Saturday, November 23, 2019

Meeting Dan and Kelsey in Columbia

Sarah, and Leo and I drove to Columbia on a Thursday. Leo doesn’t usually get screen time but he is almost 2 so Sarah bought some episodes of Sesame Street, loaded them to an iPad and taped the pad to the mirror in front of his car seat and it kept him entertained for hours. Elmo! Elmo! He is talking more and more, a lot of the time we know what he is saying too.

We stopped at Culver’s for lunch. Leo got a kids meal hamburger with applesauce. He ate the applesauce with a spoon beautifully. Sarah put some ketchup in a cup so he could dip his burger in it. But he took his spoon and started eating the ketchup with it. “Ew!” We both exclaimed and he looked at us curiously as “hey, why not!”

After lunch it was naptime. Sarah had a work call and I was driving so poor Leo has to cry and scream in his car seat until he finally fell asleep. He then slept for a good 2 hours though. Then I got in the back, blew bubbles, offered snacks, told stories, before we gave Street one more shot. It was a long day for a little boy, but he did great.

We got to Columbia around 5:45. Sarah dropped me off at Joanne’s and went off to have dinner with Maice, her high school bestie. 

Mark and Mary came and got me and Joanne for dinner.  We tried to go to Flyover but the wait was too long so we went to Cherry Street Wine Cellar instead. No wait but the service was so slow we might as well have stayed at Flyover. Oh well!

We got back to Joanne’s around 8:30 and I fell in bed shortly after. I was tired! It had been a long day.

Friday I woke up a little after 6. Had a banana and a piece of toast and some coffee, then dilly dallied around before going for a run. 4x.5 miles at 5k pace. My intervals still seem very slow but I’m not going to worry about it, but keep working and do the best I can. At the very end of the run I slipped on black ice right in front of Joanne’s. Darn it! Cut my knee but seems like no major harm done, knock on wood.

Sarah, Dan, Kelsey and Leo came over to get me. We drove to campus, showed Kelsey and Leo the columns, Jesse Hall, Lowry Mall.

 Then we walked over to the CDL, told them Sarah and Daniel were alums and they let us inside. Leo was charmed and we were too. It was different, and still the same. To Daniel and Sarah it seemed small, haha. There was a teacher that remembered Sarah! Sarah had been her child to study when she was a student long ago! We walked out to the playground that I remembered as a magical place. Leo liked the slides even though they weren’t fast at all.

Then we went to Shakespeare’s for lunch. Got our usual, veggie half, pepperoni and pepper jack other half. Leo was starving and ate a lot of pizza. 

I did too, I was hungry! Got some Shakespeare’s cups to take home, and then left them at Joanne’s, sigh. Leo played with dough and watched pizza being made, a rite of passage for little kids at Shakespeare’s. Eventually he started to lose it, time for a nap.

That evening everyone came over to Joanne’s for gumbo. Leo liked all the little stools in the living room and the gumbo too. Lee finally showed up around 6:30. He had been on a business trip in Utah all week and it was nice to finally see my husband again. We told Leo that one of his favorite people was about to show up and Lee got a great big smile when he walked in the door.

Saturday I went for another run, 5 easy miles to the rail trail and back. From Joanne's house this route involves a great big big hill. The hill was very snowy and icy but I was very careful!. I decided at the last minute to buy a ticket to the football game so I could hang out with Dan and Kelsey. Kelsey got Dan football tickets for his birthday so their tickets were row 2 right on the 50 yard line. My seat was behind them, by about 70 rows, but for the first quarter I sat with them, until whoever was sitting next to them decided to quit tailgating and come watch the game.

The game was fun, even though Mizzou lost. They started off the season well and got people’s hopes up and then started losing, but that’s Mizzou, we’re used to it.

Being up so close we could see the golden girls and their dance moves, watch the players on the sidelines. I used to be completely football ignorant but I guess I understand it now because I didn’t have any trouble following the game.

