Alaska rocks. Cruises suck. PART 2
June 4, 2014
Hello! Again! My friend(s)!
Yesterday’s post talked about Day 1 and Day 2 of being on the cruise ship, which was a lot of sitting around either drunk or sea sick while looking and judging all the other idiots on the big boat who also looked either bored, drunk, and/or sea sick.
Before I get into Day 3 and so on and so forth, I would also like to mention the RUSSIAN FAMILY.
THE RUSSIAN FAMILY!!!!!!
How have I not mentioned the Russian family? Well, because I didn’t. I was too busy writing a bunch of other things and I just left them out, but today – is the day – I will talk about the RUSSIAN FAMILY(!!!!!).
First, I don’t have a picture of the Russian family. I’m sorry. I wish I did. But… alas… no.
The cruise ship supposedly has 2800 – TWO THOUSAND AND EIGHT HUNDRED – guests on it. So, there was me and Danielle and 2798 OTHER FUCKING PEOPLE. But, you never saw 2798 people on the boat. You more or less saw about 100 people on the boat and you would see that same 100 or even 50 or maybe even 22 people over and over and over and over again. Where were the rest of the people on the boat? I HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE! Were they all myths? Were they all figments of our imagination? Was it like some ghost community that never really existed at all like Shutter Island? Is that what Shutter Island was about? I didn’t see it. It looked terrible in trailers, but that’s what I guessed. I don’t know.
You kept seeing the same people over and over again as if you were cosmically aligned together and drawn to the same areas of the boat at the same time or to the same excursions in the same cities because you really just didn’t see THAT much diversity. With 2800 people on the boat, where were the rest of those people hiding? The spa? Their staterooms? Were they eating 3 meals a day in the specialty restaurants? I DON’T KNOW!
But I digress… THE RUSSIAN FAMILY. So, one of the groups that Danielle and I saw every day without fail – sometimes multiple times a day – was a Russian father, mother, and daughter. The father was the most boring – or maybe the most alluring who knows – because he never talked, always wore his expensive camera around his neck, his outfits would range from Clark Griswold to a fucking tuxedo, and his face was frozen with one slightly terrifying stern emotion. The mother consistently wore no bra, spaghetti strap tank tops, hair in a pony tail, and doted after her daughter like she was her personal assistant. The daughter had long platinum blonde hair that Daenerys Targaryen would kill for, she weighed about two pounds, smoked cigarettes, and walked around like she was a minor Russian celebrity. And on formal night, the dad in the tux and the daughter and the mother in the glitteriest motherfucking ball gowns EVER.
So, we used to see them all the time as well as the Tall family (husband, wife, daughter, two sons – all over 6 feet and all looked like J. Crew models) and young Asian couple (they seemed perfectly normal until you noticed the guy’s shoes were like these half-boots from a 1980’s movie about the future). We saw these two groups even in Seattle in a restaurant and a baseball game respectively when we got off the damn boat. WE’RE BEING FOLLOWED!
Ketchikan was the first sleepy Alaskan town that we visited. What you realize when you’re in Alaska or at least in these coast towns, if you keep your eyes level to what’s in front of you it’s kind of just a sleepy town with tourist shops and whatever and you’re like “I flew from ____ and took a cruise ship to get here?” and then you look your dumbass eyes up and you see…
Fucking mountains and trees and shit and it’s beautiful.
We got off the boat in Ketchikan and walked around the dock and walked around the town and just really walked around where the Earth wasn’t tilting back and forth because you’re not on a damn boat anymore, but there’s a catch…
YOU STILL FEEL LIKE YOU’RE ON THE DAMN BOAT!!!
It’s like you’ve been brainwashed that dry, unshaky land doesn’t exist. You feel like the Earth underneath you is moving. Like the tectonic plates have suddenly started going in hyperdrive and now the world is more or less a rocky slip and slide. It’s fucking weird and I hate cruises.
Anyway, we walked around the town and then we found our excursion people – which I’ve gotten into the use of the word “excursion” for meaning “doing shit”. Oh, I’m going to take an excursion to the grocery store. I’m going for an afternoon excursion of walking my dog around the block. Me? I’m going to take an excursion right now and take the garbage outside to the curb. EXCURSIONS! Literally, “excursion” is you moving your ass when you’re not on the fucking boat. So, we found our excursion people, they put us on a bus because excursions fucking love the fuck out of busses, and we drove maybe two blocks and they dropped us off at the adjacent dock, so we could do this…
FLY IN A FLOATPLANE!!!!
