Monthly Archives: September 2009

Photo Photo! – Muroran, Japan

I popped out of bed just as the boat came to a stop. It was too early to do anything else but eat so I headed up to the food. Afterwards, I had a couple hours left before I was meeting the gang to get off the ship. I wasn’t going to do the gym today but since I was so wide awake, I decided to have a short session. Well short turned to intense. As I had worked up a sweat with a short hike, I decided to run it out for the last half hour. My initial plan was to conserve my energy because I had no idea how much walking we would do today. But instead I just packed some extra fruit and nuts to give me some energy if I lagged.

I quickly showered and then had Fernando at the coffee bar whip up my favorite energy smoothie to go. I joined the others and I could tell we were all excited to get off. Hello Japan! There were lots of young Japanese students in their uniforms waiting to give us help if we needed it. Immediately I began learning the words for Good Morning (Ohio) and Thank you (Arrigato). I greeted and bowed my head whenever one of the locals smiled at me. I was giddy as I got onto the shuttle bus that would take us around the small port town of Muroran.

I was pretty much pasted to the bus window studying the various Japanese characters on all the signs and buildings. The curves, lines, dots and swishes make up beautiful calligraphy which means something to them but nothing to me. I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between up and down in this land. Oh oh…not knowing these cryptic symbols may pose a problem when it comes to bathroom time.

As the town we docked in is a relatively small port, it was still quite quiet on a Sunday morning at 9am. It was warm and sunny as we, four pie eyed tourists, began snapping photos of anything and everything. We peered into the windows and I made sure the others knew of my fondness of supermarkets. They agreed that would be a worthwhile venture and we could go explore once the doors opened.

We had a little time to kill while we waited for the sleepy town to wake so we just wandered aimlessly. The streets were more or less empty save for the random old little man riding a bike down the road and a troupe of elderly runners which we dubbed the fitness patrol. They pipe peaceful classical music into the streets through loudspeakers which we all found pleasantly strange.

It didn‘t take but 10 minutes before I got my first “bow” from a stranger. A small delicate slightly tired looking woman took the extra second to greet me as we passed each other on the road. I was thrilled with the interaction and equated it with the smile from strangers I illicit when traveling.

We happened upon a used junk store that was just opening up and decided to take a look. It was an absolute minefield of hidden treasures which kept Darren and I enthralled for a good half hour. We inspected the antique items carefully and giggled at the ridiculous ones. From Coca Cola memorabilia to stuffed iguanas to old style Anime figurines to my favorite, a very heavy iron Samurai helmet.

This guy had something of everything for everyone and I imagine he was amused by how excited we were in his store. Most of it was, in fact, junk but hey, it was Japanese junk! And who knows just how old it was or where it came from. I half expected to find a Mogwei hiding around some dusty corner. Darren discovered a quirky iron rooster bell adorned with real stained glass that he became attached to. The shop owner wanted 500 yen but I haggled with him and got it for 2 US dollars. “Robby” the rooster became our mascot for the day.

Stores began opening their doors and the town began to liven up. We were asked if Marshan and I wanted to try on a kimono for free to which we said, hey why not? I had a slight suspicion that they would be trying to sell us something but I have no problem saying no. It was a lovely experience as 4 cute little Japanese women dressed me in the elaborate silk costume. The showed me how to pose and encouraged the others to take photos of the elegant yet heavy red dress. It was beautiful though I couldn’t imagine walking around and being functional in such an bulky getup.

Grateful for junk stores.

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Dodging Scurvy – Pacific Ocean

I had lots of energy this morning and decided to hold off on breakfast until after my workout. It was a good choice as I burned rubber on the treadmill and sweated up a storm. Afterwards, the reward was my salty egg white omlette stuffed with smoked salmon, spinach and cheese. I finished with my fruity oatmeal mix.

I wandered around the decks looking for a good place to write but didn’t find anywhere that really felt comfortable. The sea is flat today and I wonder if that is because we are getting so close to shore. We are nearly to Japan and if all goes as planned, we should dock in Muroran tomorrow morning.

