Attention Writers! An exciting opportunity for you has arisen!

Open Call.

Are you a writer, young, old, of an indeterminate age? Have you been published, want to be published, have a little story tickling your mind, or sitting in a drawer? Then send me your story. I will be sharing them on this blog in weekly increments.  They will be published featuring your name or pen name. Don’t be shy everyone can apply!

This is your chance.

Make it fun, exciting, pg 13 max, and all yours. Send me your story, your bio, your picture today! I want you to be featured.  You can become a Featured Fun Guest Post on the Page Turner.

Be read. 

I promise you will be seen by more people here, than if the manuscript is hiding in your trusty notebook or desk drawer.  This is your hour to be published. I will promote you,  on Twitter, Google plus, Pinterest, and Facebook. I will also give you the links to promote yourself. There is an opportunity to be reblogged. Reblogging happens on occasion and then you will be seen by even more amazing readers.

Contact me.

Want to take me up on this offer?  Then send me a message or a story and bio to vicgoodwin@gmail.com  Place “Guest Post” as your topic and then let’s discuss your day in the sun.  I will keep the story up for as long as I have this blog. I think I will always have this blog, as I am rather chatty.

Details: 

A short story in any genre that is PG 13.  Any word count over 350. Any topic that you want.  Make it humorous, touching, mysterious, romantic, personal, fiction, nonfiction, or anecdotal.  Basically, almost anything goes.  Don’t forget the pictures to compliment your story if applicable.

Become a repeat writer.

Contact me today and have your stories featured. Yes, you read correctly. I will post more than one of your stories in non-consecutive weeks. See some examples of the stories featured so far here in our newest opportunity.

Join in the Fun!

Make both of us happy! You and I are out to share some amazing stories. Get on board!!!

The benefits of baking and cooking for children by Robbie Cheadle: A Featured Fun Guest Post

The benefits of baking and cooking for children

Most children love to spend time in the kitchen either cooking or baking. It is a fabulous bonding experience with Mom or another caregiver and they always enjoying eating the results of their hard work afterwards.

I love to bake and both my sons have travelled the cooking, baking and eating road with me. Michael, particularly, loves to cook. He prefers to make more practical things than I do such as savoury and/or sweet pancakes, French toast and even stews and curries which he makes with his Dad. I like to make all sorts of fancy sweet treats and cakes.

I remember baking with my small boys. Gregory used to love to measure and pour the ingredients into the bowl. Funnily enough, Greg also loved to wash up. Sadly, this has not continued into his teenage years. I used to strip him down to his nappy and stand him on a few chairs lined up in front of the sink [so that he could not fall off] and set him free in front of a sink of soapy water. He used to splash around happy with a cloth washing up the bowl and wooden spoon. I kept the washing of any sharp implements and breakables for myself.

Michael, on the other hand, has never been a fan of any kind of cleaning up. He likes to measure, pour and, especially, to mix. He also likes to “lick” out the bowl. I have photographs of Michael covered from head to toe in chocolate cake mix with the bowl upside down on his head. What fabulous fun.

Other than the obvious fun and bonding factors, there are a list of other great benefits to baking with your children. I did some research on this and this is what I found:

  1. Maths skills: Baking helps children to learn maths concepts, in particular, measurement and simple fractions (half a cup, a quarter of a lemon). In addition, multiplication and division are involved if you half or double a recipe. Other kinds of cooking may also involve patterning (for example with salads and kebabs) and simple addition (how many people are you feeding? how many cupcakes do you need for the class?);
  2. Art skills: Decorating cupcakes, cutting out biscuits and making animals and people out of fondant (sugar dough). All of these activities encourage creativity and develop design abilities. An element of construction can also be involved if you are making a gingerbread house or a marshmallow tower and children learn how to fit pieces together and get a tower to stand up;

Cupcakes decorated for charity by the children of St Columba’s Presbyterian Church Sunday School – Parkview, South Africa

  1. Comprehension skills: Baking and cooking teaches children how to read and interpret a recipe. They learn to follow a sequence of steps and how to organise the required ingredients. Baking also teaches children techniques and vocabulary such as folding, beating, kneading and blending;
  2. Science skills: Contrary to popular belief, baking is a science. Children learn the scientific effects of raising agents such as yeast and baking powder. They learn about the interaction between certain substances such as salt and bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar and milk, yeast and warm water. If they make a mistake and/or leave out an ingredient, disaster often follows which helps enforce these learning points;

Giant marshmallow made by Michael – the scientific effects of gelatine

  1. Life skills: Baking and cooking with your children teaches them lifelong skills. In the future, the job of feeding themselves and their future families will become theirs. Baking and cooking skills will stand them in good stead when they leave home; and
  2. Self-esteem: Baking and cooking helps increase children’s self-esteem as they see and taste the results of their efforts. It also teaches children to work together with someone else in a team and that hard work pays dividends in the end.

