Alaska Cruise Log Day 2: Sunrise at Sea

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Dawn just before sunrise on the open sea with the Alaskan coast in the background.

ISO date 2015-08-02. After sleeping soundly the first night aboard, my alarm woke me gently at 5:40am. Without knowing what our precise latitude and longitude would be when, I had to estimate when the sun might rise for us. I say us, because the night before my roommate, nephew1, had agreed to get up and go running with me at sunrise.

Sunday Runday

This is the same nephew that has left me minutes behind the past three years in the Turkey Trot 5k. And he’s only getting faster, faster than I’m getting faster. But first I had to get him up. Took only about 10 minutes and we were up and running up three flights of stairs to the Lido deck.

The sky was already aglow. Once outside we ran up another flight of stairs to the Sun deck. It was quiet and empty, except for a small handful of photographers with their serious cameras.

Nephew1 and I found a nice vantage point after walking around the ship. As the sun crested the landmass to the East (likely Alaska), everything grew brighter until we could see orange glimmers on the waves.

We ran a lap around the upper deck, including up and down stairs as needed to keep going around. Suddenly it was clear we were both hungry (a common theme it seems), he told me quietly, no demanding, no whining, no complaining.

I’d learned that when a preteen even quietly says they’re hungry, it’s best to listen. Knowing the Horizon Court buffet had opened at 06:00, we stopped in to get a small bite and quickly found nephew1’s dad already inside, snacking and working on his laptop.

We finished our little first breakfast snack break and nephew1 wasn’t so sure he wanted to run anymore. I convinced him to stick with it, he convinced me that it was ok if he “only” did 3km. We ran several laps around the ship and hit 3km just as we got to the staircase between decks. I let him know he’d achieved his goal and he happily returned to our room.

My training schedule (which continued after last week’s half marathon) called for 4 miles today, so I kept running until I hit that and more. I returned to my room to change for the one yoga class I’d signed up for and had some time so I read a bit more of MATM.

Shipboard Yoga

Five til nine I left and ran up to the gym. Easily made it on time and grabbed a spot next to my mom and middle sister. Leading the yoga session was an Australian fitness instructor, who seemed friendly enough, yet had received perhaps just cursory training in all the different course offerings.

He took us through a warmup, some unethusiastic sun salutations, and then a few warrior sequences. He closed with simple floor stretches, the customary shavasana, and cross legged sitting pose finish.

Feeling a bit wanting, I went through an arm balance sequence. First, 30 seconds of crow pose, doing my best to hold the pose and relax, breathing regularly while I counted down from 10 then up then down again. While relaxing I could feel the very subtle swaying of the ship (it’s a big ship) under my hands.

My mom had also continued with her own stretches. I offered to show her side crow — she was there when I first learned it from Jordan, my favorite teacher at Mission Cliffs. She declined for now, citing some back stiffness.

I sat into chair pose, twisted to one side, hands down, hips up & knees on triceps, leaned forward and balanced for 10 seconds. Then side crow on the other side. I stood up to warrior 1, twisted to one side placing my hands on my thigh, twisted further and placed my hands down on the floor. Lifting my hips up again and onto my triceps, I leaned forward into side crow split legs for a few seconds. Just learned that a few weeks ago. Then the other side. Closed with a dual wrist stretch plank and mayurasana.

Second Breakfast and Softserve

Returning to my room I read some more of MATM, up to the 20% mark. Finally showered & changed for the day and went back upstairs to the Horizon Court for brunch AKA second breakfast with my parents and middle sister.

Afterwards my dad and I took the elevator up to deck 19 (The Star Deck) which I hadn’t figured out how to otherwise get up to. We found and walked the official “jogging track” which had a net enclosed basketball court at one end. Found the steps down to deck 18, then 17, then 16 which I’d run past numerous times that morning. Labeled only with an innocuous “Center Court” sign, I made a note of the foot of these stairs for future explorations.

I showed my dad the entire loop around the boat that I had run earlier that morning. He seemed quite proud. It was only a week ago that we had both completed the 2nd half of the San Francisco Marathon.

The thing about running is, on the days where you get in a satisfying medium to longish run, you never stay full for long. After our walk lap I grabbed a chocolate softserve with sprinkles and found a nice table by the pool to catch up with all the things I didn’t do before I left the grid. Most things I let go, into the future, to the Sunday after my return. I noted a couple of things to check should I opportunistically find a decent uplink at our next port of call.

A slice of margherita pizza helped me keep the momentum and both finish braindumping recent memory from yesterday & today til the present time, as well as get started on writing up day 1’s log into a post.

