Touring Seattle; "Set Sail for Alaska!"

It takes a long time to sort through the pictures, resize the ones I'm going to use, and make the slideshow, but finally! Here are some more pictures from my trip to Alaska.

This is day 2, which started with me touring the Space Needle and Science-Fiction Museum, and ended with me boarding the Norwegian Pearl and setting sail for Alaska.

Click on the picture above to open the slideshow page, then click the top left picture on that page to start the actual slideshow. Oh! And there are two pages, so when you finish the first, click the arrow > on the top right of the main page to go to the 2nd page.

There are 29 pictures in this group, so if a picture is worth a thousand words, I got really mouthy!!!

I got a postcard from Dallas today...

I don’t even know anyone in Dallas any more, and here I got a postcard. However, it was more a business thing, an appointment reminder from the corporate office for the Fibromyalgia & Fatigue Centers.

Apparently, all the reminders are sent from there, no matter which clinic location the appointment is for. I’m actually going to the center close to Atlanta, Georgia. My appointment is this coming Tuesday. I finally finished the final draft of he 24-page questionnaire today, so I got it finished with a little time to spare.

I’ve thought about doing this for some time, but just not sure it would be worth the time and money. I’m hoping they can at least alleviate some of the fibromyalgia pain, cutting down on the pain levels, which should make it easier to deal with the thoracic neuralgia chronic pain.

Too many doctors have told me they know exactly how to fix the problem, only to do nothing or they actually made it worse. So I’ve been reluctant to try again, but maybe

I’m afraid to hope.

Flying to Seattle

I finally got the first slide show made of.. duh! "Day 1 -Flying to Seattle". I have one version at the Rural Ramblings website, and just a little different version here (same pictures; different format that allows you to go at your own pace, and different captions on some). Just click on the picture of the plane wing below to fly to the slideshow!


Step by Step to Alaska and Back

Before I started on the trip to Alaska, I decided I’d wear a pedometer to see how many steps I took each day. I told Jess I figured running around through the airport would be the highest number of steps. As it turns out, I was wrong.

DATE --- LOCATION...................................# STEPS
15-Sep---Flying from Nashville to Seattle.................. 3,000
16-Sep---Touring Seattle; Boarding cruise ship........19,902
17-Sep---Cruising towards Juneau................................9,754
18-Sep---Whale Watching & Wildlife Quest.................7,789
19-Sep---White Pass Summit Train Excursion..........11,024
20-Sep---Cruising Glacier Bay......................................11,734
21-Sep---Ketchikan; Saxman Village tour.....................9,258
22-Sep---Cruising; bus tour of Victoria........................19,712
23-Sep---Seattle airport, fly to Nashville.......................6,758
----TOTAL NUMBER OF STEPS --------------- 98,931

(Which equals about 37 1/2 miles for me if you figure about 2' per step.)

As you can see, even with all the walking I had to do at the Seattle airport, the airport days were still less than any day aboard the ship. I’m not surprised Seattle topped the list with all the walking around the deck of the Space Needle, wandering around in the Science Fiction Museum, then walking from there to Pier 66 to board the ship.

The last day on the cruise ship was high because I was walking a lot going to different places getting us prepared and packed up to go home – returning an Ethernet cable to the Internet Café, picking up forms we needed, going to a disembarkation lecture, etc.

At any rate, you can see that just because you’re sailing along on a ship doesn’t mean you aren’t going to get your exercise!

Tagged, I'm it!!!

While I was wandering around in Alaska, a certain someone “tagged” me in a game of “Things You Don’t Know About Me.” I was rather busy at the time, so didn’t respond right away.

However, since the book I’d planned to buy during the time I thought I’d have while waiting on my flight from Seattle to Memphis didn’t materialize since I didn’t HAVE any time because it took so long to get through security (and you’re doing really well if you followed all that sentence!)… I didn’t have anything to read during that 4-hour flight. To pass the time I got out a pad of paper and a pencil, and one of the things I worked on was a list of things people might not know about me.

So, my dear C, here you go, “10 Things You Might Not Have Known About Tish.”

1) I get seasick. Hey, I didn’t know it either until I went on a BIG cruise ship.

2) While living in Wheeling, WV, I had an article published in a national skating magazine based on an interview I did with a guy who made custom skates for Wayne Gretsky and others.

3) I had my ears pierced while in 7th grade. My mother insisted a doctor do it. As he readied the needle, he uttered the famous last words, “Easiest thing I’ve had to do all day.” I promptly fainted when he pushed the needle through the first ear. (Have I mentioned I used to faint at the sight of needles and blood?) Shook the doctor up a bit, I guess, because he made a mess of the second ear and made the hole in it lower than the other and slanted.

4) One year during high school, I was a contestant in The Miss Pleasants County Pageant. Big surprise, but I didn’t win. (Ha!) The girl who won gave a little speech about her dream to be a doctor and help other people. Would you believe she never became a doctor?

