S: Alaskan Wedding Volume One
BC: Coming soon - | Alaskan Wedding Volume Two
FC: The Great Outdoors | Alaskan Wedding Volume One
1: Friday, June 17th, 2011 Pre-Vacation Adventure | After packing for weeks it was finally time to put the plan into action. Even Freddy had to pack for his all-inclusive vacation at Grandma and Grandpa's. He wasn't too happy about getting a bath before he went but we couldn't show up with a stinky dog. When we got to West Bend the house was wall-to-wall tarps. Given the condition of our own carpeting it was a smart move. Airport Connection picked us up at the house and took us to the airport. It was well worth the money. Our van included a woman named Marie and her Siamese cat "Savannah". Savannah made it very clear she was not happy about her upcoming flight to California and yelled the entire ride to the airport. After Ed set off a number of alarms going through airport security it was off the Minneapolis. When we boarded the plane in the seat in front of us sat Savannah the cat. Thankfully she was much quieter than in the van. I think drugs were involved. Our flight from Minneapolis to Vancouver was a challenge. Seated next to me was a man named Brian. Across the isle was Brian's wife Karen. When we asked Karen if she wanted to switch seats to be next to her husband the answer was "NO!". We soon found out why. Brian was a talker. In the first 15 minutes I heard about his coin collection, that he's not shy, how he meet his wife on a phone-in dating service, a recap of his 4 years in the Army, that his in-laws forbid alcohol in their house, how much he likes junk, and that he hates his step-mother. He also announced to the plane that Ed likes to walk around naked. While this information is not a shock to our friends, relatives, and neighbors it was a little unnerving to be made into a major announcement on an international flight. It was a long airplane ride to Vancouver. Going through customs in Canada was a breeze. The Canadians welcomed us with open arms. Once we had our luggage it was off to find a taxi. If we were feeling a little tired at this point the taxi ride certainly woke us up. Apparently stopping for red lights is optional in Canada. The 20-minute ride to the Best Western Downtown Vancouver was a hair-raising experience. Once we arrived we found a small but very clean room. A trip to a local liquor store proved to be costly (127 dollars) but necessary. Then it was off for a good night's sleep before we began our Alaskan adventure.
2: Cover grandma and grandpa's whole house with tarps in anticipation of Freddy "accidents". | Find hiding spot to get booze past security. | Crawl under bed to avoid pre-vacation bath. | Pack doggy toys and food. | Pre-Vacation TO DO List | Push the airline's 2 bag/50lb limit to the max. | Request high end accommodations at all-inclusive doggy resort.
3: Hurry up, I want to get on the plane! | Pre-vacation excitement | Packing the kitchen sink | Vancouver Hotel | Downtown Vancouver
4: Downtown Vancouver | Happy Campers | Watching TV - really? | THE ADVENTURE BEGINS...
5: Rainy morning in Canada | Downtown Vancouver | OFF TO ALASKA! | Alaskan Trivia | 1. Record low temperature is -78F. 2. Alaska has over 1/2 of the world's glaciers. 3. Alaska has 29 volcanoes. 4. The state motto is "North to the Future". 5. Alaska has 3 million lakes. 6. Russia is only 55 miles away. 7. Alaska is twice the size of Texas. 8. The largest salmon ever caught was 97.5 lbs in the Kenai River.
