aka Boring Ass Trip Report.
Well, to you maybe, as the reader, but to me....not so boring at all, I had a good time, not GREAT, but it was nice vacation.
Left for Vegas around 7 am, arriving early to get Cherissa on her plane to Grandma in Phoenix, and then to get us on the plane to Seattle around 12:30pm. I get through security the first time with her, no problem. Then, I get stopped the second time through (with Bill) and get 1 of my 3 lighters confiscated. NICE security.
Stress comes in now. We are boarded on the plane and they have been trying unsuccessfully for over 30 mins prior to the flight to get people to give up their seats as they were oversold and the weight of the passengers and the weight of the baggage in conjunction with the heat in Vegas that day would not allow the plane to take off. I debated about it with Bill as they were offering a first class upgrade and two free tickets anywhere, just to take the a later flight and arriving in Seattle around 8:30 pm instead of 3:30 pm.
However, due to the problem with my lack of birth certificate and the fact that we had already booked and scheduled the shuttle that would take us from Seattle to Vancouver at 5:30pm, it probably was not in our best interest, so we declined.
As apparantly, did everyone else, so the decision was made to take off 30 pieces of luggage and put them on the next flight, having them arrive at 5:00 pm. OF COURSE, we saw them unloading the luggage and sure enough...there goes 2 of our 4 pieces. Sigh. Bill was having a fit, I was too, but really, there was nothing we could do, so why get all stressed about it? We did get unlimited free drinks, I had 3 on board, he had 2 and the stewardess packed up 6 bottles to go to make it up to us. We were pretty buzzed when we landed.
So, after landing in Seattle, we wait anxiously for our luggage, hoping it would arrive before we had to RUN across the airport to where the shuttle was to pick us up. Bill went early to hold the driver, but at 5:25 pm I had to run to the shuttle with no luggage and just pray that they would deliver it to us that the hotel in Vancouver that night since we were boarding the ship at 11am the next AM.
I get to where the shuttle is, and of course, he's not there. I call the shuttle company, and he's late due to traffic. OK, cool, no problem, I tell her that I'm going to go back to try and get my luggage and could she get the driver to wait in case he pulls up right away. She said NOPE, he leaves once everyone is on board, which of course, pissed me off. So I sit there fuming for another 10 minutes and at 5:45pm decide that I am going to go run and see if the luggage is there, because I can just visualize it going around and around on the conveyor belt. I make Bill promise to make the driver wait, saying I was in the bathroom and I RAN across the airport.
Sure enough, the 2 remaining pieces were there, and I had to run dragging two huge suitcases across the airport again. I made it though. I was out of breath and sweating (aka out of shape) but I made it! The shuttle arrived a good 15 minutes later. LOL.
So, back to the birth certificate. I have been going back and forth with the taxi company and she tells me to just find out when we are 1 hour from the border and she will send the driver then. I tell the shuttle driver and he is so nice and trying to be so helpful, that he says, Forget the taxi, I'll get the other shuttle to pick it up, drop it off where we're going to be and you'll be good to go and won't have to pay the taxi. Sounds good, right?
Nope. Turns out the taxi company was pissed off at the shuttle company for stepping on it's toes, that they called the hotel and forbade them to give my package to the shuttle company, they bowed out gracefully and the taxi was back on.
Next, of course, we got stuck on the bridge...well, the bridge got stuck on us and we were stopped for about 45 minutes while they tried to fix the bridge to go back down after a boat had passed, this was in Seattle still. We finally got on our way and made it to the border without further mishap.
Then, I couldn't find the taxi driver, so our shuttle driver got on the phone with him and JUST as we were next to talk to customs, the driver comes running in waving my envelope, $105 later, I pulled out my birth certificate and we got through without incident. Well, Bill had to go through customs 3 times as he kept walking over the border and then back again, making him have to go through the BS every single time. It was almost comical now, looking back.
So we get to Vancouver, where our shuttle driver was kind enough to drop us off at our hotel door instead of the airport where we then would have had another 30 minutes shuttle drive, so that was much appreciated. We checked in, ate dinner at the restaraunt next door and decided to head out and check out the nightlife of Vancouver. Went way out of our way to a highly recommended bar where there was nothing going on, so we had one drink and then decided just to go back to the hotel and go back to bed.
