Sunday, December 25, 2005

Come Fire or Flood

Both baby Erich and Karen were finally discharged Christmas morning. A very kind nurse (Amy) came to tell us the good news: The baby's weight had gained ever so slightly over the previous day. This was of course a positive sign, and all the nurses and pediatricians felt more comfortable discharging us with Erich's weight on its way up. All of us had gotten some rest the night before too.

We decided it would be best to leave the hospital just after the next feeding when Erich would be the most content. I [Jonathan] repacked our belongings into our bags while Karen tended to Erich. Then, the most unbelievable thing happened. Fire broke out at the hospital, followed by flood.

Now, during our almost week-long stay at the hospital, we had come to observe a few daily rituals. The first was the daily change of guard - nurses clock in every 12 hours, once in the morning and once at night. The second was the ever recurring false fire alarm. Nearly every day we were at the hospital, the fire alarm would sound, and we would observe two bright red fire trucks race up Thurlow St., stay for five minutes, and then be on their way. We once asked a nurse about this, and she simply replied that with the age of St. Paul's Hospital, they tend to get many false alarms.

So, when the fire alarm went off Christmas morning as we were preparing to leave, we thought nothing of it. (Never cry wolf?) As was before, two bright red fire engines came racing up Thurlow St., except this time they didn't leave. A few minutes later, a fire chief, a policeman, and two more bright red fire engines showed up. Now, we were curious! I cautiously opened the door to our room, and observed that all the nurses (which incidentally were not that many - it was Christmas afterall!) pacing frantically about closing one fire exit door after another.

"Regular code red procedures", I thought. "Nothing to worry about."

That's when I started to smell smoke. A nurse came in to inform us of the situation: Fire had broken out on the fourth floor (the floor directly above us), and was in the process of being contained. She warned that water could come down at any moment, so we needed to evacuate. The fire alarm had gone from a muted chime to fast short rings indicating that the sprinklers could come on at any moment. Whatever tiredness I had left gave way to adrenaline and this new sense of urgency that I had not felt previously. I think I would have reacted quite differently had it been only Karen and myself, but now I was worried about our son! Cooly, calmly but quickly we gathered up our bags, put Erich in his bassinet, and rolled him out of our room and joined the 4 or 5 other families -- some still in labour(!) -- in the refuge area.

Photo taken with my cellphone camera: Note the two other babies in their respective bassinets behind Karen. Several other babies and their parents were also in the refuge area along with one women in labour.
We were huddled in the refuge area for about an hour or so. None of us really knew much of what was going on, so it made for some rather interesting conversation. Afterall, it's not everyday that babies are born in the midst of fire and flood.

It turns out, in the end, that the fourth floor was on fire set by an arsonist (see the corresponding news story). What kind of sick individual would set a hospital on fire?! There was extensive flood/water damage to the fourth floor and several of the maternity ward rooms.

Strangely enough, all the babies slept through most of this ordeal. We were finally "rescued" from the hospital by our brother-in-law, John. The nurses discharged us, and took us through some interesting back routes through the hospital in order to get to an exit well away from the affected areas. We arrived home, happy to see our own bed again.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Certain Uncertainty: A Christmas Story

Sometimes, it seems the most certain thing in life is uncertainty. The first few days of Erich's life were filled with uncertainty. Will my [Karen's] breastmilk be sufficient? What happens if the baby loses too much weight? Jaundice - what's that? How will we ever be able to take care of this baby while feeling soo exhausted?

Exhausted we were! After having been up almost two days and two nights straight -- starting with labour, then delivery, then recovery, then straight to taking care of the new baby... -- all of this was starting to take its toll! To make matters worse, adjusting to hospital life was far from easy. Although we were very appreciative of the extra hand the nurses gave us, hospital life is filled with constant interruptions: Patient care seems to be an odd combination of a team of professionals trying to nurse you back to health all the while maintaining their busy schedules and checklists. Our lack of sleep contributed to our crankiness which in turn rubbed off on Erich and his food supply, which made him cranky... well, you get the picture.