6: Saturday, June 18th 2011 Day 2 - Sailing Day We woke up at 5:30am since our bodies were still on Central Time and looked outside to find rain and temperatures in the 50's. At 7:00am we called downstairs to arrange for the shuttle to the ship and were told that the Harley biker group staying in the hotel took priority and we couldn't get on. Since transportation to the ship was included with the our booking we were a little upset. After Ed showed up at the front desk to find out what the problem was they agreed to let us go on the 12:30pm shuttle. We headed to the hotel restaurant for our free breakfast. After waiting 20 minutes for the Harley group to clear out we got a table. They served a Canadian Hearty Breakfast that turned out to be excellent - eggs, toast, sausage, bacon, OJ, and hash browns. It was worth the wait. We checked out of our room at 11:00am and went to the lobby to wait for the shuttle. We were greeted by 100 Harley bikers waiting for the same shuttle which was running 11/2 hours late. When a taxi driver walked in and asked if anyone wanted a ride we jumped at the chance. Fifteen minutes and 10 dollars later we were at Canada Place. Check-in onto the ship was a little more involved than we anticipated. First we handed our checked luggage to a baggage handler. Then we stood in line for 10 minutes to go through security (Ed set off the alarms again). We stood in another line for customs, another line to sign paperwork and receive our room keys, another line to get our welcome aboard picture taken, and another line to get our picture taken again. The entire process took about 45 minutes but we were finally on the ship. Our premium suite was a little smaller than expected but otherwise great. It consisted of a bedroom, sitting room, large bathroom (shower and whirlpool), two TV's, mini bar, sofa, walk-in closet, and large balcony. Our room steward Ronald was from the Philippines and did a wonderful job. Every request was handled promptly. We're not used to such luxury. Its the only way to travel.
7: So long Vancouver, hello Alaska!
9: Our beautiful suite!
12: Saturday, June 18th 2011 Day 2 - Sail Away (continued) Our first plan of attack after getting on the ship was to find food so off to the dining room we went. I had smoked salmon for an appetizer, garbanzo bean soup, and chicken carbonara for lunch. Ed ordered a salad and cheeseburger. Both of us were happy and full. Back at the room we found our bags had been delivered already. This was welcome surprise since while boarding we noticed one of Ed's suitcases tangling off the crane that loads luggage onto the ship and ready to fall into the water. We unpacked our bags, Ed tried on his tux (shoes too small and suspenders missing) and then sat out on the balcony to await sail off. The weather was in the low 60's and overcast but not raining. The ship's captain announced we would be leaving 30 minutes late because a large group had to arrived yet (probably the Harley group we left behind at the hotel). Once the group arrived the Coral Princess was underway. After planning this trip for over year it was hard to believe we were finally sailing off to Alaska. At 4:45pm we were required to participate in a muster drill. As we were walking to our appointed muster station who do we run into? Brian the talker. As we started walking faster to get away he began running to catch up with us leaving his wife behind. Ed overheard her say we were trying to run away so this must be a familiar scenario for her. Soon Brian realized he had left his wife behind during an emergency drill and turned back. This would not be the last we saw of Brian. Dinner was at 7:45pm but we had to wait until almost 8:00pm to get into the dining room. We were seated at a 6-person table with 2 teachers from Ohio and a mother/daughter team from Florida. Everyone was normal and we enjoyed talking with them over dinner. I ordered Spring rolls, mushroom soup, and Creole crock-pot with crawfish and mussels - very good. Ed ordered lobster pate', a salad, and prime rib. While his meal was good I heard a few complaints about small portion size. We'll just need to learn to order more food:) For dessert I had hazelnut ice cream and Ed had sugar-free chocolate mousse - both very good. We excused ourselves early from dinner and made the 9:30pm showing of Movie under the Stars - Tron:Legacy. It was a little cool outside on the deck but fun to sit outside under a blanket and watch a movie. Popcorn was provided. After the movie Ed had a snack in the Horizon court (a cheeseburger and hot dog) and then back to the room where our bed had been turned down and chocolates left on the pillow. After a very long day we collapsed onto bed.
