Thursday, August 18, 2005

Alaska Travels

Friday 7-29...
Today we had an easy flight up. We had purchased the plane to ship transfers at the strong urging of our travel agent and it turned out to be a great thing. We got to skip Canadian Customs and we checked our luggage at LAX and it was delivered to our room on the ship! We heard from others that didn't do it that way that it took hours to get thru all the customs stuff. Apparently they worked it so that we never actually were in Canada. We stayed in the airport and boarded a bus that they literally taped a numbered seal over the door that was unsealed when we got to the ship. This ship is beautiful and the level of service is truly amazing. Our room is nice and not too tight, there is plenty of storage space to put our stuff, not at all crowded. It came with robes, and there is even a container in the bathroom with Q-tips and cotton balls. Dinner was delicious and we had fun tablemates from Wisconsin. They know alot of the same places as Bill. We are on our way to see a broadway show right now. The ship is a gas turbine instead of diesel, and is a ton quieter and very smooth. It is also 80% less emmisions. I am sure this will be a smooth cruise as we are never going to be in the open ocean and it is so smooth right now you can't even tell we are moving. Our room is the first level off the ocean, with a big window, if there are whales or anything out the window we will have a great view. It is already beautiful country, with pine covered islands and glassy ocean. We signed up for a mud massage together tomorrow on our Sea Day so we are gonna be all smooth skinned to start our cruise off right. An amazing side note...yesterday I broke a nail really bad at night and so I went to the drug store and got some glue and a repair kit to make it thru the day. Well today on ship I got it repaired. The nail guy put acrylic over the broken part and did a great job. It was complimentary! Never thought a ship would give away anything.

Saturday 7-30, morning
Well we tried to email this last night but didn't get our computer acct registered in time for the day, just missed it. So we will get it going today. Last night we saw a show that was singing and dancing. The entertainers were pretty good and the show was fun. So right now we are on our way to eat something. We spend today sailing the inside passage. Beautiful scenic sailing. I am going to get this email off and will send another tomorrow.

Saturday evening
We had a relaxing day just hanging around the ship and exploring and looking outside. Well, and of course eating a ton. The scenery out the windows is so beautiful. The islands all around are tall and steep, covered with dark green pine trees mixed with bright green hard woods, gray granite cliffs, and shiny waterfalls snaking down the sides. The clouds are whispy cotton, stretched out and wrapping around the hill tops. The water is a soft light icy looking sea green. I really enjoy looking out the windows and will just be talking to someone and get distracted by the scene behind theme. There is always good food easily available. And curteous people willing to serve it to you, just as you like it. Special orders are no problem. I told my waiter about my several food allergies, so now they cook my food special and separately! I get the menus for the following day at dinner and make selections in advance so they can be quickly ready. The big event of the day was just spending alot of our time in the spa. We did the spa treatment, which was wonderful and really did leave us feeling pampered and softened and relaxed. Then we spent a while just relaxing in the 'Persian Garden'. It is a room with a warm tile bench, and fun showers with settings like: fresh (gentle rain falls on you), Sahara (hot straight down water), Splash (cool water splashed in waves out of slots in the wall) and others. Also there are 3 sauna rooms, 2 wet, one dry. They provide robes and lovely purple plush towels and nice spa products to use. We stayed at the spa for almost 3 hours. Then we came back just in time to get ready for formal night. It was fun to see everyone dressed up and Bill looks so good in his suit. There was live classical music being played in the dining room, and it was a lovely atmosphere. The show tonight was a Broadway Review, where they chose several shows and did a little piece of each (Fiddler on the roof, Hello Dolly, Music Man, 42 street, and a Fosse collection) and it was really good. The singers are great and the dancers are good too and the costumes great so the shows are fun and entertaining to watch. Bill wanted to walk around outside, but it was too cold for me. I bought a Pashmina cause I was cold just inside when people opened doors. He in his suit was just fine. He said it is actually very comfortable and not bad to wear, I think that surprised him. We are going to bed early (11) to get up by 6 for our tour tomorrow (Alaskan Bear Adventure)

Sunday 7-31, Ketchikan & Bear Adventure
We are finally in Alaska today, the time went back and hour over night. We had to get up early for the shore excursion. Today we see Bears! Ketchikan is a city on an island that is only accessible by air or boat. The roads in the city disappear a few miles outta town in any direction. The city hugs the coast at the base of the mountains that make up the center of the large island. The front street of the town is a pier, all on stilts and raised up, with a board walk for the sidewalk. The downtown area still has that gold rush town feel, all tightly packed and wooden fronted buildings.

