Saturday, May 30, 2009

Alaska Day 8 - Trip Home - ICK

Day 8 – May 29, 2009

We woke up (early cause Mama called thinking we were running late, grrr) and got dressed. They brought us a continental breakfast - not allowed any hot room service on your last day. We ate and headed down to our assigned area to get off the boat. Our flight was at 12 noon and it was 8:35. The Celebrity staff had been paid to see we got to the airport on time, with our luggage. So are in our assigned meeting area and they tell us it’s our turn to leave.

We stand up and get in line and then realize the line to get off the boat is about ½ the length of the ship – why did they tell us to stand up so we could wait in line? Someone please explain this to me?

So we get off the ship and expect to get on a bus that has our luggage already preloaded on it… NO that is not what happened. We get onto the pier and there is the luggage from the entire ship – we are told to find ours! Ok, if you can imagine hundreds of people trying to find their luggage which really isn’t in any order at all and me having problems with crowds on top of all of this? And we have a 12 o’clock flight to catch. I was not happy!

Luckily we found it all and a nice porter did come up and get our bags to the bus for us – if it would have not been for him I’m not sure what we would have done.

So then we get on the bus and the driver is outside making sure everything gets on properly – then we wait to get out of the parking area … which is a nightmare. Then the train stops us. By this time it’s getting close to 10 and I’m freaking.

We get to the airport at 10:05ish and are told we have to wait on the bus while they get the luggage off. As you can imagine that went over like a ton of bricks, but we waited. We finally got off around 10:20 grabbed our bags and rushed to the baggage check in. You’d think since I had my boarding pass already and had already paid the $100 extra bag fee we could just zip up and go. No, they aren’t as organized as Hartsfield and we waited in line for 40 minutes to check our bags. When we got up there 2 were over weight… they only charged us for 1 but that was $90. Overall we paid $290 in baggage fees for the trip – is that not insane?

Anyway we got our bags checked, it was 11:15 and we still had to go thru security. I’m panicking and we are running thru the airport to get to security. The line is long and we wait some more. Luckily it moved quickly and we got to the gate about 11:35 just as they called our zone to board. It was insane and all Celebrity’s fault. There ability to get people in and off that boat is insane. I could not believe the inability to organize and the way we were just basically dumped off of the boat and said here ya go – figure it out!

I would never cruise again anyway as it is simply too relaxed for me. I want to go see the stuff, not drive by it. However, if I did want to cruise again – this disembarkation would have cemented that it would not have been with Celebrity! I have serious panic attacks in crowds and they caused me to have 1 when we got off at Juneau and came close to causing me to have a second when we came home. Not a great way to end a trip – that was for sure. But we got home and are here safe and sound. It was good to get away and even better to see my house and my kitties.

Alaska Day 7

Day 7 – May 28, 2009

We slept extremely late this am getting up around Noon. It is now 1 PM and we are packing the suitcases to put out by the door tonight. We are supposed to arrive at Victoria, British Columbia at 4 pm and are going on one of the excursions. This time tomorrow we will be on a plane.

Our visit to Victoria was really nice. We were given a bus tour of the city and the driver gave us some of the local color as we drove. The town was beautiful – it reminded me of St. Simon’s Georgia. The weather was great and the general atmosphere was just nice. We went and saw Craigdarroch Castle. The woodwork was amazing and it was HUGE! The stain glass was also beautiful… though I’d hate to have been the maid. I can’t imagine cleaning that thing.

On our way back to the ship we passed the museum and the legislative buildings – they were also gorgeous. I wish we would have had more time in port as I would have loved to explore this town some more. But we did not so we went back to the ship and got ready for dinner. It was our last dinner in the dining room and we ate with a nice couple that was too late to eat at their assigned early seating. They were from MS and were really nice although eating w/ strangers did make me a bit nervous. We then went to see the final variety show which was ok … and last but not least we went to bed.

One thing I will say about Celebrity – they treat you pretty good while on board but once it’s time for you to go they are kicking you off the boat w/ no niceness what so ever. They already had robes in the closet for the next guest and sheets sitting out in our room to replace ours the next AM. Our fruit bowl, which I was still eating from, was taken away when he did his evening cleaning. We just felt, or at least I felt rushed. I really came close to putting on the robes just to piss them off.

Alaska Day 6

Day 6 – May 27, 2009

We slept late this AM and didn’t get up until 11 AM. We have just gotten dressed and are now heading out to find some lunch. Hopefully something exciting will happen….