17: Sunday June 19th, 2011 Day 3 - Sea Day Today was a sea day and we awoke to cool temperatures in the low 50's and overcast skies. Ed got up before me and saw a black bear along the coast. After showering we set off for breakfast at Sabatini's. I had a mimosa, muslin and bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon. Ed ordered eggs, potatoes, bacon, and sausage. Unfortunately the waiter mixed up our order and showed up with an omelet for Ed and Eggs Benedict for me. Before the waiter could return the order we explained that Ed would gladly help out and eat both meals. After getting my food we ate and walked away happy and full. We walked around the ship a little and checked out the stores. It was typical hat, shirts, and jewelry. By this time the ship had entered open water and was rolling a fair amount. I started feeling ill and wanted to lay down but we had an 11:00am appointment with the wedding coordinator. She showed us a wedding video and explained they would be taping our wedding and following us around the ship. Since the wedding videos cost $795 Ed and I both knew they were wasting their time. We decided to head to the Horizon court for lunch. It was a Chinese theme so we had fried rice, beef and broccoli, sweet/sour pork and chicken. It was good but I was feeling sea sick due to the rocking. After lunch I took a Dramamine and fell asleep. Ed used the time to figure out how to connect to the Internet in our room and e-mailed Adam and Alssya. Ed also used the opportunity to get a snack from the Horizon court of 2 more cheeseburgers. When I awoke the ship had stopped rocking and I felt much better. Today was formal night and Ed looked very handsome in his tux. I put on a black dress and it was off to dinner. I ordered shrimp and Ed had steak. After dinner our whole table went together to the dinner show "DANCE!". It was pretty good. Afterwards it was off to bed (not the whole table, just Ed and I) to rest up for our first day ashore.
21: Monday, June 20th 2011 Day 4 - Ketchikan Today we awoke in Ketchikan to overcast clouds and cool temperatures in the low 50's. Ed got up early and saw a bear along the shore again. I need to quit sleeping in and missing all the wildlife. We ordered breakfast through room service and had 2 omelets, bacon, ham, hash browns, OJ, bagels, toast, and coffee. Pretty good breakfast for room service. With a full tummy we got off the ship and headed to the Ketchikan rain gauge to meet the Island Wings Plane Tour. The walk was a little farther than we thought and two other couples were already waiting when we arrived. A van picked us up and took us to the seaplane. While the plane didn't look very big for 6 people once inside there was plenty of room. Everyone had their own headset which played music during the flight. The pilot, Michelle, was a no-nonsense woman who did a very good job piloting the plane, explaining the sights, and adjusting everyone's camera to landscape mode. The sights were amazing. Michelle explained that Misty Fjords exists because Jimmy Carter signed into law that the land could not be developed. It is managed for its natural resources but not for the protection of wildlife. It was beautiful to see from the air. About an hour into the flight Michelle landed the plane on a lake and took us ashore. Once we all got off the plane we heard a loud gun shot. Michelle explained that its wasn't a gun shot but a landslide from a glacier. We also saw eagles, loons, and a warm pile of bear poop:( After some photos we were back on the plane and taking off. The rest of the trip was beautiful with overcast skies and very little turbulence. The flightseeing trip was well worth the money.
28: Monday, June 20th 2011 Day 4 - Ketchikan (continued) After the flight we walked around Ketchikan and did some shopping. Before leaving town Ed upset a few of the local store owners by asking about Sarah Palin. Apparently she is not as popular in Alaska as she would like people to believe. We ate delicious clam chowder and shrimp on the dock for lunch. Ed also bought me a silver ring with Alaskan gold nuggets. This marriage thing is going to work out just fine! Back got back to the ship around 1:30pm and sailed off at 2:00pm. I headed up to the Lotus spa for a 5-minute hair consultation for the wedding and then tried the fish fry at The Grill outside on the deck. They had salmon, crab cakes, and prawn entrees. It was OK. Ed headed to the Horizon Court for 2 more cheeseburgers. The cooks know him on sight now. While Ed was sitting eating his cheeseburgers he heard a familiar voice behind him talking to some Australian tourists. It was Brian the Talker going on and on about how much he likes junk, coins, etc. Ed slide out of his chair and made a fast get away before being detected. That afternoon I tried my luck at bingo. It was $30 for only 4 games. At one point someone yelled a false bingo and had to go up in front of the crowd and do the chicken dance. It was a little harsh. While I was losing at bingo Ed won $28 in the casino on slots. I guess we know who the gambler in the family is. We sat out on the balcony until dinner and then headed to dining room. For dinner I had crab legs, seafood soup, and Surf and Turf. Ed tried the venison. The beef was a little tough but we managed to scarf it down. After dinner we sat and talked with the 2 teachers from Ohio, Kathy and Debbie. They got pretty riled up when the topics of Sarah Palin and No Child Left Behind came up. It was fun! After dinner we came back to the room to rest up for tomorrow's big day!
