What an absolutely incredible vacation! I’ve just returned from a twelve day vacation and as the song says, “I had the time of my life!”
Those of you who know me, know that while my hubby and I do travel each summer, we usually do it by car. This year, to celebrate my 65th birthday coming in August, we decided to take an item off our bucket list. We elected to take an Alaskan Cruise. Since we’d never done anything quite like that, we opted to use a travel service and booked through Jolly Tours, Cornwall, and everything went smoothly–well, Air Canada lost my bag on the flight home. It seems the suitcase decided it wanted another day’s holiday, so didn’t get on the flight, but it showed up at the house yesterday afternoon, safe and sound. I have to admit, I was pretty impressed with that!
Day 1 was long! I don’t see how it could have been any different. The flight time to Vancouver is roughly five hours, and there is a three hour time difference. Too excited to sleep the night before the vacation began, I laid down around ten, but while I tried to sleep, I really didn’t. I had a couple of cat naps, and then got up at two a.m. That’s right. Two in the morning to shower, dress, pack the last items in the suitcase that weighed just over 50 pounds, and get to the Eastcourt Mall to catch the bus to Ottawa by 3:30 a.m. The bus left at 4:00.
Once there, we met the other members of the tour, and discovered we knew a few of the people on the bus. The ride to Ottawa took roughly an hour, but was uneventful. It was neat to see the sky brighten, and by the time we reached the airport it was shortly after 5:00 since you’re expected to check in for your flight 2 hours before flight time.
There have been many changes made to Ottawa International Airport since the last time we were there, but check in went well. I was worried about the overweight bag, but other than putting an orange tag on it, the bag was fine. Luggage was going straight through to Anchorage, so we didn’t have to worry about it when we changed plane in Vancouver.
Going through airport security wasn’t as harrying as I thought it would be, and once we were in the pre-boarding area, we had some juice. My stomach was still a little jittery with nerves. We boarded the plane at 6:30 a.m. and as much as I hate take off and landings, this one was smooth.
I had expected to read on the plane, but I had a window seat and the day was clear. I spent most of my flight looking out the window at the incredible mosaic below. Canada is crisscrossed by lakes, rivers, roads, rails, and a patchwork quilt of fields in as many varieties of green, yellow, and brown as you can possibly imagine. Using the map on the screen, I situated the objects below me. Flying out, I saw Lake Huron and Lake Superior, Lake Winnipeg, the canyons in Alberta, the city of Calgary and of course the majestic Rockies.
When we landed in Vancouver and left the plane, it was just after 10:00 a.m. Vancouver time. I thought Ottawa was a big airport. Goes to show what I know! John and I found a place to eat and had breakfast, and then made our way to US flights for security clearance and customs. It was interesting to have to identify our luggage on a television screen, but very rewarding to know it was boarding the plane with us (something I appreciated when we got home minus one bag). As has always been our experience, the US custom’s officer was a peach. I finally have a US stamp in my passport since they don’t stamp it with land crossings.
Once inside, we found a place to have a wee drink and admire some hockey memorabilia. It was amazing that you could even get a beer before eleven in the morning, but for us and our bodies, it was mid afternoon. Two pints later, feeling like a seasoned traveler, we were ready for the next leg of our journey aboard an Air Canada Rouge flight to Anchorage, Alaska. This flight, just short of three hours, took us along the coast. Unlike in the first plane, there was no screen since on board this flight, you used your own equipment and WIFI to access their movies, etc. John watched Major League, one of his favorites, on my Kindle, so I spent time enjoying the view once more. The mountains were incredible and my phone’s camera captured them. You’ll have to enlarge and zoom in to see though.
Like the previous plane, the take off and landing went smoothly, but we lost another hour. So, while we left Vancouver at 1:30 and flew three hours, we arrived in Alaska at 3:30 and were in our hotel room by 4:00. (Camera date and time are wrong. Still on DST eastern.)
The Anchorage airport gave me my first view of the city and its surrounding mountains.When we arrived, it was clouded over, but within the hour, the sky cleared. I got my first glimpse of the rich flora found in the city in the summer. I was amazed to realize the population of Anchorage was over 300,000.
The hotel sent shuttle buses for us and, since the tour director had previously checked us all in, within minutes we were ensconced n our luxurious room. For anyone keeping track, it’s now been eighteen hours since we got up. Starting to feel a little tired!
The room and the bed looked mighty good! The hotel was located on a small lake on the outskirt of Anchorage, but this lake was different from any lake I’d ever seen. It was an airport for sea planes commonly referred to as float planes.
We walked around and I saw my first Alaskan bird–well, I understand they live elsewhere along the coast. The magpie is related to the blue jay, but I’d never seen one anywhere but in a Windex commercial. lol
We decided to have something to eat again since it was after six Alaskan time, ten for our bodies, and ate outside on the patio watching the float planes land. The salmon, shrimp and crab chowder we had was delicious and very filling. By now, although the sun was still high we’d run out of steam. It was after 8 and we’d been up close to 22 hours taking the time difference into account.
I couldn’t keep my eyes open! I closed the lovely blackout drapes and fell asleep. I woke up just after midnight and looked outside–it was still light out!
Falling back in bed, I slept until six. We got up, showered and got ready for day 2 of our exciting holiday. Tune in tomorrow for our tour of Anchorage and the Alaskan peninsula as we head to Seward and the ship.