How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


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Inlets, Wilderness and a Polar Bear Dip

Yes, we missed the Magician’s magic show due to a sit-down dinner, and not to compare one as more interesting than the other, I did learn an interesting tidbit this day. When I think of Alaska, I think of BIG snow, but how do people get from one town to another in winter especially when it comes to the trains battering tonnes of snow (or so I imagine)? How do they do it? A snow plow train blower is on display on the edge of town for all tourists coming in and out of Skagway to see.

Pictures are okay, but watching a snow blower on the tracks is another story. It gives me goosebumps to imagine getting stuck on a train surrounded by nothing but snow.

After our meandering visit in Skagway, we passed over a couple sets of railway tracks, paths to park-like settings, and more brands stamped/painted on rock faces.

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The next morning, Mary and I grabbed our earliest breakfast while walkers already traipsed the wet promenade deck wearing gloves and bundled in weatherproof jackets with hoods.

Soon we joined other gawkers as the cruise ship entered Glacial Bay. Rain-slick decks, dripping railings, and the weeping sky discouraged the majority of travellers from coming outside. Darn weather. I hunched in my weatherproof jacket and stuck it out until the captain performed a s-l-o-w 180-degree turn in a space I was sure we’d scrape the surrounding mountains. No damage to the ship and no sea life endangered, I guess the captain had performed this act a time or two.

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The show over, we’d had enough damp weather and clumped inside to warm our bones with a hot drink. Mary signed up for a polar bear dip mid-afternoon in the outside pool. Only three other brave souls from the whole ship entered the contest: a 14-year-old girl; a young man of 20 or so; a young oriental mother with her four or five-year-old son, and my sister Mary.

The announcer read a long speech to stir up a little tension, I suppose. Around 30 or so onlookers—noses dripping with rain—drifted outside to cheer on the contestants. Hoods up and dancing from foot-to-foot, the curious itched for entertainment relief from their chill and boring day. There would be no prizes; only ah honourable mention for the winner. Where? On their fleet of cruise ships? So, nothing for their efforts except a plain certificate of accomplishment.

The show was over in a flash. Holding her nose, Mary jumped up onto the raised wall ledge of the pool, leapt up, and cannonballed into the water. Afterward, she asked how many pictures I’d taken. I’d used my iPad min not a fast-action camera. “One—of you,” I said. Oopsie. I guess I failed as her media photographer.

Inside the ship, Mary headed to the hot tub. I lounged next to a white-robed woman to whom I mentioned my surprise when my sister soldiered up for the dip. “I give the three other people a lot of credit, considering the damp and cold weather. Too cold for me.”

The woman looked me straight in the eye and grinned. “How much you want to bet the outside pool is heated?”

“O-hh.” My sister hadn’t said a word about the water. She shivered for all the onlookers and played her part. When I asked about the water temperature, Mary made a face and said, “My lips are sealed.”

~ * ~

Next on May 25th – North to Alaska: Bet You Don’t Know These Quick Facts

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

 

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North to Alaska: Shopping, Saloons, and Beer

The open door of a large bar and grill is all Mary needed to take as an invitation to come inside for a sit and a tall one. A handful of thirsty patrons at scattered tables and at the bar looked up as we strolled in from the bright outdoors. Bottled domestic beer went for a reasonable $4.50 a bottle USD, whereas, draft sold for $6.00. We chose Denali Gold draft and sat at the bar. Mary sweet-talked the genial, young bartender into a glass of mixed nuts for munching. A handful more thirsty tourists wandered into the darkened interior. I hadn’t brought American dollars this trip, except for a credit card and wasn’t about to charge one glass. Thank goodness, Mary was flush with cash.

Rehydrated, we drifted into an interesting dress shop, or Mary did and I followed, but thank goodness, neither of us got caught up in trying on all the pretty clothes. American fashion is so much more attractive than what we’ve seen in Canada for years. We meandered from one store to another till we ended up in The Shirt Company where—true confession, don’t tell anyone—I weakened and picked up a couple shirts, postcards, socks, and Alaska fridge magnets for everyone back home. I hate shopping and have no idea what drove me to go all out like this. Maybe telling myself I’d never be this way again had something to do with my spending spree. When I’m good, I’m squeaky clean; when I’m bad, I’m terrible.

