1. When the boarding information for our Alaskan cruise said they start boarding at 1:00 for a 4:00 departure, what they really meant was 10:00. Because I’m pathological about being on time for things (yes, I’m terrified of being late for something like this and not getting on the boat) and also because we had no real plans for what to do for one morning in Seattle (it’s kind of hard to do anything anyway when you’re lugging around to big pieces of luggage), we agreed to get breakfast and then head over to the dock where our ship awaited us. Maybe there would be opportunities for a walk around the dock area. There wasn’t, but what there was were a whole lot of people already getting on the ship. So, that’s what we did too.
2. It seems that most Americans going on cruises are from the Midwest and the South. This picture was taken shortly after the ship started out to sea. The mountain is Mt. Rainier. Right after I took the picture we met our first boat people. A couple from Wichita, Kansas. Mark and Kathy. We discussed the photograph and how I was trying to take a picture of the mountain and a sailboat started to cross in the foreground and then another and I waited until they were just right. And there you go. We met only one other person from California, but several people from Kansas, quite a few from Texas and more from North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Montana. So, yes, based on my unscientific sample — it appears those who live in the West and the Northeast don’t go on cruises.
3. My eating habits have changed. I’ve never been a gorger when it comes to mealtime. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like Thanksgiving — because it seems the primary point is to see just how much food one can eat in one day. At the same time, however, I have always wanted a full meal when I sit down, particularly for dinner. I remember going to a local fine dining establishment a number of years ago. Queen Midget was with me. It may have been for an anniversary or some other celebration. It was the two of us. We ordered dinner and when we were done I commented that we needed to go somewhere else so I could have dinner. It’s not a good sign when you’re still hungry after eating what is supposed to be a complete meal.
On the cruise ship there were several eating options. We basically split our time between the fine dining room and the buffet. The first night we went to the dining room and each ordered an appetizer and a main dish. The Queen ordered a scallop appetizer. The plate arrived with a grand total of 1 1/2 scallops. I say 1/2 because one was pretty small, even for a scallop. I don’t remember what I ordered, but I remember us discussing the small servings of food we got. It didn’t really bother me. We ate lightly and it wasn’t a bad thing. It seems that I generally ate lightly the whole time. I went on a cruise and lost two pounds.
4. Fog and clouds can ruin any opportunity for truly stunning photographs. From when we hit the sea Sunday evening until our Friday morning stop in Ketchikan, we never saw the sun. It was clouds and fog and mist and drizzle day after day. Which meant my picture-taking suffered. Our first stop was Juneau. We took a shuttle to the Mendenhall Glacier and walked about for a couple of hours.
Here’s the glacier. The waterfall to the right is Nugget Falls. I think of what this picture could have looked like with sunlight and blue sky and I can’t help but be disappointed.
5. Global warming is a real thing. Whether it is caused by human beings is a whole other matter. While we walked along the trail that took us to the glacier, we came across a group who were listening to a young man talk about the glacier. A local resident he described how the waterfall flowed into the glacier when he was a kid. The guy talking was only in his 20s. So, in 20 years, the glacier has receded quite a bit. Aha!! Global warming is a man-made tragedy in the making!!!
Well, maybe not. The glacier (as have others) has been receding for more than 300 years. In front of the glacier you see Mendenhall Lake. Before the glacier started receding, Mendenhall Lake didn’t exist because the entire area was covered by the glacier. The reality is that global warming may just be a part of Earth’s natural cycles. There was an ice age thousands of years ago when ice blanketed much of the Northern Hemisphere. It all melted. Was that caused by human activity? Ummm. No. There was a mini ice age a couple of thousands of years ago. Apparently, the glaciers are now receding. Yes, maybe human activity is speeding the process along, but I wonder if Earth won’t adjust itself and reverse this process all on its own. Whether humans survive that adjustment is another matter.
6. Glaciers are truly remarkable. The next day we cruised to Hubbard Glacier. I can’t describe for you how mammoth this was. All I can do is provide a picture.
OK. Another picture.
7. I’m not a fan of cruises as being a means to see the world. Monday was spent entirely at sea. Tuesday was Juneau, where we got a grand total of seven hours of exploration time. Wednesday was entirely at sea and cruising the Hubbard Glacier. And then Thursday began a whirlwind of stops. Seven hours in Sitka on Thursday, five hours in Ketchikan on Friday, and five hours in Victoria on Saturday night. Those last two, in particular bothered me — basically, barely enough time to get off the boat, get a meal, and walk around for a few minutes before being herded back onto the ship. Each of our stops were places I would have loved to spend a day or two or three exploring. Sitka and Ketchikan in particular — small towns perched on the edge of the sea, surrounded by mountains, with all sorts of opportunities to go exploring. But, yeah, not gonna happen. See above about my pathological need to be on time, if not early. When the alternative is not making it back on board in time and being stranded … well, you know what means. If we have to be back on board by 7:30, we’re headed back a whole lot earlier. Which cuts the narrow window of time down even further.
So, here are a few pictures.
This is Sitka, a bald eagle at the Sitka Raptor Center…
The Raptor Center rehabilitates injured raptors and then releases them back to the wild if they are able. The bald eagle in the picture was too injured to be released, so it has lived at the center for the last twelve years or so.
One of the things we didn’t do is go on some of the more adventurous on-shore excursions. As a result, we didn’t get too far afield and didn’t see much in the way of wildlife. In Ketchikan, I went on the prowl for bald eagles. I found some, perched on a light pole in a parking lot. If that doesn’t scream nature, I don’t know what does. I camped out. I waited. I have no idea what this eagle’s name is.
More Ketchikan, when the sun and blue sky finally made an appearance…
And with clear skies that evening as we sailed on towards Victoria, I got my first and only sunset…
Here are a few more reasons I’m not a big fan of cruises. Everything is scheduled and it gets a little tiresome, particularly since there are virtually no clocks anywhere on the ship and when you’re at sea and visiting a place like Alaska, unless you pay an arm and a leg, your cell phone isn’t really a working bit of technology. But, ultimately, I don’t want to explore the world based on somebody else’s schedule. I want to do it my own way. My hope is that at some point in the coming years, I’ll make it back to Sitka and Ketchikan and spend a few days exploring each place, and maybe a few others in Alaska.
Here’s one reason I like a cruise ship. Week-long blackjack!!!!
8. And one final lesson. If the wait staff at The Docks, a restaurant in Victoria, is any indication, the most beautiful women in the world are Canadian. (Trent Lewin — if you got this far, why didn’t you tell me this?!?!)