Goin’ to Alaska! The Inside Passage on the Carnival Spirit, Part I

NOTE: an earlier version of this post was disrupted by me tinkering with photos, resulting in their disappearance. I believe all is corrected.

Earlier this month I traveled to Alaska’s Inside Passage, the area that covers Alaska and British Columbia is a series of networked passages between various islands along the Pacific coast.  My trip was the standard Carnival Cruise 7 day excursion – Seattle to Tracy Arm Fjord to Skagway to Juneau to Ketchikan to Victoria, B.C..  I may write more later about the ‘cruise ship’ experience but it was about what I thought it would be (enjoyable enough to recommend this particular destination via any cruiseliner).

I will post a second part as I get more photos of the trip. Meanwhile, below are a few photos and descriptions. I can’t recommend the trip enough. Whether you go on a cruise or fly up there or whatever, you should take time to visit this amazing region.  I will also later post about the EMP and the Carnival Spirit.  Here we go:


Before leaving on a boat, my group and I spent a few days in Seattle, WA, a city famous for it’s steady rainfall. During my trip, it did not rain, so it is not ‘famous for it’s rain’ for me.  The primary thing I wanted to check out was the Experience Music Project – an interactive music museum with several exhibits, including current rooms featuring Rolling Stones and photographer Jim Marshall, Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, and of course Nirvana.  CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE IMAGES.

A huge video screen playing various music videos and short films greets visitors on the second floor.  Each exhibit is pretty thorough, but the Nirvana displays get the most floor space and has a great audio tour for $5 that you listen to via a rented ipod nano (each exhibit has audio available as well as some music tracks from each artists if you prefer to only listen to music while taking it all in)

Inside the EMP
The highlight of the EMP is the Nirvana exhibit, complete with thorough audio tour, memorabilia and essays placing the band and the grunge scene in context within rock music.
There were about 3 or four halls of Nirvana displays. On the uppermost floor of the EMP, there is a music lab, where guests can tinker with guitars, drums, keyboards, audio mixing equipment.
AC/DC was represented with an exhibit. As was Rolling Stones photographer Jim Marshall and rock legend Jimi Hendrix. Each had their own audio tour and related music clips. For $5, the audio tour is the way to go.

I also visited Pikes Fish Market area (a TON of shops there), the Space Needle, took a short harbor cruise, saw the first ever Starbucks store.  Mt Rainier was also visible on this perfect day and is visible in my photo from atop the Space Needle. From the short time I was there, Seattle looked like a great city!

I told this otter to Go The F*ck to Sleep.
Seattle from the little harbor cruise boat.

Who goes to the top of the Space Needle and DOESN’T take a photo? Not me! In the far distance, you can see Mt. Rainier, which isn’t always so easily visible from town.



On a Tuesday morning Sept 4th we boarded the Carnival Spirit. This ship is sailing once more (week of Sept 10th) through the Inland Passage and afterward sailing toward Australia where it will run trips there for the remainder of it’s boat-life.

Tracy Arm Fjord:

The Carnival Cruise Spirit runs up the Pacific coast, and it’s first stop is in Skagway, AK but one day is spent in the Tracy Arm Fjord, where we get our first glimpse of little tiny baby icebergs and glaciers making their way through the forested mountains down to the ocean.   Further inland, the water is still and bright green (glacial silt gives it its color). Dozens of glacier water falls dot the steep mountainsides.  I saw a few dozen lazy seals near the glaciers, one flying bald eagle. Upon returning to the cruise ship at about 7 pm, we spotted several orcas swimming in small tight circles along the coast.

Excursion Nerd Alert! Off the Carnival Spirit and headed further up the Tracy Arm Fjord.
Dozens of glacial ice waterfalls flow down the steep, forested mountains, mixing fresh water into the ocean salt water.
This is the first section we visited – no spectacular glacier calving but some striking blue ice. As we all know, this blue ice is hauled down to the lower 48s to make blueberry Slurpees.
Blue ice!
We were fortunate to witness ice calving (or glacier calving), when a sizable chuck fell into the small little glacier bay in front of us. Big splash. The captain of the little boat quickly turned the boat to face the several waves that soon followed.
We had some rain during this short tour but it was worth it. Amazing views.


In Skagway, we took a tour that involved a train ride up Mt. Roberts, and a little gold mining demonstration with Two-Ton Tom!  The town of Skagway is about 10 blocks long and relies on tourism now to stay open. Once it was bustling with activity due to the gold rush of the late 1880s.