I have not found much about this interesting building called the Arctic Brotherhood Camp

Little foot traffic in Skagway and with the chilly but decent weather, we took lots of pictures.

We stepped into a saloon (and museum) not knowing what to expect. The patrons were wax figures as were all the props, food on the counter included. At first glance and a second later, we noticed they were still.

Interesting posters:

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Next, we stepped into the famous Red Onion Saloon

For dinner, we opted for a restaurant (The Rotterdam) on the ship instead of the grill and buffet we’d frequented. Seated at a table for 10, we had to wait till the table filled up before anyone would take our order though menus were handed out as we lowered into our chairs. A young blonde female vegan from South Dakota joined us. A couple from Australia and another couple from Calgary came along, but they were too far away across the wide table for a proper conversation.

Because it took a long time to finally order and eat, we were too late for the Magician’s show we’d been planning to see.

~ * ~

Next on May 18th – Inlets, Wilderness, and a Polar Bear Dip

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: Skagway Adventures?

We were already docked when I looked out the window at 6:45 a.m. The weather was (again) overcast, not an uplifting start to the day. Sigh.

Our stateroom window provided a view of a sheered rock wall painted/stamped with brand names from our narrow entry point. This is just a small sampling.

A five-car came tram along. People lined up already but no one had his or her hood up, so I guessed the rain finally took a time-out. I assumed this might be a tour tram but probably not gratis.

Breakfast first by 8:00 a.m. The dining room busy but not full. Hungrier than I realized, I chose porridge with a cup of prunes (for taste, silly), a couple slices of cheese, raisins and sliced almonds on top, and orange slices, kind of my usual breakfast plan at home. I couldn’t be happier. I must be losing my mind or my age is showing. Am I on a cruise or at home? I’m not a fan of eating out often. After a day or two, while travelling, I’m bored with restaurant meals. They all lack that distinct homemade flavour.

We realized we need not rush out to discover Skagway as our day was free till 8:30 pm. We took our time till after lunch. How big can Skagway be if it shuts down for the winter?

The power went off all over the ship around 9:45 am. The Captain apologized for the inconvenience over the intercom, then a flicker and all went black. No satellite reception since we woke. I tried my laptop. Nothing. The TV was dead, too.

We lazed and read the morning away, choosing lunch around 12:30 before heading to explore Skagway. Chicken salad hit the spot. We’d been eating too freely and decided to rein in the bad habit of gorging because we can.

Still no satellite reception after lunch, we pulled ourselves together for a stroll into town for Wifi, above all else. We worried Skagway might be black as well, but

Since we ventured out late in the day, we had no idea if we’d missed a free tour like the previous day (even by accident as we had been). I heard no announcements for the first-day tour and not for this second one.

Bored with the damp weather, we ventured out and met stragglers returning to the ship with name brand shopping bags. Their recommendations were golden. Tourist feedback is more valuable than anything advertised. I like real people rather than marketing gimmicks.

Quick Tips:

We strolled from the ship into the town of Skagway, a distance of under a mile but worth every step. The weather had improved and the day smiled for a change, the sky smeared with frothy clouds, the day dried by a generous sun. What a refreshing change. I’m not old enough for laid-back cruising; I’d rather walk, free to move around. The ship is too confining for me though there is a lot to do onboard. I’m not a water baby so the pool holds little attraction for me.

Our bright day trek looked like this along the way:

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~ * ~

Next on May 11th – North to Alaska: Shopping, Saloons, and Beer?

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: It’s All Greek to Me

The tour guide had to check if the door was open for entry to the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church. We lucked out; she found a caretaker with a key. Finally, a chance to get out of the tiresome misting rain.

The Tlingit parishioners built the blue and white, octagonal church from local wood in 1893. The history is fascinating, at least to me.

The tour ended with the church visit. We were on our own. What to do? The famous Red Dog Saloon beckoned. Silly not to peek inside, right?

Too chilled for a beer, we didn’t stay long and moseyed into a couple little shops—mega touristy trinkets—to pick out gifts for the family back in Ontario. Mary chose two charms for a forgotten bracelet. I bought a bunch of postcards (five for $1.00 USD), which are scarce back home and cost a dollar each if you’re lucky to find them. As well, I picked out two pairs of charming Forget-me-not Swarovski Crystal pierced earrings for my granddaughters. My daughter is a necklace queen; I saw no interesting pieces for her.

