Friday, September 19, 2014

Cruising Alaska, Butter, Bacon, Desserts and the Wetsuit.

Stan and I went to Alaska the first of September aboard the Norwegian Pearl out of Seattle.  Knowing that I would probably put on a few pounds I diligently followed my diet and dropped about 10 pounds prior to departure.  I don't like to fly, ever, but our trip on Alaskan Airways was pleasant even though it was about 4 hours long.  When I travel I end up with the mother of all "cankles" and this time was no exception.  I was downing Lasix like skittles so that I could fit into my shoes. We spent the night before departure in Seattle at the Doubletree otherwise known as the "cookie" hotel.  When you check in they present you with 2 large chocolate chip cookies that are still warm.  The damn things are about 400 calories each but as you know calories do not count on vacation.  They are the best and worth every dollar that we had to spend to stay there. The next morning boarding the ship  I had one moment that caused me concern and brought me front and center to the  current events of the time.  We were in back of a group of Muslims all carrying backpacks.  It made me nervous and sad at the same time.  13 years ago I wouldn't have given them a thought.  Then 9/11 happened.  I obsessed about what they were carrying in their backpacks. I hate that about myself but I did manage to smile at the family in front and make true and appropriate noises about what beautiful children they had.  They were lovely but I still remained untrusting.  

I love cruising.  I love the food, the people and the casino on board.  I am just happy as I can be doing nothing but eating, drinking and playing the slots.  I did not miss a meal.  I ate often and well.  I probably ate more in a week than I do in a month at home.  I ate bacon every day.  I convinced myself that I would need the fat to keep warm.  I didn't miss a single dessert.  I cannot explain it but cruise ship butter tastes so much better than what I have at home.  I used a whole lot of butter on a whole lot of rolls.  My name is Debbie and I KNOW that I have an eating disorder. I know better and have returned to my pre-cruise diet but boy did I have a wonderful gastronomical holiday!

Juneau was our first stop in our cruise and where we were going to the Mendenhall Glacier and Whale watch.  I was the one that booked and paid for our tours so the fault is all mine that I didn't realize that this tour included a hike.  The path was paved so it wasn't like hiking on stone and dirt but I really didn't realize that I would have to walk.  I am a princess.  I don't do hikes.  I should, I know, then I wouldn't have to worry about all the butter I eat.  I have issues not just the size of my butt.  My knees are victims of holding up all my weight and give me trouble every once in a while.  I held my own and other than some huffing and puffing did well.  The glacier was beautiful, it was worth the hike.  We then boarded a boat to look for whales. I had my trusty camera and came prepared to get some tail.  Whale tail. I had a problem with making my fingers work at the right time.  The whale would breach and I was in awe and just stood there, camera in hand, watching this wonder of nature when my brain would engage thinking "PICTURE" and I would take the pix.  I have many many pictures of the tip of the whale tails only.  Our boat broke down on the way back to shore and we had to be "rescued" by another tour.  It was great fun.

We stopped at Skagway, Alaska next and took the White Pass train trip.  We took a bus to Fraser, BC and boarded the train to travel 27 miles to Skagway, AK.  Stan loved the trip as he is into trains and spent the whole time outside on the platform between the cars. I enjoyed it but spent long minutes with my eyes closed as we passed over narrow mountain passages.  Afterwards we were bussed to a   reconstruction of an old tent town called Liarsville and fed a meal of salmon and sides.  They had a show afterwards. I spent time talking to the actors and  I shopped. I found a wonderful knit cap shaped like a beaver head.  I never knew that I wanted a beaver head hat, it must have been the altitude.  Maybe it was the beer.

Since the time we booked our trip and were able to look at tours  I have been over the moon about coming to Ketchikan, AK.  I was going to snorkel, in a wetsuit, at Mountain Point outside of Ketchikan.  The tour provided heated 7mm wetsuits.  I have no experience in donning wetsuits but I have a ton of experience with  a Spanx,  Previously,  writing about my daughters wedding I devoted 2 posts to that invention of Satan.  It took a team of people to get me into my spanx and still have nightmares about the experience.  I called ahead of time and discussed my concerns with a representative of the tour.  I explained my problems getting into my Spanx and let him know that even though I was way below the weight limit I anticipated a struggle.  He was very quiet during my explanation of the wedding travails.  I did hear him snort once and I think he then pressed the mute button on.  He finally laughed when I told him that I was okay to be amused that it would not hurt my feelings.  He ASSURED me that someone would be able to help me.  While getting in our suits we were separated  by only curtains into open dressing  rooms, men from women.  I could not make grunting noises because everyone would hear.  I literally  could not get the damn thing on.  I mean it.  I pulled, tugged, struggled and then started to sweat.  That made it worse. One of the other ladies on the tour and one of the guides had to squeeze me into what amounted to a body shaped Michelin tire.  It was 7mm thick.  Then you add the head thingy and the booties.  Do any of you have any idea how hard it is to walk in that much rubber.  My only consolation was that if I fell I would bounce.   I was able to sit down. Sort of.  I noticed that in my lap was what appeared to be a very large air bubble.  I was fascinated with it and poked at it trying to make it go away.  I realized that I could feel the sensation of my poking.  The "air bubble" was in fact where the tops of my thighs and my stomach went when I put on my suit.  I had an impressive "package" and had I been a guy, would have been strutting my stuff.  We had to walk to the waters edge through a path of large rocks and I had great difficulty.  The wetsuit made it nearly impossible for me to bend my knees so to get to the top of a rock I would have to throw my straight leg up and sideways.  I really struggled to get into the water but once there it was magical.  God dropped a hand full of beautiful in Mountain Point and I got to see it in all of its glory.  I was toasty warm and even got rid of my gloves because I couldn't take pictures with them on.  The upside of having my hands in the cold water was that the arthritis that bothers my hands took a holiday for a while.  I did fall getting out of the water trying to get up on the shore and no I did not bounce but had a devil of a time getting back up.  I kind of did a push up and walked my way backwards because I couldn't bend my legs.  I gave the group a very large tip. 

