Friday, May 31, 2013

Saving the Best to Last

Late Night Pizza

Two evening shows featuring songs from Broadway and two standing ovations later we were having four cheese pizza, salad or cookies in the Ocean View Cafe. Now that is cruising.

... packing is exhausting work ...
I was up again ... early, walking the halls, getting another couple of decks of cards for bridge, coming back to the room to alert Wyona that there was another watercolour class.

I have pretty well given up – another talent that I am going to pass on ... develop those art skills when I get to heaven, I thought to myself. I am working on being polite.
... three point landing ...
a cruising talent
That is all. Like, instead of turning the lights on in the room when I come back from my walk, I go into a pitch black room and try to find the bathroom door by Braille. This is not easy. I could find an open door but I was blocked by wood from entering the room. I went back to the wall, ran my hand over it, trying to find a knob. No door handle anywhere. By now I was using large circling motions with both of my arms. I have been doing Zumba. They are flexible. Still no way to get into the bathroom so I am patting down every wall. I have forgotten that this room has a closet where Wyona and Greg keep their folded stuff. This is what I have been trying to enter in the dark. Cruising is hard work.

We are doing the inside passage today -- seeing for ourselves that the beauty we already know is British Columbia extends along this whole coast. We are out of the Alaska Panhandle and in the waters that separate Vancouver Island from the mainland. So beautiful.

But back to the morning – since Wyona wouldn’t get up and go to the art lesson, I went to check it out and one of those wonderful things happen where the student and the master connect. I might like painting after all. The pedagogy was just right for me: this is about having fun; take 30 minutes, do what you can and be out of there; use the same palette over and over (just let the paints dry and wet them down when you begin again). Now I have a new kit of paper, brushes and colours and tons of tips. ie there is a watermark on the paper, usually lower right hand side that will let you know which is the right side of the paper. During the lesson the teacher diverged a bit to answer a question and then said, “I don’t know where I was in the lesson, so I don’t know where to start again.”

... one more peak at the water ...
“You were explaining the difference between negative a positive space.”


That voice was mine.

I must have been taking notes in my mind and not evening knowing it.

 I would have broken out my paints and got busy, if I hadn’t been racing off to zumba.

... a last night ... at least for a while ...
Everyone else is on the stage.

I stay at the back of the auditorium with the shy people, in the shadows, following the leader from far away.

I am not ready to be in the spotlight to do the cumbia until have it mastered in the dark.


Last of the Blues

LtoR: Arta, Jean, Byrn, Wyona, Greg
...saying good-bye to the charming inside passage ...
I am starting to make my goodbyes ... looking forward to Alberta again. I dressed for dinner again – the glitter, the sequins, the pearls, the silk shawls, thinking how much fun they have been. Early by ½ hour, I went to spend it at the Cafe el Bacio, listening to jazz. How cool is that for the start of an evening. The guitarist was making me laugh, musically. “Would the guest from Room 2019 report to the Community Relations desk immediately.”

“Looks like somebody is not on board yet,” said the guitarist and then strummed dum, de dum dum / dum, de dum dum dah ... and the guests laughed. The theme from Dragnet. “I didn’t say a thing,” he went on.

“Can you play a tune from 39, 25, 37,” someone from South Carolina called out. “Can you give me the name of one of those tunes.”

“My Guy.”

“O.K.”, said the guitarist. “If I were in South Carolina, I would just do this.” He turned on his electronic section of drum strumming and let it play telling us ... look, music and no hands, South Carolina style. Those of us listening were laughing, at least on the inside. He said, “Look, I can do it manually as well,” turned off the electric aid and went on to pick the same rhythm on his guitar, soon adding the words and tune, his voice bending the notes in typical blues fashion. The people in the bar and its plaza were swaying with the music. “Now watch, as I add the band.” Back on went his electronic back up. Too soon the song was over. The audience was loving it. He slipped into some open conversation. They were two tables away from me. The waiter got mixed up and gave me the change from their bill. So I got a free drink and $5.00. And now they want $2.50 of it back.” Again everyone laughed and Butler slid into his next set. I had to go – formal night trumps blues in the bar ... at least when I am dressed for it.


