Devine site

A little bit about my day, my family, and my knitting.

Friday, June 20, 2008

It's Avi Time Again!


On Monday Alison flew down with Avi to see us – mainly so Gerry and Avi could have some time together. Avi did great on the plane ride. He is becoming quite a seasoned traveler. He loves looking at the planes, buses in the airport, trucks, etc.

I am not going to give a minute by minute description of their visit – it would take too long and you’d get to bored. So just let me tell you that I had a ball with Avi…. and as much as he wanted to see Papa, it was all about GRANDMA!!!!! We went to the beach – my little fish grandson had a ball and I was right in there with him. If he got hurt, it was Grandma he wanted. I loved hearing him call me all the time. So – enough of that….the pix say it all!




Monday, June 09, 2008

Going Home

We had a 3 PM flight from Fairbanks to Anchorage. I had Gerry in a wheelchair all the way as he was so exhausted. We flew to Anchorage but arrived late…4:15. For some reason I read the paper itinerary wrong and thought we had our next flight on USAir at 4….that was the time our flight was supposed to LAND!. So here I thought we missed the plane (we never would have made it anyway). We got Gerry in a wheelchair and had been told we would have an electric cart meet us…but they don’t have them at that airport. AND…we had to go to another terminal. AND…we had to go OUTSIDE and take the airport shuttle to get here. I was so annoyed. We got onto the shuttle and it made it’s stops…AND went through the employees parking lot. I was trying to get USAir on the phone but kept getting the automated system. After 3 tries I finally got a person on the line. She told me that since the tickets were booked thru Alaska Air we would have to go back to them. So we stayed on the shuttle and went BACK to the first (South) terminal. There I was told that since we missed the flight (and they don’t have monitors there that show that…they were going by what I told them) we had to go BACK to USAir to get on another flight. By then I had looked again at my itinerary and realized that the flight didn’t leave till 4:45 – and it was now 4:35. As we headed for the door again (me with a rolling duffle and knitting bag and Gerry, walking, with a HEAVY computer backpack on his skinny shoulders) I called USAir again. This time I got a guy who said the plane had not left yet, but there was not way he could inform them to wait (as if they would wait). I decided not to take the shuttle but to grab a cab. There were about 10 cabs in a row. We were at the last one…you have to take the first one first. I ran up and told the driver that we needed to get to USAir immediately. “Where?” he asked. I repeated my request. “Where is that?” he said. I yelled, “You don’t know where USAir is and you drive here?” He was definitely a foreigner (by his heavy accent). I don’t have a problem with that. My problem is having a job where you have to do something and you don’t understand enough English to be able to do it. I went to the second cab driver with my request. He didn’t understand me either but did say, “You have to go to first car!” I went to the third car….same thing, but HE said, “North Terminal?” I didn’t know but said again, “USAir!” The first driver spoke to another and then called us to come, he would take us. It was a 5 minute drive…that’s all, 5 minutes…at 35 miles an hour, behind someone doing 25! When we got there I saw that there was nothing on the meter. I asked, “How much?”
“Whatever you want to give me, “ the driver said. So I handed him $5.00 and he got upset with me. “That’s it? That’s what you want to give me?” Honestly…I am not cheap, but a) he didn’t understand where to go b) it was a 5 minute ride c) it only took 5 minutes because we were behind someone who was slower than the speed limit.. I said that’s all you get and got out of the car. Gerry came into the terminal after me and told me that he felt bad so he gave the guy another $5. I would have loved to get mad at him but I didn’t have the time. I finally got Gerry into a wheelchair and got to the ticket counter. YES…we missed the plane (and would have even if I did remember the correct departing time as we would not have made it by the time they closed the doors). YES – they could get me onto a Delta flight leaving at 7 PM, to Atlanta (7 hrs) with an hour layover and then on to Ft. Lauderdale…. First Class all the way…perfect! BUT…I had to go BACK to Alaska Air to be ticketed and then come back here for boarding passes. I left Gerry sitting on the side there, took the shuttle to Alaska Air, was ticketed, came back, got the boarding passes, went through security and got to the gate with 40 minutes to spare! Can you believe all that? I was just as exhausted as Gerry – anyone would have been. Talk about getting your exercise!

