Bon Voyage!

23 05 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014

Embarkation Day!

Our bed at the Cape Fox Lodge is really comfy and since we have been fighting over the heated toilet seat all night (!) we sleep in a bit.  When we look out our window this morning it appears as if it is going to be a beautiful day.  All the rain and fog of yesterday are only a memory.
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I take a seat in our big leather executive chair to work on what will be my final blog post before we are out of internet connectivity.  We let Janet and Eric know that we will meet them for breakfast in about 30 minutes.
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From my perch high above town I glance down and immediately recognize the small ship that is passing by.  It is the Safari Explorer! Our ship!  The binoculars confirm the siting and I text Janet right away. She sees it too and we are both very excited to know that our ship is waiting for us.

The Safari Explorer on its way to dock in Ketchican!

The Safari Explorer on its way to dock in Ketchican!

Janet and Eric are waiting for us in the lobby

Janet and Eric are waiting for us in the lobby

We all decided last night that we would try to find breakfast in town.  Before we head out we meet Mary in the lobby.  She has already been to town and declared that “there is nothing open.”  We decide to give it a go anyway. What else do we have to do today?  Nothing. The walk is the same one that Rich and I made in the pouring rain yesterday.  It is much, much more pleasant this morning.
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I remember seeing a crowded 60’s-style diner yesterday and hope that we can spot it this morning.  Yes!  The Pioneer Cafe is open and hopping. It is definitely a locals place (we like that) and our server is very friendly. Breakfast is good and hearty.  Rich has the scrambled eggs and frensh toast with sausage, Janet goes for the over easy with biscuits/gravy, I order the Pork Chops with eggs and Eric has chowder and a fish sandwich. I am soon informed that they are out of pork chops (sad day) so I switch to the pancakes/eggs. Everything is good along with several cups of strong coffee.

Pioneer Cafe

Pioneer Cafe

Now we can explore Ketchikan without dodging the raindrops.  We have to be back to check out at 11 and that gives us  several hours to mess around. No less than 4 huge cruise ships are in town this morning.  Did I tell you how happy we are NOT to be on one of them? We wander down the dockside of town to take a closer glimpse of our small ship.

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The Safari Explorer docked in front of a mega-ship

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I apologize for all of the ship photos, but we are just so darn proud of our teeny boat and can’t wait to board her. We are loving the contrast with all the mega-ships.

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A stop is made at one point to get a group photo by the big “Ketchikan” sign. It simply must be done.  Rich fusses with the camera – where to set it, how to make sure it doesn’t fall in the water, how to set the timer, etc.  When he finally has it all ready to go, he hits the timer and runs to take his place in the photo.  At that very moment a rather large truck crosses directly behind us and blocks out the sign!  We can’t stop laughing!

Great photo of the TRUCK!

Great photo of the TRUCK!

This was the shot we were trying for...

This was the shot we were trying for…

The cruise shippers are out in full force and we enjoy people watching. A taxidermy shop looks interesting so we drop in.  It was really cool and had so many different animals beautifully preserved along with furs and other Native items.  I think we all had mixed emotions from seeing the furs and such, but they are truly beautiful.  (they look better on the animals than on people).  Seeing all the “stuffed” critters leads us to discuss whether Mom and Dad are considering having Janet/Eric’s dog (Zeke) taxidermed before Janet and Eric arrive back home. They are dogsitting for the first time and we are all wondering who has the upper hand (my $ is on Zeke).

Our first totem pole sighting

Our first totem pole sighting

When it is time to head back to the lodge, Janet and Eric opt to take the funicular and Rich and I hoof it up the steps.

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The remainder of the afternoon is spend lazing around just waiting to board the boat.  Rich got antsy at one point and headed out for a walk on his own.  He saw some cool things:
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Then I got antsy with him and we both walked back down to the pier to check on our ship.  Yep.  Still there.  We sat at a little waterside bar and people watched.  Several tourist stopped to take photos facing our direction and we got a big kick out of “photo bombing” their pics!  Some folks are going to be very surprised when they take a look at their photos tonight…

Great people-watching perch

Great people-watching perch

Finally it is time to gather with the other passengers.  We are met by a Native Tlingit man who told us a little about one of the many tribes that live in Alaska.  It was really very interesting and will be useful when we visit a tiny Tlingit village later this week from the ship.
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Omg - "I forgot my ..."

“But I wanted to go on the Carnival Cruise!”

We are all greeted by the Captain (Mike) and various crew members, then we are shown to our respective cabins.  Our cabin is relatively large for being on a boat.  It looks really nice with a TemperPedic King bed, tv (for dvds), drawers, a closet and a huge bathroom with heated tiles on the floor (no heated seat). We will be very happy here.

There are only 23 passengers on the cruise this week.  Over half of them boarded in Seattle several days ago and have sailed to Ketchikan so we are all the “newbies.”  It will be fun to slowly get to know all of them.

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We are instructed to settle in and then meet in the lounge with our life jackets for a “man overboard” drill. Within a matter of moments the ship takes off and we leave Ketchikan (and internet) behind.

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IMG_0897There are drinks and appetizers waiting for us in the lounge.  The bar is stocked with every kind of premium spirit you could ask for and the wine cellar is impressive.  Everything is included in this cruise – no nickel an dime charges here.
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Janet and I opt for Champagne and we all begin to relax and mingle in the lounge.

Impressive Wine cellar

Impressive Wine cellar

Are we really here?

Are we really here?

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At one point there is an announcement that whales have been spotted and we all rush to the windows to see humbacks breeching and spouting!  What a treat for our first hours on board.  That is followed by a spotting of Dah’ls Porpoises.  They are truly beautiful.  If you didn’t know better, you would think they were Orcas from their stunning black/white coloring. No pics of this one – we weren’t ready.  Hopefully there will be many more opportunities.

The captain comes in for our safety briefing.  He is totally likeable right off the bat.  Turns out he is the owner of this company and came up with the idea for the “Un-Cruise” We listen to instructions and dutifully don our PFDs.

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Dinner time rolls around and we are all starving.  This ship is very relaxed about dress and also about where to sit.  Everyone just finds a spot and meets all the tablemates.  Perfect.  One of the crew acts as a server and informs us about tonight’s wine (a red and a white) and also our entree selections (beef tenderloin or salmon). The 4 of us choose the salmon.  It was fantastic!
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The conversation around the room is buzzing with the excitement of our voyage.  The passengers who were already aboard are glad to have some new blood injected into the mix. After dinner, the puzzle that was started before we arrived is worked on and Rich joins in that fracus. They quickly finish in a flurry of activity (well, as much flurry as a puzzle can drum up).

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A flurry of activity

A flurry of activity

What a fantastic start to our Alaskan Passage voyage.  We head to our cabins wondering what tomorrow might bring.
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2 responses

30 05 2014
Janet

Great start to a great trip!

30 05 2014
Anonymous

WOW! MOM
and,as for Zeke, we always had the upper hand?

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