Silver Store

Wyona and I were trapped in a store that sold silver jewellery decorated with Haida or Tlingit icons. We looked in cabinets more than once. Wyona finally shed her soft Italian leather coat, which more than one clerk has admired during this voyage. She put it on the floor and I piled my fleece and utilitarian rain coat on top, since it was uncomfortably hot to shop. “Put your coats on top of the show cases,” the clerk said.

... I can't decide on just one ...
“No,” we bossed her back. “Then we won’t be able to see all of your product.” I finally picked something out and having the clerk put it aside, while I just went through the cases one more time. Wyona was doing as well as I. Other customers kept coming in the door. The clerk would help them, come back to us, then back to them and finally said to us, “I am short staffed today. Just go behind the counter and take out from underneath what you want to look at. Undo the locks on the showcases and look around.”

“I am not going to do that. What will happen is that other people will come into the store, think I am a clerk, and I will end up selling product instead of buying what I want.”

“She does that,” Wyona warned, “and you will have to give her a commission.”

Yes, we stayed in the store too long. Yes, we purchased more than we thought we should have. Yes, we know where the clerk is from, how long she has been in Canada, how many children she has, who owns the shop, it it makes money and why her husband is in the hospital. Yes, there were tight hugs when we left the shop. “Please don’t go without giving me a hug,” she said to both of us. I don’t know how Wyona creates the warmth, but I am lucky to get in on it.



May 15, 2013
... I had never seen a moveable stop sign before ...
I have to get out and look around the world more

 ... a good bye to the sun ...
Greg only wanted to go to one store today.

The store was full of marble sculptures.

Alaska green jade to begin with, but then marble from every area down the coast, different colours, and hardness and different qualities when polished.

The table that goes with those chairs cost $7,000 to ship the clerk told us.

Some people buy these sculptures for foyers of buildings, or architects come in to buy a piece that they can design a home garden around.

... still water that reminded me of the pleasure of water-skiing...

Of all of the places we went today, I treasure the time we spent in that store – all of us separating, stroking lovely pieces: platters, tables, chairs, bowls, front entry way pieces.

... in the sculpture shop ...
I was worried that the boat would go and we would be left behind, since none of the three of us could remember what time we had to be on board.

... another cruise boat passes by us ...
I looked outside to see if I could find someone from our ship who might know.

We have been on the boat 5 weeks now, so it was easy to stand in the doorway of the shop and find a tourist that I knew was from the boat.

I told Greg that it is easy to distinguish the locals from the cruisers.

He laughed and said, yes, the locals all have on rubber boats.

.. the beauty of the changing view is ceaseless ...
What I noticed is that the tourists have Celebrity brand umbrellas in their hands or the arms of the men are loaded with souvenirs their wives have purchased.


Hoonah, Alaska

Icy Strait Point

May 14, 2013

Hoonah is the original name of this port. When Celebrity decided to use it as one of their stops, they renamed it to Icy Strait Point. This is unspoiled wilderness, native Tlingit Culture and a walk-friendly village. Greg said that Skagway has 600 people in the winter, and that is if you count the post-office boxes, not the people who are really there.

... the evening begins to fall ...
We were tendered in to Hoonah and tendered back to the Celebrity Millennium. Using the life boats is a chance to test them. Our life boat got an extra test. The driver missed getting close enough to the platform for the help to throw him a rope. The second trip round he seemed to get close enough, edging sideways, but the rope slipped off of the boat again and out we went for a third large circle, giving the driver, yet a little more practise on making a good approach. For some reason I had gone to sit at the front of the boat, and in all of this I had plenty of time to admire the lovely Italian shoe leather on the foot of the driver. When the rope was snuggly attached, all 165 people on board gave a huge cheer. He turned to them, apologized and said he didn’t know what happened. On the test he had received an “excellent” but now he knew the captain was not going to be happy. “Don’t tell us your real name,” some yelled from the back of the boat. “Someone else called, I thought I was going to miss lunch. I was getting worried.” I said to the woman in front of me, “At least none of the men on the boat went up to coach him in.” “Oh no,”said the woman back, patting the seat beside her which was now empty. “The man who was sitting here, apparently, is a professional.” I am trying to figure out why I was laughing. Group of old people now with high anxiety, tender going a roaring 2 mph, unable to reach the pleasure boat. I was one of them.

