EMPTY NEST by Curt Swarm

North to Alaska - The Last Frontier


On our cruise ship, the rugs in the elevators have the day of the week imprinted on them.  What a hoot!  Is it because there are so many seniors on board that the ship is like a floating nursing home?  Or because, on a cruise, we tend to forget what day it is?  I dunno but, like a gaggle of geese, it makes for noisy comments on our way to the buffet.
There is no coffee pot in our cabin.  Grr.  I get up in the middle of the night to write and read and pray.  Coffee is required.  There are also no electrical plugins in the bathroom, except for one high up on the wall.  What gives?  Even the most basic no-tell motel has room coffeepots and plugins.  I found out that coffee pots and hair dryers are considered fire hazards aboard ship.  Okay, I can appreciate that.  So, I sufficed by robbing our cabin refrigerator of Diet Coke in the middle of the night.  Ka-ching!   
This is the Land-of-the-Midnight-Sun.  I'm writing at 12:04 a.m. right now and it's broad daylight.  With our insulated cabin curtains drawn, it's almost like night, but not quite.  My middle-of-the-night inspiration is still active, however.  Summer Solstice is approaching (longest day of the year) and we can celebrate by staying up all night, or day.  Ginnie thinks of everything, and has included in her luggage—blindfolds!  She says that I need to stay up here in the winter when it's the opposite—darkness for 23 hours a day.  I could dig it. 
With so much daylight, flora grows monstrous.  Outside one of our hotels, rhubarb was taller than my head, with leaves the size of elephant ears.  Alaskans don't cut out seed stems like we do in Iowa.  They use rhubarb like a decorative plant. 
As we approached Juneau, the ship captain comes on the intercom: “There are only three ways of getting to Juneau, Alaska—boat, airplane or birth canal.  Ask'a Inuit.”  Everyone up here thinks they're comedians.  
As you can discern, Ginnie and I are on vacation in Alaska.  We joined with two high school classmates who were gracious enough to include us.  The trip is a combination of cruise ship along the coast and an inland tour of the Yukon and Denali National Forrest. 
We spent the first three nights in Vancouver, British Columbia (my first time in Canada).  I could be impressed by the city.  There is so much to see and do.  However, the hordes of homeless on the streets of China Town was a bummer.  We even saw what looked like a teenage boy, passed out on the sidewalk in the middle of the day.  I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around this social dilemma.  My world view doesn't include a land of plenty with people clawing for existence on the streets.  If it was Mexico City, maybe.  But Canada?
We went on a whale siting excursion and saw hump back whales putting on a fantastic blow-show.  And our steamboat tour at Fairbanks, Alaska might be the best tour I've ever been on.  A helicopter ride that let us view Dall Sheep, landed on the tundra, and gave us a sight of Mount Denali, was a lifting experience, as was the Tundra-Wildlife Tour and Dog Sled Demonstration.  Ginnie got to hold a Husky puppy. 
The train ride from Danali National Park to Anchorage was extraordinarily beautiful.  We rode in the top viewing seats and had a rare sight of Mt. Denali, wildlife and glacier-swollen rivers and streams. 
We spent three nights in Seattle where we went sightseeing on Whidby Island, ate King Crab, then it was home.  Buddy could smell the Husky puppy on Ginnie.  Uh-oh. 
BTW: Alaska doesn't have snow days.  They have snow shoes.
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, or email him curtswarm@yahoo.com.  Curt is available for public speaking.

Empty Nest, Sunday, Editorial, commentary, opinion, Curt Swarm, Alaska, excursion, cruise, Pen City Current,


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