30: Tuesday, June 21st 2011 Day 5 - Wedding Day On the big day we awoke in Juneau to partly cloudy skies with cool temperatures in the low 50's. We ordered room service for breakfast. Ed had the Lumberjack Breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and coffee. The reviews from Ed were good. I had a bowl of museli and a bagel - good stuff. At 9:00am we got off the ship and meet our driver Bea outside the security gate in front of the ship. This caused more than a few dirty looks from the hoards of people being herded onto buses like cattle while we hopped into our own private car. Oh well, it was our wedding day. Bea took us through a tour of downtown Juneau and then proceeded to the Office of Vital Statistics to pick up our wedding license. The process went smoothly and we were out the door with our license in no time. The next stop was Mendellhoff Glacier. Since the sky was still cloudy the glacier looked like blue ice. We hiked to the edge of the glacier and took pictures under the waterfall. After an hour 3-4 tour buses showed up and we took that as our cue to leave. The next stop was the Church by the Lake. Many years ago a woman from Minnesota sold her $5000 necklace to build a church in Alaska. Its a cedar log cabin church that overlooks a beautiful lake. Its the most popular place in Juneau to get married and I could see why. Bea then took us to see Shire's Chapel, another church built on a lake that is also used as a retreat. Inside the chapel they were getting ready for a wedding so we didn't stay long. The sun had come out and the temperature was well into the 70's so it was turning out to be a beautiful day for a wedding.
31: The last stop was a trip across the water to Douglas Island, an island across from Juneau. There was a lookout point that had a great view of the Coral Princess and city of Juneau. Bea explained that Douglas Island used to be independent but now shares the same mayor as Juneau. Our driver Bea was a very interesting person. Thirty years ago she sold everything she owned and moved to Juneau with only a backpack and not knowing a single person. She lived in Alaska for 30 years until 5 years ago when her daughter had an aneurysm and died. Bea sold everything she had again and moved to Maine. After 3 years in Maine she moved back to Alaska. She has worked as a manager, lumberyard worker, photographer, and driver among other things. She definitely lives life on her own terms. After returning to Juneau Bea offered a free lift ticket for Mount Roberts tramway. We accepted the offer and went up the lift and then immediately back down. Due to time constraints there was no time to explore the top of Mount Roberts. It was beautiful view from the top. Back on ship at 1:30pm I quickly ate some buffet food and ran to catch my hair appointment with Jana from South Africa. She claimed she was going to make me beautiful by straightening my hair and combing it to the side. I don't think she quite meet her goal but it looked OK. I took off back to the room to get ready for the wedding. Ed and I had to get ready in the same room so it was tricky not seeing each other but we managed. Ed left the room at 4:30pm with candles, rings, and wedding license in hand. At 4:45pm a woman came to get me. The ceremony started a little before 5:00pm and everything went
32: smoothly. Ed looked very handsome and I managed to get through the ceremony without tripping over my dress. We each repeated our personally written vows with candles burning and music playing. It was beautiful ceremony that went by very quickly. Before I knew what was happening I was Mrs. Edward Bichler. After the ceremony I thought the photographer would take a few pictures and we would get on with our lives. Unfortunately that's not what happened. They ran us all over the ship taking pictures and video. This included dancing in the atrium while hundreds of people boarded the ship a few feet away. It was very embarrassing. We also had to go to the ship's bridge and take pictures sitting in the captain's chair with Ed wearing a captain's hat. It was very stupid and went on for 2 hours. I was glad when they finally went away and left us alone. Once the paparazzi left we went back to the room and called the family. Adam and Alyssa got to see us on the web cam. Ed's parents and sister didn't see us because a thunderstorm had knocked out the power. After talking with everyone including my parents we went to Sabatini's for dinner. The huge amount of food they serve is ridiculous. After picking lobster for the entree they proceeded to bring us everything on the menu. Its crazy and we ate until almost loosing consciousness. We returned to our room to a bottle of Champaign and very large wedding cake waiting for us. After enjoying a few glasses of Champaign and a piece of cake it was off to bed for Mr. and Mrs. Edward Bichler after a long and happy day.
