Saturday, July 29, 2017

Alaska - Day 9, Victoria BC Canada

Monday, September 29

Weather - Low 60's
Overcast and Balmy

We were only scheduled for a half-day in Victoria, one of my favorite places. So much to do and see, and so pretty! Unfortunately, the day didn't start out as I'd hoped. Traveling with someone who has cognitive issues isn't the easiest thing in the world. In fact, it's an adventure, and not always in a good way. Some people think I'm crazy. For the whole story about what transpired on the ship that nerve-making morning, please see The Alzheimer's Diaries ("I Only Lost Him Once").

And now for the fun part of the day:

Autumn colour
Photo by Chris Hampton
All rights reserved
Having gone through most of the morning being reunited with my husband, it was too late in the day for any thought of an excursion, so we walked from the cruise dock to downtown Victoria. It's a half-hour walk at the most through a very pleasant neighborhood (There's transportation available if that's too far for you). The trees were changing color, the leaves were dropping, and I was enjoying the crunch of the dried ones under my feet as I sauntered along. There were lots of flowers about, the grass was very green, the homes well cared for. I was able to relax a bit.

Parliament Buildings
Photo by Chris Hampton
All rights reserved
As can be expected, it rained off and on as we did our walkabout of the harbor, the Parliament Buildings (no time to visit), the Empress Hotel (dashed in to buy their amazing tea), and the totem pole garden in Thunderbird Park next to the Royal British Columbia Museum. Unfortunately, we just didn't have time (see first paragraph) do go through the museum, which is what I'd planned to do that day. It's really worth a visit and was great fun the last time I was there. Oh, well. Maybe next time.

Thunderbird Park
Photo by Chris Hampton
All rights reserved
We ran into some friends from the ship, Mark and Judy, at the harbor (okay, okay...harbour), and they were having a great day. It's easy to have a great day in Victoria! Usually.

We managed to make it back to the ship about a half-hour before sailaway, having turned on the after-burners on the return walk. The minute hand on my watch was not our friend as we hustled along, having spent too much time sauntering in Beacon Hill Park. It's just so hard not to try to get every minute out of that beautiful place.  It's so...Canadian. And British at the same time.

On board, we had lunch -- yes, we did all this before lunch -- and then had a nice, long soak in the hot tub at the Sanctuary. It was just the thing after all the walking.

Quail & Venison Terrine
Photo by Chris Hampton
Nona and Phil joined us to for the Chef's Dinner in the dining room, and here's what the hubster and I ate:  His appetizer was quail and venison terrine, and mine was twice-baked goat-cheese souffle. Then, we both had gnocchi in Provencale tomato sauce. A little intermezzo of strawberry sorbet to clear our palates was followed by seared diver scallops in three-citrus sauce. And for dessert, by now you know him well enough to know he had the creme brulee. I had some pineapple-orange sherbet. There's only so much rich food this girl can take. I know this is a disappointment to you.

The performer in the theater was vocal impressionist Michael Wilson. He was marvelous, and I especially enjoyed his Louis Armstrong. Following that performance, we went to Liar's Club, where we were bamboozled by the cruise director's staff. Where do they come up with the words to use for the definition? I hadn't heard a single one before, which is actually the idea, I guess.

Just one more full day of this cruise...boooooooo!

Lovely, lush plantings. See the whale topiary in the background?
Photo by Chris Hampton


Monday, May 2, 2016

Alaska - Day 8, Sea of Alaska

Sunday, September 28

Weather:  Mid 50's
Wind, rain

The seas were a little perky last night, with swells 2.5 to 4 meters and 70 MPH winds. We were rocked to sleep!
Water above, water below.
Sea of Alaska

At 9 a.m., we went to the church service, which was surprisingly good and also well attended. Colin, the deputy cruise director from Scotland, did a great job on the message. The moral of the parable he told about three trees whose dreams came true in unexpected ways after they'd suffered disappointment really hit home. Things don't always happen the way we hope and plan; however, if we trust in God and place our hope in Him, it'll all work out according to His plan. That is my sincere hope.
Waves. More waves.
Sea of Alaska

After lunch, we had planned to watch the 49'ers game (American football) on the big, open-air screen topside. But the weather was inclement, so we returned to our room to catch the game on the television there. Harry took a long nap -- the whole game! -- while I wrote out postcards. I love quiet, sea-day afternoons. Restful. Unscheduled. Relaxing.
Looking happy!