Taken from south end of Skagway looking north. Skagway is about 10 blocks long. The town relies heavily on tourism now but was once part of the gold mining rush of the late 1800s. I was told the town shuts down at end of September and most residents move to warmer territory for the winter.
We did the ‘gold mining’ excursion – taking a train up Mt. Roberts to the British Columbia, Canada and Alaska border. Soon after this pic, the clouds showed up and diminished additional chances of photos. But the area was gorgeous.
Taken near the top of Mt. Roberts – an old bridge to nowhere.
Here’s the crew doing some gold mining, finding a few gold flakes.
“Two-Ton Tommy” our gold mining expert, never broke character (not sure if he knew where he was, ha ha)
Can you spot the Carnival Spirit!? This is our port in Skagway. Not pictured is the rock wall/mountain to the ship’s starboard side – here there is a ton of graffiti where crews of ships paint their ship’s flag and record their captains name to honor him. It is said that the higher the crews place this graffiti, the more respect they have for the captain.

Here is that photo of the graffiti:

Tag the wall to represent your ship and captain!



I did not go on any excursions, but did walk through a bit of downtown – like the other ports, there was some interesting buildings.  Again, not too much time was allowed to explore but I did have time for the tram ride.

Before hopping on, I took this pic – about half-way between the red tram car and the lower right corner, there is a bald eagle sitting on a tree. Very hard to see – I was unable to get a photo later as the windows were covered in too much water.


In Ketchikan for just a few hours, I walked around town but didn’t get too far from the tourist shops/port area. Architecture was most interesting here and the place just looked like something out of a movie set.  The ‘thing’ to see in Ketchikan are totem poles, but since I’m not into totem poles, I didn’t bother (that’s right, I said it – I’m anti-totem poles)

Taken from the cruise ship. Most of the buildings shown are cruise-ship bait – trinkets, shirts, and jewelry for the tourists. I did eat a quick lunch at the Pirate Saloon and listened to a cowboy named Sitka Tex sing and play guitar.


The evening we were to dock in Victoria, the captain got on the intercom and informed us that high winds made this port too dangerous to attempt a stop, so we parked it for a few hours, then headed down toward Seattle, arriving the next morning (Tues, Sept 11), and debarking.

On the Carnival Spirit, we were fortunate to have a table next to a window.
This guy didn’t share his ice cream with me so the waiter ‘ice cream water boarded’ him by first placing his thumbs under a glass of ice water (?) and then shoving a spoonful of ice cream in his mouth – he had to hold this pose for about 30 seconds – lesson learned, ice cream hoarder!

Four Photos of Butters the cat

Here are four photos of my cat and pain-in-the-neck pet, Butters, taken with a new camera (Nikon D3100) – only post effect I did was click on ‘Enhance’ button in iPhoto, which seemed to pop the color on each of them equally.

Holmes v. Cruise v. Scientology v. Who Cares v. ObamaCare v. Blog Bait

If I don’t post about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes getting divorced, who will?

As we all know, on Thursday, the Supreme  Court stuck up for Obama on his ACA (ObamaCare). A day later, Katie Holmes dared to divorce the most popular Scientologist ever. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Here’s why: Katie Holmes is an unskilled worker. If you have seen any of her movies/television shows, you know this. She flaunts it. So, without a real job skill, she is and was always at risk of falling below the poverty level, living a hellish life without proper medical coverage. So, five years ago, this untalented hottie does what she needs to do – marries the first dude who asks her, and whammo! she has health insurance as a married woman to the hottest dyslexic ever born  – Mr. Tom Cruise, High Priest of the Church of Scientology and Movie Star.

This college drop-out can now leave her husband, confident that healthcare as a single, unskilled parent can be obtained cheaply with the federal government’s help.

She has sexy sex with the Movie Star, has a kid, but still finds no time to learn an employable trade. Instead, she relies on her marriage to keep her secure, to keep her health coverage. I bet they were in a PPO plan, spending her free time pushing a stroller around.

Finally, along comes ObamaCare. Katie sees a light at the end of the tunnel. That light tells her she can leave her husband, and not even work, and still possibly be covered! Praise the Lord!

Katie follows the court cases surrounding ObamaCare, understanding very little of course, but knowing very well that the law is not settled and won’t be until the Supremes review the case. She is not sure why a R&B group is involved, but she waits.

Then, last Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts is all “ObamaCare is Here to Stay Forever, Americans, so Get Used To It!  Unless Politicians Repeal It Later!” And Katie Holmes doesn’t hear the second part and so is like “Thank Xenu, Obama and Roberts, I’m outta here. And I’m taking my baby! I can get affordable healthcare without being married to this weirdo!”

