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For the past few days we haven’t had any internet access, but now that we’re in Juneau (Alaska’s capital) there’s plenty of internet….although there’s no highway access to this city. Anyhoo I’ll share some fun facts about Juneau later. First here’s a little recap of the days I’ve missed:

August 10 2011
Today I woke up early, around 7, to get ready for my first massage. I ate breakfast with my mom at Beach Blanket Buffet and then headed to the Vista Spa. They handed me a little form to fill out about my physical condition and soon after someone led all the women to a changing room where we were clearly meant to change together. Since they were the first massages of the day though it was pretty awkward and everyone took turns in the bathrooms to get into their robes. Then we waited while I secretly prayed that I wouldn’t have a male massage therapist.

Eventually Brooke walked in and called my name, she was a girl. She was from Australia and was very nice. The massage actually hurt a lot more than I expected at first and I must have been making some pretty funny faces with my head in that little spot. After she’d worked out some of the knots though it felt really good. Deffinitely a good first massage experience although Brooke seemed to think that I should be getting massages on a weekly basis and that I should try to take another one on the cruise itself because my shoulder muscles are full of knots. We’ll see about that… I felt wonderful once I was back up and moving around.

Enterning the room Natalie asked if I wanted to go to breakfast and in true hobbit-style I went with her to second breakfast. We ate at Tritons and got gluten-free pancakes. After thoroughly stuffing our faces we went to the Gold Castaway Party where we had non-alcoholic champagne and got to see some videos about the new ships and cruises as well as mingling with some of the ship’s officers.

Since it was time for lunch at that point (despite the fact I’d already eaten two meals) we went to Beach Blanket Buffet for lunch where it took 5 different waiters to ask the chef if the risotto was gluten-free (it was). Captain Gus had decided to take us through a scenic narrow passage with mountains on either side which Natalie and I watched from the bow of the ship. We even spotted some dolphins swimming along with the ship on the starboard side. With just enough time to get to the movies we ran to the theater to see Winnie the Pooh. It was incredible and Natalie and I were laughing the whole way through it.

After a quick nap it was time to take pictures with Captain Gus…but where was dad? He had gone to a massage appointment at 4:30 and we’d gotten a call around 4:50 asking whether he was coming or not. Since then we hadn’t heard from him and we’d been expecting him around 5:30 for the picture. We got into the line anyways figuring he’d been down any moment. After waiting in the full line 3 times I went to ask the spa what had happened. I found out that he showed up, late they said, and that he would be done at 6. We’ll never really know what happened there because when dad got back he said he’d been right on time. In any case we took a picture with Captain Gus just mom Natalie and I and when dad got there we took another one including him. The photographer must have thought we’d picked up a stranger to add to our picture.

The show that night was The Golden Mickey’s which is styled like The Oscars and has some of the great Disney classic songs and characters. It’s one of my favorite shows for sure. When Clayton, the cruise director, came on at the end to let us know about upcoming events and mentioned Ed Alonso Natalie and I got very excited. Ed Alonso was Max on Saved by Bell if you were unaware. We went to see his magic show right then. One of the particularly funny tricks involved Ed selecting a young boy, explaining a simple task to him and having him fail several times only to discover he’d picked the only little boy in the audience who didn’t speak English. At the end of the show Natalie and I went to get his autograph and told him we were big fans of the show (“But you’re so young!!”) Then we took a picture with him with all three of us leaning over my camera.

Since mom and dad were at Palo’s for dinner (the adult restaurant), Natalie and I went to formal night dinner alone. We had a great time, goofed around a bit, had our pictures taken, and chatted with Laura and Amp. At dinner Laura brought us extra dessert (stawberries and chocolate). I can’t go on without pointing out how funny we must have looked, just the two of us, at an eight person table. That’s not to say that the four of us don’t look funny at the eight person table but you get the idea.

Natalie went to see Pirates in the theater with some friends while mom, dad and I went to the adult show where John Charles played songs from the 40s-1973 (the year he says his radio died). Some very drunk women also convinced him to play some Gaga. Since I wasn’t able to find Natalie in the theater we went to watch some adult karaoke and eventually headed back to the room to slepe when we ran into Natalie.

August 11 2011
This morning we had the character breakfast at Parrot Cay and guess who was missing? Good guess. Dad had stayed extra late at the gym and wasn’t at breakfast when we arrived. After ordering I went to find him–in the room—about to take a shower. I told him he’d better hurry and luckily he made it to the table right before Mickey got there. By the end of the breakfast we all had funny napkin hats that our waiters made us. Dads was probably the coolest as the mad hatter with a tea cup on the side of his head. Perhaps in an effort to redeem himself for being so late he pointed out how nice the name Amp is because it’s so current. (A real knee slapper…at least mom really thought so).

Natalie and I walked a mile around the ship and then ate some ice cream in an effort to negate our workout. Then, in an effort to confuse our digestive systems we ate lunch after dessert at Tritons. On the way to Alaska Trivia afterward we saw a whale out the window and it wasn’t nearly as scary as I would have thought.