I am not an occupational therapist but I found the following additional benefits listed on an OT website for children:

  1. Bilateral coordination;
  2. Eye-hand coordination;
  3. Hand strengthening; and
  4. Spatial perception and planning skills.

These four benefits make perfect sense to me in the context of baking and cooking with children.

So, what are you waiting for, get cooking. An easy way to start is with mini pizzas. You can buy the bases ready made from most grocery stores and you can also buy the tomato paste source to spread on the bases. Grate some cheese, cut up some mushrooms, pineapple, ham and anything else that you fancy and let the kids have fun assembling their own pizzas.

Thanks to Robbie Cheadle for this delicious and delightful post. Robbie, you are welcome to share a post any Friday. You can follow Robbie at:

Blogs: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com and Goodreads.com

Facebook: @SirChocolateBooks

Twitter: @bakeandwrite

Ground Owls by Bryan Pentelow: A Featured Fun Guest Post

Ava paused at the mouth of the cave to take in the panoramic view of Dragon World spread out before her. Cupcake, her bull terrier sat beside her and looked around as well, she also sniffed the slight breeze which tickled her nose. Scents of vegetables being roasted and spicy sauces cooking wafted up from the meeting camp below making Cupcake lick her lips in anticipation of tasty snacks and titbits to come. She yapped and wagged her tail vigorously, though Ava was quite aware of the dog’s wish for her to stop wasting time and get down to the kitchen as quickly as possible. Ava looked around for the small Scrap dragon who always accompanied her on trips to Dragon world and found him licking at an orange streak of iron oxide in a large pebble by the cave mouth.
“Come on Sprocket, Cupcake’s hungry for snacks and you can find plenty of tasty minerals when we get down to the bottom.”
They hurried down the path and while Cupcake followed her nose to the kitchen area to become best friends with the dragon in charge of the cooking, Sprocket scampered over to a promising pile of boulders. Ava walked over to the large red dragon standing at a writing desk carefully sorting and signing a stack of scrolls with a large flamboyant quill pen. “Good morning Llewellyn. You seem to be very busy with papers to sign. Do you have time for a chat?”
“With you Ava, I always have time to chat.” The huge dragon dropped a bundle of scrolls into a sack hanging from the side of the desk and placed a glass paperweight containing the image of a dragon breathing out a sheet of blue-white fire on the remaining stack of papers to prevent the breeze from scattering them far and wide.
Ava climbed onto a high stool and Llewellyn sat back on his haunches folding his arms across the top of his white scaled belly and resting his elbows on his knees. The girl felt totally at ease being close to the towering beast despite his sharp talons, mouth full of far too many sharp fangs and the spirals of smoke and steam rising from his nostrils. When she had first come through the portal from her world with her cousins and her parents she had been petrified of the fire-breathing monsters that had swooped down from the sky to greet them but the kindness and calmness of their telepathic greetings which had tickled her mind and made her laugh had completely overcome her fears. Now she felt confident and comfortable with dragons of all shapes and sizes and visiting their world was as natural as going to the shops with her mum.
“I’m glad you came today, I’ve something new to show you,” said Llewellyn, rubbing his hands together and causing his claws to click like castanets. “A group of Ground Owls has moved into the edge of the wood down by the river where the milk palms grow and the dinosaurs sent a message to say the young ones have just started leaving the nests. I thought you might like to see them.”
“Yes, please. What are Ground Owls? Can’t they fly?”
“They can fly but usually hunt their prey by running along the ground though they do nest in holes in trees like other owls. Their wings are quite small and only good for gliding not for flying and they climb up to their nests using the sharp talons on their feet and a claw on their wing joints.”
“How big are they and what do they eat?”
The Adults are about thirty centimetres tall but over a third of that is leg length so they are no bigger than sixteen centimetres when perched. The babies are no larger than a tennis ball when they first leave the nest. They hunt and eat beetles and their particular favourites are the Rino beetles, the large grey ones with the two horns on their heads.” “But they are nearly as big as my dad’s hand; surely the baby owls can’t catch them?”

