Saturday, June 25, 2011

The final Alaska post: Juneau and Ketchikan and Vancouver

First things first before I jump into talking about Alaska.

WOW for Levi and the Tour de Suissie!. He must have really had the TT of his life, which should be a really great thing for him going into the TDF. Confidence is a huge thing...and you can't buy it.  I'm pretty excited about this years TDF, as it really should be a total gunfight for the podium in Paris. I'm hoping both Levi and Chris Horner have the races of their lives! And George too! I don't know what to make of Andy...IS he sandbagging lately? I think so. I think he will come out with guns-a-blazing in France. As will Contador.

OK, back to the great white north. I noticed that I missed a 'ship day' early on, so my numbering of the days is off by one (we left Whittier and it took 2 days to get to Glacier Bay, not 1). So...That would actually make Skagway day 4. OOPS.

Whereas Skagway was a nice long in-port day, Juneau and Ketchikan weren't. We didn't get off the ship until around 9am, and had to be back aboard by 3:30pm for both. In Juneau we took a city tour on a bus, and quite honestly I could have done without our 'tour operator'. I won't go into detail but suffice to say that her sense of what was appropriate to talk about was rather on the trailer-trash side of things. Our tour ended up at Mendenhall Glacier, where we hiked out to the vista point near an awesome water-fall crashing into the bay. I've seen this glacier before, albeit by air. LONG ago when I was a young Navy lad I flew in/out of Juneau on my way to Anchorage a time or two, and recall seeing it out the window and was quite was the first 'tidewater' glacier I had ever seen (tidewater glaciers are ones that end up in the ocean).

The gang at the base of the waterfall, Mendenhall Glacier in the left background

Our little hiking trip out to the vista point took a tiny bit longer than usual and darn it if we didn't miss OUR bus home, and had to catch the next one (our tour company has busses every  half hour, if you miss one you just catch the next one thankfully). Juneau is a beautiful city, and there are bald eagles flying/sitting around all over the place. After the tour we took the tram up Mt. Roberts, high above the ship docks. Had we more time I would have loved to hike the summit (about 3 miles, 3500' of climbing). But time was something we didn't have so back to the ship we went.

Our ship the Coral Princess as seen from theTram

The ship pulled out of Juneau on schedule and by the next morning we were pulling into Ketchikan just after breakfast. By this time we were all feeling pretty beat quite honestly, and we did go ashore to wander around the shops and such, but not much else was planned. Jim and I were thinking about going ziplining, but they wanted almost $200 each, and that was a bit pricey we both thought. So we both ended up buying ourselves new Tilley hats instead, quite the bargain actually! This will replace my old backpacking / outdoors hat. It's a really nice hat, and even though I don't consider myself a 'hat guy', I really like this one!

 Jim and I sporting our new Tilley's, AND our tasty Alaskan Beer Samplers!

Those Tilley Girls! Jackie and Jeannie tryng on our new hats.

We had lunch at a nice pub style place, and they had the "Alaskan" beer sample platter which Jim and I both had to try. The other family had planned a float-plane trip for this city, and they had taken off early to make it on time. We met back up after our lunch and their plane ride, and we went back to another pub for their lunch and those of us who just ate had beer instead. Always room for more tasty beer. After that we wandered our way back to the ship, and our shore excursions were now over. Tomorrow (Saturday) we arrive in Vancouver and disembark, cruise over. The only real shame of this entire cruise was that half of the time the ship was steaming along, it was thru some awesomely scenic areas and unless you can just sit outside the entire cruise, you miss SO MUCH. But by the 6th day you are immune to the beautiful scenery and just want to rest. That night you had to be packed up, and before we leave for our dinner we had to put our 'checked' luggage out in the passageway with our name-tags on them. It is all gathered up and staged for loading ashore first thing upon arrival.