When a few thousand people are stuck out at sea for a week, it takes some creativity to keep them occupied. There have been events such as Elevator Roulette, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (and every other kind of trivia you can imagine), Wii Olympics, and Cargo Boat Building Pool Contest.

At the moment I am watching the Egg Drop Challenge where teams drop eggs down from the top of the atrium hoping to keep them safe in their makeshift inventions. There are some very enthusiastic groups of oldies vying for the winning title. Ouch. A parachute attached to a box just fell on my head. I guess I am sitting a little too close to the action. Various designs using toilet paper, balloons, and bubble wrap are kept the fragile raw eggs from breaking. All stayed intact except for the toilet paper creation.

After dinner, I was pretty wiped. I sat and listened to some music in the piano bar while I read some of my book. I kind of wanted to get to bed relatively early as tomorrow was going to be a big day. After a week at sea, we finally get to get off the boat! And it is my first time to Japan. I have no idea what to expect but I am sure it will be an experience I won’t forget.

Grateful for cabin fever.

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Ocean Community Building – Middle of the Ocean

Energy still lagging a little, I took it easy in the gym today. It was the first day I didn’t do any weight training. The seas are getting rougher and today seemed like the worst yet. As I sat next to the window in the coffee bar, the white frothy waves kept me mesmerized. The ocean churned like a giant blender and even onboard this megaliner, I could feel it. The captain has altered our course so as to avoid the typhoon but we still feel some of the effects of it.

We ate lunch in the dining room once again which I find is a little nicer than fighting the crowds in the troughs. It’s the an eating competition up there on the Lido deck and it’s not hard to see who is winning. I am glad to have withdrew my entry. I haven’t taken a meal at the buffet for over a week. My hips have noticed.

I spent most of the afternoon at the coffee bar reading quietly in the corner. At the present moment I am in the middle of “the power of positive thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale. I picked it up at a garage sale before I left home and now I can’t put it down. It’s very uplifting.

After eating dinner, we hurried off to the show which was the second production show I have seen onboard. It was called “Words and Music” and was inspired by broadway musicals. I didn’t love it as I found it too lackluster compared to the other nights vibrancy. The stage and props didn’t change and even the costumes were not all that special. If it would have been easier to escape without disturbing a whole row of people, I would have left after the first 10 mins. As it were, I sat there through the entire hour trying hard not to fall asleep.

There was a late night Friday night movie in the theater so we stocked up on chocolate brownies (still warm!), cookies and milk. It was a veritable chocolate feast! We took our stash down to our seats to wait for the show to start. Needless to say, the sugar mountain didn’t make it even to the opening credits. I felt a pang of guilt as licked my gooey fingers and slurped up the last of my tall glass of ice cold milk. Sure enough, I crashed about half way through the movie. And how. It was a serious struggle not to slide right off my seat onto the floor into a sleepy puddle.

To be honest, I don’t even remember my head hitting the pillow.

Grateful for sweet highs and lows.

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Time Warps – Sea Day

I rose extra early today and didn’t even fight it. I just dressed and made my way up to the breakfast. I took my time as I knew the gym wouldn’t even be open yet and I would have to wait. There is nothing worse than standing outside the doors with a bunch of undercaffinated, sleep-deprived geezers who love to complain. I try to ignore their impatient ramblings by stuffing my headphones in and cranking the psytrance.

Having the pressure to use my time wisely, I find myself more motivated to workout harder. I run at full tilt not knowing when I way get my chance back on the treadmill. I have also added the recumbent bike to my repertoire.

I watched the morning breakfast show which the cruise director and his sidekick record every morning while I plugged away. They usually go through the Princess Patter (the menu of the things to do) item by item adding in the odd joke here and there. It’s a nice way to absorb the content of the schedule without having to read it.

Today they also read my little poem that I had submitted the day before for all those who may be missing Wednesday September 23, 2009…a day we will never get back. Here is how it read:

To the Day That Never Was:

You were the day I was supposed to fall down the stairs. You were the day my hair just wouldn’t work. You were the day my iPod fell in the toilet. You were the day that I lost my favorite sweater. You were the day that I missed the boat. You were the day that everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. What a wacky Wednesday that would have been! How magically wonderful to get that day out of the way.