Of all of the places we have been, this feels like true wilderness. No Diamonds International, Tanzanite International. That helps. How about a ride on the world’s largest Ziprider -- $100 for 90 seconds. I stood underneath the six zip lines, listening to the screams long before the people appeared out of the mist and zooming down towards us. I waved. They waved back. They have a trip called Guaranteed Whale Watching or your money back. Since 2004 they have not had to return any money. The kayakers were coming home just as I was going back to the boat. There is a forest Tram. I wanted ... really wanted to go to the Tribal Dance and Legends, but I was too late for the morning show and too tired to get back to the afternoon show. “Won’t you just take my money at the door?”, I asked at the Native Theatre when I saw them putting out the sign, Show in Progress. “No. You have to go back around those other buildings to the ticket office. Try for the afternoon show. But by then I was trapped on a tender boat that was having trouble docking.

Greg walked into the town, proper. Along a less travelled road to the airport. That is where he saw a bear. All we have been hearing from cruisers is that they would like to see a bear. Greg did not want to see one.

I checked out the Hoonah Historic Canning Line, the Museum, the beach trail, the wood chip fire on the beach, and the nature trail. I did the walk twice, both times in the rain, watching photographers get down low to capture the yellow leaves and the ochre colour of the pistal of the Skunk Cabbage. I do that out at the lake.


White Pass Summit

All Aboard!
May 14, 2013

... waiting for the engine to start ...
... capturing part of our train as we round the bend ...
The Scenic Railway of the World. White Pass Summit.

Board the train and then watch out the window as the following pass by: the Gold Rush Cemetery, Black Cross Rock, Bridal Veil Falls, Dead Horse Gulch, the Steel Bridge. Greg reminded me that Dave Wood has been wanting to take this trip for years – but my car.

Moiya always says, “Go, but I am not getting in the car.”

After the railroad ride, I can see why Wyona and Greg are taking the railroad trip for the second time ... and why Dave might want to go there.

Stunning to climb the side of the mountain until the summit is before you with its trees, hundreds of years old but not able to grow higher than six feet tall because of the climate.

... the conductor takes our ticket ...
An excellent part of the trip was when the train broke down.

At the end of the line, people were told they could get off in town and walk around, or stay on the train and be delivered back to the vessel. Greg got off.

We elected to stay on the train. The engine was to come around from the back to the front of the train for that journey, but the engine wouldn’t start.

The next thing we heard was an announcement that 3 coaches were coming to take us back to the boat.

I decided to get off and walk – a test to see if could walk back faster than the coaches could make it back after loading all of those people.

I beat Wyona back, though she was stopped on the gangplank by a woman in front of her who collapsed to her knees.

Travelling with old people?

... the top of White Pass Summit ...
There is often drama, just in climbing stairs. 

Someone collapsed on the stairs. 

Wyona was the one who caught her as she was going down and called for help.

... water tumbling down the hills ...
Tonight we are sailing down the Lynn Canal, part of the inside passage of the Pacific Ocean.

Tomorrow morning we will wake up in Hoonah, Alaska.

The port is so small that you can get to the ship from anywhere in town, in 10 minutes.

As the activities director said today, “In a couple of hours, you can see the whole town ... twice.”



skylight in dining room floor
 ... Skagway seen below ...
May 14

I hear statements in the day that surprise me, or that make me laugh inside.

