Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sled Dogs Photo Collage

Here is a collage from photos of sled dogs from one of the numerous sled dog camps up in Alaska


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Whales Photographic Collage

Here are a few of the whales that we saw while in Alaska

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Seattle Floral Photographic Collage

Here are just a few flowers that we saw from the numerous venders at Pikes Place Market in Seattle. It was Mothers Day so the place was very busy.
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All Things Boat Photographic Collage

Here are just a few of the many types of boats and ships that we saw during our adventure.
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Signage Photographic Collage

Assorted signs from our vacation
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All Things Fishy Collage

These are various photos taken at Pikes Place Market. One of the fish vendors had prawns from Taiwan that were huge. The biggest prawns that I have ever seen in my life. They were called "grilling prawns" and they must have been around 7-8" long and around 5" in diameter.
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Seattle Architecture Collage

I thought that I would put together a few collages from the numerous photographs that I took while on vacation. Here is the first one:


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Friday, May 29, 2009

Answers

He stopped half way up the stairs and looked down below. Why there, on the stairs? Because that just happens to be where his feet landed him at the exact moment that the question needed to be asked. The question?. Yes the question..."Do you love me?", he asked of the woman. And there it was, the question that he should never have felt the need to ask. She looked up at him and replied quickly..."I like you" The response came quickly, striking hard and deep. Her answer needed no thought or consideration on her part, it just flowed out of her, offered to the man with such assuredness as she would have had, if asked about the color of the clouds in the sky or the sky itself. And it was said with total indifference to the relationship between this woman and this man. And in that instant any thoughts of doubt that he might have had, no longer existed. With those small 3 words, any guilt, remorse or hesitation that he might have been living with, was washed away forever from his soul. Not one lone tear trickled down his cheek. This man had nothing more to give this woman, not even the satisfaction of her seeing one lone tear. This man turned and headed up the stairs until he was no longer in her sight. This would be this mans mission as he continued the rest of his journey through life...to go forward and never look back. And why would those 3 words, "I like you" have such an impact on this man and his life? What made those 3 small words so special? Because they came from his mother.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Have You Ever Seen A White Deer - You Have Now

This video was sent to me by my friend Ken Gauthier from Ontario Canada. It really was amazing to see these white deer. Thanks Ken for sharing this video.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Verizon Saga Continues

A while back, I wrote about problems that I was having with Verizon. There have been several over the last year or so. The most recent one was that Verizon had allowed a 3rd party vendor to have their services put on my telephone bill without our knowledge or approval. This is what was listed on my telephone bill:



Billing on behalf of Residential Email
Miscellaneous Charges and Credits for (telephone number)
Date
Description
Dec 08
RESDNT1EMAIL MO FEE


This fee was $14.95 plus .75 or $15.70 a month


At the time that I called Verizon about this additional fee that I had been charged, I originally thought that it had just started to be applied to my bill. Upon further investigation, this "mystery" charge had been applied to my telephone bill since 12/22/08. After making a telephone call to Verizon, they passed me on to another company. Of course I had a tough time understanding her, which seems to be par for the course. According to the person I spoke to, she told me that I had signed up for something on the web by going to a web site called searchcactus.com I tried that web address while on the phone with this person and my Trend micro Internet Security blocked the site from me because it was a "bad" site...considered "dangerous" by my anti virus software. I told this person about the web site and having never gone there or signed up for anything. After the dust settled, she told me that she would be refunding me a total of $125.60, which would cover all of these so called "enhanced services" that had been added onto my telephone account since 12/08. I have learned my lesson well...always review every bill that you get very carefully because you don't know who might have attached themselves onto it. You might be paying for things that you never signed up for nor wanted.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Alaska Vacation 2009 Sunday 5/17/09 Homeward Bound

