Saturday, July 23, 2011

Great Alaskan Marathon Cruise, Day 1

 Suz took us to the terminal, where we were  quickly processed and given an early boarding number -- group 5. We boarded the ship before noon and went straight to our cabin to drop off our things, poke around in the cupboards and closets, and take a few pictures.

We headed up to the Lido deck for some lunch -- a huge salad and a few hot things from the gargantuan buffet, enjoyed in the sun by the main pool. Afterward we went to check in at the Hudson Room to collect our race packets and swag. Apparently we went in through the back door (we had come from the bow of the ship, rather than midships, she said all nautically...), so stumbled in to the room in the wrong direction. But no matter. We met Mila, our cruise escort, who gave us our packets. Then we met John and Jenny, who are delightful. Really lovely people. We chatted a little about Brooks and the running business, but knew that they had many others to meet and greet. Our swag? Red duffle bags, red fleece vests, white long sleeve tech tops, white caps, and race numbers. Heaven!!!

After picking up our bags we went to a very poorly attended talk given by a park ranger about the Klondike gold rush -- actually very nice, and very informative. I did feel badly for him, talking to so few people. My mind still reels a little at the thought of carrying a ton of supplies per person to the Klondike. And I thought I overpacked...

We poked around the ship a while before going to the lifeboat drill -- now, strangely enough, we were told not to attend in our life jackets. How sad that no one gets the joy of bustling around with a bright orange horse collar around their neck. Then, as the ship started backing out of her berth, we played a little game, walking slowly to stay level with a pole on the dock, but having to speed up more and more as the ship gained speed. Eventually the ship would get up to more than 20 knots, or something like 23 mph.

Afterward, we headed to the aft pool, flopped on some lounges in the sun, and sipped drinks of the day -- something rummy called a Twilight Zone -- while we sailed away from Seattle.

We had a welcome party in the Crows Nest, which became our group hangout during the cruise.  Champagne and snacks and lots of new people to meet. Loved meeting Bill and Lynn from Virginia. Turns out Lynn ran Goofy the same year we did, and she's running Tinker Bell next year, too. Funny!

After the party we headed straight to dinner. Rather than being seated at the same table with the same people every night, Mila had organized a rota where everyone shifted around each night -- giving us more opportunities to meet our fellow runners. Genius! We were seated with Javier, a school teacher from Texas, and Bill and Char, a doctor and nurse from Canada. We had a lovely dinner, and those three were some of our favorite people from the entire trip. It's really nice to have something built-in to talk to each other about!

After dinner we went for a little promenade around the deck -- call it a course tour for stage 1 -- with Javier, and then we headed back up to the Crows Nest for an informal social. We sat with John, Jenny, Lynn, and others, and told the story of Wil's foot over and over again. We could tell that this was going to be quite an adventure!

the view from the cabin window was disturbing, at first...

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