How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


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Rocky Mountaineer: Freight Trains and Mountains

A cute story:

 We passed through a small town called Canoe. A Mrs. Diane Lund lives there in a lemon-colored house along the Rocky Mountaineer route. Each time a train passed, she stood outside on her front step to wave the train on.

 The train people wondered how she knew when the Mountaineer came through because many freight trains also pass through daily. Turns out, her dog Cedar knew and barked its arrival. The lady joined her dog outside her front door. 

~ * ~

We pulled over for a freight train. Minutes tick-tocked. Twenty minutes later (or less), it finally passed on a track I guesstimate around six feet away.

As the attendant handed out Rocky Mountaineer journals, we dared inquire about having to pay for dinner sans voucher the night before. Prepared, the young lady gave us a card with a number to call. I’m sure we paid a lot less (out of pocket) than what the voucher was worth. We’ll see.

Around 9:15 a.m., we passed through Sicamous (means squeezed in between, a First Nation’s word). By 9:30, the bar opened—an hour earlier than the previous morning. What? It’s not Sunday brunch (too early) nor is it Saturday; it’s vacation time! What the heck. I decided on a Caesar.

As we whooshed from Revelstoke to Field, the altitude rose 2500 feet. Trains travel year round here with plows out front, snow at times 40 to 50 feet deep.

Trains pass through a lot of forests and outside of towns. Some time ago, I had considered taking a train across Canada. I no longer believe I will. I hate being closed in and not free to roam. I’m bored. The narratives are too few by our rail car attendant. YouTube or National Geographic can give me a similar experience. I need to walk, touch, feel, and smell. Passing by is not good enough for me anymore.

Finally lunch: Spinach salad with a mustard dressing, cranberries, and julienned apples. Delicious. For the main, I chose pork (it came in two generous pieces) with roasted cauliflower, risotto and a log of squash. I could have licked my plate.

So many Kodak moments—too many to choose. After a while, I became overwhelmed and bug-eyed and their beauty knocked my breath away. How many pictures do I want or need? At times the train travelled too fast. Some of my best efforts produced flashes of unrecognizable digital smears instead of identifiable images of trees etc. Already, I was pictured out. Running from one side of the train to the other, begging ‘excuse me’s’, and avoiding bumping or stepping on other passengers knocked me for a loop.

The scenery changes from dense trees or sparse and thin ones; to charcoal mountains capped in glistening snow; to brown running lakes; to water rushing with ice crystals.

Someone hollered there was a swimming bear but I missed it due to the train’s speed.

Next on September 28 – Rocky Mountaineer: Mindboggling Views

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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Rocky Mountaineer: On the Rails Again

The alarm on Mary’s cell woke us. After a long and restless night, I peeled myself off the sheets. Thank goodness, I had woken in the night and turned on the air conditioner. The room had cooled to a comfortable temperature. A couple minutes later, around 5:30 a.m., the hotel phone bleeped. We had not requested a wakeup, but I suppose due to the previous night’s blackout, staff did not want us to miss our bus.

We rushed through dressing and were out the door, our bags left for pickup inside our room as we had found them the day before. Complimentary coffee service waiting in the hotel lobby cheered disgruntled bleary-eyed early risers. The time: 6:00 a.m.

Our bus arrived. The tour split into two groups: one to Lake Louise, the other to Banff.

At Rocky the Mountaineer station, our driver backed in, parallel parking next to another bus already there. Within minutes, another bus arrived and did likewise beside us, and another and another. What syncopation. What timing. Such grace like a well-practiced ballet. A radio operator called out drivers one-by-one to line up beside the train. The buses followed one another in a Congo line, pulling up as close as they could to the adjoining railway car assigned to each tour group. The same staff from the previous day greeted our party with cheery smiles and enthusiastic voices as we ascended the steps inside. The atmosphere created was of old friends meeting again.

As promised, our gift voucher purchases from the previous day awaited on each passenger’s seat. My one-size-fits-all black silky sweater pleased me. With tax added, it cost 35 cents more than the voucher allowed. Being less than a dollar, this amount was waived.