After I was kicked out of my seat I went up and sat in my real seat. You could really see the field and it was a great place to watch marching Mizzou and the halftime show. I got a bbq sandwich for lunch, and I think it made me sick later, although that could have been the Andes hot fudge sundae I had after halftime...

By the end of the third quarter Lee texted that they could pick us up on their way back from Fayette and we were ready to leave.
We headed out to Mark and Mary’s. Elsa and Sam were there and it was fun to talk to them, build toddler tinker toys with Leo, just get a chance to visit with everyone. 

Sam started to read Leo a story but Leo took over, and read a story to Sam instead. It was pretty funny, the facial expressions and dramatic word inflections, just like he was reading.

Mary fed us pulled pork, polenta and a salad, all really great. Leo loved the polenta and ate it beautifully with his spoon. He also licked the butter off his bread, something I have often wanted to do myself!

Sunday morning we went back to Mark and Mary’s for brunch and then it was time to start the long drive back to Minnesota. This time we had 3 drivers and someone was always sitting in the back with Leo.

He watched lots and lots of Sesame Street and Elmo’s world, took a good nap, and enjoyed lunch at Panera’s. He licked the peanut butter and jelly off his bread, ate his yogurt, and flirted with the fussy baby at the next table. We took another break later in the afternoon and let him stretch his legs. As we got back in the car we told him that he could have a snack and watch more Elmo and he said, “Snack, Elmo, Leo happy!” Yes indeed.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Chicago Marathon

We drove to Chicago on the Friday before the marathon, me, Lee and our 3 Westies, asleep in the back seat. They are great little travelers. They look around with interest and then sleep most of the time, waking up for an occasional potty break. It takes around 7 hours to get to Chicago, but with stops for dogs and humans and terrible traffic outside Chicago, it took us closer to 9 hours. 

We stayed at the Kimpton Grey Hotel in downtown, about  a mile from the start and finish of the marathon. Kimptons are always nice, and very dog-friendly, and this one was no exception. We had a nice-sized, quiet room at the end of a hall and after some curious sniffing the dogs settled right down. We had the soft sided crate in case Heather was feeling anxious, and a belly band for Cosmo, because he has a tendency to try to claim any new space as his own. We ended up leaving the crate open so Heather could crawl in there to sleep if she wanted to.  Lee took the dogs on a short walk to Millennium park, and then we headed to dinner at The Dearborn. 

It was windy and pretty brisk outside, and we walked the wrong direction for awhile before we got ourselves properly oriented. The Dearborn was actually only a few blocks from our hotel but we added another mile or so of walking in our confusion. Its a good restaurant. I got the chicken and gnocchi and it was great.

Saturday morning I met some of the members of a Facebook group I belong to called Boston Buddies for a shakeout run. I was of two minds about doing this. I enjoy the people in this group. They are all avid runners and have some sort of connection to the Boston Marathon. But since a lot of them are Boston Qualifiers they tend to be pretty speedy and I, of course, am anything but. I was just afraid that I would not be able to keep up with them at all and that I would feel badly being left behind. But it turned out to be great. We met at one of the fountains in Millennium Park. I got to meet a bunch of people that I had become friends with online but had never met in person. Because this was just a short run to keep our legs loose on the day before the marathon nobody was trying to set any speed records, and in fact I wasn’t really that far behind. I only ran with them for a mile because I had already run about a mile just to just get to the park.

Then I jogged back to hotel, took a shower, and went to brunch with Lee at Cochon Volant, the French restaurant connected to the Hyatt, right next to our hotel. I had some very good scrambled eggs and pancakes.  Their food was amazing! 

Then it was time to go to the Expo. To get there I tried taking a shared Lyft. It was cheaper than a regular Lyft, but it was still fairly expensive and it ended taking a long time, with the driver dropping off two people and picking up another before taking me to the expo.