It was the second formal night of the cruise, and we had our portrait taken. I like to do this once or twice each cruise, just in case the photo turns out to be not too disappointing. If you have enough of them taken, one of them is bound to meet expectations, eh?
Mark and Judy
Jeff and Lorene
Nona and Phil

Formal night is fun around the dinner table, with everybody looking absolutely fabulous. We all made a good effort! Conversation centered around the rough seas and high winds that had mostly subsided, quiet activities enjoyed at leisure that afternoon, and what we were going to try from the menu. It was the relaxed conversation of relative strangers who had become comfortable enough with each other to think of themselves as friends.
Harry's appetizer. Pretty. And yummy!

Here's what we ate:  Harry had a cold appetizer, shrimp and scallop pate. I had the escargots with garlic butter. Yum! We both had a Caesar salad. The chilled soup was creamed goat cheese with honey and yogurt. Light and delicate, it was absolutely delicious. And we weren't finished yet! Next came our entree, jumbo shrimp and lobster tail with asparagus and rice. For dessert, he had (wait for it) creme brulee, and I had floating islands (meringue) on vanilla custard.
Having fun with hand selfies,
waiting for the show.

The show was an Elton John tribute by Jeffrey Allen, and then we went to "Star's Got Talent," a passenger talent show. Just like in karaoke, which followed, some "got it," and some "not so much." But kudos must be given to all of them for getting up there in front of everyone!

Tomorrow morning, we'll be in Victoria. It's been a while since we've been there, and I'm looking forward to some sight-seeing!


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Alaska - Day 7, Dawes Glacier (Endicott Arm)

Saturday, September 27

Weather:  COLD (low to mid '40sF)
Drizzle, some rain

Entering Endicott Arm
Around 7 a.m., there was an announcement that instead of the Tracy Arm, the ship would be allowed to sail up the Endicott Arm for only the second time all summer. Ours would be the only cruise ship (or any other kind of ship, for that matter) there.

So we got ready quickly and went upstairs for some breakfast as we made our way into the narrower and narrower fjord. Happily, the water is very deep! The view from our balcony was pretty spectacular, but we went up top to join hundreds of enthusiastic, taller-than-I people for a more panoramic view. Come on, people. Let the short people see!


Intriguing icebergs!
Lots of little icebergs were going by, so we heard we might see some calving of the glacier. 
And the glacier! So blue! So incredibly blue! I've seen quite a few glaciers in various shades from gray to pale blue. But Dawes Glacier! Breathtaking! A deep, bright blue. Absolutely beautiful. It was blowing a gale, cold, and drizzling up on deck. I had a hard time holding my camera steady for photos. I hoped they would turn out well, but it didn't matter. The images are indelibly etched in my mind and will stay with me. 


Dawes Glacier
We were very close to the glacier, and it indeed calved right in front of us, four times! What a sight and sound. The ice creaks and cracks, and then...crash! Splash! Giant ice cubes plop with a roar into the frigid waters, creating a wave that we felt strongly as it reached the ship. 

Breezy and wet!
And then the captain turned the ship. How, I don't know. I guess I had assumed we would back out of there or something. It looked as though the back of the ship was going to scrape the granite wall of the cliff's edge as it came around. The distance must have been greater than it appeared...right?


Enjoying some cocoa on the wet deck.
We warmed up with the hot chocolate that was being provided on deck and continued to watch on the huge movie screen, which had been displaying the entire spectacle. As we stood with our second cup, looking up, a bald eagle swooped down and buzzed the deck right above our heads. It took our breath away. Just...wow!

We returned to our room and sat on the balcony, watching the untouched and wild fjord passing by as we made our way back out to sea. Waterfalls. Misty Mountains. Amazing. Gorgeous. Spell-bindingly spectacular. A bit of meadowy shoreline appeared, and I hoped to see a bear. But no. Not this time. Not even with the binoculars.


