Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Look Back...the good, the bad, and the tragic

ms Zuiderdam, of the Holland American Line Inc.
After spending the night of August 9 in a hotel close to the airport, we left for D/FW at 5:00 am. Arriving at Frontier Airlines, we discovered a line waiting to be processed but no employees to do it. So we waited...and waited...and waited. When we were finally processed, we went through the airport screening, and then (guess what) waited, and waited, and waited to board the plane. Then we flew to Denver (Frontier's home...so every flight must go through Denver). We transfered to another flight...at the other end of the Denver airport, and guess what, waited...waited...waited.

We finally arrived in Vancouver BC a little after noon. The travel agent/tour guide told us were would not be able to get into the hotel (Sheraton Wall Centre) until 3, so we boarded a bus and toured Vancouver until 5. Why 5? No one seemed to know, but we did know we were exhausted!!

Then after a two hour rest one of the best parts of the trip happened...we met Violette and G, Giggles and Pepper and Bryan, and Nicci for a great meal. I had borscht, which I had never eaten before...yum. Raf had perogies. These were new to us, and very good! I was the only woman at the table who hadn't made them...but I WILL!

We had to much fun getting to know each other in person, visiting, sharing, smiling, laughing. What a great night...one of the true highlights of the trip! Here are the photos:

I treasure the friends forged on the net which came alive in person. Thanks, gals...and Bryan and G, for a wonderful, wonderful time! We WILL be back to Vancouver!

The next morning we caught a cab and boarded the ms Zuiderdam for our 7-day cruise. Now before I get into everything that happened, let me say, that how we got on the cruise was by hearing an ad of WRR Classical Radio. Thinking that WRR was a good station, we decided to call the travel agent, Sharon Carr Travel in Dallas. The agent in charge of the cruise was Pat Ryan. I never met Sharon Carr, but that she hired a complete, unprofessional ditz like Pat Ryan speaks volumes for me. She never stayed in contact with us,


The first day at sea we went into Tracy Arm Fjord. It was spectacular, and, in my opinion, the most beautiful part of the trip. And, yep, the ice is really blue!
From Tracy Arm Fjord we went into Juneau, the capital of Alaska...and unreachable by land! Below is the Mendenhall Glacier. We took a shore excursion into a temperate rain forest. It was beautiful, but the guide wouldn't shut up so we could enjoy it. It was one Green sermon after another, all quoting St. John of Muir! It was about 2 miles up and down and quite tiring for me, but I did it!
Town of Juneau
Mendenhall Glacier (blue ice again)
Then back on the ship. And, by the way, you have to rush from one thing to another...they overlap, so you can easily miss meals. You have to hurry from one end of the ship to another...nothing is ever on the same deck or part of the ship as where you are! We didn't gain weight, because we were always walking for one end of the ship to the other. 'Nuff said!

We went on to Skagway, and we rode the Skagway to White Pass railroad. That was really a treat. The trail climbed and climbed up to the pass at the top of the mountains. You could look out the car and the the wooden trestle you would be on way up on the mountain. The flowers were beautiful, as were the lakes, rivers, and water falls.

From Skagway we went to Glacier Bay. I didn't get many good photos, so I will put some of Raf's on later. Here is the only photo...but take my word, the glacier is blue. It calved a lot while we were there. Beautiful.We traveled from Glacier Bay to Ketchikan, where we chose not to take the shore excursion as we had planned as we were knackered! By the end of that day, we were very thankful we had not taken that tour, and I will explain more about it at the bottom of the page. In Ketchikan, we mailed our dirty clothes home. This totem was at the harbor.
This is the local Anglican Church...St. John's Mission...across from the post office.This is downtown Ketchikan. It was the nicest of the towns. I found a wonderful fabric store, and another yarn and bead store! Got some beautiful yarn...but it's a secret...shhhh, and some fabric for a quilt...another secret.
A couple of interesting things on the ship included fresh flowers and orchids on every table.

Every night our bed was remade...it had been made in the morning, too, and every night there was a different animal on the bed...and chocolate.
Now, there are two things I plan to NEVER do again.

1) I will NEVER will go on a tour or with a tour group (this gal was so mad at us because we didn't want to do what she wanted us to do, that she had a cocktail party, and when it had to be moved to a different location, she didn't let us know...she also wouldn't speak to us...and she was so loud you could hear her coming a mile away...talk about the Ugly Texan).
2) I will NEVER go on a cruise again. Most of the people go, so far as I can tell, to get drunk...the bar is open at breakfast and stays open all day. The people move around drinking, laughing loudly, being obnoxious. It was WAY too organized for us free spirits, too. Again 'nuf said.

But I WILL go to Alaska with the trailer, I hope, and I WILL go to Vancouver again with the trailer. I WILL visit with Violette, Nicci, Giggles and the rest!

Now for what else happened. The first night of the trip one of the crew had a heart attack and had to be air lifted out. Two days later a minister who was a passenger had a heart attack and had to be taken away in the tender. Then the day we were in Ketchikan the weather changed about three o'clock in the afternoon. We had gone out about 1 pm to mail the dirty clothes back home, but we forgot the postcards and went back to get them. It had been hot, and we had removed our jackets. When we came back outside the wind had come up, and the weather changed and it was cool and the wind was gritty. Clouds formed over the mountains. We walked back to the town and shopped. I had seen an Alaska fleece vest, and Raf found us each one for $9.99!

We we boarded the ship, we dressed for dinner, and during the meal the cruise director called over the loud speaker asking for certain people to contact the front desk. We thought it was people who had just lost track of time, but by the time we were in the show there was an announcement saying there had been a plane crash. News filtered very slowly, but we stayed in the harbor until the next morning (we were supposed to leave at 8 the night before).

You can read the story here. This was the letter our captain, Werner Timmers, sent to the passengers:

Dear Guest,

We have been in contact with authorities in order to provide you with an update to the terrible accident that occurred yesterday on an independent sightseeing tour out of Ketchikan. The cause of the accident is under investigation and not known at this time. The National Transportation Safety Board have a team traveling to the site to conduct the investigation.

Alaska State Troopers have released the names of those in the crash. The four survivors, including the pilot and guide, were medically evacuated from Ketchikan to a hospital in Seattle early this morning for treatment of multiple unjuries. They are:

Clifford Kamm, pilot, 44, of Ketchikan, Alaska, is in stable condition with burns. Mindy Mayer, 60, or Oregon City, Oregon, is in serious condition with a broken pelvis and chest injuries. Allison Smith, 3, of Taulatin, Oregon, is in critical condition in Pediatric intensive care. Sara Steffen, guide, 27, of Ketchikan, Alaska, is in stable condition.

We pray for their complete recovery.

Tragically, the following passengers did not survive the accident:

Daniel Herron, 49, of Irvine, California. David Mayer, 60, of Oregon City, Oregon. Eric Smith, 37, and Christine Smith, 36, and Trevor Smith, 3, of Tualatin, Oregon.

Please join us as we extend our deepest sympathies to the family and loved ones of the deceased. Holland America Line's thoughts and prayers continue to go out to all of those affected by this tragedy. Thank you for your espressions of kindness and concern.


Mrs. Mayer is the mother of Mr. Smith. Mr. Mayer was her husband, and the 3-year-olds were twins. This was the third such accident at Ketchikan in the last month! The other two had fatalities, as well.

Please pray for all the injured and for the repose of the souls of the dead, and for the families of all concerned.

I am exhausted, still, so I will stop here for tonight. I just had to get this much out.

Blessings to all of you, and we will hopefully "talk" to all of you soon.


21 comments:

Louise said...

Amazing trip! We can't wait to hear "the rest of the story."

Toni said...

First of all Sioux welcome back home.
Wonderful that you got to meet some blog friends. Seeing Alaska must have been wonderful. To bad the cruise did not meet your expectations. And so sad to read of the tragic plane crash.
My son and his new wife just went on an Alaskan cruise just before you. They had a wonderful time

Felisol said...

Dear Sioux Sue,
welcome home from a grand tour. You are a good journalist and photografer, feel I've almost been in Alaska too.
I have two first cousis, brethern, who -with a base in Seattle- have sailed as skippers on fishing boats in Alaska.
When they tell about their meeting on the wild sea, midst in the winter storms, it makes my hair raise.
I'm looking forward to see what nice you will make from all your nice material shopping.
Felisol
P.S: How is Joey in the boot camp?
I'm often reminded of him and praying for him.

Lisa Oceandreamer S. said...

First of all...I am so happy you and Raf were able to meet the others in Vancouver. It truly sounded from all of you like a great meet up! I loved seeing all the photos!
Secondly, I can't believe what a time you had from the start of even planning the Cruise. I am exhausted just reading about it. I've never been one who has longed to go on one...as you said...preferring a more free spirited approach to travel is so much better.
I'm just glad you both made it home safe and sound. what a tragedy that plane crash was. My heart goes out to the families!
I'll be back to see more photos and read the rest.
XOXO

mrsnesbitt said...

Whata time you had! Tour guide sounds dreadful! I know what you mean about wanting to do your own thing!

Waiting for next installment!

Dxx

AnastasiaC said...

beautiful pics Sioux!! Alaska looks amazing ...haha had to laugh at the tour guide!
I too have been on a few cruises around the Meditterenean and if Id never go on another that would be...very sad to hear about the plane crash...how awful!

vicci said...

Its always so great to meet fellow bloggers! Glad you did! and the trip sounds fun! Welcome Home! Alaska is so beautiful! Looking forward to reading more of the story....very sad about the plane crash.....XXXOOO

violette said...

Wow Sioux! What a trip! First of all i'd like to say how wonderful it was to meet you and Raf finally! What a treat! I'm so sorry about the terrible things that happened on the trip. My heart goes out to the families of the plane crash victims.

I agree with Lisa.....cruises have never been on my list because like you i too am a free spirit so might have felt a bit stiffled by having to follow an agenda. Your pics are awesome though and i'm sure the stunning scenery will be embedded in your mind forever!

Thanks for sharing the photos and story with us.

Rest up!

Love,
Violette

Ron said...

Sue & Ralph

(first post to your blog)

Glad ya'll are on your way back.

Beautiful pics, can't wait to see Ralph's contribution. Have been wanting to see Alaska since found out my dad and his brothers ran around up there during WWII, but haven't made it up there yet. His brother, my uncle, "Tex" was killed in a Alaskan bush plane crash in the late 60's.

Your description of the tour package is one reason I have avoided them. Usually when in a strange place, I will take a quick tour that doesn't stop anywhere, so can go back later to those things that looked interesting. LOL - tour groups can't stand independent thinkers.

That is really neat you met up with some of your blogging buddies. That always makes a trip that much more fun.

Very sad about the family almost being wiped out in the plane crash :).

Kahshe Cottager said...

I am so sorry that there was such tragedy and unpleasantness on what should have been a beautiful trip for you and your husband. How much more horrible for the families who lost loved ones. I am glad you are home safe and sound.

My husband and I had contemplated that cruise a couple of years ago and never did it. My Grandfather lived in the Yukon during the goldrush and I have wonderful photos that he took of Skagway at that time. I think I may dig them up and scan them perhaps to post on my blog one day.

KaiBlueCreations said...

I love the animal towels..lol
Peace, Kai xx

Jim said...

High Neighbor! It's been a while since I visited here.

Thank you for the trip, Sue. It was great to read all about the cruise part. Too bad there were some troubles.
Mrs. Jim and I did that two years ago this September. We did Princess and it was soooooo nice. We did the land part also.
I think we did the nice things you did except in Juno we had a helicopter drop us, three others, and a guide off on that Mendenhall Glacier. We stayed there all morning.

We had perogies in Poland, they weren't homemade but they sure were good!

We haven't had a bad 'tour.' I should add them up, I think it is at least ten we have been on.

A year ago we did a Sicily two week tour followed by an Amalfi week-long extension.
That was Grand Circle, I would recommend them to you. In fact, if you want I can have them put you on their mailing list. We have done three with them.

There were 16 of us in the Alaska group, our travel agent lives in our subdivision and is semi-retired. She goes with all her 'tours.'
..

Jim said...

Sue, I forgot to mention that we didn't get drunk even once on our cruise.
I haven't ever been drunk on a cruise, that would spoil a lot of things.
On a Mediterranean cruise our group and some Shriners were the only ones on the ship. Needless to say the bars were begging for business.
A lot of Shriners don't drink or drink very much--my good friend and Baptist deacon is a Shriner who doesn't any.
Our tour was lead by several Southwestern Theological Seminary professors who led our Holy Land tour. The professors were our group leaders, ours was Jack Terry.
The Shriners left us at the boat.
..

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

Loved the photos! I will be praying for all those affected by the bad things that happened. How sad that is! Missed you!

tinker said...

Welcome back, Sioux! I saw pics and read the accounts at Giggles and Violette's blogs, and it looked like you all had such a good time. So glad you made it back alright - what a terrible tragedy - and so many other sad occurences, too. I'm glad you and Raf made it back safe and sound. I've always thought that I probably wouldn't be cut out for cruises or guided tours, and I think you just confirmed that. Free spirits need freedom of choice! Welcome back! xo

Gemma said...

Hi Souix
Welcome home!!!
Wonderful that you got to meet Violette and the super cool blogger friends we have in Vancouver!!!! Sorry to hear about the accident and the heart attacks.
So you won't be hiking all over Holland America again eh? LOL

Gemma said...

Hi Souix
Welcome home!!!
Wonderful that you got to meet Violette and the super cool blogger friends we have in Vancouver!!!! Sorry to hear about the accident and the heart attacks.
So you won't be hiking all over Holland America again eh? LOL

giggles said...

I’m with you on itineraries. Not my thing, I can’t stand that much structure.,,,not when paying for a holiday…I like to go where the wind takes me. It was wonderful to meet both of you too, the kids loved it too! I am so sad to hear about that family; you just never know what life will bring. So sad!

smilnsigh said...

OH wow! A plane crash, plus the heart attacks. Oh sigh..

Glad you're home, safe and sound.

Mari-Nanci

smilnsigh said...

And Hon, I myself have never hankered to go on a cruise. Some people love them and go all the while. We never got 'the bug' to go. :-)

Mari-Nanci

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