“In 59 miles, Exit Ferry”

Alaska Travelogue

DAY ONE – Friday, June 15th, 2007

Up at 5 AM in San Antonio, we made short work of the last-minute packing, plant watering and fur-kid provisioning. Having decided late Thursday evening to eliminate stress and uncertainty by being our own taxi, we were on the way to the airport at 6 AM with all of our travel gear stowed in my Camaro. Traffic was still quite light through the troublesome areas of our route; very fortunate, as the driver (me) was not yet fully awake! I had expected a bit of a mess at the airport security check-point; we had quite an array of well-stuffed carry-on luggage and my leg braces were going to make the sensors go crazy. Must say our airport has vastly improved the TSA system; everything was speedily accomplished and all of the staff had a businesslike but refreshingly respectful attitude. After a wait just long enough for a much-needed Starbuck’s fix, we were called to board our plane; a relief, as my carry-on bag was doing a terrific job of imitating a large lead weight! But wait. . .we’re descending to the tarmac? There are only five steps involved in boarding the plane? We’re flying to Salt Lake City in an overgrown cigar?? Practically – it was a (Delta) Canadair Regional Jet; two by two seating and zero leg-room! One and one-half hours into our flight, I was finding the tightly packed seating somewhat difficult – with no opportunity to shift positions frequently, we weren’t at all comfortable! Some fairly hefty turbulence caused us to perform the well-known “coffee trick”. . . .keeping our cups in the air and constantly moving so that (hopefully) cup and contents remained partners. (The trick worked rather better for me than it did for Tom; I performed the “club soda trick” for him on our Salt Lake City to Vancouver flight, successfully lightening the stain by several degrees. LOL!) One marvelous miniatures-related find during the flight – I discovered perfect one-twelfth scale replicas of 32 Sky West magazine covers!! When I (eventually) create my “Seasoned Traveler” scene, I can scatter a few of those about.

Enjoyed a lay-over in Salt Lake City which was just long enough to make transitioning from Terminal B to Terminal C a comfortable task (thanks, in part, to several lovely moving sidewalks). Our Delta flight to Vancouver was roomier and the air much smoother; we were safely delivered into the hands of our cruise representative as soon as we landed. (Travel Tip: if you can, opt for the Transfer Voucher System!! Instead of having to collect our baggage in Vancouver , go through a wildly congested Customs process and make our independent way to the ship lugging said baggage, we had one pleasant Customs official clear our little group and we were off to the pier in our chartered motor coach! Our baggage??? It appeared outside our stateroom door before we sailed!)We staked out a table on Deck 11 of Mercury’s fantail for the departure from port – – delayed by a late arriving guest, we left port at 6:15 PM on 6/15/2007. Discovery: when you are on the fantail, and the ship must back out from its’ mooring, the ship complains. The ship complains rather loudly. The deck shudders strongly, and the deck chairs and tables begin to chatter – wonderful “music”, announcing the official beginning of our vacation on a sunny & gorgeous Friday evening. (I noticed several passengers enjoying the event in capris, shorts or sleeveless blouses. Hehe – That’s going to change soon!)

Dinner in the main dining room – perfect! Table 257 is one row away from the windows on (in?) the ship’s stern, with views to both port and starboard; our tablemates (two other couples) are definitely pleasant to be around and the food is superb. Add a slightly mischievous dining room steward (Roy ) and an attentive serving assistant (Francisco), and all is well! During dinner – around 10 PM (and after I had explained to our tablemates that the sun doesn’t ever completely set here in Alaska at this time of year), it began to get quite dark, quite quickly. Well, O.K. – our last time here in Alaska was in May; apparently that month makes a big difference! LOL – so much for my vast fund of Alaskan knowledge! (Fast forward: I discovered on Saturday morning that the sun sets around 11:30 PM and rises again around 4:30 AM – a storm moved in last night and turned out the lights early!)

By 11:30 PM, we were exhausted and a bit puzzled about it – yes, we had awakened early; yes, we had traveled quite a ways, but. . . . . wait a minute! There have been time changes – we’ve been up almost 21 hours! G’night, all!

(Note: we made a neat discovery when we came across a course map shortly after leaving port. Our last Inland Passage cruise (Vancouver to Seward) had been exactly that – a gorgeous, one-way cruise up the Inland Passage. This cruise (starting and ending in Juneau) is going to give us a day and one-half of open sea sailing, and the beauties of the Inland Passage a portion of Sunday and on through the week. Cool!!!

DAY TWO – Saturday, June 16th

I awoke ahead of Tom, at about 6:45 AM. Glancing out of our cabin window, I expected to see open sea. Instead, the view was almost entirely of …….boat! A small boat, and rather close to Mercury’s hull! A small boat which seemed intent upon getting even closer, actually! Rather startling – enough so that I woke Tom up! Upon getting closer to the window (read: climbing on the bed), I discovered the reason for this odd behavior: it was the pilot boat, coming alongside to pick up the pilot who had guided us through Queen Charlotte Straight during the night & early morning.Up and about in somewhat lazy fashion, we stopped at the Guest Relations deck to turn in our Canadian Customs form, get rid of my mail (our mortgage & other bills will bear an Alaska cancellation – LOL!) and discovered that I can, indeed, gain access to the Internet via my laptop. (For a fee, of course, but reasonably priced.)