Seals, just hanging out.
It was so cold out there. Bring layers. Bring your waterproof parka shell. Bring your packable down coat or jacket. Bring your gloves, scarf, and hat. But if you forget all of that, no worries. You can purchase it on board with the ship's logo on it, and pretty affordably, too.

The weather is very much like camping at Glacier Park or the Canadian Rockies. But the on board experience is pretty far from camping in the woods. Unless you eat only at the buffet, which I don't recommend because the dining room experience is fabulous, you'll also need "smart casual" clothes and "excursion" clothes and "formal night" clothes. This is why people used to travel with trunks.

There was lots more of the day to go, and more ship movement was expected as we neared waters that were open to the ocean. A storm was about, and we were to feel its effects. Thus far, though, we'd been sheltered on glassy, smooth waters.


Lots of water and blue ice!
As I made a quick diary entry, some dolphins and an Orca whale went by. My day was complete, and it was only 12:30. Two or three more dolphin pods passed as we ate our lunch with a couple of lovely ladies from Aptos. You meet the nicest people on cruise ships. Of course, there are also those who elbow their way past you to block your view and hog the rail so you can't see if you're short. But I digress. 

Mark and Judy went to a specialty restaurant tonight, so there were six of us at the table for dinner. It was Italian night, which reminded me of my mother. I told stories about her cooking, my favorite dishes, and so on. We talked about Italian food and restaurants and the importance of family. And we lifted our glasses of Chianti in a toast to Mom. She would have liked that.


Yummy!
Here's what we ate:  The hubby had an appetizer of marinated seafood, while I enjoyed prosciutto and melon. We couldn't decide which soup to have, so we tried the minestrone along with something cold called "Peach Bellini." Come on. You know you would have tried it, too. His entree was scallops topped with mashed potatoes and placed under the broiler to brown. I had veal scaloppini, which was served with mashed potatoes, green beans, and mushrooms. Delicious! For dessert, he had "Cassata ala Ceciliana" (three layers of ice cream and candied fruit served as a pie slice), and I had the excellent Tiramisu.

The show tonight was a song and dance production, "Destination Anywhere." It was a celebration of travel to exotic destinations. The dancers were really good. The singers were good, too, but the dancers were amazing.

At the Vista Lounge, it was country-western night. We played trivia and watched some line dancing. 

As we entered Gulf of Alaska waters, the ship started to slip and slide a little. We were going faster, of course, but the seas were also "moderate," with 5 - 7.5 foot swells. At least, that was the last report I'd heard. But, by bedtime, it sure was feeling bumpier than it had earlier. No worries. It was a stellar day!

I thought about my mother a lot today. She loved to sail across the Atlantic. The sea days especially bring her to mind. I thought of how she always picked a particular lounge chair on the deck and tipped the steward to save it for her, bring her coffee, and provide a blanket. I remember he (they were all men in those days) always did that for her. When she appeared, her chair was always prepared and ready for her. It makes me smile to remember these things. You're awesome, Mom.

Super bummed that my calving video was "too big" to post. You would have loved it! But you can check YouTube and see some others!




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Alaska - Day 6, Skagway & Yukon Territory

Friday, September 26

Weather: High in the low 40'sF
Cold. Partly cloudy, rain, drizzle, partial sunshine, and snow in the mountains.

Arriving in Skagway, Alaska
We sailed into Skagway early in the morning, and it was just as I had envisioned! It looked and felt like the Alaska I imagined. Skagway has a normal population of under 1,000, so it isn't large, and it maintains (on purpose, I'm sure) a frontier atmosphere. There are three streets, or at least that's how it seems. Don't expect huge department stores and 20-story resort hotels! I liked it. It reminded me of Cicely, Alaska (for you “Northern Exposure” fans out there). I am severely tempted to insert a smile emoticon. Someone stop me. Please.