We flew to the bear adventure in a float plane, it was amazingly smooth and even the touchdown was so soft that you wouldn't know it except you could see the water splash. We circled over the town and our boat (which looks very large from the air) and then flew north to another isolated part of the island. From the air you can see lots of very small islands off the main one that just have one small house on them. Water is truly a big part of life here. The airport for the town is on its own small island, and you have to ferry to and from it. From the air I could see bald eagles resting on top of tall trees. They seem to want to be at the highest point around and look so big on the spindly tree tops, even from the air. We arrived at a dock and were greeted by our guide. We took a quick van ride (10 minutes inland more in a van that was barged in just for this) on a dirt road to a trail head. The trail was well maintained and there were signs of bear all around (prints, scat, digging spots, salmon parts). At the end of the trial is a salmon ladder that was put in to help with the salmon spawning. The waterfall was too hard for many to make and now with the ladder (a less steep trough around the side of the falls) the population has really increased.

There is a viewing platform, a deck that has camoflauge around it with windows to look thru so we are kind of hidden from the bears catching salmon. The water is just maybe 40 feet below and when we arrived there was a bear there fishing. We stayed for about an hour and saw, I think 5 different black bears coming and going from the water. They really did remind both of us of a bigger Bugsy, especially when I saw them thru the binoculars. They have a white patch on their chests even. The rocks around the falls were pink with the litter of salmon the bears didn't eat. They want the guts not the meat. They would come down out of the woods and catch a salmon then climb back up to some spot to finish it off, then return for the next one. Usually bears have a large territory, but during spawning there is so much food they all share a much smaller space and come together where the fish are. And WOW are there fish. The river water was the color of tea from all the tannins in the trees (lots of hemlock and cedar there). At first I thought the bottom of the stream was full of sea weed or somthing then I realized it was just that many fish! I mean tons packed gill to gill together. We watched them jumping up the falls and could see them in the water and in the resting pools at the top of the ladder. The bears had several different techniques (and ability levels) for catching their quarry. Some would catch them on a paw, or bite a few times and come up with a fish. The biggest oldest looking bear was also the most efficient fisher. He would just look at the water for a moment, then lunge in up to his shoulders and come up with a big fish on the first try. He almost didn't even need to break his stride. It was amazing how well something that large could just disappear into the woods so quickly and quietly. The closest bear was about 10 feet away, he just appeared out of the brush and was right there. As soon as he spotted all of us (12 people on the tour) he took off. It was a truly amazing adventure! We both felt awed and impressed by what we saw. The ride back was great too, more beautiful scenery and really fun to be up there in that small plane. Oh, there were 2 planes that went with 6 people in each one to make up the 12 people on the tour. And they told us we were lucky to see so many bears. It was cool and misty, which is apparently the best kinda weather for bears. They get tired and lazy if there is much sun. Also, not many bugs in the cold. We were worried about mosquitos, but there weren't many.

We returned to town and wandered around all the shops and and got back on the boat before 2, in time for open seating lunch. It was a quick port day (7-2). We hung out and watched the scenery more the retired to the room for some napping before dinner, which was Informal tonight, which means a dress (not gown) for women and a sport coat or lighter colored suit for men. The show tonight was an acrobatic juggler guy who did tricks while balancing on a ladder. It is hard to explain in writing, but it was funny to watch. We then wandered some more and went to the top front of the boat and stood on a table to look up over the wind shield and watched the sun going away (it was after 10:30pm and still twilight). The air was icy cold and we were moving fast, it felt like flying being so high up with the wind on our faces and the wide horizon in the distance.

Monday 8-1, Skagway & White Pass Mountain Railroad
Skagway is a small town with a population of about 800 year round residents, and that balloons to 2300 for the summer. Each ship coming in has about that many people and today there 4 ships in port so the tourists outnumbered the locals 4:1! The tourist part of the town is all on one street, Broadway, that has been preserved to be much like it was 100 years ago. There are boardwalks with that western movie look to them, and many of the people could be out of a movie too. Even in summer, today is around 55 degrees with a really chilly wind when you get out of the buildings. We started off the day with breakfast on the 10th floor, where we had a beautiful view of the surrounding craggy hills covered with snow and the Harding glacier. We were thinking about the RV ads, where the view out of the windows of the RV is so obviously Photo Shopped in and thinking, maybe they just came to Alaska, the views are just that good! Shady would think it is all fake. We wandered into town and looked at a couple of museum and several shops. There are a lot of local artists here with shops and it was fun to see it all. I actually got a ring, silver with fire opal and a fake tourmaline stone, that is really cute and I love it and am excited to have it. I found a few presents for the kids and a little thing for J. Then we walked back to the ship (about 10 minute walk to town from ship here) and caught our tour.