 Today a woman on the train said that she met her husband in a way few other people can say they met their mates.


“I can’t guess,” I said.

“On jury duty”, she replied.

... plane landing outside of our window ...
The woman was right – jury duty – not usually seen as a place to meet someone.

 ... the old houses and the new ...
I woke up this morning to pouring rain. I walked the halls, stopping to view the bay – a black pole in the middle of the bay – odd.


The concentric rings moving out from the pole made me think perhaps that black pole was really a seal – and yes, it surfaced again after disappearing. So strange, to see a seal in its natural habitat and not in an aquarium. The rain continued. I got in the elevator to go back to my floor and said to the room attendant. “It is pouring out there.”

 ...planes just off of main street ...
ready to give a shore excursion
“Yes. And it is raining too.”

That made me laugh.


A Bust

... evening falls at the back of the boat ...
May 12, 2013

I do not know what Greg and I were thinking. One of the Featured Events on the Celebrity TODAY paper was called Alaska Port and Shopping Guide Talk. “Get tips & tricks for the best shopping ashore from our Shopping Guide. Whether you’re looking for souvenirs, jewelry, or just browising, this is the talk for you”, the brochure said.

No, this was not the talk for Greg. Nor for me. A paper to fill out so that Peter Sorenson could become our Personal Port Shopping Guide. Call him at 8174, anytime, day or night and he will tell us where to buy the best diamonds, tanzanite or ammolite. And he will help us choose silver that is 925 or teach us how to pick up chocolate or cafe diamonds. How many of you would like a pair of free earrings for yourself? I did see Greg put his hand up slow, alongside his suit, so that only I could see. What a goof he is.

I went to hear the Blues Band at night, the timing right out of my comfort zone: 10:45 pm to 11:45 pm. Wyona sent me off to the Rendezy-Vous Lounge hollding a Coke in stemmed glass. I sat in the front room.

I did dance – probably the first time since Richard’s wedding. The guitarist put down his guitar, stepped onto the dance floor, said, come one, Alberta, let’s dance. A few rounds of the floor and a pirouette to which he said, “You have got the moves, baby.”

That made me laugh so hard. “I have to go back up on the stage. Do you want to come with me.”

I didn’t. The truth about the evening is that the music was so good that the dancing couples stopped to sit and listen. “Come on. Dance,” he called.

“We can’t. Your too good,” a woman called back. Since he was playing some Little Richard he said back to her, “You know Little Richard is not with us anymore. I played with him. He died from chicken. Too much friend chicken. We used to tell him, hang back on that stuff. But he couldn’t. Sometimes his fingers were so greasy that he would drop his instrument.

Oh yes. Nothing like a night of Blues on a cruise ship, unless it is a weekend of Roots and Blues.


Hubbard Glacier, Part II

... cold enough to be wearing gloves, even if you aren't ...
May 12

My poor little camera didn’t know what to do today.

Point and click usually works, but today the vessel was headed to Hubbard Glacier, 31 miles in diameter.

So many shades of white and ice blue between the sky, the glaciers, the snow-topped mountains and the icebergs in the water.

Wyona was excited with the first berg bits that were sighted, but she has been here before, so she knew it was the beginning of nature’s ice-water wonderland. Glacier Seekers. That is the name the instructor gave to all of those who listened to him on channel 16 as we cruised along, Captain Tamamas at the helm. He stopped to pick up two more navigators who would help us get to the most permissible point possible in Yakutat Bay.

... mixing textures and states of water ...
Naturalist Dirk Younkerman narrated the trip over the ship’s PA system. Apparently there are many glaciers protected now, so that cruise ships and other methods of transportation can’t get too close to them. This is one of the few that can still be accessed by a vessel this large.

Wyona and Greg on the family balcony
... trailing bits of berg ...
I usually buy those after I have been some place because I want to know more.

I believe that the best travel books for any regions are the ones that I can buy in the local bookstore of that region.

 I know that is true in Calgary and Banff.