We got paired up with two other couples – one which was an old Scottish man whose shoulder you can see in the picture and his old Scottish wife who the pilot more or less stuck jammed into the back of the plan in the First Aid kit box, and the other couple were a middle-aged white couple from some unknown foreign country to America where they speak English as a third language or the wife was Yoda because she spoke like this, “The plane, fly? How high up the plane go? Gas for plane, need it how much?” And you’re like, is she having a stroke? You’re not allowed on planes if you’re currently having a stroke, right?
We get into the plane and the plane takes off from the water, which was actually quite smooth. I’ve never been in a little 7 seater plane before, but I was expecting some herky jerky kind of movements and instead there was really none of that. It gave me the same feeling as being on a big jet plane and had actually a lot smoother take off. I didn’t even realize we were in the air and not still skimming across the water for a few seconds.
The plane tour was like 45 minutes I think. It was amazing. I can’t overstate how much everyone should go on a floatplane tour through Alaska. It fucking rocks. The views are insane. It’s just gorgeous out there. Also, it’s not all snow out there. Along the coast, it’s more like Seattle or Northern Oregon out there where it’s rain fall and not snow fall, so everything is green and lush. Sure they’re snowcapped mountains too and glaciers and all that, but it’s these vibrant trees more than anything and rivers and lakes and just water.
Another thing that was special or at least special for me, soon as we get on the plane you put on these headsets so the pilot can talk to you and it also muffles the sound of the plane as well. The pilot throws on this mix of music and tour guide-y prompts about where we’re flying. The first song that starts playing right as we’re lifting off the water is The Marshall Tucker Band’s classic “Can’t You See”. First off, excellent song. Second off, I saw them play in concert a little while ago on a random night and read way too much about them and they became an esoteric obsession of mine and Brew Dawgz who also was at the concert, so it was just hilarious hearing that song.
CAN’T YOU SEE! OHHHHH… CAN’T YOU SEE!!!! WHAT THAT WOMAN!!!! LORD!!! SHE BEEN DOIN’ TO ME!!!!
The floatplane was great. The pilot flies us around and he even lands the plane in a stretch of water like in that picture above and we get out of the plane and stand on the float/skis or whatever and just fucking have a moment staring at Alaska that was around us… just fucking breathe and have a fucking moment.
And… to INSTAGRAM!!!!!
After that, the pilot took us back into the air for the rest of the tour and back to the docks eventually.
We got back into town and went to a bar called Asylum where we drank some Alaskan beers and ate some burgers and fries from this shack next door called “Burger Queen”, which hand-delivered your food order in a brown bag like they were dropping off your school lunch. And the burgers were great. Honestly, the burger was fucking fantastic compared to the bland food we were eating for two days straight on that damn boat. THROW SOME SALT AND PEPPER ON THIS SHIT ALREADY. Anyway, Burger Queen was great and Alaska has some really nice breweries. One brewery is literally called Alaskan Brewing Company, which Danielle was quite partial to their white beer which has a picture of a polar bear on it. Their Summer beer is also quite nice – I believe that has an orca, killer whale, or blackfish on it.
BACK TO THE FUCKING BOAT!
Yep. Sooner or later, you have to get back on that fucking boat. For a minute, you think to yourself, I could restart my life in Ketchikan. At least for a little while. I could work at one of these bars or I could make some type of craft and say it’s made in Alaska and sell it to some doe-eyed tourist coming off a boat like I just did 6 hours ago. It could work out. I could get used to eating salmon 4x a week. Smoked salmon? Sure. I could get used to eating smoked salmon 6x a week during the Winter. I’ll do anything not to get back on that crap shoot boat.