Day 6 – May 27, 2009 Continued

We ate lunch – we had the buffet and after the panic attack I had yesterday getting off the boat (way too many people) the people going each and every direction got to me quickly. Jack ended up getting me a hamburger that I ate part of.

We came back to the room after lunch and read/slept the rest of the day. We got up around 5 PM and went to listen to the band we like on board. Afterwards we came back and visited with Mama for a bit before dinner. All three of us then went to listen to a bit more music and to dinner in the formal dining room. It was formal night and was full of pomp and circumstance – we had a good time, but as always Mama seemed uncomfortable with all the pomp. Maybe it was my imagination… After dinner she went back to the room and Jack and I listened to the band and danced until around midnight. It was a relaxing and slightly boring day.

Alaska Day 5

Day 5 – May 26, 2009

This day started with breakfast in our room as we watched the ship pull into Juneau AK. The town itself was really nothing spectacular (that we saw); just a bunch of tourist shops. The fact it was nestled right between the mountains and the sea was interesting. However, our excursion for the day did not keep us in Juneau. We left the town on bus and drove to a trail that walked you up to a viewing spot for the Mendhall Glacier. We were not as close to it as we were the Hubbard, but it was still neat to see. We of course took lots of pictures and the trail up was relaxing.

Afterwards we boarded the bus and drove down to a pier. Where we boarded what appeared to be a life raft. J Seriously this thing was aluminum and was surrounded by blue inflatable stuff – however we quickly learned it was perfect for what we were doing. We drove out to the middle of the bay and were surrounded by Whales of all types. The sides of the boat unzipped and we were in picture taking heaven. I haven’t looked at any of my shots and we didn’t see any Whales jump out of the water, but they were there making noise and coming up for air. It was pretty cool. We also saw some seals and eagles. It wasn’t the excursion I thought it would be but it was certainly enjoyable.

After 2 hours on the boat we drove back to the dock and headed back into town. We meet a mother and her daughter on the trip. They are from MS but she came up to AK to teach in a rural town for the year. The daughter reminded me of Zoey from Eureka and they were really neat to talk to. We learned a little about their village and how AK life really is for the native Eskimos.

Once back in town we headed to a local restaurant for lunch. Mama had her first crab cake and I had shrimp. It was expensive but pretty good… We then hit a tourist shop for some postcards and headed back to the ship for a nap. You apparently take a lot of those when on a cruise – you would die of boredom otherwise.

We woke up and went to the magician show. I’ve enjoyed all the shows on the boat thus far, but he was corny and not very good. We then were going to go to dinner but no one was really hungry. Mama went to the Casino and Jack and I headed back to the room. We had room service about 2 hours later and went to sleep. Overall a boring evening of sitting and looking at this damn room – yes I’m getting sick of this room. I don’t think cruising is for me… not enough to do! I want to go and see new things on my trip not sit in my room and look outside or go shopping.

Alaska Day 4

Day 4 – May 25, 2009

This morning we got up early and had breakfast in the room. The view was astonishing with the snow capped mountains appearing to float on clouds – I got some shots, but I think they will be washed out w/ the lighting. But I took them. Afterwards we got dressed and explored the ship a bit looking for a good spot to look off the front and/or back of the boat. We found one but man it was freezing with the wind blowing so we didn’t stay long.

We then came back to the room and at this point I will admit the boredom is setting in. I’m used to vacations where you go, go, go and this relaxing while watching the scenery going by is driving me crazy. You can only take so many pictures of mountains. I sit here now and watch the snow capped mountains as we drive by them and can appreciate their beauty – they are impressive – rising out of the sea majestically, but I want to be exploring. The events on the ship are numerous but … I don’t want to play bingo or go to another ballroom class so Jack and I can get mad at each other. I have books and Jack is enjoying his, but the desire to read is non-existent. I want to be going… exploring … seeing something new all the time. Don’t get me wrong – I love the view – it’s amazing! I just want to be more up close and personal. Maybe the glacier viewing this afternoon will cure me of this sudden melancholy.

Off to drum up something to do – chat with you later.

Day 4 – May 25, 2009 Continued

Ok, boredom gone – OMG! We saw Hubbard glacier today and would never have seen it if not on a cruise. We got within one Nautical mile and were near it for a good hour to an hour and ½ of picture taking. The site is breathless! Not to mention the fact our ship was surrounded by chunks of ice – it was actually a little scary. No idea how many pictures I took – hundreds I would imagine. As we drive out of the glacier area now I sit awe struck by the view outside… if you want to feel small and realize the grandness of our earth this is the place to be! Just OMG WOW - This is the definition of majestic.