And I can never buy enough, or know enough. If I lend mine and don’t get them back, I am always hoping that the person will at least reach for them as often as I do.


Hubbard Glacier, Part I

... the first iceberg I sailed by ...
... turquoise water and white berg bits ...
When I had finished high school, The University of Alberta, Calgary Branch had an abbreviated selection of first year courses. I couldn’t get a full complement of Arts courses, but I could fill in the blanks with sciences courses.

I took geology because Doral told me I would have a different way of enjoying the world if I took that course.

And the only other choice for me was to take biology as well, even though I had done physics and chemistry in high school.

Apparently, there I was, doing experiments determining the eye colour of fruit flies, even though I had no previous background from high school. What was I thinking?

... interesting striations in the berg bits ...
At any rate, here I am 50 years later, and Doral was right – my own interest in all of the tour talks I do for passengers when I am travelling the trans Canada highway spring from that course. In fact, I was a passenger in a bus, taking us on a field trip from Calgary to Banff, hearing many of those facts I now tell, since I learned them in a Geology 200 lab.

When I see single rocks and when I see large geology formations, the background is still there.

Last night when the naturalist, Dirk Younkerman, was introducing us to what we will see in the next 7 days, I was wondering how I am going to take in the happiness of seeing the famous Hubbard Glacier.

... keeping off the light drizzle while watching the water and ice ...
Not that Wyona hasn’t introduced me to her pictures and movies of it from last year. And although Greg, Wyona and I all fell asleep, not collectively, but at least one of us at any given time, I still heard enough to know that today’s event of passing by that glacier in a boat from 2 to 3 pm is going to be an hour that will have heightened pleasure for me.


The Audience


You know I love National Theatre Live.  They have a new play coming up that is being shown around the world in HD.  The show has many dates posted, so you will have to find the one that works for the theatre in your community.

I will be in Victoria, June 13th, so will be looking to see if it is there then.  I hope you find it in a theatre near you.  I read in the paper that a group of drummers were walking by the theatre, their noise disrupting the performance and Mirron came out as the Queen and bawled them out on the street.  Now that is funny!  Maybe a better performance outside than the one going on inside.


Helen Mirren reprises her Academy Award winning role as Queen Elizabeth II in the highly-anticipated West End production of The Audience, broadcast as part of National Theatre Live. For sixty years Elizabeth II has met each of her twelve Prime Ministers in a weekly audience at Buckingham Palace - a meeting like no other in British public life - it is private. Both parties have an unspoken agreement never to repeat what is said. Not even to their spouses. The Audience breaks this contract of silence - and imagines a series of pivotal meetings between the Downing Street incumbents and their Queen. From Churchill to Cameron, each Prime Minister has used these private conversations as a sounding board and a confessional - sometimes intimate, sometimes explosive. From young mother to grandmother, these private audiences chart the arc of the second Elizabethan Age. Politicians come and go through the revolving door of electoral politics, while she remains constant, waiting to welcome her next Prime Minister. The Audience reunites writer Peter Morgan and Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren following their collaboration on the critically-acclaimed movie sensation The Queen. The Audience is directed by Academy Award-nominated director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours) and presented in the West End by Matthew Byam Shaw for Playful Productions, Robert Fox and Andy Harries.

The Paper Boy is the new pink...
Duncan has a paper route: 60 papers two times a week – Wednesday and Friday.

He gets 1.5 cents per paper and an extra half a cent if there is a flyer insert, which there is, today.

This works out to $5.00 a week. If a friend sleeps over, Rebecca usually gives both of them $5.00 each for the day – just an incentive to keep going.  Doesn't this mean she is loosing 300%, mathematically speaking.

Rebecca and Steve accompany him on the walk.

... doing homework after papers ...
The added bonus is that while they get no pay, they do get exercise.

 I don’t know who bought the shoes for Duncan – well, I do know that.

What I don’t know is where Duncan gets the taste for the colour of the shoes.

