We decided to take another family style vacation with the whole diaspora, or as much of it as could be gathered and head up to the wilds of Alaska for a tranquil sea voyage through the glaciers, fjords and soaring bald eagles. 

Friday, May 9 - Saturday, May 19, 2014

Thursday I got out of work by 2pm and went home, gathered up the last of the things I needed to pack, the dog’s things, walked the pug, and got all the stuff carted down to the car for the drive to Rochester by 4pm. 

Mom, dad, and I decided to fly out to Seattle the day before the cruise, so as not to get stuck missing the ship in the event that a flight got delayed, missed or worse.  It was a very good idea. 

Friday we mucked around at home, I met James, dad’s former student who is going to spend the week at the house and watch Manny and The Pug.  I have full confidence in James, I just don’t have full confidence in Charmey. 

By 3pm, dad and I had just set off to get mom at work when he pulled over in Rotary Park and let me know mom called to tell him our flight was late by 64 minutes.  With only an hour to connect, we were sure to miss the flight to Seattle, and this had mom really worked up.  Worse, it was the last flight of the day to Seattle from Minneapolis.  We checked in, and of course both parents are a bit worked up when the manager told us we needed to check in at the kiosk, but he proceeded to help us, and in a very skillful way, talk them down such that when we walked away from the counter the parents were smiling and laughing, even though we were likely going to have to spend a night in the Twin Cities.  I was ok with that, we had 20 hours to get to the dock, so I wasn’t too worked up about it, and hey- who doesn’t want to twirl around like MTM in the middle of downtown Minneapolis once?

The flight got in earlier than expected, amazingly, and landed at the gate by 5:25.  The skillful manager came over to help the gate agent, both of them letting us know that they were going to do everything in their power to board as quickly as possible, and get us in the air by 6pm.  Ok, so we might actually make the flight?  I wasn’t going to get worked up. 

We were in the air by 6, landed and at the gate when the 3 of us and at least 2 other passengers on the Rochester flight that we knew about were trying to get to Seattle, so we made a game plan:  I needed to wait for my bag to be off loaded, they would go to the gate agent and find out which gate we were departing from.

As I came out of the gangplank loaded down with my hugely heavy bags, dad urged me forward NOW- they actually managed to secure a cart!  We were driven through the terminals (had we walked we never would have made it for sure) and got dropped off just as the last folks were getting on board.  We were amazed and a little high that we *actually* made this flight!  Amazing.

So, I begin this blog as we cruise at 38,000 feet and have about an hour left on this full and rather pleasant flight.  The flight attendants on the last flight were nothing short of wonderful- that and that skillful manager and helpful gate agents, I’m actually feeling the customer service from Delta.  Amazing.

Alaska: Edwards Family Cruise

Saturday, May 11, 2014

So, today, we boarded ship after breakfast at Amanda’s.  Amanda, Miles and Mom took Knightley to the boarder’s house around 9am, while Tim went to shower and shave, and Dad and I went after a new-ish geocache in the park near A&T’s house that I hadn’t found in the past.  We found it fast, and the walk that I was guessing was going to take an hour only took about 25 minutes.  So, when we got back, dad and I stretched and before I knew it, we were loading up cars and heading off to the port where the ship started boarding at 11am. 

We made it down there, I think, by about noon.  The very astute woman in line noticed that Miles was starting to get moody (we’re missing nap time at noon), so she let Tim, mom, Miles and I go to a special check-in station where we got to skip ahead of the huge line.  By the time we actually got in line and partially registered- the check in woman was totally flustered by us- “So, you’re in 3 separate staterooms?  Where is your husband?”  It was kind of messy- she wasn’t a fan of us.  Apparently, it really throws things off if you don’t register with the other folks in your stateroom.  So, since we were not in one room, but three different ones, and that we were missing dad and Amanda (who were parking the car in the nearby local hills to avoid the $30 a day pier fees) this was rather problematic for her.  By the time we were *just* about to finish checking in, I spotted dad and Amanda in line, and we called them over.  When we let our check-in woman know the other 2 were here, she let out a flustered sigh of “uuuugh.” 

So, she wasn’t our biggest fan. 

Miles was decompensating by this time, so it was good that mommy showed up since she swept him away and the goal was to put him down for his nap.  Unfortunately, we had the mandatory evacuation drill at 3pm, so since he didn’t go down for his nap, he was super cranky.  Mom, dad and A&T have adjoining staterooms, since A&T wanted to be able to put Miles in their room while he got to sleep, since apparently if A&T are in the room he won’t sleep. 

Since there is no baby monitor, that means that one person must at all times be in m&d’s room to be present with Miles, that means we’re essentially never getting to do things all together.  I’m not sure that’s terrible, but it will make this really hard.  That, and the fact that Miles is two when we’re doing this.

Steve said to me recently “Finn is now 2, so he is at the age when he is a vexation to the soul.”  Miles is at the age when he is a vexation to the soul.  I loved him as a chill baby, but he’s not.  He’s now 2. 

After checking in to my stateroom (I also carried on- so I brought my 100lb bag all the way on with me), unpacked for the week, and then went to M&D’s room.  At 2pm, we took a ship’s tour, tethered by the walkie-talkies that I brought on board. 

We decided to make names for ourselves over the walkie-talkies:

Shelby: code name “Eagle”

Mom: code name “Kodiak”

Dad: code name “Trout”

Amanda: code name “Barnacle”

Tim: code name “Orca”

Miles: code name “Porpoise”

After the tour,  we split up for the mandatory evacuation drill (note to self: you can essentially have one person per room go, not all). 

After, we split up a while and I sat out on the 10th floor deck for a while and tried to read, but it was hard to not focus on the retreating Seattle skyline and the coastline as we disembarked from port.  I watched the water and saw some porpoise in pairs rise and fall in the surf.  It was all we could do the whole cruise from bringing up the Walter Mitty line “these are not por-pose!  Not por-pose!”

At dinner, we had to leave Amanda in the room to be with Miles, who was never going to have a sit-down in the dining room.  So, M&D, Tim and I went to dinner.  I ordered the scallops, the caesar salad, and a baked potato for dinner.  Lo and behold, the portions are actually quite small, so you can actually get an appetizer, a soup or salad, an entree AND still have room for dessert without feeling like you’re going to burst.  Tim and Dad shared their trout and pork with me, so I actually ended up having a very fine meal that I topped off with dessert (creme brule). 

In the evening, we met Amanda who didn’t have a good night with Miles, or with the room steward who she let know had to “leave the room NOW.”  She was recovering with a movie and dinner in bed in M&D’s room, while mom, Tim and I went out to get our free drink of champagne for attending a sales pitch in the upscale jewelry room in the ship’s shops.

As we would discover, Holland America pushes all sorts of sales pitches on you- it’s constant and unrelenting.  Waiters on all decks and floors constantly trying to sell beverages and drinks, even coffee and hot chocolate, and then Holland America travel mugs.  Then shore excursions, spa treatments, souvenirs and chachkies, everything.  It got old, fast. 

We exited with our champagne glasses in tow (the plan: keep them in our rooms), on the way out we tasted a little liqueur, then mom and I went for a walk around the decks at sunset and ended up talking about professionalism and our lives over another drink on the lido deck as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.   The water was splashing in the pool as she sipped her $5.95 “drink of the day”: a Rum concoction that was described as “dangerous and delicious” while I had a martini.  The moon came out, and we lounged on the deck chairs and talked.