Friday, June 22, 2012

The Alaska Series

I just returned home from a cruise to Alaska and Canada by way of Seattle. People in each of those places remarked on the exceptionally cool summer they are having this year. The temperature broke 70 in Seattle on the day we sailed, but mostly we never even saw 60, and a couple of days in Alaska, we yearned for 50.

Robert was right. It’s freaking COLD in Alaska. I stepped out of the airport terminal yesterday, and basked in the hot, soupy air that is Kentucky in the summer.

The trip was incredible in spite of the cold, gloomy weather. I had never previously been to any of these places, so my journey was filled with many new and wonderful experiences. Throw in 14 eclectic personalities and a dash of Disney, and you’ve got some blog material.

I had so much material I was overwhelmed at first. Writing during the trip was difficult for several reasons, but initially, the biggest obstacle was the lack of a framework. I was bombarded with stories to tell, but they were all a big jumble in my head. After several days and several false starts, I finally got my ideas to file themselves into neat little rows…

Hahahahahahaha! Okay, okay, I’m just messing with you. Anybody who really knows me knows that NOTHING in my life is filed in neat little rows. My stuff is crammed into any space where it will fit. I was the kid who threw everything in the closet and shoved the door closed, so that when I opened it, everything fell out on my head. And that is the metaphor which best describes my whole life.

My one great skill is knowing exactly what I’ve shoved into the closet and being able to retrieve it when necessary. I have a lot of blog material shoved into my mental closet, so like my physical closet, I’ve separated it into cubbies. Each cubby is messy and overflowing, but by golly, I know what’s there…mostly.

All of this closet nonsense is a roundabout way of explaining I do have a framework for my material. I’ve planned 10 blog posts which will be combined with Gotta Have a Plan and Chasing Daylight for a total of 12 posts I’m going to call The Alaska Series. Some of the posts will be episodic and some thematic. This is my tentative list.

  • Running in Circles

    • By the Shores of Gitchee Gumee

    • There be whale here

    • A Different Kind of Rain Forest

    • It’s easier to get into Canada than it is a pub in Victoria

    •  Seattle: How a town where toilets once flushed backwards became one of America's coolest cities

    This list is not set in stone. It is not necessarily in order. As I write, I may combine ideas or separate them into even more posts. The closet giveth. The closet taketh away.

    Also, it may take me the rest of the summer to get the things written. I’m almost finished with Running in Circles and I have copious notes on the rest. I’ll be spending the next week thawing out on the beach with Bruce and the boys, after which I’ll be too poor to do anything except stay at home, eat peanut butter and write.

    Before we begin, let me introduce you to the players. The vacation was the brainchild of Robert. I will poke at Robert throughout this series because it's fun, but I need to preface all that by saying Robert is one of the most generous men I know, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to travel with his family.

    He is married to one of my best good friends, Linda.

    They have three beautiful daughters,


    Mallory is the one not foaming at the mouth.


    and Sydney.

    This is their son, Matthew. He’s a huge fan of all things Disney and loves to travel. He’s also autistic.

    This is Linda H. (I know, I know! Two Lindas. Oy vey! So confusing!) She is a long-time friend of Robert and Linda’s and is also Matthew’s caregiver.

    Mallory has two very excellent fellas in her life, Nick and Aiden.

    Hannah brought her friend, Kaitlyn.

    And Sydney brought TWO friends, Michaela and Taidem.

    Not to be outdone, Linda also brought two friends,

    Victor, who justifies everything by explaining that he’s Presbyterian (a minister even. Go figure.)…

    …and ME!

    Robert managed to get 14 people across the continent on three different flights and to Seattle within 30 minutes of each other. Impressive, no? We set up camp for a week in four tiny staterooms on a floating Hotel California (You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave), and no one got mad, lost his or her temper, or otherwise created drama. That’s nothing short of a miracle, especially given that five members of our party were teenagers.

    The only time I saw anyone really lose their cool was in the Seattle airport when Robert was trying to herd the group and our 28 pieces of luggage (no one heeded the pack-light advice) from baggage claim to the shuttle. Four members of our group who shall remain nameless (but who weren’t Kathy), hit the wrong button on the elevator and ended up at the check-in counters in the terminal. Robert, exhausted after being on the flight that had to fly all the way to Manitoba (or as Linda described it, Winnebago) to avoid a storm, had his unshakeable calm shaken.

    “You are all college educated! Use your critical thinking skills! Why would you want to go to the check-in counters?!”

    The best response was clearly no response because Robert was well and truly pissed, but what went unspoken was that no one WANTED to go to the check-in counters, and going up to get to ground transportation was already counterintuitive, so what was one more floor? This is a SeaTac signage problem from my point-of-view, but my elevator stopped at the right floor, so I kept my mouth shut.

    Of course, for the rest of the trip, I explained my decision making processes to Robert with the addendum that I was college educated and using my critical thinking skills. Heh heh.

    That one small blip notwithstanding, we were a happy group. Don’t we look happy?

    It’s freakin’ Disney! You have no choice but to be happy…but that’s another post.

    So, 14 people, 28 pieces of luggage, 7 days at sea, 4 ports of call, one big boat, and a partridge in a pear tree.

    Up next…Running in Circles.

    1 comment:

    1. I am (with Mallory) VERY much looking forward to reading these.