“Oh, they can catch them but are not strong enough to kill and eat them so have to start with smaller beetles.” “I would love to see them. Will you take me over there?”
“I’m afraid I have too much work to do today. But the wind is in the right direction so you could get your Tri-ley and sail over. One of the young dinos will tow you back when you’ve had enough.”

“Good thinking. Thanks for the idea. See you later.” With that Ava jumped down from her stool and whistling for Cupcake and Sprocket hurried off to get her Tri-ley from the shelter.

Within minutes she had unfolded the three-wheeled vehicle, rigged the mast and sail and with Cupcake sitting at the front like a ship’s figure-head was bowling across the lilac coloured grassland following the dinosaur trail to the milk palms by the river. Sprocket was ahead and above riding on the twin jet flames from his tail ducts. He performed loops and spirals enjoying the lower gravity of this world and leaving a pink vapour trail to mark his passage. She was careful to give the woods a wide birth as she approached the area where the dinosaurs lived and sent a thought to Cupcake not to bark and frighten the gentle creatures. Ava applied the brakes and furled the sail then walked slowly over to where one of the long-necked herbivores was stirring a huge vat of palm milk with a long wooden paddle.

“Hello, have you come to see the owlets or to try our latest batch of cheese?” The dinosaur lowered its head to look Ava in the eye as it laid the paddle on a long smooth wooden table.

Ava smiled and reaching out rubbed the top of the creature’s head which she knew they liked, while Cupcake rubbed her head against one of its thick, scaly legs.
“I’ve come to see the owls but if there is cheese to try I would love some after I’ve seen them. I will be hungry by then as I had breakfast rather early.”

Sprocket had gone looking for his friends among the young dinosaurs and returned at that point with one who knew where the owls were roosting.
“Follow my son and your dragon and they will lead you to the owls.” said the large dinosaur and the four friends set off. They moved slowly and quietly through the trees of the wood till they came to an open glade with three old rotten logs laying in the middle. Sprocket signalled for them to lay down and inch forward right to the edge of the clearing. For some minutes nothing happened and there was no movement in the clearing, then a fluttering blur dropped from one of the trees and there was an adult Ground Owl perched on one of the rotten logs.

The bird stretched as tall as it could, its head turning right round till it faced backwards then back the other way full circle to check for danger. Satisfied that all was safe it gave a high pitched screech then began running on the spot on top of the log.

The wood was obviously hollow as the bird’s efforts produced a low drumming sound and soon three other owls fluttered down and joined in the strange running dance and increasing the drumming sound.

To say that these birds flew down would be stretching a point, what they did was more of a slow and controlled fall. Their stubby wings flapping so fast they were like a blur on each side of their bodies but did not enable them to gain or even retain height.

More screeching and chirping could be heard from overhead and suddenly a small fluffy ball dropped from the tree which overhung their hiding place, hit the grass, bounced twice and rolled to within half a metre of where they lay. Two large black eyes appeared in the fuzzy ball and blinked twice then two legs with clawed toes spread sprouted from the top of the ball and with a quick flip an angry owlet stood before them. It ruffled its feathers, spread its short wings and hissed loudly. The bright yellow, hooked beak was clearly visible as were the sharp climbing claws on the wing joints. Having declared its dissatisfaction with its landing and, the world in general, the chick turned and ran off towards the logs and other owls.

Ava found it almost impossible not to laugh out loud at the sight of the tiny owlet running. Its wing stubs spread for balance, its short tail wagging from side to side head thrust forward. The long stick thin legs high stepping rapidly as it covered the ground at an amazing speed.

Other fuzzy balls were dropping from trees around the glade till eventually a dozen of the comical fluff balls were darting and zig-zagging across the clearing. Finally, four adult females joined their chicks and began to herd them towards the fallen logs.

Ava slowly rolled to the left so she could get her small digital camera from her pocket them rolled back and raised the viewfinder to her eye. Adjusting the zoom and focus she was about to take a picture when a tiny flashing icon caught her attention. She quickly lowered the camera and pressed the button to engage silent mode then raised it again and proceeded to record the chick’s antics.