After lunch, I checked out the art auction again but ended up leaving half way through. I wanted to attend a seminar on writing and publishing. I got a few good tips from the author speaking but nothing too inspiring. Now I am just tapping away at my keyboard down in the coffee bar which isn’t nearly as packed as it has been of late. I wonder where everyone is?

Dinner was fine in the Savoy dining room once again. I personally really enjoy this space with the deep dark wood and rich elegance accented in the décor. My energy levels are quite low in the evening so I try not to expend too much. We drifted into the art gallery to peruse the works on offer. There were a few Godard pieces as well as my favorite, Wylan. I felt very refined as I drank in the talent on display.

While I was admiring the fine art, my ear perked up to a melody being played in the distance. I couldn’t help but find myself drawn to it as I climbed the stairs up two levels to the piano bar to investigate further. I discovered an exuberant and gifted young man performing for a very crowded Crooners Piano Bar.

It was my second night enjoying Martin Kaye, music aficionado who we privilege to experience on board the Diamond Princess. This up and coming star pours his heart and soul into his act and hooks anyone who is within earshot. His antics of jumping off tables and weaving serious comedy into his routine brought up my energy levels exponentially. He even played my special request, Fields of Gold, with precision and flair. I went to bed happy that night, feeling lucky to witness inspirational creativity.

Grateful for artists.

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Approaching the Day That Never Was – Bering Sea

Every night the time goes back an hour. This has been going on for days and to be honest, I don’t even know what time it is, what day it is, or even what month it is. I am so mixed up. But here’s the kicker. On my laptop it says 3:26am Wednesday Sept 23. But in actuality, it is 10:27pm Tuesday Sept 22. In a matter of hours, it will be Thursday. Yes, you heard me right. Wednesday Sept 23 doesn’t exist for me. We are just about to cross the International Date Line.

Today I worked out after breakfast then went for a second breakfast consisting of more protein. It came in the shape of an omlette and was stuffed with spinach, mushroom, onion, and tomato. Next I headed with m passport to the Japanese Immigration area where we had to get finger printed and photographed. It was a little strange but was quick and painless.

I settled into a seat at the coffee bar and intended to read but ended up playing cards instead. It was a form of rummy that I hadn’t played before but I thoroughly enjoyed learning and the conversation with my teachers. Jack and Jane met on a blind date 49 years ago. They even said I could use the blender in their room to make green smoothies if I wanted. J They said they knew right away that the other was the one. I was fascinated. They were very cute together and seemed well matched.

I read a little while before lunch in near the back of the ship. We are really motoring right now and in some areas you can really feel it. Our table was pretty loud with the engines nearby and the not so subtle vibration made for an interesting meal. I learned that I like iced tea with milk but that I still don’t love brussel sprouts.

I made my way back to the coffee bar again to read a little more but ended up getting distracted too much to really get into my book. People watching on cruiseships should really be an Olympic sport. It can also be quite entertaining to eavesdrop on conversations happening at the next table. That is, if you understand the language. I was sandwiched between a couple speaking Japanese and another speaking Spanish. I did my best to practice my Spanish but realize that these two were too quick for me as they bantered while playing monopoly.

I was elated to learn that the boys at the coffee bar would let me create a new drink. I had seen this recipe in my fitness magazine and was excited to try it out. I just so happened to have all the ingredients in my room so I went to retrieve them. They seemed apprehensive when I unloaded my bag on the counter. But their curiosity overcame them and they blended the banana, pear, walnuts, yogurt, ice and two shots of espresso in the vitamix. My Banana Coffee Crunch was tasty indeed and I thanked them profusely before hurrying off to my movie. I watched “Game 6” with Micheal Keaton but I didn’t love it. I am glad it was short.

I attempted a nap when I came back to the room and found Marshan sleeping. I tossed and turned so eventually I gave up because it just didn’t take. I slipped up to the gym for a little walk before dinner.

We were meeting Janet and Greg from Australia at the Pacific Moon restaurant at 6:30pm. I turned up and the others were already there. After a bit of arm twisting, the staff finally got it together and seated us. It was not the best table, that is for sure. It was an even heavier vibration than the one at lunch and apparently 3 groups had already asked to be moved from it. We were already short on time so I suggested we just sit there and “pretend we are on a boat”. Greg and I laughed, remembering our fishing trip in Ketchikan.