The Expo was pretty good. It was easy to get my bib and T-shirt. Then as usual I wandered up and down the isles looking for free samples and cool stuff. I ended getting new Oofos recovery sandals, a Chicago marathon fleece hoodie from Nike, and a Goose Island Chicago Marathon commemorative pint glass for Lee. I also took a silly picture in front of the Abbott poster with the 6 major marathons displayed. Now that I’ve run all the US majors I have to decide if I’m interested in running the international ones. One thing at a time!

I took  one of the free shuttles back to downtown Chicago from the marathon. It was probably too much walking but then I laid down and put up my legs for the rest of the afternoon.

We went for my pre-marathon traditional pasta dinner to Volare Brasserie. I had very nice handmade pasta with a delicious meat sauce, and a glass of red wine. Sometimes in the past I have avoided alcohol the night before a marathon but it doesn’t seem to make much difference so tonight I didn’t worry about it.

Sometimes before a marathon I have a terrible time sleeping but I didn’t have any trouble this time. I was up at 4:45, however. The hotel had a special early breakfast buffet laid out for runners. It really looked great but as usual my stomach was tied up in knots and I couldn’t eat very much. I had a bagel with some peanut butter, coffee, and part of a banana. Before long it was time to walk to the starting line at Millennium Park. It was still cold and windy but I was prepared. I have on a pair of throwaway pants and a throwaway sweatshirt from Goodwill, and an old heat blanket from a previous marathon. The line to get through security moved slowly but I had plenty of time. I found the gear check, where I stowed a sweatshirt for after the race. I found the shortest Porta pottie lines and used them multiple times, chewing Pepto Bismol tablets all the while, until my stomach settled down and it was time to get into my corral. 

Chicago has 3 waves, with 4 corrals each, about 45,000 people total, so smaller than New York, but bigger than Boston. I was in the very last one, Wave 3, corral L. Corral L was for people that were looking at a time anywhere from 5:15 to 6:30, so I got right in the front of the corral, because I was going for that 5:15!

I stood around talking to the people around me, trying to stay warm. We are such an interesting mix at the back of pack. Older runners like me, first timers of all ages and body types, people just in it for the fun and adventure. Finally it was time to reluctantly get rid of my throwaway clothes, and off we go!

I’d been warned that GPS doesn’t work in parts of the Chicago marathon so I was prepared to use elapsed time instead. Immediately after the start we entered a tunnel and lost our GPS signal. For the first couple of miles my watch had me running through buildings and into the river! I had it on manual laps so I would just look for the mile markers and hit the lap button as we passed. It worked ok but there were still times when it threw me off. 

Once I warmed up the temperatures were perfect, but it was very windy. It was mostly cloudy, but now and then the sun would come out and feel great. The wind is a bitch, very swirly. Sometimes it was in front of me, almost stopping me cold, sometimes it would creep up behind me and push me along, and sometimes it would come at me sideways, almost knocking me off my feet! Then it would calm down for awhile too and I would forget all about it.

I’m wearing running shorts, my Hoka Carbon running shoes, White calf compression sleeves, my Boston Buddies tank top, a sparkly visor, Goodr Chicago sunglasses, lightweight gloves, and white arm sleeves. It takes 3/4s of the race for my hands to warm up. so I can take off my gloves. People see my tank top and yell “Go Boston!” and “Boston Strong!” I love it, its even better than having my name on my shirt. Every time I hear it I smile and wave.

Chicago is a very entertaining marathon. There are so many different neighborhoods, and loads of enthusiastic crowds. I was so focused this time that I only vaguely know where I am now and then. I’m ticking off the miles, sticking to my plan, working my pace, pissed when a mile comes in too slow, fixing it the following mile. I have trained hard for this marathon, and the training has paid off, physically yes, but even more important mentally. I never really get tired, but my hamstrings, glutes and back hurt off and on. 

