Saturday, August 9, 2008

Alaska Cruise - Day 1

Friday, 8/8/08...

A big day in Chinese modern history with the official start of the Beijing Olympics. It's also a very nice day in the De Jong family history with Jen's first trip to Alaska, (but her 2nd cruise) Niels' first cruise (but 2nd trip to Alaska) and ... DJ's first plane trip! It's also is our last trip with just the two of us. Well, not completely - just ask Jen about her comfort-level on the plane to Seattle, but that's how we see it... ;-)

In the morning at home I finished the last mundane home task (mowing wet grass with a little 6,5HP mower is a bit challenging) and the last bit of packing (the toiletries) before we traumatized our little shiz-tzu Bailey a little further by leaving her at home for 9 days. After we made sure Bailey has enough food and water until our house and Bailey-sitter Ashley comes over we loaded our suitcases into Miles and left for the Cleveland Airport. After a quick stop at Target we had a nice an uneventful drive with Jen reading me some of C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters. We parked the car at the Airport Fast Park and headed over to check-in. Again no issues and we headed towards the gate, but opted for some lunch at Max and Erma's. We enjoyed some nice Chicken Fingers and a Burger and played some Gin 13 until our plane arrived.

No real issues on the flight to Cincy, but this was about to change when we were waiting for our flight to Seattle. 5 minutes - yes, 5 minutes - before the flight they announced that Delta was not offering complementary food on this 5 hour flight. So, instead of telling us ahead of time so we could prepare, now we had to scramble to get something from the surrounding concessions since with the 5 minute heads-up that was all we could do.

Now armed with 2 pretzels, some trail-mix and a roll of Starburst we boarded the plane. Well, normally you’d expect a bit of warmth while at the gate, but the air conditioning never worked as it should. Neither was one of the toilets, the Dish TV signal nor the survey on the little LCD screen in each seatback. The survey only allowed an "excellent" rating in each category--not quite what we had in mind! In the in-flight magazine it showed that Kungfu Panda was shown. Yes, it was but for $6 (each!!) so we opted for some of the Trivia games that were free and played some more Gin 13. With the AC stuck on ‘hot’ we resorted to use the ice-cubes provided by a very friendly stewardess. That extra ziplock bag really helped when they filled it with ice. We also sat over the wings, so no views of the mountains (we actually were in cloud-cover for most of them so we didn’t miss anything). We did get a good view of downtown Seattle when we landed so it made up for something.

We arrived in Seattle a few minutes ahead of time and when walking off the plane, the cool and very welcome Pacific North West breeze was felt in the jetway… Nice!! That’s what we expected on the plane, but after a 5 hour plane-ride with the beforementioned AC setting it was very, very welcome. We walked to the Baggage Claim and got our bags and caught the shuttle to the Hotel. The outside was unimpressive, but the rooms are very nice and the beds are very comfy. We got some dinner at the adjacent restaurant and got to talk to a South African while watching the Opening Ceremonies on TV. They were ABSOLUTELY amazing. As NBC’s Matt Lauer was saying ‘when it comes to Opening Ceremonies, lock-up the trophy’.

We tried to stay awake during the Parade of Nations to cheer the Dutch and American athletes, but with the time difference it was already past midnight and we just couldn't make. So we watched most of that the next morning.

Next stop: The ship: HAL’s MS OOSTERDAM !!

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