Since we’re already about 3 weeks out from this actually HAPPENING, I tried to be brief. And only did one post instead of two – so, long end of vacation recap below. I guess that really for real means it’s over…
Friday: Chocolate and Starfish
Thankfully we had gotten a bunch of sleep, as we had to be up and off the boat at 7:55. Since we didn’t eat much the day before, I sent Zliten up to snag me half an english muffin and some fruit. We just made it and h0pped in the bus and got the schpeil on all the gear and how things work. We were to be covered head to toe so it wouldn’t be too cold.
8mm thick wetsuit, booties, hood, facemask, gloves… there were two little circles on each cheek that were exposed to water. That was it.
I not entirely sure I’ve ever looked sexier. We were lead down the path, and put on our fins and masks and gloves and in we went. I asked and they said the water temps were in the low 50s. Youch. At first, it was pretty chilly as the water got into the wetsuit but after a few minutes it warmed up, and I, the cold-water weenie, will attest that it wasn’t bad at all. I don’t think I even complained. I even got to pee in it!
One of our instructors was Tad. Here he is, holding up a sunflower starfish. They can grow up to 20 legs. Crazy!
This was Steve, our other instructor. He’s holding a Sea Anemone! We saw quite a few of those.
I has me a sea cucumber. It was so ugly it was cute! I kept pretending to nom nom nom it but I don’t think it liked that much.
We saw thousands of these all over. I saw a baby one and I thought it had made my day. Then I saw another and another and another. That was awesome!
Those glowy ones were apparently harmless, but these jellyfish were stingy. However, considering we were covered head to toe, as long as we didn’t kiss them, we were all good. No making out with jellyfish, check.
And this is the tiniest starfish. D’awwwwwww.
And this fish certainly enjoyed her time in the water. After we got dragged out of the water and changed and showered and hot tea’d, we hit up the atm (it’s hard to find a Wells Fargo in Austin, but apparently they’re everywhere in Alaska…), and walked around the shops (didn’t get anything), and we saw a bald eagle. Cool.
After a morning of activity, we were hungry, so we got a bite to eat. It was Alaska, so I got some crab, duh. What I ended up with was essentially 1/2 lb of crab, an english muffin, two pieces of cheddar, and two tomato slices. Zliten got fish tacos. They were both pretty tasty!
We did a little more peeking in stores and made it back to the boat just in time.
Ketchikan. I approve! We walked around on the top deck watching the boat sail away (the horn scared me half to death, we were walking RIGHT by it when it sounded, I seriously jumped two feet in the air) and then we decided lunch wasn’t quite enough, so we got a salad snack and then retired to the room for another glorious afternoon of reading and napping and napping and reading. We got up, finagled ourself cute, and went to the fancy dining room and had one of our best dinners yet. I finally got some crab on the boat with a yummy crab cake, and had tortilla soup, peanut chicken salad, and I went light for dinner with tilapia and had some lemon sorbet for dinner.
We hadn’t hit up much on ship entertainment, and one of the gals in the comedy troupe joined us for snorkeling, so we made sure to plan for that, but first we saw the broadway review. The curtain was really cool. The show was pretty darn good too – seemed like they had practiced a lot and could tell they were end of their run both because they were really really together and good, and also, the singers (both the boys and girls), had a little pooch (from cruise food).
Then, since we hadn’t eaten in a few minutes, we hit up the chocolate buffet. We tasted a little of everything and I think the white chocolate truffle was the best. We saw our friends up there and found out that J was going to do the “dancing with the pearl stars” show so we tried to hurry back there but we missed him as he had been eliminated in the first round. Awwww. The rest of the show was pretty funny – the couple who won was this lanky female dancing with a 4 foot tall dude – they got assigned the tango as their dance and she carried him around, it was a whole bunch of LOL.
After that, the comedy troupe came on and did their late night show. They were pretty decent, and I know how hard improv is having done some in college. Our friend were having some drinks and we were just kinda pooped from the day, so we just did the read and sleep thing again.
They knocked on our door a few hours later, but we were just OUT. Some days, you’re the obnoxious drunk one, some days, you’re the lame one.
Saturday: Mellow Victoria
I bet you can probably guess what I did in the morning. If you guessed read and napped, you’re right! Ding ding ding! We were over breakfast, so we skipped it.
We did something completely different later that morning though… we went to the GYM! I had planned on Sunday and Monday off, and took Thursday off due to being dumb the day before, and shorted myself some bike miles from Friday (we considered getting a bike in Ketchikan, but we didn’t have time and then the nap monster claimed the afternoon). Also, eff it, it was vacation! However, we both kinda felt like gymming, so we biked and ran. I got in 45 mins of climbing hills and sweating profusely on the bike, and then 4 miles of impromptu mini-hill repeats. The boat was pretty rocky that day getting to Victoria, so each rock back and forth changed my “elevation”. It was HARD!
