Thursday, May 22, 2014
Camping at the SeaTac Super 8 left a bit to be desired. Sleep was fitful – maybe because we are anticipating our flight to Ketchikan. The decision is made to take an early shuttle to the airport and hang out in the Alaska Airlines lounge – it has to be better than sitting in the Super 8.
We arrive at the airport to check in around 8:30. Our flight doesn’t leave until 10:20 so we have plenty of time. The Alaska Airlines lounge is nice and gets even nicer when I discover their coffee station:
We settle in with our coffee for the hour and a half wait. Announcements are being made for the Alaska Airlines flights so we are both keeping an ear out for ours. Departure will be from the gate N1 and we have already noted that it is just around the corner.
When I finally look up from my iPad I notice that it is 10:00 and our flight indicates that it is “boarding!” What the …? No announcement, no nothing. In my head I recall that most flights say they will close the boarding doors 15 minutes before takeoff. We have 20. Rich is his usual laid back self and says “we’ll make it.”
When we turn the corner where we had seen the signs pointing to the “N” gates we are stunned to realize that we are now directed down an escalator. This doesn’t look good. When we reach the bottom it looks even worse. There is a TRAIN to the “N” gates! omg Having no choice, we board the train for the short ride. When the doors open, we bust out and run up the steps trying to determine if N1 will be the first or the last of the “N” gates.
We are running by this point. N1 comes into view and my heart sinks when I note that it looks quite deserted. It sinks even further when I realize the doors are closed. Our trip appears to be up in smoke (why didn’t I purchase the trip insurance?)
As we sprint up to the counter the gate agent announces to her co-hort “The Torkingtons are here.” We ask if we can still board and she says she doesn’t know – it isn’t up to her. A supervisor must be called. You can imagine the two of us looking about as forlorn as it gets as we wait for what seems like an eternity for an answer.
Yes! They will let us on. The real kicker is that they didn’t even take a peek at our boarding passes! How is that for security? The baggage worker at the end of the jetway gives us a smirky smile and says “well done, guys!”
My heart is pounding as we sink into our seats. How stupid to rely on someone else (announcements, etc) to keep tabs on when you need to get to your gate. I can assure you it will never happen again.
The flight to Ketchikan is short (1 1/2 hours) and foggy.
Ketchikan is an island. To get to the mainland from the airport you have to board a small ferry. It is raining outside so I get to try out my new raingear. I am secretly happy to get to use my raincoat – I was hoping I didn’t buy it for nothing. It is pretty cold out as well.
The ferry ride is a short 5 minutes. The passengers appear to be a good mix of locals and tourists. I am strangely struck with the feeling that I am in a foreign country and when we dock I won’t be able to communicate. Very weird feeling.
Once we disembark, the Cape Fox Lodge van is waiting for us. We take a nice little ride through town where there are no less than 4 HUGE cruise ships docked.
The Cape Fox Lodge sits way up high above the town. It overlooks the water and all the cruise ships – great vantage point. They also have their own funicular to take up and down into town.
Check in is fast and easy. Our room is in an attached lodge. When we open the door to our room I immediately realize that this is not the room type I requested. There are two queen beds and I had asked for a King (water view). The room is ok, but having just spent the night in a queen at the Super 8, I really want the King. Besides, that is what it says on my reservation.
I go up to the front desk to resolve the issue and be given a new room. The front desk agent informs me that there are no King rooms left. Hmmm. This reservation was made in November! Reminds me of the Seinfeld show in which Jerry has rented a car, but upon his arrival the agent tells him there are none available. “You know how to TAKE the reservation, but you don’t know how to KEEP the reservation. And really, that is the most important part of the reservation – the keeping.”
When Rich joins me at the front desk he makes a cute remark about how I want the King bed because I want us to sleep together. The clerk does not chuckle. She mentions something about reading the bible to which I reply “We’ve been married 33 years, I think it is ok.” She tells us that we really need to re-read our bible because we are mis-interpreting the Good Word. What??? We move on.
She messes around and finally tells us that the only King beds available are in the Deluxe Rooms or the Suites. I am fine with that. She tries to tell us it is more expensive, but that she will check with her manager since we reserved a King room. Ok – they will put us in the Deluxe Room for no extra $. Gee, thanks.
I try to explain to her that my sister will be checking in later this afternoon and I am sure she has reserved a King room. Can they make sure that she also truly has a King? She checks on Janet’s reservation and assures me that Janet does indeed have a king room. (Then, of course, I wonder why they didn’t just give it to US??!)
Crisis averted. Turns out that the new room is beautiful.
I am very happy with the change. Then Rich comes out of the bathroom and claims that he now knows where the “Deluxe” part of this room comes in. He urges me to use the bathroom whether or not I need to. I quickly figure out just how deluxe this room is:
We laugh and laugh about our new found luxury. We may be fighting over the “best seat in the house” tonight. Hmmm, wonder if ALL the rooms have this feature? If not, we are planning on really lording it over Janet and Eric.
Hunger has set in bigtime and it is a long, rainy walk down to town. I am thinking that I might get cranky. I suggest the funicular, but Rich is determined that we need to walk. I don my raincoat and my new supposedly waterproof hikers. Might as well find out how they fare.
Rich was right – the walk down was great even though it was pouring. The “Married Man’s Trail winds down through a lush pine forest and a roaring creek. We don’t stop to take photos since it is pouring.
Today’s choice for lunch is a place we passed by in the van and our driver told us it was good – Annabelle’s Chowder House. Sounds perfect for a cold, wet day.
We decide to each order a cup of chowder (clam for Rich and smoked salmon for me) and to share a Halibut BLT. Along with 2 Alaskan Ambers, this made for a wonderful lunch.
After lunch we opt for a hike back up the hill and then a nap before Janet and Eric arrive later this afternoon.
Janet texts me that they have landed! We get a glass of wine from the bar and sit out in the lobby living room to greet them. By now it has gotten very foggy and rainy out. We are really hoping that the weather clears for our cruise.
Finally, the van shows up and Janet/Eric come running in from the rain!
It is so great to see them – we all have made it. Start the insanity!
As they are getting settled in their room Rich and I are giggling again about the toilet seat. He approaches the desk and asks if all the rooms are outfitted like ours. When he returns he has a huge grin on his face. Turns out that our room is THE ONLY ONE with a heated throne!! When Janet and Eric join us in the lounge we get a big laugh about that one.
There is one other guest in the lounge and we all finally realize that she is one of the guest that will be on the Safari Explorer tomorrow! We enjoy spending Happy Hour with our new commrade, Mary, in the living room. She is a consummate traveler and shares some great stories. We are all very excited to be boarding the ship tomorrow. There is a lot of talk about the huge cruise ships that we are gazing upon. We all agree that we have made the right choice in choosing a small ship in which to investigate a small piece of Alaska.
Dinnertime rolls around. Due to the ugly weather outside and how comfy we are inside, we all agree that tonight we will stay at the Cape Fox for dinner. An invitation is extended to Mary to join us. She accepts.
The food is no great shakes here, but we have a great time and enjoy ourselves nonetheless. Mary treats us to another bottle of wine and we sit and tell stories for a long while.
Tomorrow we plan to head into town for breakfast and are hoping the weather will break by then. We will have to check out by 11:00 and then can put our baggage in the Un-Cruise room at the Cape Fox. There will be a short cultural presentation at 4:00 and then onward to the boat at 4:45. Should prove to be another great day!
Today is my last post until after our cruise. We will be totally unplugged for a week. You can be assured that we will be snapping photos until our fingers are sore. Afterwards, I will write up the experience and include as many photos as possible.
Bon Voyage to us!