I noticed that orange is the colour that is “in” when I go to Moores Men’s Wear and see the mannequins – each with an orange tie.

Duncan is not sure if the marshmallows are
decomposing, disintegrated or deydrated.
But to get neon orange – I would have had to bribe someone to wear shoes that colour and here Duncan is doing it of his own free will.

Rebecca is happy for the shoes double as a safety warning – no need for a reflective jacket with shoes like that.

In her own closet she has a pair of slippers, a gift from her friend in the Netherlands.

... Rebecca's slipper  hostess gift ...
Apparently orange is the national royal colour and the colour of their sporting events.


The new pink.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Welcome to Her World

image from floor in Calgary International Airport
I woke up this morning to Rebecca’s alarm, her snooze alarm.  

 As I lay there alongside her, not quite sleeping, I wondered how many extra muscles she has in the arm she uses to hit that button  -- one more time, time and time again. "

What is the exact moment that you have to get up?", I thought.   "How many times will I hear that alarm until it is the last time you can hit it,” I wondered, beginning to count. 

floor carries images of Alberta's  pioneer and oil heritage
Knowing not to ask that question, I said to her, “I need to know the shape of my day each morning.  Could you tell me what we are going to do today.”

“I won't be telling you. Welcome to disappointment,” she said without blinking, threw on her clothes and was out of the room.  

 I guess this is a free day for me.

 ... foggy early morning in Vancouver ...
Too bad she didn't remember she had me come a couple of days early so that I can type for her while she sketches out the general outline of two papers she hasn’t started but are past the deadline to submit. 

... view of mountains while flying to Vancouver ...
Mary is so busy at work that she is giving her workplace her lunch hour, and has been for a week now.

Mary is even busier at night with her kids. 

There goes our hope of Mary editing  these papers once they do get from Rebecca’s head into black and white.

Any volunteers out there?


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

beads for my new necklace?

I have always loved Wyona's idea of making a necklace from her children's baby teeth. but I don't have enough kids (or enough teeth) to draw on. But maybe a nice pair of earrings?
gems for my collection?
Duncan did provide me with 4 new 'beads' for my collection today. After months of waiting for these 4 babyteeth to come out on their own, the orthodontist said they were stuck between other teeth, and sent us to the dentist to have them extracted. As it happens, after Duncan got 1. the gas 2. numbing gel on gums and 3. the needle with the freezing, the Dentist left him a lone for a few minutes. Duncan, noticing that he couldn't feel his gums very well, stuck his own hands in his mouth and pulled two of the teeth on his own. I suggested that we should get a discount on the final bill, but my argument was not successful.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

FRC's Legally Blonde: the Musical's Programme
The last production of this season's Front Row Centre is  Legally Blonde: The Musical. Lurene Bates is the Musical Director of the show.

Her bio reads “This is Lurene’s music directorial debut? Thank you Tim and Janet in particular for your advice and support. This was a big undertaking, with a baby in tow most days. I hope you enjoy the show, because I loved being part of it. OMG, cast band, crew, and production team!

... alternate trombonist, Tim Oldham ...
 Tim Oldham also appears in the production as the trombone alternate. His bio reads “Tim is a substitute trombonist for a few shows. If you hear any notes that you think sound wrong, you’re mistaken. Time is just tryng to give the score a more ‘contemporary music’ flavour.

... waiting for the show to begin ...
I attended the Sunday matinee with Wyona, Zoe and Charise. Of course we aren’t allowed to take any pictures of the show, so I hope you enjoy the pics of ‘us’ at the show. On the way home Wyona asked Zoe which show she enjoyed more: the London Production or this one. Zoe said both were good. I have to agree with her. Elle was so “elle” with 15 costume changes . Warner was appropriately handsome and a good singer. Emmett’s voice so mellow I was wanting him to stop the show and do some of his numbers again.

If you have seen the in London you will know how funny it is – and the humour hasn’t worn off with additional performances for me. I laughed at the same jokes – the UPS man, the Celtic dance, the scene  where Emmett suits up – and the Greek chorus – oh, they had some fine moments – not some – many!