Saturday 7/30/05 and Sunday 7/31/05
We catch the shuttle to the harbor without incident to the harbor, where we proceed to go through check in, customs, etc and finally we're on the ship! (I found out later by my father in law that it is very bad form to call the cruise ship a "boat" as it is, indeed, a "ship". Whatever. LOL)
We leave dock around 5:30-6:00 PM and unfortunatly, the in-laws planned on dinner being at 5:45 every night so we were unable to see the ship leave the dock , which was a bummer as we really, really wanted to see it. We spent the rest of the evening and the next day at sea, not reaching our first port until Monday. Not much to report, although I had fun a few nights of the cruise dancing and kareoking (sp?) but for the most part, I was bummed about the entertainment on board. There only seemed to be one nightclub and they changed the variety of music every night, so I only got to really go dancing 2 nights of the cruise, which pissed me off as I wanted to club every night!!
Our first port of call was Ketchikan, lovely little town. Our first stop, 7:50am, was an excursion that I had planned titled: "Raptors and Native American Storytelling" I thought Bill would enjoy this and I was right! Turns out, not a single excursion I planned was "wrong". We enjoyed them all and found them all to be very educational if not entertaining. On this excursion, we got to learn about the salmon hatcheries of Alaska and heard some stories from a beautiful native alaskan who was dressed in her tribe's finery. Saw a bunch of injured, recovering raptors, including 3 bald eagles, an owl, some other types of birds, etc. etc. Fun time.
We then went shopping! Bill lasted pretty long, I must admit, and we headed back to the ship around 3pm, exhausted.
This stop had us doing a 7:50am "Gold Panning" excursion, where we were able to actually pan for gold and Bill got a big kick out of this one. We ended up with 3 vials of gold flakes which we are combining into one to give to Cherissa.
We then went shopping, again, although Bill was starting to feel a little commercialized as the shops were pretty much the same as the shops in Ketchikan. So, he left me to my own and I found a few things that I would have bought if he was with me, but knew that I couldn't without his permission. This beautiful, gorgeous, I absolutely had to have it, black sheer rex fur stole. 3 stores later I found a beautiful, gorgeous, I absolutely had to have it if I can't have the fur stole, black cashmere with fox fur trim cape for 1/2 the price of the stole. Well, to make a long story short, I couldn't convince Bill to come back to shore with me so I had to wave bye bye to them from the ship as we left.
However, we didn't leave until we went on our 2nd excursion, the Evening Whale Quest. We were guaranteed to see whales, or our money back. Well, whales we saw. In fact, we were able to see the rare eating custom of the humpback whales when eating in groups. There were 4 of them, and they form a circle blowing bubbles up and trapping fish in the center of the bubbles, then taking turns coming up to the surface with their mouths wide open to gobble up all the fish. We were able to hear them with the underwater microphone and the sounds were absolutely fantastic. Apparantly, they (the crew) hadn't heard a recording quite that good in several years as two of the crew actually cried tears, it was that awesome. This was, by far, our most favorite outing. I have fantastic pictures, will try to post them and more later.
What a FUN little town, the locals (all 800 of them) like to dress in the 1898 regalia and we took a very cool Original Streetcar Tour of the city. Our driver instantly reminded me of ME. She was very outgoing, vivacious, red hair, dimples, acting up a storm. She was my kindred spirit, and it was kind of weird watching her throughout the tour. Bill thought she was sexy. LOL.
We then ate breakfast in town, great homecooking and it got us away from the cruise food. We were severly disappointed in the quality of the food on board. It was not at all what we imagined and I think that we may have built up cruises to be more then what they acutally are, in our minds. We did book another cruise for next year, our 5th wedding anniversary, however, I am going to be contacting Carnival Cruise Lines (We were on Princess) to see if they will match or beat prices and then try the different cruise line to see if there is a difference or if all cruises are the same.
Did a little shopping next, although I will admit that even I was a little shopped out (hard to believe, I know!!) and then we went on our last excursion titled the "Dangerous Days of '98" It was little play that gave us the history of the town, and I must say this little town had a lot more history in it then the other towns, I found this stop to be my favorite. Very colorful, to say the least. They still have brothels! (Um, just not open of course, LOL)
Thursday 8/4/05 and Friday 8/5/05
Both of these days were spent on the ship, at sea, going through Glacier Bay and then through another area, which for the life of me, I can't think of and am too damn lazy to look up, but if I remember it, I'll edit. Anyways, the Glacier Bay was suppose to show us 6-10 glaciers, but it was so overcast and cold that we just stayed in the room for much of the day and saw 2, I believe.
The next day was where we saw the 2nd phenomenal sighting for us. Calving. Calving (sp?) is what they call it when parts of the glaciers fall off and dump into the ocean. We were probably 600 feet away from the glacier, and the noise, "White Thunder" they called it, was so fantastic, it was hard to believe that a little bit of ice could cause that much noise. Of course, it only looked like a little due to the distance, but it was a fantastic sight. At one point, an entire section came down and it was so huge and monsterous that everyone who was hanging out on their balaconies or on the decks were cheering and shouting approval, it was an awesome, awesome sight.
