Friday, September 11, 2009

Eskimo kisses!

We had the opportunity to go to Alaska with my Papa-Bear and grandest-mah.
Smarty and Miss Magoo knew about the trip, but thought they were staying with a friend. Mr. Smith and I go on a trip every 10-12 months together, without the kiddos. We took a trip back in April, and so I thought the girls would be bothered. They never even thought it was possible that they might be going with us.
It wasn't until we were 10 miles from the next State that Smarty finally wanted an explanation. When we broke the news they were ecstatic! The looks on their faces were priceless! I was so excited for them to have these memories with us!

Papa-bear is diabetic, and his health is getting worse and worse. He doesn't do well traveling, so nobody, including himself, knew how the trip would go.
We drove to Seattle, WA. We stopped every 45 minutes for breaks. It took us two 10-12 hour days of driving. We started with a fabric car top carrier... argh! It flapped so loudly we were yelling to each other in the car. It wore our nerves down very quickly. The second day we got a hard case for the car. AMAZING! It was so quiet it felt strange.
Mr. Smith had to arrange the luggage and wheelchair in a very special way to fit us all. It was like a game of Tetris. Everything had to stack together just right... there was no room for error.

Interesting fact... you cannot pump your own gas in Oregon. It's illegal. I never knew that.

Seattle was beautiful! Very green and very busy. I LOVE busy cities, and this was one of my favorites. Our hotel in Seattle was amazing, with spectacular views of the ocean and the Space Needle.
We got on the ship... well there's more to it than that. We boarded the ship five minutes after the final boarding time! The luggage carrier caused parking issues, and we had a horrible taxi driver who was determined that we wouldn't make it.
After getting on the ship, I let it sink in that we almost didn't make it. That's how I am... I never panic in the moment... it's after the fact, then I let myself freak out!
Papa-bear and Grandest-mah had never been on a cruise. Since we have been on many (too many) we somehow became the official cruise 'customer service reps'. I felt bad not knowing the in's and out's... but this was a different trip. We had only been to tropical destinations. Mr. Smith and I have the Caribbean down to a science... Eastern, Western, Southern... all the erns! But Alaska? Canada? I struggle calling it a vacation if I'm not in my bathing suit everyday getting tan!
It was more beautiful than I could have imagined! It could not have been better! Apparently, there was rain before we came, and rain after we left... but every port was gorgeous.
We had free hot cocoa, and lived in our hoodies. They girls loved the 'kids club', and met friends from all over the US and elsewhere.
The food was excellent, the service fantastic, and the scenery was spectacular. We saw glaciers, went whale watching, and visited a native Saxman Tlinget village... Smarty and I even wore traditional clothing and participated in a ceremonial dance. We saw a logging show, and took a train ride through the Yukon Territory up White Summit Pass. We went on a carriage ride around Victoria, Canada.
But most important... Papa-bear and Grandest-mah had the time of their lives! Mr. Smith helped Papa-bear, and was able to push him everywhere in a wheelchair. The girls were so excited and thankful for everyday. We were able to make memories that will last throughout our lives, and become closer as a family.
My grandparents helped salvage what little 'normal' childhood I had. Any happy memories before the age of 18, are thanks to the summers and Christmas' I had in California. I feel so blessed to have shared this trip with them. I hate to think that someday I will lose them. Papa-bear is the closest thing I've had to a Dad in my life. Grandest-mah is the all-time example of what a Grandma should be. As I have gotten older, I appreciate what wonderful people they are, and the friendship I have with them. I am so glad we were able to make this dream happen for them. They never thought they would be able to go on this trip... Grandest-mah said that she "thought a trip like that had passed them by" But I guess that life is really what you make out of it. The places were great, the sights were beautiful, but the experience was unforgettable!