Juneau What I'm Sayin'?

I remember years ago when I earned my first Alaskan Cruise with Stampin' Up!.  My first reaction was, "I don't think I'll go"!!  I know that sounds crazy but since I am a warm weather gal, the thought of being on the water in extremely cold weather made me question whether or not I'd enjoy it.  My husband, on the other hand, was VERY excited to go.  So, we went.  And am I ever glad we did.  I found that Alaska was a beautiful place.  As we got off the ship in Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan, all I could think is that I wish we had more time to explore these quaint little towns that were surrounded by extreme beauty.

When I earned the 2018 Stampin' Up! incentive trip and it was an Alaskan Cruise once again, we were thrilled to go.  This time not just for another opportunity to explore Alaska but to be reacquainted with my demonstrator brothers and sisters whom I love to visit with.  I was also excited because I heard that the weather was going to be unusually warm during out trip, something that I didn't mind a bit.

We boarded the ship in Seattle, a city that I love!  Especially during football season!  GO HAWKS!!!! It was fun to view the Seattle skyline as we sailed away to begin our journey.

Seattle

Seattle

One of the perks of earning an incentive trip is PILLOW GIFTS.  Every evening when you come back to your room there are surprises from Stampin' Up!.  We received such amazing pillow gifts on this trip.  Things such as new catalog product, a gorgeous purse, a blanket, a speaker with the SU logo on it and on the first night this stylish grey jacket to keep us warm all week.

Pillow Gifts are the best!

Pillow Gifts are the best!

Of course another one of the major perks is being the first to see the new  Holiday Catalog.   It was fun to read it while relaxing on our private deck. 

It's A New Holiday Catalog!!!

It's A New Holiday Catalog!!!

While we were cruising we only have a few "official" gatherings, otherwise we get to plan to spend our days however we like.  It's a true vacation!  On day one, we did have a gathering where they announced where our next incentive trip will be.  They made the announcement in a creative way with demonstrators holding suitcases that were lined up across the stage.  

Incentive Trip Reveal

Incentive Trip Reveal

Each suitcase had a "clue" inside.  One suitcase contained a hat, then a pair of rubber slippers, then an aloha shirt!!!!  Get the picture?????? Any guesses???????  I had a feeling and I was right!  It was revealed that we are going to Maui in 2020!

So many people on the ship asked me if I was excited about that?  There's a small part of me that would have preferred to go somewhere I haven't been before.  However, I love Maui and the Grand Wailea is awesome!  I will love the 20 minute flight and it will be great having so many friends coming to my home state!!!  I will definitely work hard to earn it because no matter where they are, Stampin' Up! Incentive trips are the best!

So let me tell you a little bit about the places we visited on this trip.

One of our first stops was in Junea where went on a hike.  I asked our friends, Bruce and Lynsay, "do you think I'll need to dress warm for the hike?".  Knowing that we would be climbing up to a high elevation and knowing how cold I get, they said, "YES"!!!  What we all didn't know is that it was SUPER HOT, even at the higher elevation!!!

HIking in Juneau

HIking in Juneau

It was so hot that just minutes after this photo was taken and the guy who took the photo left, I went behind that platform to remove some layers of clothing!!!  

Even though it was warm, we enjoyed the views all the way up the mountain.

Mt. Roberts Hike

Mt. Roberts Hike

Do you see our cruise ship down there?

View of our ship

View of our ship

We didn't get to climb as high up as we had hoped to because we ran out of water!  

However, we did manage to find some SNOW!  It was a great place to cool down and enjoy the views!

SNOW!!!!

SNOW!!!!

And what a view it was!!!

Mt. Roberts Hike, Juneau

Mt. Roberts Hike, Juneau

Climbing down is always my favorite part.  

Mt. Roberts Trail, Juneau

Mt. Roberts Trail, Juneau

At the foot of the trail, we saw this beautiful Eagle.

Eagle at Mt. Roberts

Eagle at Mt. Roberts

We took the tram down the mountain and went searching for Bubble Tea.  

Mt Roberts Tramway

Mt Roberts Tramway

We did find Bubble Tea but there is no photo because it was the worst tea I have ever had in my life.  Who wants WARM bubble tea, with no flavor, and no ice on a very hot day???  Not me!!!

We did however find some shops and Lynsay bought a cute sweatshirt in one of the shops that said, "Juneau, What I'm Saying".

Juneau, Alaska

Juneau, Alaska

If I had to pick a "favorite" day it was the next day when we went to Skagway.  My good friend Meg coordinated a fun Yukon Rail Excursion there.  

