Friday, August 23, 2013

adventure of alaskan proportions: juneau

Lu and I spent most of our Saturday afternoon and evening getting acquainted with the ship and our stateroom. We drank milkshakes, got in a workout at the gym, and ate dinner. We even tried to socialize that night, but it seemed that the cruise was lacking people in our age demographic. Either that, or people were just exhausted and getting settled in before spending seven days at sea. We had an interior room (read: no window), so I was pretty disoriented when I woke up in what I thought was the middle of the night. Looked at the time on my iPad and, oh crap! 9:30am? How did that happen? I got dressed, grabbed a snack, and headed out for my almost two hour run. Nothing like a Sunday morning long run to start the day, even if you are on a cruise ship the size of a city sailing towards Juneau.

You're probably wondering if it's even possible to run for that long while on a cruise ship. Believe me, I had done a lot of thinking and knew that it would be impossible to get that done on the treadmill. I can barely make it through an interval workout on the dreadmill without wanting to die, so I knew that it wouldn't be an option. That left me with the choice of doing laps on the deck. My steward had told me that five laps around the deck were equal to a mile, and let me tell you that filled me with massive amounts of dread and anxiety. However, I was really happy to realize that he was wrong. I didn't have a GPS signal, but looking at the time it took me for each lap, I figured out that a mile was probably closer to 3.5 laps. There was a portion that required going up stairs that I skipped, because I didn't think it would make sense to be running up and down a flight of stairs that many times. If I had, it probably would have been 3 laps to a mile. Because I was skipping that last portion I would hit the end, tap the wall and turn back around - essentially running a U-shape. The temperature was interesting. Since we were at sea (and moving pretty quickly!), it was cold, shady and windy on one side and really warm on the other. If I got too hot or too cold, I would remind myself that in a few short minutes it wold switch again. 

While running on the deck I saw a lot of people, and a lot of people saw me. I saw a few other runners on the deck, but they didn't run for more than 30 minutes or so. The first few times I passed the same people they would smile and nod at me. Once they realized that I was STILL the same, crazy woman that they'd seen an hour ago they began to chat with me as I would run by. Luckily the water was smooth, so I didn't really feel the motion of the boat, and I didn't experience any seasickness. When I finally finished my run I had made 36 laps on the deck. Thirty. Six. It took me about half an hour to get back to my stateroom, since I was stopped to chat by many curious passengers. I even struck up a conversation with a gentleman who lived in Western, Massachusetts. He asked to take my picture, and said "When you get to be my age, and your memories have faded, all you'll have are pictures, and I wanted to remember this wonderful woman who ran 11 miles on the deck of a cruise ship."

It sounds crazy to say, but it was absolutely one of the best runs I've had in a while. I didn't need any water, had a few energy chews, and didn't have to make any bathroom stops. Pretty much the opposite of.. every other long run I've ever done. And it didn't hurt that it made me a little bit of a celebrity on the ship for the rest of the trip!

On Monday we docked in Juneau. Lu, her dad, his girlfriend, and I had signed up for a whale watching excursion. I mean, you can't go to Alaska and NOT try to see some whales, right? On the ride to the dock we watched the weather turn from cool, rainy and overcast to.. beautiful. We also learned some interesting tidbits about Juneau. Like, the fact that they have one fast food restaurant, a McDonald's, and it had the fourth largest opening in the history of the franchise. Alaskans love their McNuggets, I suppose. Just to show you how persnickety the weather can be.. the picture on the top was when we got off the cruise ship, and the bottom was taken as we made our way on the whale watching boat:



The whale watching was cool, obviously. We saw at least six whales, including a pod of about four. We saw mostly fins and tails, none wanted to jump out of the water Free Willy style for us (though they were actually Humpbacks that we were seeing, and not Orcas). The best part of the boat ride was.. well everything else. The views were absolutely stunning. It took my breath away, it truly did. The photos don't do it justice, any of it. It was, without a doubt, one of those "you had to be there" trips. 


picture stolen from Lu - in the front are some cutie seals fighting for a spot on a buoy. In the back?
Oh, that's just the Mendenhall Glacier. No biggie. 
After we finished whale watching, we were dropped off in town and decided to grab a bite to eat before heading back to the cruise ship. The Red Dog Saloon, according to Wikipedia, has been recognized as the oldest man-made tourist attraction in Juneau. Ragtime Hattie used to play the piano in white gloves while wearing a silver dollar halter top. I could totally get down with that outfit. 


And that brings an end to our short, but eventful visit to Juneau. It was beautiful, but when I look back on the trip, not my favorite port. We'll get to that, I promise!

Next up.. the time I took 300 pictures on a 3 hour train ride and almost threw my camera off of a mountain in the process. 


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