We changed and headed to the dining room and ran into our friends D and P and we sat with them. They actually bought a picture of us as a present because they thought it was cute. Which I don’t have yet. So take my word for it. 🙂 I had corn chowder and a club sandwich. It was yummy!
Next, we made sure to pack as we got into port at 6pm and had to have the bags out an hour after we got back. It was kinda sad. And smelly. So many sweaty clothes in such a small space. Making use of a hair dryer to dry some of it for next-day use didn’t really help. Then, if you’ve been playing along, you’d know we had a bottle of champagne we won in the room. We changed it in at the bar, got some OJ, and drank some last-day-of-the-cruise mimosas. We hung out with our friends for a bit in the lounge, and then headed to dinner (seafood chowder, salad, seafood ciopinno (the shrimp and fish were fantastic, but the octopus and oysters were not my thing.
We got into port at around 6:30, and I was feeling kinda crampy, so we took the bus into town instead of walking the 30 mins. We walked around a bit, checked out a big fancy hotel with gorgeous gardens, checked out a minatures museum, and decided instead to find a rooftop bar and a beverage. I got the best apple ginger cider and fantastic garlic hummus and pitas! We watched the sunset and enjoyed the milder temps! I was only somewhat freezing! After it got dark, we poked in some of the shops and walked out with some chocolate, and caught the bus back. Dumbly – we got second dinner when we got back on the boat (last night of cruise gluttony and all). For some reason I had avoided the indian food mostly, but I got a plate of it and it was excellent! We ended the day the way we started it – book and bed.
Sunday: Pineapple Everything
We were up around 7:45 and out of the room by 8:15. By this time, it was clear that vacation had really screwed up my sleep schedule, as getting up this early was getting difficult (which was 2 hours later at home – so dragging my ass up by the equivalent of 9:45 was challenging – I am seriously still recovering my early-birdness). We snagged a little bit of breakfast with our friends and said goodbye – most of us were staying in Seattle that day but we all had our own plans. Except for us – I uncharacteristically didn’t plan the hell out of our Seattle time, so we had 2 days to just wander.
Getting off the boat was the most painless process ever. We were off, through customs, got our luggage and in a taxi to the hotel by 9:30! Unheard of! Usually it’s like, NOON before they let you off. I loved the hotel as soon as I saw it. Their big thing was “pineapple hospitality” (what does that even mean?), so everything was pineapple themed. Super cute! They didn’t have our room ready (not a surprise), so we checked our bags and went off on an adventure! First stop – the space needle. That was the ONE thing that I really wanted to do. When we got there, we saw that there was a city-pass thing where you spent 69$ and got admission to like 8 different things – score! Adventure found! Since I’ve never been to Seattle, I was happy to do the touristy things.
The space needle was awesome. It was cool to go there first to sorta get the “lay of the land”, and to read the history. I thought it had some higher purpose… I guess it was just meant to be an iconic structure! Zliten kept calling it the spaceship on stilts, which I thought was super adorable and definitely fit. After that we were hungry for a good burger – the ones on the cruise sucked because we’re spoiled with organic grass fed type beef and these were just… not. We took the monorail downtown, hit up Yelp, and found a recommendation for Pike Brewery. It did not dissapoint. We got a great quality cheeseburger, some baked fries that were amazing, and a tasty craft brew. It was refreshing to have a meal that didn’t feel like it was covered in butter!
(Picture from the next day – apparently we didn’t take our camera out that day…)
I had a wardrobe misfortune and had to grab some new socks (but they are now my new fave running socks so it works!). After dealing with that, we spent the afternoon near the water – we hit up the aquarium and it was way fun! We saw lots of different fishies – quite a few of which I had handled or seen in Ketchikan. We saw a giant octopus, sea lions, and lots of other cool stuff. Then, we got on a harbor cruise and got an hour tour around the Sound. Zliten and I both were a little sleepy and the sun was hitting us *just right* so we both kinda dozed off intermittently. It was sublime. Someone even proposed on the boat! Then, we checked out a curiosity shop with a bunch of shrunken heads and even a shrunken torso! Creepy!
We were totally ready for some chill time after a pretty full day of adventure, so we snagged some ice cream (they had COTTON CANDY, I had to!!!) and headed back to the hotel. The room was STILL not ready, so we nommed some pineapple cupcakes they had in the lobby, and sat on the couches there and read. Finally, the room was available, and we took a great shower (it was sooooo nice to be in a larger bathroom, the shower was actually about the size of the whole bathroom), and decided upon the hotel restaurant for dinner because it was easy and had “safe for running in the AM” foods.
Normally before a long run I’ll carb up a bit but as you can tell my stores were pretty full. We split an appetizer of pepperoni pizza rolls and I just had a side salad and tortilla soup. Both were pretty decent. The restaurant advertised big buckets of booze, which looked intriguing, but we were exhausted enough that even if we weren’t running, I don’t think we would have partook. We headed to bed after some reading and watching TV, hoping to wake up really, really early to knock out our run so we had a full day to play in Seattle.