Dinner was scrumptious but the atmosphere and service were lacking. I would not likely go there again. It was the least organized and inviting of all the restaurants I had been to so far. I did happen to have the most delicate and finest textured calamari I have ever tasted in my life. It made every other squid that has passed my lips seem inferior by far. So perfectly tender!

We ate up our meals then bid each other adieu as they were going to a different show than us. Marshan and I wanted to see the professional pickpocket, Bob Arno. It was intriguing and actually quite educational to watch him demonstrate how thieves work. The profiling and psychology of the whole concept appealed to me. I made several mental notes on the tips he was sharing to ensure I don’t ever become a victim of this crime.

I am really feeling quite tired lately especially since the time keeps on changing. Now we have lost an entire day! I have been trying to adjust myself naturally but it isn’t so easy. I think the fact that I am exercising is helping regulate me a lot though so I will make sure to keep that top priority.

Grateful for the International Date Line.

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Ebb and Flow – Bering Sea Day

This morning I felt slightly tired and had a harder time getting to the gym than usual. The ship was moving quite a lot last night and I seemed to be sensitive to it. As a drifted through my workout feeling somewhat woozy and not quite there, I noticed the gym had quite a strange energy. It seems that there is something of a riot in the makings.

Even though the gym opens at 7am, apparently that is not soon enough for some of the real keeners. There is always a 5-10 minute wait for a treadmill or elliptical in the mornings. For some, especially the impatient older folk, this will just not do and they are not shy in letting everyone know. When you see two grumpy old men about to start a brawl over a recumbent bike, you have to laugh.

I certainly see the comedy here but believe you me, I am definitely aware of the shrewd eyes hovering over my shoulders at my digital timer ticking its way to my 30 minute time limit. The wrath of the geezers is not worth the extra few calories I may burn off. I don’t dare test their patience. I suppose on sea days, Princess may be better off increasing their gym hours so the oldies can sweat out their extra energy rather than duking it out with each other.

Everything went a little slower this morning and I realized that today would be a good day to slow down…take it easy…and give myself a break. If I have learned anything over the past few months, it’s to listen to these subtle body signs. When I have arrogantly ignored them in the past, I inevitably get whacked across the head. So today would be a soft easy day with allowance for slight indulgence.

For lunch I had my usual fish and veggies but treated myself to creamy blueberry frozen yogurt atop blueberry pancakes for dessert. It was heavenly and I justified the generous portion size with the fact that blueberries are full of antioxidants. Sure.

We wandered up to the art auction and I realized that I had never been to one of these before. I liked some of the more vibrant pieces but there was no way I could spend 5 grand on a painting. In the end, I actually won a piece from the raffle but I am not sure I want to pay the $30 shipping to send it home. It’s a warm print of a sunset over the sea but not something I would normally buy. I supposed therein lies the answer to that conundrum.

We all decided to go to Afternoon Tea at 3:30pm and felt quite excited about the prospect of participating in this distinguished English custom. I have never been and it was truly a unique experience. The waiters all wore white gloves while they poured us steaming hot tea and served us clotted cream and jam with our freshly baked warm scones. We were continuously offered a selection of little finger sandwiches, pretty cakes and bite size cookies. Needless to say, by the end of tea time, I was pleasantly stuffed. The whole ritual was quite elegant and I will be sure to try it again. I think it shall have to wait a while though because those scones and cream are not low fat, that is for sure.

I am now again in my favorite spot listening to the string quartet watching the ladies and gents milling about. Tonight is formal night and on this cruise line they are quite serious about it. Most people comply with the jacket and tie requirement and the women are most always in stylish gowns. Dressed to the nines, the passengers shine and the whole ship seems to take on a classier tone.

After another walk on the treadmill before dinner to work off those scones, I dressed up for the evening. I threw in a load of laundry on my way down to dinner so that I would have a fresh batch of clothes tomorrow. I tried to hurry through the main lobby but I was stopped by a few familiar faces from the gym.