5) I love fountain pens. The stationary and pen part of any book or department store call to me. It's a siren song I can't resist, and I always browse through the goodies there.

6) When I was kid, one of my favorite pastimes was to go hunting for fossils. Sometimes I hunted along the creek on our farm or in the shale behind the barn, and sometimes one of my best friends and I would go other places. Her mom was kind enough to chauffeur us around on our archeological digs.

7) I was a member of the White Shrine when living in Parkersburg, WV. My grandmother and one of my aunts were also members, and my grandfather was a Mason.

8) For many years I was a 4-H member (head, heart, hands & health!). Every year I did at least 2 projects, and one was always on photography. At camp, I was a member of the Seneca tribe.

9) I’m picky about my cinnamon. The stuff at stores is pretty tasteless. I order some of the good stuff from a store online.

10) And by the way C, I don’t wear my wedding rings either. Same reason. I was a lot smaller 13+ years ago. Our rings have a pattern, so enlarging it would be really noticeable.

So there you have it, 10 things you might not have known about Tish, and probably aren’t exactly dancing with excitement now that you do!

Any bloggers reading this who haven’t been tagged yet, guess what? Now, you’re it!

And you think YOU have a lot to clean!

We got into one port after a rainstorm. When we got off the gangplank, we saw these two guys busily at work, each with one relatively small rag, cleaning off the side. Wonder how long it would take them to clean the entire ship?

The Journey Home

Yesterday was tiring and hair-raising. I thought we’d made all the preparations the day before, but it turns out I was wrong.

When we headed for breakfast, we passed the Group Leader. She mentioned they were going to the reception desk to ask if they needed to fill out the customs form. I’d went to the disembarkation “lecture” and knew that they did, and told her so.

Dad and I went on up to breakfast. After we’d got our food and found a table, and I came back with our drinks, I hadn’t eaten more than a few bites until Dad asked what form the Group Leader was talking about, and did we need it?

Uh, yes, we did. I asked at least three times yesterday, “Do you have your passport, transfer voucher, e-ticket and custom form you’ll need tomorrow?” I was assured three times, yes, he did.

Obviously he didn't understand what I was talking about with the customs form, and it turned out he didn’t have it. He filled it out, but had no idea what he’d done with it. We left a half-finished breakfast and went back to see if he could find the form. He wasn’t having any luck, so I zipped down to the reception desk and got a new one, and we got it filled out.

I guess it was just as well we didn’t disembark with the first group as I’d originally planned. When I got hold of the group leader the day before and asked her where Dad could meet them, she said they were going in the “orange” group, which was the next to last group scheduled to leave the ship.

That made me nervous, but the instructions said everyone should be off the ship by 9:30am, so I figured that left an hour to get to the airport, and then two hours before my flight left, so it ought to work out okay. I'd orginially planned to go with one of the first groups off, but I knew I needed to get Dad situated with his group before leaving him.

Anyway, it ended up we had plenty of time to get a new customs form and get it filled out, and we went down near the gangway to wait our turn. When they finally called for people with orange tags, it was a madhouse. They filled two buses and had to call for a third while we stood around and waited and fretted.

Finally they got our luggage stowed on a bus and headed for the airport. When we got close, the driver informed us that he was dropping us off at a tent in a field at the end of the airport, and our luggage would be there, but while some people would be happy, there would be some of us quite unhappy. Apparently, only United and American Airlines paid the extra for this service. Dad’s group flew out on United, so they were all set.

However, for me it was a different story. I was flying on Northwest.

I told Dad goodbye, grabbed my luggage and started off at a brisk trot. The terminal was a good ways off. Worse, once I got there, I discovered the Northwest ticketing desks were at the far end. Oh man! I walked faster. I don’t know who thought of putting wheels on luggage, but bless them!!!

Of course, once I finally made it to the ticketing section for Northwest I had to wait in a long line for my turn at ticketing and getting my luggage tags. One woman was manning (woman-ing?) three stations, so it took a while but I wasn’t too worried. After that, I just needed to go through customs and find my gate.

I should have been worried.

Following the signs, I headed towards the security checkpoint. There was a sea of people in the thoroughfare. After a while, I saw a lady holding a big sign that said, “End of Line”, and realized this was a winding line of people trying to get through security and into the airport. Three cruise shops had come back to port that day, and there were LOTS of people trying to fly home.

I lost count of how many loops we made and how many times we walked back and forth in that hallway, but it took a long time to finally get up to security and work our way through. By the time I’d been checked out and had my shoes back on and ready to head for my gate, time was growing short.

Worse, my gate was at the opposite end of the terminal. I had to go down a couple sets of escalators, ride a tram, and walk clear to end of that section to find the right gate. I breathed a sigh of relief when I made it and saw the sign still up for the flight to Memphis. I immediately called Jess to tell him I’d made it, and had no sooner started talking when they called for boarding of first class passengers.