Managed a shot of the train going over the trestle.
Looks a little shaky, but I guess it does the job.
Alaska.
A coach picked us up and delivered us to the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad station, which would have actually been just a nice walk's distance from the ship. No matter. The excursion we had chosen was a narrow-gauge railroad ride up the Chilkoot Trail to White Pass (the boundary between the United States and Canada) with a coach segment into the Yukon, the same route the gold miners took during the Klondike Gold Rush. I'm sure we all remember movies about the Mounties bringing the law to the Territories, wearing those amazing uniforms. So romantic! I've wanted to go to the Yukon since I was a wee girl with stars in her eyes, and I wasn't going to pass up this chance.

The view from the other side and
over the people.
Unfortunately, not knowing the difference, I sat on the right-hand side of the rail car. If you take the train ride from the station in Skagway, be sure to sit on the left. Unless, that is, you enjoy looking at rock walls instead of valleys and bridges and mountain tops and things.

Lots of water. Beautiful.
Alaska.
It was raining and cold, but lots of people braved the elements to stand out on the car's platforms, front and rear, in order to catch a view. The windows in the car started to fog up because it was so much colder outside than inside, and my camera battery died. My mood was, I will admit to you right here and now, souring somewhat.

My husband wasn't using his camera, so I tried to take a few shots from behind the last seat bench on the left, which actually was a great spot and afforded a nice view. Things have a tendency to work out just as they should. My mood improved considerably.

Snow! My joy was complete. Alaska.
And then, about half-way up to the Pass, the rain turned to slush. And the slush turned to snow! Score! I was surprised at the number of passengers aboard who had never seen snow falling, including a young lady from Los Angeles and a couple from Puerto Rico and the gentleman sitting opposite my vantage point. Naturally, I encouraged them to go out on the platform to experience first-hand the feel of the snow as it falls on your skin and the taste of it on your tongue, which they did. They came back inside wearing silly grins like little children. Everyone should experience this if at all possible. It's magical. 
The husband spotted some wildlife.
His joy was complete. Yukon.

In Fraser, British Columbia, we transferred from the train to the motorcoach, with a charming young man named Dave as our guide. He was funny and informative, chatting about the local geography, flora, fauna, people groups, politics, religion, and economics as we made our way to Carcross (Caribou Crossing), Yukon. There was no question asked that he could not answer. Impressive. I am taking the liberty of assuming that his responses were based in fact and not made of whole cloth, but it worked for me.

The Carcross Desert, Yukon
Seeing the topography and conditions the gold rush miners experienced, many of them to be driven to desperation as their dreams were dashed and their expectations were crushed, made me appreciate their efforts and sacrifices all the more. Granted, there was no doubt greed involved, and many made fortunes at the expense of the unfortunate. But the survival skills involved in braving the elements without the equipment and gear available today, to transport your goods and supplies on your back to your destination through multiple round-trips, to arrive safely and with your things, and to survive, well, that's almost unbelievable. I guess we need television shows like “Survivor” now to satisfy the wanderlust and thirst for adventure and testing that is present to some degree or other in the human spirit. To be a pioneer was not for the feint of heart, and it still isn't. It's a risk. And sometimes a high risk doesn't yield a high reward. But sometimes it does!

Miles and miles with nobody and nothing man made. Yukon.
Whitehorse, had we been driving on our own, would have been another hour up the highway. At 30,000 people, it's the biggest city in the Yukon. Dave said there are only 35,000 people in the whole Yukon. The Yukon is approximately the size of California. Imagine California with 35,000 people in it instead of 45,000,000. Sign me up! It was breathtaking to see such wide, open spaces filled with nothing but natural beauty. The fishing and hunting are said to be spectacular.

We crossed the border twice today.
Did I enjoy the excursion? Why, yes. Yes, I did. I would do it again. It fueled my thoughts and energized me. My imagination was fired up. I was ready for anything. I wanted to drive the Alaska-Canada Highway and have an adventure! And that's what an excursion is supposed to do for you.

Skagway, Alaska
Back in Skagway, we were greeted by lots of closed-for-the-season shops; half-empty, packing-up-for-Mexico shops; and snarky, chain-store shopkeepers telling us we were “supposed to be here yesterday.” Well, pardon me. I should have gone to the saloon! But I thought the town was very cute, and perhaps this is what's to be expected when you visit at the very end of the tourist season. Or, in this case, one day after it. No worries. I'm looking forward to visiting Skagway again.