40: June 21 2011
41: Jackie | & Ed
43: F O R E V E R
49: All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love
50: Wednesday, June 22nd 2011 Day 6 - Skagway One day into the marriage and so far, so good. We ate breakfast in the room again. I ordered museli and an English muffin. Ed had buttermilk pancakes, sausage, and bacon. Everything tasted great. We got off the ship and found the rep from Chilkoot Charters for our bus ride to the Yukon and Emerald Lake. We were directed to a shuttle bus and with about 10 other people were on the road in 10 minutes. The bus ride to Emerald Lake took about 5 hours. During that time we stopped at a number of sights to take pictures. We saw 3 bear along the way. The first bear was running along side of the road so we pulled over to take pictures. The second bear was a cinnamon bear (cross between a brown and black) and was in the grass along the side of the road eating dandelions. Larry the driver explained that bears love to ear dandelions because they ferment in their stomachs and turn to alcohol. The third grizzly bear was running in the middle of the road across from a horse farm. The bear was trying to eat the horses for lunch. The rancher shot his gun in the air while his wife tried to protect the horses. We later heard after running away the bear returned a few hours later. Larry said the rancher will need to kill the bear because he will never stop trying to kill the horses. After the excitement with the bear we stopped for pictures at the world's smallest desert and then on to Caribou Crossing for lunch. The meal consisted of grilled chicken, potato, coleslaw, rolls, and a donut.
51: The next phase of the journey was on the White Pass Trail train. Its amazing to think gold miners hiked up this same trail in the 1890's with only horses and backpacks. The Canadian authorities required 1 year's worth of supplies before going up the trail into the Yukon. One year 10,000 horses died going up the trail forcing it to be shut down due to the smell. The train ride was beautiful and at times scary with the tracks running along the edge of the mountain. We saw waterfalls, bridges, and more bear. One of the black bear was along the tracks next to some hikers. They seemed to board the train fairly quickly. The train ride lasted about 3 hours and then pulled into Skagway. The weather was sunny and in the high 70's, the warmest day so far this summer in Skagway. We hit a few gift stores and then headed back to the ship. Once on board we immediately headed to the Horizon court for Ed's cheeseburger fix. Another fix would come later that night at 1:00am. At this point the cooks automatically spring into action the minute they spot Ed coming and throw 2 burgers on the grill. We ate dinner in the dining room and everyone swapped stories of their day in Skagway. I ordered scallops and Ed had venison. The venison was a little dry but the scallops were good. After dinner we saw a movie in the Universal Lounge call The Adjustment Bureau. On the way to the movie we passed one of the cocktail lounges having a karaoke contest. The singer on stage was horrible and people were leaving in droves. When we took a closer look at the singer we realized it was Brian the Talker. His wife was nowhere to be found which was probably for the best since he seemed to be wearing some of her clothes on stage. Ed and I made a fast exit.