Saturday 8/6/05 and Sunday 8/7/05
We debarked at a small town called Whittier, so small in fact, that we had to take a train 2 hours south to Anchorage to pick up our rental car to drive back 2 1/2 hours north to the town of Seward. Bill and I had gotten our own car, seperate from the rest of the family, so we headed straight to Seward and got there around 2pm. We checked into our Bed and Breakfast. A JOKE. The view was great, sure, but Bed and Breakfast's are not suppose to look like hotels, the owner should be there to greet us, and we should not be served a continental breakfast. I strongly discourage anyone from staying at Alaskan Seawater Lodge if you ever happen to be in Seward.
We left for town, where we had an absolute fabulous meal. Then did a little bit more shopping where I got a fantastic pair of hand carved, hand painted copper earrings that went splendidly well with a new shawl that Bill bought for me there. Love them, and of course, they looked great on me. Ha ha ha.
Family met up with us around 5pm and that was when the real problems started as the rooms were all messed up, as far as reservations, and next thing we knew, we were being bumped from our ocean view room to a room that overlooked a clothesline. Sigh. What can you do? Family arguments happen, especially when your together for the amount of time that we were, but we all made up around 7pm in time for dinner and a few drinks. Turns out they don't know how to make Mai Tai's in Alaska, but the calamari was divine and the drink still had alcohol in it, so I can't really complain, right??
We ended up in bed around midnight, which was weird to us, because we were exhausted around 9pm, but due to the sun still shining, felt odd going to bed. Turns out, the sun didn't set until about 10pm and the last light was gone around midnight, so we finally went to bed after a walk on the shoreline.
Sunday we had agreed to go to on a day long Wildlife Boat Trip and it was ALL DAY LONG. I took a Dramamine and that with the combination of the lulling of the boat had me dozing almost all day long, barely waking up to see the bald eagles, otters, whales, birds of all types, glaciers, etc. Nice trip, but WAY too long. We did not get seasick at all on the trip, although this part of the trip is when we finally experienced sea legs and couldn't understand why our room wouldn't quit rocking. LOL.
There was one bad day on the boat, Thursday night, after Glacier Bay where the ship was rocking like crazy, in fact, Bill was not feeling well at all and he went to bed early, although I was able to stay up and audition for the Princess Idol contest. Yours truly lost when she sang a smashing Peggy Lee's "Fever" against a bubbly, cute, yet STUPID rendition of "Grease Lighting". But I'm not BITTER or anything. (However, I will mention that she hardly even knew the words and kept laughing during the "performance". Bitch.) LOL.
We woke up around 10am and headed off to Anchorage, catching our flight at 2:30pm. We had a 2 hour stop over in San Francisco, then proceeded to Vegas, arriving around midnight. We then drove home, arriving around 3 am. I started doing laundry while checking my email and then woke up Tuesday (today) around 9am and have been working nonstop catching up on work, but not even getting closed to being caught up, and only stopping to take a break to type up this report.
I told everyone I would be back 8/10, as I knew I would need this day to get at least "a little bit" caught up, but the rush and the work starts again tomorrow. Not looking forward to it at all, and have been feeling torn and stressed as to whether I really should have gone on this trip. Not hard to say No, when the cruise was a gift, but still, I have never been gone this long from my business, all in one stretch, and I can see why. Linda, my manager, did a great job handling fires and keeping up, but I still feel guilty and I feel like I missed a lot that I should have been here doing. Ahhh...the hazards of being a small business owner.
All in all, the trip rates an 8 on the scale of 10, and although I would recommend Alaska and cruising, just don't build it up to be something in your mind that it really isn't. Add the in-laws being with us for the full trip, the stress of returning to work, and the length of the trip, then it would make the trip a 7, maybe even a 6. Both Bill and I were ready to come home last Thursday. So take it what it's worth. We did have a good time though, don't get me wrong, but I was also cold ALL the time and I would so much have preferred Hawaii or the Virgin Islands. Next year, Mexico Riviera Baby!!!
On another note, Cherissa left port yesterday with my Mom, Grandma, for her little 5 day Mexico cruise. A surprise from Grandma for her 13th birthday that is just around the corner. Spoke with her today, and she is having the time of her life! She has already made friends, joined the little teen club they have for her age division and was able to go "clubbing" last night on the ship. Yeah, she's loving life and will be full of stories once she returns home!
Thanks for reading, will catch up on work soon and then be back to POKER, eventually!