That was a little too close for comfort.

Fortunately, my connection in Memphis was more of a stop over. Most passengers got off, but a few of us were going on through to Nashville. I got off long enough to stretch my legs. Over 4 hours in the same little seat seems like a very long time. The stretch from Memphis to Nashville was short though, and I was finally on the ground back in Tennessee, and boy, was it great to see Jess! We headed off to pick up my luggage, find the car and head back to the farm.

It’s good to be home.

Homeward Bound!!!

We are all very tired and very ready to head home. We’d have been better off to head back to Seattle after we left Ketchikan. It was a long day of same old stuff, just waiting around to get to Victoria at 6pm. Our last shore excursion was a bus tour of Victoria, and I had trouble staying awake.

It’s time for home.

Several of Dad’s tour group have mentioned today that they are ready to head home. When I ran in to the group leader after a trip to return a cable to the Internet Café, she mentioned how glad she was I came along with Dad. They’d all been concerned with how he would do, and would have tried to look after him, but they all had their own buddies they were traveling with.

At any rate, tomorrow we have to be off the ship by 9:30am. My plane is supposed to depart at 12:30pm, go to Memphis, then on to Nashville about 8:30pm if I remember correctly.

Maybe one good thing about vacations is they make you appreciate home more.

And I’m ready for mine!

In all fairness, cruises have their good points…

I’ve mentioned a lot of the more negative things about cruises, but they aren’t all bad. There are some nice touches, and I think some important factors that will effect how much you enjoy the cruise is 1) who you’re with; 2) what kind of things you and your companion like to do, and 3) it really helps if you don’t get seasick.

Some of the nice touches I can think of:
* Room service – you can get a lot of stuff from room service, and most of it is on the “free” list.
* “Maid” service – actually I’m not sure what the correct term is. We have a team of a man and woman who come in twice a day and clean the room. They make the beds in the morning and put out fresh towels. In the evening they turn down your beds, check if you need any more towels, and generally straighten the place up.
* There’s a little safe in every room to put your valuables, which is handy to put passports, jewelry and such (like I have any expensive jewelry to put in there!).
* There’s a little fridge and coffee maker in every room. Just be aware, the down side is you pay for anything you use out of the fridge. Soft drinks and booze are NOT on the free list!
* There are several different restaurants and buffets that are on the free list with all kinds of different foods, and if you want something fancier, there are several with an additional cover charge.
* Handicap accessible. I’ve seen several people in wheelchairs.
* Friendly and helpful workers. It’s just some times they get totally swamped, so they don’t have a lot of time to spend on individuals.
* If you’re traveling with kids, they have babysitters for $5 an hour.
* Lots of window seats, which are nice for lounging in and watch the shoreline go by without braving the very cold elements (it is, after all, September in ALASKA!). Lots of deck chairs, and they do provide blankets since it’s been rather cold with a wicked wind.

There are lots of things to do, I just don’t happen to be that excited about most of them. I was positively thrilled today when we walked through the woods to get from one place to another during our tour! Give me the woods over shops, casinos and theaters any day!

But if you happen to like these things, here’s some of the stuff available:

* Pool with a big water slide and hot tubs
* Also - bowling alley, tennis, shuffleboard, ping pong and a rock climbing wall.
* Library (we did get a book from there)
* Card room, for people to play whatever kind of card games they enjoy.
* Casino
* Several shops on board, mostly jewelry, clothes & tourist stuff.
* Lectures – a lot on buying jewelry and what to look for, some on the cities we visited.
* Live bands playing at various times in various parts of the ship. These are enjoyable and really quite good.
* Bingo!
* Spas and beauty shops (not free)
* Fitness Center (parts of that not free either)
* Nightly entertainment of some sort – they’ve had a comedy team, The Second City, similar to Saturday Night Live; a magician; “Sea Legs – A Showgirl revue”; a talent show; and more.

There are many things to do. It’s all a matter of if they are things you like to do, and if your companion likes to do any of them.

To me, the ports of call are definitely the best part, with the exception of cruising through Glacier Bay. That was totally incredible. But I’m sure a lot of people would enjoy the activities available on the cruise ship.

Just one thing to keep in mind… do NOT think that once you’ve paid for your cruise, you won’t spend any more money. Your fare pays for your room and most food, but you’ll be amazed how many times you whip out that key card to charge something to your account!

Like everything else in life, a cruise is of various levels of enjoyment to people depending on what they like to do. If you don’t care that much for what’s available, you’re stuck on the ocean with a whole crowd of people. If you like the available activities, you’ll have a great time.

And it really, really helps if you don’t get seasick.

