Monday, July 18, 2016

Nightime Visitors

Hubby and I have been at cross purposes for days.  I do not know whether it is the heat, the stress of grand children visiting, my immaturity, or his failing hearing.  Anyway I need some humor and escape from reality.  Cruises are an escape from reality. The steady motion of the boat, the moving scenery outside large windows, the huge selection of foods you would never prepare at home make for a temporary magic reality.  And then at night you get magic reality with humor.

Can you guess the animals? Those plastic stick-on eyes do help.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Let Us All Just Cook/Cool Off!

Today reached record levels where I live.  The deck was so hot I barely got outside.  My grandson went fishing with Hubby and while he was miserable he did catch a bunch of fish (all of which were below the 18 inch size and had to be returned).  I have pictures of Alaska which may be worth a bunch of money in a a decade or so because Alaska also had temperatures in the high eighties and even nineties Fahrenheit!  Record braking breaking. Below are some pictures (no, they are NOT National Geographic) taken in Glacier Bay with some actual retreating glaciers.   Get some iced tea, turn on the fan and put on your tiniest outfit and cool off!  Click on the pictures for more air in your face.

Holland America Staff serving some bean soup to the passengers.

A bald eagle with cold feet.

The beginning of the calving of some ice as the first hits the water.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Little About Those Cities

Since some of you asked  (well you actually DID), we spent a few days in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada before boarding our ship for the inland passage cruise and few days in Anchorage, Alaska, USA after leaving our ship.  Vancouver is expensive if you want to eat at any nice restaurants or stay downtown, and since I come from the rural woods, we went with expensive.  The city is nestled against the back of of high mountains.  It is a temperate rain forest climate and rained most of the time we were there, unfortunately.  Weather was a tiny bit chilly as well.  Note the traffic sign below shows a bicycle path! (You have to click on the photo, perhaps.)

We got a "great" (see below) view from our expensive hotel...not expensive enough I guess for a real city view.

But we were only walking distance (in the rain) from our hotel to many restaurants...most with higher price tags.  There also were several reasonably priced places.  Thai food (hubby's favorite) is EVERYWHERE.

Anchorage, smaller in population, sophistication and expenses is a very simple square city to drive around.  Although there are just enough streets that dead end or are one way that make you be sure you have a map.

Just in case you forget that at least 8 months of the year it is hard to do anything outside in Alaska the sign above reminds you.

 Clearly Anchorage survives on tourism with at least two if not three cruise ships coming in each week and an endless supply of planes.

Gwennie's is a popular place for breakfast and has been just outside of town for decades.  Certainly a colorful place that lets you know you are in Alaska.  HUGE breakfasts, so be prepared.

And everyone has a story and something to sell.  The man on the far left is a film photographer and I paid $20 for a handful of nice photos as he was such a delightful "codger" it was money well spent.  We bought the other gentleman's book about dog sledding.  He was involved and raced in the very first Iditarod.  I have not had time to read his book!

And just outside the city and down by the river we discovered that the salmon were running!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

It is always about the people

We did meet people on the Holland cruise, but I first want to write a bit about the people we met when we were on our own.

Many of our wait staff were local but there was a large group from countries like Serbia and Moldova.  These were lovely, exotic, young women certainly hoping to get ahead when the poverty and war in their own country was so difficult.  I learned from one gal that Moldova is the poorest country in the area and they are struggling to be accepted into NATO.  One of our Presidential candidates would give that a big thumbs down and the other would see it as a way to make lemonade.  If you don't get what I just wrote, I am too upset over NATO to explain just now.

We took a very long (all day) Denali road trip by bus with the park service.  Our driver looked like "most white folks" favorite grandma.  She managed that bus like a professional over some very steep climbs and hairpin turns while still keeping up a very good patter about the woods, its animals and even the culture of Alaskans and how they dealt with summer.

And she had to be her own window-washer!  I am sure they do not pay her nearly enough.

Our other guide was a sweet child from Florida who had been a park ranger only 4 or 5 years.  She said she had found her home in Alaska at long last.  Now all she needs to do is find her Prince Charming.  She was good on the plants, admitted her weakness on the birds and took us to a homesteader's cabin that was now an historic part of the park.  (The man on the right was from Pakistan or India and certainly from the Brahman class.  He managed to spoil almost all of my shots from the bus as he was destined to be the only one who wanted to get shots of the animals and thus most of us got shots of the back of his head!)

We learned (as if we didn't already know) that these miners, hunters, trappers and homesteaders were a rough, strong, and determined class of people, although not usually able to complete a sentence without swearing.  Alaska is deceitful in all it beauty, because a wild animal, a landslide, or a lengthy cold spell can mean death to any man or woman.

The nails in the sign above are the Ranger's attempt at keeping the bears from rubbing the signs into oblivion when they scratch their backs.  The sign below was where the road through the wilderness came to an end.