When I finally made it to the Santa Fe themed restaurant, my tablemates were already waiting. Dinner was yum, as usual and the service as well was spot on. I even had my favorite vanilla honey frozen yogurt for dessert. Yum.

DnD accompanied us to the laundry room to pick up our clean clothes then back to our room. I had promised to give them some of our fruit stash since we were in such an abundance. I was happy to share with them because we had so much and they didn’t have any. So now we are down to two heaping bowls and the rest is being enjoyed by our friends down on the Plaza deck.

The scurried off with their take after we promised to meet them down in the theatre for the show. The production was called Ports of Call and it was their opening night. They showcased places such as Italy, Polynesia, England, Spain China and even Alaska. I thought the entertainers did a fantastic job and I was especially impressed that even the cruise director, Peter, sang the Australia song near the end. I noticed that a lot of the dancers had mics on and realized that they were all singing along in parts. That’s something I haven’t seen before as usually the singing is done by just one or two at the most. Most of the time I don’t usually want to go to the shows at night but once I get there I am really happy I did. This time was no exception.

Grateful for making new memories.

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Becoming More Social – Sea Day

I woke up way too early today just before 6am and decided to go back to sleep. When I finally did rise, it was just past 9am. I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of what is slowly becoming my usual. I layer oatmeal, ship museli (a concoction of soaked oats, milk, yogurt, raisins, almonds and random chopped fruits), cottage cheese, and sliced apples sprinkled with cinnamon. Its really tasty and seems to give me boundless energy which lasts all the way until lunch.

Next I had a superb cardio session then sweated it out during my upper body work. There was a health lecture on detoxification going on in the aerobics room while I was doing my crunches. It was pretty much word for word what I had learned from Shaun on the Royal Caribbean cruise I went on in May. I guess they are all trained by the same company. Something about the verbatim spiel turned me off. Even though some of the content made sense, I watched as the generally overweight audience sucked it up. Desperate to look like the trainer who was selling the “miracle pills”, I bet they would have bought maneure if he said it’d work.

I had no real rapport with the head fitness instructor at all. When I asked him a question to suss him out, his negativity and lack of sincerity really turned me off. Personally, I have to question anyone who discourages exercise and a healthy diet in favor of magical capsules filled with seaweed.

I felt great with an extra spring in my step knowing I had just gifted my body with a genuine effort in the gym. I ran into Doug and Darren (hereby referred to as DnD), in the stairwell who informed me with glum faces that they had lost the poker tournament. I was surprised to hear it as Doug is a professional who is a well known regular in Vegas. I wondered who had whooped him and I heard it was a woman. Go Ladies!

I had just finished my shower and was about ready to head out for lunch when Marshan came back to the room. We set out together for the International dining room on the 6th floor. It’s a bit of a maze to find this elusive area as the only way to get there is by going to 7 first. Lucky for Marshan, I had gotten lost enough for both of us in the first week so by now, I knew the lay of the land.

Although there was only two of us, we were seated at a table for eight. I guess we were so close to the end of lunch that they were not seating any more people after us so we had the entire table to ourselves. That’s one neat thing about cruiseships. You can be as social or private as you please and they will honor your request matching you with tablemates or respecting your solitude by seating you alone.

I love that I am getting to replay the same menus again because this time, I know what is good. I had the steamed veggies, veggie burger and pan-fried sole with mushroom au gratin. It was tasty and although I finished it all, I didn’t feel overstuffed. I even had room for honeydew frozen yogurt and fresh fruit.

Speaking of fruit, that our stateroom seems to be morphing into a produce market of sorts. Last week, I was delighted by the fact the we could order a bowl of apples, oranges, bananas, pears and kiwis. I checked the boxes and being cheeky, I wrote mango and nectarines as well. I didn’t think they would comply with the more exotic ones but lo and behold, the next day, there they were. I guess they were pleased with my reaction because now there are four bowls heaped full of fruit waiting to be eaten. I have begun filling up the fridge now so it doesn’t spoil. Note to self: tell Chris (our room steward) to lay off the fruit for a while.