 ...Tim and Wyona having a chat during the intermission ...
I kept watching some of their foot work, wondering if I could remember it long enough to go home and practise the steps.

There was a charm in this performance that didn’t grab me in London. On the way out I was telling Wyona that the actors milked some of the beautiful gag lines in a way that made me laugh outloud. She said she felt the same way.

Zoe in front of cast pictures -- including the dogs

The show goes May 24th to June 8th.

Our tickets were $15 each.

If I weren’t flying out to Victoria Wednesday morning, I would be going again and taking Ceilidh, Dalton and Meighan.

Maybe twice. A bargain compared to seeing it in the West End or on Broadway – the jokes and the fun of the musical numbers is all there.

 Hatterday Petro-Queens in the audience enjoying the production ...
...If Wyona and I had only known they were coming in costume ...
The only additional cost is that you will want to go out and buy the CD.

Stellar work, Lurene. Thanks to you and your colleagues for the fun.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Alaska to Vancouver

May 10, 2013

 ... octypus tentacles protecting eggs ...
Noro virus.

The vessel is trying to get rid of an outbreak of symptoms that look like noro virus.

Everyone must leave the ship today, no exceptions – taking cruises around the Kenai Fjords, coach trips to Anchorage, or walking around Seward – anything to let the workers armed with bottles of disinfectant get at the ship.

All-You-Can-Eat Salmon Buffet on the boat
To off the boat, all of us had to go through American Immigration.

If anyone is impartial, or if not that, at least able to judge the speed with which passport inspection works, it should be the 3 Canadians.

We have been through immigration in China, Japan, Russia – the line-ups are the same, long with people shifting from one foot to the other and saying out loud as they leave, “Never again. Never again.”

Or maybe the words are “Now that was a big mistake”.

... the barking of the sea lions was deafening ...
We don’t hear enough of the conversation to know what it was that was a big mistake, and for sure we don’t want to replicate the mistake, but there is no polite way to run after the disgruntled passengers to find out more of their story.

Greg says that someone should write an article called “The True Story of Cruising”. All he has ever seen are the sunny commercials, where the men have six packs and the women wear bikinis. The truth is long line ups, weary travellers from flights, some as long as 25 hours if people are arriving from New Zealand. The ones who flew into Anchorage had another 4 ½ hour train ride to the boat in Seward. That ride is supposed to be a traveller’s delight. If it is, they were awful crabby for having been on a pleasure trip.

... mountain goat ... this trip delivered so many sightings ...
The trip off of the boat that we took was entitled Kenai Fjords Wildlife Cruise. Wyona signed us up a few days ago – a bit expensive, but with when the boat gave us a $50 refund on our tickets since we didn’t go with the other group into Anchorage, the pain over the cost of the ticket was ameliorated: all you can eat prime rib and salmon, plus the promise of see Bear Glacier, part of the Harding Ice Field.

We took a trip through town, narrated by a local school bus driver. Now that was fun: here is the canning factory, there is the coal shoot through which the ore runs that is shipped from here to the Philippines, there is our one block of main street, to the right you see our local one screen movie theatre. Inside we have 5 different kinds of chairs. Going there is an experience. and now I am going to drop you off at the tourist centre.

sea lions basking in sun in lower part of picture
The building far outstripped any of the other local facilities. I watched the swimming birds catch and eat fish from an underwater vantage point. The highlight was to listen to a naturalist explain facts about Lulu, the local octopus who laid her eggs in March 2012 and hasn’t eaten since, but is tending them as they hatch ... right now in 3 and 6’s, but later this month, 2013, there will be a massive hatching before she finishes her life cycle and is finally eaten by the star fish and other sea creatures in the huge holding tank in which I saw her. Right now she fans her tentacles and brushes them away from the eggs that her tentacles surround, but soon she won’t even have the strength for that. In an hour I didn’t see much more than that in the building.