Look, Denny. There's a marina!
Skagway, Alaska
Everyone was at the table for dinner. What a treat! Here's what we ate: My husband had the calamari appetizer, while I had lychee fruit with watermelon balls and candied ginger and mint. I liked it so well, I asked for another one. I shared that one with him, albeit somewhat reluctantly. For the soup course, he ordered the beef-vegetable, while I enjoyed a very tasty gazpacho. We both had Caesar salad. His entrée was Szechuan Shrimp, and mine was Beef Stroganoff. I was very pleased with the noodles, which weren't overcooked. For dessert, I had hot apple strudel with vanilla sauce, a la mode. And he had...yes, you guessed it. Joel and July, our wait team, are taking very good care of us.

After dinner, pianist Colin Salter entertained us in the Vista Lounge with “Ode to Billy Joel,” which was very good but too short. We made our way to the Princess Theater, where we were impressed by the antics and skill of comedy juggler Aaron Bonk. Then we played Majority Rules in the Explorer's Lounge. I'm pretty sure the winning team cheated (kidding).

And then we went back to the Vista Lounge for “Cruise Line Is It Anyway?” The cruise director's staff were featured as comedy players. The show started out all right, but soon it was falling all over itself in an attempt to be shocking. I am not a fan of shock comedy, so I was glad when the show was over. If you enjoy laughing uncomfortably at others instead of chuckling with them as they make spectacles of themselves, be my guest. I think I may have inadvertently piqued your interest?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Alaska - Day 5, Juneau & Mendenhall Glacier

Thursday, September 25

Weather: Mid 50'sF
Windy, drizzly, rainy. A gray day. The sun did try to break through the thick clouds today, but not very hard.

Arriving in Juneau
We had breakfast in our room this morning, since our bus was leaving so early. After a brief heart attack when my husband's room key went missing (you can't leave the ship without it) five minutes before we were to disembark, we located our tour bus and were on our way to Mendenhall Glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier
It looked just like in the pictures! Imagine that! And there was a spectacular waterfall next to it that was spraying mist all over. We did all the walking we had time for (two hours), going all the way to the falls and back, then visiting the visitor center (small, but very nice and quite informative). There's a map of the ice fields on the wall at the center. It's miles and miles with many glacier arms, and Mendenhall is just a tiny part of it. A small dot. I was impressed. Some of the glaciers are receding, but some are growing. I was heartened to learn that.

We thought it was surely a
decoy, until it ruffled its feathers!
We saw very few wildflowers on our walk, as it was too late in the season. There was some fall color, mainly the yellow variety, to make up for the shortage of flowers. Very pretty. We had hoped to see bears here, but no. Not this time. We did, however, see a couple of bald eagles. One of them was hitching a ride on a little iceberg that had broken away from the glacier. I don't know why I thought that was fascinating, but I did.

Here we are, close to the visitor center.
You can see it's quite a walk to that
waterfall, but it's paved, mostly flat,
and easy.
What a gorgeous spot it was. I became rather nostalgic for Glacier Park and Waterton Lakes and Banff and Jasper. I had hoped to go camping there this summer, but that didn't happen. I am wondering what camping would be like at this stage of the game, actually, with my husband's memory issues. Ah, well. I need to figure out how to best deal with the ever-changing situation. Keep calm and carry on, as they say.

The Red Dog Saloon. It was crowded!
After our tour, we returned to the ship for lunch, then walked downtown in the rain for a bit of shopping*, sightseeing, and a libation at the famous Red Dog Saloon, where we were treated to live music. 

Nice totem pole at the
Governor's Mansion.
We managed to find the Governor's Mansion, which is a very nice place with a small yard that's enclosed by a white picket fence. There's a small sign that reads, “Private garden. Please keep out.” It is a surprisingly unprivate house with quite open and rather inviting grounds. You almost get the impression that if you rang the doorbell, you'd be invited inside. Almost. The neighborhood seems like an ordinary sort of place where you'd feel perfectly comfortable taking your dog for a stroll. If your dog likes to walk in the rain, which mine doesn't.