Stopped at Vintage Fare Café  and Espresso for a coffee, a sit, and much-needed Wifi. Sitting proved to be my undoing as I felt lazy and tired of the chill in my bones. We were happy to return to the ship without having spent hundreds of dollars on excursions and planned to watch out for tour guides at the rest of our stops in port.

Along the way back, we passed numerous plagues about lighthouses and this huge outdoor mural: Passengers not allowed at the top of this house. I’m surprised my photo didn’t turn out bad either.

The shops are bright and the boats inviting. Why do towns on the water—everywhere it seems—have their buildings painted in delightful, vivid colours?

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Shoes off, we decided to kick back and enjoy a glass of wine in our stateroom. By 6:30, My stomach rumbled. I looked forward to the specialty on the menu: salmon. Other choices were pork and beef but fish it had to be. What luck! No salmon. Ten minutes, they said. This, after a shortage of shrimp the previous night. I was not happy. The twice-baked potatoes were dry and the green beans tough and stringy. Mary’s patience rewarded her with a sliver of salmon which I ranked as undercooked, opaque, and gelatinous. She said it was o-kay.

I had no desire for my usual after dinner coffee. That’s a first. After a glass of water, I was done.

We decided to take in a movie. The small but authentic theatre, we later found out, was also used for various Sunday services. It seemed a popular venue and filled quickly. Having arrived early, we chose seats dead centre to the screen with a clear view throughout the movie, titled Split. It was not clear why the main character with 23 personalities snatched three girls and kept them hidden. I enjoyed the opportunity to vacate our room and the new experience of the glam ship’s theatre. On second thought, that’s incorrect. We watched movies on the ship my mom and I sailed to Canada, but I have no recollection what the theatre looked like. Though only four, I do not know what movies we saw but do recall a man hitting on my mother and gifting me a bag of raisins. I wonder if she confessed to my father when we arrived.

As the credits rolled and we lined up to exit the Alaska cruise theatre, a ship hostess handed out small bags of fresh popcorn. Yum. Another day ending.

~ * ~

Next on May May 4th – North to Alaska: Skagway Adventures?

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: Yay! Juneau Ahead

The ship rocked and rolled in the night, waking me twice. Were the bored waves playing heave-ho responsible for my roiling stomach for a second night? You know: dark all around, nothing in sight for miles, everyone asleep. Ship looking for excitement? Shakes up passengers?

I looked out the window when banging overhead sounded but there was no thunder or flashes of lightning in the sky. In the morning, the deck outside our wet drizzled window was the deck. Great. Tossed and turned in the early morning while the world snored wondering if I should kick in $55.00 for 100 minutes of internet. I decided it would be worth it as I wanted to contact home. The signup online was easy but accessing my account proved futile. I wasted all but 15 minutes of the hundred by the time I called the desk for help. When I logged onto my iPad, a message saying I was on too many devices flashed on the screen. What?

I wasn’t about to buy more minutes but asked they give me back at least half. I ended up with the balance of 15 minutes left plus 40 returned. No more time to play around. It was time for breakfast and then docking in Juneau.

After breakfast, we followed the crowds to the disembarking area. Excitement and chatter filled the stairway up to that particular deck. People took off jackets as all the heavy breathing heated the small space. We waited so long, questions regarding the location of the bathrooms circulated.

Our impatience finally bore fruit and double doors opened to allow x-ray of bags and/or knapsacks x-rayed and names checked against the passenger list as we disembarked. I cannot believe our luck: rain and drizzle awaited our first excursion. We had no idea we had a tour guide on the ship but we followed her after asking if we could (no charge). Mary wasn’t keen at first. She asked how long the tour would be (approximately 1-1/2 hours). It was turned out to be the best idea as we wouldn’t have known to visit some of the hot spots.

We hadn’t planned any excursions (cheaper to plan direct) and hadn’t changed our minds once we’d boarded ship (more expensive there). I have no complaints about our impromptu walk through Juneau. More about that later.

Here are some examples of possibilities and costs on offer when booked on the ship:

The rain continued but the tour guide entranced her followers, hoods on and hoods off, umbrellas up and taken down.