Mid-term Report Card for Alaska Cruise

Actually, we’re more than half way through now, but this is the first day I've had time to write much. Here’s my take on the trip so far…

Cruises aren’t all bad. They just aren’t the thrilling glide through paradise the travel agents and cruise lines would have you believe. I’m sure it makes a HUGE difference if you never get seasick.

Strangely enough, I wasn’t troubled by motion sickness while on the smaller boat, a catamaran, for the whale watching cruise. It seems like the motion on the big ship is worse, though it’s more subtle. You feel like the “ground” beneath your feet just isn’t quite steady and you’re a little out of kilter. On the catamaran, it’s noticeable and can be dismissed. ON the bigger ship, it’s sneaky and bothersome.

Anyway, here's my report:

Day 1) Seattle: A+
I wish I’d had more time there! The Space Needle and Science Fiction Museum were awesome, but I would also have loved to visited Pike Street Market and other interesting things in the area.

Day 2) Cruising towards Juneau: C-
Okay, disregarding the fact I was very sick, this was rather boring. Sea and sky lose their novelty after a while. I don’t like lectures on gems or shopping or gambling.

Day 3) More of the same: C-

Day 4) Juneau: A+
Our Whale Watching & Wildlife Quest was superb! And there were many, many more shore excursions that looked interesting and fun. (By the way, check out the Rural Ramblings site for pictures and story about our whale watching adventure.)

Day 5) Skagway: A+
The train ride was thrilling. Though I didn’t really think of it at the time, it’s true the train was on a narrow space with drop-offs that went a long, long way! I just hung on to the rails, though I did get bounced around enough once to produce a spectacular bruise on one leg. There was just so much to see, who had time to think about being scared?

Day 6) Glacier Bay: A+
If I had to choose one word, it would be “majestic.” Awe-inspiring. The immensity of the glaciers and mountains is hard to comprehend. More on this when I get pictures ready, and oh boy! Will it be hard to choose which ones to use.

What’s left?

Day 7) Ketchikan.
We’re scheduled to go to Saxman Village. I hope it’s as interesting as the description in the brochure.

Day 8) Victoria
Our shortest tour of the trip, we’re supposed to see the city’s sights.

Day 9) Seattle by 7am, and then fly home about 12:30pm. I go through Memphis, and should be in Nashville before 9pm. Don’t forget me Jess!

And that’s how it goes for now!

“The Love Boat vs. Real Life Cruises”

Or “Things you never saw when watching The Love Boat” in no particular order…

#1) People walked into restaurants without having to stop at the hand sanitizer dispenser on the way in. And they have someone stationed there to remind you to do so!

#2) The Captain was a visible presence, you actually saw him once in a while, and people got invited to the Captain’s table vs. him being a disembodied voice. “This is your Captain speaking from the bridge.” Okay, where else would he be???

#3) The weather was always gorgeous vs. rains and fogs.

#4) The bartender was always outgoing and had time to chat a while vs. it takes 30 minutes to get the bartender to give you a cup of hot chocolate. Then the only conversation you’re going to get is, “Sign this please,” as he hands you a bill for almost $3.

#5) The photographers are out taking lots of pictures on both The Love Boat and in real life. The difference is you never saw people shelling out $15 for a 5x7 photo on The Love Boat.

#6) You didn’t see people staggering around on The Love Boat as they tried to get used to the ship’s movement. And you most certainly didn’t see the long line of people waiting to get seasickness pills at the medical clinic on the first day out.

#7) On The Love Boat, cabins looked spacious. In real life, the rooms are a hallway with a bed on either side, and a tiny little bathroom.

#8) When the ship docked at different ports, people got on and off whenever they felt like it on The Love Boat. In real life you have to check out, and then when you get back on you have to go through a security check like the ones at airports.

#9) The Love Boat has a purser who was always doing things for passengers. In real life you go down to the reception desk and wait in line for your turn to make a request.

And my top pick for the most infamous difference between The Love Boat and Real Life Cruises…

#10) On The Love Boat, the doctor was always amiable, you could understand every word he said. You most certainly didn’t see him hand patients a huge bill after spending 10 minutes checking them out.

Trains on Tall Trails

There’s a road, really nothing more than a path, that the gold miner’s used to travel over the mountains at White Pass Summit. Then the railroads came along and blasted their way through granite to lay tracks over the mountains.

The track is on a narrow space carved into the side of the mountains. It passes over very, VERY tall trestles.

One of the ladies from Dad’s group went on the afternoon train trip. We saw her in one of the restaurants this evening. Dad asked her what she thought of the trip, and her one word reply was, “Scary.”

Funny thing, I wasn’t scared, and I was out hanging onto the railing on the tiny platform at the end of our car. I figured out in a hurry I wouldn’t get any really good pictures inside the car. First off, there was a lot of condensation on the inside of the window due to the very cold air outside, and some semblance of heat from the wood stove inside.