One drawback to running hard is the marathon becomes a big blur. It was always crowded. I tried not to weave around people too much but sometimes I had no choice. I adhered to the blue line that marks the shortest distance on the course as much as possible but because of the gps issues my watch said I ran 27.4 miles instead of 26.2! 

Some neighborhoods really stand out, especially Pilsen, that comes fairly late in the race. They were incredibly loud and boisterous. I never stopped except at the aid stations for water or Gatorade. I grabbed some pretzels from a spectator but only ate a couple, too dry. I did have a slug of beer but it didn’t taste near as good as the beer at TCM last year! I thought about stopping at one of the biofreeze stations but my pain was in my glutes and I couldn’t figure out how I would get biofreeze on my butt!

I had six gels with me but could only stomach 5. I don’t eat nearly as many gels as you’re supposed to. I just couldn’t tolerate Maurten Gels, which is what a lot of the elites use, although I tried. It makes me poop. Accel Gels are pretty easy on my stomach as long as I take them slowly. I wonder how much I would improve if I could get my nutrition straightened out?

Around mile 18 I was like, I’ve got this, speed up a little. I was excited and emotional. Normally mile 18 would be way too early for me to feel confident that I had a good race on my hands but somehow this time I just knew it was going to be my day. I started thinking “I only have a 10 mile tempo run to go! Now its only a 10k! Only a 5k!” Each time I reached one of those milestones I turned up the gas a little bit more.

With a half a mile to go the race turns right and you hit the only real hill in the entire marathon, the so-called Mount Roosevelt. I said out loud “this is it” and someone next to me said “yes it is” and we were off, charging up that fucking hill! I ran almost all of it and then streamed down to the finish line.  I did it. 5:14:43, a 10 minute pr. My God. 

Suddenly I was in a lot of pain, and in something of a daze. Lee and Paula are texting me excitedly, both amazed and overjoyed at what I had just done. They knew what a big deal it was. I had spent 8 years of marathon running just trying to break 5:30 and now in the past two years I’ve cut 15 minutes off that time. 

Moving slowly, I get my medal, a heat blanket, some food. I wander through the place where you can get your picture taken with your medal, not even registering what it is, darn it! But fortunately a photographer snaps a picture of my smiling face.  I’m so happy I can’t believe it, can’t quite take it all in. 

After I grab my gear bag and throw on my sweatshirt I find Lee and we walk very slowly back to the hotel. I take a very hot shower, read the congratulations on Facebook, and rest until its time to go to dinner. We go back to Chocon Volant, right downstairs and I eat eat eat. Meat! Fries! Dessert! Lee tells me that the best part of the entire weekend for him was seeing my time when I crossed the finish line. Sadly Lee has a business trip to do so he has rented a car and has to leave that night for Indiana. I have to walk the dogs in the morning and then drive home to Minnesota by myself, but that’s ok. The walk is good for me and I stop 3 times on drive home to walk, stretch, and eat a quarter pounder at McDonalds, lol.

No running for me for a couple of weeks but I'm already thinking about which marathon I’m going to run next year. I’m thinking about running San Francisco. Its very hilly, of course, so we’ll see how I do, but I think it will be a fun challenge. I will have to seek out hills this year in my training instead of avoiding them.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Alaska 2019 Part IV - Ketchikan, Seattle, and Home

Because of the detour we are not getting into Ketchikan until 9 AM Friday morning. Steph calls the fishing boat captain and we could still go but it is only salmon now, no halibut, so Lee isn’t interested and we bail. It doesn’t matter that much to me. I’ll be perfectly happy walking around and taking pictures.

We get off the boat, grab a walking tour map and head out. Ketchikan is another little southeast  Alaskan town that lives on tourism. Its famous for its totem poles. The Totem poles that we see around town are mainly replicas because traditionally they are erected to honor someone and then left to deteriorate. When the white people came they started to take them either to collect or preserve them. There’s also a museum in town with old ones that have been preserved.