Just as a side note – Mama and I went to play word trivia earlier – we did pretty well. It was something to do J Time now for rest – I want to dance tonight – Jack get ready for some tequila, hee.

After our nap we went down to see the show with the dancers and singers. It was 50 and 60’s music compiled into a show and it was entertaining. Afterwards Jack and I went to dinner and dancing. We had a good time and got to use some of our ballroom dancing classes. We then called it a night.

Alaska Day 3

Day 3 – 5/24/09

This morning began with breakfast in our room! I love room service – Man I could get used to it!

After Breakfast we disembarked from the Infinity in Ketchikan AK. The town is only accessible by Ship / Rail and its tourist industry was obvious. We did an excursion – Lighthouse, Totems and Eagles. I have to say the money was worth it! I’ll tell you more about it later, but right now I have to get ready for dinner…

Day 3 – 5/24/09 Continued

On the excursion we took a bus to a dock about 30 minutes outside of town. The road to the dock was down a dirt road and I heard several people talk about the fact it needed to be paved. However, in looking around it appears dirt roads are common around here – just goes to show how people constantly want to change things to make it more convenient for them vs. just adapting to what the area already has… the price of progress is steep. But I digress – the bus driver was humorous and had some political commentary that was interesting. Apparently groceries are expensive on the island due to the fact they have to be shipped in… However he said the fish is shipped a total of 2 blocks and its expensive too so I don’t think they can blame it all on shipping cost. It was funnier when he said it I know but since this is for my memory as much as sharing with you … you get the lame jokes along w/ the days events.

Once we got to the dock we boarded a small boat (2 decks) and went out in the water to see some Eagles Nest, Totem Poles and the Lighthouse. I have to say that the excursion wouldn’t have been no where as neat if it wasn’t for the crew of the ship! They really made it. The Captain, Captain Bob, was funny and made the trip interesting. The guy in the galley was nice as you could imagine and had the best eyes – eyes that looked at you and twinkled in delight. I felt welcomed and comfortable the instance I was on board.

We saw 10 Eagle Nest and several bald eagles. At that time I really, really wish I had a 600 MM Lens with a Tripod, but my 300 was able to at least catch the fact that a bald eagle was there. The shots are horrible, but when cropped you can see the bird – however crappy the quality it may be. You do what you can with what you have. There were two ladies on board with a 400 MM ProLine Canon lens – OH MAN I had lens envy…

The Captain told us about houses on the land we were passing and gave us some local color which was nice. We also saw the lighthouse and heard of their plans to turn it into a museum. Ketchikan is also the Totem capital in the world (along with the Salmon) and we got to see several of the totems on the shore and heard some of the stories they told. It was neat, though I kind of wish we would have chosen a tour that would have got us up close and personal… ah well!

One more note about the ship – you got free refreshments and they had this Salmon dip that was out of this world good. I got the recipe and OMG I can’t wait to make it! I’ll eat it all in one sitting, it was great!

After the excursion we were driven back to Ketchikan and walked around the town a bit before we had to be back on board The Infinity. We bought most of the gifts we needed to buy and headed back to the ship. I also got me a few things…spent too much money, but I’m only in Alaska once so screw it.

Once aboard the Infinity we took a long nap and then went to see the Ventriloquist show. He was super funny – I really thought it would be lame, but Mama wanted to go. Looking back I’m very glad we did as he was super entertaining.

After the show Mama went off to explore and Jack and I headed to dinner. We were by ourselves and the appetizers were great. Then the incident happened! I had ordered stuffed flounder… it was garnished with a crawfish. You think … ok … so what. Well the crawfish still had eyes and instantly my appetite was gone. Jack had them take it away and the waiter as nice as he was tried to give me a salmon but I was so done. I think the waiter was laughing at me a little bit… ah well – I can’t eat food that is looking back at me, sorry. We left shortly afterwards and went to roam the nightclubs of the ship.

They have a really good dance band onboard and Jack had a drink so that he would feel comfortable dancing - it instantly went to head which was cute. Unfortunately, by time we got their and Jack had a drink there was only time for 1 dance before they were done… We then meandered and heard some accapella singing and ended up in the Disco area. Some people were dancing, but I was ready to call it a night so we headed back to our room and turned in for the evening.

Alaska Day 2

Day 2 – 5/23/09

We slept till 7:30 AM PST (11:30 EST) and had breakfast in the room, what a treat. The view off the balcony is peaceful with Snow Capped Mountains in the distance. The room itself is roomier than I imagined we would have and we’ve found a spot to put everything; the bed is super comfy! So far we’ve done nothing except participate in the mandatory abandon ship drill, but we are about to go to the Cha-Cha class J See you in a bit!