Through the powerful zoom lens, she could see the effect that the adults drumming feet were having on the rotten log. Out of one end of the fallen tree was pouring a stream of worms, grubs and beetles which had been disturbed by the bird’s actions. The chicks and female owls fell upon this feast, stabbing with beaks and talons and running after the faster insects. One chick pounced on a large Rhino beetle and began pecking at its armoured shell. The beetle reared up on its hind legs and the chick losing its balance and grip rolled off in a flurry of legs and feathers. Before the small owl could regain its feet the beetle turned, charged its foe and began to toss the fuzzy bundle about with its two horns. The chick was squeaking pitifully till its mother dashed up, flipped the belligerent beetle onto its back and plunged a lethal talon into its soft under parts. As her chick righted itself she tore off the beetle’s under-casing and shared the feast with her young one.

They watched the chase and feeding for another quarter of an hour then carefully backed away from the clearing and returned to the milk palm plantation.
The long table was covered with wooden plates and dishes containing a wonderful selection of cheeses, dips and piles of crisp dried leaf crackers.

“Find yourself a place and tuck in. There is a bowl or double baked hard biscuits for your dog and some tasty mineral rich rocks for Sprocket. So help yourselves. They had a long slow lunch followed by paddling in the shallows of the river to collect fresh muscles for the dragons who particularly liked the shells to crunch. As the red sun began to sink toward the horizon Ava tied two ropes to the front post of the Tri-ley and a pair of young dinosaurs harnessed to the vehicle and Sprocket and Cupcake aboard she set off back to the camp by the cliff.

On arrival at the camp, she released and thanked the young dinosaurs who nuzzled her with their scaly noses then galloped off home. Cupcake helped her pull the Tri-ley back under cover then she spent half an hour showing Llewellyn the pictures and movies she had recorded of the Ground Owls and laughing at their strange ways.
It began to get dark as the sun set and Lanterns were being put up all around the camp by small dragons, so Ava wished the large red dragon goodbye and accompanied by dog and dragon climbed the path and returned through the portal in the cave.

When she came out of the lift door into the pithead yard it was still early afternoon. Sprocket flew off to Pudding founders Lane while Ava and Cupcake headed for the museum.

She found Dave in his workshop/office at the back of the building and asked him if he would print some large copies of some of her shots and copy the movies onto a flash drive so she could watch them on her TV at home. This he did while Ava made tea and passed some broken ginger biscuits to Cupcake. That sat sipping tea and munching biscuits while the printer wired away producing the colour images which Dave laminated for her to protect them from damage. Clutching a cardboard tube containing the prints under her arm the girl and her dog made their way back home and arrived just before her dad and in time for tea.

What an adventure and the prints would look great on her bedroom wall.
Do you want to know more about Bryan Pentelow and his Sprocket Sagas collection? Then reach out to him at his favorite haunts.

https://www.facebook.com/bryan.pentelow.author

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13623813.Bryan_Pentelow

https://niume.com/profile/97066#!/posts

amazon.co.uk/Bryan Pentelow

penworkspublishing@gmail.com

Guest Post: How Theatre Saved My Life, by Deborah Baldwin

 

My imagination (and later, theatre specifically) saved my life. When I was a child, my mother was quite ill and consequently to show respect to her, I controlled my emotions. so I didn’t want compound her stress.

I was the youngest in my family. With ten years between me and my next closest sibling, I rarely had anyone to play with or talk to. I depended upon my imagination to comfort me and take me away from loneliness I felt but wouldn’t admit to anyone. I learned how to slap on a smile and pretend everything was good with me.  I was quite a little actress.

When I saw movies, I would act them out and sing very dramatically while sequestering myself upstairs on the east porch of our house. It had no heat and I remember freezing to death for my “art”.

I thought I was crazy, though. I never told my friends about my make believe playing and when I would visit their houses, they never played make believe. So I decided I wasn’t like everyone else. I played make believe until I was twelve.

My father was a physician and my mother was raised in Japan when she was a child. Consequently, her wander lust was difficult to satiate and we traveled to many countries when I was quite young.

If it wasn’t hard enough being the youngest, my world view was very different from my fellow classmates. Just another thing to make me an oddity, at least in my mind.

My mother wasn’t at all supportive of my interest in theatre. She intimated I could end up like Elizabeth Taylor, “She’s been married seven times. Look at her…”Something was mentioned about me ending up on a “casting couch.” I didn’t know what that was, but by my mother’s attitude, I knew it must be bad.

