Saturday, September 28, 2019

Another Alaskan Adventure! ... Day 7

Another Alaskan Adventure!
Day 7
Thursday, August 22

I had a hard time waking up this morning, probably due to my late night of watching Avengers. Still, I had an excursion planned for later, and couldn't stay in bed forever... even though I wanted to.

For breakfast I ate the cookie I'd bought in Skagway, but I thought I might need something else before my excursion. So I went to the International Cafe. Alas, they were switching between breakfast and lunch, and were temporarily not serving any food! I rushed up to the buffet and grabbed a bran muffin, hoping that would be enough to sustain me.

Without having even checked the weather (or gone outside to look) I'd dressed in many layers. Yoga pants and track pants. T-shirt, down vest, hoodie, and rain jacket on top. Two layers of socks. Supposedly waterproof shoes.

As soon as I disembarked, I realized it was drizzling. The rain would continue throughout the day. Oh, Alaska....

The twenty or so people on my excursion, Rainforest Trail Bike & Hike Adventure, met on the pier and boarded a bus. 

We rode through Ketchikan for about 20 minutes. The driver stopped along Creek Street at one point and let us out to look at the salmon swimming upstream. 

Then we drove out of town and into the forest. We made a stop where they divided us into two groups of 10. One group got off the bus, and the rest of us stayed on and were driven a bit farther.

At our final destination, we got off and walked to an area with some gear -- extra clothes and stuff. (Not very many size choices, though.) I was amazed to see that two of the men in my group were wearing shorts! One of them opted to don some of the provided pants, but one guy did the whole tour bare-legged. 

^My "before" picture.

Our group did the hike first. (The other group did the bikes first.) The hike was very short. Nothing too interesting. (Which is to say, I saw no bears.) We made a big loop. 

About two-thirds of the way through the hike we stopped at a clearing where there was a fire pit and a picnic area. There were snacks waiting for us: clam chowder, coffee, cocoa, bread, jam, salmon spread, chocolate mints, and even fishie crackers.

After 15-20 minutes we left the picnic area and walked to another sheltered area, where we chose bikes and helmets. 

Now, I could have sworn that when I was reading the description for this excursion, it said that we'd be riding electric bikes. But I think I might have seen the electric bikes thing on another website, for a slightly different excursion ("Ketchikan Electric Bike And Rainforest Hike Ecotour" -- similar in price, but not offered through Princess.) 

Because, yeah... the bikes they gave us, here, were typical non-electric mountain bikes with really uncomfortable seats. So that was disappointing -- for me, anyway.

I'd also gotten the impressed that this would be a leisurely ride. (Again, I think I'd read that on the other excursion's website.) There was nothing easy about this ride. Sure, there weren't very many hills, but there were numerous rocks and ruts and puddles along the trail. Plus, rain was hitting me in the face, and I really, really hate those unforgiving bike seats. Every once in a while there'd be a stretch of road/path where there weren't any rocks or holes, and on those occasions, riding was kind of fun and exhilarating. 

^My "Yay, I guess?" picture.

The guide and 7 of the others in our group seemed to be right at home with the bikes and the terrain. They sped ahead and would have to stop every now and then to let me and this older couple catch up. (I was faster than the older couple, but a few times I chose to ride behind them.) It was kind of eerie, at times, being "alone" on the trail. What if something had happened? I had no way to communicate with the guide, who led the pack. Maybe she would have come back to look for me, eventually....

Finally, it was over. Everyone had gotten muddy. The front of my pants and the back of my rain jacket took the most of it. Some people had muddy faces, but at least I was spared there. You can imagine what happened to the legs of the guy who was wearing shorts.

^My "I'm still alive, right?" "After" picture.

I still might try an electric bike tour someday. But I will make absolutely sure that that is what I actually book. I'm done with mountain bikes on tours. They're just not my friend.

We returned to the bus and were driven back to the pier. Despite looking like I'd just rolled in mud, I stopped at a few souvenir shops to get some last-minute gifts.

Back on the ship, in my stateroom, I began peeling off my layers. Every single thing I was wearing was muddy or wet. My shoes were less waterproof than I'd thought, and they were out for the count for the rest of the cruise. After taking a shower, I rinsed the mud off my pants and jacket, and hung everything up to dry. (Which was quite a feat, considering the small size of the shower stall.)

After my shower, I felt a bit better, although I was still tired. I decided not to nap, though, because I had a dinner reservation at 5:15. Earlier in the week I'd gotten a reservation at one of the specialty restaurants, Sabatini's. 

Prior to dinner, I popped into trivia. After winning the Disney trivia the other night, I still wanted to play trivia, just not officially. (I'd just keep my scorecard to myself.) 

I got 14 out of 20; the team that won got 18. The most amusing part of this event was listening to a nearby group of people -- probably in their 60s -- bemoaning half of the questions. ("Video games? How should I know?" "MUSIC? The only music I know about is The Beatles!") They were literally saying these things; it was beautiful. They should have asked me to join their team, although to be fair, two of the questions I missed were about video games and music, so maybe I wouldn't have been much help.

After trivia, I made my way toward Sabatini's...

I was seated at my own table and ordered a club soda. There was an assortment of bread -- a loaf of crispy-ish bread, a long bread stick, and these potato-flour rolls that came with a kind of tomato-y dipping sauce. Alongside all this bread was a dish of olive oil for dipping.

For my Antipasti course I got the Alici -- Fried zucchini and yellow squash, smoked scamorza, and toasted house-made crostini. (Anchovies were optional. Hint: if you go to any restaurant on a cruise ship, it can't hurt to tell your server you're a vegetarian.)

Soup & Salad - I got the Grana Padana Fondue -- Celery, foraged mushrooms, and toasted hazelnuts.

It was basically a soup. And it was very delicious.

Dal Pastaio - I got the Risotto -- Vialone nano rice, beets, and gorgonzola dolce latte.

It wasn't as good as the previous courses, but it was okay.

Secondi Piatti - Polenta Soffice -- Soft polenta with mushrooms, fresh mozarella, and a truffle essence.

I did enjoy the overall taste. The cheese was so stringy! I wasn't a big fan of the polenta, though. And by now I was getting quite full. So maybe I shouldn't have ordered dessert after this, but...

Dessert - I chose a "sampler" of the four main desserts:

*A vanilla/wine one with strawberries
*A fruit compote
*A ferrero rochert chocolate concoction.

Sampler? Ha. Each dish held what any other restaurant would call an actual dessert.

The people at the table next to mine ordered just the ferrero rochert, and it basically came in a fishbowl.

I sampled each. Really, I did my best.

I'd purposely not eaten much throughout the day in anticipation of this meal. I'd had the cookie and the muffin for breakfast. I'd had a few snacks during the excursion (bread, jam, fishie crackers, mints.) But that was it. I thought I had room for a six-course meal.

As I waddled out of the restaurant afterwards, I thought I might explode. I made it back to my stateroom and almost immediately went to sleep. Three hours later, my stomach seemed to have settled. Which was a good thing, considering the ship had started moving like a rocking horse in an earthquake. 

As I looked over the itinerary for the next day -- our final Sea Day -- I saw lots of activities I wanted to do... in fact, some things conflicted with others, so I would have some choices to make....

What would I do on the final day at sea? Find out next time! In the meantime, enjoy this random gallery of ship officers....

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