The salmon are in the Ketchikan Creek, swimming mightily upstream. They are thick; you could practically walk across the river on their backs. We even saw them using a fish ladder. Fascinating.

Lunch is fish sandwiches at The Alaska Fish House and then it’s time to go back to the ship. Before too long we say goodbye to Ketchikan and start on the long trip to Victoria. We don’t get into Victoria until 8 pm tomorrow night so we don’t plan to get off the boat.

At the last minute I decide to do a wine and macaron tasting wth the girls. It’s fun. They actually give us a wine tasting lesson and then put the wine in a black glass and make us try to guess what it is. I’m completely terrible at it and get them wrong 90% of the time. I don’t normally like Chardonnay but there’s an old world one that’s great, very crisp and apple-y, not buttery at all. And the macaroons are incredible and change the taste of the wine.

Dinner is at Ocean Blue, the seafood restaurant on the boat. We have a date with Amy D, Bill, Rich and Paula. It’s by far the best meal we’ve had on the boat and a LOT of food. I get hamachi cerviche, grouper, roasted Brussel sprouts, mushroom risotto, and sorbet for dessert, plus 2 glasses of an excellent wine. 

We are still at sea Saturday morning. We have lost an hour so it’s later, but I must run, so off I go. 10 miles on a treadmill, ugh, but I get it done. 8 of the miles are supposed to be at marathon pace, but I can’t quite do it. I just don’t know yet if my goal is reasonable. I should be able to tell by sometime in September, if I’ll need to dial it back. I hope not but we’ll see. (PS, I hung in there and it was a reasonable goal after all!)

After my run I’m drenched in sweat and starving. A quick shower and then I go eat all the food I can see at the buffet. First some noodle soup but it’s pretty boring and bland. Then some roast pig and potatoes and watermelon. That helps but I’m still hungry. Finally a corned beef panini and some Mac and cheese and that finally does the trick.

Then we go sit out on the pool deck with some of the gang. It’s cloudy and breezy but it’s fun to hang out and chat, at least until I get cold and we enter a fog bank and the atmosphere starts to condense on us. Then Lee and at go hunt for drinks and go back to the room to chill.

I somehow stopped taking notes at this point. There was the stop in a Victoria, vaguely remembered, and the trip back to Seattle that night. We say goodbye to Diane, Dennis, Carol, Joe, Stephanie and Ryan the night before because they have early flights. Getting off the boat is tedious but again not bad, just long, slow moving lines to pick up our luggage and get through customs. We put our bags in AmyC and Chris’s room so we can walk around Seattle, since our flight isn’t until 5 that evening. 

First we take everyone to Din Tai Fung! Only Rich has ever had dim sum before. At first they are all being brave but they end up  loving it!! I’m so happy to introduce them to one of my favorite foods. They even try chopsticks! 

Then we go walk around Pike Place Market, take pictures at the gum wall, look for souvenirs. Toys and a T-shirt for Leo, T-shirt’s for Lee. I have my ship charm bracelet so I’m good. 

That’s it pretty much. Would we do it again, go on a cruise? Lee says no to a big boat, but he’d go on a European river cruise. I liked it, I would do it again. Maybe a girl thing someday?  Why not!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Alaska 2019 Part III - Glacier Bay

Thursday morning we wake groggily to spectacular views. There is a glacier right outside our window! We go to breakfast in the Garden Cafe and watch the glacier, mountain goats, ice floes. I walk around the boat taking pictures. What a morning. Pictures hardly do it justice. I haven't used my camera very much since we moved to Minnesota but this makes me wish I had a better long lens.

Later in the day I go to the thermal spa again. Afterwards I go get my charm of the day, which is a heart. I'm not very interested in buying much in the way of souvenirs this trip, but they got me with the charm bracelet. You buy the bracelet and get 5 free charms with it. Then if you buy a charm every day of the cruise you get another free charm at the end. The charms are cute, and a lot of them have a nautical theme. There is a flower, a ship, a wheel, a heart, a paw....