Trying to be the good daughter,  I left behind my imagination and became a cheerleader in junior high school. It makes sense if you think about it. That worked for two years and I loved the performing aspect of it.  I was a rotten jumper.  No one taught me how to do a round off or cartwheel, so I taught myself.  But I could yell loudly and lead the crowd in cheers.  At least I could do that!

When I was in high school, I found exactly what I was seeking –the stage! I was cast in my first play as Madame Arcati in “Blithe Spirit”.  Since I had no previous acting experience, but lots experience playing the piano, I notated my script as if I was playing the piano. I used fermatas for pauses and crescendo and decrescendo signs when I wanted to speak louder or softer.

To this day, I grow nostalgic whenever I step backstage. The scent of sawdust, newly painted flats and the warmth of the stage lights are a magical elixir to me. I brush the back of my hand across a velvet grand curtain and immediately I feel I’m home.

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In college, I experienced an epiphany. It was the early 1970’s, and society impressed upon me to hide my negative feelings or only express those feelings most accepted by others. I realized by sharing myself hiding behind a character, I could express all my feelings and thoughts. I felt accepted universally.

That’s a heady experience which made me come back for more. Nearly forty years later, I’m happily stuck here.

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I became a director for a community theatre production of The Miracle Worker because there was no one else willing to do the job. Ha! I have a leader type personality and directing fit into my life.
I was quite young to take on such a challenging production but I took to it right away. I saw the potential of affecting people through stories that I created in my own manner.

Now, I adore making a statement through words and actions.

As of this writing, I have directed over 250 plays and musicals with adults and children alike.  I chose to direct and act at the community level for most of my career.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy professional theatre.  On the contrary. I’ve appreciated the professional positions in which I have been employed.

It’s just not where my life’s journey has taken me.  I’m always open to work in whatever venue needs me.

I’ve portrayed many beloved roles–Maria in “The Sound of Music”, Marion Paroo in “Music Man”,  Dot in “Cricket on the Hearth”, Penny in “You Can’t Take it With You” and many others. Above all, more than any particular role or any special production, I have learned about myself. 

Theatre saved my life.  It has given me great joy, creative challenges and great friendships (I even met my husband while acting in a show). 

I don’t know where I would be without it.

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Bio

Deborah is an award winning author, teacher and director.  Recently retired, she taught drama to elementary through high school students for thirty-eight years.  Among many other theatrical experiences, she has directed over 250 plays and musicals with adults and children alike.  Recently, she and her husband of thirty-four years moved from the Colorado Rockies to Kansas to be grandparents to their first grandchild.  When Deborah isn’t writing, reading or cooking she enjoys seeing movies and traveling.  Lastly, she serves as hand maiden to her two quirky cats who really run the show.

The Top Reasons Drama Is Important for Your Child’s Life by Deborah Baldwin: A Featured Fun Guest Post

The Top Reasons Drama Is Important for Your Child’s Life

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Willy Wonka, Jr.  Fine Arts Guild of the Rockies August 2012

When the Litpick staff and I discussed writing several articles concerning drama education, I was stymied.  I have been a drama teacher and director since 1979.

Personally, theatre and the creativity that stems from it is very second nature to me. I forget that other people may not be aware of its strengths in the same manner.

Today’s the day for bolstering creativity in your child!

In a typical school day, I taught theatre classes to approximately 100 students, ages eight to eighteen.  Whew!  This included classes in creative dramatics, introduction to musical theatre, film making, technical theatre and a production based musical theatre class. Most of what I taught, I created myself for the students.

Since I worked for an enrichment program for home school students, I taught a different group of students each day.  Double Whew! In other words, creating curriculum plus teaching plus directing productions for nearly forty years equals expert first-hand knowledge.  Oh, I forgot that!

 Your Creative Child

At the beginning of the school year, it was not uncommon for parents to stop me in the hallway and express delight that their child will be taking a drama class with me.  Many parents say, “My daughter is very imaginative and expressive.  She plays dress up all day if I let her, but other than dress up, I don’t know what to do with her imagination next.”

I think I know what the parent is trying to express to me.  They need some assurance that A. this is a normal part of the child’s development; B. it should not be squelched but promoted and C. there are many strengths to being a creative human being.  I smile and encourage the parent to allow the child to continue imagining. I take it from there and the magic begins.

I will admit I am very partial to theatre arts.  Honestly, theatre saved my life when I was about ten years old, but that’s another story for some other time.  All arts classes will nurture your child’s creativity and every art form brings different gifts to the table.  Here are my top seven reasons for drama classes in your child’s life.

