The Honeymooners – Day 10 – Vancouver

Finally, we are on solid ground to stay! I was up at 6:00 AM because the captain told us that we would approach Vancouver at dawn. There was a highway bridge that was supposed to be something to see because it was the lowest bridge the ships are able to go through. Once I saw that, I was not impressed. We drove over this bridge on our way to the airport on Day 11 and the bridge is more impressive from the road! However, the view of the Vancouver skyline was absolutely the best view of any port on our trip. The sun was just beginning to rise over the mountains to the east and was already reflecting off of the Vancouver skyline. I went back and forth taking pictures of the skyline and pictures of the sunrise over the mountain. It was impressive! Then I watched the ship do a 180 and back into the dock. I’d like to see our Captain parallel park in Cincinnati with cars waiting for him to get out of the way!

We disembarked and grabbed a cab to our hotel, which ended up being about a 15 minute walk. We had too many bags to walk because we kept buying t-shirts and hats and shot glasses at all the ports. Before we left home, Alana packed our bags within an inch of their lives! Trying to re-pack the stuff we brought with us would have challenged Daniel the Contortionist (“The Rubber Boy”) to get back in the box after eating from the ship’s buffet for a week. So Alana bought an extra large gym bag to help with the overflow. A day or so later, she decided that the bag needed wheels so she bought a different gym bag! These two bags were critical for us to make it back home with everything, but checking them cost us an extra $50. We better use these damn bags again!

We had tickets to get on a “Hop On/Hop Off” sightseeing trolley. Our plan was to check into the hotel, and then I was going to go for a 16 mile run while Alana took a nap. However, the room wasn’t ready and wouldn’t be ready for a few hours. We checked our bags and went on the trolley. To do this, we had to walk back to the ship and turn in our vouchers for tickets. Let me tell you a dirty little secret about the cruise lines. They sell you “excursions” in such a convenient way that it just makes sense to pre-book your excursions through the ship. They bill the credit card you give them and you just get off the ship and go. At each port, there were multiple kiosks selling the same activities and more! Because we already paid for the trolley, we had to take the trolley instead of the “Fun Bus” parked behind out trolley! This was the start of the Trolley Ride From Hell!!!

We stopped at multiple hotels as we weaved our way through town. The driver was courteous enough to tell us a few interesting things about the tops of the buildings regardless of the fact that we weren’t remotely able to see what the hell he was talking about! There is a building in Vancouver that planted trees, shrubs, etc., on the top of a building. This fascinated our driver but left us unimpressed. We had two stops that seemed to be interesting. One was Granville Island and another was Yorktown. We skipped the first and then I got too hungry so we stopped in Yorktown. This was a beautiful harbor with lots of places to eat. We picked the first place we saw that had decent enough food and beer. The food was better than decent, it was the best hamburger I’d eaten in a very long time! I took note of the servers (I’ll discuss part two of this phenomenon tomorrow)  – all very attractive women dressed in tight, black, short dresses. If they had cleavage (and they did), they displayed it proudly. It was like an extremely classy Hooters with one MAJOR exception – the food here was incredible, while Hooters is inedible. It’s like Hooters employees are prostitutes while the Yorktown employees are escorts. They both give you something as long as you have enough money, but one of them makes you too ashamed to tell your friends you went there.

One other thing about the trolleys that we noticed on the short time we were passengers was that every seat was taken. On almost every stop, unless someone got off, the passengers waiting to get back on were out of luck and had to wait for the next trolley that was likely to be full as well. Knowing this, we decided to take a walk along the shore line. We found a water bus that would take us to Granville Island for $7 one-way. That sounded like a good idea at the time, so off we went. If I lived in Vancouver, I would avoid Granville Island even though their Granville Market was a smaller version of our Findlay Market. Great locally owned shops with a fantastic variety of food, but theirs was overrun by tourists! We decided to keep walking to see what else was there and I spotted Granville Brewery. Being a beer aficionado, I had to stop to sample the local brew! Alana sat across from me as I sipped my IPA and she was in obvious pain, as in, “I hate this place, I hate this island, I just want to go back to the hotel,” kind of pain.