In the afternoon we hang out by the pool with our friends for awhile. It’s a beautiful sunny day, warm in the sun. I never do actually get in the water outside. The water is heated but the air is just too chilly. I never manage to get into one of the many hot tubs on the boat either. After all, I have the spa!

Amy D has arranged for all of us to get our pictures taken on the stairwell in the atrium. We get one with almost all 33 people in our group, then one with just the WEC and their husbands, then one with just the women. 

Then some of us decide to go to the Manhattan Room together. We stop for a pre dinner drink in the casino and watch some friends play a strange machine that pushes tokens to a ledge. If they fall off they can grab them and play them again. There are bundles of paper money too, but somehow they never fall through the chute. It’s mesmerizing to watch though. 

At some point we hear an announcement. Someone on the boat has fallen ill and we have to make an emergency detour to get them medivaced out. We are going to get into Ketchikan 2 hours later than planned so that’s going to impact our fishing trip. 

After dinner I watch Stephanie play blackjack for a little while. She's pretty good! It’s fun to watch but soon it’s time for bed.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Alaska 2019 - Part II - Skagway, The White Pass Railway, and a Hike on a Glacier

On Wednesday we have to get up early for our next excursion that begins at 7 am. We are going to take the famous White River Pass narrow gauge railroad from Skagway up to a trail and then hike to a glacier! One of our guides, Ryan, meets us at the boat and walks us to where we are to get on the train. 

Me and Our Big Ass Boat

There we meet our other 3 guides for a group of 20 people. Because this is a strenuous hike we are by far the oldest people in this group, except for one other person, and even she is probably at least 10 years younger than us.  We take the train up the track 14 miles to our starting point. The train goes about 100 miles, up into the Yukon Territories. Nowadays there is also a road, but in the past it was the only land based way in and out of Skagway. Skagway is an old gold rush town. Only 800 people actually live there now, but 15,000 people descended from cruise ships the day we were there. They don’t hate us or resent us, like I thought might be the case; we are their livelihood. 

The first part of the hike is very nice, through the rain forest. We see lots of flowers, trees, and ferns. There is some climbing, mostly rocky steps, but nothing bad. We stop frequently for snacks, potty breaks, short lectures on what we are seeing. The other three guides, Meg, Megan and Josh, are also friendly and very knowledgeable. There is always a guide somewhere close by, they don’t let anyone fall behind, so everyone can walk at their own pace. I’m not a fast walker, but Lee is, so sometimes we are together and sometimes not. I also have to stop and take photos of course!

Sometime between miles 3 and 4 it becomes very obvious that the other person near our age on this hike is not at all prepared for this amount of activity. This is another reason there are 4 guides. Josh stays back with her and we don’t see them again until the end of the trip. After around 4 miles we arrive at the base of the glacier. First we have to scramble over a bunch of sand and loose rock that the glacier has pushed out in front of it. 

Then we stop to put on ice cleats and get ready to step onto the glacier itself. Stomp like an angry toddler, they say! That's so that the ice cleats will work properly. Don’t wander off and fall into a crevasse! Yikes! I’m a little scared and uncertain. Ryan leads and the younger bunch tromp off rapidly across the field of ice and rocks. I can’t watch my footing and stay up with them, but Meg stays with those of us that are slower so it’s ok and eventually I calm down and start to enjoy the experience. 

The glacier is not exactly what I expected. Its cold, that part was no surprise. All of our layers go on, and both my hoods. I could have used my gloves but I forgot them in the cabin back on the ship so oh well! I thought the glacier would be a sheet of ice, but it is ice mixed with lots of rock and dirt, which makes sense. It’s moving but you can’t tell. There are lots of little cracks in it, and small beautiful holes where you can see the very blue ice below. 

We make our way to a rocky point to eat our lunch. The guides have given us so many snacks to eat, and lots of water, and while we were on the train we made ourselves sandwiches too. We were not going to go hungry, that’s for sure! They also had hot water and mixes for tea, cider and hot cocoa. I had the cider and it was delish, and warming too. 