Cindy, Linda and Meg

Cindy, Linda and Meg

This day provided us with lots of time to visit with each other while enjoying many really beautiful places.  

Yukon, Canada

Yukon, Canada

And guess what happened on this day????

It was really amazing!!!

Any Guesses???

Ok... here it is....

We saw a BEAR!!!

Yukon Museum

Yukon Museum

Well, yes, he is stuffed!!! 

However, an hour or so later, we saw another one!!!  

This one was alive and well.

Bear Sighting

Bear Sighting

He put on quite a show for us while eating his lunch.  We enjoyed watching him from inside of the van we were riding in.

It's a Bear!!!

It's a Bear!!!

Later in the day we got to play with sled dogs!  Ahhhhhhhh, they were so cute!!!

Sled Dogs

Sled Dogs

Sled Dogs!

Sled Dogs!

I wish I could have brought one home!  Just look at that face!!!

Sled Dog

Sled Dog

I think the highlight of the day by far was this moment when we stopped at this beautiful Emerald Lake, just north of Carcross.

Emerald Lake, Yukon

Emerald Lake, Yukon

The view was breathtaking.  

 It provided us with the perfect opportunity to take this ultimate Bru-mance photo.  

Bru-Mance

Bru-Mance

These two are so funny!!!! 

We rode the Yukon train back to town!  It was a lot of fun!

White Pass Yukon Train

White Pass Yukon Train

I got to spend a lot of quality time with my friend Genevieve this day.  Every time I talk with her I walk away feeling so uplifted and encouraged.

Stampin Sisters

Stampin Sisters

Our final port was Victoria, B.C.  I had been here once before but our time was limited.  We had a full day there this time!  We got to eat at a wonderful Italian restaurant, visit a museum and enjoy shopping.  I loved all the beautiful flowers we saw, epecially these leading up to the Empress Hotel.

Flowers outside of the Empress Hotel

Flowers outside of the Empress Hotel

It was another warm, beautiful and sunny day.  

Hydrangias in Victoria, BC

Hydrangias in Victoria, BC

Just look at the gorgeous colors!  Makes me want to go stamp something with Melon Mambo Ink or does this look more like Berry Burst or Rich Razzleberry to you?

We did manage to find an excellent place for Bubble Tea!  Yum!

This tea from The Bubble Tea Place was VERY good, picture worthy!

Although we went to wonderful places, enjoyed fun sea days, received amazing pillow gifts and ate and ate and ate, the highlight of these trips is always the people I get to see and spend time with.

 It was so good to see Kim, pictured below with her kids.  Kim and I served together on the Stampin' Up! advisory board in 2003.  Although we live thousands of miles a part, we talk to each other several times a week.  I see Kim at SU events but I hadn't seen her kids in awhile.  Oh boy, have they grown up!

Visiting with Kim and family

Visiting with Kim and family

Kim has done an amazing job keeping our Advisory Board Group together.

Advisory Board Reunion 2018

Advisory Board Reunion 2018

It is so wonderful to be reunited again!  Love all the smiles and hugs shared that day!

Advisory Board Reunion

Advisory Board Reunion

I learned a long time ago that if I ever needed anything, I could turn to these ladies for encouragement and support.

We share a special sisterhood together!

Advisory board reunion

Advisory board reunion

One of my favorite parts about cruising is going to dinner at night. It's always a great time to spend quality time with friends and share about your day.  Plus since you're on a  cruise you are forced to eat one dessert and sometimes two every night.

Lynsay and Cindy

Lynsay and Cindy

We enjoyed the opportunity to meet new friends as well!  

Final dinner on board the ship

Final dinner on board the ship

I'm so grateful Derek was able to take a break from a busy season at work to join me on this Alaskan Adventure.

Derek and Cindy in Alaska

Derek and Cindy in Alaska

Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart to all of you who support my Stampin' Up! business!  If it weren't for you inviting me into your homes to do classes, attending my events and ordering from me online, I wouldn't have the opportunity earn these trips and fulfill one of my passions, which is to travel.

 I am grateful that God has blessed me not only with such amazing customers and downline members but with the ability to work for a company that gives me the opportunity to earn incentive trips such as this.  

I've already qualified for the 2019 trip.  Next summer we'll be heading to GREECE!  I am super excited about that!

Greece is the word 2019

Greece is the word 2019

It's because Stampin' Up! Incentive trips are truly amazing experiences and after seeing these photos I'm sure "Juneau, what I'm saying"!!!

