Monday, September 28, 2015

Summer vacation, day 6

The ship's newsletter today had a note today asking passengers to “refrain from leaving the water running or balcony door open when not in the staterooms.” REALLY? There are people doing this? WHY? If we were in warmer climes I could understand the balcony thing... but here it’s in the 30’s-40’s.

There was a late-night video game party in the teen lounge last night. When Frank didn't show up for breakfast I went to the kids' room. He was out cold, surrounded by Marie's stuffed animals.

"Gag, corneals, and doll's eyes all work. But nothing to sternal rub."

Today we were in Juneau. Not being in any particular rush to get into town, we waited until after all the other passengers left, and crew went on shore leave. Walking down the dock we noticed Peter getting off the ship.

From a cruise-ship view, everywhere you stop is basically a dock next to a row of T-shirt and jewelry stores, and somewhere behind them is a city. This is a near-universal constant. Someday it will apply to colonies on Mars, too. And beyond.

On the dock there was also a memorial to the cruiser U.S.S. Juneau, lost at Guadalcanal during WWII. Out of her crew of 700, 600 went down with her. Of the remaining 100, only 10 of them survived until they were found 8 days later, the rest lost to the elements and sharks. Her casualty list included the 5 Sullivan brothers.

I'm amazed how many restaurants in these cities cater to the cruise crowd. I mean, you're dealing with people who have access to unlimited amounts of reasonably good food each day, covering pretty much anything that's commonly eaten from land, air, and sea. The places have seafood? So does the ship. Alcohol? Ditto. Burgers? Yep. Steaks? Of course.

There are even shore excursions where - get this - you pay $55 per person to be taken to an all-you-can-eat salmon bake. Considering that at any given moment salmon is available at the ship's buffet, cooked-to-order grill, and formal dining room... I just don't understand this. But I'm not exactly a partial crowd because I am the only person on Earth who doesn't like salmon. But still, the point remains.

Apparently it's a state law in Alaska that at least one gift store have a large fake animal in front to be used as a photo spot. So here's one from Juneau:

They have an interesting feature called stair-streets. These are not streets you can drive down, but rather stairs ascending on each side to reach houses there. They are, however, mapped and numbered as streets and have addresses on them. I imagine this makes being a postman here a rather vigorous job, and is also a serious incentive not to forget your car keys.

We walked around for a bit. Craig had decided that, besides water and oxygen, he needed a selfie-stick. Not having ever wanted one, I hadn't shopped for one before. I figured it would be simple:

1. Find a selfie-stick.

2. Buy it.

3. Leave store.

I wasn't even close. There are so many variations on the damn things it's insane. And then you get into "what color handle should I get?" IT'S A FUCKING STICK WITH A CLAMP ON THE END! But this is the kind of decision the American teenager can agonize about. Then, when they finally pick one out, it turns out that one isn't working and we have to start all over again.

Heading down the street you pass some interesting business names:

We went to take the Mount Roberts tram up to the top of the city. While boarding was finishing, who should I see getting on but... Mrs. Bitchy. She saw that there were maybe 7 teenagers in the car (none of whom was actually near her, or even looking at her) and told the engineer she'd wait for the next one. As she stepped back she noticed me, and gave me the bird.

Honestly, folks, this prune isn't one of my patients. I'd never even seen her before this trip.

It was actually a pretty impressive ride, with an amazing view of the city. Going up, all the ginormous cruise ships in the harbor shrink until they look like bath toys. Everyone in the tram was frantically snapping pictures. Frank tried to film it, but when he switched on his phone's camera it began playing "Amish Paradise" instead. The displays and trails at the top are impressive, too, and there's a performance by the local Alaska String Band.

Tonight at dinner the Limoncello family wasted no time in getting tipsy and belting out "Happy Retirement." Then our waiter, Michael, came over and introduced himself.

Michael? Huh?

We asked him what happened to Peter. He said Peter had quit that morning "because he had a nerve problem" and flown home. My mother, trying to be helpful, said "my son treats nerve problems." My wife whispered "I don't think that's the kind of nerve problem he's talking about."

Marie said: "Will you bring me Ranch dressing?" Michael answered: "You already have it." And pointed to a serving dish near her seat.

Marie has dreams of such things
Marie was delighted.

We've taken several cruises, but this is the first time we've ever driven a waiter over the edge.


Moose said...

Aha. You seem to have never spent any quality time in Pittsburgh. In Pittsburgh it's not uncommon to have a map show you that MumbleDeFudge Road goes from Point A to Point B. Then when you drive it, you find that the road dead-ends at a staircase going up a hillside... and the road continues just fine on the other side of the hill.

Driving in Pittsburgh is fondly known as "You Can't Get There From Here."

Pam M. said...

I hate salmon, and as a Washington native, that almost rates the death penalty.

MSGMD said...

Checking a gag reflex on your own kid will not win you a nomination for dad of the year. Just sayin'.

