August 31st, 2011


Alaska Travelogue--Days 0 &1

We are now officially free from Princess Cruises. We will be on our own for the next few days as we explore AK on our own. Since I now have reliable internet and time in the evening to chill out a bit, I thought I would start writing down my thoughts about the trip. I feel if I have a few days to winnow out my thoughts, keeping the good stuff and losing the minutia, it will make for better posts. Here we go.

I heard something interesting in a movie that said that humans are driven by dreams, fantasies, and desires. If we achieve what we are striving for, we then have to develop new and different fantasies. I certainly felt that way when I last posted in real time sitting in the ABQ airport. All of the planning and anticipation that I have been experiencing over the past few months finally came to a head. Of course I had made all sorts of contingency plans for things that could go wrong. Now with every passing minute with things going according to plan, it provided for a strange feeling in my head. Everyone around me was still all excited, but I had this weird sense of living in a haze. Was all of this REALLY happening?

We touched down in Vancouver and quickly made our way through Customs. Soon we were on the airport shuttle and heading for the hotel. When we arrived at the hotel, there were Al, Dex, and Q. Wow. We were all together! The next morning we found a liquor store down the street. Everyone had sticker shock with Canadian prices with Bud costing more than $2/can and vodka that might go for $20 at Costco priced at over $70. I at least found a tasty Canadian whiskey for less than $30.

I thought of lanakila as we drove past Canadian Tire in downtown Vancouver. Wow! What an incredibly beautiful city! Our bus driver told us how much it cost to live there. OMG! It's the Canadian version of the Bay Area! Soon we were at the cruise terminal and heading for our ship. Kitty asked me if I was now calm and relaxed. Nope. We made our way through all of the processing. Finally we were on the ship and all checked in. Calm yet? Nope. Getting there. We had a nice lunch in the buffet. We then worked our way up to the upper level of the ship just above the bridge. The Sun was incredible. Temps were in the 70's. All around me was the beauty of a wonderful city. I had friends all around me on the deck. Everyone had huge smiles on their faces. Was I calm yet? YES! The moment of total relaxation had finally hit me! I was on vacation!

I'll sum up my Princess Cruises experience in one phrase, "hot and cold." There were many moments of top-notch service and a few moments of complete failure. Dinner that night was definitely a failure. Service was very lackluster. It made me want to only do the self-service buffet for dinners. That was also a mistake because when dinner service DID meet expectations, it was awesome. But I get ahead of myself.

Having watched long-term forecasts for days before the trip, I knew that we would eventually run into some pretty crappy weather. It hit us the next day. The bright blue skies of Vancouver gave way to grey overcast ones. There is a stretch of water between Vancouver Island and Queen Charlotte Island where we were essentially in open ocean. We were exposed to the brunt of the low pressure system churning just to the north. We were rocking and rolling pretty good! Al, Dex, Scritch, Q, and I decided that the best way to enjoy the experience was to hop into the pool. It was wonderfully warm and just a step below a hot tub. The turbulent motion made for one hell of a wave pool! People stared down at us in disbelief as we laughed our asses off in a cold rain with water sloshing everywhere. It was awesome!

Later on Scritch and I decided that the best way to pass the time was to fursuit! We walked all around the outer deck entertaining all of the folks that were out there. We were so well received! At one point we even met up with my mom who later proudly declared when someone asked her why the funny animals were paying so much attention to her, "That's my son!" At another time albear suggested that he take a picture from inside the ship with us looking into a window. He took the pic and then realized that he was now surrounded by a whole bunch of people taking pics of us as well. It was so much fun!

That evening it was formal night. The furry bunch decided to hit the fancy Italian restaurant for what was billed as a gourmet experience. It WAS good, but not all that great. What made the evening was sharing a wonderful meal with wonderful friends.

And that concludes the 1st 2 days. How about some pics!


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