Sunday, July 25, 2010

Grumpy Summer Vacation, Day 11

Today started unusually early. Around 2:00 a.m. Marie went to pee. She left the bathroom door ajar, but the ship's rolling slammed it shut. In the haze of being semi-awake and peeing, Marie didn’t realize the door was no longer ajar, but closed. So of course, it wouldn’t open when she pushed on it. In her fogginess it didn’t occur to her to try, say, turning the handle.

So she immediately went into meltdown mode. She began screaming, pounding and kicking the door to try to get it open. She woke up Craig and Frank, who somehow decided she was screaming because she was trapped in the bathroom and the ship was sinking. As I went to extricate Marie from the john, Mrs. Grumpy tried to calm down the hysterical boys.

It took us about 10 minutes to get all settled, when the whole thing was set off again by the shrill ring of the telephone. It was security. For the first time ever someone had made a noise complaint about us, and we were warned to be quiet (if I find out it was my sister, she gets to swim home).

I told the kids that they were not to make any more noise until they saw water, smoke, or daylight coming into the cabin.

Today we’re in Ketchikan, Alaska. This pretty little town is known as the Salmon Capital of the World, is near Misty Fjords National Monument, and has a remarkable collection of Native American totem polls. It’s jammed up against the mountains, so the entire city is 1/4 mile wide and 3 miles long.

So, for all of that, what kind of things would you find on a “genuine Alaskan Shopping Experience” in Ketchikan? Well, the Cruiseship Lines guidebook to the town listed 18 Alaskan shopping experiences. Lets break them down:

13 jewelery stores
2 art galleries
1 place selling clothes that change color in direct sunlight
1 place selling clothes made from bamboo (Get a free bamboo necklace just by yelling “Cariloha!” in public! Wow!)
1 salmon store

How many of you would look at that list and say “Wow! That just screams a small Alaskan town to me!”.

Years ago, on our first trip here, Mrs. Grumpy and I paid $100 each for a bald eagle sightseeing excursion.

It was quite impressive, but unfortunately after you get to Ketchikan you realize that bald eagles are freakin’ EVERYWHERE, like pigeons back home. They particularly congregate around dumpsters. So it's pretty depressing to realize you shelled out $200 to see something you could have seen for free, just by hanging out behind the Burger King.

My Dad wanted to take us to the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. In all honesty, prior to this afternoon I had no idea there was such a thing as timbersports. But they handed out a brochure listing their participants in such finger-removing sports as speed sawing, tree climbing/falling, log rolling, and power chainsaw. It noted several of these guys are regional champions or have earned college scholarships in this field. And I had no idea it even existed. It was contrived and touristy, but hey, I’m a tourist here, and it was surprisingly entertaining. Afterwards we walked around the town and tried cupcakes and other local delicacies before returning to base.

After boarding the ship, we stopped for Diet Cokes in the lobby. They were playing a country love song in the background, and I swear the chorus was “I want to check you for ticks.” I can only assume the singer's date either had serious hygiene issues, was into something kinky, or was a dog.

We relaxed by the pool this afternoon (I’m now reading "A Confederacy of Dunces"- quite good). Out of the corner of my eye I saw a white ball of fur moving around next to my chair. I absently reached down to pet it and mumbled “Hello, Snowball.” I suddenly realized Snowball was back home, and looked up at an Indonesian lady cleaning the deck, who had no idea why a balding American was petting her mop.

As the boys swam, the Smorgasbord’s entertainment staff put a beanbag-toss set out by the pool, for anyone to play with. That anyone turned out to be Marie, who decided to play it herself by tossing beanbags back & forth and switching sides.

To my horror her beanbag score was:

Hit the target: 3

Lady in a wheelchair: 1.

People waiting in line for hamburgers: 3

People waiting in line for ice cream: 2

The metal piece over the stage with lights hanging off it: 1

Tossed in pool: 2

Fortunately the staff took away the bowling set before she got interested in that.

My BIL, Dave, signed up to play in the ship’s ping-pong tournament. He, and everyone else, were crushed by a guy who travels with his own, specially-made, ping-pong paddle. You have to respect that kind of mindset to take ping-pong so seriously you don’t go anywhere without your customized paddle.

As always, there are plenty of photo-ops on the ship. Every night they have different portrait themes. You can have your picture taken with you cheerfully in the woods (surrounded by small stuffed animals), holding firearms in the old west, on the grand staircase of the Titanic, and other pleasant areas.

So as I headed for the dining room I passed a lady in a blue dress. She was keeping a ship’s photographer busy with her posing at a piano. As I watched the pictures became increasingly explicit. At first she was just sitting there, smiling. Then sitting with her hand slightly up under her skirt. Then winking and licking the piano. Then licking a long-stemmed wine glass. Then licking the piano, holding the wine glass, and turned so you could see she didn’t have any undies on.