Stage Make up Assignment in Technical Theatre Class  May 2016

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Drama Classes:

Strengthen literacy—We know that through reading, our reading becomes more fluid and comprehensive. Not everyone recognizes that in a drama class we READ a lot–plays, scenes, poems and stories to dramatize.  Of course, when we rehearse a piece we read the words over and over again—aha! Then we MEMORIZE them.

We practice a character’s lines using vocal inflection and variety.  Suddenly, the words come to life for the reader. Voila! We sneak in reading skills without any of us being aware of it.  It is that easy, but reading must be continued in order to have consistent success.

Build self-esteem and self-confidence—If a child has an opportunity to share his ideas through drama, he is immediately accepted. We applaud for the student and his attempt.  We encourage positive comments towards the student’s effort.  Over time, the child begins to see his worth within the classroom, within the school and consequently in the world as well. Self-actualization is realized. It is a known fact that many at-risk students attend school only because they can take an arts class.  That’s pretty powerful.

Build a team spirit—I compare a cast in a play to a football team. The only difference is that no one sits on the bench—everyone plays.  Everyone’s actions count to make the goal, the performance.  If a student knows that he is expected to help other members of the cast and crew, he takes on the responsibility.

This level of responsibility carries over into social situations because by becoming a part of a team, a student can see himself as part of the whole instead of merely one piece. A P.E. teacher once remarked to me that she could tell which of my drama students took her classes.  When playing games, they were the ones who quickly pulled a group together, used their individual strengths and left out no one. How nice!

Encourage tolerance—Through a scene or play, when one experiences first-hand what is like to be the down trodden character, the misunderstood, the shunned, the innocent accused, one’s framework of understanding broadens.

For example, when we dramatize the story of Anne Frank or Helen Keller, we begin to see life differently and the value of everyone.  Life’s issues become greyer in color to us and thereby we appreciate the many perspectives in a particular situation. This is a remarkable attribute.

Provide a safe place to express one’s emotions—Society’s pressures have encouraged us to keep our emotions to ourselves, especially negative ones. I was one of those people.  In turn, some people are the opposite and show only negative emotions because they feel less vulnerable in so doing.

By creating a character and expressing the character’s emotions—happiness, sadness, fear, pride, curiosity, anger, joy, jealousy, etc. these feelings become an accepted part of one’s psyche. One’s acceptance of all one’s emotions, strengths and weaknesses is vital to our growth, no matter the age.

Contact me at dhcbalwin@gmail.com or check out my website at DeborahBaldwin.net

 

I’d love to hear from you!

Cruising Alaska on a Budget by Melinda Brasher: Special Guest Post

I have been lucky enough to take several cruises to Alaska, and I hope to take more. It’s a fantastic place to visit, especially by water, and especially if you love nature. Though I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything, here are some of the highlights of my experiences.

Glaciers

Glacier Days generic Marjerie
Marjerie Glacier, Glacier Bay. Photo by Melinda Brasher

The first time I heard the “white thunder” of a glacier calving, the first time a seal looked up at me from an iceberg, the first time our ship broke the ice in front of us to get closer to the glacier–all those moments were magical, but so was the fifth time I sailed into Glacier Bay and so will be the next time. The magic never dies. Be sure to bundle up and spend plenty of time on the outer decks enjoying the magnificence of nature.

Skagway

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Tall facades on Skagway buildings. Photo by Melinda Brasher

I grew up in a mining town, so when my first Alaskan cruise didn’t go to Skagway, I was like, “Oh well. Mining…yawn.” Not yawn. My second (and all subsequent) cruises have stopped in Skagway, and it’s probably my favorite of all the common ports. Buildings: cute. History: fascinating. Free walking tours from the Park Service: awesome. Hiking: spectacular. Surrounding mountains: massive. The cruise in through Lynn Canal’s blue-green water: gorgeous. Then there’s White Pass and the famous railroad. The whole place is magical. Just be prepared for literally thousands of other tourists and you’ll love it.

Marine Mammals

BOOK SEAL photo by Melinda Brasher
Seal on an iceberg. Photo by Melinda Brasher

I love the humpback whales spouting in the distance, surfacing gently every once in a while near the ship, showing their unique tails as they dive. Perhaps my favorites are the sea otters floating on their backs and rough-housing with each other. I get a thrill watching seals, sea lions, porpoises, and orcas. And I’ll never forget the time, late at night, those dolphins played in the dark alongside our ship, jumping in the wake and racing us. No one else was around. Just me and the dolphins. I felt indescribably blessed.