Now I also want to find out if Chris is his real name. This is the first cruise I have been on that has had so many anglosaxon names matched to staff who were clearly from Asian descent. Perhaps now they are making up aliases that typical English folk can not only pronounce but remember.

I just asked my tea server if his name “Mark” was common in the Philippines where he was supposedly from. He admitted after some gentle prodding that infact, it was a variation of his real name. After asking my name, he went on to tell me “Carmella” was a common name in his country. I have heard that one before in Italy, Isreal, South Africa, Spain…

After lunch, Marshan went off to study for her CPA exam while I moseyed down the promenade deck. I happened upon some fellow passengers singing karaoke in the Explorer lounge. I ordered a coffee and settled in to take a listen. There were a lot of older Asian men with decent impersonations of American accents. They performed renditions of Memory, Unchained Melody, and one Italian gent belted out a spectacular “That’s Amore”.

I was nervous but sucked it up and signed up to sing Over the Rainbow. I had support from one of the older Asian gentlemen but we both slaughtered it. I thought a duet would be easier but I think, in actuality, it made it more difficult. Oh well. It couldn’t have gotten any worse so next time I attempt to sing, they will be impressed with whatever I croak out. And I will be sure to go solo.

Next I played a round of Princess Pyramids which is a modified version of charades. It was loads of fun but we got stuck on a couple of phrases like Pacific Ocean, Girl Friend, and Celine Dion. Honestly, how does one act out the famous Canadian songstress without belting out a tune?

Now I have made myself at home in the coffee bar down near the atrium. Soothing classical music being played by the Magical Strings of the Seven Seas is wafting over while I sip my tea. I am absolutely thrilled to have discovered this ritual which I plan to practice every day. To be honest, I have been a little concerned about my coffee consumption of late. I have begun drinking it black in hopes that I would drink less if it didn’t taste as good.

Today I decided to try some tea and was presented with a selection of charming little boxes to choose from. Revolution T-Box is single service box with one gourmet infuser bag tucked inside. They boast that each is a unique tea gift and it truly is just like opening a little present. With flavors such as Lavender Earl Grey and Sweet Ginger Peach, I resolved to find my favorite by the end of the cruise. I may accomplish my goal by the end of the day as I am already on pot number three. Fortunately my coffee card also works for unlimited specialty tea.

Outside the large window beside me, the 15 foot waves tumble over in a white frothy spray. The ship stablizers are doing a great job as I am sure that with this kind of swell we should be rocking and rolling more than we are. Our captain Dino has adjusted our course due to the typhoon near Japan. We will still hit some rocky seas but hopefully we should be able to avoid the worst of it.

Grateful for tea time.

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Breathing Easier – Whittier

This morning I finally slept in. I barely saw Darren over the past couple days and to be honest, things between us were a tad uncomfortable. I suppose I should have seen this coming when our friendship had begun dissolving last month due to a breakdown in communication. This trip merely accelerated the process and I am grateful to have learned that clearly, we are not travel compatible. We didn’t even say a proper goodbye but I guess that is indicative of how bad things had gotten.

I felt my spirit lighten quite noticeably after he left as I bounced up to my breakfast and to the gym. I had a lot of energy and I plowed through a good 2 hours before letting up at all. After some relaxing floor work, I found my way out of the gym not completely satisfied with my output but promising myself that I would come back for more later.

I made my way down across to the back of the ship to the formal dining room. I was looking forward to a quick lunch so I could get off the ship and find some cheap (if not free) wi-fi in our current port, Whittier. As the maître’d kept seating people at my table, I realized a quiet lunch was not what he had planned for me. I decided to make the best of it and chatted with my lively tablemates.

After my meal, I padded down the hallways and stairs to the waiting gangway. It was surprisingly warm and sunny out making me overdressed in my several layers and cap. I wandered around with my laptop open looking for a signal but wasn’t having any luck. I decided to go further into the tiny little town to see if there was something there.

Next to where we were docked, there was a quaint hotel which lo and behold offered free wi-fi. I thanked the kind ladies behind the desk and perched myself in the big chair by the fireplace. The place felt new but I could tell they were trying for cozy.

After getting a bunch of emails answered and banking stuff done, I was able to relax a bit. I am at sea for the next week and wanted to make sure that I had tied up any major loose ends.