Then it was time to walk back down, off the glacier, back through the forest, and back to the train. On the way we stop at a mountain stream and feel the glacial silt, so soft and creamy. It’s supposed to be great for facials and if I had had a container I could have taken some with me. 

We are tired but not in a horrible way. It doesn’t really hit me until we are back on the train and then I can hardly keep my eyes open. It has been a long, long day. The train ride back seems to take forever, and I really don’t want to walk at all any more, like ever. 

As soon as we are back on the boat we stop at the bar and get Old Fashions. Of course it knocks me silly but who cares? We’re on a boat! 

We go to Los Lobos, the Mexican restaurant, for dinner. It’s pretty good, especially the guacamole made table side. I like talking to the people that work on the boat. Our guacamole maker is from St. Lucia. She has worked on cruise ships for 14 years. It’s so much more lucrative than anything she could do at home, but they work very very hard while at sea.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Alaska 2019 - Part I - Seattle to Juneau

On Friday August 9 we fly to Seattle. Despite some snafus regarding overhead baggage charges and a flight with a minor mechanical problem we make it to Seattle without much trouble. We get a Lyft ride to the Marriott at the Seaport and have plenty of time before we meet our friends for dinner  in the hotel restaurant. 

This trip is a dream come true, almost 2 years in the planning and waiting. Somehow Amy Dion talked all of the Westie crew into going on a cruise to Alaska. Some of us had to overcome various fears to commit; some of us had to overcome various misgivings to say okay to this vacation (ahem Mr. I'm Never Going on a Cruise Nill), but we did it.

We see Amy and Bill first. Big hugs and tears when they walk in. Then Paula and Rich arrive and I cry a little more. I just can’t believe it. I’m so happy to see them and it’s been too long. We talk and smile and eat. I’m starving. Fish! Good fish! Yay! I have salmon, Lee has halibut. Oh yum.

But we are soooo tired so we have to go to bed. I wake up at 3 and think no no no, doze back off until 5:30. That will have to do.

Its Saturday August 10th. I really want to run 12 miles. i need a long run day on my training schedule. It’s supposed to be 15 but 12 is close enough. It’s raining, pretty hard, but it’s not cold so I’m ok. I run along the waterfront and at first it’s pretty but then there’s a detour through some rail yards and that’s not so great. Then I run through a pretty marina and up a hill into some beautiful residential neighborhoods until I’m ready to turn around.

Back at the hotel I’m hungry and wet. I take a shower and we head up to Pike Place Market for brunch. We’re early so we walk around sampling stuff until its time.

Brunch is at the Old Stove Brewery. I have a frittata and a mimosa. Then Stephanie wants to go on the Ferris wheel and so do I. There are some great views up there! The rain has stopped and it’s a gorgeous day. 

From there we uber up to Kerry Park for more views and ice cream from Molly Moos. I get some really good s’mores ice cream in a homemade waffle cone. We walk back down to the park and Carol, Joe, Diane, Dennis, AmyC, and Chris have arrived. More happy tears, but this is the last of crying until the end of the trip.

Then we uber to a block party at Rooftop Brewery. There is beer, sun and a nice breeze. Its a dog shelter fundraiser of some kind.  From there we walk about a half mile to Chinnock for dinner. Lee gets crab, I get cod. So good but I am stuffed. Have to call it a day.

In the morning Paula and I go for a run. So much fun! I’ve missed running with her. We run an easy 5. She has gotten faster in the past year, also I’m tired from the 12 I ran yesterday but the plan I’m using has you running on tired legs a lot so that’s fine.

Then we go to Opla’s next door to the hotel and I get a breakfast sandwich on a Vietnamese baguette. Omg so good! Then to somehow cram everything back in my suitcase and get ready to board the ship.