We arrived in Vancouver the next morning and after breakfast, and went back to the room one final time. We packed up our carry-on luggage and gathered in our designated disembarkation assembly points. We were the 2nd to last group to go ashore, our time was 9:20am. We were in no real hurry so let most of the other passengers go before us. It was a good plan and I had a wonderful breakfast one more time. I'm going to miss this dining I can tell you with absolute certainty. It was like we were royalty for a week. Overall I don't think I've ever had better food, and this was every meal, every day. Our waiting staff was just out of this world, and I would consider looking up our head-waiter someday if we were to ever go on another cruise to find out which ship he's on. Sebastian was his name, and he made dinner a truly special meal every night.

In Vancouver we had rooms in the downtown Sheraton (which was AWESOME!) Turns out Vancouver is a really nice city. Just a few days before we arrived (Weds to be exact) the Vancouver Cannucks lost the Stanley Cup Finals to Boston, and some of the disgruntled fans rioted. They did millions in damage to the city, and the Canadians in general were mortified. People were volunteering to help rebuild..paint, put up plywood, whatever they could do to help. The riot area was not very far from us...probably around 10 or 12 blocks. We had a really nice dinner that night, and EVERYBODY was so very friendly. The next day was our last of the trip, and Jeannie and I had tickets to the Broadway show WICKED...the story of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Jeannie showing off her own super-pointy WICKED shoes

 Here we are at the show (I got yelled at for having the picture taken..apparently that's taboo!)

The show was PHENOMENAL, and we were seated in row 2, almost in the middle! I must now buy the book, as the story was just great! I'd recommend it to all...if you want to find out all the pre-story to the Wizard of Oz (such as: just WHO WAS the Wicked Witch, how did she become WICKED, who was Glenda the Good and how she became that, who was the Cowardly Lion/Tin Man/Scarecrow were and how they came to be there, how the flying monkeys came to be able to fly, stuff like that). The casting was what you would expect from a Broadway play...the girl playing the Wicked Witch was just out of this world, as was Glenda. All in all, a great way to end our trip.

But alas, the play was over and it was time for a final dinner and bed. We flew home the next morning and drove home from LAX, and that was that. But the babies were SO very excited! As Dorothy said, "there's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home".

And finally, there's the rest of the story. Here is the headline:

Matt has a genuine superpower.

Yes, it's true. I have suspected it for years, and many others have had glimmers of it here and there, but it has NEVER before been tested like on this cruise. You see, I weighed myself before we left. 154lbs. And then, I went CRAZY on the ship for SEVEN DAYS. Crazy in that I ate EVERYTHING. I was obsessed...I'd order BOTH breakfast entrees, and other stuff too. Full lunch a few hours later. Afternoon meal ( of pizza and beer some something similar) around 3pm due to our dinner being the 'late' seating @ 7:45pm, happy hour every day around 5 or 6pm with wine and snacks, and finally dinner in the formal dining room. After the very first night I got over the weirdness about ordering BOTH dinner entrees, dual appetizers, soup, and at least 3 desserts. I think I should have been wearing a big cape when I sauntered into the dining room, and people should have applauded the performance they were about to see. And after all the carnage, I weighed myself Tuesday morning before I went back to work, and NOT A POUND was gained. In fact, I actually dropped a tiny bit (153.7lbs to be exact). And this included NOT A SINGLE foray into the gym for working out (I did wander in once to look at the equipment, and also to check out the spin class room, but it was DURING breakfast, and that just wouldn't do). The only thing I did that you could consider any kind of exercise was I walked all over the ship, and I never took the elevator.

I guess all that walking was enough for someone with a bona-fide superpower, because it worked! I should be studied, and interviewed on Oprah AND Larry King at the very least. Maybe a guest spot on Letterman or Conan, something like that. But alas, it is my fate to live with this most amazing of all superpowers in relative obscurity. Kind of like Aqua Man (he had a great superpower but was pretty much ostracized by his super-hero peers and the public in general). I mean, come ON! He could swim underwater WITHOUT scuba tanks.... FOREVER! AND..... he could talk to all the marine creatures with his sonar-like communication powers! THOSE are some serious superpowers I'd trade even my own for! Though flying thru the eair would be cool too. But in the grand scheme of things, maybe it's not quite as amazing as eating whatever you want whenever you want with no weight gain. Superman, eat your heart out. And Batman, what does HE have? Gadgets. That's it. Underneath it all, I bet he works out like a madman in the gym to fit in that outfit every day. Not a very good superpower at all if you ask me.

