Thursday, September 25, 2014

Alaska: Part One - Cruise & Ketchikan

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
I know… FINALLY!!! Only about four months or so late… here’s part one…
Day 1 – May 23rd - San Francisco
My mom & stepdad flew in the day before so we caught up… and then we took a cab to the Port of San Francisco, did the usual boarding process… and headed out to sea across the San Francisco Bay and even under the Golden Gate Bridge as the sun started to set… it was amazing as the pictures will show…

This evening was the first of many Trivia events that we took part in. Now, I'm not going to lie... I thought that I was pretty good at trivia... but in the dozen or so trivia events that we went to, I found out that I knew enough random trivia just to be in the range of 3rd to 6th place, with zero victories. Why? I feel like a lot of these answers are repeated from other cruises... and the people that have been living on the boat for months/years, are probably just going off the answers from last week. Also, this is how I want to be put in a home. It costs just as much, you're constantly monitored medically (several fatalities on this cruise by the way, but EVERYBODY was old) and you travel the world as opposed to be abused by orderlies. Done and done...
Day 2 – May 24th - Day at Sea
This was the first of our Naturalist lectures that we attended that talked about Alaska in a purely nerdy way... and we absolutely LOVED it. It really wetted our appetite to actually see some real frontier... but that was still a few days away. So we enjoyed a pub style lunch where we had bangers & mash, fish & chips, and a few Boddington's to wash it all down (probably the best beer on the boat, not a lot of competition other than Stella Artois available at ONE bar on the whole ship). Just sayin...
That afternoon, I went to compete in a little Basketball free throw contest... and I had absolutely no expectations having LITERALLY not touched a basketball in almost two years... so I don't need to tell you that I F**KING WON!!! Well, it was best of ten... and I hit 8 out of 10... and the court was not really a court. It was used as a tennis court too... and was on top of the boat about 15 stories above water... and the wind is always rushing through there... and the boat is always swaying, especially at top speed on the high seas... so yeah, not ideal conditions at all... but I still shot 80% rusty as an old fence... so BOOSH!!! More medals were on the way...
That night, they had the Marriage Match Game Show which is basically the Newlywed game... but for married couples... otherwise Izzy & I would have completely won with ridiculous answers... but luckily they had old people... but it was still hilarious. Anyway, that's a day at sea...
The food aboard the Star Princess was also pretty impressive (except for the one day coming up later), Izzy took pictures of all of it... but I just wanted to give them some love & highly recommend this cruise for the food alone if you HAVE to pick one. The dinner was great, free pizza was readily available, buffet style meals throughout the day, more food than you try to eat... next day.
Day 3 – May 25th – Day at Sea
First this late morning was a Champagne Art Auction... which after being over an hour late, we totally bailed on even before we got our "free" champagne... so f**k cruise ship art auctions, waste of f**king time & money.
So we went to the Piazza of the ship to watch the Star Downs Horse Racing, which was basically horse racing... but with six wooden horses & they toss three dice at a time to determine who moves forward. After a few races, they had the option of "BUYING" the horses to dress up for the final race on the last day of the cruise... and the "OWNER" gets half of the pot on that race. Well, I bought a horse... so we were all set for the race. However, we learned the next day that we didn't "BUY" the horse, we basically rented it... so we couldn't do anything permanent in the decorating of the horse for the final race as we had to give it back at the end. Hmm... f**k your false advertising... but challenge accepted.
Next was Basketball Best of 10, which was where you took two shots from five different spots... and I WON AGAIN!!! However, one of the other guys then changed his answer after I had won & said that we tied... so then it went to a shootout and after a few shots he had "won" but I still got a little silver medal... but we all know (and frankly who cares? You don't & you're reading this).
That night, we played the Majority Rules Game Show, where you're given something like "Who is the most beautiful woman of all time?" and "What's the greatest movie of all time?" and everybody answers... you only get the point if you answered what the #1 response was. Interesting game... we did not do well, but our answers were definitely the funniest. Speaking of funny, we also went to a show of Comedian Carl Strong & he wasn't bad. We saw him the next day too as he was very popular... and everybody else on the ship did too... standing room only for all the performances. Good times.
Day 4 – May 26th – Memorial Day at Sea
This morning had another Naturalist lecture, this time about whales... which we would soon see... and it was awesome. That afternoon, we went to a demonstration of how to do some Origami... and saw a little bit of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" on the big projector on the top deck while drinking a few beers... and then that night we played trivia Top Five of Everything & did okay... but yeah, still lost. This day was kind of boring.
That evening, we even went to a sorta dance routine performance called "Destination Anywhere" and... it was okay but... there was one portion that seemed REALLY out of place. The concept was them bouncing all over the world & doing song and dance routines for each place... but London's was... basically it was set to Jack the Ripper as people were singing "Roxanne" in the style of Moulin Rouge... and there was a lot of dead hookers by the end... but it was sandwiched in between perky things like singing "Hot Hot Hot" in the Caribbean and "That's Amore" in Rome or something like that... it was REALLY off-putting but we found it hilarious. 
Day 5 – May 27th - Ketchikan, Alaska
Unfortunately this first day in Alaska started with Izzy getting sick (my guess is food poisoning) early in the morning. We tried a few different things but… to spare you the details, it wasn’t working… so even after she tried to soldier on through it, we decided it was best if she just got some rest & see if that helped. The remaining three of us exited the boat & went on a magnificent city tour with a local guide who had lived there in the small town of Ketchikan for almost 20 years. As we’ve found most of the locals did, he had some opinions about how cruise ships & tourism have both helped the city and also destroyed what made it so great in the first place… but regardless he has to make enough of a living during the tourist times to finance his whole year of staying there, so it’s kind of a catch 22 that he enjoys. Our first stop was heading out to Rainbow Falls

