North to Alaska

After spending our last summer vacation in the South, this year, we decided to take a turn North … to Alaska!  We’ll be on the Norwegian Sun sailing from Vancouver, Canada to Seward, Alaska; then spend some time in Anchorage to tour Denali; then head back to Vancouver for a few days to explore the city.

Our trip has been planned for months as I jenga’d across four very different Kress-Davis summertime calendars (meetings, camps, diving, more meetings, budget presentations) to find a cruise that worked (which quickly got us from infinity to … two); obsessively scoured the interwebs for ship photos and reviews; filled my now-patented trip spreadsheet with possible excursions for family consideration; and tracked weather in a half dozen Alaskan ports of call.  This sucker was buttoned up, people. But, as Outkast sings, “You can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather,” and in the last week, just about everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.

Let me recount the ways:

Last week Sunday, Harper spent a long night in the ER before going into surgery the next morning for an unexpected appendectomy (all while Ned rushed back from a trip to Chicago). 
At some point around 4 in the morning, I was told by the on-call surgeon that our summer vacation plans would be a no-go, but given all that was going on, dealing with this was about 1,000,001 on my list.  Good thing.  After Harper’s surgery, I was talking with her actual surgeon and asked about a follow-up appointment, mentioning that our schedule was open because of our soon-to-be canceled vacation plans.  Where were you going, he asked. An Alaska cruise, I answered.  Well, turns out he had taken the same cruise himself a couple years back and enthusiastically endorsed our going.  In fact, his words were more like, Oh, you have to go! He even recommended several excursions (!) and then had his office follow-up again on Friday to make sure all was well and we were ready to go.  I’ve taken to calling him Super Surgeon–and Harper wants it known this photo is being used without her permission 🙂  (Side note: nothing made me reflect on the value of health insurance more than being a freaked out mom sitting in the ER in the wee small hours of the morning with a seriously sick kid surrounded by high quality medical care. It’s about to be America’s birthday, give her people back this essential gift.) 
Yesterday, we were seeing the Million Dollar Quartet at GEVA, reliving our Memphis summer days, when I got a text: the first leg of our flight to Vancouver the next day was canceled, making the second leg unreachable.  Um, what?  So, I sat impatiently through the first act feeling more all shook up with every twang of early rock-and-roll, jumped up at intermission, and wove my way through the lobby to the theater’s entry way, and–more than a bit panicked–started working.  Of course, it being the 4th of July weekend, the future looked dim.  But, after I expanded my circle of possibility to Toronto and after about 20 minutes of radio silence broken by clicks on the other end of the phone, the lovely United agent got us an Air Canada direct flight to Vancouver.  Yes!  Then, one overpriced car rental later, we were back on track.  Never saw the end of the show, but did eat a delicious piece of Cheesy Eddie’s carrot cake.  Plus, props to the GEVA manager–who must have seen me hunched in the corner, finger in my non-phone ear during intermission and then found me sitting alone in the café during the second act–for asking if everything was okay.
So, this morning, we were out the door by 6 am to drive to Toronto on an unsurprisingly empty thruway. You mean no one wants to visit the Jell-O museum on the Sunday before the 4th of July?

(And, she was concerned about the hospital bed picture. This is her international travel outfit. No comment.)

All was on track: got to Pearson early, returned the upgraded-at-no-cost big-as-the-principality-of-Monaco Jeep Grand Cherokee with no problems, found that all our luggage was under 50 lbs (yes!), and grabbed a why-not-Thai-food-at-9am breakfast near our gate.  Then, my phone lit up–our flight was canceled … again.  Seriously. WTF!?!  Call it first the mean ghost and then the generous spirit of Canada Day (Happy 150, Eh!), but after an unexplained cancelation that impacted an entire plane-ful of passengers, we were all rebooked on a flight two hours later.  So, other than arriving at the airport about 3 hours before we needed to, which meant getting up about 3 hours before we had to, all was well with the world. 

Ned even negotiated a sweet rate for the Air Canada lounge, so we got some great snacks and managed to play a game of Shanghai pre-flight!

So, here we are.  In Vancouver, filled with Nando’s and Breka Bakery,

watching Baywatch (yep, it’s bad) in our Hotwired hotel room, travel tired and ready for a good night’s sleep so that we can take to the high seas tomorrow.
The Kress-Davis family is reporting in, already vacation-tested and excited for our Northern adventure!

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