Scenic Juneau, even in the rain.
Juneau, on the Gastineau Channel in the Alaskan panhandle, is the capital of Alaska. Our tour guide had mentioned that Juneau's State Capitol Building was voted 50th most beautiful in the whole country! For those of you not from the United States, please note that there are only 50 State Capitol Buildings in the United States. And I hate to say it; but, yes, it's very plain indeed.

The wind was blowing a gale as we returned to the ship in a drizzle. I'd begun to wonder why we'd brought our ski shells. Today, I figured it out! We stayed warm and dry with our layers on, and the gloves were most welcome against the chill wind, too.

I could have used this shot of the
welcome sign at the top, eh?
But I didn't. 
We attended a fascinating presentation on board in the afternoon. Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod (coming up on March 7 this year), spoke about the preparation, dedication, and mental toughness required to participate in the race. Wow. I have quite an imagination, but I can't even imagine giving that a try. And I am pretty well convinced that I don't have what it takes to be a frontier woman. At least, not any more. But she sure does!

Tonight's dinner: We both enjoyed the sea scallop ceviche. For our next course, I had celery and apple cider cream (cold) soup, and Harry had lamb broth with barley. For our main course, he had beef fajitas that he really liked. I had perfectly prepared grilled orange roughy on a bed of creamed leek with carrots and potato. Guess what we had for dessert?

The show this evening was a salute to Motown by the singers and dancers, “Motor City,” and it was very good. We had planned to go dancing for a bit, but we decided to turn in. We have another early day tomorrow in Skagway. We're going on a train ride to the Yukon!

*Shopping has been interesting so far, and the rescheduling of our itinerary has inconvenienced lots of people besides those on the ship. Yesterday, in Ketchikan, the shopkeepers were rushing to open up for us, since they weren't expecting us until later in the week. “You weren't supposed to be here yet.” Quite a few of the shops didn't bother, and more than one was attended by staff who had just rolled out of bed and were clearly suffering from whatever late-night activities they'd indulged in the night before. Today, in Juneau, we heard, “You were supposed to be here yesterday.” Would have been if I could, my friend! Lots of the shops had already packed up and stayed closed, which probably saved me and others a bunch of cash. So, thank you!

I love this shot of my husband making his way down the path.





Thursday, February 12, 2015

Alaska - Day 4, Ketchikan

Wednesday, September 24

Weather: High 50's
Misty, drizzly, sunny, rainy – You name it

Arriving in Ketchikan,
early in the misty morning.
I awoke as the ship was approaching Ketchikan, ahead of the alarm I had set. I was excited to be here, and I didn't want to waste a moment of this much-anticipated stop. I once worked with a young woman who was from Ketchikan and was very curious to experience what she'd described to me. The mist was hanging on and between the mountains. It was drizzling, but it was easy to see what a beautiful spot this is. The water was like glass, the mountains that I could see were thickly blanketed with trees. It was very green. 

You walk off the ship, and there you are.
It rains a lot in Ketchikan, and rain is such a welcome thing to me right now, as we are having a drought emergency in California. Wouldn't it be fabulous if a method could be found to ship this water back home? But not in little plastic bottles.

We stood on the little bridge
for quite a while, watching the
salmon make their way upstream.
I managed a shot of one as it
leapt out of the water.
Not bad for a point-and-shoot!
In Ketchikan, you get off the ship, and there you are. No need for taxis and such if you are just planning to hang around town, which we were. We did a walk-about today, taking photos of totem poles and the local sights for what seemed like hours. The streams were rushing and full of spawning (and dying) salmon. The smell was a little unfortunate, but that's nature. They spawn, then they die. Kinda sad, actually. The gulls were happy, though, and having a feeding frenzy.

Totem poles abound.
Down by Creek Street, where the “shady” ladies used to ply their trade (I am taking the liberty of assuming here that this no longer happens, but I could definitely be wrong about that), there were salmon carcasses and piles of roe everywhere on the banks of the creek.

