Last month, me, Leigh (gf), and my mom and dad went to Alaska via Holland America cruise on the ship, Oosterdam. In a brief summary, I enjoyed the trip. I tried to keep a journal over the 7 day cruise, which docked in Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, which reads as follows:
08/03/19 – Saturday
12 pm. ~ I’m heading to the airport with Leigh but first, we have to drop her car off at her parent’s place so it won’t get towed by the apartment. 9 days of adventure awaits!
The drive to Washington DC wasn’t too bad since there’s very little traffic. Leigh somehow finds the goofiest music to play in the car and her dance moves….are tremendous. The car smells like gas. We arrive at Comfort Inn so I can park there. The airport shuttle arrives almost immediately; perfect. First impression of Dulles International Airport: its columns are imposing and have a mausoleum vibe. However, most of the airport is underground it seems. We’re hungry and get a couple salads. Leigh is anxious and wants to vape to calm her nerves. She takes a puff of her vape, hiding the vapour cloud by slowly exhaling; she decides to go smoke it in the restroom. Somehow, I forgot to get the seats assigned so we stand in line while people are boarding. Fortunately, the United airlines lady was very accomodating and managed to get seats for us next to eachother. We board at 10pm EST and arrive at 4am EST in Seattle, Washington. I’m exhausted. Walking a mile to our Red Roof Inn reservation seems like a really bad idea so I order a shuttle. We check in. The elevator ride up one floor takes a couple seconds which opens up to stained carpets and a generally depressing atmosphere. Red Roof Inn in Seattle is grungy (but so is seattle in general); do not recommend for $175 a night.
08/04/19 – Sunday
Our 10:15 am shuttle to Pier 91 arrives at the Red Roof Inn. Its sunny and surprisingly cool; the windows on the ~7 row shuttle bus are open, allowing crisp cool air to flow throughout the bus; refreshing. Seattle has a hipster vibe. One gets a glimpse of this by looking at the billboard signs for CBD, flannel, graffitti, and generally odd lumberjack fashion statements of boots with flannel exhibited by seattlans. We arrive at Pier 91 and see three docked cruise ships, which are impressive multi story floating hotels. The Oosterdam is expansive, dark green, and in need of some upkeep, compared to the other two cruise ships. After onboarding, Leigh and I head straight to the buffet to enjoy our first of of many meals overlooking the waves consisting of pasta, mashed potatoes, salmon, and fruit. We head to our room #1089; my key doesn’t work. After several tries, the door opens to reveal a large 3″ by 3″ window, two twin beds put together, and smallish studio like room. Not bad. However, Leigh notices something. There are pubes on our bathroom mirror. (how does that happen?) Groce! Plus the bathtub is filling with dark liquid. Also gross! Its roughly 1pm and I’m really tired after the plane flight and exploring the 10 floor ship so it’s nap time. Someone knocks on the door: it’s our room attendant Wahu, who delivers our baggage. Nice guy. Eventually someone comes by to unclog the bathtub. Later in the evening, Leigh orders room service and gets four drinks; cranberry, orange, apple, and water. The ship is moving! It’s sleep time!
08/05/19 – Monday
I had oatmeal for breakfast. My mom sees me and stops by my table. We talk about Leigh’s drug problem: Mom strongly disapproves. Leigh is still in bed when I get back. I leave and go to the fitness center on the 9th floor. The fitness center has a few treadmills, some dumbells crammed into the space of the average classroom. I head to the sauna. It’s hot! Evidently, one is supposed to create steam by pouring water on the rocks. I apparently, was just cooking myself. (?) Next, I go to the swimming pool. The water is much warmer than I anticipated since the pool is outside, theres cool sea air, and its about 60 degrees. Today is the Gala dinner, where people dress up and enjoy mediocre food whilst being uncomfortable. I wear my black suit and look pretty good. Leigh where her polka dot dress which looks really nice and more like ovals since #curves. My dad is wearing a hawaiian shirt because we are going to Alaska (?) . We get seated near the middle of the dining room. My dad gets duck, mom has lamb, I have stuffed shells, and Leigh orders flounder. We talk about my mom singing which is not particularly exciting. Leigh expresses interest and notes she enjoys singing. I note that her happy birthday rendition is great. My dad takes a really nice picture of us, which is the main image of the post. After dinner we change our clothes and goto the main stage theatre which is roughly 300 seats over three floors, to watch a dance crew, “Humanity.” The laser lights and visual effects made dancing much more interesting. The background scenes are a movie that change to match the dancer’s story. We head back to the room, and I watch the Avengers. Sleep!