We took a bus from the ship to the train depot, which ironically was located right in the downtown we had rushed back from. Our waiter had told us to make sure we sat on the left side of the train, so we got a good seat and relaxed for a beautiful ride up the hill. We are so far north that the treeline is about 2500' so we were up in alpine and sub-alpine meadows at a fairly low elevation. It is a stark beauty, the twisted and stunted trees and small flowers growing by the glacier fed streams. The water is a milky light blue from all the silt. While we road we heard about the railroad history and about places along the way. We got a couple of views back to Skagway and our ship on the way up. This town was the gateway to the Yukon for the 'stampeders' who came to strike it rich. And the train took the time from 6 mo to a day to get over these hills. We thought it was like backpacking, with all the lovely views that you just usually can't get to any other way, but so much easier. At the top we took a bus back down the other side of the valley with frequent views back to the tracks we had just come up on. We stopped a few times for photos, including one one the border of the US and Canada. Then we stopped at an old tent camp that was on the old trail to the gold rush. It was the last stretch of level land before you went up the hills and many people set up shop here in canvas tents. The city was called Liarsville after 2 reporters who would catch all the rumors and type them up as first hand accounts from the gold fields. They made it sound like anyone could just pick up gold off the ground. The truth was quite different. First, to get into Canada you were required to carry a couple tons of supplies of food, and gear (basically 2 years worth). Then you had to get up the hills by treking up part of your gear a few miles, and making several trips over the same stretch to move it all. Though the trail was only about 30 miles, it could take 6 months with no complications, such as bad weather. At Liarsville they did a little show, singing and a funny poem recital. And then we panned for gold. Then we headed back to town for a bit more shopping and back in time for dinner. We missed tonight's show in favor of an hour in the sauna instead.

Tuesday 8-2, Juneau & Whale Watching
Our shore excursion left at 11:30 so we decided to just hang out on the ship this morning and relax. We went up to the 10th floor to have breakfast at the buffet. I should mention a couple of things, first that the ship has 12 floors. Secondly that a buffet here is not like your typical buffet. There are waiters at the end of the line waiting to carry your tray for you and seat you. Then they bring you your drinks, and even more food items if you want. They walk around at breakfast with trays covered in pastries. There is great service here even at the buffet. And it isn't just a buffet, there is an omlette bar, a waffle bar, a man who slices fresh baked bread loaves and will toast them for you. The food is very good. One of my favorites is the 'french toast' which I put in quotes because it is like no french toast I have ever had before. It is like a slice of bread pudding, and so yummy and soft. We got a seat at the window and while we were eating we could see humpback whales passing by below. I learned that they are called humpback not because they have a hump shape on their back, but because when they go down for a deep dive they really bend and hump their back in a serious arch. Also, and really amazingly, there was a bald eagle riding the air currents that were off of the side of the ship. He was just circling up an down in front of our window, just feet away. Very majestic and beautiful, and so close!

With such a great start to the day we felt like it was going to go pretty well for us with whale watching and we were right. We took a bus ride to the whale watching boat, Four Seasons, and stopped along the way at a Mendenhall Glaciar viewing spot. The boat was really great, they had nice binoculars available for everyone to use while on the boat. Also, they had maps out and a baleen from a whale and a jar of krill, their main food source. There was hot chocolate, coffee, chips, cookies, and bottles of water available. The crew was great and knowledgeable. And of course there were whales, many of them. We were really lucky apparently again (like with the bears) to see so many. And usually they are solo animals, but we kept seeing them in pairs. We didn't take any whale photos, just spent our time looking. The whales are large, huge, really it is amazing. But they are so graceful too. We saw some of them very close, right up on the boat, and even got misted with the spray (whale spit) they were so close. And it is just so beautiful out here. Just watching out the window even without whales was lovely. We rode by several glaciers. Juneau is just a big ice field on top of the hills and then glaciers coming out down the valleys. So each time you go around another corner, there is another glacier. The water is that glacial blue color here, with all that silt making it look softer than most salt water. On the return trip back to the dock, I fell asleep. I still can't stay awake well in a boat once the engine starts humming. Bill stayed up and got to see several bald eagles just watching the water from trees, and one bald eagle nest. We arrived at the dock feeling very happy with our adventure.