Unfortunately this day arrived way to soon. It was time for our cruise to end. We got up around 7AM. We had left a room service request on the outside door handle the night before and our food arrived at our cabin around 8:30AM We were supposed to meet Karan, our concierge, in the Stardust Theater at 9:30 for our priority disembarkation. It took us a little bit to get off the ship. Long lines waiting to go through customs. When we finally did hit the streets, we decided to hang out in Seattle for a bit. Our flight home wasn't scheduled to leave until 10:15PM, so we had all day and most of the evening until we even started on our way home. Our flight would take us to Newark and then onto Norfolk, where we would arrive home at 9:45AM the following morning. We hung out at Pikes Place Market, where it was extremely crowded again. It was fairly early on a Sunday morning and there were loads of people. They were having some type of cheese festival going on. Just long tables and booth after booth of cheese tasting. And the last thing that I wanted to do after eating heavily on a cruise, was to eat lots of cheese and get all bound up. So in a sign of goodwill towards my internal workings, I stayed away from the cheese lines. After an hour or so of walking around, we decided to take a cab to the airport. We ended up just camping out in a quiet area reading a book and catching some sleep. We spent an easy 10 hours at the airport before boarding our flight home. Needless to say it was a long day. It was the end of a really great vacation and now we had to get back to reality. We really loved our old reality, as temporary as it was. The memories of our cruise will linger on ...something that we can revisit as the days drift by and turn into months and then into years. The best thing about the cruise...the absolutely fantastic and beautiful scenery. Time to start over and set our sights on a new adventure. For all of the cruise photos and videos, a lot of which didn't make it on this blog, please feel free to click on my "Webshot" link that is on the upper right hand column of this blog.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Alaska Vacation 2009 Saturday 5/16/09 Victoria, BC

Well today is the last day of our cruise. We left Ketchikan yesterday afternoon at 1:30. We will arrive in Victoria at 6PM. Because of the late port of call, Veronica and I slept in a little later. We got up around 8AM, had breakfast and then came back to the room to pack up our luggage. They have something called the Bags Program. You pay $19.95 a person, leave your suitcases in the hallway by 2AM the following morning. They then take your luggage to the airport and proper airlines. Your luggage meets you at your final destination. Because our flight wasn't until 10:15PM tomorrow night, we were going to walk around Seattle and we could not do that dragging all of our luggage around. It was the first real rainy day that we had on the whole cruise. Just a very dreary day...kind of like letting you know that your cruise was almost over with and it was back to reality time. After packing our luggage up, we decided to hit the casino one last time. I had one of those coupons like Veronica had, where you use your coupon as a first card ace when playing blackjack. Well I used the first card ace coupon and my second card was a 3. Things weren't looking that great for me. I had only bet $20 on the hand. I then got another 3 and stood pat with my hand of 17. As it turned out, the dealer busted and I won...doubled my money. I then hit my favorite slot machine. the one that was good for me on an earlier casino visit. This particular slot machine was once again hot for me. I kept hitting bonuses, additional spins and of course additional winnings. By the time everything was said and done, Between Blackjack and our slot playing, we won $365. We then grabbed something quick to eat and headed back to our cabin for a nap. At 2:45PM we headed for the Stardust Theater for a Crew Talent Show. The show was ok but the final performance was funnier than heck and starred Simon, the ships cruise director. Everyone loves Simon and he is very well know in the NCL cruising world. Her is from "down Under" and is a laugh riot....I can still hear him saying, in his "down Under" accent "and have a smaaaashing day". The video of this particular performance is down below. Veronica and I went to a Japanese Teppanyaki( restaurant. The food and preparation was really good. We enjoyed it a lot and was some of the best food we had on the ship. We arrived in Victoria at the scheduled time. I first thought that the Victoria BC port of call was kind of like a waste...like they threw in an extra port just to fill up the cruising week. I felt that way because we were only in Victoria from 6PM until midnight and because it was a nigh time stop, that there wouldn't be much open during those hours. Boy was I wrong. Victoria is a beautiful city and the nightlife is something else. The city was buzzing with activity...plenty of street performers everywhere. Veronica and I walked all over the place. It was a really nice end to a great cruise. Because we were pooped out...you know how us old folks can get, we ended up taking a cab back to the ship. There were 2 other ships making Victoria their port of call...the Holland America Westerdam and the Princess Star. We had seen both ships in some of the other ports of call that we had so their itineraries were almost the same as ours was. We ended up going to bed around 11PM but found that we were so used to listening to the ships wake, that the silence of not having the ship moving and being docked in port, was actually a loud silence. Without the white noise, it took me longer to fall asleep. Maybe it was because it was our last night on the ship. Tomorrow we head home...crap...reality awaits. I don't want to leave. They will have to drag me kicking and screaming off of this ship. I am not leaving without a fight. Did someone say stowaway..I am so there. I almost forgot to mention...on our cruise we seemed to have a problem with assorted emergency alarms in our cabin. There was an emergency switch on both sides of our headboard plus a main emergency switch near the cabin door. The position of the emergency switch on Veronica's side of the bed was in a poor place. Veronica moved her pillow against the switch 3 or 4 times throughout the course of the cruise and we had people calling our room to make sure that we were ok. A couple of times they called and the switch had not been pushed at all. Must have been a faulty switch or something. Then one time I was in the shower and the next thing I know, a knock on the door and I could hear someone talking to Veronica. Veronica comes into the bathroom and tells me that because the bathroom door was ajar just a little bit, the steam from the shower set off the fire alarm. I am sure that they were happy when we got off the ship...no more false alarms to worry about and deal with.