We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale at 9 AM This morning. Our luggage was waiting at the USAir office. Our driver was waiting, too, and took us home to our waiting doggies and a bed for Gerry. As for me….being the crazy person that I am, I unpacked 4 suitcases, organized, sorted laundry and got it started, checked the mail, checked and answered e-mail, and finally, by 4 PM, my body crashed and I had to nap for a few hours.

It’s too bad that we had to miss the land tour, thought I never really thought that Gerry would be able to make it. At least we got to do the cruise, which was fabulous, and it was very good for Gerry emotionally and mentally.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Land, HO!! & Oh, NO!


Friday June 6th: What a morning it was. We woke early and had breakfast in our room. We were to leave the room at 8 to be in the theater for disembarkation by 8:15. We got to the theater at 8:10. First I left to go to the ladies room. When I returned, Gerry went to the men’s room. When he returned he told me that our names were being called on the loud speaker. You can’t hear it in the theater (you are supposed to sit and wait for your color/number to be called). We gathered our things and went into the hall where I asked a ship’s staff about our names being called. She said that our tour guide was paging us for a long time. When we got to the bus, all the other passengers applauded our entrance. It seems that they were all in the theater by 8 and were called right away. Later on several other of the passengers told me that I was right…we didn’t have to be there until 8:15 but they were called early. We sat toward the back of the bus, each taking two seats across the aisle from one another so Gerry could be comfortable. The bus driver and tour guide were so nice. They told us what we were seeing as well as a little history of the area but it wasn’t boring at all. The bus ride to Anchorage was 2 ½ hours long. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking.
Gerry didn’t fare so well though. He kept falling asleep – he was so wiped out. Behind us was a driver in training. He talked to us about the area, the wildlife and more. Everywhere you looked there were snow-covered mountains. We even saw some bison, mountain goats and some eagles. There was a lake that seemed to go on forever. We passed Mt. Alieska where we were told the skiing was fabulous.

When we got to Anchorage Airport we had to walk to the other end of the terminal for our bags, to bring them to check in. After that walk Gerry was so tired we had to get him a wheelchair. The tour guide had someone bring all the bags back. We checked in and then got through security quickly. The flight was an hour long and uneventful. We arrived in Fairbanks to get on another bus. Our hotel, Sophie Station, was only 10 minutes away but they took us to the Alaska Museum at the University of Fairbanks. I asked the driver if we could stay in the bus as Gerry couldn’t possible walk the museum or even go through in the wheelchair. The driver was so nice. He would have had to leave us in the bus with the motor and A/C off, so instead he offered to take us to the hotel. Our tour guide Andrea came along, calling ahead to make sure our room was ready.

When we were settled in the hotel Gerry went to sleep and I did laundry and made calls to family. After the laundry was done, Gerry woke and wanted to walk to the Safeway food store, about 4 blocks away. The weather in Fairbanks was beautiful, not too cold, probably in the mid to upper 60’s. We walked there and back and then I made supper. He had one piece of chicken fingers (that he bought for himself…I don’t eat them) and wasn’t hungry for the roasted chicken that I bought. He went to bed and I set up the computer…yea!

That night Gerry got sick. He was vomiting profusely every hour!!! By 6 AM I knew we wouldn’t be continuing the tour. At 7 I called to inform the tour guide. The hotel desk staff told me that the ER was really good. At 9 AM the hotel van took us to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital ER. They were wonderful. We were taken right away (the place was empty). It’s a fairly new facility too. Gerry’s BP was excellent, and his hemoglobin was 8.9 – better than we would have thought. The dr was nice (and cute, too). They did blood and urinalysis, put him on fluids right away with antibiotic and anti-nausea meds. Gerry dozed on and off most of the time. I got on the phone right away with the travel insurance company. They were good too, except for some minor issues we had at first. Gerry and I had first class tickets, gotten by using frequent flyer miles. L, the Travel Insurance rep, said that we could not fly back FC because they can’t put a value on mileage points. I told her that we had to fly back FC because Gerry wasn’t well and that is why I booked FC in the first place. L explained that if the DR. felt it was a medical necessity, then there would be no problem. But…I would have to go in coach (because I was not ill). I told her that I needed to be with him to assist him….no good! So…I told her that since Gerry was sick he would need a medical transport and a medical person to accompany him home…and they could pay for THAT!!! Again, she said…if the DR said it’s medically necessary for ME to be with him, that would cover it. When I spoke to the doctor he thought it WAS medically necessary and so when the papers came through on the fax, he filled them out accordingly. He even spoke to the medical rep from the travel insurance company on the phone, to make sure that our trip home would be as comfortable as possible for Gerry. Even our nurse spoke to the TI company when they requested her.