With a whopping three two person teams Alaska Trivia was a blast although Natalie and I weren’t doing so hot and ended up with 13/25 questions right. The host was poking fun at us while we corrected our answers because Natalie kept saying “I told you not to put that!” when we got something wrong. Here are some fun facts we know now:
Alaska’s state flower is a Forget me Not.
Alaska was sold by Russia for less than 2 cents an acre to the US in 1959.
Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska. (Something I should have known from reading Sarah Palin’s book…)
Alaska provides 25 percent of the oil in the US.
As Trivia ended we entered Tracy Arm where we would see our first glacier of the trip. The fjord was very narrow but very beautiful and Natalie and I watched a while from deck four until we fell asleep in the deck chairs. After visiting the room we were watching from our verandah and saw ice bergs, the big glacier, a bald eagle and baby and harbor seals. When we got close enough we could see parts of the glacier breaking off and the newly severed sections were especially blue since the ice is so dense that is the only color in the spectrum that is refracted for our eyes to see.

Realizing that it was 5:35 and Natalie and I were missing our next big plans we ran midship to take pictures with Kenai and Coda from Brother Bear. They are characters we’ve never seen before and we waited in a 30 minute line to get the picture with them…we also got some really great bear hugs from them.

John Charles had a family show that night that we went to and then we watched Who wants to be a Mousekateer which our mom is incredible at. Probably the best answer we heard all night though came from the woman sitting behind us. After hearing the question, “What is the white rabbit’s problem in Alice in Wonderland?” She blurted out “Drugs.” and then put her hand over her mouth. We thought it was hilarious.

That night we ate at Animators Palate where the dining room slowly changes into color throughout the night. I’m always very excited when Sorceror Mickey comes in at the end to dance around the dining room to the Fantasmick music and tonight was no exception. Also of note, I had my first dish with mushroom in it and really liked it. We ran out of the dining room when we finished out desserts to get to the showing of Gnomeo and Juliet. I have to admit I dozed off a bit but all in all it seemed very cute.

August 12 2011
Today I ordered a gluten-free eggs benedict and was blown away when they actually brought one to the table half an hour later. It was great. Natalie was blown away when she sighted John Charles at the next table over. We docked in Skagway in the morning and then met for our shore excursion.

Driving through Skagway, you can’t blink or you’ll miss it. Skagway is a town of 850 people and it is tiny. Our excursion was to Musher Camp up a high mountain where we would get to ride a summer dog sled driven by Alaskan Huskies. On the way there our bus driver told us we’d be getting a free massage since it was about half an hour of driving on unpaved roads. I thought it felt pretty good and it certainly kept me awake. On the way there we saw bald eagles and seals in the fjords we passed. When we arrived we hopped onto a unibomber (used most notably in WWII) and drove to the starting point for the dogs.

The dogs were very excited to see us and we got to go with the speed racing team. Since it was their first lap of the day they were ecstatic. Because the two younger girls in our group didn’t want the front seats Natalie and I offered. We were given ponchos for our legs and told that mud probably wouldn’t get on our face. How very very wrong that turned out to be. Thirty seconds into the run we were spitting out mud and covered with little mud freckles. We had a great time regardless (and partially because) of our great seats. When we returned to camp we got to hold the little baby puppies. They were adorable. I mean I can’t even express the cuteness.

On the way back to town we saw a lot of salmon all swimming upstream (except for those being picked off by seagulls). We walked through the town for a bit and did a little geocaching as well. I was most excited to see all the Sarah Palin gear. We took some pictures with her cardboard cut out and even went into the only Sarah Palin themed store in the world. I bought a little tin of mints that reads, “Coldest State. Hottest Governor.” It was all pretty funny and I got to talk a little with the woman who owned the store although I had to be careful not to give away my own political views.

Boarding the ship again we headed to the theater to see Cars 2. Natalie and I each got smoothies that came with a light up Lightning McQueen. The movie was very good and after it ended we headed to watch “So you Think you Know your Family.” We learned all sorts of very funny parenting choices being made by our fellows cruisers. Like the dad who makes fun of his son for having Beiber-hair and makes him sing Beiber. Or the dad who uses salt on all his food. “It’s moms cooking.” He said in defense. We’ll see if he gets dinner made for him at all when he gets home from the cruise.

On the way out of the show we ran into Ariel and Princess Tiana and had our pictures taken. At dinner Laura and Amp were wearing new outfits with bowlin ties for the Alaskan cruise. Dinner was great as usual and Laura made us some frog oragami to take back to the room. At Karaoke Natalie and I sang “What I’ve Been Looking For” from High School Musical because we know the harmonies. When Karaoke ended we walked around the ship and snuck to the door in the Walt Disney Theater where we could see the actors practicing through a crack. Then we watched the elevators go up and down floors for a while and eventually headed to bed.