The breakfast cart arrived with cranberry and apple juice cocktails. The cranberry juice gave the apple juice a rosé hue; the apple flavour reigned. Parfaits were also available instead. Next came fruit salad and a decadent croissant, jam, and butter. Following this, the chef served a combination of scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns with a smattering of corn for colour, and three roasted button mushrooms from his cart. Divine. No toast in sight, but I did not miss it.

After breakfast, an attendant collected money for purchases and any returns.

Due to the blackout at the hotel the night before, the train manager announced each passenger would be gifted a trip journal for the inconvenience. I expected a gratuitous knockoff notebook. Wrong. The padded navy cover might be moleskin. Made in Italy, on the back, there is a large B with Pierre Belvedere’s name. The front shows off Rocky Mountaineer brand insignia and their name. I guesstimate about 240 or so lovely pages.

Quick Facts:

  • Salmon Arm: foodie groups would be interested in the organic farming
  • Modern buildings
  • Have invasive Mountain Pine Beetles
  • Shuswap Lake: looks like letter H from the air
  • Cannot buy cabins/houses here—never go on sale
  • Rent houseboats instead
  • Houseboats have all the amenities, including large screen TVs
  • One Rule: must bring houseboats ashore at night in case a storm blows in
  • Sicamous: Houseboat capital of Canada
  • Sicamous means squeezed in between, a First Nation’s word
  • Houseboats are self-sufficient, the lap of luxury, even Jacuzzis

~ * ~

Why such a fuss over the journal? I l.o.v.e. notebooks. You wouldn’t believe my stash. That’s a whole other post.

~ * ~

Next on September 21 – Rocky Mountaineer: Freights Trains and Mountains

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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Rocky Mountaineer: Gluttony and Scenery

It took a long while before we left Vancouver far behind.

Vancouver Quick Tips

  • 2012 Port Mann Bridge opened (crosses Fraser River)
  • 5 lanes each way
  • World’s widest span bridge
  • Trans-Canada Highway had only 2 lanes
  • Cost $2.5 billion
  • Tolls $3.15/car
  • 120 million trips to pay for bridge
  • Tolls removed 2017
  • Structural issues weekend opened (severe cold, ice and snow)
  • Not prepared for this
  • Original bridge opened 1964

Outlets were available between seats to recharge devices but no internet onboard in the remote territory we traveled. Jen, our attendant, assured us she would let everyone know when we approached a town or a Wi-Fi tower.

The passengers in high spirits (pun intended), the train moved too fast for the photo opportunities as the train devours miles of tracks out of Vancouver. A few tourists snapped away to capture every frame outside anyway.

I could not believe the generous portions the attendant poured from the bar cart, which precluded and followed lunch. One glass would do me all day.

Like on an airplane, it seemed one diversion or another was scheduled to keep the travelers happy. The trip included a $50.00 merchandise voucher, disguised as a freebie, for which we’d obviously paid. Still, when I was handed a catalogue, I managed to fancy a stylish black acrylic sweater which could be worn two ways for different effects. Skeptical about the one-size-fits-all description, I ordered it anyway with the promise our orders would be processed overnight and the merchandise would be waiting on our seats the next morning to try on and decide whether to keep or not.

What’s not to love about being spoiled? We had been busy every minute so far: a light snack, breakfast, bar service, free merchandise and already lunchtime. What a luxury: warm hand towels were handed before the food arrived.

I forgot to take pictures of lunch. (Too busy. Really?) Menu choices were salmon or short ribs in Merlot sauce, and Roma tomato salad. If a first choice ran out, they guaranteed the second one. What? How does that work? This promise left me scratching my head. I suppose it meant the grocery order arrived short of one or the other.

By 1:35, the lunch cart crept along to three seats away. The ribs were boneless and much to my delight, delicious; the potatoes puréed and shaped into a square log with carrots and turnips. Though I choose to skip gravy, this one was over the top. Holidays mean no calories, right?

While salads arrived, one lady dropped her bun. Oopsie. A moment later, she dropped her dish, which did not break but bounced on the carpeted floor. Hmm.

Strange how one side of the tracks the mountains are green, whereas the other is arid and populated by sparse scrub plants. A lake or river—any water—was a relief to the eyes.