Well we went to dance Cha-Cha and it was fun/ frustrating. Having taken lessons for a year now it was odd to not be in frame and to not have Jack really leading the dance. I was glad when it was over to be honest. Then we meandered around a bit. We went to the top side and Jack thought I had gotten blown overboard because he turned around and I had walked away – pretty funny! The wind was really brutal. Overall the temperature is colder than I anticipated – they said 50-60 degrees but damn that isn’t what it feels like.

We then ate lunch in the dining room - it was good and fancy, which was a nice change of pace. We ate with 8 other people (Mama was napping) and it was interesting. I’m not typically comfortable with a bunch of strangers but we did alright … they all seemed to be nice people. Especially the lady to my right- she ordered a tea and I a coke… Getting drinks around here that aren’t water or alcohol is a pain. I mean we bought those $30 passes for unlimited soft drinks but getting them at a meal takes an act of Congress. That is really my only complaint about the cruise line thus far…

After lunch we attempted to take a photo editing class, but they wanted Money for it and I can’t see me getting that much out of it so we decided to skip. We walked around a bit and then came back to the hotel to rest before dinner.

Dinner was formal and I wore my black and white ball gown. It was really fun and the food was pretty good – walking down the stairs into the dining area I felt like I was some rich princess in a grand ship; it was surreal and entirely pampering! I loved it. They had several courses and we tried them all – the sherbet to cleanse your pallet would have to be the funniest – man it was bad. Mama and I were having a good time making fun of the pomp and circumstance – while I must say I enjoyed every minute of it.

After dinner Mama went to the room and Jack and I decided to try out the evening show. It was a tribute to Broadway and the theater was beautiful. The performers were very talented – not knowing Broadway we didn’t really get it but it was obvious they were extremely talented, maybe we will enjoy the next show more… By then it was late and while we popped our head into the dance club we ended up coming back to the room and crashing. Overall it was a good relaxing day!

Alaska Day 1

See Later in the week for pictures!

Below is my journal from our trip. Hope you enjoy!

Day 1 – 5/22/09

Yesterday was a long day. We got up at 5:00 AM EST to catch our early morning flight to Seattle WA. Our flight was good w/ no issues at the airport, but 5 hours in a plane can really take it out of you. Especially when you are stuck in the middle on coach and were tired before you started. To say the least I was a little crumpy.

We arrived in Seattle at 11:30 PST and were met by our Celebrity Staff. I felt a little rushed with the baggage, but we managed to get it handed off to them and loaded onto the bus that would take us to Pier 66. Once we arrived we ate lunch at a restaurant on the pier, fried salmon – YUMMM then checked in for our cruise. We have a concierge class cabin and boy was I grateful, the line to check in for everyone else was a mile long, but we were whisked away to a “special line” and were done in little to no time.

Once done with that we had several hours before the ship would arrive and we could board so we decided, as tired as we were to see the Space Needle. I mean how can you go to Seattle and not see the Space Needle? I’d say we were about a mile from it and we walked to it (uphill). I enjoyed seeing Seattle and love the layout of the city, but we should have taken advantage of their public transportation – live and learn. Anyway, Mama and I went up in the Needle – Jack being afraid of heights stayed on the ground and enjoyed his book. It was neat to see Seattle from that height and worth the walk. We only had a day or really less than that to see this great city so I couldn’t have thought of a better way to do it!

We came down, bought some souvenirs and began our walk back. They had a festival going on so the atmosphere of the area was contagious. It was a happy - no stress time that was enjoyed by all. However, all of us, especially Mama were tired by this point and just wanted to get back to the VIP room and sit down while we waited for the ship.

We strolled back and went to the VIP room where we sat and waited for the Infinity to arrive. It arrived a couple hours later and boy was it huge! I mean WOW a small city.

Once it docked we were allowed to board early due to the Concierge Class and thank the Lord because we were tired. We came to our room and then went to the buffet dinner. We were done eating and people were still boarding – felt sorry for them. Afterwards we came back and crashed! Tiring start to the trip but we got to see Seattle and now have a day of rest.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Charlotte - Day 2

Wow, today has been a long day. It actually makes yesterday look short. I think it's the sleep or lack their of catching up with me. Last night I went to bed at 12:30 and got up at 6:30 with some mild interruptions there in. That put together with 8 hours in a class room and another 2.5 having dinner with company people = one long ass day!