When its our time to board its pretty easy to follow the signs, drop off our luggage and go through security. Before we know it we are meeting everyone in the lounge, setting things up so we can text each other during the trip. You use the ship's WiFi to talk to each other, it’s pretty slick.

We are going deep sea fishing in Ketchikan so we need to get fishing licenses and print them out. We went to the Internet cafe to use a printer. The only problem is we wasted $15 because the printer wasn’t on. Finally the internet concierge helped us out.

Then some lunch. THEN some random wandering around the ship getting our bearings. THEN I go on a tour of the spa and get a cupcake and some coffee. THEN we head to our stateroom to unpack our bags for the week. I bought some magnetic hooks and a mesh thing with a lot of pockets that hangs over the door, very handy. There’s plenty of storage in the room though, and we even have a balcony! So cool.

A fireboat sees us off as we leave Seattle and then we’re off! We watch from the balcony, then hang out in a nearby bar, and then go up to deck 16 for the sail away party. After watching a bit I go dance with my friends. I know I'm old but I don’t feel old. Well not with a glass of Prosecco anyway!

Norwegian does something called free style dining. Unlike a lot of cruises you are not limited to sitting in the same dining room with the same people every night. There are a bunch of different restaurants. Some of them are included in the price of the cruise, some of them are extra. We bought a package that let us go to three of the extra restaurants for $99. It turned out to be an excellent deal. 

For dinner the first night we go to the Teppanaki Grill with everyone. It’s fun, and a LOT of food. We get seafood, shrimp and scallops. I taste someone’s steak; wow. Then its time for bed. We crash right away but are woken up around 10:00 pm by the pulsing thump thump thumping bass from the theater right below us. The floor of our stateroom is vibrating. Even the white noise machine can’t cut through it. We complain, but there really isn’t anything they can do about it, or so we think.

Monday morning we sleep til 6:45 AM, unheard-of for us! We get room service and then I go off to run. I decide to not even bother with the little jogging track. I assume that unless it’s really early it’s just not going to work. The fitness place is very crowded but there are available treadmills and I hop on. I have to get used to a mill unlike mine, but I figure it out. It’s so boring though. I chat with the people next to me but still. And every 30 minutes the treadmill stops and I have to reset it, which doesn’t matter to me since I'm going by my watch.

Then we get a letter from guest services apologizing for the problems we have experienced. We go see them and lo and behold they’ve had a last minute cancellation and they are moving us to a higher floor, far away from the thumping bass. It takes a bit to get us moved but before too long we are settled in our new room on the 13th floor.

We go to a restaurant named Taste for lunch. Its one of the ones that is included, we don't have to pay extra to eat there. Pho for Lee, a tuna sandwich for me. Key lime parfait for dessert.

Then its time for me to try out the thermal spa. I try the sauna, the steam room, the salt room, and the therapy pool. I talk to Rich and Paula for a bit, go back to the wet sauna, try the snow room and I'm done. I feel great! I will be doing that again. I bought the spa package so I can go as much as I want.

On Tuesday I'm back on the treadmill again in the morning. Its hard to do speed intervals but I get it done. Later we hang out on the pool deck with friends, and I squeeze in another visit to the thermal spa. We land in Juneau at 2:30 pm  and I’m one of the first people off the boat to meet Sue Warner. She drives up in her red Prius and takes us to to a nearby beach where we walk along a trail with her dog and talk talk talk. There is no way to catch up on 30 years in an hour but some friendships are just forever, and Sue is still Sue. 

She drives me back to the pier and the meeting place for our first excursion. First we go on a short rain forest hike, uneventful except for a porcupine sighting. 

Then we go whale watching and have spectacular luck. Not only do we see humpbacks and lots of them, swimming, breathing, breaching, diving, but we also see orcas. They are really fast and hard to photograph. 

Then because we have time they take us to an island where dozens of sea lions are sun bathing and being noisy. They are kind of smelly and gross and wonderful at the same time.


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