On The Encore Again 🚢🐻 [Alaska With Mom]

So, my blog has been a bit abandoned… 👉👈💧 I’m so sorry about that. I also seem to be becoming more and more of a hermit. I am sorry about that, too.

There’s been a bunch of reasons. I’ve been reading a lot (and I do mean a LOT), been kind of busy deep inside my own head, perhaps having not exactly a mid-life crisis as much as a mid-life reassessment, plus preparing for upcoming trips, and then going on them.

Let’s start with the Alaska cruise: it was amazing. When it comes to the trip’s details, this time, unlike last time, I’m making an effort to blog more about it.

To make it easier, I opted not to decorate my photos with purikura this time around, because I think that wanting to do that and not having time to do it was the main reason I didn’t properly blog about the Alaska trip last year. So, I apologize if things are a little less colorful on this post.

With that said, this will be a very long and extremely image-intensive post. So I’m posting it under a cut.

🧳 Friday 🧳

On Friday night my mom was already with us. Sweeney (her cat) had been with us from the night before to make things a little easier since Christopher would be looking after him. And I’d been packed for days. I took my panda bear Radio on this trip. He was a big comfort during the takeoffs and landings which always scare me so much.

☔ Saturday ☔

We left early on Saturday morning. Christopher dropped us off at Miami International Airport and everything went smoothly. We only had a short wait before getting on our plane, and I took this selfie at that time.

Then we were on the first leg of our flight! I took this photo before takeoff. I am smiling here, but I was very panicky. I always am on planes. I don’t care what the statistics are. 😖

It was a long flight. We had a layover in LA before getting on the second plane to Seattle. After we were settled in our hotel room, we had dinner at a nice local Mexican restaurant and then took an Uber to the Space Needle.

It was my second time there, but I don’t think I got to see the sunset last time. It was very pretty.

Unfortunately, I had a terrible headache for a lot of this day, and would for the next few days. Even though I tried to get caffeine in other ways, I really missed my Doubleshot Espresso cans.

Near the Space Needle, we were able to see a few other interesting things, such as this stego and trike sculptures:

And this amazing view of the sunset:

The above photo is actually very inaccurate but I couldn’t get a better one. The sun was of a neon red color and so big. I’d never seen it like that before.

🌻 I saw a random sunflower in a pot:

After this, we made our way back to the hotel.

🚢 Sunday 🚢

Sunday was embarkation day, but first, we had breakfast at a little German café. I loved this place!

They had a great view of the Space Needle from the entrance:

We managed to give our bags to the porters early and got a photo taken in front of the ship:

Then we went around the pier and I took a couple of photos of the area and of my mom as we walked around.

Not long afterward, we made it into our cabin! Our travel agent had ordered a little gift for us:

My mom and I walked around the ship and I got a couple more photos…

We went to the buffet for the first time. The view was really nice there too!

🚁 Tuesday (Juneau) 🚁

On Tuesday we docked in Juneau, where I took this photo of my mom:

This was the day of our most expensive excursion, which my mom paid for me to go on. I was dreading it because it involved a helicopter. I took this selfie in the helicopter, and I am smiling for my mom’s sake, but even more than on the plane, I was feeling near a panic attack.

I think we were in the air for maybe 30 minutes or less counting both ways, and during that time I was able to take less than six deep breaths total. The pilot advised us that it was a busy airspace so he wouldn’t be able to talk much. Indeed, this was the case, and he only spoke to scold someone for taking flash photography, which distracted him (but no one had been warned not to do so).

It was my absolute terror of distracting the pilot that kept me from crying, or hyperventilating, or screaming IWANTTOGETOFFLETMEGETOFF, and it was for my mom’s sake that I didn’t start crying from relief when we landed. She didn’t even realize that I wasn’t doing well until after the excursion, so that was a success!

That aside, walking in the glacier itself was really great! It was also even colder than I expected… and I expected it to be cold. 🥶

Here are the photos I took while there:

I also took this photo on the area where we sat getting an orientation before getting on the helicopter. This mountain goat was huge!

It was here that I got my favorite souvenir, a very overpriced husky puppy I named Nugget. He was my reward to myself for facing something scary. Unlike most plushies that I saw last year and this year in the tourist-trap shops, this one was actually of wonderfully nice quality! I’ll share a photo of him a bit further down.

In the evening we went to The Cavern, a karaoke club. It was really fun to watch. This lady was kind of dragged to the stage and turned out to have a wonderful singing voice. The bit that I recorded was originally being sung by the man by himself (a veteran) but then she came back and joined in too —she was also a veteran. It was really nice to listen to them.

Before bedtime, I managed to get a couple of amazing shots as we departed Juneau:

🚂 Wednesday (Skagway) 🚂

Wednesday morning was one of the two most anticipated excursions for me: The White Pass and Yukon Route Scenic Railway. If I’d known how amazing it would be, it would have been the one I was most excited about, I’m sure.