Goldie Oldie music played all day in the background: Ring of Fire, Sweet Caroline, Running Bear, Piano Man, Mack the Knife, Rocky Mountain High and many, many more.

~ * ~

Next on August 24th – Rocky Mountaineer: Views, News, and Sightings

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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Vancouver Again: What Now?

As promised, the store stood tall and proud, its windows reflecting a dull sky. I picked up a decent brand familiar to me, which happened to be on sale. A dollar saved is a dollar earned, is it not?

We walked and walked for miles and hours beneath an overcast Vancouver sky. I kept forgetting where we were and had to remind myself this was not Toronto where the buildings seemed dwarfed by the giant ones here. Tired, we trudged past Joe Fortes Restaurant, a landmark seafood restaurant and chop house, and a popular attraction with actors and people in the music business. It is said you never know whom you will bump into. Of course, one must make a reservation. Instead of waiting in line, a patron walks right in. Especially when new ships come into Vancouver Harbour, I heard this is a hopping place.

The hotel at last; I was ready to kick off my shoes and catch a snooze. By six or so, we ventured out to dinner across the courtyard to Café One in the other tower. Why hadn’t anyone suggested we bring sunglasses? I snapped awake from my lethargy at the sight of the foyer’s bright orange walls right and left. A seating area on one side encouraged relaxation and Wifi. On the opposite side, a bar and baby grand invited patrons to enjoy drinks and music but not open for business this early.

Most tables were in front of a wall of windows, which overlooked lush and soothing greenery. A sign suggested waiting to be seated. Were we with such and such tour? Yes. The wait staff person could not find the special and abbreviated menu for some time. Seated at a table for two I noted the crisp and flawless white tablecloths and sighed sinking deeper into my chair. The menu found, I ordered roasted chicken breast, which came with various scrumptious baby beets and sweet snap peas. The baby greens salad was not good. The restaurant mildly busy, service wasn’t bad.. I took our time with coffee and Mary with dessert.

Stuffed, we headed back to our room for a little reading and TV. Nothing interesting on so we prattled on as females will. Mary kept reading, then decided to try out the pool. No robes in the closet, she called the desk and a nice man delivered two robes on hangers within minutes. How is that for service at a large downtown hotel with 746 rooms and suites?

I tried out the high bed and chose the softest pillow. Why do they have so many? Though too many lights on, their distraction soon lost all significance as I melted into dreamland.

Vancouver Quick Facts:

  • Population: 2.4 million
  • A working not residential city
  • Expo 1986 put Vancouver on the map
  • Expected 15 million people; 22 million came
  • Prince Charles and Princess Diana opened Expo
  • Princess Diana fainted after a 3-hour tour of Expo
  • A jump in immigration by 60,000 followed Expo from Hong Kong due to 1997 repatriation to China and the 1989 Tiananmen Square situation
  • Pushed up real estate prices
  • http://thelasource.com/en/2016/05/02/expo-86-the-bubble-that-never-burst/

~ * ~

Next on June 20th – Vancouver: A Bus Tour Anyone?

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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Vancouver Again: Now What?

We’re in the South Tower (the other is North) so not sure where east or west is until the sun moves across and down later. We unpacked, checked email—heaven to have working internet again—and contacted home.

The sun broke through the clouds, sending ribbons of welcome heat. Confined on board ship four days with three landing days only, we strolled the neighborhood for the exercise and fresh air. I’m not used to towering buildings and kept forgetting where we were, although I had thoughts we were in Toronto.

I had forgotten my face cream at home. Why do I always forget something important? My poor parched wrinkles scrunched tight, screaming for nourishment. We passed a couple dollar stores. No suitable cream, but I picked up a couple inch-and-a-half diameter tins of nail polish remover pads. (Perfect for travelling.) Just used one a couple days ago—still good.)

I also pounced on an oversize sunglass case. It was a steal; I had to have it. I hate shopping but I don’t mind impromptu roaming through strange stores at times. Considering I had not purchased anything in Alaska except gifts for the family, fridge magnets, and some postcards, this is big spending for me.

