what I learned on my summer vacation…

Five Sails, Canada Place, Vancouver BC

We chose the perfect week to take an Alaska cruise as it was hotter than hell in the SF Bay Area the first week of September. We were instead basking in the autumnal glow of the Inside Passage and Gulf of Alaska. Normally autumn in the Bay Area is my favorite time of year, but this one just feels too warm. Gee, I wonder why? There must be some science behind it…ya think?!

Stanley Park totem, Vancouver BC

We flew to Vancouver via Seattle where hubs ran into my cousin who was waiting for the same flight to Vancouver. They were sailing the day before us on another cruise line… what a coincidence!

In the end we surrendered our seats on that overbooked flight and came away with $800 in travel credits on Alaska Air, arriving on another airline just an hour later. When we arrived at our hotel in Vancouver, we were upgraded to a bay-view suite on the 19th floor overlooking Stanley Park, the cruise ship terminal, the mountains and the entire bay where the float planes landed and took off. It was pretty incredible. Truly our airplane seat karma had already paid off!

one of two sunsets we witnessed onboard ship

We spent a day and a half exploring Vancouver, which had changed a bit since I was last there…in 8th grade! All I remembered was rain, but it was sunny and beautiful, and in fact they are having a drought. Lawns are dead now and it is wall-to-wall glass skyscrapers of condos. Still, it is a gorgeous location, between the Gulf Islands and the mountain ranges.

Kenai Fjords Natl Park

We sailed from Vancouver to Seward, AK on Silversea. I chose this cruise line because of their small ships which are able to maneuver into smaller waterways and ports. Although every port where we docked there were also the behemoth cruise ships. So much for that reasoning!

There were so many great things about this cruise line, but the best far and away, was no one under 18 allowed. There were no kids running and screaming anywhere, anytime. It was wonderful and truly felt like a respite.

The second best thing was we had our own butler and suite maid! Granted they served many customers, but you need something, you pick up the phone and voila! it’s there. We ate all our breakfasts and several dinners en suite, all delivered, set up and taken away by our butler.

Ketchikan

The third best were the enrichment lectures. The speaker was Kevin Miller from VisionBound. His talks about the towns and cities we were to visit were really interesting, but I was sold by his talk on Insights and Tips for Communicating with the Other Gender and his talk on The Four Generations (Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Milliennials).  I thought being wed 46 years that I could probably give the first talk, but alas I still learned something! And the talk about the generations also was incredibly enlightening for us as we have a Gen X daughter.

Our butler was from New Delhi and gorgeous! He spoke really quickly so I got about every tenth word. Instead I just smiled a lot! Our maid was from the Philippines and had been away from her 7 yr old daughter cleaning cruise rooms for ten months. So the first thing I learned on my summer vacation was a reminder about gratitude for the life I live, the blessings of travel, and that we are still physically able to travel. Travel truly opens one’s eyes to just how fortunate we are.

autumn colors, Sitka

iceberg, Hubbard Glacier

When I traveled solo to Japan in 2002 I remember seeing alongside the train tracks, miles and miles of high rise buildings with tiny apartments within. I was stunned how so many live in such small spaces while I have an entire house to call home. On that trip I became so aware of cultural differences, and even more so how greedy (and spoiled) we are about our square footage in the States.

It is said travel expands horizons, which is so true. There are many in this country who need to get out more, to see and assimilate just how fortunate they truly are.

Back to Alaska…Although we had previously seen Denali and the interior of Alaska as well as sailed the Norwegian fjords, I figured the coast of Alaska would basically look the same as it is roughly the same latitude. Wrong! It was spectacular beyond belief…the force of nature reflected throughout the inside passage, the mountain ranges, clouds, waterfalls, fjords, glaciers; all just incredibly gorgeous.

We walked to the Totem museum and Ms. Dolly’s (bordello) in Ketchikan, saw the Mendenhall Glacier and State Museum in Juneau, took a roundtrip train trip to the Canadian border in Skagway, communed with my Russian predecessors in Sitka, took a 4 hr rail trip from Seward to Anchorage, and then toured Anchorage. We averaged about 2.5-3 miles of walking a day, pretty good for two folks with wobbly parts.

Before leaving I bought a pair of Nike ‘running shoes’ as I didn’t want to take my walking shoes as they are so heavy. I loved the red (and black) so I bought them, and didn’t think much more about it. Well listen, I had no less than four young people, one as young as 10 I would guess, go ape over my red Nikes! Who knew I was so cool? I just cared that I found shoes that fit, irregardless of them being red and high fashion!

TurnAgain Arm

 

another day, another glacier!

tundra from the train

By weeks end, I had hemmed, hawed and vacillated about booking another cruise for next year. Would hubs be able to travel next year, could he keep up? Worry, worry, fret, fret. I slept on it and in the morning another reminder emerged.

None of us knows how we will feel next month, let alone next year. If we wait until the stars are all aligned, we will go nowhere nor do anything. Just do it …and in red shoes!  (thx Nike)

These are but a few pics. My usual shape, pattern, texture collages are posted to Instagram if you care to check it out.

cloud porn from return flight

8 Responses to “what I learned on my summer vacation…”

  1. What a trip! Great pictues. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Cindy Kelleher says:

    So glad you went on this trip and had a good time. LOVE the shoes! Thank you for sharing your pictures, I can live vicariously through them.

  3. Martha Ginn says:

    I loved reading about your trip! So glad you got to do this, and thanks for sharing with us.

  4. debby says:

    I love your travel blogs! I didn’t know there were “no kids” cruises. That is a good tip. Love your red shoes–even though I don’t run, I spend a lot of time choosing first the comfortable shoes, but a close second is choosing the prettiest colors 🙂

    • Carol says:

      Thanks Debby! Yes, I had forgotten this was an ‘adults only’ cruise until we embarked. I noticed right away, no kids. And was really reminded of the luxury when we were in Ketchikan and a Disney cruise ship unloaded!

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