This was by far the most incredible experience I’ve had in Alaska, even when considering last year’s cruise. To be able to see the little leftover of the original trail, and so many incredible landmarks of a period in history that has long fascinated me, was unforgettable.

Here’s the inside of the train with a view between cars:

The two selfies I took outside of the car were my favorites. It was overwhelming to be out there, so loud and shaky and so high up. I loved it.

At the same moment, I took this video:

I think the photos and video I took speak for themselves so I’ll just post them below.

It’s funny how on the train I wasn’t afraid despite the heights, the rattling, the sudden jolts, and going over the wooden bridge, even though other passengers were at times very nervous.

Before bedtime, I went to get another chocolate soft serve. It’s my favorite! 🍦

My mom woke me up at 5:00 a.m. to show me one of the most amazing views I’ve ever seen. Like the sunset near (not at) the Space Needle, the photo can’t do it justice. It was as bright as the first photo and as clear as the second.

🧊 Thursday (Glacier Bay) 🧊

On Thursday morning we cruised through Glacier Bay all day long. I brought my puppy friend along and colored for a long time, watching the glaciers:

I did a bunch of crayoning on this trip, which was something I really regretted not doing last year. I brought this huge amount of Twistables crayons in this case that I really love. I actually bought four of these cases, two for my Copics, one for my crayons, and one for my sketching and inking supplies.

After coloring for a while, I went out to look and took a selfie:

And a few other pics:

Then it was time for lunch! The Garden Café had an awesome decoration:

As we cruised away from the glaciers, it looked as though we were inside a cloud!

Before we left the Garden Café area I took this photo of my mom next to an awesome model of the ship:

Later I got to go to my first wine tasting ever! There was a competition (my group got 4 out of 6 right) and a pairing of French macarons. I really enjoyed this and would like to do it again.

Afterward, we walked around the ship for a while. I took my mom to the casino and showed her the Galaxy Pavilion.

Then we went to take a look at the ship library. I found this cute snail book:

We had our second specialty dining this evening, at Onda. It wasn’t so great. But the main course was interesting, salmon with a side of lentils.

🐻 Friday (Ketchikan) 🐻

Friday was the day of my most anticipated excursion. We took these photos on the pier before heading to the meeting point:

I will tell you right away that even though I enjoyed myself, it was a bust. We did not get to see any black bears. It was rainy and cloudy which the guides said was perfect weather and they expressed surprise that no bears came out. But this makes my second wildlife viewing in Alaska during which I see no wildlife. So that was a bummer.

Still —we saw bear scat, bear scratches on trees, and so many leftovers of fishy bear meals on the banks of rivers and streams! For someone who loves bears as much as I do, even that alone was a big thrill. And the forest was incredibly beautiful:

These salmon were trying to go up this tube, but it was a pointless endeavor as there was no place for them to go. They were doing it because it was their instinct.

This was a salmon hatchery and all salmon raised here are released back into the wild. The hatchery grounds were full of seagulls. At one point all the seagulls scattered in a huge cloud. It was because a large bald eagle arrived!

This was actually really cool to see. Here’s a video of the eagle eating some fish while the seagulls keep a respectful distance:

Then we went to a tiny raptor sanctuary where we saw an owl, a bald eagle, and a hawk, up close. I loved the owl, she was so cute. Her name was Owlinson.

I forget the eagle’s name but it was a female. Here are some photos and a video of her too:

And the hawk:

We got to take a photo with a bald eagle nest:

And with some totems!

Did you know that these totems have nothing to do with religion? They can have many different meanings. Sometimes they are made to honor or commemorate something or someone, and often they tell origin stories. This one told the origin story of the mosquito:

Here are a couple of photos of the area near where we were picked up…

Well, I got to see at least one bear…

I found a bunch of things I liked in the gift shop after we got driven back to the pier. We also had these photos taken there:

Then it was lunchtime. We had a nice view!

I saw a jellyfish through the window:

Watching the water churning as we got ready to leave was pretty cool:

Here’s some video:

We took a nap and then had dinner. I had all Indian food (my favorite) and this spiced chocolate cake for dessert:

We went back to our cabin for a rest and to kill time before our show (The Choir Of Man). I read a little book I’d bought at the gift shop, “Child Of The Wolves”, about a Husky puppy that gets adopted by a wolf pack. I really liked it.

Then it was off to see The Choir Of Man. It’s a pretty good show; I’d seen it before. My mom liked it.

On the way out we found a crane machine full of licensed, good-quality Jurassic Park plushies, and even won one! It was a collaborative effort.

Then it was time for bed. It was a very exhausting day, maybe the most tiring one yet. I was so glad that I brought Radio to cuddle with every night.

🍁 Saturday (Victoria, BC) 🍁

By Saturday I was so done and so eager to be home, no matter how fun the cruise might be, because I was so deeply homesick. My mom was also a little under the weather —she appeared to have caught “cruise crud”. Later we would learn it was COVID. Just like the last cruise.

After I showered, had breakfast, and got some luggage stuff straightened out, we went to the observation lounge to while away the hours until the ship arrived in Victoria, BC at 8:00 pm. At first, I sat on a couch, where I took this picture:

But eventually, I was able to snag the nicest chaises in the lounge! My mom had one next to mine.

This was our view. Pretty incredible!

After I got tired of crayons, I started drawing on my sketchbook.

Here’s just some of the stuff I drew:

It was very late when we arrived in Victoria. Our tour wasn’t until 8:30 p.m. We went around on a bus, not really seeing the city since it was too dark (same as last year) but this year I got to see a bit of Chinatown and we got off the bus twice, once to go to Tim Horton’s and later to get a nice view of the city skyline. I enjoyed both the view and the donut holes (with hot chocolate).

They did a Canadian trivia contest and I won one of the answers! No one else got it right. The question was, “What is Canada’s national animal?” I was embarrassed to speak up, in case I got it wrong. But I had it right with the beaver! I won a prize, and we also got a bag of silly Canadian goodies each, which I will show you later.

Once back on board, we had about an hour and a half to prepare our suitcases for the Port Valet and have a light dinner which we had delivered to our cabin. Then it was bedtime.

We arrived back in Seattle in the morning. It was a day with too much time to kill… our flight wasn’t until midnight. So we decided to visit Pike Place Market:

It was very early, so we got to see the fish tossing without obstruction and even took these pics with the vendors:

Because my mom didn’t feel well enough to do much of anything (the COVID we didn’t know was COVID) I suggested we go straight to the airport, early though it was. She preferred this, so off we went, to a wait that would last from before noon to midnight. Truly awful, with chairs that didn’t even have headrests, and to take a five-hour flight that would have a layover and then two more hours on a different flight.

As we waited, my mom continued to feel worse. I had two blankets on her and still she shivered violently, though she felt cool to the touch. I got her tea and she took Tylenol and we waited and waited and waited. I read a couple of books and drew a little more.

I got to have a couple of phone calls with my guys (and almost broke down every time) and slowly, very slowly, time passed. It seemed like midnight would never come, but eventually, we were in the air on a crazy bumpy flight! I wasn’t able to sleep a wink, but they had Bluey playing. It distracted me a little (very little).

Just past 11:00 a.m. EST we made it back to Miami, where the guys picked us up. By then my mom was feeling a little better. When we got home, there was a surprise waiting for me! Two lovely welcome-home presents. One was this awesome LEGO pirate ship:

And this cute little dinosaur book from our partner:

My mom stayed at our place for a couple of hours to recover. It was when she got home and was able to test that we learned it was COVID.

✨💎 Goodies 💎✨

I am happier with my souvenirs this time around, even though I spent a LOT less money. First I got these two T-shirts by The Mountain. I love their shirts and never owned one before.

These are all the books that I bought while on this trip (mostly at Pike Place Market). I read three of them before the trip was over (and almost all of the books I brought with me –but that’s for a different post).

Also from Pike Place Market (at Golden Age Collectables) is this darling little Mothman figure:

I also got various postcards and lenticular bookmarks, a magnet, a sticker and a deck of cards:

Last time, I didn’t find much I liked at the ship’s gift shop. But this time they had the most beautiful thick blanket, which I used a lot during the cruise and would later come in handy at the airport when my mom was shivering so much.

Here’s a funny magnet from the Golden Age Collectables store in Pike Place Market and a little Seattle one from another store in the same place, plus a mug by the Mountain with the same design as one of the t-shirts (I liked it that much!)

The “Moose Crossing” sign was my prize for getting the Canada trivia answer correctly, but it got a little banged up on the way back. All the other things (a Canada magnet, some maple syrup and maple candy, a box of Smarties and a bag of Cheezies) were in the goodie bag:

Finally, here’s Nugget and my yet-to-be-named little raptor. You’ve seen them before, but they were part of my haul. So here they are again! The blanket and Nugget are my favorite souvenirs from this trip.

I really had a good time overall, but I felt the absence of my husband and our partner extremely keenly, much more than I expected. At times I actually wanted to cry, I wanted to just be home, no matter how much of a good time I may otherwise be having. It was as if I had a big hole in my chest a lot of the time.

I wasn’t away that many days, so maybe it was the distance. I don’t know. I just needed to be with them. It really doesn’t matter where I am if it’s not with them. I know it sounds pathetic and clingy and it’s probably an unattractive aspect of me, but at times I really couldn’t help it.

It’s also weird because at home I am fairly independent. I need my alone time, and I need it often. But at least I can hear them talking or laughing, I can go to them if I want a hug or a little attention. Feeling that craving over and over and being unable to satisfy it was really hard, and it sent my mind to weird places, like “How could I go on if either of them died or just up and left”.

I am a homebody in the sense that my home is with them. I can be at home anywhere, as long as they are there, but if they aren’t… then something is missing.

But aside from that, I got to make some irreplaceable memories with my mom. I never imagined that I could take such a trip with her, alone the two of us, in our lifetime. And if it hadn’t been for my hubby and partner it wouldn’t have happened.

I hope you enjoyed this post!

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