In mid afternoon Gerry started vomiting again. It was SO foul. We found out why a short time later. Gerry had not moved his bowels in a few days…he was impacted. They gave him an enema….and after the inevitable…he was empty and felt SO much better! They gave him more anti nausea medicine and a stomach relaxant. The dr wanted to do a CT scan to see if there was a blockage, but we told him that even if there were, there would be no operation so what was the point? We just wanted to get Gerry home to Florida.

That night the travel insurance company worked with me to get the best possible flights for Sunday.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Blue Ice at Hubbard Glacier

We woke early, as usual. Gerry didn’t feel great so I dressed and went to the buffet breakfast. But first, I headed to the top deck as we were approaching the Hubbard Glacier and I wanted to get some pictures. I had no idea how close we would come later on. It was very cold on deck but I got close to the railing and got a few good shots. It was just a wall of ice b/t the mountains but it was beautiful…white and blue (blue indicates very old ice). Then I went to breakfast and called Gerry, who was just about to join me. We watched through the windows of the dining room as we neared the glacier, and realized that if we went onto our veranda we would have a great view. So we did just that. It was awesome.

We got really close and were able to watch as the glacier “calved” – large amounts of ice fell off the face of the glacier, making a thunderous noise.
videoThe ship stayed by the glacier for a few hours and then headed up the Alaska Gulf toward our final destination, Seward.

At 1 we were invited to view the navigational bridge (because we were in a suite). Gerry moves slowly so we got there a little late for the explanation, but get to look around. At 3:30 we were invited to a TEA (for those in the suites) in the Olympic restaurant. Gerry slept but I went. It was so nice. I sat at a table with a few other couples. We had the tea of our choice, little sandwiches and pastries.

We went to the main dining room for dinner. It was good but truth be told, I was just as happy eating in our room. After dinner we went to the casino but Gerry was losing so we left after about 10 minutes. I had a lot of packing to do to insure that the suitcases were outside the door by 11 PM. I have packed WAY too much stuff for this trip. If I ever return to Alaska I’ll know better!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Icy Strait Point - Brrrrr!


Pulled in near ISP at 7 AM. We went up for a buffet breakfast (the usual) and then Gerry wanted to nap, so I went to the whirlpool and hydra pool. It was warm and felt so good. After an hour (which included about 5 minutes in the sauna) I came downstairs and waited for Gerry to wake up. We dressed warmly and went down to get the tender into ISP. It was cool but Gerry was very, very cold. The tender took a few minutes which wasn’t bad. The (unused) cannery was not heated and there were only stores and a museum there, so Gerry wanted to come back to the ship. He bought a ISP t-shirt and hat and then we did come back to the ship. I got an umbrella and returned to ISP on the tender. I walked around the shops. There were only about 10 stores inside the cannery building. All of the stores are owned and operated by the residents of the town. There are NO diamond or jewelry stores - yea! That gets to be a bit boring (especially since I am not into buying expensive jewelry). I bought Gerry a warm hat and bought myself some Skookem Ointment. It is made by the owner of the shop. She is a Tlinget Native. Skookem Ointment is made from skunk cabbage olive oil palm kernel, shea butter and deer tallow. It is used “to help restore damaged muscles, broken bones, relieve severe pain from arthritis, neuropathy and other degenerative conditions.” I bought a very small bottle for I have had a pain in my right thumb for some time. For $10 it’s worth a shot!
It was raining a lot but I had an umbrella so I plodded on. I walked to the Cedar Fire… a fire that is tended to by a Tlingit gentleman.
It is a tradition that the started a few years ago. When a tourist comes (from the cruise ships) they give him a cedar chip to throw into the fire… “Your cedar chip is a symbol of all that defines this wondrous place; the sea, the wilderness, our history and culture. In keeping with tradition of all those who visit Icy Strait Point, contribute your cedar ship and sustain the light of the wood chip and sustain the light of the wood chip fire, sharing in the legacy of all who set foot on these shores.” You make a wish as you throw in your chip. I made a wish for myself with my chip and one for Gerry (with his chip). I decided that I wanted to see the actual town where the residents lived (all 875 of them) so for$5.00 I got a ticket on the shuttle for the mile ride into town (and back). As we rode in I saw that it looked like a bungelow colony (like Keansburg, NJ about 40 years ago. It was so cold and rainy that I didn’t even get off the bus, but rode it back to the dock where I got the next tender and came back to the ship. It has since cleared up outside but its still overcast and damp. I am in sweatshirt and flannel bottoms….cold! But Jorge came by with “afternoon tea” and I indulged myself (AGAIN) with a brownie and a fruit tart, and of course, tea. Oh - Jorge came back with canapés….mmmm! Boy, I am REALLY going to have to work at losing a but when we get home.