After one beer, we figured out how to get the hell off the island and walked to the trolley stop. As expected, the first trolley came up with a full load. Some got off to go to the Island, but there were already double that number in line in front of us! Now I was the one in pain! I began venting my frustrations for all to here, “This is fucking bullshit! How do you run a trolley without enough seats to handle this amount of business?!?” It was then that a guide working for the trolley company told us another bus was coming to pick up the overflow. Just as it was about to arrive, I tried to get Alana to come with me and get a cab. The minute we got out of line, the overflow bus arrived. I can’t repeat everything I said at this point, but it wasn’t pretty! I turned around and got back into a position that was roughly the same as it was before we left the line and we managed to get on this bus. There were still people waiting who were unable to fit on the trolley. Meanwhile, as we waited in line for our god-forsaken trolley, a Fun Bus rolled by with plenty of empty seats! We managed to figure out which stop on this tour got us closest to the hotel and we hopped off. The driver tried to give me their map, saying, “Do you plan to get back on the trolley?” I responded as politely as possible, “We won’t be back on this trolley, thanks.” I’m sure that as he drove away, the passengers who remained shared a laugh about my tirade. At least I hope they did!

Two very good things came about because of this miserable experience. We drove past a Terry Fox memorial, which had a bar/restaurant across the street that was a place I knew I had to go! Terry Fox was a Canadian who had a leg amputated due to cancer. He embarked on a cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Although the spread of his cancer eventually forced him to end his quest after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres, and ultimately cost him his life, his efforts resulted in a lasting, worldwide legacy. The annual Terry Fox Run, first held in 1981, has grown to involve millions of participants in over 60 countries and is now the world’s largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research; over $500 million has been raised in his name. As a runner who raises pennies, by comparison, for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, I loved being able to walk back to his memorial and spend a moment reflecting on what he did for cancer research.

Then, I walked across the street to the bar. It took a while, but I struck up a conversation with a young man sitting to my left. My first beer was an IPA, but I decided to experiment and get a darker beer along the lines of a Guinness, only lighter. He started to tell me how darker beers are better for you because of the antioxidants. It was 7:20 at the start of this conversation. I know this because I was hungry and I texted Alana to tell her where I was. She was still in the hotel room sleeping and recovering from the complete lack of sleep you get while on a cruise. I texted her that I was going to get dinner and I’d join her for her dinner when she was ready. I continued talking to this man and found out he was part Cherokee and part some other tribe. He was from Houston, but he moved to Vancouver three months ago. To make a very long story a little shorter, he made me re-think my preconceived viewpoints of life just by asking me questions that forced me to challenge those viewpoints in my own head! I bought him a beer and we talked until 8:30. At this time, I realized that Alana may be ready for dinner by now! My new friend and I exchanged Facebook contact info and now we’re Facebook BFFs.

Do yourself a favor. If you find yourself in public – it doesn’t have to be a bar, but that’s where you’ll find some very interesting people – talk to them. Really talk to them. At home, I don’t go to bars every night. While on vacation, I found myself in many different bars while Alana recuperated from the day’s activities. That person sitting there, either alone or as a couple, has a strong desire to connect with someone. Strike up a conversation and see what happens. Sometimes, the person just wants to be left alone. Other times, you can create magic. Go create magic for someone! Your reward will be 100 times greater than what you just did for the other person. For me, this trip became all about creating magic moments. I’ll have more to say about this soon. For now, I’m dealing with jet lag and I have to get to bed!

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The Honeymooners – Day 9 – A Day at Sea

After pulling away from the Ketchican dock, we knew we wouldn’t be on dry land again until we got to Vancouver. So, we had to plan for our activities without the benefit of an excursion. I got up early so I could get to the treadmill before anyone else. I got to the gym at about 10 minutes before they opened and found a line forming already! I managed to score a treadmill and ran for 45 minutes. I usually run 45 minutes on Wednesday evening, but after my day in Ketchikan and my night on the ship, I wasn’t able to run then! Waking up dehydrated to go run on a treadmill so I could sweat for 45 minutes, made me even more dehydrated!

Sometimes, the only thing interesting on the ship is to go on the deck by the pool and have a beer. You could tell how the ship was rocking by watching the water in the pool splash over first one side and then the other, back and forth for a long, long time. That got boring in about 30 seconds. People watching at the pool was endlessly entertaining! There was a pack of teenagers who stayed together all week as if their lives depended on being part of the pack. I reminded me of “March of the Penguins” who huddled together during winter so they could survive the cold. Except this pack was loud and silly. They showed up together at a comedy show and sat in the front row. It ended up being just as entertaining watching them  than it was watching the comedian!