While we waited at a red light to cross the street, Mary asked a young girl who had a ring in one nostril—a hippie-type, not a goth—about restaurants close by. She recommended Vera’s, a burger place. “Just up the block. . . better than MacDonald’s,” she said.

A guy next to her asked, “You want MacDonald’s?”

“Heck, no but thank you.”

We ordered at the cash register. The burgers were thick and juicy. The French fry servings were about the size of a handful, the young woman told us. Good thing Mary and I decided to share an order because they were more than we could eat after the filling hamburger. Had they been extra nice since we were visitors from Ontario and no one else was in the restaurant? They had no coffee, only milk, pop, and water. Before hitting the sidewalk, we inquired about a wine/liquor store. The young woman smiled so wide, I worried about her face. “Next door,” she said, pointing.

The store carried VQA bottles, beyond our price range. The first bottle I spotted was only $89.00. Yikes. We did find a couple shelves of reasonable prices. The two guys who unpacked and shelved other bottles stuck up a conversation. When asked if they had down-to-earth labels. I heard them roll their eyes as we hot-footed it out of there. We hit a Shoppers Drug Mart and a grocery store. All I wanted was a sample size jar of something practical for the short term and settled on Ponds Cold Cream.

I have made a short list of items (during this trip) I plan to keep in my suitcase forever: a pair of earrings, face cream, a shawl, nail polish remover tin and a corkscrew. I already have one I borrowed in China.

Following my $1.79 devil-may-care expenditure, Mary asked a passerby with white tape on his nose where the liquor store might be. You won’t believe this.

“Around the corner ahead,” he said. He appeared embarrassed about the tape and explained he lived each day to the fullest because of his upcoming surgery but did not explain what that entailed.

~* ~

Next on June 13th: Vancouver Again. What’s Next?

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: Last Day and New Horizons

Sunrise had been forecast for 5:00 a.m. but with last minute checking and rechecking everything ended up in our suitcases that belonged, we missed taking pictures.

Vancouver on the Horizon

Neither Mary nor I had checked what time the Lido Market would be open for breakfast, but she suggested we order in. An excellent idea. I had scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, toast, and coffee. Mary’s choices were a fruit plate, cottage cheese, muesli, and coffee. A soft knock on the door announced breakfast’s arrival. What a feast. Food that needed to be hot did not disappoint.

The kitchen staff called, “Did you enjoy your breakfast?”

“Indeed. Excellent. Thank you.”

Later, Mary called to have our trays removed. Unlike hotels, halls on ships are narrower and likely to cause tripping hazards if anything other than luggage is left outside. Once again, someone came lickety-split.

As we waited for expedited disembarkation announcement, Mary could not find her key card, without which she could not leave the ship. She called the Reception Desk and an attendant promised a new one. While she raced to pick it up, I worried how long she may be held up. The fusspot I am, I grit my teeth and worried about missing our proper exit. Finally, she returned and we pushed and pulled our luggage out the door. Only about a dozen people stood around with us, some with carry-ons but no luggage. Within minutes, a solitary uniform pointed forward. We offered our key cards for scanning, and out we zipped. “Keep the card as your souvenir,” said the scanning lady when finished.

It’s as if everyone had already gone ashore or was this a ghost ship? No one ahead and no one behind. We scurried downward, were directed by a silent figure with a smile and a wave to proceed straight down the length of the airport building. No customs and no questions. How strange. Just us two: no crowds or foot traffic. It felt special being an expedited passenger but surreal, and I wondered why anyone exiting the cruise ship, whether to catch their flight, hop a bus or taxi to their hotel, wouldn’t get off like we had. Why go to the trouble of putting your bags outside by midnight and then wait inside the airport to claim them?

Part of our itinerary included a taxi and driver upon our return to Vancouver. No sooner had I inquired about this, three women came forward, one a trainee. Our taxi awaited. The rep handed a voucher to the driver and we sped through Vancouver traffic to the Sheraton. The weather continued overcast; smoke-colored clouds hung heavy and low, more like a dismal fall rather than past mid-May.

Within ten minutes or so, the taxi arrived at Sheraton Wall Centre. Already registered at the hotel as part of the holiday itinerary, our key cards were ready and we headed to the seventeenth floor, sans luggage. The bags arrived before we did. Impressive.

