the downtown area, each one painted by a different artist.

The signs below were in the Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center. There was a section of the museum all about seasons. There were several “signs” of the end of winter, but I chose just one for this post.

A quilted picture of Denali National Park, using the more natural greens mixed with muted fall colors,  was also at the Morris Thompson Center.


“Mountains and Willows in Fall” (2009) artist unknown. Fiber Art: Quilt. Gift of the National Park Service.

Denali National Park:

Compare the colors in these views of the scenery in Denali National Park with the artist’s rendition above:


View on hike on Rock Creek Trail, Denali National Park


Rock Creek Trail hike scene

On that same hike, we saw the Alaskan version of willows:


In Alaska, willows don’t grow to be tall trees but they instead grow as plants closer to the ground. The short season of warm weather doesn’t give them time to grow into a tree. They can become quite tall, however.




Alaska 2016 Part 1: Vancouver’s Totem Poles in Stanley Park

August 20,  2016

Stanley Park is a large park on a peninsula northwest of downtown Vancouver. This park contains many attractions, including the Vancouver Aquarium, a botanic garden called the Rose Garden, Stanley Park Pitch & Putt, lighthouses, the nine o’clock gun and totem poles, among others.  There is a biking & hiking path around the perimeter and many other trails that cut through the park. You can also take a horse and carriage tour, or get there by car. However, I think exploring the park on foot or bike is the best way to enjoy it.

We started in the direction of the Seawall Walk which would take us to the park.  According to the map it was only a couple of miles to get to Brockton Point. Near Canada Place, where we were staying, we stopped to take pictures of the Olympic cauldron from when Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter games, the “digital Orca” which from afar looked like it was made of Legos, and a “Yogathon” which we observed from our table at lunch at an outdoor café.  Different yoga instructors conducted these sessions, and there were yoga mats spread out all over the terrace.  Mostly what they did was a series of Sun Salutations, with slight variations.

Cauldron of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver

Cauldron of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver

"Digital Orca"

“Digital Orca”



The Seawall took us along the harbor and around a couple of marinas.

Float plane airport/marina

Float plane airport/marina

Gas station on the water (for boats and possibly float planes)

Gas station on the water (for boats and possibly float planes)



colorful houseboats

colorful houseboats



From the small map I had, I misjudged how far we’d gone, but it seemed right because the whole route is supposed to be 9 km (about 5.5 miles) and we were only going to do about 1/3 to ½ of it. When I realized my mistake,  I realized how much farther we had to go to get into Stanley Park.  Our goal was to at least see the totem poles, located west of Brockton Point.

This picture is to show how the "beachfront" looks at low tide.

Low tide

Autumn begins to make its appearance here even as the temperatures are warm.

Autumn begins to make its appearance here in August even though the temperatures are still warm.

We stopped to rest, already tired, at a spot where there were restrooms and the starting point for the horse and carriage tours. I knew we’d get our Fitbit 10,000 steps even if we took the horse-pulled carriage one-hour tour, so  I inquired and found out they do make a 5-minute stop at the totem poles.  However, the price for seniors was $C39 each!  It wasn’t worth almost 80 Canadian dollars to get a one-hour tour, in our opinion.

So after resting awhile,  we set off again on foot.  My Fitbit buzzed while I was still on the walking path – I’d gone 10,000 steps and we weren’t even there yet!

We admired the artistry and beauty of the totem poles, read what each one represented, took pictures, then took a longer rest.

A plaque at the totem poles site read: The totem was the British Columbia Indians’ “coat of arms.” Totem poles are unique to Northwest Coast B.C. and lower Alaska. They were carved from western red cedar and each carving tells of a real or mythical event. They were not idols, nor were they worshipped. Each carving on each pole has a meaning. The eagle represents the kingdom of the air. The whale, the lordship of the sea. The wolf, the genius of the land. And the frog, the traditional link between land and sea.

Carved house posts are used in traditional First Nations’ cedar homes to support the roof beams.


Replica of a house post carved by Kwakwaka’wakw artist Charlie James in the early 1900s. This replica was carved by Tony Hunt in 1987 to replace the old post which is now in the Vancouver Museum. Charlie James created a bold new style using bright colors and techniques which has influenced future generations of artists.

The Sky Chief Pole below celebrates the arts and ceremonies of the artists’ grandparents’ generation and which continue today in spite of near cultural annihilation.

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This pole was carved in 1988 by Hesquiat artist Tim Paul and Ditidaht artist Art Thompson. It contains important characters in Nuu-chah-nulth history. From top, the figures are: Sky Chief holding moon, kingfisher, thunderbird, whale, lightning snake, wolf, Man of Knowledge holding topati.

Kwakwaka’wakw artist Ellen Neel, the first woman to be a Northwest Coast carver, completed this pole in 1955.

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Ellen Neel’s pole (in front) – see caption under the picture below.

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Pole in front – From top to bottom: Thunderbird, Sea bird holding killer whale, Man, Frog, Bak’was “wild man of the woods”, Dzunukwa: a giantess, Raven

The pole in back is the Chief Wakas pole; another picture of it is below.

In Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) ceremonies, carved staffs called talking sticks are held by people making speeches for a chief.  This talking stick and characters are from an Owikeno story belonging to Chief Wakas. The original pole was raised in front of Chief Wakas’ house in the 1890s. The Raven’s beak opened to form a ceremonial entrance to the house and its body was painted on the house. Nimpkish artist Doug Cranmer carved this new pole in 1987.

