Saturday, August 25, 2012

And I'm Back

A week goes by quickly... well, actually not for me it didn't. When you're eating yourself silly breakfast lunch and dinner time goes by very slowly.... very slowly indeed. Lot's of natural beauty, in a week, and for that, there was not enough time. But time off is time off, and did I find the extra source of creativity that I was looking for? Maybe, but it's all so hazy and swimming somewhere in my mind along with all of the Hollandaise sauce that I consumed.

This pretty much sums up the tourist traps they dropped us off at along the way.

Alaska is at once familiar and a little bit different from growing up in BC. There's a lot of it that we can relate to... the mountain, the trees, the resource based economy. Yet, there's something just a little bit different. It's not so much an Americaness as it is an sense of independence and self-reliance. It only makes sense, as we're attached to the rest of confederation and Alaska is cut off from the rest of the 49 states. Alaskans have to be just a little more independent, and little more mavericky:
Surprisingly enough, you can have a nice long pleasent conversation with the Sarah Palin shop owner without diving once into politics. And yes, they know you're buying the crap for the irony of it, so don't be an ass and make a big show about it if you do.
Can you know a people in seven days? Yes, but not if you're guided by the hand every step of the way. Let me put it to you this way... the Alaska I saw was for the most part not the rugged frontier of yore. Or maybe it was:
Maybe this is a little more authentic as a souvenir?
Cruises are by their very nature very structured and very safe holiday excursions. Somewhere along the way, you will be bored, if only for a little while. But when you think about it, it`s quite an undertaking to get a couple of thousand passengers up and down the North American coast like that.

Glacier Bay National Park

Alaska is rugged territory, and ironically, well worn by tourists in this day and age. As was recommended to me, bring the widest angle lens that you've got. I did a lot of panorama stitching shots while we were in Glacier Bay. This was the highlight of the trip,m and thankfully, the cruise director let the the majesty speak for itself. Also, along the way back, especially in the inside passage waters off of northern British Columbia, be on the lookout for ways and dolphins. You might get about 30 seconds before they move on, so if you have a longer lens, and I`m talking Nikon 70-300VR for DX crop shooters, be prepared.

And just a final thanks to the crew and staff of the ms Zuiderdam, of which a very large contingent is Indonesian. It's very hard work, especially to work so hard so that we passengers could rest and relax. I'm not under any illusions, I know how hard the work is, and how little the pay is. Today was my stateroom's attendant's last day after six months at sea, and afterwards, he will head home to see his newborn that he has not met yet. Just knowing that is humbling, and makes you think that time off is still not time to be wasted. Hats off to Holland America Line for incorporating the ethnicity of their crews into the holiday experience. If you are ever on a HAL cruise, stay up for the crew show... it's not professional, but it has a lot of heart. I've always felt a special fondness for the Filipinos because of how warm and welcoming my friend's families are, and much in the same vein, I feel like I also want to get to know the Indonesian people... the real Indonesian people, better. This was our last night on the cruise....If this were the only reason to come back, it would be enough:
(By the way, that's at the top of the dining room stairwell.... The health and safety people don't allow the baked Alaska parade to be set on fire anymore, I hope they're not watching this...)

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