Also on the swimming pool deck, we had the older crowd wearing an interesting variety of clothing. Many of them were smart enough to sstay covered up. There was more than one woman who decided to pull her shirt up to sun what looked like a bag of tapioca pudding. Ladies! That’s what tanning beds are for! Worse, I saw all the older men with their skinny legs and large, shirtless, bellies. Why, men? Why?  Finally, there were a few, very few, who were flaunting their goods for all the world to see. Good work!

After I got bored, I decided to schedule a massage. This massage was with the blessings of my beautiful bride, but I still had to pay for it. One very obvious thing about this ship is that there are a LOT of Philippinos working in service positions. There are also a few British, but the vast majority of the waiters/waitresses are residents of the Philippines. So, I was expecting a similar type massage – a small Philippino woman. I went at the appointed time and filled out the required paperwork. They gave me a robe and showed me to the changing room. I tthen went to the waiting area  where I waited with two women, all three of us in our robes.. I didn’t see a single man in the area! What is wrong with the men on this boat? Then,  my massuse arrived to take me back to the room.  I was surprised to find that I was about to get a massage from a very attractive blonde woman from South Africa who had a charming British accent.  At this point, dear reader, you may be wondering about a “happy ending.” This was not the case, in fact it was a “sad ending.” After the massage, she said, “You just missed some whale sightings off the side of the boat.” I’ve spent hours and hours taking about 1,100 pictures over the side of the ship, and you see whales while I’m getting a massage? That’s just bullshit!

I went back to the room and told Alana how relaxing the massage was. She asked if I got the happy ending. I told her, “no, but I gave her one!” It’s a damn good thing she loves me and gets me like no one I’ve ever known!

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The Honemooners – Day 8 – Ketchikan

Today was “Adventure Kart” day in Ketchikan. It was a two-seat go-kart with a top speed of 35 mph. We were expecting more, but the adventure was still fun. I drove up the hill with all the karts in a line, so I was limited to what the person in front of me was doing. It was a dirt road full of potholes and rocks so it was very bumpy. They told us that Ketchikan never has three days in a row without rain, but today was day three! Had it been raining, we would have been dressed in their rubber suits and come back down the hill covered in mud. Instead, we came back covered in dust which they blew off with an air-hose.

Alana drove down the hill with me trying to get her to drive in the center of the road. It looked to me that the right wheel was always thisclose to going off the road. I kept pointing to the left, but she claims she didn’t see me doing that. I’m pretty sure she was trying to make me fall out of the kart and go back to the ship without me!

We had lunch in a tourist trap pirate themed restaurant/saloon. An older gentlman provided the entertainment. He was sporting a grey goatee complete with a handlebar mustache! He picked up his guitar and started singing a Johnny Cash song. He actually sounded exactly like him!

After a little shopping, Alana headed back to the ship while I headed to a bar that had free wi-fi. After checking in to “The Asylum” on Facebook, a young couple sat next to me. It turns out they are on the same ship, but we hadn’t met yet. They are from Toronto and we talked about the marathon I ran there among other things. I told them that when I was in grade school, we were told that the US was going to use the metric system so we needed to learn it. We shared a good laugh about that!

They asked about life in Cincinnati and I gave them my e-mail address, promising them a tour of the city when they decide to come to town. Soon after that, the wife said, “has anyone told you that you look like a celebrity?” Then, she whispered in her husband’s ear. He said, “What are you doing? He’s a dead ringer! Do you think it’s a secret?” So I said, “Dr. House?” She was so thrilled that I loomed like him that she insisted that her husband take our picture do she could go home and tell people that she met Hugh Laurie!

One of the best parts of this trip has been meeting people. I now have a nodding acquaintance with a woman I met on the ship. We were waiting for an elevator and when the door opened, there was a very skinny Japanese man standing there in his swimming trunks with a towel wrapped around his shoulders. He didn’t look like he had been swimming – he looked like they just pulled him from the ocean after going overboard! He got off while this woman and I stayed on. After he left, I could tell she was about to share a laugh with her friend so I said, “stylish, huh?” They both laughed and now I have to say hello every time I see her.