We walked from the whale watching boat dock back into town. When we got back to town the first thing we did was take the aerial tramway up the hill overlooking the town. It goes up a steep incline 1800' and from up above there is a great view. I wasn't so sure about riding in a box supported by a wire going up so high, but the ride was really smooth and the view made it worth it. Up there they show a movie about the local Indians, the Tlinget (prounced something like klinket) and their history. They can trace their ancestry back 8000+ years in the area and have a very rich culture and history. We took a short hike up to a couple of higher viewpoints. It was nice to be on a trail out away from all the city stuff, but from the overlooks you could see back down to our ship and the city. They had an injured bald eagle, which we got to see from just a few feet away.

When we got back down, we wandered around town shopping again. Bill carries a book from the ships library and just moves from bench to bench down the street reading outside the stores while I shop. He goes in some of the store, the ones with cool arty stuff. One thing we both found interesting to see is all the carvings made out of whale bones and moose antlers. They make masks and entire sculptures out of the bones. They make intricate scenes in the moose antlers. There is also a lot of great photography that makes us long for a camera like that to take such great shots. We stopped by the Red Dog Saloon everyone recommended, but it was so packed we didn't stay long. After shopping we returned to the ship and had missed our 6pm early seating. So we hung out and went and asked for a table at the later 8:30 seating and were accomodated quite nicely. We didn't get our usual table, but we got in the same section so our usual wait staff could take care of us. They are really terrific. Radovan, our waiter is from the Czech Republic. Daniel, our asst. waiter is from Honduras. Also, on this cruise, our asst Matre'd, Sasha is very much apparent and available. Dinner was wonderful and afterwards we went to a really amazing magic show. And then it was midnight and though still sort of light out, time for bed.

Wednesday 8-3, Icy Point Strait
Icy Point Strait is kinda like the equivalent of the private island in the Caribbean, except in Alaska. It is a point on an island about 2 miles from the town of Hunah (sp?). It was a great change from all the city stops. It is just a bunch of nature trails thru woods, a cannery museum, and some local artists shops. When you get off the boats they hand you a cedar chip and there is a fire burning on the point that you toss it into. It sybolizes your leaving a part of you in the ash and smoke on the island. There were Tlingets working and walking around so we could ask questions. We first did some hiking thru the woods, stopping several times just to be in the nature. It was so beautiful and the air smelled dark, wet, cold and evergreen. After our time in the forest we looked around the cannery, it was interesting to see how they used to can the salmon. They had all the machines set up with rubber salmon in place of real ones. I never realized that the salmon was cooked after it was placed in the cans. They put racks of filled cans in a big oven. It was a pretty spot to just relax for a while. We got back to take the tender to the ship and had some hot chocolate, which they always have sitting by the boat. I had never tasted it before but this time I was chilly and decided to have a cup. It was so yummy! It had the same flavor as licking the spoon when you make brownies.

We got back in time to have lunch and then relax in the sauna for a while before it was time to get ready for our second formal night. It was lobster night at dinner. Bill had Veal Cordon Bleu, and we toasted the night with Champagne. Then we went to the stateroom to change quickly into more comfortable clothes in time for the evenings show, another Broadway review program that was fun. It was also kareoke night, and I decided to give it a try. It was fun and I think it went pretty well. There was a range of talent levels, from the guy who came with his own CDs and routines worked out, to kids doing it on a dare, and a guy who loved to sing but was not so good at it. I was actually one of the better singers. I did 2 songs (Allison Krause's 'I'll Fly Away' and Sarah McLaughlin's 'Ice Cream'). It was fun and for the next two days people actually stopped me really often in the halls to say, "Hey was that you who sung Kareoke? You were really good!". Yes, blush, I liked the praise. It was still very light out at midnight when we went to bed.