We did some shopping, and all the standing and walking and waiting did my husband in a bit. I need to keep in mind that the illness causes disorientation and rapid mood swings. It really isn't helpful at all if I'm impatient or otherwise inattentive to his increasing needs. Mostly, though, it was fine. Especially in retrospect. While hours of shopping used to be a wonderful diversion for him, half an hour now seems interminable. Funny. Half an hour of shopping has felt that way to me for ages!

Where the shady ladies used to hang out. Shops now.
At least, that's the story...
We made our way back to the ship at noon to have lunch, after which we went down to the Piazza to have some more of those heavenly meringues. But there weren't any today! As crushing disappointments go, it was a relatively minor one. But, still. I was so looking forward to that burst of flavor.

As the ship was due to leave at 2 p.m. anyway, we decided to take a nap. Harry slept for over two hours, and then he was cranky because I didn't have an activity scheduled. Note to self: Schedule, schedule, schedule. You can always cancel, cancel, cancel!

When a town is built on a
mountainside, sometimes
the streets are actually just
stairs. First time seeing this!
We watched for whales from our balcony as we sailed away. The mountains were heavily shrouded in mist and obscured by rain. I was very much reminded of our trips to British Columbia. The scenery must be stunningly splendid when it isn't a dark, gray day, because it was lovely anyway.

Everyone came to dinner tonight, and we sang “Happy Birthday” to Mark. He's 21 now (cough, cough)! Judy was feeling much better and looked gorgeous. No wonder he likes her! They took a flying excursion to Misty Fjords, which they said was great.

Here's what we ate for dinner: We both had the tempura sushi, which was like a deep-fried California Roll and was served chilled. We both enjoyed the cream of garlic soup. And also the coconut soup with lychee, because who can decide? The good news is, you don't have to. You can have both. Huzzah! On to the entrée, which was roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, and potatoes. Delicious. And for dessert, see if you can guess what my husband had? Give up? Crème brulée. I had Drambuie soufflée with pear sauce. Divine. I know!

Look! The sun came out!
Tonight's show featured hypnotist Matthew Fallon. It was highly entertaining, and we ran into one of the participants later in the evening. Her husband and I were chatting (and chuckling) about some of the antics we'd witnessed. She had absolutely no idea what we were talking about. None. No memory of what had transpired at all, except just one part: She remembered feeling very hot (a hypnotic suggestion). I reassured her and told her that it was all in good fun, and she'd done nothing to be embarrassed about. Much.

The Adagio Strings (three violins and a cello) were playing in the Vista Lounge to a packed and appreciative house. These beautiful young women from Ukraine are spectacular musicians. The second heat of Princess Pop Star followed, and then it was time for bed.

Tomorrow morning, we'll be rising at 6:30 to allow plenty of time for waking up, getting ready, and eating breakfast. Our Juneau tour to Mendenhall Glacier had originally been scheduled at a leisurely 2:30 p.m., but the change in itinerary now means we have to be dockside by 7:50 a.m. My gratitude to the Longshoremen increases daily. But we're having a wonderful time in spite of it all. So far, Alaska is fabulous!

Downtown Ketchikan
By the way, Tom Sheridan has a website called "Tom's Port Guides." If you're going on a cruise, be sure to check it to see if the ports you're visiting are included. You won't be sorry. Friends have thanked me for suggesting his site. You will, too. Here's the one for Ketchikan. Take a look, and you can follow his map to see where we wandered today.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Alaska - Day 3, At Sea

Tuesday, September 23

Weather:  High 50's to low 60'sF
Drizzle, whitecaps, and waves

The ship makes waves.
So, I know you're wondering, was it a rough ride last night? No, it was not. That's the good part. The bad part is that, indeed, the ship couldn't make up the time lost in San Francisco. They just cannot speed along safely in higher seas. Safety first! The captain announced that we will have to switch our itinerary to Tracy Arm or else lose our stop in Juneau altogether. There's no point docking at 7 p.m. and leaving at 10 p.m. There wouldn't be time (or daylight) ashore, the tours would be canceled (no daylight), etc. 

