Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Another trip down Memory Lane

It’s a Tuesday so it must be Senior Fitness Day. Unfortunately, it wasn’t one of my better showings. Oh, there’s nothing radically wrong, just yesterday’s weather. Although today is cooler and certainly much less humid, it will take a couple of days for my old bones to dry out, I think. The lower joints and my back all held long conversations with me during the workout. Now that I’m home, I know Gator Wife will take pity and not get me to do too many things. I suspect you know how funny that statement is.

Portland gets several of those big cruise ships visiting each year. There are three of them bringing a lot of passengers into the city this week alone. One has already come and gone. The Carnival Victory spent all day in port yesterday at the Portland Ocean Terminal. The ship made its second of four visits this year. I haven’t seen the list of possible events for the nearly three thousand visitors, but you can bet there was a pretty good mix of activities from which they could choose.

Reading about the ships in port this week (scroll down) on MaineToday.com brought back some memories of a cruise GW and I took three years ago. Good memories they are, too. We really took a fantastic vacation after she had put aside just about all her part time job earnings for more than a year. A super person at the AAA Travel Agency in South Portland helped us put together a month long trip of our lifetime.

My dream of at least part of this trip began way back in the early 1970s when a whole bunch of us, all members and officers of an organization, took a train to Portland, Oregon, for a convention. We had a blast on that ride and I was especially impressed with the scenery over the Rocky Mountains. GW was unable to go with us as she elected to stay home with our babes. When I got home, I told her of the sights and promised that one day we would take the ride together.

It took more than 30 years but I kept my promise. We took a train to Seattle and then another one to Vancouver, B.C. Getting from Boston to Chicago was an adventure from Hell, but the trip from Chicago to Seattle was every bit as spectacular as I had promised her. If you’ve ever seen the Great Train Rides series on the Travel Channel, you’ve probably seen the trip of Amtrak’s Empire Builder. That’s the one we were on.

Within an hour of arriving in Vancouver, we were on our cruise ship. The cruise to Skagway, Alaska, and then from Anchorage back to Vancouver was simply a wonderful time. We had traveled by bus and train inland through a piece of Canada to Fairbanks then to Denali National Park featuring Mt. McKinley on a train between the cruise ports.

That brings me back to cruise ships. I think the ratio was close to one crew person for each three passengers. To say we were well taken care of would be an understatement. I’m not going to go into all the food, entertainment, just plain fun that was available. Each of the several ports of call had pre-arranged activity choices, for an additional cost I might add, from which we could choose. The number of activities depended on the length of stay.

Most stays in Portland are usually 10 to 12 hours. Think of all the choices the people get here. I’d bet there’s a bus to L.L. Bean’s in Freeport. Of course there’s shopping in the Old Port. And lobster. Can you imagine visiting Portland, Maine, and not indulging in a lobster dinner? Too bad the passengers coming this week aren’t just a couple weeks later when a foliage trip probably would be included. I’ve never visited Portland as part of a cruise so I can’t even begin to list the possibilities. But you can bet those passengers who choose to come ashore will have a memorable experience.

The other ships coming this week are the American Glory and the Grandeur of the Seas. The first will arrive Thursday night and leave Friday morning; the second will spend Saturday in the Port of Portland.

Thanks for indulging me with this little trip down memory lane. I can only add that if you haven’t already had one and you get the chance, a cruise on one of the many cruise ships would be an experience you’d never forget. Cruises are not cheap, but the grand vacation was, to me, worth the expense.


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