And so...our vacation is over and we are back to the grind of daily life. The TDF is coming up SO VERY FAST! I will pick up the VS channel around the beginning of the month, and will relish the days listening to P&P (while Jeanie will HATE those days). But she is scheduled to fly on a work trip and will only have to put up with the first week or so of the race. Also my LIVESTRONG DAVIS is fast approaching! Fatty has finally jumped firmly on-board and is promoting it...and our team is winning by a landslide over all the other teams. I've had a so-so year of fundraising as we've been SO very busy at work...but that's ok. It's very tiring to say the least, but I have gotten into the habit of going in 45minutes early every day and putting out muffins and bagels at 2 of our buildings. I've make over $1000 doing this, and that's not too shabby! As to what will happen to LIVESTRONG when the "Get LANCE" show finally has some kind of ending I can't say, but it would be a travesty if this is greatly affected. Fatty has also embraced the World Bicycle Relief fund, and has made another 'Team Fatty'. This one you sign up (for FREE) and then simply enter any kind of workout you do...all of it gets you "Kudos", and so many kudos gets some kid in Zambia a free bike. This one is sponsored by SRAM, and I have to admit I'm impressed. Today I entered ALL my bike rides for this year, all the way back to January. So far I have over 3200 Kudos, which equates to almost half a bike (they can bike a bike for $150 ea). Team Fatty is really zinging along in this charity, and it's another great way Fatty has found to make a difference.

OK...enough on this. Time to start ramping up for the TDF...I'm fast getting TOUR FEVER! I think it will strike hard later in the week. Oh, and Monday is my eye surgery (where the Dr. will cut out my little tumor on my eyelid). I'm sure it will go fine as he is THE MAN. I must take a 'before' picture, as I really like my eyelid as it is...and no matter how I try, I'm still a little freaked that he's gonna chop out about a quarter of it. But in the grand scheme of things, this is NOTHING. By late next week I'll be riding the bikes like nothing ever happened.

Happy Sunday! Get out there and do something FUN! I sure will! (Today was road bike day, tomorrow is Mt bike day). Woo-HOO!


  1. What an awesome trip, Matt! Really. It *is* always great to get home though isn't it? Thanks for including the pic of the boat, as I was wondering just what is looked like in its entirety. But wait.....those were SAMPLER beers? Geez - what were the full-size ones like??? Thanks so much for taking us along on your trip!

    I saw Wicked in Chicago and just fell in love with the music! I'm not a huge Wizard of Oz fan, but that is a "don't miss" show for sure.

    I'll have to think longer about my amazing life experiences....

    SUPER excited for the Tour! I'm still checking into getting DirectTV this week - we'll see. We live sort of down in between a bluff and another hill, so I want to be sure that we can do this without putting a dish in front of my picture window or something ;) Sure would be great though to have DVR instead of piles of VHS tapes!!

    I think that Andy will be ready to go by the time the mountains come in the Tour. Not sure what has been going on with him but I can't believe that he hasn't focused on that goal every day since the end of last year's race. I'm hoping that Levi, Horner, and CVV can really ride to their potential this year and have great showings. I'd love to see all of the "contenders" take it to AC (guess my denial that he's going to be in the Tour did no good) and not just let him attack them every day in the mts. He can't follow EVERYONE. They've got to work together and keep attacking him. I can hope anyway. I'm even ready to cheer for Cadel this year!

    Had a birthday party for Liam's 2nd birthday this weekend. Can you believe its been two YEARS already? I can' He had a great time and was excited in the way that we somehow lose as we grow up. it was delightful :)


  2. Hey Matt, been thinking about you all day, hope everything went well & you're home resting & having "the girls" dote on you. :)

    I so loved your cruise updates! And yes, you DO have a superpower! Not one freakin POUND?!! Like I said, if you could manufacture your metabolism, you'd be a BILLIONAIRE! (I especially loved your food photos as that was right after I had my dental implant surgery & I could only eat soft-type foods for the last 2 weeks, so seeing all that fab food allowed me to "eat vicariously"!)

