My Week 208: Alaska Is Cold, Stuffed Squirrels

The journey continues…

First, just for the record, I did NOT pull the emergency brake on Canada One.

(As a side note, I’d like to share that I finally had the chance to do the following on my regular train this week as I was sitting in a group of 3 other people by the emergency exit:

Car Attendant: So you all know what to do in case of emergency?
Me: Absolutely. I call out “Mjolnir”, the hammer inside the box flies into my hand, I use it to break the window, and I lead everyone to safety.
Car Attendant: Uh…
Other People: *stare in confusion*
Me: The hammer won’t come if I call it?
Car Attendant (laughs): No, but I enjoyed the Thor reference, ma’am.
Me: Please—just call me TrainWine.

TrainWine is my superhero name in case you haven’t read My Week 191.)

Anyway, the Canada One train that Ken and I were on did, however, eventually stop in Vancouver, and that’s where the next leg of the journey began. We boarded our ship, the Celebrity Infinity, in record time. I have to say it was an excellent ship—there was a lot to do, and our cabin was extremely comfortable with a lovely balcony that we couldn’t use because it was freezing; in fact, if Ken had a dollar for every time I said, “Why? WHY IS IT SO COLD?!” he could have paid for the whole trip. If you know anything about me, you know that I’m always cold, and a trip to Alaska, in retrospect, is something I should have thought more carefully about.

So cold it’s glacial.

At any rate, we had a lot of fun onboard, going to lectures, silent discos, and trivia contests, where we met a lovely pair of English couples who, at the end of the trip, gave us their names so we could look them up on Facebook. Unfortunately, the names they gave us were supercommon, like “Mary Jones” and “Jane Smith” and there are hundreds of those names on Facebook so now I’m worried that they didn’t really like us after all, and we’ve been ghosted by English people.

In addition to fun times on the ship, we also did 3 shore excursions. Here are the highlights:

1) Icy Strait Point

We paid $90 each for a tour called “Taste of Hoonah”. It was advertised as a tour of the town, with a stop for an “Alaskan Beer and Local Cuisine Tasting”. The driver’s name was Bill. The tour consisted of three stops: the ferry dock (there was no ferry but we learned that it cost Bill’s family $400 to go to Juneau for shopping), the local public school (Go Braves!), and the Icy Strait Lodge, where we had the tasting. The lodge owners greeted us with “So what do you want to drink? The first one’s free.” Um, beer…? Then everyone got a small dish that had three tiny things on it—a piece of halibut wrapped in bacon, smoked salmon on a cracker, and a miniscule crab cake. I have a severe shellfish allergy but I also love bacon, so I told the woman about the allergy and asked, “Was the bacon halibut thing cooked near the crab cake?” and she looked at me like I was crazy. “Of course not!!” she exclaimed. “Everything was cooked separately.” So I ate the halibut. 3 hours later, when I was doubled over in the ship’s bathroom, I whispered to Ken, “I think that woman lied to me.” Luckily it was just a little cross-contamination so I didn’t need my epipen.

6 out of 10 for Bill, because he was very sincere and it wasn’t his fault that Hoonah is boring.
2 out of 10 for Icy Strait Lodge and its crabby halibut and dishonesty (the 2 points are for the bacon).

2) Juneau

Our tour in Juneau was “Gold Panning and a Salmon Bake”. Our tour bus driver was also named Bill. The tour was very disorganized, with buses coming and being too full. We chose to wait for a second bus and received tremendous gratitude and goodwill from the tour company, but little did they know we had a hidden agenda—the other people who would be on the first bus with us were an extended family of 6 adults and 9 kids under the age of 10 from Las Vegas. One of the kids was named Tyler. I know this because every two minutes, one of the women would scream, “Tyler!! Stop that!!” So we had to wait fifteen minutes for the next bus, but I’m pretty sure it was worth it. At the gold panning, they gave us pans with dirt in them, and everyone immediately found some teeny flakes of gold. It was really exciting until I realized that the pans were pre-loaded—when Ken and I scooped our own dirt from the river, there was nothing, and I was sad because I had visions of finding a huge nugget and waving it in Tyler’s face (yes, his entire family was still goldpanning when we arrived. Tyler had, at that point, fallen in the river and was wandering around soaking wet as the woman continued to scream his name). But we came away with a small vial of our gold flakes as a souvenir.

Then we went to the salmon bake. The food was great, and there was live entertainment in the form of a woman playing guitar and singing famous songs that she had ‘modified’ for the tourists. Our favourite was her rendition of “Proud Mary” which included the lines ‘Salmon keep on churning, cruise ships keep on burning,’ and if that wasn’t f*cking ominous and perhaps a little telling about her attitude towards tourists, I don’t know what was.

Rating :          
8 out of 10 for the Gold Panning because for most of it I was super optimistic that I would end up rich.
7 out of 10 for the Salmon Bake because the food was great but I’m pretty sure that the singer was throwing some very passive-aggressive shade at us.
10 out of 10 for Tyler because of his ability to not give a single f*ck.