The next day our boat sailed around glacier bay and I was in awe seeing things that I have only seen in pictures.  It was simply beautiful.  The next day we spent several hours in Victoria, BC.  We took a private tour with a cab driver and had a blast.  He took us everywhere and was very knowledgeable about his city and it's history. 

On our return we again stayed at the Doubletree and got the cookies.  We took the train and went to downtown Seattle and wandered around the market for several hours before returning for the night.

I was glad to get home and we are planning on a return trip with friends.  I imagine that I will forgo the snorkeling  next time.  I will be posting pictures in the next day or two so check back and let me share my experience with you. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 10, 2014 Event Family Dinner

We got together on Wednesday for a "family" dinner.  We do this every once in a while and it really is fun.  Stan and I just got back from our Alaskan cruise and were anxious to see everyone.  Joshua and Syd came with Allison and Aries and this was likely the last time we will see Joshua for a few months as he is working with an oil field company in Ohio.  Benny and Frances Garrard rounded out the nuclear part of Shane and Becky's family.  We were missing Jess and her two but she lives in Arizona.    At some point Rebekah left the room with Winston and when they returned he had on a different onsie.  I will sometimes see something cute and will buy for the grands so I honestly thought this was something I had purchased.  I asked Frances what it said and she responded that she couldn't tell because he was too busy playing.  I picked him up and read: Oops they did it again I am going to be a big brother.  I got halfway thru and stopped thinking that I was telling something that I shouldn't and Becky said to finish it.  I was teary eyed as was Stan but not really surprised because they had been trying.  Congratulations abounded as was joking recriminations about fibbing.  Apparently Frances had commented a few days before asking Beck if she was pregnant.  Becky responded "Are you telling me I am FAT?".  There is one thing I have learned in 40 years of nursing and that is unless you SEE the baby coming out NEVER ask a woman if she is pregnant.  Frances attempted to recover stating no you have spots on your face.  I had to laugh when they told me this conversation.  I don't know which is worse: you're fat or you have acne.  I could sit on the side and greatly sympathize with Frances while inwardly fanning my face grateful I had not said anything.  Then to make matters worse during that conversation Benny threw Frances under the bus stating that he didn't think Becky looked fat or pregnant that that was all on Frances!  They had their first ultrasound and had the picture put on a cake.  Then they got out the second cake and Frances commented that there were two pictures.  Shane stated something to the affect that one cake was for the baby on the left and the other was for the baby on the right.  I was having trouble processing that statement until I was oriented by Frances stating  YOU'RE HAVING TWINS??????.  I  was dumbfounded realizing that morning when I came over to take care of Winston I told her that she should have twins when she got pregnant.  Talk about a prophetic comment.   She is due around April 12 or so.  I just realized that for a person who 3 years ago did not have a grandchild that I am doing well!!!  For a period of  4 to 5 months Stan and I will have 5 grandchildren under the age of three.  I indeed am blessed.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 11, 2014

I will never forget.  Simple words, big promise.  I usually do not work on this day because I spend my time in front of the TV watching the events of that fateful day.  This year my schedule got ahead of me and I did not ask off so I have watched in moderation but still spent my time reflecting on those devastating events of that September.  I didn't cry as much as I usually do although the pictures of those poor people jumping to their death still makes me cry out.  What did bring tears to my eyes was the interview with Patricia Smith, Sean Smith's mom.  He was one of the ones killed in Benghazi during a 9/11 terror attack that our government lied about from the beginning.  She was able to talk to the three security officers who attempted to save her son. She looked at them and stated that they were the sons that she no longer had.  My heart ached.  Hillary and Barrack have the blood of the Benghazi 4 on their hands and I hope nightmares haunt their every sleeping moment.  We cannot forget or let our children forget what happened when America was attacked.  We must be diligent to protect our future and those of our children.  The America I am giving to my grandchildren today is a pale imitation of that which my mom gave to me.  We have so much to answer for and so much to correct.  I still believe in the America that my mom gave to me.  She is there hiding in our hearts and I believe will be strong again.  Never forget.  God Bless America