08/06/19 – Tuesday
Today we will dock in Juneau. Me and my dad are going to Taku Lodge. Leigh and I go to breakfast. I get my usual oatmeal, fruit, bagel. Leigh wants bacon, and asks the guy serving bacon for some. He refuses and mumbles something about more on the way, which to me doesn’t make much sense since theres a couple pieces of bacon in the pan. I ask him why not give her those pieces; he looks at me like I’m an asshole and gives her the pieces. He then proceeds to ignore me and serve 3 other customers who come to the line after me, ahead of me. What a bacon nazi.
Finally we dock at Junea; the weather is beautiful. We enjoy lunch on the deck with the sun shining, while observing all the touristy shops selling fake diamonds. Evidently, tourists experience an overwhelming urge to buy fake blue diamonds called tanzanite when they go to Juneau. We walk around Juneau, but we can’t escape the fake diamond stores. It’s awful. We take a picture next to the Red Dog saloon which is one of the few original places that existed during the gold rush. I part with Leigh, since I have to meet my dad for the seaplane flight to Taku lodge. We are put into groups; our group code name is “King Salmon” and our plane is red and fits around 10 people; each person gets their own oval window. Before we get on the seaplane, the pilot asks if anyone wants to ride in the cockpit; my dad volunteers and he loves it. The view in the air, is spectacular. We fly over some of the largest glaciers and snow tipped mountains.
We land on the Taku river which is a milky color evidently due to salt. The Taku lodge is a log cabin built around 1924 with a remarkable history. The original purpose of the lodge was to help drug addicts get away from the drugs, which is appropriate, since this cruise is in effect a Taku lodge for Leigh. Adjacent to the log cabin, there’s a grill and a guy is cooking some fresh salmon. There’s also a black bear waiting about 25 feet away. Three labrador retrievers roam the place and help alert people to the bears. Once we enter the lodge, we can see the bear licking the grill. A tour guide speaks briefly about the history of the lodge and about the lodge owner “Mary” who started the iditirots. My dad has to ask his obligatory cringy question. We board the planes back after a brief nature tour.
Leigh is just finishing napping when I get back. We have dinner where Leigh orders 4 salmon pieces. She loves fish way too much. We watch the sunset on the deck; its tres romantic. Then we explore the shops, sit in a cheesy 70’s style bar lounge, and finally head back to our room.
08/07/19 ~ Wednesday
Today we pass by Hubbard glacier which is a large body of dirty ice. Glacier sounds nice, but in my estimation, its not exciting. Leigh and I walk around the ship, staring at the ice and the noticeable lack of wildlife. I jog around the ship several times. I don’t really recall anything else exciting today.
08/08/19 ~ Thursday
Today we dock in Sitka. Unlike Junea, Sitka isn’t full of diamond stores. On the way off the ship, there is a camera guy named Rafael who is always asking people to take pictures with a stupid moose. Leigh just clogged our room toilet. So out of spite, I volunteer us. Leigh is very unpleased. Here is the result:
There actually appears to be normal human settlement activities here. The dock has beautiful clear water with jelly fish swimming in it. My dad manages to get a trip to Sitka city via inflatable rafts called “Kodiaks.” Our boat captain is a young lady with brown hair, sporting a black ballcap. I’m sitting nex to my mom. Leigh is next to my dad. We see a couple of bald eagles and sea otters as our kodiak powered by an outboard motor roars into a thick fog.
Finally we reach “Fin Lodge,” yet another log cabin built on a island. The dock has a sea anemome and tons of small crabs and hermit crabs scurrying around the shore. The heavily ear-pierced lady who manages the lodge greets us and invites us to enjoy a meal of beef brisket and king crab. She walks up to our table and starts telling Leigh how to eat the crab legs, which Leigh doesn’t take kindly to since no one gets between Leigh and seafood. Leigh notices my dad spilling crab on the floor and accepts his who-can-put-more-crab-around-our-table challenge. Once we finished destroying the lodge, we get up and warm up near a bonfire outside. The guy tending the fire, talks about Alaskan schools and the lack of funding for them. Theres some fire spits and marshmellows. We get back on the kodiaks, and head to Sitka town. The highlight of the town is a Russian Orthodox church which is suprisingly beautiful. We walk around and then take a shuttle bus back to our ship.
08/09/19 ~ Friday
Ketichkan is another Juneau, full of lousy gift shops. What the heck Alaska. These cities are depressing. Speckling the fake diamond shops and christmas in August stores, are allegedly native Alaskan produce stores that exhibit amber doodadas that seem to have fleas encased in them and mammoth tusks. The plaque on the wall of the native who made the art, has a chinese name. We buy souvenirs; some mugs and hats, and a chocolate bar. Leigh is upset since she clogged the toilet again in our cabin. And also maybe because I bought her a “disengagement ring” from one of the stores and kept mentioning it to people. Yea, in retrospect, that was kind of an asshole thing to do. Once we board the ship again, we take a nap until around 5pm. Then we get our pictures taken for the gala night. Dinner is tortellini, filet mignon, and sea bass. As a note the gala picture didn’t turn out well. Leigh looks awkward and had hoverhands near my crotch, since the photographer told her to do it. It’s bizarre. I look, well, below average as usual. After the dinner, we go to the theatre to watch another dance. This dance’s theme features three couples; a fighting couple, a couple in love, and a friendish couple. I can see Leigh crying. I’m not sure why. Later that evening/morning, I say something to Leigh which evokes an unexpected response in that she says something wistfully about her ex, and runs out of the room, clearly distressed. It’s roughly 1am and I’m worried about her. I don’t know her state of mind and go out looking for her. I see her walking back, wearing a scowl that says “why do you exist?” I’m still glad to see her.