I found my way back to the ship and discovered my new roommate, Marshan, had arrived. We hugged and gave each other the coles notes version of our past week. Somehow, I don’t know how we did it, we inadvertently missed the muster drill. Opps!

After we were all caught up, I went back to the gym for round two. I had a great run and caught up on some CNN news. Nothing really interesting going on in the world so I changed the channel to watch the ship cam as we pulled out. It was quite picturesque with all the mountains around us and the sun glimmering off the water.

After my shower, Marshan and I met up with Doug and his friend Darren (different than last weeks Darren) for dinner. We exchanged niceties and then shared stories while we ate. After the yummy flourless chocolate cake that I had recommended from past experience, we all headed for a walk. Doug wanted to see the casino as it is one of his favorite pastimes, but we didn’t stay there for long. It was rather smoky for my taste and even though he had guided us to the non-smoking section, the stench still hung in the air.

We explored a little further and discovered the Theatre where an almost packed audience were listening to the band in anticipation of the Welcome Aboard Show. We glided into the nearby set of seats and took in the performance as well.

After a brief intro of the entertainment staff, a comedian came out. It was quite funny to me and I actually had to tone down my chuckles because I was clearly enjoying it more than the others. I wondered if everyone was asleep or I just had a very odd sense of humor. In the end, I didn’t really care. I got my belly exercise for the day and this was just icing on the cake. I felt a little bad for the guy on the stage though. Tough crowd!

Now I am just about to hit the hay and wonder what time I will wake tomorrow. The seas are a little more rough than they have been and I can definitely feel the motion of the ocean. All in all, today was markedly better than all of the rest on this trip so far.

Grateful for release.

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Cruising College Fjord

I was up rather early but took my time getting to the gym. At breakfast, I met quite an interesting character who captivated me with his storytelling. I realized that there are different levels of connection and that I should never judge a book by its cover. I could meet someone for just a few minutes and receive the gift of sharing a true moment. On the other hand, someone I had known for a decade has turned out to be a major flake and I spent some of the day sad about that. But I guess sometimes people outgrown each other. It is what it is.

I discovered a new machine in the gym today called an Arctrainer. It’s like an elliptical and replicates the smooth motion of cross country skiing. I spent a good few hours in the gym working off some steam. Then I met up with Greg and Janet from Australia to share some photos from the fishing trip. I took a gander at their view off their balcony and thought how nice it would be to have had the view of Alaskan mountains upon waking. Extravagant, at least.

We went for lunch and met a bunch of other people who were also good conversationalists. I was lucky today with meeting people to fill the void. I guess that is how a vacuum works. With our tummies full, we headed to the Princess theatre to watch a show on the big screen. It was called “Sunshine Cleaning” and was a nice change from the typical Hollywood blockbuster.

We were nearing College Fjord so I made my way down to my cabin to suit up for the cold. I thought I could multi-task a bit and walk around the promenade deck while viewing the nature. Every 2.5 laps = 1 mile and so I did just under 3 miles before my camera battery went dead. I decided to grab my charger and continue my work out in the gym so I could plug in. I was able to listen to the commentary on the TV while watching as the ship approached Harvard Glacier.

I took it all in while I finished my workout then made my way outside into the cold for some photo ops. I went a little snaphappy like the rest of the passengers who were gazing at the collection of glaciers in the Fjord named after famous schools. We were lucky enough to have sunshine which took the bite out of the air for a little while until the wind kicked up.

Dinner was fantastic as they were serving my favorite, Turkey dinner. I gobbled it up and thanked the staff for the special care. I was dining alone tonight so they were extra attentive to ensure I was comfortable and happy. I gazed out at the mammoth hunks of ice burg floating just outside my window. As I let my eyes drift up I watched the last bits of sun lighting up the very tips of the snow capped mountain tops. Then seconds later the shadow enveloped even that.

I completed a bit of the communal jigsaw puzzle in the library before heading back to the room. After tidying up the room a bit to make sure it was ready for my new cabin mate who arrives tomorrow, I am now comfy snuggled up in my duvet. The TV is on in the background and I noticed they have a fitness channel which demonstrates exercises one can do in their stateroom. That was something new I haven’t seen onboard a cruise before. With each passing day, I am feeling happier and more content, discovering new things to be grateful for.