So, if you want to blame Obama for ruining the country go ahead. But know this – he also ruined the Holmes/Cruise marriage by insisting on healthcare for all, even unskilled workers like Holmes and her stupidly named space baby, Suri.    Will Election 2012 kill ObamaCare and lead Holmes running back to Cruise?Maybe – if TMZ has anything to say about it.  If it’s repealed, look for Holmes to marry soon – to anyone, solidifying her status as a benefits whore.

What Does a Bus Monitor Do? (answer: possibly nothing)

After reading the story of Karen Klein, the bullied bus monitor, now now rich old lady as donations pour in, I wondered why there was even a bus monitor on board of this bus.  I found this job description for bus monitor for another school and it seems simple enough: help kids cross the road, keep order on the bus, help with safety drills, keep order on the bus, and, oh yeah, keep order on the bus.  Now, Karen Klein has had, as we say, a very bad week. Nobody deserves to be treated that way. Those 4 kids are brats raised by parents who probably don’t have a clue what their kids are really like. They’ve since offered lame apologies but they won’t live this down for a long time.

Again, nobody deserves to be treated that way, and I have no information how good/bad a bus monitor Klein was, but I wonder several things about this story and the purpose of a bus monitor.

1) Where was the bus driver during the bullying of this bus monitor?  If he/she didn’t know what was going on – why not? I’m old enough to say “in my day” and “in my day” we had only the bus driver – a twenty-something named Cindy (and one named Sue, I think) and somehow they kept everyone in line all while driving. Nobody stepped out of line.  Way to go NY bus driver!

2) Why didn’t Karen Klein stand up, move to the front of the bus and get the bus drivers’ help (ie, stop the bus, go back to the kids and take away the camera, and separate the kids).  Has she been asked this by the media? If not, why not?

3) If the bus monitor’s paid job is to keep order and prevent altercations, what skills or training is she given to prevent or discourage behaviors these kids demonstrated?  I would suggest none.  Being a kind old grandma isn’t an excuse for doing a poor job. Obviously a bus monitor is probably not exactly the most exciting job and those who do it have their reasons (part-time income, maybe a fan of the film Speed, who knows?).

4) Respect – As we know through countless reality shows, adults don’t respect adults, and kids often don’t respect adults – perhaps this disrespect has increased or perhaps it is just more openly demonstrated due to mass media/internet. In the school system, we see awful kids and we see awful teachers and administrators.  In the school system, it’s difficult to get rid of bad teachers (thanks, in part,  to unions’ brilliant policies, but that’s another topic). So, perhaps kids learn that it doesn’t matter how godawful you are,  how disrespectful you are, you’re likely to keep your job and remain a paid employee, or remain a student or bus rider (under the threat of a lawsuit against the school).

So, did Karen Klein command the respect from the kids from her first day on the job? Or for all the other days of the fifteen years she worked as a bus monitor?  If not, why not?  Did the kids see her job as a bus monitor as nothing more than an adult getting paid to ride the bus and do very little to keep order? Did they not understand the importance of her job? Or to the kids,  is she just one more adult in the school system who is literally just along for the ride and nothing else. I don’t know.  Again, those kids are scum and she didn’t deserve it but I wonder why this happened.

In high school, I’ve seen substitute teachers brought to tears on day 1 because whatever training they had, it didn’t include managing a group. Weakness is discerned pretty quickly by kids, especially teenagers, and they will pounce and make lives hellish for new and substitute teachers. Full disclosure: I don’t know that I could cut it but I know when I’m in over my head in situations and I know how to yell “bus driver, stop the friggin’ bus! I am outta here!”  It doesn’t make it right, but ignoring the ugly side of human behavior doesn’t make it go away.  Give teachers and bus monitors the skills to manage a group OR the wisdom to remove themselves from the situation before it reaches the level it did on that bus with Karen Klein.

Rule #1: it won’t always be like this on a bus. Don’t believe me? Go see The Sweet Hereafter. Or Speed. Or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.


One final point 5)  – Camera phones.  Parents, did you know there are cell phones out there without cameras?  (or cameras with no storage so that your kid can’t record an impromptu juniorized version of A Clockwork Orange).  What is the reason you give when you tell your more reasonable peers you had to get Skippy or Buffy an iPhone 4 ? For safety? Not true. So your brat can call or text you their every move? Or is it so your brat likes you a little bit more?  For hundreds of years, kids commuted to and from school without the hardware they carry now.   A fancy cell phone is not any better in protecting your kids than a regular, practical phone.  In fact, it’s worse. Kids don’t have good judgment and here you give them a phone that allows them to take photos/videos of anything or anyone, access most everything on the internet, and to chat with anyone on the planet.  And all they have to do in return is answer your phone call or text as you ‘check in’ on them.   So, when you treat them as if they have great enough judgment to carry around a $500 phone and behave responsibly, don’t wonder too much when it all falls apart and they reveal themselves to be the uncontrollable little monsters they are.