To make a long story short, Erich developed a mild form of jaundice (apparently very normal in newborns). He also lost a little more weight than the doctors would have liked. As a result, we ended up staying in the hospital two more days than we had first anticipated (Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day). Our hearts sank: We wouldn't be home for Christmas. On the one hand, we welcomed the extra days to help us get back on track. On the other, it was Christmas afterall, and we were itching to get home to sleep on our own bed.

Our family, like most, has the time-honoured tradition every Christmas of Christmas dinner. You know, the informal "formal" affair, where family dress their best for dinner and sing some carols around the piano. This year, of course, our son changed all of that. We ended up moving family dinner from our traditional venue on Walnut Street to Room 11 at St. Paul's Hospital's Maternity Ward. Instead of oven-baked roast ham served with cranberry sauce on fine china, and wine from the finest grapes, we had ham sandwiches with raisin bread served on paper towels with cranberry juice.

Reflecting back on the experience though, it was unlike any other. Perhaps a prayer my sister said that night just before our meal reflected our emotions best: Christmas isn't about having it all together; afterall Christ's birth was in less than ideal circumstances. But Christmas is about the Creator loving His created despite the circumstances: sending His son to save us and to show His love despite His disgust for our sin. Though we could never understand fully the intricate details of what must have gone on in Jesus' earthly family and the Holy Trinity that very first Christmas, we couldn't help but muse at some of the similarities: God's son, afterall, changed tradition forever.

Never had we been so tired, so helpless and so confused! Certainly we had experienced days of sleeplessness when we were students, but never was our alertness and our attention and our love so absolutely required. Assignment deadlines can be missed; exams can be failed; courses ignored, but a child - our child - cannot. Our child demanded our love and our attention. Certainly puts things into perspective doesn't it?

In the end though, the extra days helped us to stabilize, and got us back on the right track before heading home to fend for ourselves. Karen's milk began to flow more readily toward the end of our hospital stay, and we were taught how to supplement without "nipple-confusion" should it be necessary for a few days. Erich's weight stabilized and his jaundice was deemed OK enough for us to go home.

Christmas 2005 was definitely unique, and it will definitely be a story to tell Erich when he grows up.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Labour & Delivery - For to us a son is given...

We were admitted into Room 11 at St. Paul's Hospital's Maternity Ward where we would spend the next few days labouring, delivering, and recovering. We were assigned a nurse for labour; Nurse Cornelia (whom we later found out is a Christian) was a God send. Her calm demeanor and supportive attitude gave me [Jonathan] a whole new perspective on the importance of nurses in the health care system.

At 10:30am, Karen's doctor ordered that Karen's contractions be augmented with artificial induction - by introducing more oxytoxin into her bloodstream via an intravenous tube. Although this was great for speeding up Karen's labour, the downside was that Karen needed to be hooked up to the fetal heart rate monitor full time.

Doctors are super-obsessed with the fetal monitor heart rate during delivery as we soon found out. Perhaps the funniest story that I can recall was when Karen needed to go to the bathroom. Because her fetal monitoring probes were wireless, she was able to make it to the bathroom despite being attached to the monitor. However, while she was taking care of business, one of the probes slipped and began measuring mother's heartrate instead! (The mother's heartrate is usually much slower than that of an unborn baby.) It was quite the scene to watch as nurses, doctors, and residents rushed into the room wondering what had happened to the baby's heart.

On the same token, I felt extremely blessed to have a team of medical professionals that were so caring for their patients. Later that evening, the baby's heartrate did decelerate at one point, and though there were quite a few tense moments, I had complete confidence in the doctors.

Karen's labour continued until about 10:30pm that night with mild success. She was only able to maintain approximately 5 cm of dilation (at one point peaking to 6-7cm). Finally, after approximately 24 hours of labour, the doctors determined that a C-Section delivery would be best. So, at 12:22am on Wed. Dec 21, 2005, Karen gave birth to Erich, a healthy 8 lbs, 12oz baby boy! Thanks be to God for a healthy and safe delivery. Thanks to all the doctors, nurses, and surgeons who were able to deliver our baby with such steady hands despite the late hour.

