Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gotta Have a Plan...or It's Cold in Alaska!

This guy is talking about Russians, but he could just as easily be talking about my friend, Robert.


Robert is married to my very good friend, Linda. They are taking me to Alaska with them in just under two weeks. We had a meeting tonight because everybody needs to know the plan. And everybody who knows Robert knows there is a plan.

He made copies for the meeting of course. First, he passed out the itinerary. It’s online, but there’s no guarantee that everyone would log on and look at it. And we have to know the plan.

Then, Robert explained that he had printed out the 10 day forecast for each stop on the itinerary from He read the highs and lows for each port of call. Now, we won’t be visiting any of these places in the next ten days, but it’s incumbent that we understand it is cold in Alaska. However, with a little foresight we can all have a comfortable vacation.

Robert followed up the weather report with another handout, “Packing for Paradise.” Dressing in layers is the key. His daughter, Sydney, produced two articles of clothing.

“Exhibit A.” She held up a fitted cold gear shirt and did her best Vanna White.

“Exhibit B.” Another Vanna moment with a waterproof rain jacket.

Robert stepped back a moment and let the girls examine the evidence and discuss their own wardrobe items. After an appropriate amount of discussion time, he stepped back in and explained that it wasn’t only the type of clothing that was important, but the amount of clothing. It would be best if we packed in duffel bags instead of hard shell suitcases because we could store them easier in our cabins.

There was a moment of silence, and then five teenage girls and three grown women howled with laughter, and Robert promptly lost control of the meeting. He suggested that the blow dryers provided in the ship’s cabins would be sufficient to service all our hair drying needs. Eye rolls all around, and the girls pow-wowed to determine who had the best blow dryer. They were at least willing to limit themselves to one good blow dryer per cabin. Then, he suggested ONE pair of shoes was really all we needed.

I asked, “Are you hiking on a glacier in the same shoes you’re wearing to dinner at the fancy restaurant?”

“Yes I am.”

Linda noted my bemused expression and piped up, “Back off Missy! I saw him first!”

Robert’s older daughter Hannah just shook her head and mouthed the word, “No” over and over.  Mind you, this is the same daughter who took three suitcases on their last cruise and wanted to pack a heater to keep her feet warm at night. Apparently, it’s cold in Alaska.

Sydney returned to the room with an unscheduled “Exhibit C,” a very large hard shelled suitcase. “This is what I’m taking!”

For one uncharacteristic moment, Linda got on board with the plan and suggested everyone bring a carry-on with our toothbrushes and a change of underwear. You know, just in case.

Hannah’s friend, Kaitlyn looked confused. “Is the flight going to be so scary that we’ll need a change of underwear?”

Robert tried to get back on track by switching gears and talking about the excursions we’ve chosen at the ports of call. All of the girls are canoeing next to a glacier on one of the stops. Robert wanted to talk about appropriate footwear some more, but Linda began making like Hiawatha and chanting.

“By the shores of Gitche Gumee…”

Suddenly, Sydney gasped, “Hey, it’s only going to be dark for like an hour!”

Robert shook his head.

I asked, “We won’t be in the Arctic Circle will we?”

“No! We’ll be a long way from the Arctic Circle.”

Kaitlyn, “Will we see the Northern lights?”

Linda, “Will we see a reindeer?”

Sydney, “Will we see a whale?”

Hannah, “Will we see Russia?”

Me, “Will we have wifi?”

I’ve given Robert a way to get back to the plan. Thank God for me.

“The wifi on the ship is sketchy and very expensive.”

Now this is an issue that calls for a plan. I began mentally working it out. I’ll have to write my blog posts offline, and then find some place to upload them when we disembark. Hannah informed me that Alaska is lousy with Starbucks, or at least it seems like it should be. She’s never actually been there. Robert ended the wifi discussion by putting the fear of GOD into all of us regarding cell phone usage.

We will be stopping in Canada, and what it will cost us to use our phones in the land of maple leaves and hockey is anybody’s guess, but just in case we were inclined to poo poo his warning, he told a cautionary tale. There was once this guy waiting to get back on his cruise ship, and he used his phone to watch a ball game. When the phone bill came, it was $4,000!!!

The moral of the story? Don’t watch football in Canada. Or throw our phones overboard. That way we won’t be tempted to use them, and it will be cheaper to simply buy new ones when we get home than to fall into the watching-football-in-Canada money pit.

One of the girls suggested walkie talkies. I suggested code names. Robert could be Red Leader and we could be Red 1, 2, 3, and so on.

Linda held an imaginary walkie talkie to her mouth. “Red One this is Red Leader. Stay on target.”

Then Hannah suggested we all get matching shirts “like those dorky families you see sometimes.” Kaitlyn was good with that as long as they aren’t yellow. Yellow is a bad color for her.

Robert seemed to realize his window of opportunity for communicating the plan was closing. He established the rendezvous place and time, and once again admonished us to pack light.

And pack warm.

It’s cold in Alaska.

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