Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Alaska Cruise - First Installment - June 10 thru 14, 2011

June 10, 2011 – around Noon
On bus

40 minutes to pier

Ship sails at 4

Suitcase picked up at 10 am from hotel room

Relaxation will begin when suitcase is delivered to stateroom

June 10, 2011 – around 5pm
Boarded ship two hours ago.

No bag yet

Casino not open till 9pm

Relaxation still elusive

June 10, 2011 – around 6:30pm
Suitcase has arrived

Relaxation is filtering in - should spread through entire body in about 15 minutes ----- the mind will take a bit longer but probably not much more than casino-opening time + quarter of an hour!


June 11, 2010 – about 2am
If I were any more relaxed, I'd need to be resuscitated.

Dropped 500 on tables and slots last night - on the way out I dropped 100 into a slot - hit for 720 - went to bed 120 ahead .....

Room svc bkfst at 9 - showered, dried my hair on my terrace

11:30 trivia competition in the Crow's Nest - my team "The 3 Generations" won one last night and came in 3rd in another

Slot Tournament at 3

BBQ on Lido Deck at 8

Then I imagine it will be Casino time!

First port tomorrow - Ketchikan - doing the Saxman Native Village and Lumberjack Show excursion

Will continue this tomorrow (better than keeping a journal)

June 12, 2011 – around 9am
For starters - who in their right mind could have ever thought that me one deck away from a casino was a good thing?

Day 3 of a 14 day cruise and I'm about half way through my budget - had a bad run last night.

Docked at Ketchikan at 7 - have to be on shore be 11:20 for my tour.

Sitting in casino now (it’s closed, thank god - but its one of about 3 places I can smoke

Remembering taking a look on the internet last week at my cabin - what was the first thing I noticed?  Didn't think I'd be able to see the tv from my bed!  Pathetic.

Wherever you go, there you are.  And your self always goes there with you.

Others would make so much more of this adventure --- spa. Workout rooms, dancing, shows, fine dining......

But I'm not unhappy - actually quite content.  It's just that I often wish it took a bit more to make me content.

Off to Ketchican ..................

June 12, 2011 – around 10:30am
Got off ship at 10 - tour not till 11:30

Drizzly rain which is good for Ketchikan where they measure rain by feet instead of inches

About 55 degrees, and where are all my cozy sweatshirts?  Home in my closet!

Found a bar which serves coffee (and ashtrays) to wait in.  Not even 10:30 on a sunday morning and the beer and shots are flowing!

This is the part of traveling I like best - talking to locals in their environment.

Bartender-owner mustered out of the Navy in Seattle, 1969, headed north and never looked back

Guy downing beer at fast pace just got back from two week fishing trip. Going out again tomorrow.

Gotta finish coffee and find my tour group>

June 13, 2011 – around 4am
4am - exhausted and too late to put out a bkfst order

Too late to recap day - it was a good one

The casino curse has gone (at least for now) - 3-card poker, got a straight flush with 15 up - 40 to 1=600!

My bed beckons - sea a bit rough tonight - will be rocked to sleep

June 14, 2011 – around 9am
Today is a "sea day" (no port) - dangerous days.....the casino is open all day when we're not docked.

BUT today is really the first truly Alaska day - (also a bit dangerous).  About Noon we enter Tracy Arms, a narrow fjord toward Sawyer Glacier.  From today's issue of the ship's paper:  "The distance at which we can proceed depends entirely on the density of glacier ice within Tracy Arm as we must take great care not to damage our Azipods or Thrusters."

Don't know what those are, but sure don't want to damage them!

There is "resident" wildlife on the glacier and floating ice -- birds, seals and, possibly, bears.

Bkfst at the door - taking a journaling break................

OK - that was good.  Back to reportage.

Logistical challenge - room only has one outlet and I have three things that must always be ready to go: Kindle, Blackberry and camera.   Constantly need to determine which I'll need when and which is in jeopardy.  Keeps me on my toes.  Right now, camera is No. 1.

OK, yesterday.....