~ * ~

Next on July 6thVancouver Again. Now What?

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: Creek Street Shops and a Tram Experience

As we left Dolly’s house by the back stairs, Mary noticed the guide from the tour we latched on to in Juneau. We scrambled to join the group, wondering how much we’d missed. As we joined the people clustered around the guide, Mary talked to a woman in an unobtrusive jacket with an emblem on the breast. She tsked the tour did not belong to the cruise but was an independent. We mentioned there had been no problem in Juneau. “We’re almost finished so I guess you can stay.”

She led us down a path to the shops on Creek Street and the tour was over. At least the drizzle had stopped.

I laughed at the many advertisements for the shops. Mary wanted to take the tram ($2.00 USD) up a high hill for a fantastic view of the town. Whoever had given her information about it said the entrance was up the hill. Which hill? “Are you sure she meant this hill.” I hated wasting my time. On and on we trudged. No tram entrance. The hill levelled out; we accosted a couple coming toward us, who did not give specific directions but pointed down the hill. We stopped at one of the shops, then asked another passerby. Back to the tourist-filled sidewalk, we meandered through the same shops for the third time.

“There it is.” Mary had the look of someone who knew where she was going all along. A family of five joined us. Maybe because the Cape Fox Hill Tram happened to be red, I immediately thought of Dr. Who and his telephone booth. The buttons for operation are the same as you find in an elevator. The over 200-foot incline took about minute before we stopped more than 100 feet above the harbour.

We had no idea what we’d find at the top. Straight ahead double doors enticed us into a lobby, which appeared to be a hotel. Fantastic seating with deep sofas and chairs faced a working gas fireplace and a switched on flat screen. Out the back door were gardens and more totem poles. On the other side of the lobby, magnetic food smells and brewing coffee drew us in. The best seats by the windows overlooking Ketchikan were taken, but though almost noon, the restaurant was not busy. I felt invisible as no server approached our table until Mary lassoed a waitress for the Wi-Fi password. I only wanted a simple coffee. Not Mary, who perused the menu; muffins took her fancy. When a waiter finally stopped by, he said they had none.

“But they’re on the menu. What kind do you have?”

“I’ll check.” He disappeared. We waited and waited. We waited some more and grabbed a waitress, asking after our server. Mary’s blueberry muffin finally arrived. It wasn’t oven-warm so we decided it hadn’t just been baked because service had taken so long and we’d been told they had none.

We caught up on email, ate, drank and left money for the food and left. Who has all day to wait for service?

Traipsing back to Creek Street and the many quaint shops, I no longer found them appealing and voted for a return to the ship for a proper, if late, lunch.

The day finished with an enjoyable viewing of LaLa Land in the ship’s theatre. Prior to seeing the movie, I’d heard there were opposing camps regarding this production: those who love it and those who do not. I loved it. Popcorn arrived late once again, during the latter part of the movie and we were drawn to pinch a bag each on the way to our room. One last look outside confirmed we had missed the sunset again. The skyline appeared bruised in shades of purple, pink, orange, and yellow.

Night, night.

~ * ~

If you’ve never tried it, here’s a chance to see what a tram is like.

Next on June 22nd – North to Alaska: Art Auction Confusion

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: Bet You Don’t Know These Quick Facts!

Wish we hadn’t missed the city tour bus to the Skagway Gold Rush Cemetery. A store clerk mentioned it too late and we were already bone tired. I don’t visit graveyards as a rule, but historical ones are intriguing. An interesting character popped up when I did a little research on my iPad later. Read about Jeff “Soapy” Smith here.

Read about the Slide Cemetery and the Pioneer Cemetery here.

Mary and I knew Mother’s Day would fall during our cruise but booked our holiday anyway. Like mothers everywhere, we deserved a special treat since we were away from home and family. The Lido Market, where most of our meals had been eaten buffet-style, ran short of lobster tails, the main event on the menu. Guests were asking for two and three tails at a time. Our turn came and only one tail was available. We’d have to wait. My dander up a touch, I grabbed Mary’s arm and we skedaddled in search of fine dining—the Rotterdam (again)—for our celebration dinner. After all, we had dolled up for festivity. Though there were other restaurants to choose from, we liked this one and knew where to find it.