I hope you enjoyed experiencing a little bit of my Alaskan Adventure! 

Until next time, have a blessed day!  

Cindy

Adventures in Japan (part two)

While in Japan, we hired a tour guide named Miko of Miko Tours.  Knowing our time was limited and there was much to see Miko planned out an amazing itinerary for us to follow.  Our first day with her was packed with a tremendous amount of activities.  

We began our day dropping off our luggage at the Shinjuku station where we would be leaving it overnight.

Heading to the Shinjuko station.

Heading to the Shinjuko station.

Isn't it funny how colorful we look compared to everyone else?

We began our morning at the Meiji Temple.  It certainly is fun to travel with friends!

Meiji Temple with Meg, Cindy and Lynsay

Meiji Temple with Meg, Cindy and Lynsay

Although Derek and I had been there the day before, this time we went to visit an inner garden that we hadn't seen yet.

Meiji Jingu Inner Garden

Meiji Jingu Inner Garden

It was beautiful in the garden.  While there we got to see many beautiful water lillies in bloom.

Water Lillies at Meiji Jingu Inner Garden

Water Lillies at Meiji Jingu Inner Garden

The garden grounds were beautiful and peaceful.

Meiji Jingu Inner Garden

Meiji Jingu Inner Garden

It was an absolutely beautiful day.

Inner Garden - Meiji Shrine

Inner Garden - Meiji Shrine

MIko took us the Kiyomasa Well.  A few years ago a television show shared that if you took a photo here it would bring you good fortune.

Kiyomasa Well 

Kiyomasa Well 

It led to this place being very popular after the airing of the show.

After leaving this beautiful garden we went exploring in Harajuku.

Takeshita Doori 

Takeshita Doori 

We went exploring down the famous Takeshita street which is popular for Harajuku fashion.  We came across an arcade and Miko showed us how to use a Japanese photo booth.

Japanese Photo Booth

Japanese Photo Booth

After a full day of exploring we boarded a bus and headed towards the town of Kawaguchiko where Mt Fuji is located.  I had never seen Mt Fuji in person but had heard that often it is covered with clouds and difficult to see.  Recently I saw Mt. Fuji on an adorable card my friend Jodi made for her parents 50th wedding anniversary.  Isn't this card adorable?  It reminds me of our amazing time visiting Kawaguchiko.

Mt. Fuji Card created by Jodi 

Mt. Fuji Card created by Jodi 

You can read more about how Jodi created this card by visiting her blog The Stamping Owl.

This next part of the trip is what I would consider to be the "highlight" of our time in Japan.  It was so special.  We arrived at the Kawaguchiko station, we took a small bus to the Wakakus No Yso Maruei Ryokan.  A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese Inn.  

We were all taken to our beautiful rooms.

Ryokan

Ryokan

We dropped off our overnight bag and then gathered to learn how to properly wear a Yukata which is a light cotton kimono.

Learning to wear a Yukata

Learning to wear a Yukata

Once we were all dressed and ready we headed to experience a Japanese Kaiseki dinner.

All dressed and ready for dinner

All dressed and ready for dinner

 When we opened the screen entrance to this beautiful setting it took my breath away.

Kaiseki Dinner at the Ryokan

Kaiseki Dinner at the Ryokan

It was a spectacular sight! We all were in awe as our host lit little candles on a small grill in front of each person where we would be able to cook some of the items displayed at our beautiful place setting.  

Kaiseki Dinner

Kaiseki Dinner

The table sparkled.  

Kaiseki Dinner

Kaiseki Dinner

It was a magnificent meal I won't soon forget.  It was extra special to share this moment together with friends and family.

Lynsay, Meg and Cindy about to experience a Kaiseki dinner

Lynsay, Meg and Cindy about to experience a Kaiseki dinner

That evening we all were able to experience the Japanse Onsen or "hot bath".  I wasn't sure I was going to do this but they had a private bath and that made it more comfortable for some of us who were feeling a little shy about using the public bath together!  I am glad we had the opportunity to experience what it was like in private.

When we returned to our rooms, our futons were set out for us and we enjoyed a peaceful nights rest at this beautiful Ryokan.

Time for Bed

Time for Bed

Early the next morning I woke up when it was still dark out.  I was anxious to go outside to see the mountain because it was too dark to view it when we arrived that evening.  I woke up Derek and asked if he wanted to go with me and he said yes!  We climbed up to the observation deck at the Ryokan and saw this amazing sunrise.  

