Chat with Deb—Raining in Alaska! It Happens!

We knew it had to happen eventually

Previously, on Deb & Jack’s Alaska Vacation:

We woke up at… I was about to say “zero-dark-thirty,” but that far north in May, sunrise was four-something, and we were on vacation, dammit, so we slept in until 6:00AM. Which was really more like 7:00AM, because we’d switched time zones during the night, but by this point our bodies had given up on this whole circadian rhythm silliness and were just going with, “Oooh, light out! Must be daylight!”¹ And it was daylight in Ketchikan.

The view from our verandah (balcony). The town before us is Ketchikan, Alaska, our first Alaskan port of call. If you look carefully, you’ll notice the town is really wide and very narrow, in terms of flat surface available. The “streets” up the side of the hills are actually nothing but stairways, but they have street names, street signs, and USPS house numbers. (all photos by author unless otherwise noted)

We had an excursion we had to be on the dock for at 7:30, so we had ordered breakfast the night before, and it arrived promptly. I also had leftover rolls from the night before.

Passion fruit, granola, vanilla yogurt, chia seeds, & mint, plus coffee. I also had one of the leftover rolls Marko had wrapped for me the night before.

ME: Drat!

DEB: Hmmmm?

ME: I should have let Marko include butter. I mean, the rolls are good, but they’d be better with butter.

DEB: We trust him with all his other meal meal recommendations, and then turn him down on butter. What have we learned from this?²

Breakfast is excellent, and we proceed down to Deck 0 to debark, using our room keycards to check out, because Holland America Lines (HAL) likes to find out if they’re missing anyone before they get underway. We were wearing full rain gear.

ME: It’s raining.

DEB: The weather report said it would be.

ME: The weather report said it would be raining yesterday. And the day before. And the day before. Why should I believe them now?

Closer look at Ketchikan. Not quite a vertical town, but I would not want to be a piano mover in this place… Also note the pretty mountains, and this is with rain, mist, and crap for visibility!

We had signed up for a boat tour of the Misty Fjords. It was… well, less than majestic, shall we say. The good part was that the tour boat had comfortable seats and large windows to observe the mist. It was not awful, it just didn’t compare to the scenery we had seen just in Vancouver and on the coastal views on the trip north.

We passed close to big rocks. They were… rocks. That were big.

DEB: Okay! Well, that was… very nice. Shall we walk around town, honey?

“Town” consisted of shops dedicated to tourists at sea level, and homes at an assortment of altitudes. Meanwhile, it was raining. Yes, still. Yes, I know what the weather report said, shut up.

ME: Hey, look who pulled into town!

The Princess Cruise Lines “Discovery Princess.” They were also with us in Vancouver. HAL and Princess are sister lines; HAL ships are fancier, smaller, and more expensive; the Princess ships are freakin’ monsters. But they have a jumbotron on the top deck, because… I have no clue.

We bought a little bitty polar bear for Deb’s miniatures collection and a polar-style nativity ornament (Deb is a sucker for nativity sets, and I’m a sucker for making my wife happy).

DEB: So it’s okay if I buy it?

ME: Debster, as I keep mentioning, thanks to your pension and higher Social Security income, we are mostly living off your income. You don’t need my permission to buy stuff!

DEB: But we talk about things beforehand. If we’re spending money.

ME: Valid point. I think the ornament is cute and will look great on our Christmas tree.

The view looking astern as we depart Ketchikan. Yes, there are TWO cruise ships docked— the Royal Caribbean “Ovation of the Seas” had pulled in before we left. “Ovation” can hold almost 5,000 passengers, plus 1,500 crew, while Ketchikan had 8,192 people in the 2020 census. Having that large a crowd descend on that small a town just boggles my mind; having that large a crowd PLUS TWO OTHER CRUISE SHIPS docked is… ack, I can’t even!

We got underway for Juneau that afternoon. Still rainy.

DEB: It says here it rains in Ketchikan 365 days a year… nope, sorry, not true! In leap years it rains 366 days.

We had dinner in the main dining room.

Salmon with Alaskan amber beer bearnaise sauce; Salmon with my special spouse; red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting (which we shared).

DEB: The red velvet cake is not like Mom used to make it!

ME: If you don’t like it I can eat your—

DEB: No no no, I like it!

Despite sharing dessert we were pretty full, so we did a few laps around Deck 3. This time I remembered to set my watch to record the workout.

WATCH: Mile One! Three minutes, forty-three seconds!

ME: Well that’s— wait, what?! I beat a four-minute mile?! That makes no sense!

DEB: I thought we were more like eighteen to twenty minutes per mile?

ME: When I’m walking with you, yes, because you walk faster than I do and I have to keep up. OH! I have the workout set to an outdoor walk!

DEB: Which uses GPS—

ME: —and we’re on a ship doing, what did they say, eleven knots? So maybe twelve, twelve and a half miles per hour? She thinks I’m moving at fifteen miles an hour!³

DEB: She must be very proud of you, honey!

The view out from the forward end of Deck 3; not a window, it just framed it that way (and I thought the effect was nice). Starting to get clear enough to see mountains again.
Yes, they put down a different carpet in the elevators each day so you were reminded what day it was. Not a bad idea, actually.

DEB: We don’t pull into Juneau until mid-morning, and our helicopter trip isn’t until 11:30. So we can sleep in tomorrow!

ME: And then hope it doesn’t rain. Again.

¹Actually, some of us—fine, just me—had our circadian rhythm destroyed decades before. Living on a sub, with zero sunlight for clues, was bad enough; I also had “days” that were 18, 24, or (the worst) 30 hours long, depending on watch schedule. My primitive instincts went from “Feels like night, must sleeeep!” to “Oh, we go bed now? Okay!”

²Another of my favorite phrases is, “So, what have we learned from this?”, which I delight in saying when someone does something wrong. Of course Deb has adopted it.

³Or nine miles an hour when we walked bow to stern. My watch asked me a couple times on the “slow” legs if I wanted to end the workout. I think she was worried about me because I had to slow down so much?



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jack Herlocker

Jack Herlocker

Husband & retiree. Developer, tech writer, & IT geek. I fill what’s empty, empty what’s full, and scratch where it itches. Occasionally do weird & goofy things.