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The Honeymooners – Day 7 – Juneau

This was another early day because we were going whale watching. I woke up thrilled to find that we finally had a cell signal! When I called Sprint before our trip, they could have told me, “Don’t worry about how much a phone call costs in Alaska, you can’t make phone calls in Alaska!”
 
Whale watching was okay, but they put too many people on one boat. So when you saw a whale on the left side of the boat (after 7 days, I still don’t know which is the Port side and which is the other fucking side of a boat), everyone went to the side with the whales! Luckily, I’m tall and I can put my iPad over everyone’s head. You’re behind me? Too fucking bad! I ended up taking another 100 pictures of almost seeing a whale. They would announce themselves by coming up for air. Then, you could hear all the camera shutters going off while the whale slowly came up just enough to see the humpback and then proceed down until you could see the tail. By the end of the excursion, Alana was disappointed that she didn’t see a few whales jump out of the water and splash back in like they do at Sea World. I told her, “Maybe you should just go to Sea World, bitch!” She retaliated by telling me that the noise the Sea Lions made reminded her of my snoring. She may have had a point.
 
After this, we got back on the bus to go to Mendenhall Glacier. So far on this trip when we have a bus driver, they’re both informative and entertaining. Yesterday’s bus driver was a hoot! Today’s made me wish I could take a nap. He was saying things like, “When I’m not doing this, I drive a school bus.” And, “I guess when I go home today, I’ll go blueberry picking because they’re in season this time of year.” You know, informative shit like that.
 
In the evening, for entertainment, we went to see “The Newlywed Game” but it wasn’t called that. They called it “The Marriage Game” and they had three couples sign up. The first couple looked to be in their 70s and they just got married. The second couple had been married for about 20 years and third couple had been married for over 40 years. It was entertaining enough but I just kept thinking how Alana and I should be up there. We would have been way more entertaining than those couples!
 
One of our differences as a couple is our comfort level while being in the spotlight. She is an introvert and I can be dangerous when you give me a microphone! I’ve had my fun while on this trip. It’s awesome to have people still coming up to me saying how much they enjoyed me in the “Yes/No Game.” Alana rolls her eyes as my head gets bigger.
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The Honeymooners – Day 6 – Skagway

When we woke up at 7:00, the ship was docked in Skagway. We booked an excursion that took us up one of the mountains to a suspension bridge. We walked across the bridge, which was much shorter and not nearly as high as I expected it to be. Under the bridge was a rushing river that would have been great for white water rafting! I stopped in the middle of the bridge and captured a few amazing photos of the river with a mountain in the distance. On the way back across the bridge, I pretended to take Alana’s picture with my iPad. Instead, I had it on video and recorded her being goofy – until she found out what I was doing! That video will be posted next week on my facebook page.

After the bridge, we went to Liarsville for a salmon bake. The salmon was awesome! Liarsville is a small settlement from the gold rush days where the newspaper reporters settled. The reported on the activity surrounding the gold rush and we were told that quite a bit of it was exaggerated, thus the name.

Our next stop was in the one-street town (tourist trap) of Skagway. If you are in the market for jewelry or t-shirts, this is the place for you! Alana wanted to go through a few gift shops and I wanted to hit up this pub I saw from the bus on our way to the bridge. I enjoyed a locally brewed IPA, pale ale, and a Scottish Wee Heavy (9.2%).  Little did I know that I was just getting started!

While walking with Alana back toward the ship, I found another bar that looked like it had ESPN on their TVs. On the ship, we have limited channels. This was the first bar I saw that had a TV in it! So I wanted to stop,  but Alana wanted to go back to the ship. Being the great couple that we are, we agreed to make each other happy and go our separate ways at that point.

I sat down and ordered a beer. I happened to sit next to a crew member from the ship I was on! He was having a beer, so I asked him if he was driving the ship. We talked for a few minutes and then I noticed this rowdy crowd to my right. They were three women singing along to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” I picked up my iPad and started filming them. Their ringleader said, “This better not end up on some weird website!” She appeared to be in her 40s, so I said, “I’m putting this on cougerlover.com!” Her husband thought that was hilarious and we both decided that it was probably a real website.