Lunch and Day 1 Log

As I serialized memories to text by the table, my younger sister came by and said hi, also going for a walk around the boat. A while later my father came by, and I was hungry again. I wrapped up my thoughts in a paragraph, and we went to lunch.

As usual I started my buffet plate with a huge salad (that’s buffet hack #1, salad and veggies first, then protein, lastly if you have room maybe a bit of starch, skip dessert). The smell of Indian food hit my nose and I decided to try the Dhingri Matter [sic], paired with some mashed potatoes. A few fried calamari with tartar sauce and a very small piece of trout rounded out my plate.

My father and I both ate and took in the view. We were both in the mood to write, he got out his notebook, and I my laptop and continued writing yesterday’s log. Got to the sunset writeup, was hit by a strong memory, and rewrote it three times before capturing it in a short aside. Suddenly it was five minutes to tea time. A good stopping point for sure.

Tea Time

Dad had mentioned that Tea Time was my mom’s favorite meal of the cruise. Perhaps even her favorite thing on the cruise. We walked quickly to the Da Vinci Restaurant, the same place we’d had our sit down dinner the first night.

My mom was nearly the first person in line waiting for them to open. We joined her and by the time they started letting people in the line had grown. We asked for a table for 8, they asked us if everyone was here. We looked back in line, and most of our crew was back a few people. We waived them up and got seated.

Tea time is just as you might expect. We sat at a nice round table for 8. Tea cups and small plate settings for everyone. Within moments a server poured us all cups of tea. Then the platters came.

First the pastries, as cute as you might see in any fancy bakery, all lined up on a tray held by a server more than eager to explain what each of them were and then gently use her tongs to pick up whatever you requested or pointed at and place it on your plate.

Next the cookies, soft, crunchy, butter, peanutbutter, chocolate, and some banana bread too. Third the sandwiches — miniature, just larger than bitesize. Each tray was brought by a different server.

Finally the fresh baked scones arrived on a round platter, kept warm under cover of aluminum foil. As the scone server offered and served them one by one, she was followed closely by a waiter who served dollops of jam, clotted cream, or both upon request.

Then of course the inevitable additional offerings of all the above and teacup top-ups. Stuffed, once again.

First Formal Evening

Afterwards I wanted to do nothing but recline, and yet it was too nice out to do so indoors. I found a chair by the Calypso pool, kicked back, and finished writing up day 1’s post. There was just enough time left to get dressed for our first formal evening. Apparently on cruises like this they designate 2-3 nights as “formal” nights where everyone is expected to dress-up, perhaps to set more of a deliberately dressed-to-impress party atmosphere.

I changed into the only button down shirt I’d brought, my other black pants (the first pair had soaked up a bit of water from that poolside chair), and my nicer black jacket, G-star, along with my polished black boots. No tie, blazer, nor white shirt. None of those is who I am, and I’m supposed to be having fun on this cruise, so I dressed formal my way.

We walked together as a family down to the Crown Grill restaurant for our reservation. They were not quite ready for us, so we took a few formal photos at the black felt backed photo station just outside.

Once again, amazing food. Salmon in many forms, and other tasty things. After they took our orders for dessert, they came back with a birthday dessert for my mom, then everyone else’s orders, as well as an extra dark chocolate mousse heart garnished with a pool of strawberry jam, a couple of raspberries. I won’t even try to describe the nine layer smores that a couple of us got. You’ll just have to wait til I update this post with photos.

Sunset and Sleepy TRON Time

After a nice post-dinner walk, we watched the sun set on the sea yet again. The farther North we went, the later the sun actually set, nevermind how long it took for it actually get dark out.

Somehow after all that I was hungry yet again, and grabbed a slice from the pizza bar. Finally around 22:00 I went back to my room where my roommate nephew1 was just getting ready for bed, definitely past his normal bedtime.

He asked if he could watch more TRON, and I said yes, but we should probably limit it to 20 minutes tonight since it was already late. I setup the laptop at maybe a minute or so before where we left off, turned off the lights and hit play. I fully intended to go back out again, since I was already all dressed-up.

I kept writing and somehow just fell asleep. That sort of thing happens when you try doing things lying down in bed in the dark. I awoke almost 50 minutes later, and in an instant knew that the movie was farther along than it should be.

I told my nephew we had gone way over and needed to change into our pajamas and go to sleep. Realizing I’d been up since 05:40, then having run, done yoga, eaten so much, and walked around & up/down stairs a lot, the exhaustion suddenly made sense. We called it a night. The Solar Sailer escape would have to wait.

Continued: Alaska Cruise Log Day 3: Juneau