Gerry isn’t feeling great. He isn’t saying much but I watch and can see it. He is having pain in his abdomen, breathing a bit heavier (and he’s a little congested, stuffy nose), and is taking a little more pain meds. I really hope that he feels well enough to enjoy the land tour starting Friday. The good thing is that we set sail from ISP around 5 tonight. We will either eat in our room or at the buffet and maybe go to the casino for a little while. Tomorrow we are at sea all day, heading for the Hubbard Glacier, and Friday we disembark for good.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Skagway & Time Alone

Had a nice breakfast…my usual - herring, lox, berries, nuts and cranberries. Gerry rested in the room and I did some reading/puzzles. Gerry opted not to go into town because he was cold and tired so I went in by myself. At first it was cool but the sun came out and the weather was beautiful. The town is really small - 4 blocks wide and 2 blocks long. The touristy part goes to around 7th Street and then it’s just homes.
I went in and out of shops with some coupons for freebies. I got a teeny silver charm of a train, a teeny topaz stone, bought a pendant of a rainbow topaz with a small white topaz on top, set in silver, for $20, and the typical junkie “gold” charm bracelet from Diamonds International. There were really nice throw pillows and blankets in a loom store, hand made ivory or jade pieces in other stores, and more. I went into the Red Onion Saloon, the original saloon from the Klondike Goldrush days of 1898. They had a bordello upstairs for two years. Now they give 15 minute tours for $5.00. I went on the tour. It was given by young college girls dressed as bordello women. When you paid your $5.00 they gave you a black and red leg garter. It was fun.



I walked around, stopped into the home of the founder of the town, Captain William Moore. He first built a log cabin but later built a house next to it. It was interesting to read about the way of life over 100 years ago. Before leaving the town I went into a tourist shop for a few more little gifties! Heading back to the ship it was quite windy but I made it back. I got a lot of walking time in - good exercise.

We went to dinner in the Olympic - the specialty restaurant on the ship. Our travel agent Connie treated us to the dinner. It was amazing. The Olympic is modeled after the restaurant on the ship Olympic (sister ship to the Titanic). I had booked it for tonight as it was not formal night (we didn’t bring formal wear with us). However, when we walked in Gerry had to have a sports or suit jacket on, so they brought one out for him to wear just till he got to the table (and he actually did wear it for a little while for warmth). I ordered a glass of Reisling wine that was SOOOO good. First we were given a “surprise” - a little crab spread. As an appetizer I had escargot but it wasn’t in butter/garlic but in a kind of curry dressing. They were not in the shells - they were on the plate and there were about 3 or 4 times as many as usual. Gerry had a delicious lobster bisque soup and a Caesar salad. We each had an entrée of lobster and scallops. Then they serve your choice of cheeses, with sliced apple, grapes, celery and little walnut/apple bread pieces. For dessert I had zabalione.

