Saturday, July 10th, 2010
Today we had to disembark. After the nightmare that was disembarkation on our Caribbean Cruise twelve years ago, I was braced for another ordeal. But Princess Cruises has it down to a science. We had our breakfast and then arrived at our departure lounge at the appointed time to have them ready for us and we immediately went off of the ship, scanning our cruise cards for the last time, and onto our bus that would take us from Whittier to Anchorage. A few words about Whittier. According to our bus driver, it is sunny 40 days out of the year in Whittier. There are no restaurants or shops, only one apartment building that houses all the town residents, and a school that is attached to it. What a grim dismal place to live! To get to Anchorage from Whittier you take a tunnel that is one way (alternating) and also has the train tracks. The train goes through first and then the buses, followed by the cars, followed by empty buses and trucks. All vehicles are spaced in such a way that there is adequate refuge for all passengers in the nearest safe house in case of emergency. Once on the other side of the tunnel we kept an eye out for wildlife and our guide spotted a moose and calf. Very cool. We made it to the convention center in Anchorage which is where the cruise line sets up its land transfers. There was a shortage of cabs so we gave our luggage to Mamama and Grandpa for them to take to the hotel (Clarion Suites) and we started walking. Unfortunately, the map showed the previous location of this hotel, our hotel was further and in the opposite way. So it was more walking than we intended. Once we got to the hotel, they told us our room wasn’t ready so we left our luggage and got our binoculars and went to explore the town, have lunch and look for Beluga whales in the Cook Inlet. Man, Anchorage is just not a nice city! Very spread out and not set up for walking at all, grim with no landscaping and worn out buildings, and just generally not a place you’d want to visit (or live!). But we did find the Glacier Brewhouse which was a very nice restaurant. We walked around a bit and bought our last few souvenirs and then went to the path along the Cook Inlet. Charlotte happily played in the playground while Genevieve and I walked along the path and Mark hung out on a bench playing on his iPhone. We saw an unusually large brown bird that turned out to be a sandhill crane. Then we joined Mark up on the park bench and watched the muddy brown shallow water with our binoculars. We didn’t have the highest hope of seeing anything, but then much to our surprise we saw about four or five belugas moving through the inlet. Very cool! We returned the hotel and finally got our room and even more finally got our luggage. Not the best and the brightest working at this hotel! We rested a bit and then spent a long time trying to decide where to go to dinner. Not finding anything good on Yelp and knowing that Grandpa couldn’t walk far, we split ways and went in search of dinner. We wound up at Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse, which is an Alaskan institution, but it was just okay. Back to the hotel and to bed for our early flight the next morning!
Sunday, July 11th, 2010
We woke up at 5:00 to leave by 6:00 to get our 7:30 flight. Saying it was tough to get Genevieve out of bed at that hour is an understatement! We ate a quick breakfast at the hotel buffet and then took their shuttle to the airport. The kids were amazed at the size of the stuffed kodiak bear in the airport that was “harvested” in 2007. Why don’t they just say killed? Call a spade a spade. The airport was nice, small and accessible, and we made our flight no problem. We had a layover in Seattle again, and then on home where everything was just dandy.