We spent the next hour or so taking group photos with the iPad (also soon to appear on facebook). When I sat back down after all that, the bartender (who was in many of the pictures) told me that my next beer has already been paid for! I thought it was either the party girls or the bartender who paid for it, but it was an older couple sitting at the end of the bar who bought it. I went to sit next to them and found out that the husband was 52 years old and he has a guitar signed by the four original members of Pink Floyd! I had one more beer (that he paid for as well) and decided it was time to stumble back to the boat. Before I left, everyone in the pictures wrote down their e-mail addresses so I could send them the pictures we took!

A good friend of mine once said to me, “you have never met a stranger, have you?” I thought I understood what that meant until today, when I truly experienced what that means. 

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The Honeymooners – Day 5

Trying to run while on the ship has been a challenge. I thought I’d wake up early again and go for a run around the ship. 2-1/2 laps equal 1 mile. I didn’t know that at the time, so I just started my Garmin running watch and started running. Since it was closer to 8:30 when I started running, and we were arriving at a sightseeing glacier opportunity, I had to dodge a lot of people! So, I thought my running time would just have to be slow. After one lap, I looked at my watch and it told me that I was running at a 6:30 mile pace! Then, I figured out that I started the GPS when I started running and the ship was traveling at at 20 nautical miles per hour. Therefore, I was running at 20 miles an hour even if I just stood there! I briefly considered this option and then went to the gym to run on the treadmill. If you’ve never run on a treadmill while a ship gently rocks the treadmill, you better have great balance if you want to succeed at that skill!
 
After breakfast, Alana went to the gym while I went to take some pictures of the glacier. I’m now up to about 650 pictures that I’ve taken with my iPad and we have six days left on this trip! After the first time the glacier shed some of its ice (they call it “calving”), I turned on the video function. I recorded some amazing calving action! God  bless global warming! The person in charge of explaining things to us said that the ice, at the freezing temp of 32 degrees was sitting in water fed by the warmer Pacific Ocean at 40 degrees. He compared it to a person sitting in a hot tub where the temp difference would cause your nose to fall off.
 
Throughout the day, people came up to me and said things like, “You were great last night at the Yes/No Game, how did you do it? Did you have a strategy?” “You were so funny last night!” One guy in particular caused Alana to cringe. We were eating lunch when he came up to me and told me how much he enjoyed my winning the game last night. The look on her face after he walked away was priceless!
 
Later in the day, we were in an area where we were supposed to see a lot of marine life, like whales, sea otters, seals, etc. We were on the deck with our binoculars when a woman said, “Look, there’s a puff of smoke!” I guess that it would be okay for a whale to smoke since they’re at least 100 yards away from the ship, but it’s still not good for them. So the best we could do was see a whale take a breath and then go under the water, with an occasional view of its tail. Alana kept complaining that the whales were lazy and that they needed to come out of the water more. We were lucky with weather that gave us a great view of the glaciers, but the marine life viewing left something to be desired.
 
Our day was highlighted by a couple at a table near us during dinner who decided to have an argument loud enough for the entire restaurant to hear them! Some snippets of the argument included, “The constitution allows me to say what I want but it doesn’t say that I should care if you’re offended by what I say,” followed by, “so why do you feel it necessary to try to shush me?” Yes, that’s the perfect way to tell your wife (I assumed they were married) that the constitution gives you the right to be an asshole and there’s nothing you can do about it! He’ll be sleeping alone soon enough.
 
Tomorrow we have our first on-shore excursion. Stay tuned for all the exciting details!
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The Homeymooners – Day 4

The Honeymooners – Day 4

Once again, I woke up before 6:00. I should be able to fall back to sleep, but I’ve never been able to do that very well. Our room is an outside room with a balcony. I sat out there and listened to the ship gliding through the ocean. It was very peaceful, but I got restless very quickly. I took another walk around the ship. No one is awake and walking around the ship at 6:00 AM, so I saw a few strange looks from the guys cleaning the decks after an overnight rain.

 
I finally found the buffet that opens early every day. I grabbed a coffee and a bowl of cereal and headed back to the room. By the time Alana and I went there for breakfast together, we experienced everything I hate about buffets! You have people filling their plates while going from station to station, and you have the people who follow the rules and stay in line while going through the stations. Today, I was in group two. By Saturday, I may be grabbing what I want while wielding my butter knife of death!
 