Monday: Running Paradise
You know that sleep where you can practically feel your body repairing itself? Yeah, that. We snoozed for a few HOURS because neither of us could bear to bring ourselves out of the wonderful, healing state we were in. Especially to run a bunch of miles. We got out about 2 hours later than we hoped, but the run was critical to get done, so we set out and did it. The weather was gorgeous, and we walked about 1.5 miles out to Union Lake (we got confused a bit trying to get there, but finally found a bridge to cross the street). I was a little rough getting started, and we had to take a pit stop around mile 2 for Zliten, but once we got going again it was just a gorgeous, wonderful run on a beautiful path.
Instead of following the lake we ended up taking the Burke-Gilman trail up through the university and it was just pure pleasurable running. I had a pit stop at mile 5 or so, and then at 6.5 we turned around because it was clear that we were off our intended path of 6.2 miles around Union Lake, twice, and it’s a good thing as apparently it’s 40 miles long or something and I’m not that badass yet.
It was a huge confidence builder, we ran the whole dang way, at a decent pace (11:30 avg), and felt awesome at the end. We walked the 1.5 miles back to the hotel and got gatorade on the way (best gatorade EVAR), for 16 miles total.
We hit the showers and then went out in search of food in the Queen Anne Hill area – we settled on Peso’s for Mexican food. I got my norm of chicken fajitas, and Zliten got some tacos.
We made quick work of some chips and salsa and I polished off all my fajitas quick (total runger), and I enjoyed a prickly pear margarita. By that time, we really only had time for one more activity before our evening plans, so we picked the EMP museum which was just down the street.
They had an awesome horror exhibit exploring the psychology of horror. It had a soundproof scream booth which I apparently negated the soundproofness.
There was a cool projector that twisted shadows into scary thing…
…and so, so, so many awesome props from too many horror movies to name.
They also had a sci-fi exhibit with tons more props – they had lots of Star Trek and Stargate stuff we drooled over and Daleks that wanted to exterminate! Sadly, we were really close to out of time so we raced through the upstairs rock n roll exhibit and hit the hotel quickly for a shower and splurged on a cab downtown to meet some friends of Zliten’s from college for dinner. By the time we had finished the first glass of wine, I knew they were good peoples. The bread there was excellent, and I had a dinner of crab cakes, mashed potatoes, and broccolini. So, so amazing. Zliten got the same thing.
Then, we hit up an Irish pub and enjoyed some booze and watching the sun set over the water and chatting. Then, we went to go see the gum wall, and I added my contribution to Seattle.
We hit up a bar right on the water and drank some wine and split some more cotton candy ice cream. The only thing we wanted to make sure to do was the space needle (again) at night. We were a little sauced up by then, and thoroughly enjoyed the pretty lights from hundreds of feet up. We ran around that!
Across the street was a crazy metal band playing at a bar called Funhouse, so there we went. After some more drinkies and hanging out (I felt pretty out of place in my dress, boots, and cardigan there but oh well), they took us back to the hotel. We weren’t ready to call it a night so we found a bar right down the street called Solo bar. It was very “ultra lounge” inside with cool lighting. We spent the last moments of our last night in Seattle with a hipster blond, techie nerd, and being serenaded by a homeless man.
Tuesday: Don’t wanna don’t wanna don’t wanna
Woke up feeling pretty crappy. This is how I felt about going home.
Zliten was thrilled too.
We had considered getting up early and hitting the science museum, but instead we slept and then furiously shoved our shit in suitcases anywhichwayitwouldgo and caught a car to the airport with just an hour before our flight (oops). It worked out ok, because we ended up having just enough time to get through security, snag a turkey sammich from quiznos, and hop a plane.
We stopped in San Jose, and then had just enough time in Phoenix to grab La Madeline (pesto chicken pasta and a sourdough roll – if you’re going to have a last vacation meal, you might as well go whole hog!) and get on another plane home. Everything went without incident, got into Austin on time, got our bags, got our car, and made it home after 11 and hugged our couch, enjoyed the best night of sleep in weeks, and cursed ourselves for not taking another day off work to recover.
All in all, a freaking fantastic vacation. One of the best ever. Alaska was definitely a unique experience, being part of our friends getting hitched was awesome, I kinda have a little crush on the sunny version of Seattle, and I can definitely say that it didn’t cause me any race issues – it probably helped me be a little more rested and relaxed (though I did get about 75% of the training in I wanted to – which is GREAT for vacay). I ONLY gained about 4 lbs (I’m around 179 now, and I was at a low of 174.6 the day I left) and as you can tell I ate like an asshole the entire time.
I usually have HUGE post-vacay sads but I have so many cool things to focus on in 2012 I’m not even worried about it. Plus, we have another 10 day vacation coming up next spring. 🙂
What was the best thing from your last vacation?