More towel art left by our room steward

Some of the really nice homes in Victoria. There were nice older homes and then some modern architecture. Almost all of the homes had really beautiful gardens. You could really tell that the homeowners to a lot of pride in their residences.


A more modern style home
A duck family laying in the grass

City gardens
This area is right on the harbor and they had all kinds of vendors with handmade items all around this walkway
This is a parliamentary building in Victoria. Some of the architecture throughout the city was really interesting
Here is part of Victoria Harbor

A water taxi in the harbor


This is the Empress Hotel. The oldest hotel in Victoria. The hotel had moss all over it


These 2 trees were in front of the Empress Hotel. The kind of reminded me of dinosaurs...maybe protecting the entrance...what an imagination huh?

Oh, I almost forgot to mention..I opened a restaurant in Victoria while we were there

Here is the Princess Star dock in Victoria


Here is the Holland America Westerdam



Mime1.wmv'>Street Performer- A Mime Part #1


Mime2.wmv'>Street Performer- A Mime Part #2


Mime3.wmv'>Street Performer- A Mime Part #3
This is the ships wake and the sound of it. It lulled us to sleep every night. We kept the balcony sliding door open just so we could hear it

MOV00591.MPG'>Ships Wake

This is a portion of the Crews Talent Show. It is really funny. This is the part of the show that Simon participated in. He is the one in the middle. Due to the size and length of the original video, I had to divide it up into 2 sections

Special1.wmv'>Crews Talent Show With Simon Part#1


Special2.wmv'>Crews Talent Show With Simon Part#2

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Day #6 Alaska Vacation Friday 5/15/09 Ketchikan

On this Memorial Day, please take a moment to give thanks and prayers to all who have served in the military and are currently serving our country while in the military. And especially give thanks and prayers to all that gave their lives and to their families for their loss, on this special day of remembrance.

