Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Mind is Blank

I'll do one of those bob exercises and type whatever comes into my head:

It's raining here today; Winter has returned temporarily.
I ate an almond Snickers bar after lunch.
I still haven't washed my breakfast dishes.
I've been in a real funk lately.
I have four empty water bottles beside me.
I have gone to the ladies room once.
Where has all that water gone?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

My Alaskan Adventure

I have travelled pretty much all over this fine country of ours –as well as a few places in Canada- and after this, my third visit, I think I’ve finally figured out why I love Alaska so much. I’ve observed that the mindset most Alaskans cherish is one of indifference (and yes, many enjoy making fun of us “cruise ship rats” walking around town and even have secret code names for us). I suppose I could even label Alaskans elitists because no one considers themselves as being part of America - even though every single “Alaskan” I’ve met (except for the Native Americans) is from somewhere else. In truth, most Alaskans refer to the “lower 48” as an entirely different country, and from an Alaskan point-of-view, it really is! Still, I think there is something about this state that draws very independent and eccentric types. Most people don't just "end up" in Alaska, it's a place and a life style you pretty much choose.

For starters, eight months of the year, in most of Alaska, there is snow. I’ve been told stories about how the winters are cruel without exception, but if you weather one, residents claim, you can pride yourself on being able to survive anywhere. I often found myself asking "How can you stand only three hours of sunlight for six months out of the year?" The answer was always one word: Summer. One shop keeper told me that what seems like overnight, the frozen tundra explodes into life and everything turns green. It's actually called "breakup" because it happens so fast but when it does, it leaves no doubt in your mind why mosquitoes are jokingly called the “State Bird.”

I’ll share a few highlights of our trip:

While I didn’t see Russia (dang!), I was told by a local that Little Diomede Island (Alaska) and Big Diomede Island (Russia) are only about 2.5 miles apart so Russia can definitely be seen from Alaska ….. as long as its light out and the weather hasn't reduced visibility below a couple miles. Realistically though, without the aid of some kind of mirage, it's impossible to see mainland Russia from mainland Alaska. So I guess *technically* Ms. Soccer Mom wasn’t a total Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire.

Speaking of Momma Grizzly, there is actually a Sarah Palin store in Skagway. Apparently she lived there when she was a child but locals claim that her home no longer exists. It was a rental and was torn down. Her store carries life-size cardboard figures of her, T-shirts, Sarah Palin paper dolls complete with the $1500 wardrobe bought for her with GOP money, McCain/Palin campaign signs and bumper stickers (had a lot leftover is my guess). Mr. itsme actually went inside but I just couldn’t stomach it and waited outside gnashing my teeth and spitting a lot.

I met and shook hands with Libby Riddles, the first woman and four time winner of the Iditarod sled dog race. She gave a nature talk aboard ship one afternoon and she was AWESOME. Found out how the dogs to be trained to race are chosen, what they eat, and their training regime. She told us what it felt like travelling with only canine companionship the 1,100 miles beginning in Wasilla and ending in Nome. Let me just say here and now that I could never do what she did, even if my life depended on it.

Our cabin was wonderful. We were on deck 9, the Dolphin deck, and had a mini-suite with a balcony that we used a lot. Food on cruise ships is notoriously abundant and outrageously good. I can’t say I had a bad meal in all of our 7 days aboard. Twice we went to the ship’s wine bar, ordered a glass of wine and gorged on free sushi and tapas. And seafood. Words cannot describe all the different kinds of fresh fish we ate (had lamb one night, all other nights it was seafood). There were lots of things to do too. Besides walking around the different Ports of Call, we watched a martini making and ice carving demonstration one day while at sea; had a cooking lesson from the Chef de Cuisine and toured one of the galleys (kitchens). Got to meet the ship’s Captain at a champagne reception one night, found out that he and most of his crew were Italian and the majority of the galley staff were Greek. I finally got to watch the movie “Toy Story 3.” We went on a Pub Tour (our only shore excursion this time around) in Victoria, B.C. and sampled some great microbrews. Canadians do know how to brew beer!

Then it was back to reality as we headed home. I still can’t get used to making my own bed again every morning and I miss the foil-wrapped pieces of chocolate left on my pillow every night. And where is our waiter with my glass of wine and beautiful platters of sushi when I get home from work? At least our three kitty girls were happy to see us!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

I'm Baaaaaaack!

Did anybody miss me?
Did anybody even notice I was gone?