After that, we headed to the Totem Heritage Center where he talked about the history of totem poles & we saw some fine examples on display…

One fun note about Alaska is that Bald Eagles, who have long been a symbol of America, are quite prevalent there. Like… almost to the point of what seagulls are like here on the West Coast or back home in Utah… almost a nuisance. Apparently they go through trash & crap all over people’s cars just like any other bird… but just though it was funny that they almost have a problem with there being too many bald eagles & they’re just causing a mess… while down here in the Lower 48 it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see one at a zoo.
The tour guide then dropped us off at Creek Street, which is probably the most famous street in Ketchikan. During the salmon runs, the creek that flows through it is basically flush with salmon… and other wildlife coming to eat them such as eagles and BEARS!!! Because it was May there was no salmon in the streams this time… but something we may want to consider for the trip back in August or so. So we wandered along the shops… and also checked out Dolly’s House which was a reputable brothel back in the early 20th century… but is now kind of a tourist trap (there are a few of these throughout Alaska). Dolly’s story was actually quite interesting as she was the Madame of this house of prostitution… and was actually turning tricks pretty much into her 70’s… and was still quite popular. Don’t think about it too long but… yeah. Go Dolly! Empowering business woman extraordinaire…

We headed back towards the boat as Izzy was feeling better… and we wanted to make sure that she had at least a little fun while in Ketchikan… so we met up with her on the way to our next adventure, which was a Floatplane adventure to Misty Fjords National Monument. Yep! We know how to travel… but there was a catch. We all boarded the plane, it took off, we headed out towards the Fjords… and after about 15 minutes, the pilot mentioned that he heard something rattling… and that he was going to head back to be on the safe side… which is perfectly understandable. God knows I didn’t want to die my first day in Alaska. Long story short, we were refunded our money… and basically got a free quick flight over the city of Ketchikan for about 20-30 minutes. BEHOLD THE GLORY!!!

After that, we boarded the ship again, we rested up a bit... and then went on the deck to look for animals while the naturalist narrated... and that was a lot of fun.
Already planning our return trip in a few years, we continued en route to our next destination… the Capital City of Alaksa, JUNEAU!!! But that… will be another entry as I’ve bored you enough already… but trust me… you’ll want to check out part two… there’s great beer, glaciers, helicopters, boats, more beer, more glaciers, more boats and most importantly… WHALES!!! Have a great day everybody!!!

No comments:

Where Should I Go Next?