Juneau Quick Tips:

  • Population: about 32,000
  • Jobs: government, tourism, fisheries
  • 3 ways to come to Juneau: air, water, boat
  • Unlike Skagway, open for business all year round
  • Capital of Alaska
  • Russia sold Alaska to the U.S. in March 1867 for $7.2 million
  • Yukon Gold Rush 1896-1899
  • Alaska flag adopted 1927, designed by 13-year old Benny Benson
  • January 1959, 49th State

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Next on April 20th – North to Alaska: Rainy Juneau Tour

© 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

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: Chit-chatting Passengers

Soon lazy navy water replaced buildings and civilization in exchange for distant snow-capped mountains and tiny islands. Did I mention deep water?

 In the excitement and knuckle-biting of the day, I had forgotten about food, but it was 5:30 p.m.  I had worked up an appetite. Mary insisted we return to our room to change for dinner. Mouth-watering aromas of food drifted around us. I drooled as we passed a buffet (manned with servers) down to our stateroom. We needed our credit cards out of the safe, anyway, for a celebratory toast to the beginning of our new adventure.

I chose the prime rib for dinner (yum—so-o tender), adding twice-baked potatoes and chopped bok choy, just enough to satisfy my hunger, vowing not to overeat on this cruise. We shall see. Dessert is never on my radar, so no added calories there.

After dinner, we sashayed to a bar passed earlier for a glass of wine. The line of customers seemed endless. When my turn came, I ordered only one glass because the Cabernet on offer was expensive and only four stingy ounces. This was day one after all. The nimble-fingered bartender mixed and poured drinks and wine and served beer without breaking a sweat. He was from the Philippines and worked every day, ten months of the year. The remaining two months, he spent back in his country. I forget how long he had worked on cruise ships. Years, of that I am certain. Though he had an accent, his English was excellent.

We grabbed a bistro-type table with four empty chairs overlooking the water. A woman with a distinct accent asked for one of the extras. Soon we struck up a conversation with her and her husband. She said the Alaska cruise had been on her wish list for a long time and was a popular destination for Australians. I had a private giggle as half her country people were already on our ship. Glenda was about my age with a cap of silver hair, a sparkle in her blue eyes, and an unlined face. She was as chirpy as her appearance was youthful. And she loved to talk. Her husband, Max, reminded me of Lyndon B. Johnson—remember that president? Max was her opposite, quiet and pensive but engaging when the subject interested him.

Within minutes, another couple they had just met on the ship joined us. They treated each other like long lost friends who had known each other forever. Our talk included Canadian Healthcare versus the U.S. system. We learned Australian healthcare is similar to ours (Canadian). We also talked about unions, work, and workers. Mary and I talked up the men, but Glenda and the other man’s wife took a step back, talked between themselves, and did not engage in our conversation. I’ve had previous discussions with a group of husbands and wives where the women faded into the background. Why is that? I cannot recall if I acted the same during my long-ago married life.

Tummys happy and close to 8:00 p.m., Mary and I decided to take it easy for the rest of the evening. Nothing much on TV, we read and managed to stay up late (11:40 p.m.). Relaxed as a nodding kitten, I’m sure I snored before my head hit the pillow. The ship gets no kudos for rocking me to sleep. The credit is all mine—I think.

~* ~

Next on March 30th – North to Alaska:  First Day onboard

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: All Aboard

My heart dancing the Watusi, I took in nothing of my surrounding as we boarded the cruise ship, MS Volendam. We were already in the system as it was mandatory to complete an online registration no less than a week prior and up to 50 days before departure. Doing so also opened an onboard account to which all extras (drinks, purchases, internet etc.) excluded from the cruise price were billed to our (registered) credit card.

From the time we arrived at the port, continued through processing, and arrived in our stateroom, an hour and a half had passed. I’ve no recollection how we found our cabin. Our ocean-view room troubled us due to noisy people passing by and conversing on the deck outside the window. Mary closed the drapes as we thought they could look inside but as it turned out, they could not. Feeling exposed, we kept them closed throughout the cruise.

Mary’s bag arrived at 1:47 about 17 minutes after arriving in our room. I asked our stateroom attendant, Dan, “Where the heck is mine?”

“Maybe tomorrow,” Dan said, “if not today.” He was a reedy Pilipino in a signature Volendam jacket, mischief in his eyes, crooked teeth center stage. He had a bit of an accent but his English was excellent as was his partner’s, James.