Although a C-section at the end of a hard and arduous labour seemed like the ultimate "unwanted outcome", we soon learned this was a bit of a blessing in disguise. Because Karen had been labouring for so long, her body considered the birth much more "normal" than a scheduled C-section and thus her breastmilk came a lot easier than expected.

We, however were exhausted! It is quite difficult to express in words both the joy, elation and exhaustion we felt after this experience. While waiting for Karen to recover from her surgery, I sat there with little Erich wondering how our lives were going to change now forever. Moments of inadequacy and uncertainty mixed in with emotions of feeling priveleged to be able to raise this new human being to know His Heavenly Father. Uneasy thoughts.

But, I rest assured in God's faithfulness and His promise that

" all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." (Romans 8:28b-30 NIV)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Is it time yet? It DEPENDS!

The long awaited anticipation of labour has finally concluded, and Karen's contractions are coming at approximately 3-5 minutes apart. So, at 8pm on Monday, December 19th, after packing some last minute things into our hospital bag, we set off for St. Paul's hospital to deliver our new baby!

Karen was initially assessed using a fetal heart monitor. Things were looking good but the doctor determined that we were still too early to be admitted. We were to come back if her contractions got any worse or if her water were to break. Somewhat disappointed, we set off for home, knowing full well we'd probably be back before morning.

"At least we'll get some sleep this way", we thought.

In hindsight, we have decided that God, in His providence, surely has a sense of humour, and this next story only begins to describe why we feel this way. One of the things that Karen was particularly worried about with regard to her labour was her water breaking. Doctors had determined earlier in the day that Karen had a substantial amount of amniotic fluid in her uterus (the "water" in the womb), so she was to expect quite a gush when her water broke. Just think of all the things that could happen to our bed sheets and mattress should such an event occur while she is sleeping?

Well, to solve the problem, Karen had the brilliant idea of purchasing some adult diapers, otherwise known as "Depends"! For the diaper-challenged, these are essentially very absorbent pieces of disposable underwear, capable of holding enormous amounts of fluid...generally reserved for those who no longer have control over their bladder.

Needless to say, the diapers did save the day. When Karen's water finally broke at 4:50am, Tuesday December 20th, most of it landed on the diaper. Poor diaper! We reappeared at the hospital, where we were admitted into the labour room at 6:00am.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Mandarin Orange

We find ourselves waiting, and learning patience. For the past few days (particularly since Karen's official due date on Dec. 11th), we have been rehearsing the same routine:

Wake up; maybe today?
Irregular contractions are
seeming contradictions:
Indications of certainty yet
moments of ambiguity,

Is it coming today?
Probabilities are high, possibilities nigh,
But alas, virtue lies with patience.
Well, for the record, baby is still in mummy's tummy.... 3 days overdue. Another day passes, maybe it will happen tonight? The anticipation is killing us.

Meanwhile, funny stories are emerging. Karen went to get a mandarin orange from the fridge the other day. As she peeled the orange, she sat down on her favourite chair, mouth watering as she briskly peels the skin. Plop! Half the orange falls on the floor. Poor Karen is so big she can't even see the fallen orange let alone pick it up. It was a very funny moment indeed. :)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Worship @ the Bridge Church

Seeing as the baby was supposed to arrive on Friday, Karen and I had already made arrangements for people to look after our ministries this Sunday at CCCC. So, we decided we'd take a sabbatical week, and went to worship at the Bridge - a local Kitsilano church that meets at the planetarium - two blocks away from where we live.

It was an eye-opener. Simple worship can sometimes be so moving and we appreciated the warm hospitality they showed toward us. Kitsilano is a very tough area to reach out to. There are many who don't know Christ here, and the ground is very hard. Perhaps it has to do with the constantly revolving nature of our neighbourhood, or just the subculture here in Kits. Whatever it is, we pray for God's hand to move.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Night @ the Symphony

PresiNET systems invited some people from the YMCA to attend a VSO concert tonight. The concert was sponsored by PresiNET. Karen and I were felt priveleged to be able to attend, especially since we had originally given up our tickets so that we could have our baby (scheduled C-section). Well, since the C-section was cancelled, we were able to attend. It was a wonderful evening: I got a chance to go out on a date with my wife, and I got to see how excited our little one is about classical music! (particularly during the Mozart piece...)

Jonathan Chan, age 15, was the featured violin soloist and he played a very good rendition of Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major. Those who knew me during my younger days will know that I have also attempted this concerto (albeit not to quite the same eloquence), so this concert really did remind me of me when I was 15. After the concert, I managed to get his autograph; of course he was rather surprised my name is the same as his.

To top off an already wonderful night, I bumped into an old maestro, Mr. Rohloff, from the VYSO (Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra). What a small world.

"enabling us to catch up on some well-needed rest before the baby does come....ALMOST!"

6:30am. Jonathan is awaken by the sound of the phone ringing. It's his mum. Mum got into a collision on the way to her BSF leadership meeting. Just when we thought we could finally sleep in to get some rest. We've been so tired cleaning and rearranging the house.

Well, it turns out the car stalled and since Mum was on a hill, the car rolled backward hitting some cars on the way before stopping. Mum didn't have a cell phone, so she left the scene, walked back to her apartment to call me. Now the police think it's a hit and run....I have to reassure them otherwise.

"Why now?! I don't need this [extra stress] now!" I'm tempted to say. But Karen tries to reassure me it's a blessing in disguise. Positive encouragement I suppose. :) God is teaching me patience.

*deep breath*

I do thank God that Mum is okay. It could have been much worse.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Eagerly Awaiting

Well, as many of you know Karen was originally scheduled for a C-section on Friday, December 2nd, 2005. But, at the last minute (Wednesday), an ultrasound showed that her placenta had "moved" sufficiently out of the way that she can now attempt a natural delivery. So, plans were once again put aside and we are now waiting once more for the baby to arrive.

This minor hiccup doesn't come without its benefits though as we rushed to get much of what we needed to get ready before last Friday, enabling us to catch up on some well-needed rest before the baby does come....

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ready or not, here comes...

We went to see the specialist today about Karen's placenta. Our last two ultrasounds have shown that Karen's placenta is dangerously close to her cervix (about 1.5cm) ... so they are recommending that Karen have a C-section. Dr. Rob Anderson is the specialist - very knowledgable and down to earthy fellow. We've heard several good testimonies about him, so we are feeling much better about this than a few months ago.

It seems they already had it planned out. They've scheduled a C-section at St. Pauls for Friday, December 2nd, 2005. We will get to meet "pie-filling" (our little baby) at last.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

A toast to Steve and Helena Travers!

I first met Steve a few years ago when he was invited to speak to our congregation at the church where my wife and I serve as missionaries. Although in all honesty, I have no recollection now about what he spoke about, I do have a recollection the enormous impact God had on those in our congregation that day. It was clear that God had his anointing upon this man.

Over the years I have gotten to know Steve not only as a fellow minister in Christ, but as a friend and as a brother in Christ. Perhaps it is his testimony or life story, or perhaps it is simply his personality: Whatever the case, I am sure that all of you who know him well would attest that Steve has an incredible gift of encouragement and has an unquenchable passion for the Word. He has brought me encouragement in the low points in my life and has fueled me on in my pursuit of the Word.

So it was with great excitement and anticipation that I learned that he had met the match of his life - his future wife Helena. Steve and Helena met while both serving at a homeless mission in the Downtown Eastside. I still recall Steve sharing with me the incredible heart that Helena has for God and for the people whom she served. Well, Steve and Helena soon fell in love, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I must admit that I don’t know Helena very well personally – I have only met her once before, at another wedding! But this much I can say: Helena, you must be an incredibly loving person. I have seen the incredible joy and happiness that you bring to Steve’s life. Particularly when Steve was in poorer health, you brought encouragement. You brought encouragement to my encourager. When Steve was feeling unsure about his calling in ministry, you brought reassurance. You are the minister to my minister. I have seen God’s faithfulness in bringing you two together. May God bless you in your lifelong commitment to love and to cherish each other in sickness and in health.