Then there were all the reflections off the glass. No, it just didn’t work well. So me and another crazy guy from Alabama hung on to the rails, trading sides periodically, and calling the other over when there was a good photo op. We went in periodically to thaw out a little, get fresh batteries – cold weather saps the power fast, and assure our companions we hadn’t fallen over the side down into a chasm -- and there were plenty of opportunities to do just that!

We went along the side of mountains, over trestles, through tunnels – we even made a shot in the dark. (Sorry, just couldn’t resist that one.)

The mountains, snow, waterfalls - all the scenery was just spectacular, despite an occasional sprinkles, and the knife sharp wind. I got quite a few pictures, but expensive connections prevent posting of many just now. Later, when I get home, there will be more posted. There were good pictures almost everywhere I looked.

It was worth every bone-chilling moment.

Exploding some myths about cruising...

#1) You can't feel the movement on such a big ship.
Ha! And again I say, ha! We haven't had any less than "Moderate Seas" since we sailed, which is 4-7.5 foot waves.

#2) The corollary to #1 - you won't get seasick on such a big ship because you can't feel the movement anyway.
MAJOR HA! I don't think I'm a wimp when it comes to physical pain. I live with it daily. But I don't like nausea. I don't take a lot of pain meds because the nausea is worse to me than having the pain.

And I can't recall ever suffering from motion sickness. So I came on a cruise to discover it! Me and a whole lot of other people. The clinic was doing a booming business handing out pills for seasickness.

I'm taking ginger capsules for seasickness. I'm wearing wrist bands for seasickness. I'm taking pills for seasickness. Guess what? I'm still seasick.

#3) You get a decent sized cabin which could accommodate 3 people. Just look at the pictures - it looks like a fair sized room!
If 3 people are going to be in the room, one is going to hang from the ceiling, and you have to take turns walking around. The beds are luxury camp cots. Nice enough, but very narrow. About half a twin sized bed. Don't turn over too vigorously at night or you will find yourself on the floor!

Also, do NOT grin while in the bathroom or you will chip the enamel off your teeth.

#4) Once you pay your fare, cruising is free.
Fat chance. Even at the bare minimum, you have to pay a mandatory "service fee", which goes to all the workers. This takes the place of tipping, so there is some merit to it, but still.

Then if you want anything to drink besides water, milk, juice or tea, and this at the restaurants, you have to pay. There is a fridge in each room stocked with all kinds of booze and some soft drinks. Of course they keep track and you pay for everything you use. So if you want to drink anything while in your room, you pay. Including water.

If you want to use the internet, you pay.
If you want to use ship to shore phone service, you pay.
If you want to go on a shore excursion, you pay.
If you want to eat something besides the buffet day after day, you pay.

Get the picture?

Oh yeah, and you're going to pay for those too! They take bunches, and sooner or later you're going to succumb and buy one ....

Other things you don't think about...

You're going to walk. A LOT. Everything is at least 1/3 a ship away. And usually up or down. The staterooms are a rabbit warren of confusion. Learning to get from your room to a restaurant is a lab experiment. The cheese is at the restaurant, and all the little mice must figure out how to get through the maze from their room to the food.

Cruise ships are big malls with a captive audience. There are jewelry shops every where you look. And all kinds of other shops too!

Cruising is an experience. There are a lot of negative things I didn't consider, but every so often a moment of pure joy pops up through the miasma of nausea, like when the scenery changes to something wonderful (skies and sea get boring after a while).

Stay tuned. I'll have to wait for a fuller reporting when I get back, but I'll post more as time and connections allow.

And be kind and pray for me that the nausea goes away....

Out of this World!

It's been a very long day, and though it’s not even 6pm Pacific time, I’m about done in. I had a continental breakfast at the motel (think bagel and juice), got all packed up and ready to go, checked out and called a taxi.

My first stop was Pier 66, to get rid of my luggage. They have an early check-in for the luggage, so I waited in a fairly long line to get up there and show my papers and let them take the luggage to put board the ship.

Once my luggage was safely stowed, I thought about walking to the Space Needle. Briefly. The streets between the pier and Space Needle are STEEP. It’s maybe 10 or 12 blocks and I didn’t want to be totally worn out before I ever got there, so once again, I got in a taxi.

To actually go to the top of the Space Needle was so cool. I’ve seen it in so many shows and movies (“Men in Black” for instance), and to finally see it with my own two eyes and see the view from the top… out of this world!

I went round and round taking pictures, far too many to include here. One couple stopped me and quizzed me about digital cameras and what one like mine cost and what made it different from the little thin pocket ones. So many people ask me questions about digital cameras and what to buy that I’m getting my spiel down to a science.

It was interesting to see our cruise ship, The Norwegian Pearl, from the top of the tower. Kind of gives you a perspective for how big it is!