But you get back on it. And, you go back to the fucking Grand Epernay dining room for another evening of bland dinner being served to you by the same group of waiters who are getting awfully friendly. And sure, I’ll stare at the same group of idiots who are sitting at the table on the otherside of Danielle. There’s the 80 year old couple who don’t talk and just stare out the window and next to them is the mid-30’s couple where the husband sits and smolders and the wife sits as still as a statue and once every 5 minutes fixes a strand of her hair to make sure it’s as flat-ironed straight as the rest of her hair. And sure, I’ll over hear the same conversation from the table behind me where the overbearing couple from Texas will not shut the fuck up about any stupid fucking thought that comes into their stupid fucking Texas brain.
RIGHT?! That’s something I forgot to mention about Alaskan cruises…
TEXANS!!!! THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!!!
Yep. If Alaska is per say the Lord of the Rings trilogy then Texans are the orcs or the not-so-subtle homosexual undertones that just seem to appear in every other fucking scene. It’s like we get it! Tolkien liked a man’s warm embrace and orcs are always on the attack. Ok? Sure. I get it. Texans are loud and they come to Alaska because they want to be loud in Alaska. There were Texans yelling everyday at people WE’RE BIGGER about Alaska. We’re bigger? First off, you’re not. Alaska is 3x the size of your state. Texas is the biggest continental, lower 48 state by far, but Alaska is like the whole of Europe sitting to the NW of Canada. Either way, that’s what they would yell and they did it a lot and there was absolutely no reason for it besides people from Texas have Tourette’s.
And we’re up and the fucking crack of fucking dawn because of two things…
1. Danielle signed us up for an EXCURSION that meant we had to get off the boat at 7am.
2. A cruise ship docking or undocking IS THE LOUDEST AND MOST CONFUSING HOUR OF NOISES EVER!
From our room, it sounded like our boat was launching torpedoes at another cruise ship, while taking incoming torpedo fire from that same cruise ship. It was nuts. Just ZOOOOOPP!!! and WAAAAHHHHHNNNN-KLUMP!!!! Back and forth for like a fucking hour. It’s insane. What part of the boat makes the ZOOOOOPPPP and WAAAAAAHHHNNNN-KLUMP noise because it’s right outside the fucking 6th floor bedrooms near the front of the God damn boat.
The excursion did allow us to see this…
That’s Sawyer glacier.
We got off the big boat and got on a little boat, so we could go up this one “arm” or river basically and get an up-close look at this glacier as well as a waterfall and some just beautiful scenery. Honestly, I enjoyed every fucking second I was off the cruise ship. Even being on another boat was sweet mercy to the purgatory like status I felt being on that cruise ship.
We got to be outside on this small boat with wind in our face and we didn’t have to hear Rhianna playing over some PA system or see some fake friendly wait staff person or any of that. IT WAS FREEDOM!!!!
We didn’t get any pictures because those fuckers move too fast, but we saw several killer whales. That was a thrill. I mean we weren’t signed up for whale watching, but we saw several. We saw a few of the killer whales swimming around and two smaller ones – bulls? I think… – kind of playing and chasing each other. And we saw a humpback to the tail thing where that comes out of the water like a big Y. That was cool as well.
And we rode on that boat for like 5 hours, which is nuts.
It was beautiful and freeing and we eventually made our way back to where the cruise ship was going, which was the state capital of Alaska – JUNEAU.
And Juneau has it’s own dog statue at the dock commemorating this mythical dog named Patsy Ann … http://www.patsyann.com/story/index.htm
One really interesting thing about Juneau, YOU CAN’T ACCESS IT BY ROADS. The fucking state capital of Alaska cannot be driven to. You have to take a plane or a boat to get to the capital. That’s fucking crazy.
Juneau was similar to Ketchikan with the sleepy town feel with tourist shops filling the docks and beautiful mountains filled with trees overlooking everything. We eventually ate dinner in Juneau at this crab shack called Tracy’s Crab Shake by the pier where we or mostly I ate crab bisque, coconut crab cakes, crab pops which were a basket of smaller crab claws, Alaskan king crab leg, a bunch of beers, and several buttery rolls. I ate myself sick and loved every second of it…
We did do a second excursion while we were in Juneau.
So, we did the boat thing and then we went back to the cruise ship for lunch because it was free in the sense we already had paid for it and then we went back to our stateroom to lay down for like 30 minutes and go to the bath room in private and then we got ourselves together to get back off the boat and back on another bus, so we could…
GET PUPPY LICKS!!!!!