Rare Photo of Elvis!

Here’s one of a few rare photos of Elvis Presley:


I’m sure this will be the last set of rare photos of Elvis and Elvis-related events released. That’s it. Everything we know about Elvis is now out there in the open.

Y’know what I’d like to see – the rare photo of Elvis eating a salad.


Ronan Farrow Is Sooooooooo Smart

You might have seen this story about Woody Allen/Mia Farrow bio-kid Ronan Farrow tweeting a severe diss to his Allen:

Oy vey!

Maybe well deserved. For many, Woody Allen is straight-up creepy and unfunny. For others, he is just straight up creepy and funny. And for some, he is not creepy, but still funny.

I’d say Ronan has every right to tweet, given the basics of his family history (ronans’ dad left his mom to begin a new relationship with ronan’s adopted sister – mom and and were never married but still, weird. throw in child abuse accusations for more drama).  Anyway, Twitter is where it’s at. That’s what smart people do – tweet (#getafuckinglife). Every mention of Ronan says how smart he is and he obviously is – he started college at age 11, and, later, was a Rhodes Scholar (#dork) and now does a bunch of important stuff with the government (speechifying and global community organizin’) – we all know when you want to make a difference, working through the State Department is the way to go (#circlejerk). Just ask Syria!  Although, if he was so smart, he would have invented Facebook.

Back to the tweet and what it reveals to anyone with a pulse:

1. He’s mad at Daddy. Not because he remembers being hurt by Daddy, but also because he has been raised by his Mommy/Mia Farrow (aka Mother Earth) to hate him.  Nothing new here. Eventually one might get tired of a parent telling you what to think (or you get upset realizing that you’ve been programmed – right or wrong, it’s still annoying). Plenty of people are raised by a single parent who hates their ex because they ran off when one of the kids. I read about it all the time on Slate’s Dear Prudence. Of course, most single parents don’talso adopt a kid every week, which goes to point 2.

2. He is probably increasingly more aware that his mom is a little crazy and so that just makes his situation more frustrating, raising the anger level.  The most likely reason he went to college early was to get away (#bitchbecrazy)!  Mia makes Brangelina look childless, she adopts so many kids.  Like Woody Allen, Mia Farrow is apparently a homewrecker, having started an affair with a married man, Andre Previn, a fancy-pants musician. Farrow got pregnant (#devilspawn), and Andre left his wife for her. Something the media doesn’t talk about.  So, if you’re Ronan, and you’ve read Wikipedia, you’re thinking, ‘shit, my dad’s a creep, and my mom is an angry little hypocrite. FML!”

3. Posting on Twitter means he KNOWS it will reach Woody Allen (#passiveaggressive).  In a weird way, he is communicating with his dad and nobody else. He has not heard of email, I guess. Not really knowing anything about their whole family drama, I wonder how much communication they have or had years ago after visitations ended (#miniseriesplease!).  Of course, the tweet is  a joke his own dad would have written years ago.

3. Ronan Farrow is about 25 years old. Why now with the Twitter?  Maybe he’s new to Twitter so he’s catching up on all his witty one-liners’ about his old man (#woodyismypops). If he was soooo smart, he would save all this shit for a tell-all book, called Dreams of My Father 2: Payback’s a Bitch Named Soon Yi!  (btw, does Ronan talk to Soon Yi? Uh, probably not). But alas, Ronan has been appointed by the Obama Administration to assist in issues related to the youth and so what does that leave any government official, but loads of time to tweet and work out their personal issues online, 140 characters at a time. When Government Officials tweeet, what could go wrong (#anthonyweinersweiner).

Who knows what Ronan was thinking. I think if my Mom changed my name to ‘Ronan’ I would be pissed about it forever. And if I was a boy genius who grew up to be a BORING fucking diplomat, I’d probably start spending time on Twitter, also. Exhibit A: Ronan firing up the U.N. about youth issues.

That’s right kids – this guy’s fighting for you! All Together Now: “Let’s Go – Children! Let’s Go -Children!”

Good luck, Ronan!  (#unfocusedblogpost)