Now, no wedding speech would be complete without its usual list of cliché marriage tips – you know the sort: “never go to bed angry, so stay up and argue all night”, “make sure you keep the toilet seat up… or was it down?”, and always remember the three words in a heated argument “I am right – err.. I mean ‘you’re right dear’”

Tonight I want to offer you a set of three tips of the non-cliché sort: Three important things that I have learned from my marriage:

  1. Always remember that a marriage is a relationship between three persons – Husband, Wife and God. Therefore, don’t forget to include God in your marriage. I have found that it is very difficult to go to bed angry at my wife when I have to pray with her every night. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says that “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
  2. Regardless of whether you leave the toilet seat up or down, the important thing is to flush! Forgive regularly. Colossians 3:13: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
  3. Finally, genuine humility in marriage goes a long way. Jesus showed us the ultimate example of humility when he came to earth to propose to His bride – the church. John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” The three words “You’re right, dear” when said sincerely are truly one of the keys to a successful marriage.

Well, in closing, I want to offer a toast to our lovely couple tonight. This toast is not only to wish them a great wedding, but to wish them a great lifelong marriage. So, let us all raise our glasses and let us give a toast to Steve and Helena Travers and to this great adventure called marriage for which they are about to embark.

-- excerpted from a toast given by Jonathan to Steve and Helena Travers at their Celebration of Marriage, October 8th, 2005 @ Granville Chapel, Vancouver, BC

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Pregnancy in full bloom!

Karen is now about 28 weeks pregnant and as cute as ever. We've been calling our little one "pie-filling" as in the "filling" in sweetie pie. :-) The baby is very active, and says hello to both mommy and daddy at regular intervals in the day.

Photo: Karen rests comfortably in our newly renovated library/office.Posted by Picasa

We're both excited and "scared" at the prospect of being parents. It is such a big responsibility yet a very noble and humbling one. We both had our second pre-natal class today and learned much about the second stage of labour. The miracle of life is really quite awe inspiring when you think about it. That little thing inside that is kicking and saying hello to us everyday is a new living being, just ready to be nurtured and ready to explore the world. Wow. Just hard to imagine.

Life has been a bit on the stressful side as we write this. Renovations ("nesting" as they call it in pre-natal class) has been going well -- we've finally finished every room except the baby room....and to be quite frank, we're a bit tired of the whole thing now. But Jonathan hopes to get it done soon anyway in amongst all the other things (family, ministry and work) that we've both been trying to finish before the baby comes. Well, it's all in God's hands.

On a more interesting note, Karen's grandparents from Germany have been in town the past few days and will be staying in Vancouver for the next few weeks. We're brushing up on our Deutsch. We've managed to say a few things here and there, but mostly it's conversing through Hans or with gestures.

Anyway, Karen is calling me to bed. Until next time,

Guten Nacht!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Expectant Twins!

The expectant twins! Karen and Katherine show off their babies to be... Karen is at ~15 weeks and Katherine is at ~34 weeks. Posted by Hello

Monday, June 20, 2005

Hans' Birthday & Father's Day

We took Hans out to Kalamata Greek Restaurant on Broadway and Cambie before returning back to their place for ice cream cake from DairyQueen.

Kat poses for the camera at Kalamata Greek Restaurant, where we had Hans' birthday and Father's day dinner. Posted by Hello

Hans blows out the candles on his ice cream cake as the twins look on. Mom looks intently at the camera. :-) Posted by Hello

Hans' birthday cake. Posted by Hello

Hans reads his birthday card. Posted by Hello

Hans reads his birthday card. Posted by Hello

Hans opens his birthday present. Posted by Hello

Mom looks on while Hans opens his present. Posted by Hello

Hans opens his birthday present. Posted by Hello

Tarzan II ... the new DVD is Hans' birthday present. Posted by Hello

Mom picks some flowers from her garden for Hans' birthday. Posted by Hello

Mom picks some flowers from her garden for Hans' birthday. Posted by Hello

Hans' Birthday and Father's Day Card Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Alaska Trip May 2005

Karen and Jonathan took a well needed holiday to the Inside Passage of British Columbia and Alaska. It was a good time of solitude, where both of them enjoyed God's beautiful creation away from their normal everyday life of work, family and ministry. Seeing as kid #1 is on its way (Karen is 14 weeks and 1 day as we write this), this was the last major vacation trip as a couple, and so they particularly enjoyed the time they got to spend with each other.