Weather this morning: grey, rainy, stormy and totally beautiful! Crossing the open deck (we chose the wrong deck to get from fore to aft without venturing outside – one of those “you can’t get there from here” moments!), I made a discovery: on a ship moving at approx 22 knots, in a stiff breeze, I do not weigh enough to chart a straight course from A to B! I was making very little headway, but covering a fair amount of space sideways until I grabbed hold of Tom and hung on for dear life. We arrived at our destination thoroughly windblown, disheveled and laughing.

Breakfast – 25 choices to make before you get your first sip of coffee – Yikes!! Delicious, of course, plus I got my first “salmon fix”. Afterwards, we wandered around and discovered more of the ship’s amenities, including some eye-candy ;a – revolving globe in the Grand Foyer , two decks high, with the constellations suspended above it. Nearby is a photo of Patricia Carpenter, the “Godmother of Mercury” and plaques and photos depicting several of our astronauts. Very Cool! Also prowled the “Rialto”, a series of shops with prices ranging from $2.99 (I now have an Alaska camera strap) to “Oh, My Stars and Little Fishes!! With opals on my mind ( I was planning to wear Stephanie’s glorious fire opal necklace to this evening’s formal dinner), I encountered a bracelet containing the most colorful opals I’ve ever wished for ! My current opal bracelet has milky white opals with a little hint of fire, but……… I left the bracelet on its display; we have shopping excursions in Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway coming up, beginning when we dock in Juneau at 1 PM on tomorrow. Result: it insists on haunting my thoughts and dreams constantly!

One minor disappointment aboard ship (on Friday afternoon); the delicious, addictive, marvelously warming coffee concoctions (such as Aspen Coffee – coffee, whipped cream, Bailey’s Irish cream and other “healing elixirs”) which we enjoyed so much on our last cruise seemed to be history. No lovely waiter approached with an offer of the mystical mixture, none of the bars and clubs had them on their menus – Sigh! Well, while we were enjoying a glass-wall view of whitecaps, wind-driven spume and increasingly heavy seas (complete with whitecaps, wind-driven spray and a noticeable pitch and roll motion of our ship (Ahh, NOW we feel like we’re truly sailing!!) ……. Tom asked a bartender about the dreamt-of concoction. I have no idea why they are not listing or promoting this fond memory from cruises-past, but they still make them and we know the ‘secret’.

The heavy seas (and a wind which would have knocked me flat, had I ventured outside!) continued to build throughout the day, delighting us, but turning a few of our fellow travelers a tad green. The dining room was noticeably emptier this evening. >Grin< Dinner ended with Cherries Jubilee all around our little group of new friends, and a piece of our anniversary cake for each of us. Yep – somewhere along the line…. Booking the trip, chatting with the steward, who knows , but Someone took note! Some dozen waiters sang Happy Anniversary while the ship’s photographer snapped away and we blew out the single candle on the chocolate encased chocolate mousse. Relaxed after dinner, watched a bit of Alaskan history on the ship’s channel and finally turned in around 1:15 AM! We’re having a wonderful time – further reports soon! Oh!!!!! Wondering about the title of this installment? Just for grins, we brought one of our Garmin Nuvi’s along on this trip. Today, it located us (to within 100 feet) and Tom asked it to plot a course to our first destination port, Juneau. It tried mightily - - -“Please drive to high-lighted route”, “Recalculating”, “Turn right in xxx feet”, “Recalculating”. After a bit of this frustration (Garmie’s, that is), it suddenly blurted out “In 59 miles, exit ferry.” LOL – it finally figured out we were on water, not land! Hehe! **Editor's note - I'm having a little bit of difficulty removing the bolding which slipped in on its own:-) Please ignore & forgive - LOL! *** Daughter's note - I fixed it, Mom. No biggie. WordPress tries to be smart and accept preformatted text, but sometimes it's guesses cause unintended results. 😉

4 Responses to ““In 59 miles, Exit Ferry””

  1. Jerry Hollombe says:

    Re: “… exit ferry.”

    I prefer Google Maps solution. Ask it for driving directions from Los Angeles, CA to London, England. Note instruction 27. (-:

  2. Christy says:

    Hehe – with the ship’s Internet system operating on its own unique time-table, I’m not sure I could access Google Maps!! Besides, it would just tell me to dog-paddle!

  3. Jerry Hollombe says:

    Got it in one. The precise instruction given is: “Swim across the Atlantic Ocean.” I kid you not.

  4. Christy says:

    Actually, I’ve read the Google Maps “How to reach England” directions – I immediately thought of that bit of fun when our GPS finally decided we must be on a ferry:-) At least it didn’t announce “You are in the water, without a vehicle. . .hypothermia will set in within three minutes!”

Leave a Reply