Seward sign points to Hawaii and North Pole
A park naturalist was on board, narrating the water tour. Her traditional park uniform, a wide brimmed hat ranger hat and khaki coloured coat with a US Parks insignia was accessorized with her hair in pig tails and a her nose ring and outfit. She knew her stuff sometimes referring to information she learned from her friend, the glaciologist. The 165 passenger boat had hardly begun to circle Resurrection Bay when ranger was using the placement of the hands on a clock to tell us where the wild life was. Otter in the water at 3 o’clock she began. The otter didn’t move, though she explained he spends his life in the water and was probably sleeping when we saw him. I believed her, though 1 per cent of me wondered if what I was looking at wasn’t a large balloon, shaped like an otter. I felt the same way about the bald eagle sitting in a tree. Have they just planted imitations of animals at certain points and then drive by them in a boat. I was convinced I was seeing animals in the wild when I saw rocks covered with seals, laying in the sun, honking, and seeing the scat covered cliff with a myriad of sea fulls sitting on the cliffs beside them was just a sight! There were sightings of grey whales, the first one in nature that this naturalist had ever seen herself, and multiple sightings of whales and their babies, back Resurrection Bay after their long swim from Hawaii. “Don’t those mountain goat ever all,” one passenger asked.

“Yes. My friend tags some of them, and when she sees them, some have broken limbs and teeth before she sents them loose in the wild again.”

We saw porpoises on our way back to Seward as well as many sightings of mature and immature bald eagles. “Have you ever been lucky enough to see a bear?”, someone asked me. I knew there was a whole conversation inside of me, which would end with, “Most of my summer days I feel lucky if I don’t see a bear.”

boat on land
Wyona headed back to the ship, but she left Greg a shopping list: a jar of Nivea Cream and a few bottles of Coke for her. He and I thought we could pick them up in this little village. I was trying to get a feel for its size, thinking in my mind ... Salmon Arm. But no – its population is a little over 3,000, multiplying itself to 30,000 on the 4 of July when they have the second oldest footrace in the world – one up to the top of Mount Marathon and back – the prize going to anyone who can race up and down the mountain in less than 45 minutes – which is about the standing record. So, a town of 3,000? Doesn’t that make Seward about the same size as my Sicamous.

We could see the beginnings of tourism in town as we walked. Pup tents on a field and about 25 pick-ups dressed up as travel vehicles, rimming the edge of the bay each one facing the lake with a perfect view of the water.

“No tires with studs / April 15 to Sept 15” a sign on the highway said.

So ... the trick for Greg and me was to find Nivea Cream. One local directed us across the street to The Fish Shop, a warehouse like structure, with everything from fishing tackle to plastic buckets for your home—but no Nivea. The shop owner told us we might find it at the local Chevron station.

 “I have never purchased hand lotion at the local gas station before,” I said to Greg, “but who am I to question local wisdom?”

The gas jockey told us no -- no hand cream there  ... go a half a mile down the highway to the community Safeway store. That was his best guess. “How many more thousand miles to Safeway”, Greg asked a group of 20 year olds who looked like they might be local kids. They left and flagged us onward to a store, whose only sign of being a Safeway was a small red “S” on its side wall. Hard to get lost in Seward.

The ship is in dock – 11 stories high, it towers over any other building in town. To walk back we only had to go down Port Drive which was accessed, for us now, by walking over a railroad track – just as we do as the Shuswap, and going down a steep incline, about like the one where the beach can be accessed from Janet’s and Glen’s house, without the nice steps that are there. “You are kidding me? We are going to travel down that slope? Only if you go ahead and I can lean on your back,” I said to Greg.

A runner passed us. One who was running for her life. I knew she was a dealer from the ship’s casino, Osaka. Her run let me know that Greg and I had an extra half hour to get to the boat. Vessel employee’s have to be on board ½ hour before the rest of us. Greg and I did not pick up our speed.

A person can walk from one end of Seward to another in ½ hour.