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Chief Wakas Pole (on right): Top to Bottom: Thunderbird, Killer whale, Wolf, Wise one, Huxwhukw: a mythical bird, Bear, Raven

The unpainted pole in back is the Beaver Crest pole. It was carved in 1987 by Nisga’a artist Norman Tait along with his son Isaac, brother Robert  and nephew Ron Telek.  It depicts how the Tait family’s Eagle clan adopted the beaver crest, and how the Eagle and Raven met and shared the sky.

More poles:

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Even after resting, I was still tired but we headed back.

I remembered that we had passed an gelato shop along the Seawall somewhere and thought that would be just the thing  to rejuvenate me.  Just thinking about ice cream (my favorite food) made me keep walking! When we got to Casa Dolce, we both ordered large cones with two substantial scoops of ice cream. They had several flavors to choose from.


On our way back, we took a shortcut into a street that bypassed the marinas, and soon we were back at Canada Place.  On my Fitbit, I saw that we had walked more than 7 miles!


Alaska 2016 Part 1: Vancouver art gallery

August 20, 2016

The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art is a beautiful small gallery with many pieces on display by the Vancouver artist Bill Reid. There were also many beautiful art pieces by other “First Nations” artists. Visitors to Vancouver who want to see native artwork in a more intimate setting than a larger art museum will enjoy spending an hour here.  It is located at 639 Hornby Street, in downtown Vancouver, and is only a couple of blocks south of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver’s largest art museum.


Bill Reid (1920-1998) was a master artist, comfortable in media as diverse as copper, silver, gold, wire, wood, and onyx. He was also a writer, broadcaster, and community activist.


Reid was ½ Haida (on his mother’s side) and half Scottish and German (on his father’s side).  His mother was a member of the Raven clan from T’aanuu with the wolf as one of the family crests. Reid grew up not knowing much about his Haida roots.  His mother had been ostracized by the tribe at least in part for marrying a white man.


“The Raven and the First Men,” carved by George Rammell under Bill Reid’s supervision, 1986, onyx.


Photograph of Bill Reid and “The Raven and the First Men” sculpture in 1980

Reid began exploring his Haida roots at the age of 23, but worked as a radio broadcaster for a decade until he decided to become a full-time artist. He blended native Haida themes with his own modernist aesthetic, creating exquisite works of art both large and small.

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“Killer Whale” by Bill Reid, 1984, bronze with jade patina. A poem written by the artist is written on a plaque below.

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“Skung Gwaii Robe” by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, 2002, printed canvas. Images of Skung Gwaii, an ancient Haida village, and the artist’s family are juxtaposed with the architectural plans for the elementary school located in Skidegate (another Haida community). Additional layering of text reflects indigenous philosophical concepts.

“It is the nature of an empty container that it holds nothing less than the potential of everything.”

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“Con-tinu-Uma” by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, 2007-2008, historical bent box c. 1850, copper leaf, acrylic paint.

Notice the symmetry of the images in this decorated box. The animals represented are divided into small parts and rearranged, so that a head may be separated from a body, tail or limbs.

decorated box

decorated box

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“Art opens windows to the space between ourselves” by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, 2015; video 14:25.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

“Swg’ag’an Sockeye Salmon Pool” by Bill Reid, 1991, serigraph on paper


“Dogfish mural” cast by Nancy Brignall from a mold of yellow cedar dogfish door by Bill Reid, 1991, Papier mâché

Jewelry pieces by Bill Reid:


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The hummingbird is a joyful messenger: When a hummingbird hovers nearby, you will receive a message of healing. Copper represented great wealth and prestige for the owner. It was used at potlatches and also as currency. It symbolized light, salmon and other basic elements for life.


Stopping in at the gift shop after seeing the exhibit, I purchased a few small things to use as gifts or party favors.  Although the art pieces for sale were beautiful, I contented myself with taking pictures of some of them!

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These eagle masks by Coastal Salish artists are for sale ($2,500 and $1,600 respectively) in the gift shop.

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“I have lived intimately with the strange and beautiful beasts and heroes of Haida mythology and learned to know them as part of myself.” – Bill Reid, 1967



Music Conquers All: Remembering 9/11

Statue of Liberty Between Twin Towers, World Trade Center at Sunset, New York City, New Jersey,  New York, designed Minoru Yamasaki

Statue of Liberty and Twin Towers, World Trade Center at Sunset, New York City, New Jersey, New York, designed Minoru Yamasaki

The most moving and appropriate music to remember the tragic loss of life on September 11, 2001 is, for me, Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber. I am including a link here to watch a YouTube video with footage from New York on that day juxtaposed with a performance of this beautiful piece. The music is full of longing and perhaps sadness, but also exquisite beauty.

Music is a way to counter acts of terrorism. It is an act of defiance, of courage. It inspires, it moves, it consoles. Music is something terrorism can never take from us. We are free to be inspired as we listen, play or compose it. Music can express our deepest yearnings in a language the entire world can understand.

Readers of this blog, please take time to watch and listen to the Adagio for Strings as you reflect on this 15th anniversary of 9/11. Let it inspire, console and move you. Music conquers all.

Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber