Tuesday: Got your Bear Mace?

Woke up feeling… well, I’d love to say awesome, but the cold weather was making me feel a little off, and I was a little apprehensive – I’ve been heat training for like 5 months, so 40, windy, and rainy was really foreign to me.  I kept saying I was glad I had my adventure pants on when I scheduled this, because I really just wanted hot chocolate, a fireplace, and my book.

But we do these things for the mental fortitude, the blog posts, and the facebook pics, no?  So on we went.

Backing up to the morning, we had a small carby breakfast (taters, english muffin, and of course BACON) and then a safe lunch of white carbs like pasta and bread and potatoes, eschewing all of the delicious spicy food and poop inducing veggies.  We then got off the boat and grabbed a cab to the planned spot.

I had done a ton of researching, and picked the Treadwell Ditch Trail.  It started and ended at a ski resort, and was rated as hiker, runner, and bike friendly, and only had 700 ft of elevation change.  Perfect!  Except….not so much.  At all.  The cabbie started driving us there, and kept asking if we had bear mace, a gun to fight off the bears, any food (yes, which included…HONEYSTINGER WAFFLES AND GELS, which I’m sure the bears would have hated).  Then, after almost 30 bucks of cab fare (I thought the shit was only 6 miles away – maybe 6 miles UP into the sky, but it certainly was further than expected), and the cabbie taking down our descriptions in case we didn’t come back and then losing reception… we called it.

I may think myself a badass, but this was verging on a whole ‘nother level of stupid.  I can do many things, but wrestling a bear is definitely unknown.  Maybe I could, but maybe it would end badly.  So, begrudgingly, we asked the cabbie to turn around and had him let us off close to town.  We got out, it was cold and rainy and windy and I really bummed and thought that I was either going to just go back to the fucking ship and treadmill double digit miles or do what I really wanted to do and drink spiked hot chocolate and cry.  We started running toward the ship and I warmed up and started feeling better.

A backup I had researched was a trail that started just outside town, so we climbed through town and crossed a gorgeous bridge and found said trail waiting for us.  Tim the enchanter dog blocked our path barking at us, but we slowed to a walk and he quieted down, so we knew we were going to be allowed past.   He tried to lead us to a gift shop (shill dog?) but we headed to the trail and told Tim we would be back that way on the way home (it was a lie, we took a different way back and didn’t go past it).

You trail runners may have something here – I am a BIG FAN of pavement and really hate gravel and sticks and shit that is not flat and road normally, but this was pretty magical, if even my slowest 10 miler EVAR.  We passed waterfalls and saw mountains and streams and flowers and plants and amazing cool scenery.  The rain and wind and squishy and rocky footing didn’t even bother me after a few miles, though there was definitely walking at steep or really weird parts.

BTW, best running picture of me ever.  Zliten seemed to find the one moment that I don’t look like a special needs kid crossed with a slobbery puppy while running and captured it.  It is proof!  However, it started raining HARDER and we wanted to make sure we got back by dark so we turned around about 5 miles in and headed back just in time for it to start clearing up (oh well).  Apparently, all the Juneau-ians had gotten off work and were running the trails with their dogs.  All Alaskans apparently are required to own at least one gigantic dog.  For bear bait, I guess.

We finished up going through town dodging tourists and finished up our 10.2 miles and ducked into a gift shop to get Zliten some socks.  My legs were seizing up (and understandably – we had 5400 ft of climbing overall, and went from sea level to 1200 ft up at our max elevation so this was not a jaunty 10.2 miler around the house) so I just walked around outside hanging out with the Sarah Palin (not appearing in this post) standee and all the tourists, who I’m sure were wondering why I smelled like trail and sweat.  Sarah Palin herself did not comment on either the tourists or my odor.

Then we headed back to the boat and got some food at the buffet (half a honeystinger waffle in 3 hours does not a satiated Quix make), and then we ran into friends who wanted to go to dinner, so,  yeah, we called that a snack and headed to the dining room with them.  We had some wine and greek salad and soup and some red snapper and some birthday celebrations for our friend P (who we always end up on trip with during his b-day – lucky!!!).

He wanted cigars and cognac for the afterparty, so we obliged and went to that bar.  I didn’t feel right in jeans so I classed it up a bit, but no one told me that I had so much damn ass hanging out.  Oh well.  At first they didn’t want to sell us cigars cause we were too close to port but Zliten made it happen.  We knew we had to ride the next day, so we called it early, after going to the casino to play a bit and letting the boys obsess over the win-an-ipad machine that probably got 100$ collectively from our group.

Wednesday: White Crabby Knuckles

Did the same deal as the day before, carbalicious breakfast and lunch (though I was a little more adventurous, bike butt is less finicky than run butt), and lots of reading ensued (I think I was on about book 3 by that time…. love me some sci fi), and then we headed to town mid-afternoon.

I am a scaredy biker, so again, I was glad I had on my adventure pants when planning this, as the cold and rain made me want to just skip it entirely, especially with the trauma the day before.  However, we kinda figured that back home and we had actually reserved this and paid for it, so off we were, up to bike up a damn mountain in the rain.

We got to the shop, and they got us going… but sadly, they didn’t have the right clips for us so it was Zliten in his running shoes and me in my HIKING SHOES and toe cages going up on rental Trek road bikes.  The first part wasn’t so bad, but then the bike lane collapsed into a teeny tiny strip, the climb got epic, and it started pouring.  We made it up the first two climbs (the first I walked a bit because I am lame and take a while to warm up my legs) and stopped at a vista… it was so pretty and we could see the famous train.

However, then we looked ahead at an epic descent with another epic climb and decided to call it (the smile hides the immense terror I was feeling).  I am ok climbing, but it’s the down that scared me.  So it was time to face the 2000 feet of down.  White knuckles.  OMG.  In the rain, with the tour busses, on the side of a highway, with bikes with questionable breaks.

I think I could have done better on evilbike because I know how she handles, but when I got to a point where I felt like I couldn’t stop when I wanted to, and all I saw ahead was descent, I hopped off and ran my bike down (it was too steep to walk).  When it settled, I got back on, rinse and repeat until I saw town.

Zliten, the bad ass, white knuckled it the whole way down.  Although, here, he his trying not to hurl after a particularly epic climb….

As you can see it was MUDDY.  Gratuitous butt shot.  Also in the mud was gold flecks.  Well, I guess we were in Alaska… not sure what else to expect…

When we got back to the flats we decided to check out town a bit and it was sooooo cute.  There was even a window/door fence!  It almost felt very “little Austin”.

Also, we decided we needed to get a drink to erase the memory of our descent because… OMG FREAKY AS FUCK.  I got a sweet purple shirt from the bike shop to remind me of the trauma fun day and Zliten got some socks.

We went back to the boat, showered and changed, and then went back out to grab an irish coffee and a local beer, shop a bit for bric a brac to bring back, and get some damn CRAB since we had spent 2 days in alaska and no one had yet shoveled it in our face (how rude).  We heard rumors of an awesome place from a drunk guy and got a little lost getting there, but found it eventually, and nomnomed on a plate of expensive red alaskan crab (we split it).  And we hugged the moose.

In case you’re curious, the Skagway bar patio scene is hoppin’.

Then, we got our books, headed up to a bar with a view, and sailed away reading and sipping on mint juleps.  We had a mellow, just us two dinner of soup, salad, and meatloaf with a few bites of pecan pie and lemon sorbet, and I almost crashed in the room.  However, the “White Hot” party was that evening, and I bought a dang pair of white jeans for it so off we went.  Zliten knew I needed to wake up, so he bought me a liquid cocaine shot (which had some 151, jagermeister, and a bit of window cleaner from the taste), which did the trick.

(EDIT: one posted – proof I actually own something white besides tech tees) Waiting for friends to post pics because there are some hilarious ones from that night, but we danced a lot and drank a lot.  We hit the white hot party (in the Spinnaker lounge), the after party (at the night club. more dancing), the after, after party (us, in the casino), the after, after, after party (us, in the cigar bar, which had a table to play dice on, with bar pizza delivered!), and the after, after, after, after party (hitting the mini bar for refills+ the outside decks).  Once I saw the stars start to go to bed, I decided that was it for me and headed to the room.

Thursday: Glaciers are Cold and Loud

Apparently this guy wanted me to wake up and see glaciers at like 7:30 am.

Since he was still up.  Quix-y don’t play that.  I slept.  Until the glacier park tour guide came on to talk about what we were seeing on the ship’s intercom about 9:30 and was loud and crap and I woke up to see what the commotion was about.

Ok, ok, that was worth losing sleep over.  We got up on deck and got some breakfast and froze our tootsies and handsies off and looked at some beautiful pieces of ice.

Me, in my stretchy pants, and Zliten in his track suit.  Can you say fashionable couple?  We then met up with some of our friends who had a balcony, so we had a better view.

More glaciers, and some of my bedhead at the bottom.

Glacier viewing is cold and requires a lot of mint tea.

Then, we left that glacier area and cruised to another one, and we napped in between.  We ended up on another friend’s balcony to view this one.

Mountain peaks and blue snow.  Our pictures suck and don’t really capture it, but it was really cool.

We saw a bear, which I didn’t get a picture of because it was uncapturable by our 79 dollar special underwater camera, but we did see the elusive J-wahl.  A fierce creature.

There’s me with the tiniest iceberg.  I kept saying “I’ll never let go… I’ll never let go… arghlgughlghg”, especially after it broke in half.  Then we had a random elevator encounter with our newlyweds, and they took us up to their suite and we watched the rest from up there, drinking mimosas and eating the rest of the wedding cake.

Had a little bit of lunch around 2:30 from the buffet (if you would have guessed soup and salad and bread….dingdingding) and then took an epic nap of epicness, woke up, read, ordered room service (I was feeling like I just wanted a light dinner because I had eaten so dang much so I ordered an appetizer greek salad and ate half of a turkey sandwich), and read more and went to bed.  After so much excitement the last few days, we crashed hard and it was marvelous.

We had to be up early for our organized shore excursion at 7am, doing one of the typical things that you do when you go to Alaska.

Wait, what?  Not everyone goes snorkeling in Alaska?  More on that next time… (and oh dear, I think this may be a 4 parter depending on how much I can squeeze into the next one.  Sorry!)