Going around the deck there were people asking a stranger to take their picture every few feet, so I got in the spirit of things and asked a lady to take my picture. Note our cruise ship is in the background!

Finally, I decided I’d seen enough and got on the elevator to go down to the bottom again. It was time to go even further out of this world and visit The Science Fiction Museum. (Richard, eat your heart out!)

Where to begin??? I saw costumes from all kinds of science fiction movies: Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes; Darth Vader’s costume, Captain Kirk, Sarek, Klingon, several from Blade Runner, the leather jacket Arnold Schwarzenegger wore in Terminator, and the leather jacket Harrison Ford wore in Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom, Batman’s suit, Tara – Princess of Mars, and many, many more.

There were models of all kinds of space ships, there were paintings used for jacket art of science-fiction books, there was an armory section with all kinds of “ray guns” and phasers and other props used in science fiction show.

I saw ET and Yoda and the Robbie the robot from Lost in Space. I saw a HUGE monster from the Alien series, and the luggage handler used by Sigourney Weaver as she was battling it.

It was a intergalactic feast of costumes and props and information about science fiction. I can’t come close to listing everything. I wandered around in there until my legs just wouldn’t take it any more. If you like science fiction and you’re ever in Seattle – don’t miss it! It’s great! (Yes, Richard, you would really, REALLY like it!)

The only down side was NO picture taking is allowed, but that’s understandable and not unusual in museums. Also, the gift shop was kind of pathetic. I was hoping to pick up some neat souvenirs for the science-fiction minded I know, but it was mostly coffee cups and t-shirts. Who wants a coffee mug that says “Science Fiction Museum” if you’ve never been there?

By the time I’d finished, it was about time to think about heading for the ship. Since it’s DOWN hill from the Space Needle area to Pier 66, I walked. Seattle was living up to it’s reputation for rain, but it was pretty light, and I’d had enough foresight to wear a hooded jacket which I just bought to take on this trip. It came in handy!

There was a long line of people waiting to check in and it took a while, but finally I had my room key card, and got to board the ship.

I found the room and Dad. We checked out the buffet, participated in a mandatory safety drill, and went on deck to look at the scenery for a little while once the ship got under way.

Now we’re both tired, and probably won’t be doing much this evening. In fact, Dad is already in bed, being very tired considering he never got any sleep last night. They had to leave at 2am to get to the airport in Charleston, WV, flying out at 6am, so traveled all morning.

It’s been a long day, but a good one.

Alaska, here we come!

I'm in Seattle!

But I'm one really TIRED TISH.

Yes, I made it here, but it was much later than expected.

Jess and I made it to Nashville in plenty of time. We sat around for a while after I got my boarding pass, then about an hour before my flight I went through security and on back to the gate. We boarded pretty well on time. There were a lot of empty seats, so I moved from my aisle seat at the end of a 3-seat grouping, to a window seat and no one in the seat beside me. Nice!

Unfortunately, the flight was delayed because they were having some kind of problem with a luggage ‘reader’, and we sat around for 45 minutes until we finally got going.

We were late getting to Minneapolis St. Paul, but fortunately, I had an hour between flights, so I still had enough time to catch the connecting flight. However, I had to really bogey it to get from Concourse G to Concourse C for the scheduled flight time. I made good use of the moving walkways, zipping along on the "walk" side at a pretty good clip.

I made it to my gate with 10 minutes to spare. The place was PACKED. There were no seats any where, so I sat on the floor. Only gonna be 10 minutes, right?

WRONG! It was over an hour before we finally got on the plane. Every seat was taken.

Once we got going, it was a smooth flight. There was some pretty scenery along the way. These two shots I took as we were getting close to Seattle. I couldn't decide which I liked better, so I just included them both.

We got to Seattle much later than we were supposed to, but I didn’t have to be anywhere at a certain time, so that didn’t bother me. I took a few picturesof the port as we were descending.

I got my luggage, bought a ticket for a bus to take me to my motel, and after a change from the main bus to a connecting shuttle, finally got to my motel.
Once I caught sight of the Space Needle I knew I’d finally made it – I’m really in Seattle!

Now for some sleep and hopefully tomorrow - the Space Needled & Sci-Fi Museum!!

It's almost time to go!

Tomorrow morning, and we're up and out of here and headed for Nashville.

I’m all packed and the suitcases are setting by the door. I’ve completed everything I had on the “to do” list, plus quite a bit more.

For instance, we had someone come to pick up a goat today, so I had to take time out to round them up, catch the one she wanted, and get that all taken care of.

The eye doctor called, and I had to run up to his office today to pick up my contacts. I also made a stop at the store to “top off” the groceries.

I had a last minute request to put out a missionary newsletter, and got that done, and sent out to the mailing list.

I’m sure there’s more, but I’m tired and that’s all I can think of right now. I’m going to say good-night, pack up my laptop, and get what sleep I can.