3) Ketchikan

It was pouring rain when we arrived in Ketchikan, and it didn’t stop all day. We were soaked by the time we got on the tour bus, whose driver was called Helen. She was oblivious to the fact that we were cold and wet, and that the windows of the bus were so fogged up by our dampness that no one could see out of them. This kind of ruined her tour “patter” which consisted mostly of her saying stuff like “If you look out the window to the right, you can see a bald eagle” or “If you look out the window to the left, you can see a totem pole”. We were all too busy trying to wipe the windows off and shivering to see much of anything. The best part of the tour was when she took us to a totem-carving centre where they had these bizarre stuffed squirrels dressed like explorers, cowboys, and other things.

Price Tag: $265

Also, at the end of the tour, we stopped by a river to see bears fishing for salmon. Now, normally I’m terrified of at the mere thought of bears, but there were several elderly people in our tour, 2 of them with walkers, and I knew I could outrun at least half of them, and probably Ken too if I had to, so I was like “Bears? Cool. Whatevs.”

6 out of 10 for the cold, foggy bus.
10 out of 10 for the creative taxidermy.
8 out of 10 for me for overcoming my fear of bears. I’m deducting 2 points because my attitude was a little mercenary.

Overall, Alaska was beautiful, despite the frigid August weather, and the cruise ship was the nicest one I’ve been on so far. Next week, I’ll finish up with a quick tale about our return to Vancouver and the Tour of Death, and then we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled lunacy. Cool? Whatevs.

Howdy, pardner.

41 thoughts on “My Week 208: Alaska Is Cold, Stuffed Squirrels

  1. Seems like maybe you should make Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess) aware of the totems. Stuffed squirrels in a boat are right up her alley.

    I guess when it is that cold, people don’t put a lot of through into names. Sounds like everyone you met was Mary or Bill or Smith. I have trouble with my name when it is too hot. Cold I can handle, I think, although I’ve never been anywhere where people can see Russia from their house.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. My husband and I may or may not have happily eaten a full champagne breakfast on our balcony in our pajamas in Glacier Bay on our Alaskan cruise because we’re the kind of Canadians that give all other Canadians a reputation for having a bit of a screw loose.

    Sorry to hear about your weaponized bacon experience. If I ever become allergic to shellfish then that’s it for me. “She died the way she lived…” they’ll say, “…stuffing her face with shrimp.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. For some reason, I can’t get the like button to work, but that is ok because I don’t ever just like your posts…..I fucking love them. You make my day better, Suzanne! I know there is an absolute promise of out loud laughter every time I read your blog! P.S. – those squirrels are seriously freaky!!!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I am so envious! I love the cold (the term “frigid August weather” is like music to my Southern California ears), and I’ve always wanted to see that part of North America! Thanks for giving us the mydangblog-style travel guide! Can’t wait to hear about Vancouver, one of my favorite cities…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. YES!!! TRAINWINE!!! ✊✊✊

    This does the heart of The Ram good (although, you did just blow your secret identity cover; we’ll have to use the mass-hypno ray again; when will you learn!). Your adventures were sublime. I see you had to overcome your arch-nemesis, Shellfish, again. Seriously, that villain follows you everywhere. I was going to warn you about Proud Mary, she’s the devil. But I knew you were in good hands with Ken the Protector in tow.

    [By the way, I just looked up the meaning of the name “Ken” and it isn’t “guardian protector” like I hoped. It is “clear water” or, in England, “royal obligation,” which actually makes more sense. If he’s Asian (and how would I know otherwise?), it means “strong, physically healthy” in Japanese. I think, either way, you’re in good hands ;)]

    Now that you’re back I have a mission for you: Secure that boat! Can you think of a better name for our superhero clubhouse (er … headquarters!) than “The Celebrity Infinity”?

    “Quick, TrainWine, back to the Celebrity Infinity!”

    And bring the hammer; there are squirrels about.

    P.S. Every superhero headquarters needs a butler. We’ll call ours “Bill.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • I absolutely adore the way you’ve been able to fit every major point of reference into this excellent comment about our superhero posse! Although if you’ll recall, my monkey butler was named Ralph Van Wooster–I mean, if we’re members of the Infinity universe, then we can totally have a monkey butler. But Kenneth is from a Scottish family and his name comes from Cainnech, which means “handsome”, and I can’t argue with that one!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Those squirrels crack me up (though I’m not a fan of taxidermy. But glad you regard ‘stuffed’ as taxidermy and not soft-toy filling… being a Brit, sometimes that difference leaves me gasping!)

    I’ve also go a bad shellfish allergy, so when I ate at a vegetarian restaurant I really didn’t expect to be eating crayfish (as my companion informed me had been part of the sauce, after the event. Too late.) Recently, though, I asked about whether there was any cake without chocolate in a cafe. The girl behind the counter said “are you allergic to chocolate?” to which I replied “yes” and after telling me which cakes were choc-free, to my astonishment she said she’d wash the serving knife (spoon? Spatula?) in case it had remnants of chocolate from something else. That’s never happened before!

    Salmon keeps on churning…. reminds me of the misheard lyrics of ‘sweet dreams are made of cheese, who am I to diss a brie?’ Definitely does sound passive aggressive, though, what the singer was churning out.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s