Again asked if we’d accept sitting with others, we agreed. On my left, an Australian couple: she a teacher turned calligrapher and her husband, a pediatric physician, deaf in one ear since age five.

To Mary’s right, sat a 20-something single woman with limited food preference or on a special diet, who had pre-ordered a personal size veggie pizza. The couple next to her came from England, the husband originated from Australia. I did not talk to his wife because she sat too far away across the huge, round table. She was deep in conversation with a 50-ish woman and her father from the States. Grin. United Nations of sorts.

I ordered the Surf & Turf (a lobster tail and filet mignon). The waiter offered to cut the lobster out of the shell for all the females. O-h-h. Is this service or what? I splurged on a glass of divine Cabernet. I never eat dessert but had black coffee instead, which tasted scrumptious. Why was it worlds apart from the type served at Lido Market buffet? Were we still on the same ship? Unbelievable.

Filled to the brim with food and wonderful conversation following a long and leisurely dinner, we vetoed any activity other than shoes off, feet up, and thoughts of bed.

Earlier in the day before we glammed up

Bet You Didn’t Know: 

  • 1916 Dr. William Skinner Cooper, founding father of ecology
  • Also founding father of Glacier Bay
  • 1925 Glacier Bay declared a national monument with help from President Calvin Coolidge
  • World Heritage Site
  • Second largest wilderness site in the world
  • Majority of visitors arrive by cruise ships
  • 7 tidewater glaciers found here
  • Carbon Monoxide off the scale more than any other place
  • Carbon dioxide makes seas acidic, bad in cold waters like here
  • National Park Service: study climate change in our own lives
  • Fastest glacier retreat (melting) since 1850 (a sign of global warming)
  • Evaluation of warming atmosphere is a warming ocean
  • 43 countries have scientific study about heating up, locked in heat, rising water
  • Sea levels rising here
  • Home to moose, wolves, black, brown, and Grizzly bears, orcas, humpback whales, otters, dolphins, and salmon to mention a few
  • Example of John Hopkins Glacier: 1 mile wide by 12.5 miles long (a seal sanctuary)
  • John Hopkins Glacier still advancing (not reducing)

I’ve gathered a ton of information but don’t want to bore you. The above are a few highlights.

Images Glacial Bay

What is the difference between an iceberg and a glacier?

An iceberg is what breaks off (calves) a glacier and usually sits 10% above water.

Glaciers are a combo of snow and ice and collected junk/debris, and entirely above water.

~ *~

Next on June 1st – North to Alaska: Ketchikan Beckons

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: Snooping Around

We arrived late for lunch with no idea the buffet would be closing soon. No one blocking the food, I managed to take these pictures of various stations.

The buffet servers work eight months on the ship and return home for the remaining four.

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A boom-boom disturbance overhead disrupted after lunch coffee. No other patrons seemed worried or appeared to pay attention. A couple noticed my bewilderment and the man explained there was a basketball court overhead.

“You’re not pulling my leg?” Mary asked.

“I’ll bet my lunch that’s the sound of a bouncing basketball.”

Mary giggled. “You’ve no lunch to bet.”

The sun struggled to brighten the day but dark clouds had other ideas, thrusting it into the background. Huddled in our jacket collars, we jogged a couple laps around the promenade deck after lunch—three and a half laps = 1 mile. A biting wind forced us back inside. Had the weather cooperated, we would have logged a few miles more. We passed a few pairs of walkers, a meditating woman on a blanket (b-r-r), and another one practicing yoga. Three men in white overalls painted the outside deck walls. Phew. I gagged on the fumes, though we were outside. I wondered why none wore masks against the toxic vapors. Seems Health and Safety rules do not apply to painting with nautical paint. Or is this a non-issue since all the workers are from poor countries and nobody cares? Shame. Shame.

I had my heart set on a generous feed of fish and shrimp, but we were late arriving. The buffet had run out. More arrived after we’d finished a fish dinner and Mary scooped up a half dozen to share. I’ve only had shrimp that huge once when I purchased them for a New Year’s Eve dinner party years ago. Thank goodness, I hadn’t invited the neighborhood.

