Ringing in a new year in what might be considered the most classic, but for me the least characteristic way—on a crowded dance floor gyrating with a throng of strangers in party hats and noise makers to a band playing the ancient music covered by high school bands in the late 60’s (no complaints about the music. It was very delightful). Before the parties heated up, Cheshire and I walked around an upper deck in the cool night air. A few stars were out, we could watch the quiet dark sea and the wake made by our boat. It was my favorite part of the evening, perhaps of the cruise. Minutes before midnight, we joined the throng dancing. Twenty seconds before midnight we began counting down as if this was a novel experience. At midnight, music played, people cheered, hugged and kissed, balloons, streamers and confetti fell from 10 floors above. In a minute, we we stood knee deep in balloons and streamers. It was almost strangely satisfying. It was as I had always imagined. Continue reading
We embarked on Thursday. Our hotel was less than 1.5 miles from the dock and so we arrived by foot, each of us with back pack and pulling our carry on bag. Once again, Autism on the Seas met us at the first check in point and moved us through lines and crowds. There is something wonderfully familiar and comfortable about this cruise. The ship is not configured in the same way but most of the same elements are there, the mental maps are so much easier. Julia and I were at ease much sooner and we were able to clue Cheshire in.
It is great having Cheshire with us. A second person to interact with and boss Julia around, a lovely companion for me to enjoy. Last cruise, julia and I had a wheel chair accessible cabin. We booked late and some of those rooms had been released. Our cabin this time is standard and a lot narrower. We have a window and not a balcony. I miss the ability to be outside immediately and the balcony provides a few extra feet but we manage the tight space well. I do find myself constantly straightening and putting away out stuff. Clutter happens fast.
A reminder pops up on my laptop from Calendar: Christmas Eve. Obviously, Apple’s Calendar is not able to look around this house. Yet. Something to be grateful for in a small way.
Facebook reminds me of all those past Christmas Eve postings—parts of cards, pictures in NYC with Cheshire and Julia, silly pictures of Cheshire’s friends here to support her through rough times, pictures of Julia in full Hogwarts regalia in Florida at the Wizarding World during our Christmas with the Mahoney’s (without our favorite Mahoney’s), trees and stockings and kind Santas who listened to Julia’s sometimes incoherent rambling wish lists. One post from December 24, 2010, offers the beginning of what has been seven years of strained celebrations:
Julia and I are bedded down in Brooklyn. We are remaking Christmas. In a few years it will be ours again. Peace and love to my facebook comrades. Hug your partners and parents and friends and kids while they are close.
Six hours at the Dane County Airport waiting for weather to clear in Newark, New Jersey, to take for a short, direct flight is enough to make anyone a bit of a philosopher. That or go nuts. Because I bought this summer’s tickets with credit card points and used the voucher we got in January, I sprung for flying out of our little, low key facility. Lines are short, seats plentiful but there are fewer food choices and what there is comes with NYC prices.
Julia did all her home work and her puzzle exercises and some extra of each. She worked on coloring a new dragon picture in her art app. If her cello had been here, we would have gotten in a good practice. Now, she is listening to music on her phone and watching videos of kids dancing and singing. She has not even cracked the sketch book or dot to dot book. The kid has learned to wait. She is developing patience. Continue reading
Arriving in Victoria, Canada. Crispy but not as cold as Alaska. We spent our time ashore at the Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, located near Victoria on Vancouver Island. I had heard about the Gardens long ago and I am so pleased we got to see it on a sunny day. It was crowded which only tickled me more. What could be nicer than enjoying a garden with many, many others intent on taking in such a glorious site. Continue reading
25 July 2017. Our next port of call was Skagway, a small town of under a thousand people, a population that doubles in the summer to work the tourist trade. Big cruise ships like ours are the usually visitors. And so, three to five thousand people stop by for the day. We docked with another big ship and we all flooded off our floating fortresses to walk the boardwalk streets and find adventure.
The center of town is only a few blocks long and fewer wide. It is well painted and well kept. One peculiarity of our two Alaskan ports was the number of jewelry shops featuring diamonds that each town held. Do people really buy expensive jewelry on vacation? Continue reading
Early on the morning of the 25th, our very huge ship crept into Glacier Bay and stopped. There was an eerie silence which replaced the constant hum of the motor that I had stopped be conscious of hearing. We could hear the water lapping against the ship but it was a small and quiet sound. Julia and I had not woken up to see the approach to Glacier Bay, but right after we stopped, we dressed hurriedly and stood out on our balcony. Had we not had a balcony, it would have been truly fine to share the sight with others on an open deck, but we didn’t need to share at all. It was like being alone with magnificence. We stood, watching, taking pictures in awe and wonder.
Then the motors started again and the boat began to turn in more than one complete circle before we left the bay. Continue reading
We landed in Juneau at noon and started out first land excursion an hour later. I bought a non-cruise line tour from viator.com and our experience was very good. The drivers of the buses and boat were knowledgable about their city and what they hoped to show us. We had a short tour of the city which was followed by a visit to the Mendenhall Glacier where we explored by ourselves. Favorite facts about the city include that there are no roads connecting the city to the rest of Alaska or to the rest of North America. Residents and visitor get to the city by water or air. Also, The settlement was founded by Joe Juneau and Richard Harris, and was originally called Harrisburg after a vote by the miners. According to one of our guides, Juneau was not happy with the result. He waited until Harris was out of town, treated the miners at the local pub, called for another vote and registered the result in DC. If the story is not true, it is still a good one and a good reminder the politics have not really gotten any better or worse. Continue reading
29 July 2017: We did not have an internet connection that allowed for posting to Chasing Joy during the cruise. So, over the next few days I’ll be posting pictures from our travels. I groused about the lack of internet and was quite grumpy about it. The IT guy was generally unhelpful, promising something better each day which he failed to deliver. Had internet been free, I would have had little reason to complain but internet packages are pricy and I had sprung for both internet and streaming. Needless to say, we never streamed anything. Finally, on day five, I cancelled the service.
23 July 2017: After a day cruising up to Juneau via the Inside Passage.
This morning I ordered room service for breakfast, wanting to avoid another pass at breakfast buffet madness. Fruit plate, an orange, blueberry muffins, bagel with cream cheese. Coffee for me and a glass of lactose free milk for Julia. Julia asked if she could really eat in bed. I pulled up a comfy chair to sit in front of our balcony. It is cold on the balcony and although we have blankets, I cannot get julia to enjoy the cold balcony. Continue reading
Embarkation: Yes! Sleep was better. Overtired and late night food—Julia’s choice of chicken strips and fries which were, I admit, superior but not conducive to sleep—and Wisconsin morning time were our challenges yesterday. Today, my eyes are open and julia is bushy tailed.
We are ready early. Kinda’ a theme of this traveling which is not without benefit. We are up, showered, breakfasted and re-packed and still have almost an hour til the shuttle to the ship. Julia’s smallish anxieties about the ‘boat’ have eased. We’ve talked a lot about the size of the ship. Continue reading