Below are some select photos from their trip.

Day 1: Vancouver, BC

Workers at the Port of Vancouver (at Canada Place) prepare the Norwegian Sun for departure. Posted by Hello

The view of Canada Place as we depart from Vancouver, BC. Posted by Hello

View of the Lion's Gate Bridge from the Norwegian Sun. Posted by Hello

Karen on the promenade deck (6) in Vancouver, BC. Posted by Hello

A Harbour Seaplane flies over the Norwegian Sun as she heads out to sea. Posted by Hello

Is that Hans on the bridge? Karen's father decides to watch the ship sail off from the Lion's Gate Bridge - he is the person on the left. Posted by Hello

We are sailing on NCL's Norwegian Sun. Posted by Hello

Day 2: At Sea in the Inside Passage

Karen and Jonathan pose before dinner on Formal Attire night. (The ship is at sea on this first night.) Posted by Hello

Window seat dining in the Seven Seas Restaurant (Jonathan). The Seven Seas Restaurant (one of the ship's main restaurants) serves three meals a day. Karen and I particularly enjoyed our meals here because of the friendly service and the delicious food. Posted by Hello

Day 3: Ketchikan, Alaska

Our first port of call was Ketchikan, AK. Posted by Hello

The Norwegian Sun docked at Ketchikan, Alaska. Posted by Hello

A tranquil scene at a busy port in Ketchikan, AK. (Three cruise ships were parked right next to where this was taken.) Posted by Hello

A view of Creek Street from the bridge. During the prohibition, smugglers would smuggle booze from Canada by canoe and deliver them to underground "pubs" via trapdoors underneath these houses. Posted by Hello

The "Creek" at Ketchikan, AK. Creek Street was known as the red-light district during the gold rush. Posted by Hello

Creative use of early century contraceptives made of silk. Dolly (who ran the local brothel in Ketchikan, AK) decided they were too valuable to throw away, so she washed them out and made flowers out of them.... (We were glad there was a "do not touch" sign outside the display...) Posted by Hello

Some streets are actually staircases in Ketchikan! Posted by Hello

The Norwegian Sun at berth in Ketchikan, AK. Posted by Hello

Jonathan poses outside of Ketchikan as we sail away. Posted by Hello

Two U.S. coast guard ships escort us out of port near Ketchikan, AK. Posted by Hello

Alaskan Ferries are called the "highway" of Alaska. Most cities and towns (at least in the panhandle) are not reachable by road. Posted by Hello

Beautiful Sunsets greet us as we sail for Juneau, AK. Posted by Hello

Day 4: Juneau, AK

Mendenhall Glacier Park in Juneau, AK. Posted by Hello

Mendenhall Glacier Park in Juneau, AK. Posted by Hello

Ice floats in Tracy Arm. Posted by Hello

An ice float "threatens" the ship. The captain cancels our cruise into the glacier itself because of excessive amounts of ice floats. Notice how this is just the "tip of the iceberg" - you can see the outline of much bigger chunk of ice just below the surface of the water. Posted by Hello

A tranquil scene in Tracy Arm near the Sawyer Glacier. Posted by Hello

Day 5: Skagway, AK

Skagway "Kate" and "Al" perform for get us into the gold-digging mood. Posted by Hello

Buckets on the gold dredge would dig up en masse the earth underneath lakes. Gold would be sifted out and the tailings of the dredge would spit out the other end. Posted by Hello

Buckets of the gold dredge. Posted by Hello

The output end of the Gold Dredge. Posted by Hello

Karen pans for gold at the Klondike Gold Dredge in Skagway, AK. Posted by Hello

A (rather scary looking!) wooden tressel along the White Pass & Yukon Route. Posted by Hello

