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Heartwarming Small-Town Romances and Thrilling Mysteries

I fulfilled a bucket list item and went on an Alaskan cruise with friends. It was a great time, and the memories will stay with me for a long time, not just because I took a lot of photos or the easy access to good food. It’s mostly because of the scenery and experiences.

The ship, Ovation of the Seas (Royal Caribbean), was much bigger than I imagined. I’ve never understood how those top-heavy ships could stay upright, but it does and that’s all that mattered to me. I was never seasick and only a time or two felt the ship move from side to side. Most of the time, it was like being in a big building surrounding by a giant moat.

As we left Seattle, we pulled out, then began to circle back. We went back to the dock where we heard later, a medical emergency was offloaded to an ambulance and taken to the hospital. Several days later, we found out we’d taken a side trip to near Ketchikan during the night to drop off another medical emergency patient. On our last day, we heard the call over the loudspeaker for another medical emergency. The ship’s doctor must have been very busy during the cruise.

I loved sitting on the balcony, looking out across the ocean, and imagining what was out there. Later, meeting up with friends from the other side of the boat who had seen lots of whales, we discovered we were on the wrong side of the boat to see them from our balcony. Our room faced Japan instead of the coast. I guess the whales preferred to stay within sight of land where all the food fish must be. But no worries, we saw whales spouting when we were up on deck and later in the week. We never saw any breach or any black fins sticking up, but we did see a puffin floating along one day. It’s amazing to see that colorful beak against the blue water.

After sailing for two days, we spent a day on top of a mountain in Juneau. A tramway takes you up so you can see for miles up and down the coast. The heights didn’t scare me because the scenery was so pretty. I could easily focus on it instead of how far off the ground I was. At the top was a restaurant, gift shops, and a Tlingit Tribe cultural center. Hiking trails out the back led through the lush forest. I couldn’t tell you what trees or plants were there other than spruce, pine, and pretty flowers. We walked on the damp trails for a little way and found a tree trunk that was carved with a figure. The fresh air and quiet was reviving after the noise of the cruise ship.

We went to Skagway another day. Because of the recent rockslides next to the dock, the ship anchored out a way, and we were taken by the ship’s lifeboats to the dock so we could visit town. It was a half mile walk into town although there were buses that would take people. Skagway is very small, about a thousand summer residents and five hundred winter ones. It’s a tourist trap town, but they have a National Park Service history center where we watched a movie on the region’s history. They said Jack London spent time there working on Call of the Wild. There’s even a fabulous quilt store there where I could have spent a fortune but left with only two small pieces of fabric. A lot of gold rush history is packed into those steep valleys on the way to the Dawson River site.

My favorite part of the trip was a cruise down the Endicott Arm to see the Dawes glaciers. It’s a deep narrow fjord where the green water is smooth enough to reflect the mountains that drop into it. Glaciers on the peaks, icebergs in the water, and cold air kept us bundled up while we sat outside. The views were magnificent. We sailed until we could see the Dawes glaciers in the distance. The ship slowly turned a little one way, then reversed and turned completely around the other way so that we went in a complete circle. Up ahead there was so much ice in the water, I’m sure we had to stay back farther than they used to go. No time for Titanic scenarios. It was breathtaking to see, and I’m thankful to have seen this majestic part of God’s Creation.

We spend a day in Victoria, British Columbia, my first trip to Canada. We toured a rich man’s castle, but I lost interest after I read he paid his mine workers twenty cents an hour. When they went on strike for a dollar an hour, he told them if they’d save their wages, someday they could live like him. It’s the equivalent of “let the eat cake” and you know how that ended. He died before his mansion was completed so he never lived there. I felt no sympathy for him. What caught my eye in Victoria was the architecture and the flowers and gardens that were everywhere. Their temperatures are moderate, so they can grow things year-round. It’s almost Eden-like and apparently lots of people think so. Their housing and cost-of-living is so high mostly the rich can afford to live there. It’s a charming city if you want to visit.

Onboard, the food was excellent, and we were spoiled by all the attention. Our trashcans were emptied and our beds tidied every time we left the room. The shows we went to were great, and the party atmosphere was always hopping. Being the more quiet type, I enjoyed the serenity of our balcony off our stateroom the best. The top deck by the walking track was great too. No services were up there so it was not occupied as much as the other decks that had food and drink. But the best part of this cruise ship: all you can eat soft-serve ice cream. YUM!

After seven days, we returned to Seattle. Anxious to get home, I left the boat without a final breakfast, plus I wasn’t feeling very well and immediately masked up. By the time I got home, I knew I’d picked up covid somewhere along the way. I’m very thankful it waited until I was getting off before it attacked me. A final souvenir for a lovely trip. Covid is gone, but the memories will last forever.

And though I have the gift of all prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. I Corinthians 13:2

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