My family wanted to know what held me up on the way to dinner. I told them the elevator got stuck.


KenMk said...

Grump Man - You gotta' get out more - "I want to check you for ticks" is a country classic!!!

Anonymous said...

The song is by Brad Paisley, and it is actually called "Ticks".

middle child said...

You are so funny. Your posts are well writen and very visual. Thank-you for sharing!! Peace.

bobbie said...


"Every time you take a sip
In this smoky atmosphere
You press that bottle to your lips
And I wish I was your beer
In the small there of your back
Your jeans are playing peekaboo
I'd like to see the other half of your butterfly tattoo.

Hey that gives me an idea
Let's get out of this bar
Drive out into the country
And find a place to park.

'Cause I'd like to see you out in the moonlight
I'd like to kiss you way back in the sticks
I'd like to walk you through a field of wildflowers
And I'd like to check you for ticks.

I know the perfect little path
Out in these woods I used to hunt
Don't worry babe I've got your back
And I've also got your front
Now, I'd hate to waste a night like this

I'll keep you safe you wait and see
The only thing allowed to crawl all over you when we get there is me.

You know every guy in here tonight
Would like to take you home
But I've got way more class than them
Babe that ain't what I want.

'Cause I'd like to see you out in the moonlight
I'd like to kiss you way back in the sticks
I'd like to walk you through a field of wildflowers
And I'd like to check you for ticks.

You never know where one might be
There's lots of places that are hard to reach
I gotcha.

I'd like to see you out in the moonlight
I'd like to kiss you baby way back in the sticks
I'd like to walk you through a field of wildflowers
And I'd like to check you for ticks.

I'd sure like to check you for ticks..."

This was a big song for Brad Paisley about a year or so ago!

Licking the piano?!?!?!?

Anonymous said...

'Confederacy of Dunces' is one of my favorite books.
There really is a country song with that chorus, you weren't imagining it.
A wildlife expert once told me that the bald eagle's reputation as a bold hunter is rather false, that they prefer scavenging whenever they can.

MS-IV said...

Brad Paisley - Ticks. It's a great song!

Anonymous said...

I just spit Apple Juice all over the computer screen. Are you sure Snowball is at home (cat, dog, or mop)? That caught me as so incredibly funny that I am still laughing (and cleaning up apple juice---good things it's 2 part water and 1 part apple juice--less sticky).

So, when is it back to the grind? It's so nice that you are able to arrange your schedule to take such a long vacation; I read the sacrifice, etc. Your kids are lucky your such a great dad.

Enjoy the rest of your cruise.

I loved Prince Rupert. It was a few years ago when gas was over $4.00 and it was $.99 at the 7-11. After getting the obligatory Slurpee and walking around before heading back to the boat (where they would announce if you are not on the boat now we are leaving without you). Great thanks! Well, it dawned on me it was $.99 per liter making it slight under $4.00 a gallon (DUH: 4 liters/1 gallon)!

We went on a great WW Rafting trip (level 5 waters) in Whittier (everything's shittier in Whittier; or at least that's what the locals said) it was a blast even though I hit my head and got a concussion. Sure glad you had to wear helmets or I may have come home on an entirely different part of the plane per my MD.

Keep it down tonight!

Rothase said...

Ah, yes... the ticks song. Kind of takes the country in Country/Western music a bit too far. No ticks in Alaska, I assume? But if you ever have a hankerin' to see more Bald Eagles, come here (St. Louis) in the winter. When the waterways start to freeze up, the eagles come here to fish at the confluence of the Missouri and Mighty Mississippi Rivers, where the powerful water never freezes. They stay and build nests, and it's pretty spiffy. And we have some excellent hospitals, so perhaps you could write it off as a business trip. : )

Ros said...

My lil girl loves those color changing shirts.

Love Confed. of Dunces, but the closing chapters begin to feel a little rushed. I suppose that happens when death comes between the writer and editor.

Cruise ship photographers score a lot...

Fizzy said...

I read Confederacy of Dunces when I was like 10 years old, and I didn't like it much. I recently retrieved it from my parents' house, thinking I might like it better as an adult. But somehow I can't motivate myself to actually read it, so right now I'm reading The Watchmen.

Jules Someone said...

You are indeed correct about the lyrics. It's a Brad Paisley song.
My hubs and I honeymooned on a similar cruise. Love all the "real" Alaskan shops up there.

Angela said...


That song is "Ticks" by Brad Paisley and yup here it is on youtube:

also! LOL! Elevator? Really? lol


POOHPA said...

I am glad to see you are a man that knows what is important.

Captain Foulenough said...

1. I gotta think that "Power chainsaw" as a sport would on occasion prove usefully Darwinian.

2. You were right about the song. Some guy actually did sing about ticks. Must have thought this was a fresh, bold way to step outside the tired 'country' canon. Way to set the mood, genius. Also, I suppose, Darwinian in its own way.