We cut expenses where we could

We decided to explore and ended up on the lido deck for a snack. Upon our return, my luggage still had not arrived. We asked the young attendant outside our door what might be taking so long.

“Maybe they found liquor inside.”

What? The cruise line allowed one bottle of wine per passenger (only wine) with a warning of confiscation if more. Just my luck. I prepared for such a drama.

An announcement over the PA system suggested attendance to a Safety Meeting. A couple we met on the lido deck said we sign in with our room key. If our information isn’t registered at the meeting, they come to get you. Some suggestion. We moseyed to Station 8 Muster Station for the presentation shy of 4:00 p.m. Large groups gathered at various stations we could see all along the length of the ship. I worried about so many people on one side at once. The day was dull and dry but it was chilly and I wanted the meeting to finish.

People in large groups act like children. They act as if rules do not apply to them. Some kept talking during the demonstration and we couldn’t hear the woman speaker. “Be quiet!” The talkers were warned, not once but twice, before they zipped their lips.

We returned to our room afterward and I could not believe my bag had finally arrived. The lock had not been broken; I checked inside. Both bottles hid in the folds of clothes in their bubble wrap cocoons, dry and in one piece.

Around 5:00 o’clock, a gentle murmur underfoot—a light vibration no more than a whisper—signaled we were underway. Mary and I watched from inside the eighth-floor deck as the ship skimmed over the shimmering, glass-smooth water, soundless as a ghost ship. We eased toward the underside of the Lions Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean, barely disturbing the surface.

We sliced through the water barely disturbing the surface, shown bottom left of photo

~ * ~

Next on March 23rd – North to Alaska: Chit-chatting Passengers

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: Bye-bye Vancouver

I took one last look around before we left the Lookout Tower. So much to see here. Magnificent Mount Seymour hovers over the city, regal and imposing.

On a clear day, Mount Baker exchanges salutations with Seymour though miles and miles away.

Vancouver is widely known for Chinatown, its history, food, and people.

I love Granville Island Public Market open seven days a week.  The food markets and smells, the custom crafts, artsy shops, and live music make it a fun destination on shopping day, or any day, I haven’t been there for years but it’s a definite must-visit destination while in Vancouver.

Time to kill before Jean picked us up at the Lookout, Mary and I took our time and browsed some of the shops. Even she wasn’t tempted to shop seriously. We did have the upcoming cruise and who knew what temptations might overpower our good intentions.

Spotting a jewelry store, Mary beelined toward it. I picked up my pace to catch up. She had questions about precious stones. Our timing couldn’t have been better. No customers clambering for his attention, she had the jeweler’s full attention. The impression we were a welcome distraction on this slow business morning was unmistakable. We were impressed with his in-depth and animated answers, but he soon began name-dropping: whom he skied with, sold to and with whom he’d rubbed elbows. Mary had her information and the jeweler had been entertained out of his stupor, it was time to skedaddle. Now we were bored. Time had slipped away; it was time to leave to meet Jean.

She had gone around the huge block a couple of times and had to park almost a block away. We waited on the appointed corner. She saw us and honked but we did not see her. Finally, she ran up the street to get us and we headed to the harbor, luggage already in the car trunk. Traffic slow and congested, time for boarding loomed.

No sooner had we arrived at the Port of Vancouver, our bags were tagged and carted. Port personnel indicated our way toward the building for processing. I could not believe the mindboggling long lines. One line for this ship, another for that one. Though we were nervous about getting into the wrong line, agents were plentiful and pleasant, the process was clear and well manned. Finally, inside the building, an employee directed us toward the next available seat in order of entry. The first people seated got up and approached the bank of clerks with passports and boarding information in hand. The lines moved quickly. Green cards were given to Canadian and U.S. visitors. The majority of visitors did not have them so we worried what they were for. Did they have anything to do with the two bottles of wine I had in my luggage? Allowed only one each, I had two stashed in my bag since Mary had no room for even a Kleenex in hers.

Asking a directing agent what they were, she said, “You are pre-approved.” No other explanation. We moseyed along as directed.

“Approved for what?” Mary and I eyeballed each other, following a smattering of visitors. Where had the processed masses gone? We had no time to wonder as we exited the building and gaped at the huge floating hotel we were about to board.

~ * ~

Next on March 16th – North to Alaska: All Aboard!

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles