Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bear Hugs from Alaska

That's what it says on my mug. I'm sitting here in the CyberCafe on the Norwegian Star. We are docked in Prince Rupert and I am wading through my email and remembering that I actually have a life waiting for me back home. It's funny how unimportant the "important" things seem when they aren't staring right at you. Perhaps there is some wisdom to be gleaned from that... nah, I'll think it through later. My body finally caved today from the adventure-stress of traveling for too many days in too many ways. I know, can you believe it? But an Alaskan cruise with my mother, preceded by a train trip across the country, is an incredibly exhausting stressful event. We have seen so many amazing things - like glaciers and eagles and little seal-creatures. But I didn't sleep for 3 or 4 days straight and then the time kept changing. My body thinks it is late night! But it is time for a shore excursion. I must remember never to travel by train again if sharing a "roomette." There is barely enough room to stand with the door closed at night and I had to sleep on the upper "shelf". It is literally a shelf. You can't sit up or turn around or stretch out. I'm only 5'7" - so I can't imagine how other larger people fit. I also suffer from claustrophobia and spent the first few nights praying for morning and trying not to burst into tears. During the day it was OK and there were some beautiful views after Chicago. If you are taking a train from Boston, there is very little to see until after Chicago. The Northeast mostly has trees and fences close to the tracks and they block the view and give you motion sickness. After Chicago, the pretty scenery looks the same until you hit the big mountains. The only way to know you have entered a different state is to listen to the changing accents of the new passengers! But we met a lot of very interesting people in the dining car. And my mom can/will talk to anyone about anything. On the way to Albany, we hit someone on the tracks and the train was delayed for 3 hours! We got to Chicago with barely ten minutes to catch our next train. I know that sounds very unfeeling. But they refused to tell us anything at all and it happened at 3am.

The boat, the Norwegian Star, is beautiful and new. It's like a floating, fancy shopping mall. No kidding. There's even an enormous food court and galleria shop. The kids' pool and the main pool each have what looks like a water park, and hot tubs on each corner. There is a spa with a lap pool and different hot tubs, etc. too. A movie theater, an theater bigger than the ones in Boston, basketball court, batting cage thingies, fancy restaurants, sushi... and they fold our bath towels into bunny rabbits every night. Can you imagine LIVING on a ship like this?! The magician who performs on this ship says his daughter grew up on this ship - until she was six and decided she wanted to ride a bicycle (on land). Everything is so amazing, but I admit, I am missing home a bit. And a nap. Even on the nights that I have been able to sleep, my mother gets up at 6am and the boat docks at 7. The time is 3-4 hours behind here. So, when everyone is running up to the lounge to watch the Karaoke Idol competition - my head is saying "it's 3 am!!" Tonight there is a Chocoholic's Buffet -- at 10:30pm. We switched back an hour again last night as we came south, so.... I can't remember, I think that would be around 1 am. But mostly, there is absolutely no way to recharge my introvert batteries. I have been surrounded by people and noise for 13 days straight now. I'm feeling a bit near breaking. I woke up with a cold. I think it's my body's way of saying, "cut the crap!" and giving me permission to avoid people in any way I can. So I gave my mother my spot on the petroglyph excursion and came up here to the Cyber Cafe. I mean, what sort of geeky nut would be in the CyberCafe on a luxury boat parked in Prince Rupert, right? Exactly! It's empty and I have the place to myself. Did I mention there are three glass elevators in the atrium behind me? Weird, eh? I think I'm going to sit in the hot tub in the spa. I mean, what kind of social reject would be sitting in the spa while their boat is docked in Prince Rupert? Yep, I'm hoping it's empty. :-)

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