Sunrise at the Ryokan

Sunrise at the Ryokan

I was in awe of God's creation.  

Mt Fuji

Mt Fuji

At first Mt. Fuji was covered with clouds just as we were told it might be, but as we stood there we watched the clouds roll away and viewed Mt. Fuji for the first time.

Mr. Fuji

Mr. Fuji

 It was a moment I won't soon forget.  With all the health challenges I've been facing and knowing that I was almost not going to be able to go on this trip I was filled with a tremendous amount of thankfulness and gratitude to God for allowing Derek and I to be together at that very moment.

Sunrise at Mr. Fuji

Sunrise at Mr. Fuji

As we looked at that mountain we vowed to return and climb it one day.  Perhaps as a celebration when I am through with all my treatments!

Since we were up early we went for a walk.

Morning Walk

Morning Walk

It was a beautiful morning.  Of course Derek went off to explore the edge of some rocks as he usually does.  His mother warned me that he liked to live on the edge and I've experienced him doing just that many times!!!

Derek climbing on the rocks

Derek climbing on the rocks

It did make for a really nice photo op with the reflection on the water.

We went back to the Ryokan and enjoyed a traditional Japanese breakfast before heading off to start our day.  

Japanese Breakfast

Japanese Breakfast

Miko took us to two different places to view Mt. Fuji.  First to the Lake on a boat ride that was really pleasant.  

Boat ride on the Lake

Boat ride on the Lake

Second to the top of a mountian on the Katchi Katchi Yama Ropeway,

Katchi Katchi Yama Ropeway

Katchi Katchi Yama Ropeway

While we on our way up, we learned a story about a rascal Japanse Tanuki.

Tanuki and Rabbit

Tanuki and Rabbit

We took a bus on our way to explore some ice caves.  However on our way we stopped for some amazing shave ice.

Shave Ice Break

Shave Ice Break

 It was topped with fresh mango and so delicious.  Then we went a little further till we reached Saiko Iyashi no Sato Nenba, a traditional thatched roof village.

Saiko Iyashi no Sato Nenba

Saiko Iyashi no Sato Nenba

We spent a couple hours there.  We enjoyed a delicious lunch.

There was craft classes for the kids.

Crafting in the village

Crafting in the village

and unique snacks for us to try.

Unique snacks at the village

Unique snacks at the village

Unique snacks at the village

Unique snacks at the village

Next we headed to the Narusawa Ice Caves.  This is just the type of thing my adventurous friends, Meg and Lynsay have been "dragging' me to do since I met them.

Meg and Lynsay taking me to the Ice Caves

Meg and Lynsay taking me to the Ice Caves

I have to admit, it was really a COOL experience, no pun intended.

Heading in to the Ice Caves!

Heading in to the Ice Caves!

Here are some pictures from inside the caves.

Watch your head Lynsay and Derek!

Watch your head Lynsay and Derek!

Ice Caves

Ice Caves

Derek especially enjoyed the cool temperatures of the ice caves.  I on the other hand prefer warmer temperatures.

Ice Caves

Ice Caves

The forest around the ice caves was so mysterious and beautiful.  

Walking in the forest

Walking in the forest

 As we left one of the ice caves I took this photo of a trash can.  

Trash can in the forest, a rare sight in Japan!

Trash can in the forest, a rare sight in Japan!

I thought it was such an odd sight as trash cans in Japan are a rare sight so it was kind of funny to me to find one in the middle of this beautiful forest.

Our dinner that evening was another unique and amazing experience.  We ate at a barbecue restaurant called Sanrokuen in Fujikawaguchiko-machi.  

Sanrokuen Restaurant

Sanrokuen Restaurant

Here are some pictures of the amazing dinner we had there.

Japanese Barbeque

Japanese Barbeque

I loved the tofu and fresh corn while Derek loved the fresh fish.

Japanese Babeque

Japanese Babeque

I am so glad we got to experience this type of meal in Japan.  It was really unique and delicous.

We certainly did a lot this day but I didn't feel overly tired.  I felt healthy and strong and very thankful that God was strengthening me and helping me to enjoy every second of this amazing adventure.  Guess what... there is even MORE because we headed back to Tokyo and checked into a cute 3 bedroom apartment where we all stayed together for the rest of our adventures in Japan.  I'll share a little about that in my next post.  Till then I hope you enjoyed traveling with me to experience one of the most amazing days I've ever had.