In May 2011, eleven family members, including my mom, went on an excellent adventure to Canada and Alaska. There were many firsts on this trip. Mom's first time flying commercially, her first trip to Canada, and her first trip to Alaska. Most of us on the trip had never been to Canada or Alaska and we were uber excited! The impetus of the trip was to celebrate David and Tammy's 25th wedding anniversary.
The trip began as most fabulous trips do, in the Atlanta airport. We flew into Vancouver, British Columbia and stayed the night before the big cruise to Alaska. I had heard that Vancouver was one of the prettiest cities in North America. Vancouver is beautiful, but it's also full of vagrants and people begging on the streets. Interestingly, on the morning we were to sail, none of us had found a place to have breakfast and were huddled outside the hotel trying to decide where to eat. We had been approached many times by people asking for money, but I was approached by a young, pierced, tattooed fellow who was eating fruit from a clear plastic dish. He stopped and asked me why people always thought he was going to buy drugs when he asked for money. I assured him that I did not know the minds of the people he chose to beg from and could therefore be of no use in answering this burning question. He then asked me if I would give him money. Now, picture this. I am standing outside in the Canadian cold trying to find some food and this young, pierced, tattooed fellow is standing in front of me eating fruit and asking me for money for food. I suggested to him that he give me money since he already had food and I was hungry. He immediately withdrew from our conversation and carried on with his fruit-eating at another locale. Good riddance Mr. young, pierced, tattooed fellow. Try that crazy line of thinking on someone else. My very practical Aunt Lucy suggested that the young man apply for work at the local store with the "help wanted" sign. She loves being helpful. The young man did not find the suggestion as wise and practical as did the rest of us. His loss.
Next I saw a huge Confederate flag flying from one of the boats docked in the bay in Vancouver. In case you are wondering if I am using the words "Confederate Flag" to describe a flag other than the type you see in the American south, I am not. I figure that either some good ole boys from Georgia or Tennessee have moved to Vancouver and taken their cultural heritage with them or some Canadian has entered a time continuum that prevents from them realizing that the American civil war is over by like....146 years. Whatever. Freedom is a beautiful thing even if you choose to express your freedom by flying a Confederate flag from the deck of your Canadian boat!
On the way to the pier to board the boat we had to take a train. This sounds simple, but it's not. You go to the train station, take an elevator to somewhere, an escalator to somewhere else and then try to figure out which train to take to the pier. I am really bad at figuring out which train to take, but it seems that I am quite excellent at falling down escalators while carrying 50-pound suitcases. Yep, fell down the damn escalator. Only a step or two, but the bruises on my shin lasted longer than the cruise. Scared everyone involved and rattled myself just a little. I feel sure that I looked graceful and quite athletic while holding onto the 100 total pounds of suitcases. Luckily, no one had time to get their camera out to record a confirmation that I looked good while falling down. Just take my word for it. I had on my fabulous red hat. I ask you, how bad could I have looked? Now upright, I carried on.
Finally got some breakfast and began the week-long exercise of boarding the boat! Seriously, the lines were crazy long and nothing moved fast. Next time we take a cruise, someone is faking an injury and requiring a wheelchair! And you better bet that I will be the companion of the wheelchair cruiser! As it should be, the good folks in wheel chairs get some sweet accommodations when it comes to avoiding long lines and someone else takes care of their luggage! There were almost 3000 people trying to board the boat in a two hour period. We met a lot of the folks that would be our neighbors for a week. There were people from all over the world in line with us. I recall hearing England, China, Japan, Ireland, Canada and USA as we all chatted.
When mom and I finally boarded, we went directly to the spa and arranged for massages. Because it was Mother's day, mom got an awesome 90 minute massage for her gift from her eldest daughter! Great way to start a cruise. We bought special "limited passes" to use the ultra-exclusive section of the spa that included heated, ceramic lounge chairs, multiple jetted hot tubs, and the most fantastic view of the Alaskan landscape available anywhere on the boat! We lived it up big. We kept saying that we may never have the opportunity to cruise to Alaska again, we wanted to take advantage of everything! Unfortunately, the time difference (three hours most of the time, but 4 hours difference during part of the cruise) had me crazy! It was not until the third day of the cruise that I finally started to adjust!
Mom and I had a wonderful cabin with a balcony. I suggest a balcony for an Alaskan cruise. We saw wonders beyond imagination from that awesome balcony. I have lots and lots more to tell you about the cruise. Since this is my first blog in 10 months, I don't want to overwhelm you. Let me know if you want to hear more details about the cruise. You just can't imagine the beauty of Alaska until you visit. Lots more to come......