    And your efforts for Livestrong are awesome! $1000!! To do all that work for an entire year, wow. Kudos indeed!

    I still haven't seen WICKED, but I plan to one day. 'Defying Gravity' is pretty much my fave Broadway tune of the last decade I think. LOVE it. When I finally see it performed live in the show, I'll probably bawl my eyes out.

    As for the Tour, I feel positively bi-polar. One minute, I am literally counting down the days & the next, I am still LIVID that Pistol Punk is able to compete & am all depressed. Which emotion will win out, I guess will depend on how things go in the race.

    Here's some odds & ends I've discovered the past couple weeks : Neal Rogers will NOT be at the Tour doing his video interview gig. In fact, he won't be there at all. What the heck is happening with Velonews?! 1st, they get rid of the big race daily LIVE Updates & now, Neal's not doing the TDF videos? Heck, they were the only two really great things about that site!

    Horner will be doing video interviews with the guys & maybe is doing a written blog with them too. Don't know if Jens is doing a Tour blog again. HOPE so as I loved it last year!

    BTW, what is up with Lance dissing Levi?! I must say, I am pretty miffed about Lance not giving a shout-out on his twitter when Levi won Susie's Tour! He congratulated Horner at Cali & wished Klodi H'Bday but can't high-five Levi when he wins the TdS?! Not cool! NOT COOL!

    And I have to say I am shocked but happy/relieved that Radio Shack has re-upped for 2 more years. And hey, did you see that Stapleton is having a horrible time trying to find a new sponsor to replace HTC? And if he doesn't find one by the Tour's end, that team may be OVER! That was the one team I wasn't worried about sponsorship as Bob seemed to carry them in the past between official sponsors. Maybe he doesn't have the money or desire anymore. Sad, very sad. And worrisome. And absolutely - Lance's case is affecting the sport!

  3. And Happy Birthday to little Liam! :) :)

  4. Matt, I am sorry, but I hate you. Because of the eating thing.

    But I love you for LiveStrong.

    My big splurge for the Tour this year is going to be a new TV! Yes, retiring my 24 year old 19" LXI! Walmart has a great price on 32" LCDs (that will look so huge to me!)--I am just debating whether to go a little more costly and get an LED/LCD -- supposed to save on electricity?

    And I hope to see Cadel shine! Strange, he is quite a different personality from the more rough & ready guys like Lance and Robbie Mc. that I tend to cheer for but I do admire him all the same. I've enjoyed his blogs too. I have so many favorites, I can't hope for just ONE, but I really hope CVV will be back in form too.

    RadioShack re-upped? Great! Hope they produce some great ads tieing into the team. Keeping my fingers crossed for HighRoad, it would be insane if they can't get a sponsor!!!


  5. How did the eye surgery go Matt? I've been thinking about you and hoping that all went well. Let us know when you can :)

    Gotta say I'm with Rae - HATING you for your evil super power. SOOOO not fair. I've been fighting hypothyroidism this past year and I think that you must be the balance in the universe for me ;)

    Press release from VS/NBC about the Tour coverage today:

    Looks like great coverage! Now if I could just get around on the web site (which is not formatted to display on my netbook!) I'd be happy! The press release says that they will have the fantasy team again, but I haven't found it yet. If anyone locates it please send me the link.

    I was shocked when I read that article about HTC being in dire straits regarding sponsors, too. There couldn't BE a more successful team than they have been....

    Neal is not going to be at the Tour?!?! That is just unacceptable. What the heck is VN thinking? I LOVED those videos! No one else can be so sweet and yet sarcastic at the same time and have such a good rapport with the riders. I'll definitely miss that! Hopefully someone (you said Bicycling?) will have some good video interviews with Horner.


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