Even though the ship has an extensive list of things to do during the day and into the evening, it’s a challenge to find something the two of us agree is interesting enough to do. Here are some examples of activities we passed on:
 
“Stich & Chat”
“LGBT Get-Together”
“Ballroom at Sea”
“Line Dance Class”
“Shuffleboard Tournament”
“Creativity at Sea: Boxmaking”
 
The thing that saved our day today was an up-close view of the Hubbard Glacier. It was an incredible view, even with the cloud cover. There must be a reason, but the clouds to the left and right of the glacier were dark and ominous. The clouds over the glacier were the white, fluffy kind. The sun was shining over the glacier and surrounding mountain but nowhere else. So now I have to go through another 200 pictures to pick the best ones to share!
 
Later in the evening we went to a bar that had a game called “yes or no.” The object of the game was to have the host interview people who were not allowed to use the words yes or no in their responses during a three-minute interview. The first few people were taken out surprisingly fast. A few lasted over two minutes and one person won. I was the final contestant and I was ready for him! Almost all of the rest of this experience was a “had to be there” moment, but I had fun giving nonsensical answers and repeating some of the other contestants’ answers that made people laugh. I walked away with a baseball cap with “Alaska” on the front, and became a momentary star of the ship! Alana will never hear the end of my greatness!
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The Honeymooners – Day 3

Today was a travel day. I set the alarm for 6:00 and woke my beautiful bride. She doesn’t like 6:00 AM! I wake up with a lot of energy, which confuses her. Everything I said to her for the first 30 minutes had to go through the Alana filter that isn’t operational until 10:00 AM at the earliest. I had to be right in front of her face and speak very slowly so she could process what I was saying! She loves me and cares about my needs, except when the Alana filter is not operational! When this happens, she just looks at me like I’m a freak of nature.
 
Iwas awake at 5:30 and I thought I would just go ahead and get up. I fell back to sleep and had one of those strange dreams you have during the snooze button period. I dreamed that we were already getting on the ship and they found the vodka I hid in my backpack. I actually poured a bottle of vodka into the water containers I attach to my fuel belt that I use when I run long runs. I put that into a plastic bag and buried it in the bottom of my backpack. I’m a cheap bastard who doesn’t want to pay $10 a drink on the ship!
So we packed up the bags and went through each room. My job, according to Alana, is to look under the  bed and the couch to make sure we didn’t leave anything  behind. I just said, “fine, I’ll look,  but there are probably some monsters under there!” I didn’t find anything, but I did find that the last occupant of this room left their cell phone charger that works with our cell phones. Jackpot!
 
We then boarded the train that will take us on a southern route through Denali, where we were able to take pictures of Mt. McKinley. The peak was covered in clouds, so we were able to see only the bottom third. After about 200 pictures, I got bored and went back to sit with Alana. She was asleep, so I took a picture of that too. I’ll be happy to set up a slide show for you in your home. You supply the beer.
 
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The Honeymooners – Day 2

Okay, today was more about “me” than “us.” Yes, we scheduled a white water rafting trip for the afternoon, and that was a cool experience but I don’t want to write about that. I woke up at 6:00 and couldn’t get back to sleep. I knew I was going to have to fit in my long run today because my normal Saturday long run time would be taken up with a train ride to our ship. So, I laced up my shoes and headed out for a run. As I was walking outside toward the main lobby of the hotel, I could see my breath! It was about 45 degrees, give or take. It felt great to know I was going to run in this type of weather again. I wasn’t sure where I was going to run, or how long, so I stopped by the gift shop to ask someone. I found a fellow runner who knew where to go. She didn’t tell me that I’d end up running in Denali National Park, but that’s where I ended up.

I ran on the trail along the highway until it ended at the entrance to Denali. I turned right and started the next leg of my run. At this point, it was still relatively flat. Soon, I found myself running uphill. Running in Cincinnati presents many opportunities to run hills. You might have a hill that lasts a mile, but that’s rare. I kept running up the hill and I soon realized that this hill wasn’t going to stop for a very long time! As I was running, school buses carrying tourists headed up the hill. One bus after another kept heading up the hill. I thought that there must be something up there for them to see, so I kept running. Eventually, I passed the welcome center but I didn’t see any buses, so I kept running.