Captcha: "Unipole." Only one cultural carving in town?

Anonymous said...

That is a Brad Paisley song and my sister did a skit to it at the end of the summer talent show at her internship when she was in college. The internship involved being in the woods and checking herself for ticks at the end of each day. I can't believe they actually play that in public.

M.Brayfield said...

I grew up in Washington State, so I know about timbersports. Been to a couple shows, and always fun.

The song is "Ticks" by Brad Paisley, and it's about a guy wanting to get a girl in the woods, and, uh, check her for ticks, which I'm pretty sure is a euphemism.

still enjoying your stories!

Ignatius J. Reilly said...

The deplorable state of Alaska's tourist towns is a direct result of our lack of a king with a proper appreciation of geometry and theology. However, reading "The Consolation of Philosophy" by Boethius should help you withstand the vicissitudes of your cruising experience by making you realize that we are all subject to the whims of Fortuna. No doubt the ship's library has several copies. Personally, I don't think my valve could withstand the strain of one of those cruises. One day I must tell you about the time I ventured into the heart of darkness in Baton Rouge...

Anonymous said...

"check you for ticks" = Brad Paisley song :)

Lord of the Eeple said...

Did you see Ray Troll's gallery? I love that stuff.

Anonymous said...

Doc, I think Marie is funnier than half of your patients. I almost lost some ice cream out my nose.

Outrider said...

>>I swear the chorus was “I want to check you for ticks.”>>

Yes, that's Brad Paisley.

GB, RN said...

They have those exact same stores at every single island in the Caribbean. I'm convinced that Diamonds International has a secret agenda for worldwide domination.

Cruises are choice people-watching vacations. Especially around meal times.

The Mother said...

Ah, traveling with children.

The (Native American) travel guides tell us that Bald Eagle tastes like chicken.

Michelle said...

Brad Paisley is known not only for fantastic guitar work, but songs with a sense of humor. Dr. Grumpy - go check out Celebrity. Based on the way you right, I think it's right up your alley.


Rach said...

I just got a great mental image of you petting a mop, grump.

Kristin said...

You need to hear the wood tick song..."You check me & I'll check you, Let's get naked it's the right thing to do" or something like that.

J-Quell'n said...

You petting the mop? I. Lost. It.

pharmacy chick said...

I suppose its better than you petting the MOP-ER! "man overboard!" LOLOL

Nectarine said...

Sorry - the more of these Grumpy vacation posts I read, the less I EVER want to go on a cruise.


Eliza said...

Uhhh... Does your family check your blog?

Sparky Barksdale said...

Because you like to Know Things, I'll mention this: You can tell it's a tourist thing and not local by the word "lumberjack" which is a word no one would ever use around here. Maybe they use it back east. We call guys who cut down trees for a living "loggers", and that's what they call themselves. And they certainly know how to use chainsaws which makes their sporting events about as Darwinian as, say, you reading an MRI.

Marie's meltdown brought back a lovely memory: When I was seven I was on a cruise with my mom and I got up in the middle of the night to pee; we were in bunk beds and I was on the top, and as I was climbing down the ladder mostly asleep I peed on her head. So well done, Marie. At least you made it to the bathroom.

Grumpy, M.D. said...

Of course not. If they did I'd be dead, or single, or both.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering how much they charge to use high-speed, wireless internet on the ship?

Is it by the minute?
Can you purchase a card like your DC card?
What about cell phone on the ship?

Just wondering how much has changed since my last cruise 5 ish years ago (to Alaska, ironically).

Take care!

mongolian yak said...

let me guess, that ping pong guy must be a chinese, or an indonesian.

i hope you washed your hands after petting "mopball" :p

Milo said...

silly thing... why would she wanting to lick the piano?

Have Myelin? said...

I always thought he meant to say I want to check you for tits. =)

DenaliDriveThruPharmD said...

Well! Welcome to Alaska! If you make your way up to Seward, I'll be happy to stop counting pills for a day and show you around!

wellillbe said...

They were playing a country love song in the background, and I swear the chorus was “I want to check you for ticks.”

A redneck way of saying I want to see your naked body...

Marco said...

So did the singer check the piano gal for ticks?

You have such great stories about your kids. I can't *wait* 'til they're teenagers !

georgiabelletf said...

It is indeed a song, not that I've actually ever heard it. But there is a cardiologist at my hospital who likes to sing it periodically, which would be fine, but he has a heavy accent, so it comes out more like 'Let me check your tits.' Seriously.

mcgee said...

When I was at forestry school, I did the 2 lady bucksaw and chain throw at the yearly conclave (competition between forestry schools). My best event, though, was keg rolling. Excellent party.

I had friends who went to Ketchikan during the summers do inventory for the Forest Service. One girl had really thick, long never really dried all sumer and got moldy.

Claude said...

BTW, Are you cruising on the Ship of Fools?

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