Cruising in a Stratified Recession

Before I was retired my wife and I went on vacation as a break from our working routine.  It seems only natural to seek contrast.  Looking back, our vacations seem more frenetic than relaxing, especially considering the kid-oriented stuff.  Now I perceive that we travel simply for contrast. Traveling is like wine, not to be taken in excess, but it clears the palate and makes the old seem fresh again.

We just returned from a 10-day trip for a 7-day cruise to Alaska on Holland America.  We have used travel agents in the past, but this time I was a little apprehensive because I did it all myself on the internet.  It was fine.  We drove to

An Alaska Sunrise, 4:10 a.m.

KCI, stayed in a park-n-fly motel, caught a non-stop flight on Midwest Air to Seattle the next day.  It was smooth and the plane actually arrived ahead of schedule.  As usual for us Joplinites everything seemed overpriced.  The taxi from SeaTac to  the hotel downtown was $42.  The hotel was very reasonable ($219, w/ tax), as I had arranged, but there was a catch.  For dinner and breakfast there were no good alternatives to the hotel.  Walking distances are short in Seattle but it is very steep walking we found.  Dinner with wine, $160.  Continental breakfast, $18 each.  Oh well.  We wanted change, and change we got.  Taxi to the ship ,only 2 or 3 miles:  $35.  By the time we got back home I figure we had spent about $6,600, which, if you divide by the 7 days of cruising would be $950 per day!  Mollie hates it when I analyze like that, but it’s my nature.

Is it worth it?  It’s not easy to put a price on an experience but making memories, both the bad the good, can be priceless.

Leaving Juneau, Crow's Nest

We had exceptionally good weather for Alaska, which is normally cloudy, rainy and chilly.  It got up into the 70’s one day and we saw sun and blue sky in both Juneau and Sitka!  The seas were flat as a pancake the whole cruise – amazing.  Food and service, fabulous.  Great guitar player in the Crow’s Nest each evening.

How is the Cruise business doing?  Must be pretty darn good.  I asked a street vendor in Ketchikan just how many ships they had visit.  Their pier can accommodate 3 at a time.  She said rather proudly that they got 3 to 7 cruise ships a day, every day of the week!  Recession?  What recession?

We love living in Joplin.  We like to leave once in a while so we can come back and

Life Not So Hard

appreciate it even more.  If you live in the big city somewhere, there are attractions such as stadiums, operas, and museums,  but they do not seem worth fighting human congestion for the very occasional visit we would make to those places. It is similar to buying art. No matter how nice the painting, it palls into familiarity after hanging on the wall for a few months or years.

It’s nice to be home again.

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About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Independent, tending progressive as the GOP recedes from its Eisenhower roots.
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