AND we are so small for all the destruction we cause which has nothing to do with signs.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Re-Entry But Feeling Molecularly Challenged Thursday Thirteen

We are back.  Yes, it was about three weeks of travel.  First a few days in Santa Barbara, CA visiting a dear cousin who lost her loving husband years ago and is still adjusting.  Next a few days in Vancouver, BC, then boarding a Holland Cruise ship stopping at all the ports in Alaska along the way until we finally reached Seward and disembarked for another week in Anchorage with side trips to Denali National Park. 

With only 4 hours time difference from here at home it was still a loooong way from civilization, especially at the very end where people dressed and ate like hardworking lumbermen.  The 20 hour days of sunshine did not help in the adjusting either.  Weather was sunny, rainy and mostly in the high 60s F.

I took several thousand photos, even though I was trying to be be more circumspect!  I will not bore you with them all ... only a few scattered in coming posts.

Meanwhile, here is a short version of the trip on the Thursday Thirteen.

  1. Had to leave Santa Barbara as fires licked at her nearby mountains.  We tried to assure our cousin things would be fine  as she is in her 80's and has had to evacuate once before.
  2. Met up with my brother-in-law and finally after so many years met his second wife.  We were in the same house where my sister raised her children before her death and it was surprisingly painful. (Yeah, I know.)
  3. Vancouver was different than I expected...I could get my mind around it.
  4. They have a pseudo Disney type ride/movie of the Canadian land, which I actually enjoyed.
  5. I do not like medium or large cruise ships, but was able to enjoy this Holland one and kept thinking I could write a Hurcule Poirot story as I catalogued some of the passengers on our voyage.
  6. Crew were mostly Indonesian and so hubby and I (mostly hubby) got to practice what we remembered of the language.
  7.  I saw my first calving of a glacier which was worth the money for the whole trip.
  8. I could not see the puffins, even with binoculars!
  9. Alaska has only 600,000 plus people.  Everyone knows everyone.
  10. Most of the people who waited on us or worked retail were not "Alaskans".  We met Californians, Texans, Russians, Moldovans, Chinese, Taiwanese, and Serbians.
  11. Viewing a cow moose from a safe boardwalk, I realized how easy it was for them to disappear into the high grasses as the moose dissolved just beneath my vision.
  12. We could not take the hike my husband really wanted to try as the trail was closed due to a grizzly attack.  When it finally opened we drove up to the Park and were told it was closed once again due to a second attack--same bear that they thought had been driven away!
  13. Everyone who lives there says they love the winters and the dark days...really.  Methinks they are maybe overly enthusiastic?

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Dog Ate My Homework

Certainly one of my least liked chores, and my weakest skill, although I can talk the leg off a dead horse, is asking for people to volunteer their time.  My work for political parties is non-existent because of that lack of talent.  Anyway, I have had to step up to the plate and get more volunteers to help us work in our children's garden during the upcoming hot summer months, especially while we are on travel (more about that in another post).

I got the following excuses for why people were absent from helping in May and June:

My daughter had a premature baby and her daughter-in-law who was going to help got Mersa in the hospital while visiting.

I am helping my son move to Kentucky.

I am moving my husband into a nursing home.

My wife has gotten very ill.  (stroke).

I have been sick with Pneumonia the last two weeks and am now heading out for Italy.

I am having a growth removed from my face.  (We later learned it was cancerous.)

My work schedule is such that I am now on-call seven days a week and do not know when I have free time.

I will be away on my sailboat all of June.

These are all valid and honest excuses and probably not atypical for our group of retired, old, farts.  Looks like I will have to put in more hours for a while.

On a lighter note you can go here for our weather report.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Keeping Up with Mr. and Mrs. Jones

Got this in the mail the other day.  I am invited to participate in a program where "Your neighbor is already helping."  Nothing like pushing me to keep up with the Jones family.  AND the Jones family is "helping" give "energy" a break, so should not I?   I actually think I may have one of their recycle gizmos on the electric box outside, but since it is early in the morning and still dark, I will have to wait to see!

Written so that we feel concern for the poor electric company (!).  As global warming (climate change), whatever, is making summers hotter and longer, the consumer's demand for energy is not being met (?).  I live within a few miles of a nuclear power plant and a liquid energy depot and they want me to accept automatic brown outs because the county and state taxes I pay and the monthly electric bill that I pay are not enough of a subsidy to provide energy for all of us.  I can do this by giving my AC/heat pump a "rest."   The euphemisms abound.  So, if I think I may be having a hot flash, it is just my equipment being cycled.

I am almost old enough to remember the days when electric companies wanted me to use MORE electricity so that my life would be more modern and comfortable, but that is when "housewives" wore pears and high heels and not tanks tops and shorts.  When a company wants you to buy less of their product, it is time to take notice.  Things are never as simple as they seem.  I am expecting a rise in taxes and electric bills as the strain on the utility system grows.