The native village was interesting - lots of totem poles, each telling a story.  Most are reproductions, about 40 yrs old - all cut, carved, painted and raised in 1000 year ways.

So many lovely things made of wood, including clothing!  Cedar hats!  Soft, pliable, elegant looking.  Went to buy one -----$1200!  Woulda cut WAY too much into my casino funds.

Then the Lumberjack show.  Kinda hokey but lots of burly men ....... !

Then it was back to the ship - nap - shower - some tv - dinner - and then to the casino till 4am

Think that brings things up to date - now shower and then to crow's nest for a trivia game and a $50,000 bingo game.

We've gone 953 nautical miles so far ....... We're traveling NE at 16.5 knots per hour ..... 51 nautical miles to Tracy Arm ..... Sunrise this morning at 3:58, sunset tonight at 9:52.

From the ms Amsterdam, signing off for now

June 14, 2011 – around 10am
Sitting in a strangely quiet casino.

My friend, Alang (from Bali) is busy shining up all the slots - but he saw me coming and had an ashtray waiting for me on the Roulette table.

My "expedition" today is taking a tram up Mt Edwards (some 4,000 ft) - the tram leaves every 15 minutes or so, and we don't sail until 9;30 tonight, so no rush.

Right now it's raining and visibility is about 40 ft, so - wouldn't see much at this point.  Haven't seen the sun yet at all.  Hopefully today will clear up a bit at some point.  If I end up not doing Mt Edwards I'll wander around the city.

Yesterday the highlight was going, oh so slowly, through the fjord, heading for the glacier (the Hubbard glacier, I think -- will have to check).

The closer we got, the slower we went, and the ice there was floating around us. 

It was wet and cold, so rather than go out on deck to watch the amazing scenery, those of us with gambling addictions watched from the casino, moving from the tables in the middle of the room to the slots next to the solid wall of windows.  (Somewhere between ice bergs, seals, eagles and the glacier I managed to turn 100 dollars into 350 in a quarter machine.)

There were many good sized "chunks" of ice but one which brought everyone to their feet - even staff who have done this often were pretty impressed, saying it was the biggest they'd ever seen.

Due to the amount of ice we didn't get as close to the glacier.  Last year we got pretty up close and personal and saw it "calving."  Not to be this time.

Ice sights (some caught on film and some missed) were

An eagle

A lone seal

A mother and a pup - momma apparently did not like the ship as she pushed the little off and slid into the water after it

Once we turned around headed back to Juneau, most of us headed back to the tables.

I am currently in the lead to be one of 7 who will play in the Blackjack tournament.  But people can continue to qualify so I won't know if I'm actually in the top 7 till tomorrow night (500 dollars to final winner).

It's interesting - you pay 20 to enter.  You then get 1,500 in chips (fake chips!) --- and then you play 7 hands.  It's all about betting strategy.  I got lucky because I was trying to bet high but keep enough to double down if the right opportunity came along - it did and it worked and after the 7 hands I had 4,600.

That's about it for now - I've banned myself from the casino tonight (not TOO hard as we sail at 9:30 and it can only open half an our after leaving a port)

For now ---- all ashore that's going ashore!

June 14, 2011 – around 2pm
It is pouring - the fog is dense - and there's even been thunder.

A perfect day to be warm, cozy and dry, with my Kindle and an Irish Coffee in the Crow's Nest, a huge lounge with a bar, and nothing but floor to ceiling windows all the way around.

Curled up in the "designated smoking area" life is good.

Nothing much I wanted to see or do in Juneau anyway - except perhaps burn Sara in effigy.

The good stuff is still to come - Homer, Kodiak, Sitka ..... Bears, whales, otters, Puffin (and more tiles).

The absolute very best thing about a two-week vacation is that there's plenty of time to allow for a "wasted" day (or two).

Thinking it might be really nice to go back to my cabin after lunch and order a movie (or two).  There are over 300 to choose from.

Having a lovely morning (my second Irish Coffee, with a scone, just got brought to me --- no reason not to have a lovely afternoon, as well.

Can you spell relaxation?

M-S  A-M-S-T-E-R-D-A-M !!!

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