Several people have sent me very nice “Bon Voyage” emails. Thank you, thank you! The next you hear from me, I hope to be safely in Seattle, Washington!

I'm leaving on a jet plane... and hoping for smooth flights and the right connections!

A Vacation from Cooking

I’ve done all the cooking I’m going to do for the next 10 days. Is that cool, or what??!!! I’ll fix a bowl of cereal for breakfast tomorrow, maybe a sandwich or something else easy for lunch, and Friday night is “date night”… so that’s it, no more cooking for TEN DAYS!!!

Of course, I made a huge pot of vegetable soup today, which we had for supper, and Jess can work on eating that up while I’m gone. The fridge, freezer and pantry have some easy-to-fix foods in them, and if all else fails, there are lots of restaurants in the area.

But as for me, someone else is going to be fixing my food!!!

Strategy for Life

If you have a problem like chronic pain, you can’t get by with just living “off the cuff” day by day, floating along without any planning. Life requires a strategy, and it’s especially important if you’re getting ready for something special like a trip.

Needless to say, I’ve been doing a lot of planning lately, figuring out the best strategy to get ready for my trip to Alaska. I’ve trying to get everything finished in enough time to have a bit of a rest before I leave on Saturday. I don’t want to be totally worn out before I even get started traveling.

Saturday morning! That’s less than 3 days away folks!

I’ve got stuff packed, with just some last minute additions needed. I have a list I’ll re-check Friday evening to make sure I’ve got everything in there.

I've spent time figuring out the best number and kind of suitcases to take, and tried to figure out the best clothes to put in them, while planning for every contingency I can. I've thought about how I'm going to manage luggage at the airports, and on the way to the motel and ship.

Since I’m traveling by myself, I don’t have the luxury of a second person to tote extra carry-on luggage or pull along a big suitcase. My nine days worth of clothes,, toiletries, laptop and photography equipment have to fit in something I can manage.

It’s not going to be easy.

And as I originally expected, there is no straight flight between Seattle and Nashville. The itinerary I received from the tour company showed only the departure time from Seattle, and then the arrival in Nashville, making it look like there was a straight flight. However, when I called today for the 72-hour-ahead-of-time confirmation, it turns out that the flight does indeed have an hour layover in Memphis. It’s just that I continue on in the same plane in the same seat, and the tour company didn't bother to note that extra stop.

I haven't even left, and there are changes in plans.

I can only hope my weeks of preparation will pay off. I’ve tried to check things out and come up with a strategy for each situation. I know there will be glitches here and there, and I need to be flexible, but it helps relieve stress to at least have a notion of what to do for each segment of the trip.

Yes, I have a plan. Now if the pain levels and life in general will just cooperate!

Our Little Princess

Last time we visited with the Canadian crew I noticed Ellie likes to play with the plasticized menus at restaurants. I thought it would be fun to make something similar for her to play with whenever she wanted, only with pictures she could relate to instead of menu items.

At first, I was going to make something about the same shape, but when I got out the laminating machine I noticed there was a stack of plastic sleeves for luggage tags in the box. The little light bulb came on over my head – “Hey, those could make a neat little “flip book” of pictures!"

I decided on a mix of pictures with Ellie’s much loved Disney Princesses, plus Ellie and other family pictures. It took a while to find some pictures I could use, figure out the right size for the pictures to fit nicely in the sleeves, and to “lay-out” the order of the book. The first one I made was okay, but I didn’t like the positioning, so made a “NEW & IMPROVED!!!” version.

Today I got a cute little video of Ellie checking out her new flip book.

Hopefully she will get a lot of enjoyment from it.

And just because I like Ellie movies, here’s another new one of her as a kitchen drummer.

There we have it, our little Princess gone to pot. They don’t come any cuter!

Travel Time in Just ONE Week!!!

I’m getting a little frazzled. Time is growing short before the trip. I’ve been busy this past week, and will continue to be busy for a while yet. I’m hoping to finish preparations in time to take a day or two off to rest before traveling, but we shall see how it goes!

Dad called earlier in the week. He’d been to a meeting of the Senior Citizens group going on this trip. He wanted to know if I’d went online and filled out the “Advance Guest Registration Forms.” Also, they’d been talking about shore excursions, and he said for me to go ahead and book shore excursions for our other two ports of call, just whatever I liked he’d go along with.

Getting us registered was pretty easy, but choosing the two shore excursions was HARD. Victoria wasn’t too bad, as there were only 10 choices. Ketchikan, however, had 38 choices, ranging in price for $30 to $1595, with everything from horse-drawn trolley tour, lumberjack show, native village, wildlife tour, city tour, boat tours, biking, kayaking, and my personal favorite, “Freestyle Touring by Classic Floatplane.” Of course, that also happened to be the most expensive, so didn’t really make my list for serious consideration.

