Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Sourdough State: An Alaskan Cruise

So getting back to reality, the Alaskan cruise was fantastic. I settled on reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. The writing was superb, the story line unique and I loved the seamless transition from past to present, but I was not expecting such a downer of a book. Horses dying, elephants getting beaten, poverty, and death all wrapped up in the post-depression circus. Perhaps not the best novel for a relaxing vacation (and who are these people that tout this a “great beach read”...last I checked a beach read is light (both literally and figuratively) and engaging...and while this novel was engaging (think: a train wreck I couldn’t pull away from) this was not a light read. Heavy stuff, man.


day2_formal dinner

I digress, the cruise was beautiful. It did confirm that I will not be taking a cruise from Los Angeles or San Francisco E.V.E.R. – I was not made to sail the Pacific Ocean. We arrived in Seattle on Saturday morning and boarded our boat, Golden Princess, effortlessly. On-time arrivals, short lines, perfectly timed taxis make traveling a dream sometimes, and sat down to have lunch. You see, we needed to be there for the first meal of the cruise – lunch, which was served starting at noon. We made it. Sat down to the buffet at 12:39. Basically, eating was our first priority on this trip. And eating we did: donuts, lobster, and salad dressings I wanted to drink were a big part of our day. And, of course, seeing all that the Last Frontier has to offer. Our stops included: Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria with a scenic cruising day at Tracy Arm.

 day3_juneau_fish hatchery







Our cruise ended on Saturday, but we extended our time to include a mere 30 hours in Seattle. J had been once as a kid, and I had only run around the track at UW, so we thought we’d see what the hype was all about. We stayed at the Pan Pacific Hotel – highly recommended if you’re going to Seattle by the way: awesome location, soft bed linens, and a fantastic shampoo, conditioner and soap selection. (Note: I choose my hotel by the quality of toiletry items available. No judging, everyone has their quirks!) We moseyed around the market like tourists, did the Underground Tour, went to the top of the Space Needle, stopped in an Old Navy for some $3.50 flip-flops and a tank-top (the mercury was nearly 90 degrees), watched USC barely beat Ohio St at Jillian’s (did you think that J would let us miss that game?), browsed Elliott Bay Books and sampled Seattle’s finest coffee. A good friend calls Seattle home, and she helped play tour guide and chauffeur as we requested she drive us all over the city and surrounding suburbs checking out open houses on Sunday afternoon. We returned home on Sunday night spent and exhausted, but very much in love with Seattle. What a great city, man. No wonder McDreamy lives there. And Frasier too.       


Friday, September 04, 2009

My next week…

I’m trading in a view of this:

la skyline_la times_don bartletti

for a view of this:


Well, I’m all ready for my Alaskan cruise tomorrow. By ready, of course, I mean that I’ve laid out my jeans, sweatshirts, and bought three different kinds of hard candies to help ward of nausea. I’ve also narrowed down my reading selection from five paperbacks to three. You see, I am usually the best of the best of light packers. But, I cannot skimp on books. What if I’m not digging the Water for Elephants that everyone recommends? Or perhaps, I’ll be ready to finally tackle Anna Karenina since I’ll be in Alaska. And, as Sarah Palin kindly pointed out to us last year, Alaska is just over the border to Russia. And, honestly, where better to ready this hefty Tolstoy classic?

This Alaskan cruise is a Rossini family vacay – I know, I know, I hate me too – but, I’m pretty excited about it anyways, not least because…well, I get to breathe fresh air for an entire ten days. I’m not typically a “cruiser,” but you’d have to be missing some very important part of your soul, I think, to not be excited about a all-expenses paid cruise to Alaska. Besides, I’ve flipped through the brochure earlier this week to map out the locations of all the dining rooms and restaurants on board. This way, when hunger strikes, I’m ready.

Photo Credit: LA Skyline, Los Angeles Times, Don Bartelli; Alaskan Skyline, my Dad