08/10/19 ~ Saturday
It’s the last day of the cruise and we are docked in Victoria, Canada. We are going to see Butchart gardens at night, which I do not recommend since contrary to their advertisements, you really can’t see much in the dark. The reason for the night trip is that our ship docks at 6pm. We reach Canadian customs, which consists of an open gate and board our bus. Our tour guide is an older man probably around 70 and wears an indiana jones style hat. He has the demeanor of Bob Ross mixed with alzheimers. He begins narrating the local Victorian history including mile 0 which is the longest highway in north America. He also details Victoria’s famous architect, Francis Rattenbury who made the Victorian parliament buildings. Evidently, Rattenbury was a fraud who didn’t actually have any architectural experience, but he was able to create the parliament buildings which turned out well. The buildings are illuminated by light bulbs. The trip narration stands out due to his constant use of “uuuuuuuuhhhhhhhh” “aaaaahhhhhhhh” and other obscene pauses which alone is funny, but combined with the bus driver trying to slow the bus down so he can complete his sentences, makes the narration hilarious; Leigh agrees. She yawns a bit loudly, in the middle of his “uuuhhhhhhhhhh” ing which makes me lose it. Finally we reach the butterfly gardens which is an odd assortment of bugs behind glass, and an outdoor yard about the size of a playground, full of butterflies, loud parrots, flamingoes, and large koi. Leigh loves the butterflies. She spends time filming one butterfly who lands on her hand, and nearly misses the bus.
By the time we reach the Butchart gardens, the sun has nearly set and it’s dark. However, we can still make out some of the beautiful flowers. The japanese garden is underwhelming, since it’s mostly sand. There are some fireworks, but since we are afraid we’ll miss the bus back, we board the bus early. We get back to the dock just in time, and run through a side alley, since it seems the canadian customs have gone home. Once in our room, its time to packup. We order some food; panini and a cobb salad. Yum!
08/11/19 ~ Sunday
We get off the ship and head straight to our hotel. Then we have lunch at Denny’s. Then we take Seattle’s “Light rail” to Pike’s market which is a really cool place. There’s tons of shops, seafood, chinese, italian, cheesecake; its a cornocopia of everything. However, most are closed up since its Sunday. We get some chocolates from a chocolate store. Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between them and something from walmart. As we meander around Pikes market, we see people smoking weed with children running around them. Disgusting. We stop by a dessert shop selling some cheesecake. Leigh gets an oreo peanut butter cheesecake which looks like a large macaroon. Then, tucked away behind a chocolate store is Pike’s Brewery which is also a restaurant. Theres a large contraption in the middle of the two/three story building which I assume is for brewing the beer. We get a lemon wheat beer from their brewery which is good. I also get a tomato soup and Leigh gets crab chowder: both soups are delicious. The walls are lined with artwork and beer related photos/advertisements that harken back to the mid 20th century, and also give the entire atmosphere a fallout-video game like character. Our waiter notes that some of the collection is priceless.
We take the light rail back to our hotel. At the hotel Leigh is acting weird. It’s late around 12am and she says shes getting tea. She disappears until around 1am. Who gets tea for an hour at 12am? What is she doing?
08/12/29 ~ Monday
We have to checkout of the hotel by 11am. Leigh is still doing her makeup in the room while I return the room keys. I eat my oatmeal breakfast in the lounge area while I wait for her. She shows up, and plops her phone on the table. I see it light up with a snapchat from AlexB. Who is AlexB? Evidently, it’s her ex’s friend which doesn’t sit well with me. Why would anyone talk with their ex’s friend if not to indirectly reach out to their ex? She states she just wanted to make sure her ex was ok. This doesn’t make sense to me and doesn’t match up with my experiences. Generally, if you are done with someone, you don’t reach out to them and you definitely don’t reach out to their friends. I’m not having it. The day after our cruise, and she’s talking with her ex’s friend. We were supposed to go to the needle which is really cool spaceship like restaurant in downtown seattle. To hell with that, our flight leaves at 10pm; she can sit at the airport for the next 10 hours.
We are still together. It’s been rocky. But we are trying which is the best I can hope for.