Besides registering us, booking tours and my dental appointment this past week, I also had an appointment to get my hair trimmed. I needed to find a new place as my last beautician moved away. I looked for someplace close, called for an appointment, then got directions from Map Quest.

I got busy the day I was supposed to go, and had to rush around at the last minute to get myself to the beauty shop. I forgot to take the paper with the name of the shop and beautician, but remembered the general directions. I saw a beauty shop in about the right place, stopped and went in. “I have an appointment with someone here,” says I. The lady said, “Yes, me.” I got my hair trimmed, paid her and went home.

Now fast forward to the next day, at which time I came across the piece of paper with the name of the shop and beautician I’d made an appointment with. Uhhhh… that was NOT the name of the shop or beautician where I got my hair cut! Oops! I don’t know why the lady said I had an appointment with her, except she wasn’t busy, and I suppose she figured someone had just forgotten to write my appointment down. I guess I was in the wrong place at the right time.

I’m having strange adventures and haven’t even left home yet.

Showing Respect & Count Your Blessings

I had a routine dental appointment for September 26th, but considering that’s in the middle of the time I’m supposed to be in Alaska, I called up the dental office to reschedule. As I told them, if I have to choose between going to the dentist and going to Alaska, it’s a no-brainer. Sorry guys, you lose out!

However, instead of going sometime after I got back, it turned out they had an opening today. The receptionist said, “Don’t you want your teeth to look all clean and white for your trip?” I sort of doubt anyone is going to notice, but okay, I went.

I was on my way there, traveling down a 4-lane highway, when all of a sudden I saw a bunch of police cars with their lights on coming in the other direction. It quickly became obvious they were escorting a funeral procession.

All other traffic stopped in both directions. Yes, even on the opposite side of the highway, our two lanes came to a halt and waited for the procession to go by.

I had a fleeting thought about making it to my appointment on time, then caught myself. What was so important it couldn’t wait 5 minutes so I could show my respect to a grieving family? What if it was one of my loved ones in that hearse and we were on the way to the cemetery?

I got to wondering if people all over the country followed this custom, or it was unique to the south. I tried to find information online about laws pertaining to traffic and funeral processions, and came across more than one discussion about the subject. I discovered that many people are positively incensed at the thought they should have to wait a few minutes for a “line of cars for a dead person” to go by.

Well, for one thing, while it does show respect for the dead, it's even more for the living, and allowing the mourners to all get to the cemetery at the same time.

So why do some people have such a problem with it? It’s not like a funeral procession going past happens that often, and even when we have to wait on one, it’s no worse than waiting for a train to go by.

Manners. Being polite. Showing respect. Consideration for others. Civilized behavior.

There seems to be a definite decline in all of the above, but most especially when we get behind the wheel of a car. We can’t wait, we have to be somewhere instantly! What’s the matter with all those other idiots on the road!?!

Maybe it’s time to slow down a little, to remember what used to be common courtesy.

Maybe it's time to count our blessings, that we're not part of that funeral procession for instance.

Maybe it’s time to show respect for both the living and the dead.

Travel Time in TWO WEEKS!!!

I looked at the calendar today, and it hit me… in only TWO WEEKS time, I’m leaving for the west coast. ACK!!! All of a sudden I need to get serious about final preparations, and make sure I have everything in order for this trip.

I did a lot of stuff when I first found out I was going, but then slacked off, figuring I had lots of time. Not any more! Two weeks can fly by before you hardly know what happened.

Jess is driving me to Nashville in 2 weeks. My flight is scheduled to leave at 11:30am, Saturday, the 15th. I'm supposed to arrive at the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport at 1:40pm, then head out at 2:30pm. I should be in Seattle by 4:10pm.

That, of course, is presuming flights go as planned. I’ve learned not to count on that. If they don’t, I’ve got an extra day to get to Seattle. If they do, then I’ve got time in Seattle to visit the Space Needle and Sci-Fi Museum (eat your heart out guys!).

I have to be on board ship by 3:00pm Sunday. We're traveling aboard the Norwegian Pearl:

For anyone who's interested, our itinerary is as follows:





Sun(9/16)Seattle-4:00 PM
Mon (9/17)Cruise Alaska's Inside Passage --
Tue (9/18)Juneau (Whale & Wildlife Quest)2:00PM10:00 PM
Wed (9/19)Skagway (White Pass Summit Excursion)7:00 AM8:00 PM
Thu (9/20)Cruise Glacier Bay--
Fri (9/21)Ketchikan6:00 AM1:30 PM
Sat (9/22)Victoria6:00 PM11:59 PM
Sun (9/23)Seattle7:00 AM12:30 PM

While we're gone, I hope to post updates during some of our "down" time. The ship has internet service - both an Internet Cafe and Wi-Fi available at various locations throughout the ship.

I guess I'd better get busy - two weeks, only TWO WEEKS!!!