Marjie said...

Salmon hater too!

Anonymous said...

No salmon for me either!

Anyone else lose weight on a cruise? I find the food to be one small step above cafeteria fare!!!

Jono said...

Last time I ate salmon (pigged out) I could swear I started growing more body hair and a dowager's hump. My fingernails started growing at an alarming rate, too!

Candi said...

I have to wonder about Peter. If he can't handle something as simple as sauces on the side and a teen kid's obsession with a certain food item (insert your comments about the validity of ranch as food :P ), then what the heck is he doing in the food service industry anywhere? I mean, his griping at your family in a previous post is one of the reasons the Not Always Working site exists.

Michael is pretty fantastic, to pick up on and be ready for Marie's ranch obsession his first time waiting on your family.

In the bear pick, even with their faces obscured, your kids look lovely. :)

Anonymous said...

Awesome. Did you see any calving glaciers or seals or whatever swims near cruise ships in the ocean? Seals or walruses, or otters, etc.

Agree with Candida. Glad you could go with Mum, too.

You know what's funny about salmon in Alaska? It costs as much or more than here in the Lower 48. But, someone always has a friend that fishes and is able to part with a few. You know you're getting old when your friends move to FL or AZ or even OR and know no one else that fishes and can bring you salmon (or, halibut, or clams, or reindeer sausage, or a few moose or wild goat steaks) to put away in your freezer.

I wouldn't feel too bad about Peter if I were you. I'm sure it had nothing to do with your family or even Marie, but someone obviously informed Michael. Peter?

Unknown said...

Love the Grumpies, makes me feel like my family is normal too :-)

glad to know i'm not alone- not a salmon fan either. Filet mignon either

Laura said...

I'd imagine Michael knew from hearing Peter gripe incessantly about it back in the kitchen the previous couple days.
In my mind, Michael was then muttering to himself "Oh my god, just be a waiter and get the girl what she wants. Calm down."

Anonymous said...

As other people have commented, I'm very surprised at the attitude of Peter. On the handful of cruises I've been on, the wait staff have always gone out of their way to be friendly and accommodating. Mine have written down names and preferred drinks in a notepad for reference for the next nights. In fact, they take almost a perverse pleasure in anticipating your weird needs the next time. "Hey isn't it cool how I remembered that you always order a cheese plate with dessert? Here you go, without even asking! "

Kate said...

Looks like an awesome trip--reminds me of our Alaska cruise a few years ago! I'm looking forward to our next one we booked for May 2016. Its very easy for us to cruise Alaska out of Seattle however, as we already live here.

As a wild Alaskan salmon lover, I have to bring up the point that there is a HUGE difference between the previously-frozen Atlantic or Farmed salmon they serve on the ship and the hopefully fresh & wild Alaskan salmon you would get on shore. Plus, salmon bbq'd on a cedar plank is far superior to broiling it. I'd pay that much for a good salmon dinner if we didn't have it here all summer. However, I'm a self-admitted salmon snob and will only eat fresh wild Alaskan salmon, which thankfully is what most places around here in the Seattle area serve & carry.

We tend to split between eating on the cruise ship and eating on shore. When we eat on shore on a cruise, its because it doesn't make sense to go back to the ship and/or we want something we can't get there.

Hattie said...

Your travel narrative is hilarious and you take great photos.

jen said...

Salmon hater here as well, including salmon fresh caught in BC.'

An Alaska cruise is on my bucket list.

Powers said...

"Marie's" stuffed animals, hmm? Don't worry, Ibee, there's nothing wrong with boys sleeping with stuffed animals.

Anonymous said...

The only good salmon is smoked salmon, sliced, on a toasted onion bagel with cream cheese!

Anonymous said...

Selfie sticks are the Devil's tools, promoting pride and vanity!

tbunni said...

Moose - I live in Salem, Oregon. We are blessed with a maze of mostly one-way streets in the downtown/Capitol area, with a few two-ways to keep things interesting. Add to this a city council that LOVES to switch directions with very little warning: well, you get the point. As a result, there exists a board game from the '80's called "You Can't Get There From Here - The City of Salem Street Game." I have one of the few remaining copies. Unfortunately, the board game is from the eighties, but the real-street version lives on....

Shae said...

I assure you you are not the only salmon hater in the world. I don't like any seafood. Orin my mother's words, "If you knew cows could swim, you wouldn't eat hamburger."

Unknown said...

Tbunni, that sounds like the English game 'Mornington Crescent'

Unknown said...

My great uncle was lost on the U.S.S. Juneau. I had no idea there was a memorial. Thanks for posting!

Shash said...

I will politely eat salmon if served it (and it is not skin-on) but I will never choose it from a menu. I can barely tolerate the taste, either farmed (which is bland) or wild-caught.

I get a kick out of how Ms. Bitchy has it in for you. Clearly, life is all about her and you must be stupid to not recognize the fact.

Love reading this, it sounds like my family.

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