Author: Judd, Brooks

Ten Items or Less September

After 8 years without a vacation together it was time for one. Sheila and I began to make plans for a long deserved vacation, together. We decided on a 10 day voyage to Alaska. Sheila was enthused about a cruise, and her enthusiasm rubbed off on me. After we made our decision we soon discovered that that just about everyone we knew had also been on an Alaskan cruise.

On my visit to the credit union I talked to three ladies who had all been on an Alaskan cruise and were more than willing to share their stories with me. When I stopped off at the bank two tellers shared their Alaskan cruise stories with me. We also have several friends who have gone on numerous cruises some to Alaska. I was beginning to get the feeling that Sheila and I were the only people who have NOT been on a cruise to Alaska.
I had to make a short stop to the travel agency to double check some items and to make absolutely sure Sheila and I did not need a passport. Our agent assured me we would not need one. Feeling a bit more comfortable I headed outside and there waiting for me was a panhandler outside holding a dirty raggedy torn paper sign asking for spare change. I had ignored him going into the travel agency but on coming out he approached me and said, “Hey man, going on a cruise?” I really didn’t want to respond but being the nice person I am, I did. I replied, “Alaska”. He smiled; put down his sign began to tell me how he and his old lady had just got back from an Alaskan cruise and just “loved it.” I gave him a long icy look and headed toward my car, hopped in, and thought, “Only in America.”

Maria (my sister) was kind enough to take us to San Francisco, pick us up from San Francisco after the cruise but she also had Captain Bill concoct a great rib dinner with a fresh salad straight from their garden. That made EVERYTHING so much easier. Maria dropped us off on Tuesday morning at 8 A.M. The pier was buzzing with hundreds of folks lugging luggage, and taxi cabs, busses, limos, etc. all unloading smiling folks ready for their 10 day cruise to Alaska.
A porter approached us with a luggage carrier and he promptly loaded the ten days worth of clothing onto the rack. We tipped him and off he went with the cumbersome luggage. We made our way to the huge warehouse where all the passengers were being signed in.

There were lines and tables everywhere. It was mass confusion but it was controlled by a very efficient team of workers who were signing everyone in. The first line we came to there was a lady holding a clipboard. We walked up to her and the first thing she said was, “Make sure you have your passports out. If you don’t have your passport you won’t be able to board.” Sheila and I looked at each other in shock. I told Sheila to call our travel agent. Sheila said to wait until we sorted this mess out.

Sheila explained to the nice lady who was holding the clipboard what we were told about not needing a passport. The lady nodded and said, “Oh, that’s O.K.” Just have your birth certificates ready. We gave her our birth certificates and were directed to another table and another line. We finally go our little Princess credit card and we were on our way. We walked up the ramp onto the huge ship.
To quote my six year old grandson when he saw a picture of the Princess Ship he replied, “Hey, that’s a hotel camouflaged as a ship!” Well it was. It was a new experience for us. We walked into our room on deck 11 and there next to the TV was a bottle of Champaign and a bowl of chocolate covered strawberries our friends had ordered for us. That was nice.

We walked the four steps to the sliding glass door and slowly opened it. We looked down at all the folks still boarding. We decided to make a tour of the ship. We walked around the ship checked out all the restaurants, bars, library, swimming area, art room, clothing shops and a vast number of stores selling diamonds, watches, pearls, and everything else one would need.
We got back to our room and outside the door our luggage was waiting for us. We lugged it in and began unpacking. Soon the ship left the dock and that was the cue for the passengers to go to the top deck so they could watch as the ship sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge. We raced up to the top deck and looked up as we were passing under the Golden Gate Bridge. We waved to the folks on the Golden Gate Bridge and they waved back at us. The captain blasted the horn a few times (as tradition has it) and we made our way out of the bay and headed out on the wonderful, vast Pacific Ocean.

We went back to our room went outside, sat down on the chairs , gazed at the bubbling ocean and slowly we began to realize that for the first time in our lives we would be spending 10 full days, 240 hours together, uninterrupted , on the Pacific Ocean in a 300 square foot room.

October’s column: Does Sheila survive?

Until then: Read a book, hug a child, pet a dog, stroke a cat, and for heavens sake get out and vote.

Posted:  9/7/2012

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