The waiter made it in front of me and whisked it for 12...whole…minutes. I couldn’t believe he actually stood there whisking it. It was delicious. Gerry left just before I had my dessert. He didn’t have the stamina to sit that long. When I got back to the room Gerry was sleeping. I sat up watching TV or reading for another hours and a half and then went to sleep.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Juneau

I went to bed last night at 9:15 - just passed out cold! During the night I heard Gerry up and about (he doesn’t sleep well at all) and so I woke around 5 - it was totally light outside. Gerry was hungry but I told him the buffet didn’t open until 7 AM (and later read in the newsletter that it actually opened at 6). I laid in bed and suddenly Gerry called to me, “There’s an iceberg!” A piece of ice was floating by the ship - not huge, but big enough to realize what it was.

We finally went to the buffet for breakfast at around 7. Then we returned to our room where we hung out - Gerry napped on and off and I read. The ship docked at 8. I had expected Juneau, the capital of Alaska, to be a big city with modern buildings. It isn’t…it looks like a modern day version of a wilderness town.
Where the ships come in there are lots of shops, of course, most of them either the typical jewelry stores found at every port, or touristy gift shops. At around 11:30 we finally went outside but Gerry was very cold so we returned to the ship/room s he could change jackets. We went outside again but after a few minutes in one shop Gerry returned to the ship. I stayed out and went into shops as I walked through the town. The weather got warmer and warmer - there were even people in short sleeved shirts (natives to the area, I’m sure). I walked around for about 2 hours before returning to the ship. Gerry was sleeping when I got here. I started to read my book but was interrupted over and over again…a few phone calls came in, Jorge came with tea and cake, etc. Finally I decided to get some exercise. I went to the 11th floor where there is an outdoor walking track. I walked for 30 minutes and then went to the gym for about 15 minutes.

I had a wonderful dinner in the room (Gerry wasn’t hungry at the time but later got himself a gyro and nachos/cheese from upstairs). I next went down to the computer café, signed on for a package of about 2 hours and checked my e-mail. There were over 350 e-mails, mostly garbage, and it took me almost 30 minutes to delete most and read a few. Then I went to the show which was all singing and dancing - the performers were terrific. Now I am in the room, body worn out, so I am laying in bed typing. The ship left Juneau an hour ago. We were fascinated by the mountains across the water…enormous snow covered mountains that just went on and on. It’s now 11 PM and finally dark (but not totally). Tomorrow we get into Skagway at 7 AM and don’t leave until 8:30 PM.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Ketchikan and Totems


We woke EARLY to find ourselves in Ketchikan, Alaska. It looked like what it once was - a small fishing town. The weather was pretty cool with overcast skies. We had a continental breakfast (brought to us by our … ahem….butler). Then we went onto the pier and met the tour to Saxman Native Village, about 3 miles away (by tour bus). The tour was ok - we saw a video about the Natives, then went to their meeting house for an authentic demonstration of their dancing/singing. When they asked for volunteers I joined a few others on stage. They put a cape on each of us and we just had to bend out knees, put both hands in front of us and sway. Afterward we were given a little tour of the totem poles. The young tour guide was very nice but a bit long winded and boring. Gerry did really well although he got bored and so walked to the store when I went to the Carving Shed. It was interesting to hear about making the totem poles. When the talk was over I went to the store with the thought of getting a totem pole - but OW! They were a little more than I wanted to spend. Truthfully, they WERE affordable but more than I cared to spend (because they were carved by hand). The poles for under $20 were made in China… nope, I wasn’t interested in those either.

When we got back to the ship we dropped our things in the room and went back into town (just across the street).
We did a little touristy shopping and then returned to the ship as Gerry was very tired. We went to the buffet for lunch but they were still serving breakfast so that’s what I had. It was good to return to the room and sit on the veranda for a bit. My cell phone was working so I made a few calls before my appointment for… a bit of “pampering.” I had booked a package that included: 30 minutes in the aroma steam room; back, neck and shoulder massage; spa re-hydrating aroma facial treatment; scalp massage with hair conditioning treatment; “tantalizing” foot and ankle massage full body application with skin nourishing milk lotion; and a “gift.” The gift would have been a moisturizer, but I opted to purchase a Cactus bristle skin brush to “detox, cleanse and improve texture and tone of the skin” and Celutox body solution, for which they give a discount on your package. It was SOOOO restful - just what I needed!

Beautiful snow capped mountains are going by outside our glass doors. We have now left Ketchikan and are sailing north to Juneau, the capitol of Alaska.