Saturday, January 05, 2008

Home again.

So I can manage to post every day I'm on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean, but as soon as I hit dry land, I promptly disappear. Typical. Anyway, it's been a busy few days, so here's what's happened since the ship docked in Fort Lauderdale on January 2.

Jan. 2
We hit port around 7 a.m. Once you get into port the cruise people would like to get you off the ship as quickly as possible so they can get the next group of people in. No kidding, by 10 a.m. they have everybody off the ship. By about noon they are taking on the next load of passengers and by 5 p.m. they're off to sea again. Not much in the way of relaxing.

By the way, one last thing about being on a cruise ship. They tell you to budget spending $100 per person, per day. Considering there were two of us on the ship for nine days, we were a bit horrified about that thought. Mercifully, we didn't come close to that. I think what helped is that we didn't drink very much - about five drinks between the two of us - and we didn't gamble at the casino. Our biggest expenses were the internet, soft drink cards, the zip line excursion, photos and tips. We did spend money ashore, but St. Maartin was the worse for it (duty-free and tax free. Everybody went a bit nuts there). The other three islands we didn't spend much at all.

There are two ways of getting off the ship. The slow way is to put your bags outside your door around midnight before you land, and they will take them ashore for you and assist you in disembarking. The quick way is to crab your own gear and drag it off yourself. We wanted to get ashore as quickly as possible. No sense waiting around the boat when we could punt around Fort Lauderdale for the day. Although most of the ones wanting to get off quickly had early flights to catch.

Anyway, we hit port at about the same time as a blast of Arctic air. We got off the ship thinking it was just a bit chilly in the morning, but no, the temperatures remained consistently around 5-10C throughout the day. That mean we needed to change out of the shorts, t-shirt and crocs we were wearing quickly. Fortunately, when we went to the hotel, basically just to drop off our bags, they let us check in early. That made up for the internet not working in the room during our stay (hence the lack of posting).

We kicked around town a bit, finally managed to find a Borders book store and gleefully spent several hours there. That evening, when Cathy found a Beals (where she bought tops for $5 and was very happy) I went and saw Beowulf in 3-D IMAX. Cathy passed on seeing Beowulf....lingering traumatic mental damage from high school English. But I never read it and was curious.

I can't say I loved the movie's story or characters, but by god it is spectacular to look at. In that format, it is probably one of the best looking movies I've ever seen. So I'm glad I went. It was the only movie I saw on vacation, which is a disappointment, but we just had no time.

Jan. 3
Up bright and early to catch our flight to Ottawa. Now, here's the thing. Unless you're an idiot there are plenty of signs and warnings telling you that when you travel internationally to and from the United States, you arrive at the airport early. As in about two hours early. Our flight left a little after 8 a.m. So that mean we were up at 5, caught the shuttle to the airport at 5:30 and were at the airport by 6. We didn't clear security until about 7:15 a.m.

Were the lines that bad? No, not really. The reason it took so long is that Delta Airlines does this unique little thing that I've never seen before. They go through the line and yell out what time your flight leaves. So at 6:20 they started asking if anyone had a flight leaving at 7. A bunch did. So they pulled them ahead of us in the line to let them get checked in. And this went on and on. I'd estimate a good 40-50 people skipped ahead of us in the line because they were late showing up at the airport. Whereas our reward for not being idiots and showing up for an international flight 45 minutes before it departs two days after New Years was to constantly have people waved passed us.

I finally had enough as the time was pushing closer to 7 a.m. and told the woman escorting people passed us that we were taking the next agent and that my patience with these people being late and getting rushed passed us was over. I was polite, but really, that's bullshit. You arrive that late, you deserve to miss you flight.

The rest of the day was uneventful. We breezed passed customs in Ottawa and then spent the rest of the day in a rental car doing some last minute resupplying before heading up north. Cathy discovered our bags were actually light. You can't go back to Iqaluit with bags not packed to the limit. So we hit a Wal-Mart and a few other places to grab a few things.

Jan. 4
The big event of this day was that we made it into Iqaluit. Although I checked the weather the night before and it said it was supposed to be clear and cold (God damn cold. As in around -50). I figured the worse we were going to face was trying to get a cab at the Iqaluit airport. With all our bags, all the passengers and with us wearing light winter coats, it was going to be pretty brutal.

Little did I know a blizzard manage to sneak up on the town. And since we were late leaving Ottawa because of deicing, we arrived in the air over the town just as the blizzard was beginning to kick into gear. So we spent about 20 minutes circling town, waiting to see if we could land. Cathy and I were offering up prayers to anyone listening as we not only really wanted to get home at this point, but wed already emailed the person housesitting for us they could go home. That meant there was no one to take care of Boo if we got redirected to Rankin Inlet for the evening.

However, we did get to land. Not the smoothest landing in the world, but we did. And once we were on the ground, they began cancelling flights all over the place. So it was pretty lucky we got down when we did.

And it was as cold as I expected. Folks, never doubt for a second that -52 hurts when you're not wearing the right clothing. I had to run out into the parking lot to get a cart to carry our luggage. Perhaps the most painful two minutes I've had in several years. It hurt. My skin was burning and my head aching for hours afterwards.

Anyway, we got home safe and sound. Boo is one big furry knot having not been brushed in a couple of weeks, but he seemed pretty happy to see us. Although he's unhappy about not getting walks, but really, we're getting extreme windchill warnings from Environment Canada for the next few days. That cold we experienced in Fort Lauderdale had to have its start somewhere. I'm not saying it was in Iqaluit, but I suspect we're pretty close to it.

And now, back to work on Monday. Man, vacation time just flies....


Kirsten said...

Okay, this has nothing really to do with your post, but anyway. I'm just half-watching a Pink Floyd documentary on DVD as I browse my RSS feeds. It just showed David Gilmour singing and playing "Breathe", and right when he sang "Home, home again" I happened to click on your new post and the title said "Home again". Like, trippy stuff, man.

Stephanie said...

I'm going to feel cold for the rest of the day because you weren't dressed properly! I dealt with -40 when I lived in Jasper and dressed so warmly when it was that cold. -52!!!!!!!!