Thursday 8-4, Hubbard Glacier
Our last day onboard this amazing vacation, truly something everyone should do in life. We got up at 6:00 this morning and looked out the window to see huge chunks of glacial ice floating by, many bigger than our van. We dressed quickly and with many warm layers and headed up to the helo pad which they opened for glacier viewing. At 7am we were up there on the very front of the ship only a 100 yards from the edge of the Hubbard Glacier. It was VERY cold, freezing cold, and cloudy and sleeting, but what an amazing site. The cruiseline knew we were freezing and so for this one spot on the cruise they were walking around with travel mugs full of hot chocolate for $10 and I think everyone got one. It made it so that we could stay for a while longer out there with that awesome site. With the cloudy day, the glacier was an amazing blue. Supposedly on sunny days the color isn't as bright. I think the thing that surprised me the most was the sounds...You know the sound that ice makes when you put it in water, that crackly sound? Imagine that times 1000. There were ice chunks floating all around us crackling, it almost sounded like a steady rain on a tin roof. And then the glacier itself would have these huge, loud, thundering cracks that echoed deeply thru the glacier and the valley. You felt the sound and heard it. We saw a lot of spots where the glacier was calving (chunks breaking off) and also a spot where water was bubbling up from undernearth it. We just stood there, taking pictures we knew could never capture the breathtaking experience, but needing to try anyway. And listening, and freezing. Finally I was just too numb and we retreated to the 10th floor for breakfast overlooking the glacier from the warmth of inside. We watched until the ship turned around to leave. Then we went back to bed and slept til 1pm! We got up and went to lunch, and then spent a couple hours in the sauna before dinner, which was wonderful as usual. We said our goodbyes to our amazing wait staff, and all wondered aloud how we would be able to get by without them. "Who will put the napkin in my lap", "Where will my food come from". We imagine ourselves at home sitting at our tables wondering why food isn't magically appearing. We have been truly spoiled this week.

The show tonight was a bit of each of the previous guys. The magic guy was first, then the juggler on a ladder guy, then a number by the Celebrity Singers & Dancers. After that the magician did a close up magic show for just about 50 people in a small theater. He did card tricks that were just amazing. We were about 10' away, he had a camera on the table showing every move he made on a big screen, he had no sleeves, and still, well all I can saw is WOW. We would pay to see this guy again. Then we had to get to the room and get packed, sigh, a sad event.

Friday 8-4, Disembarkation, Game Farm, Flight to Seattle
This ship actually had disembarcation organized nicely. Different groups met together in different lounges thru the ship, and we were not crowded or uncomfortable. There was no loud, over the whole ship announcements. Just crew members making announcements in the lounge and escorting you would of the ship. We got up at 5:30 so we could eat a bit before leaving. Our group met at 6:30. Our luggage was gone and we just had out carry-ons. Since our flight was before 3pm, our luggage would be awaiting us at the airport. They have a lounge in downtown Anchorage for those leaving later, where your bags go. You can wander around downtown from there. But we went directly to the airport. Our bus ride was about 3 hours, Seward is further from the Airport than I expected. Again, thanks to our travel agent Belinda for strongly suggesting the transfers. I am not really sure what you would do if you didn't get them. Anyway, the driver gave us some tour guiding info for the first 15 minutes, then let us all nap for a couple hours. Then we made a stop to get out and walk around at a Alaska Big Game Park. It is a conservancy that takes in injured animals, and also has breeding programs for endangered animals. They work closely with Fish & Game to rehabilitate animals and re-release them when possible, or to keep and raise them when that isn't possible. We saw up close: moose, elk, caribou, brown bears, black bears, black tailed deer, bison, coyotes, owls, an eagle, and a porcupine. It was a great break in the long drive. Then we were only an hour away and the guide starting the more touristy part of the trip. She had a lot of interesting factoids to share. Like about a big bay filled with glacial silts that people walk out onto and get stuck in, and historical facts. We arrived at the airport around 11am and our luggage was waiting for us. We didn't want to wait till our 2:30 flight and were able to get onto an earlier flight so we arrived a couple of hours early and are spending these hours here in the hotel instead of the airport. The flight went well, I was asleep before take-off and woke in time to see part of the inside passage below us, then Mt. Baker by Aunt Kay and Uncle Bill's, and then we were landing. We got a taxi to the hotel, and checked in to our nice room. And and got caught up on my travel log.