Please pardon me, dear readers, for being excruciatingly disappointed. No Golden Gate Bridge at sunset. No Glacier Bay. Bah! It's a good thing we're having a great time on the ship, or I might be complaining severely and getting myself in trouble with the Longshoremen. But I'm not. I'm keeping you informed that, sometimes, things happen. You just have to roll with it. You're on vacation; enjoy yourself, no matter what.

My goodness! These delightful treats
are available 24x7. Yikes.
(Meringues, lower right...)
We got kind of a late breakfast start today (don't judge us for sleeping in on our vacation...), so we opted for a light lunch at the International Cafe in the Piazza. Wow! What a pleasant discovery that place is! The shrimp-fennel salad was outstanding, and the strawberry crème meringues? To die for. They are unbelievable. The lightest meringue (next to yours, Karene). The creamiest, strawberriest filling. My mouth is watering at the thought! I'll have to have more tomorrow. And this is why they have a gym on board.

As usual, we met some wonderful people today. If you don't want to meet other people, you don't have to. But one of the things we really enjoy on a cruise is meeting new people from other places.

Hanging out by the Piazza.
My husband made it all the way to this afternoon before complaining that we haven't been anywhere yet. Why, yes, we have! We've sailed up the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington. Tomorrow, we'll be in Ketchikan, Alaska. How is that not going anywhere?

Hanging out on the
Promenade Deck.
We sat outside on the Promenade Deck for a while and watched the waves after lunch. I love the sea air. It reminds me of my mother. She loved to sit on the Promenade Deck, wrapped in a blanket, reading a good book or napping. That was on the USS Homeric, a ship I last saw on Caribbean duty in the 70's. Personally, I could sit out on deck or on our balcony, reading or writing or napping, all day long.

There was a “Friends at Sea” meeting for veterans of the armed forces today, which we attended. There are a lot of people from California, especially the Bay Area, on the ship. It's almost like leaving home and taking your whole town with you. And we went to see “X-Men: Days of Future Past” in the theater. There's two hours I'll never get back, as they say, but Harry had a nice nap. Not exactly a rousing recommendation for the film, eh? But no offense meant if you thought it was fantastic. No need to send me a nastygram.

Entertainment pretty much
always available in the Piazza,
the lounges, on deck, at the
theater. If you are not
entertained, it's really your
own fault.
“Afternoon Trivia” was fun, and then it was time to get ready for dinner, where we enjoyed some good conversation as we got to know Phil and Nona better. Here's what we ate: We both had the Alaska King Crab legs as an appetizer. I had seafood-potato chowder, and Harry had Granny Smith/apple cider cream soup. It was cold and frothy, served in a cone-shaped glass, and it was delicious! We both had the same entrée, Surf & Turf! It was my favorite main dish so far, with huge shrimp, a perfectly prepared filet, asparagus, and potato wedges. For dessert, we both had crème brulée. Surprise! Our waiter, Joel, is making sure our preferred beverages are served to us automatically. This means that when we sit down, our drinks instantly appear. We like that. It's a nice touch that you can expect with a reserved dining time, where you will be at the same table with the same people and the same wait staff every evening.

Showtime was Rollin' Jay Moore again, the full set this time. Jay was hilarious. He knows how to broach dicey subjects without being gross or vulgar. Good job! I almost didn't make it to the restroom in time, I was laughing so hard. Laughter is good medicine, and I'm not laughing as much as I used to (in case you don't already know why, here a link to The Alzheimer's Diaries).

50's Night fun with the high-energy staff. They're awesome.
After the show, we went to “Rock 'n Roll Trivia,” then “50's Night” music and dancing. “Karaoke Power Hour” followed. Happily, most of the singers were really very good. But there was one truly awful one, and we all encouraged him. Or maybe we were all egging him on. In either case, he had fun, so did we, and what a blast his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend will have posting his performance on YouTube!


It's 12:30 a.m., and we're supposed to set our clocks back an hour tonight. Tomorrow will be a half-day stop in Ketchikan. It's supposed to rain. I hope it doesn't, but I'm prepared if it does.