Alaskan Adventures (How To Get Stuck on a Zipline)
In lieu of a chapter posting today (hurricane clean up is still monopolizing my time) I figured I'd share my thoughts on my recent vacation.
A little background... later this month my husband and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We've been together 36. In those 36 years we've taken exactly one vacation that has been a full week where we have gone somewhere by ourselves and not involved visiting family. That was our honeymoon. A week in Disney World when Disney was actually fun.
Since then we've managed a few long weekend trips and a four night jaunt to Jamaica when I was working in travel and was able to get the hotel stay for free. Most of our married life was centered around raising our two boys and living paycheck to paycheck. Vacations other than going to see family were few and far between.
Last fall we were discussing our anniversary and decided to bite the bullet and go somewhere fun. Alaska won. Having worked in travel for over 20 years I knew mid-September rates would be good. I found an amazing deal with Royal Caribbean, called my ex-work partner in crime (I seriously miss working with her) and booked our cabin.
We could have saved several hundred dollars with an inside cabin, but I wasn't playing around with this trip. Aft-facing balcony it was and I have no regrets whatsoever.
After anticipating the trip for close to a year, departure date was finally upon us. Here's where the fun started. After looking at our flight info I realized we were leaving from Tampa and not Sarasota like I thought (in my defense, I didn't book the flights, my agent did and the last 4 or 5 times we've flown it's been out of SRQ). So potential crisis averted. At the airport checking in they verify the ArriveCan information which I completed for me and my husband. Of course something was messed up with his and we couldn't retrieve the bar code. Had to create a whole new profile and redo everything for his. Annoying, but not a big deal. The rest of the flight was good. We had a connection in Seattle and for a couple of hours @Mrsgnomie and I were about 5 hours apart distance wise. Being in the same time zone was a first.
We finally got to Vancouver and our Airbnb. It was a cute place, a little studio apartment in the Little Italy section of town. We had dinner at a pizza place on corner and I had the best calzone I've ever had. After dinner we had to go get our required Covid test (negative) needed to board the ship.
We had a full day in Vancouver so we decided to do a city sightseeing tour with a side trip out to the Capilano suspension bridge. It was a good way to spend the afternoon.
Sunday morning we had brunch at a place called Fets Whisky Kitchen. Over 1400 bottles lined an entire wall, floor to ceiling of the two stories. 😁
Off to the ship. Check in and boarding went smoothly and before we knew it we were in our cabin and on our way.
Ports of Call/Shore Excursions:
Sitka- We were scheduled to do a Zodiac ride and crab feast at a little island. The ocean did not cooperate so instead of a Zodiac, we had a sightseeing boat with an enclosed area and open upper deck. This ended up being better as it was rather choppy. After a really good lunch, crab legs, salmon and prime rib, it was out to the open water where we saw a few otters (soooo cute!) and a few humpback whales. It was a nice group of people and we had fun.
Juneau-OMFG.... we did the helicopter ride up to the Hubbard glacier. Abso-fucking-lutely amazing! There were four of us and the pilot. Due to weight distribution requirements my chunky ass got the front seat next to the pilot. Poor hubs got stuck in the middle seat behind us. I can not even begin to describe how jaw-dropping beautiful it was. When we flew up over the ridge and the entire ice field was stretched out before us as far as the eye could see was honestly one of the most awe-inspiring sights I've ever seen. After landing we had two guides for our group who outfitted us with crampons for our clunky boots and were told to lift our feet up when we walked, we all clomped over the ice like we were Godzilla hell bent on destroying Tokyo. I've got some awesome pictures. We dumped out our generic Walmart water from the bottles and filled them up with glacier water. All too soon it was over. This was my favorite excursion.
Ketchikan- this is where I questioned my sanity. At the time we were booking excursions my eyes landed upon Rainforest Canopy and Zipline Adventure. Sounds like fun, right? It was most certainly fun and at the same time the most terrifying thing I've ever done. After being trussed up in a thigh and waist squeezing harness(I still have a massive bruise) we were given very thorough instructions on how to zip, how to brake and what to do if you get stuck (which came in handy). There were 8 ziplines and 3 suspension bridges we had to navigate. After the initial adrenaline rush of the first zip I realized this was really fun. Off we go.... So we get to the longest line. 750 feet, about 100 feet up in the air. I get clipped in and off I go. Flying thru the air I approach the end and the guide gives me the signal to brake. Which I do. A little too much. He says "grab my hand!" I reach out and..... glove gets caught and I miss. I then slide backward about 200 feet. Now I'm dangling 100 feet in the air not daring to breathe. Did I mention this was a rainforest? Yes, it was raining. And windy. After the initial panic subsides and I can process, I remember that I need to turn my fat ass (I've moved past chunky at this point) around and start pulling myself along the cable toward safety. Our guide hollers that he's on his way. After pulling myself for what feels like 100 feet ( it was actually more like 20) my rescuer arrives. He tells me to turn myself around again. By this time my arms are burning because I am terrified to let go and have a death grip on the cable. Once I finally manage to do that he then hauls us both back by clipping me to him and having him wrap his legs around me. We are now crotch to crotch. If I wasn't so terrified I would have enjoyed it a lot more. He hauls us back until the cable starts to slope upward. Then he sets up a pulley system and hauls me in the rest of the way. All I can say is that when I finally had both feet on the platform I wrapped my arms around the tree and didn't let go until I had to.
We get through the suspension bridges no problem as well as the rest of the ziplines. On our last platform before the final line someone says "hey look!" Right below us walking across the meadow under the cable was a black bear moseying along. So we all zip across to the very last platform. Once I get there, I'm looking all around for the ladder or stairs to get down...... nope. Nada. "Where’s the stairs or ladder?" Our guide outright laughs at me. "You're rapelling down."
"Excuse me? You want me to step off a perfectly good, solid platform out into thin air and drop 30 feet?"
"Yes." He said with a shit-eating grin. I will take getting stuck on a cable 100 feet in the air over stepping off that platform any day of the week. I was beyond terrified. I was shaking like a leaf, scared I was going to die. But I did it. All things considered, we had a blast even though it was scary as all hell. I can cross it off the bucket list. Along with bungee jumping and sky diving. Not going there. Ever.
The rest of the cruise was awesome. We spent nearly 2 hours at the Mendenhall glacier. The balcony earned its additional cost and made it totally worth it.
Way too soon we were pulling into port in Vancouver. Disembarking went smooth. We had transfers to the airport via motorcoach. This is where it went to shit. They unloaded all the luggage at the terminal and by the time we got out there someone had taken off with one of our carry on bags. Thankfully it wasn't the one with our medications. But it did have all the souvenirs we bought. I was pissed. We tried to hunt them down but had no luck. The flights home sucked but only because we both had head colds by this point on Delta changed our single connection to a double connection. YVR-LAX-SLC-TPA. I don't sleep on planes so I was up all night. Our flight got in around 6am Monday. We got home a little before 8. I managed a couple hours of sleep, got unpacked, laundry done, some grocery shopping done and dropped off around midnight.
Was back to work Tuesday and it's been non-stop dealing with hurricane shit ever since.
So if you ever get the chance to go to Alaska- GO! It was an amazing, awesome, incredible trip.
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