62: Thursday, June 23rd 2011 Day 7 - Glacier Bay Today we awoke to sunny skies and cool temperatures in the low 50's. It was nice to wake up and not have to be anywhere. We ordered the Champaign Balcony Breakfast and ate outside. We had crab quiche, pasties, Champaign, orange juice, fruit, and coffee. Very good meal. We listened to the naturalist talk about Glacier Bay on TV while sitting on the balcony watching glaciers. go by. We even saw one calve. It was very beautiful and amazing to see. Lunch was in the Horizon Court and the theme was Chinese - again. Rice, stir fry, and ham was piled on my plate. Ed made a bee line for his friends at the grill and satisfied his 2 cheeseburger fix. After lunch we sat on the balcony for a few hours and watched the beautiful scenery. Late in the afternoon the wind picked up and started rocking the ship quite a bit. I popped another pill and was fine. Ed and I decided dressing formal for a 3rd night did not sound appealing so we hit the buffet again for supper. Ed had steak and I had cod and rock fish - both cooked to order. I went back for seconds. We were feeling rested and decided to hit two shows in one night. The first show was called Tribute - a musical salute to the Beatles, Beach Boys, and Rat Pack. It was pretty good. The second show was a comedian who started off by insulting senior citizens. This cleared out about 1/3 of the audience. The rest of the show wasn't that great. After two shows it was back to the room for a good nights rest. It was another long but fun day.
68: Friday, June 24th 2011 Day 8 - College Fjord Today started off a little foggy but cleared up later and turned out to be another sunny, warm day in the low 70's. We went back to Sabatini's for breakfast and this time they didn't mess up our order. I ordered hash browns and a BLT. Ed ordered a poached egg with potatoes. Both of us were full and happy. After breakfast we came back to the room and started to pack. It was very sad to think of leaving out beautiful suite. Since we can take only one suitcase on the land portion of the trip we had to decide what were the vital necessities of life. I also did a load of laundry which was a mistake because everyone else on the ship had decided to do the same thing. It was fight to the death for a washing machine. At 11:00am we meet with the wedding photographer and looked at the 500+ pictures they took plus the video. We decided on only 6 photos since they were so expensive and picked them up later in the day. At 5:00pm the ship arrived at College Fjord and we saw the biggest glaciers of the trip. We also spotted a killer whale chasing some dolphins. There were dozens of sea otters floating on their backs in the water (you would think they would be a little more concerned about the killer whales ). The naturalist said she couldn't remember another time when the weather was so beautiful for both College Fjord and Glacier Bay.
69: At dinner we took a little heat from our dinner companions for not showing up at dinner the night before. I think they took it a little personally. We explained that dressing up again just didn't appeal to us. I think they understood. For dinner Ed and I both had a New York Strip. It was just OK. We had intended on seeing a show that night but going to bed early began to sound like a much better plan. The next day would be a long one traveling to Copper River. To end the cruise on a high note Ed decided to head to the Horizon Court for 2 last cheeseburgers and say goodbye to his new friends. To his shock and horror the Horizon Court was closed to clean and get ready for the next cruise. Ed returned to the room distraught but not deterred. He placed a call to room service and had 4 cheeseburgers delivered to the room within minutes. I even got to have one and had to admit they were delicious.
72: Saturday, June 25th 2011 Day 9 - Last Cruise Day This morning we awoke to the first rain of the trip. It was hazy and foggy which matched the mood we were in since we were leaving our beautiful suite. We took showers and ate cheeseburgers for breakfast. Even cold they taste great. At 7:45am we walked down to the Explorer's Lounge to meet up with our cruisetour group. Who did we run into? Brian the Talker. He must not be a morning person because he actually acted normal. We talked a few minutes and then sat down and waited to exit the ship. At 8:00am we were called to disembark. With a heavy heart we walked off the ship without having to go through customs. It was very quick and efficient. Our bus to Copper River was waiting for us right outside the door. This cruise was amazing. We had a beautiful wedding, Alaska was great, the food was plentiful, the weather was almost perfect, and I got to marry a wonderful man. What more could you ask for?