Kay & Bill arrived back right as I finished typing this. They look great. Kay is letting her hair grow out again and it has a really cute look right now. Bill is all silver with a long ponytail. They had just gone out to dinner, so we went out so we could eat and they could have some beers and keep up company. There is a restaurant downstairs in our hotel, the Red Lion on 5th, called Elephant & Castle, where we all went down since it was decent food and quick and easy. We sat and visited and caught up on all the family news. Arlo is working in the woods and has a new girlfriend for about a year. They live in town in an apparently nice house, but Arlo hasn't really brought her around much. Eli has decided to retire from life guarding, but wants to stay in SC for now. He is not sure what he wants to do, but feels too old compared to the other life guards. Kay & Bill are still going along doing fine. Bill is still counting the days till retirement, but they are concerned about the rising property taxes in WA, that might price them out of thier home. It is already happening to their friends. Patrick owns lands that is wetlands and can't even be developed, but it is taxed at the regular rates anyway. He owns 35 acres of woods and the taxes are about 12K/year! He applied for a reassessment to reduce the amount on the unusable land and got about $100 per year off. They are considering a prop 13 sort of thing, like CA has, but so far it isn't happening. Kay is hoping Bill will get his citizenship paperwork figured out (he is a dual US/Canadian) so they can maybe move to BC, which is just a little more north. Bellingham is growing so fast and from the air it looks like it runs into BC now. As we were flying in we got some good views of the area. It is great seeing them both again. We were tired after getting up at 4am and traveling till 5pm. Time for bed.

Saturday 8-5, Seattle, Theatro ZinZanni
We got up and went out to breakfast down at Pike's Place Market where we could look out over the farmer's market. The produce is amazing, too bad we can't bring any home. And beautiful flower bouquets. There is also local arts and crafts. Fun shopping. In fact, after breakfast the guys took off and Kay & I shopped and we met back up at 1:30. We were all happy with the arrangement. Our hotel is right in downtown Seattle so everything is walking distance. We met back up and decided we were all ready for naps, we were still tired from our travel the day before. Kay & Bill had reserved us tickets to a show that night and we all wanted to have enough energy. We met back up dressed all fancy at 5:20 and got a taxi to the Teatro ZinZanni. A dinner theatre/variety show/burlesque sort of thing that is hard to explain. But it was really fun and there were jugglers, acrobats, singers, arialists, dancing, comedy. A bit of everything rolled up into one with fun costumes and a really good 5 course meal. And we thought we would be getting away from the large dinners. We walked back from the show, the weather here is lovely right now. It was about 10:30 by the time we got back and we all visited for a while then retired for the evening.

Sunday 8-6, Seattle, EMP
We wandered down to another Pikes Market restaurant today, the one in 'Sleepless in Seattle'. This time our seats overlooked the bayside. It was foggy just offshore and the boats looked ghostly in the comings and goings in the mist. After breakfast Bill & I went the the EMP--Experience Music Project. Kay & Bill have been there a few times so they did some shopping on their own. We rode the monorail from a mall near our hotel to the museum. The museum building is a site all on it's own. It was one of the first built by Gehry (who did Disney Hall in LA) and it is really amazing. It is brightly colored, different types of shine and colors (sky blue, titanium, silver metallic), and all rounded. No right angels anywhere in the building. The monorail goes right thru the middle of it, then parks and you walk to the front. Gehry has a unique style. The museum itself is really interesting. There are a lot of interactive exhibits on music. How to make music with different intruments you can play in listening rooms, how to mix, produce, sing. Different styles of music, a whole room on guitars thru time, a Hendrix exhibit, a Dylan exhibit (we didn't realize how many songs we know are covers of his songs!), clothing singers wore. There is a huge central sculpture made out of guitars that are self playing and you can listen to the music they play. It was really fun. Then we met back up with the Paulson's and visited and decided once again we could all use a short nap before dinner. I didn't sleep well last night. I kept having odd dreams about packing and unpacking. When we get home tomorrow, I have to get the laundry done and get Sarah & I packed to go to Girl Scout Camp the next (Tues) morning. I kept thinking about all the things I have to do and couldn't get a good rest. There is nothing I can do about it all here, but I can't seem to stop my head from going.

We had a good nap and then got ready to go to a local retaurant. Dinner was lovely but bittersweet in that this is the last night and the visit was just too short. After dinner we went to a local bar and hung out and talked. We also visited for a while when we got back to the rooms. After they went to their room we re-packed our luggage for the flight in the monrning. We have to leave around 7:30am to get to the airport in time tomorrow. We are gonna get together for coffee in the room in the morning before we leave, too early for breakfast. It will good to get home again, even if only for the one night. This has been an incredible, amazing, breathtaking (fill in your favorite superlative here) vacation but I am almost done with travel, for a couple of weeks at least.