For some reason, we have been having a problem with wake up alarm on on cell phone. This morning it went off at 2AM. Then I woke up again at 4AM and it was almost light outside, so I layed in bed for another 45 minutes and decided to go ahead and get up. We had a short day allowed for Ketchikan. The ship was going to only be in port from 6AM and we would be departing at 1:30PM. This meant that we had to be on board by 1PM for the 1:30PM sailing time. I had overheard someone talking about them missing the all aboard time and it cost them some good money to hook up with the ship at the next port. I sure did not want that to happen to us. We had scheduled and paid for an excursion called the Misty Fjord Wilderness Cruise. We got off the ship a little after 6AM and headed over to the place where we were supposed to meet our contact person for this excursion. Usually they have many different contact people for assorted excursions and they almost all want to meet in basically the same general area. The contact people hold up large card with the name of the excursion on it. You have to be careful because many of the excursion name are very similar...the various vendors just change the name a wee bit even though the actual excursion is the same. They all charge different amounts for the same excursion too. We located our contact person. When we first met her, we told here our concerns about the excursion ending later than 1PM and that we had to be on board by then. She assured us that they would have us back before 1PM. We kept relaying our concerns to her but we did not feel comfortable with the time situation nor how she was answering our questions and concerns. She then called her boss and relayed our concerns to him. She came back to us and told us that her boss said that we would be back between 11 and 11:30. Now that was a real time change compared to what she had said earlier. I was almost ready to cancel but when she came back with the early time return, we felt a little better about the situation. Unfortunately that feeling did not last the whole day. Our small group..maybe 12 of us...walked to another dock and boarded another smaller vessel. It had lines of seats and large viewing windows, a back deck area and a top deck area for viewing and photography purposes. So off we took going here there and everywhere. We finally arrived at the Misty Fjord area, which is in the Tongass National Forest. It took us quite a long time until we arrived there. We kept cruising slowly through mountainous areas. It was an ok excursion but the worst of all that we went on and I would not part with our money again for this one...once was quite enough thank you. We eventually got to a floating dock area and pulled up to the dock. As it turns out, some of the passengers paid a lot of money to take a float plane back to Ketchikan. The others would return to Katchikan by boat, which was about 2 hours away. There was just us and 2 other couples left on the boat. One of the couples were from the Pearl, just like us and they were in the same predicament that we were. If it took 2 hours to get back to Ketchikan and another 10 minute walk to the ship, it would put us well after our sailing time not mention our all aboard time. We talked to the Capt of the boat along with the narrator who was working the excursion. We explained the situation about being late for our ship sailing if we stayed on the boat. When I told them the girls name that we spoke to on the dock, they had never heard of her. They basically stated that they would pile the extra people onto the 2 float planes that had arrived for the paying customers and that they don't deal with the billing of the flight. So they took everyone's weight down to make sure the plane could handle it and put us on the bigger float plane. Now here I was...never having been on a float plane, been talking to Veronica about taking one to a remote lake in Canada when we go up there to fish and I can't really enjoy it much because I am concerned it will cost us $500 for both of us. The plane trip was kind of cool...you fly over mountains and see things from a different angle but that $500 kept gnawing at me. We ended up landing after an approximately 30 minute flight. We got back with plenty of time to spare. It was only about 11AM, so we decided to see if we could locate the girl that we had spoke to originally.We could not find her but we did walk into a building that had all kinds vendors for excursions. I had one of them that was a real jerk. He asked me if I wanted to do a float plane trip. I told him no. He stated that I had the money for it...I told him no I don't and he told me that he is the one who pre-approves people to go on the trip. By now I was getting angry...I just wanted to find someone affiliated with our trip so we wouldn't get charge extra for flying. So I walk up to the counter and spoke to the vendor that was next to Mr. Jerk After explaining what happened, the person I spoke to turned and told me that I had to speak to this guy...you got it...it was Mr. Jerk He starts giving me the ole song and dance routine. We asked him for the name of person in charge of the excursion. We had a name that was given to us earlier by the girl that we spoke to originally. We mention this name to Mr. Jerk and he said yeah, that's the guy you need to talk to. So we asked him for the guys number. Her starts throwing numbers in out direction. We had to go hunting through are stuff for a pen and paper because Mr. Jerk would not give us any. Before leaving, I asked Mr. Jerk what was the title or position that this other guy held. Mr. Jerk stated...he's my boss and that is all I know. Something really stunk about the whole thing and I know that I hadn't had an accident in my pants while flying, so that just left Mr. Jerk. Veronica ended up calling the "boss" and left a message that we don't expect to be charged for the float plane ride especially because of what the girl first told us. So I haven't seen any charges but believe me, I will keep looking. Veronica and I spent a little time shopping around in Ketchikan and then returned to our ship.
We ended up going back to Cagney's to get our complimentary meal...because of the problems with the food on an earlier visit. This time I got the NY Sirloin and Veronica got the Alaskan Crab Legs. Our meal was great this time around. We were originally planning on going to 2 shows that night plus they were having their once a cruise Chocoholic Buffet which had chocolate art and sculptures. It would have been great to photograph it all. We were even going to be allowed in early. Unfortunately I was wiped out and decided to skip it. Kind of wish I had hung on for a bit longer be it wasn't meant to be.
Here is the man that made our cruise absolutely fantastic...our Concierge Karan Arora..he treated us like royalty
Towel art left by our room steward. It was originally placed on our bed but we thought it would be better suited to have the monkey hanging out from the drapes.
Ketchikan as seen from the ship as we entered port

A Princess cruise ship heading into port and arriving at her dock. We saw 3 different boats, including ours, making port in Ketchikan

This I believe was a Holland America ship docked in front of us

Between 6,000-7,000 passengers combined are on these 3 ships

Here is a picture of the F/V Aleutian Ballad. This crab fishing boat used to be part of the show the Deadliest Catch. The boat has been converted over and now is used as a tourist attraction....The Bearing Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour Part of Ketchikan Harbor

Ketchikan as we entered port

Welcome to Ketchikan

There were blocks of buildings built up off of the water

The streets of Ketchikan

Some food signage that looked interesting

This is the rain meter sign that the keep track of the participation on. They get lots of rain here
This was taken from our boat that was taking us on our Misty Fjords excursion
This is what they called a volcanic plug which sticks up out of the water on a small island in the middle of the water



Sheer cliffs in Misty Fjords
Here are some waterfalls that we saw
This video is of the float plane that took us back to Ketchikan

video



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