Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bet You'll Never Guess Where I've Been!

I know I disappeared, but I couldn't say what I was doing...I've been surprising a friend - a friend who does check my blog. So...I couldn't give details. But now I'm home again!

My girlfriend, Shannon, was turning 40 this past week. Really I know 40 isn't old, but it still seems like it! :) Her husband Greg had this awesome idea that Mike & I should join them on an Alaskan cruise as a surprise for her. This was his idea back in February. It has been killing me to keep that a secret - especially when I talk to her at least once a week if not more often!

So that is where we have been!

We went to Seattle and spent a few days with some college friends. It was hard to believe that we hadn't seen each other for almost 8 years!!! It was kind of neat to see how we had grown into responsible adults with children - although none of us would admit to that! My girlfriend, Elaine, was there and took lots of great pictures - including this one of us at the dock. You can check out all of her pictures at her blog - Know Myself. Thanks for the great pictures, Elaine!

Elaine and her family graciously gave us a ride to the dock to start our trip. Mike and Greg were texting all morning to keep each other aware of where we were. Shannon thought Greg was still working. The plan was to meet them at dinner and surprise Shannon. We got on the boat first and actually watched Greg and Shannon board from the top deck. It was killing me that I could see her, felt like I could reach out and touch her, but I had to wait four more hours until I could hug her! Greg told Mike they were going for food at the back of the ship, so Mike and I headed for a tour of the spa at the front of the ship. As we walked out of the spa we were by one of the banks of elevators. As we turned, the elevator doors opened and Greg and Shannon were standing right there. It is a huge ship and yet somehow we managed to run into each other. Best laid plans....I was secretly - okay not so secretly thankful that God worked it out so we could meet each other sooner and He surprised all four of us instead of just Shannon!

The rest of the trip was amazing! We sailed to Juneau, Glacier Bay, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, BC. Each of those cities in Alaska have no roads in or out - the only way to get to them is by boat or by plane. That's isolation!

In Juneau we took a whale watching excursion that included a tour of a glacier and a salmon bake. We saw a momma humpback whale with her calf. The calf was putting on a glorious show for us and jumped and splashed for 30 min! That is the longest that law allows you to stay watching one wildlife.
We also saw an eagle that caught a salmon and was making it his lunch.
And a pod of orca whales or killer whales. And sea lions. And lots of sea gulls.

Thankfully the tour boat had coffee and hot chocolate. It was a really amazing tour and kind of spoiled us for wildlife. From then on anytime someone would see a whale just swimming it didn't seem quite as exciting!

The glacier was beautiful. The "dirt" is silt that runs down. I kind of expected it to be brilliant like you see in on tv, but it was still beautiful. We hiked around the park adjacent to the glacier making lots of noise to avoid the bears that are coming out to the streams for the salmon spawning.

Then on to the salmon bake (I had bbq ribs) that was fantastic! It was raining, but they had great canopies set up to eat under. And we were right next to a waterfall that we donned our umbrellas and went to find.The day we visited Glacier Bay we were on the boat all day. In the morning they offered a Polar Bear Plunge. Much to Mike's dismay, that meant a swim in the outdoor pool (which I'm not sure anyone used other than that because it was cold and rainy the whole trip!). He was hoping it meant in the glacial waters. However, I did hear that the Coast Guard has a 50/50 rule for the Alaskan waters. That means you have a 50% chance of being able to swim 50 yards. Lets just say the water is COLD!

We did however wear our swim suits and view the glacier from the spa's thermal spa. The thermal spa contained a mineral tub specially designed to regulate your body temperature (I used this almost every day!); steam rooms; showers; a balcony; and full view out the front of the ship; and the most amazing heated lounge chairs. Many a nap happened in those. The glacier was beautiful! When the glacier would calv otherwise known as have a piece fall off into the water, it sounded like thunder. We stayed at the glacier for an hour and a half and even saw kayakers - crazy people!!!
On to Sitka. This was by far the cutest town. Mike and Greg went fishing in the morning and had fun. Shannon and I went to the spa and we had FUN! It was also our only day of sun. It was beautiful. When we got there, we could not dock, but had to take the life boats to the dock. It was cool to watch them bring them back on to the ship.

Then we went to Ketchikan, but it was cloudy and rainy the whole time - yuk. I'm sure the town is great, but the weather (especially after Sitka) made it not so appealing. We did however do a bunch of touristy trinket shopping for the kids. This was my favorite purchase...

...the pooping bear. When we got home, we explained that it wasn't real poop. Jeffrey assured us it wasn't - he licked it.

Lastly we went to Victoria, BC. Again, I'm sure it is a great city - they are hosting the Olympics soon - don't ask me which year...I don't remember. We didn't dock until 7pm on a Thursday night. Our trolley driver nicely explained that everything except the mall and the pubs were closed. We found a couple of cute shops, a gelatto store, and walked around the Empress hotel. This is the government building.

Then we sadly headed home. I'd like to say that I really missed the kids and home, but...I didn't cook for 10 days; I didn't have children waking me up in the middle of the night; I didn't have to make my bed every day; I didn't have to correct any children, change any diapers, or wash any dishes. However, I also didn't get lots of hugs and kisses - sweet little kids ones that is! When I think of those sweet moments, then I really did miss them!

It is good to be home (and sleep in my bed with two extra kids), but now I'm engrossed in the laundry and cleaning. Life goes on.


Deedeeuk said...

Welcome back! I did wonder what happened to you. I thought you WERE buried under tons of laundry and housework - LOL!

That looks like an amazing trip! I'm glad you had a wonderful time. I know what you mean about missing kids though. I thought I'd miss mine more than I did on our 3 night trip to Rome last year. I was just having too good a time being a wife to miss being a mommy, if you know what I mean?! ;o)

Heasleye said...

Yay! What a fun trip review! Sorry for the dreary weather, but it still sounds like you all had a great time. How awesome to watch the whales and see the scenery while inside a spa!
The Winter Olympics will be in Vancouver in 2010. :)


Trish D said...

Wow, what an awesome trip!! And how special to be able to share it with friends, too