Tummies happy, we searched for advertised entertainment. The Hudson room offered a piano/violin duo and inviting deep chairs but the music didn’t suit our mood—too sedate.

Next, we discovered the duty-free store. A female employee in the jewelry area talked us into sticking around for a free draw in ten minutes. She tore off matching tickets: one for each of us and the twin for the bin. We figured with only a half-dozen participants, we had an excellent chance of winning something. Soon the employee hooked 50 or 60 male and female shoppers and those waiting for the piano bar to open. Ten minutes turned into a half-hour.

What a setup. The person with the winning number had 30 seconds to open as many boxes as they could manage in an effort to extract one containing a jewelry surprise. Soon, a couple of the ‘winners’ asked if there were indeed prizes as the first handful were not lucky. The employee threw the empty boxes back in the bin to encourage deeper digging. What felt like hours later, we left empty-handed and yawning. Six happy winners dispersed to the bar. The lounge singer behind a ¾ wall crooned for some time to clinking glasses and the murmur and hum of energetic conversation.

It had been a long day fighting bitter winds, moody clouds, and noxious paint fumes. The first full day surrounded by nothing but water and food drew to a close. I wished for my pillow to hasten our time of arrival in Juneau the following day.

~ * ~

Next on April 13th – North to Alaska: Yay!  Juneau Ahead

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: First Day on Board

While we had been at dinner our first night, someone emptied the garbage and deposited complimentary black, reusable (Holland America branded) bags on the beds. A basket of mixed fruit awaiting our arrival yesterday included a sheet to tick off new choices. New fruit decorated the small pedestal table by the loveseat.

I woke in the night with a queasy stomach. In the early morning, it was truly upset. I wondered if it had anything to do with the food last night—not the four measly ounces of wine, surely. I managed to rally though, food again on my mind or was it my stomach talking?

                                                     Water, water everywhere

Nervous about strangers going through our things, we hung the privacy sign outside our door before going to breakfast. It appeared everyone on the ship came to eat at the same time, at the same restaurant as if all the others were closed. We squeezed in next to another couple who were from Washington State. A Michigan couple joined us: a stunning, warm, and fun loving Peruvian woman; her American husband was less so.

Talked out and full after eating—three cups of coffee for me—we explored levels four and five. Guess what we found. A lending library. I drooled over the books despite having packed my own and we each took out two. Why? Maybe because we could. When would we have time to read? No matter. Preparedness is my middle name.

After much finagling, we figured out how to plug in Mary’s phone (an ordinary plug over the room’s desk. Sheesh.) Lucky I brought my (plug) converter as the other one would no accommodate the plug for my iPad.

The hair blower hid in the desk drawer not on the shelf in the bathroom as we turned the room upside down looking for it. Success was useless as the too large prongs refused to fit any of the outlets, even the one in the bathroom.

The privacy sign had not deterred the stateroom attendants from knocking after we returned from breakfast. They insisted on doing up the room—protocol and all that—though we suggested we’d look after the room. The incompatibility of plug and hair blower developed into a hot topic with the attendants. Their efforts failed, too. They promised to bring another one and told us to put this one back in the drawer.

“Won’t the next people have the same problem?” I asked.

Mary later solved the mystery by trying the outlets over the desk again and good thing as no one brought another dryer throughout our seven-day cruise. Some things you cannot be shy about. A working hair dryer is a must.

An announcement came over the PA system after lunch:

  • 334 nautical miles from Vancouver
  • 467 remaining to Juno
  • 10:30 tonight, between Canada and U.S. border
  • At 2:00 a.m. the clock will go back an hour.
  • Naturalist talk outside at scheduled times. (Too damp to attend)

I had a salad for lunch and a pizza slice. I should have stopped at the salad. Orange cheese on pizza? Awful. Awful. The dough, black olives, onions, mushrooms etc. were okay—no, they were tasteless. This did not taste like pizza and I can make no comparisons. Mozzarella instead might have helped.

~ * ~

Next on April 6th – North to Alaska: Snooping Around

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