Tomorrow luckily training is only 1/2 a day and then we head back to Atlanta. Hopefully with all luggage in tow (sorry Steve just had to :) ). I'm hoping we are back in town by 6 (maybe earlier) which will be nice. I have some stuff still to do before we leave Friday + American Idol is recorded and waiting for me to watch :) I CAN'T WAIT. I'm so addicted.

Time for sleep, yes I'm old - it's only 10pm! Good night blogland.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Crazy Week - One Day Closer to Alaska

This week is going to be a little nutz. I worked today, had a big client meeting at 2pm and left immediately after for a training class in Charlotte NC. We get back into Atlanta Wednesday evening... I work Thursday and we fly out for our Alaskan cruise on Friday Morning at 8:45... Yep an insane week!

The good news is I'm pretty much packed for Alaska. A few odds and ends, but pretty much it's a go. Which is good cause there is no way I could pull it together Wed and Thur night - I would be insane! Man I can't wait! We are actually going to get to see Seattle a bit on Friday too which is cool.

But until Friday it is a work week and so far it's going well. My friend Steve and I both are in the class so we got to commute together which was fun. A 4 hour drive (well 6 if you count the leaving luggage mishap) doesn't seem so long when you've got good conversation going! Now I'm sitting here in Charlotte staring at the hotel room my company has provided. It's actually pretty nice considering. The bed is super comfy and it has a nice work area + a kitchen. Not that I'll be cooking but still... It's nice. Plus it's clean which is a big plus!

However, it's midnight and I must get some sleep (didn't get to sleep last night till 3 am) so I'm pretty beat and tomorrow is going to be a long day! Have a good one blogland.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Too Many Fracking Pictures

I have come to the realization that I take too many fracking pictures. I was sorting thru and rating my pictures from our Savannah trip and it just hit me. Do I need 5 shots of the same thing, I mean seriously?

The photographer in me shouts:

"HELL YES you need them. You take 100 to get that one perfect shot"

but then the pragmatist in me says:

"yes, you would need them if you changed the angle or messed with the settings on the camera or did anything different between the shots but you take at least two "just to be safe"! You have a digital camera idiot - look at it. "

So I'm going to try and begin to really think about the quality of the shot vs. just shooting multiple times and hoping for a victory. I know I know - it's not why I shoot. I shoot to have fun and to find that perfect picture thru my viewfinder, but the chance of me finding it will increase if I don't spend 2 hours going thru 400 pictures for a 1.5 day trip. That being said... Alaska is coming up - no telling how many pictures that will end up with.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Life is Life

Life is life, you either love it and deal with it or you just deal with. Right now I'm at dealing.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Mastectomy Law Change

I'm not normally an "involved person", but I can't sit back and watch insurance companies try to dictate patient care; especially in the case of women having a Mastectomy - Out Patient Care, are you kidding? Please sign the petition today. See the email I received below:

Proposed Mastectomy Law Change

(written by a surgeon);

I'll never forget the look in my patients eyes when I had to tell them they had to go home with the drains, new exercises and no breast. I remember begging the doctors to keep these women in the hospital longer, only to hear that they would, but their hands were tied by the
insurance companies.

So there I sat with my patient giving them the instructions they needed to take care of themselves, knowing full well they didn't grasp half of what I was saying, because the glazed, hopeless, frightened look spoke louder than the quiet 'Thank you' they muttered.

A mastectomy is when a woman's breast is removed in order to remove cancerous breast cells/tissue. If you know anyone who has had a mastectomy, you may know that there is a lot of discomfort and pain afterwards. Insurance companies are trying to make mastectomies an
outpatient procedure. Let's give women the chance to recover properly in the hospital for 2 days after surgery.

This Mastectomy Bill is in Congress now. It takes 2 seconds to do this and is very important. Please take the time and do it really quick! The Breast Cancer Hospitalization Bill is important legislation for all women.

There's a bill called the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act which will require insurance companies to cover a minimum 48-hour hospital stay for patients undergoing a mastectomy. It's about eliminating the 'drive-through mastectomy' where women are forced to go home just a
few hours after surgery, against the wishes of their doctor, still groggy from anesthesia and sometimes with drainage tubes still attached.

Lifetime Television has put this bill on their web page with a petition drive to show your support.. Last year over half the House
signed on. PLEASE! Sign the petition by clicking on the web site below. You need not give more than your name and zip code number.

Jamaica Day 2 and Part of 3

I'm relaxed - I mean really relaxed and it feels amazing.  Yesterday after the post they showed us a new room and I was really undecided...