Saturday, September 17, 2016

Alaska-Part 4

We had booked the trip excursions we wanted to take before we left from home.  Knowing zip lining was on Kevin's bucket list, I had signed us up for this fate tempting devilry in Skagway, and we had just now arrived.  My stomach was fluttery and all resolve to be brave and attempt this for Kevin's sake had vanished. I had hid my anxiety pretty well until he found out I hadn't slept very much the previous night.  I peered out the cabin window as the ship was docking.  The sky was overcast. It appeared to have rained recently and dense fog hung over the harbor.  Maybe the excursion will be canceled! Wanting to help relieve me of trepidation, Kevin was all for checking at the service desk for any cancellations. I timidly asked if the zip lining was still on schedule. The attendant informed us that yes, it was still a go and then added, "It should be a lot of fun.  The zip lines go even faster when it's rainy and wet."  Just the answer I wanted to hear!!

I managed to eat breakfast and then it was time to gather on the dock to board the bus which would take us out to the rain forest.  Our guide was a college student earning money for the summer by enabling people to do these crazy things. Once there we hiked up a rugged trail on the side of a summit, stopping at a station where more college kids joined us to fit us with waist and chest harnesses. We checked out the other travelers in our group and shared some friendly banter about our anxieties.  It was somewhat reassuring to discover only one person in the group of ten or so, had zip lined before.

Moving on, now suited up with the right gear, we again stopped at a higher elevation.  In front of us hung three suspension bridges that would have to be crossed before any zipping would take place. What?! I didn't know this was on the agenda! The bridges straddled a ravine below us and were hooked between tree tops.  I watched our first group member step onto the planks of the first bridge.  There were no sides to hold on to; just a strap connected from his chest to the cable above.  The guides had demonstrated how if someone were to 'fall' off the planks, you would hang there in mid air until balancing back on the bridge.  No chance of really falling down. Right! The group watching the first brave soul crossing slowly,  began to break the tenseness by shouting out words of encouragement and support.  After three or four had crossed, the guides helped them begin to cross the next bridge while the rest of the group continued across the first one.  That was our pattern for the rest of the adventure. We crossed the bridges and later zipped between tree stands, with five minute waits between zips to the next tree.
I made it across the first bridge, then the second, which had rope loops to step into, and finally the third, a 2x4 beam to foot across.  The last two did have a thin cable on either side to hold onto which made it a bit less intimidating. When we finally hung and glided across the zip lines, I began to relax and even enjoy the sensation.  The rides were only moderately fast and the guides were always on either end of the zip to send us off and then to apply the brakes as we approached the next stop.  Not near the scary, risky endangerment I had imagined. Whew!

Our group was quite fun and international- from Australia, Japan, Asians living in New Jersey, and Serbia. Would I do it again? Perhaps, but having done it once, I'm perfectly satisfied not to.  Kevin had a great time.  Cross that one off the list, my dear.
All geared  up!
The first bridge! That's our guide making it look easy.

Me crossing the 3rd bridge

 Me on the last zip

This shows some of the height we reached.
Our group after the last zip.

We had another excursion planned that day, but it was cancelled due to foggy weather.  So instead of the bike ride down a summit, we had some time to explore the town of Skagway.  The town was quite small and is kept alive by the tourists who visit.  Besides the Ruby docked there that day at least two other vessels about the same size as ours had also docked.  At 3-4,000 people on each one there are quite a number of visitors over the summer months.  Skagway's history tells of a stopping place for gold rushers with saloons and brothels aplenty.  As our guide pointed out the sites,  he said there are  three ways to get to Skagway- by boat, by air and by birth canal.  Another fact about the town; there are no resident doctors.  I was glad to visit, but it would not be a place I'd want to live in.

We boarded back on the ship Thursday evening.  Friday and Saturday would be  at sea with a stop in Vancouver, Canada Saturday evening and from there,  the Ruby would sail back to Seattle, arriving Sunday morning. We had only a few more days to enjoy this kind of relaxing schedule and the pleasant amenities onboard.

Daylight hours to view Vancouver were few as we didn't dock until 7 pm.  Our scheduled walk through the Butterfly Museum was in a greenhouse of beautiful plants and butterflies that landed easily on our shoulders or hair. Next was a stroll through the Butchart Gardens.  It was too dark to enjoy the full beauty of the flowers, even though the grounds featured special night lighting just for evening tours.  Besides nature's attractions we discovered the lines for popcorn and ice cream.  Cruise ships don't specialize in hard dipped ice creams or popcorn.  The evening ended with a fireworks show in the Gardens.  Crowds kept us from comfortably watching the show and exiting the gardens was a slow process as we weaved towards the exit among a river of people all bottlenecked together.  There were many lighted buildings and venues in the city to enjoy as we were bused back to the ship. Another city I'd like to return to some day.
Butterfly Garden

As we felt the boat bump into the shore of Seattle Sunday morning, we made one last visit to the 11th deck breakfast buffet and then began our debarkation. Another impressive system in place to get all of us back to land, through customs, and onto the right bus to take us to the right terminal at the airport. I had an unexpected feeling of nostalgia as we walked off the vessel.  Goodbye Ruby Princess!  Thank you for your wonderful hospitality.

And thank you, God, for your good gifts.  For 20 years of marriage to a man who is kind, compassionate and always faithful.  We have much to be thankful for. 

A few more pictures if you've lasted with me this far:

Formal night:

One of the two formal nights on the cruise

One of the rare warm-enough-to-eat-outside breakfasts

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