Salmon

BOOK Sockeye Mendenhall Mine
Sockeye Salmon at Steep Creek, Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau. Photo by Melinda Brasher

I’m not talking about eating salmon—though most cruise lines will give you at least one chance to indulge in the delicious Alaskan specialty. I’m talking about the actual fish. Their life cycle is awe-inspiring. Born in fresh water, sometimes far inland, they move out to sea to spend most of their lives until instinct drives them back to the place of their birth to spawn and die. The journey home can be a long and rigorous one, swimming against rapids, jumping up cascades. Some species have been found 200 miles upstream in the Yukon. And after this epic journey, they die, sacrificing their lives for the next generation. It’s tragic and beautiful at the same time, and you can see some of it first hand on an Alaskan cruise, especially if you go late in July or August.

Creek Street in Ketchikan during the height of a salmon run is like a freeway at rush hour, and watching them struggle to the top of the little falls always humbles me. I’ve seen the water froth with tiny shark-like fins outside a hatchery in Sitka. At Mendenhall Glacier, we watched a beautiful red and green female sockeye scooping out a nice egg-laying spot while a male defended her from his competition. In Anchorage, you can watch people “combat fishing” for them. It’s a huge part of not just the nature of Alaska, but the culture.

Hiking

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Upper Dewey Lake, Skagway. Photo by Melinda Brasher

I love hiking, and by “hiking” I mean getting out in nature and walking, be it short and easy or long and steep. Alaska’s a great place to do it, even if you’re only in port for a few hours. Here are some of my favorites. The often-wet and mysterious Deer Mountain Trail in Ketchikan takes you to some nice views of the islands in the strait. You can play in and around the blue-green waters of Lynn Canal on the easy stroll to Yakutania Point in Skagway. Portage Glacier Pass Trail in Whitter takes 45 minutes to get from the ship to the tree line on a trail that may still have patches of snow in late summer. At the top, miniature alpine plants, dwarf trees, and tiny pools of clear water compete in glory only with stark-white Portage Glacier in the distance. The hike above Exit Glacier to sprawling Harding Icefield in Seward is nothing short of spectacular. Plan enough time to do it justice.

Perhaps my favorite is the steep and rigorous climb to Upper Dewey Lake from Skagway. The lake is serene, the views breathtaking, and part of the trail follows a waterfall-like section of stream. I went on a sunny day, and I really don’t know if anything could be more beautiful.

Your Highlights

If you’ve been on an Alaska cruise, share your highlights below. If you haven’t, I encourage you to go and see some of this beautiful land for yourself. Only then will you know what your highlights will be.

Alaska Cruising on a budget MarchFor more details on affordable things to see and do in Alaska, read my book, “Cruising Alaska on a Budget; A Cruise and Port Guide.” Available at a budget price on Amazon, or free to download with Amazon Prime.

For more pictures, check my website.

Happy Cruising!

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Melinda Brasher fell in love with Alaska on her first cruise there. She spends her time hiking, writing, traveling, and teaching English as a second language in places like Poland, Mexico, Arizona, and the Czech Republic (Czechia). You can find links to her travel writing and plenty of posts about Alaska on her blog: www.melindabrasher.com

New Feature on Sojourner McConnell’s blog, The Path of the Writer

New Feature on The Path of the Writer with Sojourner McConnell with guest authors and writers weekly Friday's Fun and Family-friendly Guest Posts

This Friday, March 31, 2017, begins a new tradition on Sojourner’s author page. We reached out to authors, writers, bloggers and people with something uplifting, fun, or endearing, to share in what we are calling, Friday’s Fun and Family-Friendly Guest Posts.

This will happen each Friday as long as we have participation. I am excited to say, there are already several scheduled posts lined up and are looking forward to this new venture.  If you have uplifting, fun, stories, artwork, videos, or poetry, then I ask you to consider sharing your posts on this blog where I will make sure that black links are in place allowing for you to have potential visitors on your blog and author pages.

I hope you will join the fun and watch writers from across various genres bring a little humor, hope, fun, and happiness to the world.  If you have a post or want more information on this, just drop me a line in email or in the comments below.

Friday morning we have cj petterson with a lovely story called “Romance at the Do Drop In” that I believe everyone will enjoy. I hope you will join us there.