Grateful for raising my standards.

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Ice Berg Straight Ahead – Glacier Bay

I wasn’t able to sleep in so I decided to wander up to the top deck incase there were any whales to watch. Apparently, between 4 and 6am we were passing through the Icy Strait that had prime wildlife watching opportunities. What they forgot is that at that time it is still dark so even if there were things to see, it would have been impossible unless you had night vision.

I grabbed up some breakfast and settled into a quiet corner near the front of the ship. I was surrounded by giant windows from floor to ceiling so I decided this would be a good place to set up shop. I began to feel a little cold so I took a stroll down to the blanket guy on the Lido deck. He cheerfully gave me three of the red tartan patterned woolen blankets. I tucked them around myself back at my table and waited.

Several hours went by as I watched people come and go out of the dining room. The sky brightened and now I could make out the edges of the mountains through the rain. Yes, it was raining so now I was extra glad that I had secured a spot inside. I watched the little speed boat with the National Park Rangers pull up beside our slowing ship. Not long after that the Ranger commentary began through the loud speakers throughout the public areas of the ship. It was quite informative and most certainly enriched my experience of Glacier Bay.

When it finally came time to start seeing the good stuff, I called Darren who was still sleeping down in the room. I had missed this the first time I went to Alaska and didn’t want him to have that same misfortune. Also, I needed him to bring me my coat. The rangers kept encouraging us to head outside to get a real taste of this magical place. I resisted for a while but when we came upon Margerie Glacier, I decided to brave the elements.

Ofcourse I had seen glaciers before, heck, I even climbed one in New Zealand. But there was something different about this place. I guess the fact that it is so protected and untouched by humans. Its really quite a natural spectacle. There was a feeling of utter beauty that overtook me as I surveyed the huge mountains of ice. The light shade of blue from the crevaces of the giant shards almost seemed to glow. It was a sight to behold.

We were lucky enough to witness the calving of the glacier which means ice falls off the face into the water below. To add to the immensity of the moment is a loud crack also known as “white thunder”. I was mesmerized sitting patiently waiting to experience the great glaciers move. It was a feeling not unlike staring up at the night sky waiting to see a shooting star.

Though the weather was cold and rainy, we did get a few minutes of sun. There were lots of little ice “bergs” floating around in the turquoise water, some with seals lounging on top. I was also quite impressed at the magnificent wispy clouds tumbling over and draping themselves around the mountains. How could something make me feel so small and insignificant yet so honored to be connected to this level of grandeur? It was neat.

In all the excitement, I ate myself up a storm. Ug. I know what this means. To the gym. But not before I retired back to my cabin to have myself a nap. All this fresh glacial air was exhausting! I cuddled into my bed and was out for the next couple hours.

When I woke, I hit the gym for a solid 2.5 hours all the while keeping my eyes trained on the water. I was able to see several seals, whales, and many kinds of birds through the windows in front of my treadmill. It wasn’t too hard to locate them as the dedicated nature photographers out on deck would all run over to a spot and point their cameras when there was something to be seen.

I worked myself out so hard that I developed a blister on my toe. Ouch. I really need to get to the bottom of this weight situation. I feel like no matter what I do, I am not losing but gaining. I met a passenger onboard with medical background who said it may be a hormonal thing. I hope its just something that I can handle myself because I won’t be anywhere near my doctor for some time.

I dressed up for dinner which happened to be the second of the formal nights for this portion of the cruise. At supper I inquired from Tim, one of my favorite servers, just what was in my favorite red cabbage dish I had been eating religiously every night. He went away for a while then returned with some good news. I could eat till my hearts content because there was no fat in it, just some red wine vinegar and sugar.

After dinner, I met up with a younger party crowd but only lasted about an hour. I am exhausted and have to get some real sleep. Most of these people are nearing the end of their trip so can afford to party hard. I, on the other hand, have a long way to go yet.

Grateful for the surreal color of glacier water.

Posted in North America | 2 Comments