It was at this point that I decided that I’d turn this run into a half marathon. I got to mile 6.2 and stopped at an amazing point in the road. The buses were still climbing past me and I decided, fuck it, this looks like a great place to turn around! I snapped a few photos with my cell phone to commemorate the view, which was an absolutely perfect view of mountains, trees, and clouds. As I was taking the pictures, I could hear a dog sled team barking in the distance. Even though I knew that the rest of the run was downhill, I wasn’t in any hurry to head back. I soaked it in, drank some water, and started running again. On my way down, I saw a sign warning motorists that they were going down a 10 percent grade. I said to myself (actually, I said it out loud), “I just ran up that hill motha fucka’s!!” Not long after, I saw an older man riding one of those recumbent bikes up the hill. He had a great, gray handlebar mustache that I wished I could have photographed. He said, “watch out, there’s a black bear up ahead.” I said, “that’s exactly what I want to see because I’m hungry!”

Before long, I was back near the hotel but I was short of my intended 13.1 miles. I had another mile to go so I ran through the hotel complex. It has trails surrounding and through the middle and I ran both. While running through the middle, I got the most puzzled look from people who must have been on their way to breakfast. Still, I wasn’t finished, so I ran uphill on a short trail in front of the hotel. An elderly man coming down the hill said, “it’s easier coming down the hill.” I thought to myself, “you have no idea” but I said, “you’re right about that!” Not long after, I turned around and headed back down the hill. As I passed him, I said, “you were right!” I don’t think he expected me to pass him and I saw him jump when I said that. Then he started to laugh, which made me smile as I saw that my 13.1 miles was complete.

I walked around to cool down and I felt like Superman would feel after flying for so long. Even though the run was physically demanding, the emotional and therapeutic value of this run was off the charts! Even though I push myself to run at a certain speed, running up that hill for that long made me just accept that this run wasn’t about speed – it was about an experience I will never forget.

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The Honeymooners – Day 1

After much anticipation and planning, Alana and I began our honeymoon a month or so after our wedding. We chose an Alaskan cruise because I told her one time that I thought an Alaskan cruise would be a cool thing to do one day. To her, that meant plan an Alaskan cruise as soon as possible! We are now on our first full day of our honeymoon.

We began our travels by taking a flight from Cincinnati at 4:00 Wednesday. We stopped in Denver for a couple of hours and resumed our journey to Alaska. We landed at 11:00 in whatever time zone Alaska is in, which is four hours behind Cincinnati. That meant that our trip took us roughly 11 hours! The longest leg of the flight was 5-1/2 hours from Denver to Fairbanks.

There was only one glitch in this trip. I began to bitch and moan about how I was going to be stuck in the middle seat, with the window seat person weighing 350 pounds! Alana volunteered to take the middle seat even though she has “never taken the middle seat in my life!!! So I sucked it up and agreed to take the middle seat. We got on the plane and the guy in the window seat was a young man weighing no more than 150 pounds and who was not a bad-looking dude. Alana quickly volunteered to take the middle seat! I just said, “fine, but just make sure I’m the one you use to join the mile high club!”

After we landed, they put us on the wrong bus which sent us to the wrong hotel. They remedied that quickly and they took us to the correct hotel where we checked in for our one night stay. We woke up at 6:00 to get ready for a paddle boat sight-seeing adventure. It was here that we both realized that the rest of our trip will involve waiting in lines and/or getting to the front of the line only to wait for our elderly passengers to get their ass in gear! On the plus side, we’re faster than they are so we get the best seats wherever we go!

When this ended, we went on a 3-hour bus ride to Denali National Park. This trip included driving past a billion tall trees that lined both sides of the road! I haven’t seen much of Denali it yet, and the pictures I’m taking can’t do it justice. There’s just something about the mountains surrounding us that makes me stop and admire the beauty that surrounds me right now. It is literally breathtaking, and we’re only on day 1 of our Alaskan Adventure.

One recurring theme I’ve noticed so far is that Alaskans love their Sarah Palin! There was a gift shop that had a life-sized cardboard cutout of her. I promptly posed next to her to have my photo taken while grabbing her boob. Sarah’s smile seemed to grow as I did this. I’m going to steal her and do bad things to her! Alana has threatened to tear her head off. I’m pretty sure Alana would tear off the head of the real Sarah Palin!

We’ll, I guess tomorrow we’re going to look for Russia.

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