The White Pass and Yukon Route took us up to the international border between Alaska, British Columbia, and the Yukon. Flags from left to right: USA, Alaska, British Columbia, Yukon, Canada. Posted by Hello

Karen poses in front of the White Pass and Yukon Route train in Skagway, AK. Posted by Hello

A 1920s street car (now used as a tour bus) stops in front of a modern day Starbucks coffee. Posted by Hello

The White Pass and Yukon Route in Skagway, AK. Posted by Hello

We took the White Pass and Yukon Route railway when we got to Skagway. This railway is quite a feat. It served as the backbone transportation route for Alaskan gold-diggers destined for the Yukon. It is one of the largest and steepest narrow-guage railroads ever built, and stretches from Skagway all the way into British Columbia and the Yukon. Today, it again serves as one of the main attractions of Skagway, thus making it the biggest revenue generator in Skagway. Karen poses here on the snow-clearing train. Posted by Hello

Karen poses in front of a building in Skagway, AK. Driftwood adorns the entire front face of this building. Posted by Hello

Brothels were popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s due to the disproportionate numbers of men present in Alaska. They were there looking for gold. Hrmm.

Nowadays, many of these brothels are now museums. $5 for 15 minutes ...just like in 1898. Posted by Hello

Alaska Cruiseship Services: a wonderfully odd place in Skagway amidst all the tourist shops. I was in need of offloading some of the pictures on my CF cards (they were getting full) onto CD. The photo shop on the ship wanted to charge me $14.95 per CD. I promptly decided to wait until we got to shore. But the photo place in Skagway wanted to charge $15.95! Alaska Cruiseship services offered cheap Voice over IP service and Internet/computer services to ships crew at dirt cheap prices. I managed to burn two CDs and use their computers for 45 minutes for the cheap price of $5.00. It pays to shop! :) Posted by Hello

Karen enjoying her time at Skagway, AK. Posted by Hello

A "postcard" picture of the Norwegian Sun taken at Skagway, AK. Posted by Hello

Our steward (Victor) and stewardess (Larissa) left us a beautiful swan on our bed made of towels! Posted by Hello

Day 6: Wrangell, AK

Wrangell, AK. Posted by Hello

A fishing vessel off the waters in Wrangell, AK. Posted by Hello

Petroglyphs in Wrangell, AK. Posted by Hello

At the Petroglyph beach in Wrangell, AK. Posted by Hello

The incredible view from Petroglyph beach in Wrangell, AK. Posted by Hello

Petroglyphs in Wrangell, AK. Posted by Hello

An abandoned fishing vessel in Wrangell, AK near the Petroglyph beach. Posted by Hello

Day 7: At Sea - heading back to Vancouver

A beautiful sunset in the inside passage as we sailed back from Alaska. Posted by Hello

A beautiful sunset in the inside passage as we sailed back from Alaska. Posted by Hello

Karen was waiting anxiously for the chocolic buffet... but of course was careful to not eat too much! We met a nice German tourist at this buffet where we got to practice our german. Posted by Hello

A bald eagle in ice! Posted by Hello

A bald eagle in chocolate Posted by Hello

The Norwegian Sun in the Carribean (chocolate style) Posted by Hello

Chocolate Norwegian Sun Posted by Hello

Early on in the trip, we had to do a lifeboat drill. The captain assures us that there are more than enough life boats for all the passengers on board. Crew members are subject to floating rubber zodiac boats though... Posted by Hello

Walking on the promenade deck was a favorite pass time. One mile is 3.5 rounds. Posted by Hello

Self portrait (Look in the left corner of the mirror) and fisheye view of the promenade deck Posted by Hello

The promenade deck of the Norwegian Sun. Posted by Hello

The Internet Café: Karen won a 100-minute plan here...although we really didn't have much use for it since we wanted to stay as far away from computers as we could on our vacation! Posted by Hello

A 360-panoramic view of our stateroom Posted by Hello

The bathroom in our stateroom Posted by Hello

The showers in our stateroom Posted by Hello

Self portrait in our stateroom Posted by Hello

Karen relaxes and reads on our stateroom couch Posted by Hello