We pretty much signed up for an excursion that cost like $300 to play with dogs or really just be around a bunch of dogs for 40 minutes. Yep. THAT’S THE TYPE OF SHIT YOU DO WHEN YOU’RE STUCK ON A FUCKING CRUISE BOAT!!! For that amount of money, we should’ve gotten that fucking dog. $300? It’s crazy. If anybody ever asks Danielle and I to donate money to Alaska, I’ll say we did because we did 4 excursions in Alaska and all told it was like $1500, so back the fuck off Alaska – I love you, but you already got our moneyzzzz.
Back to the doggies, we went to a “musher’s camp”. Remember sled dogs and the Iditarod? Well, we met doggies like that and met people like that and I now know more about the Iditarod than I have any reason to ever. How long is the Iditarod? 1,100 miles. Is the Iditarod the same race every year? Yes and no. There are two races and on even years they go one way and on odd years they go the other way. It’s really that there is a stretch in the middle of the race where they go North or South depending on the year to go around what is a stretch that they cannot pace and then meet up on the other side to do the rest of the run. How many dogs? 16 per person. Can you exchange dogs in and out like tires in Nascar at the check points? Nope. When do they run? At night. When do they sleep? During the day.
I COULD GO ON FOREVER!!!!
We got pulled by the dogs on a path through the woods on a golf cart, which was pretty hilarious. The dogs love to run, so when they see the tourists coming off the buses and getting on the golf carts – the dogs go ape shit. They all start barking and howling like you’re being led to the gates of Hell to be tortured to death forever and ever, but really they’re super excited to get pull your stupid ass through this trail.
As mentioned, the Iditarod is 1,100 miles. The first person who completed the Iditarod did it in 20 days. That’s 55 miles a day. That’s a lot, right? That’s a lot of miles for a doggie to run, right? How does a doggie even get the chance to do that because you’re too busy cuddling with the doggies every 5 minutes, right? Anyway… do you know how fast they’re running the Iditarod now…
NINE FUCKING DAYS
Actually, less. The world record is like 8 days and 19 hours or something. For 9 days, that’s 122 miles a day for those puppie wuppie doggie babies. You know! THAT’S NUTS, right?!
That dog I was petting in the first pic is named Bass and is a retired Iditarod runner. I forgot how many times Bass ran the Iditarod, but it was several times. That’s fucking crazeballs.
We pet the dogs. We got back onto the bus. We ate at that crab shack. We got back onto the boat. I exploded in the bathroom. And then came an insane moment of stress…
Sailing away from Juneau it was Monday night. While at port, your American phone works. You can check your emails and all that. But, I needed more. What I needed was the latest episode of GAME OF THRONES and VEEP. We didn’t have time to watch them on HBOGo because we were leaving the dock in less than an hour and your phone switches to cellular at sea if you have that when you’re 12 miles from the port or at least that’s what AT&T’s website says. It feels like it’s 2 miles, but whatever. So, I decided to get wild and I turned my phone into a mobile hotspot and was going to download the episodes onto the laptop I brought.
That was fucking tense fucking shit. I’m torrenting these and watching the percentage like “75% done, 76% done, 77% done… 78% done!” as the boat is making those crazy torpedo noises and we’re starting to pull away from the dock. And, it was stressful and it was successful.
I got both episodes fucking downloaded and right as they’re finished(!)… It’s like 11:30pm and we have to be up and out of the boat by 7am in Skagway the next and we’re fucking tired, so we’re going to sleep.
That’s right. Asleep by midnight.
There are nightclubs on the cruise ship that close at 2am and others that list their closing time as “LATE” which must mean like 4am and there are casino games 24 hours a day, but the two 30 year olds were in bed and fucking tuckered out each night by midnight or so and we never saw any of the onboat nightclubs in action. One club was called Quasar and here’s a picture of me during the day at like 10am just looking dead sexy serious hanging out there when it was closed…
That’s the end of Days 3 and 4.
Tomorrow – I’ll talk to you about our last day in Alaska and the rest of the trip returning to Seattle and I guess some about Seattle.
They put cream cheese on hot dogs in Seattle.
I love you.