20160918 – Lake Tahoe. Plague alert – bring out your dead.

Sunday – hot and sunny.

Our home for the next 5 days.

Our home for the next 5 days.

Well we’ve survived 10 days at sea and finally managed to escape, no thanks to the decrepit inhospitably and inefficiency of Homeland Security – NSA I don’t care if you’re listening.

Pick the Hertzmobile up and then it’s a very pleasant 4 hour drive, over the Golden Gate Bridge, up to Sacramento and over the mountains to Lake Tahoe.

Arrived at our luxury home. We’re 4 miles down a single track road that looks like the San Andreas fault runs down the middle of it. Last paved when Macadam was a lad. 10 miles to the nearest supermarket / wifi and 16 miles to nearest Taco Bell and Starbucks. How do people cope!

Lounge

Lounge

It seems that the colonials have not quite heard of mobile phones yet, there is internet but it’s even pricier and slower than onboard ship. Piracy is not confined to the high seas. $15 a day, and then runs at a MAXIUM blistering speed of a knackered donkey, all 1Mb per second, about as useful and expensive as a diamond studded condom. Don’t think we’ll have any problems with noisy neighbours, traffic or noisy red knecked scrots on Harley’s – bears might be an issue though.

Oh well looks like I’ll be spending a lot of time in Starbucks.

Dinning area.

Dinning area.

It’s a gorgeous home, with a great deck, views over Fallen Leaf Lake and of course the obligatory all American barbecue, big enough to roast an ox on. The silence here is deafening and oh so relaxing. As well as no internet there’s no TV, so we’ve not had the pleasure of the Trump versus Clinton pantomime – how sad. To keep us amused though they do have blue rays; a pool table (sadly not a clue how to play); sauna; bikes and a leaky kayak; a wonderful selection of whisky and enough different vodkas to enable me to hibernate all winter; there’s even pot and pipes provided – perhaps it’s standard hospitality in all California homes.

TV must be all of 60″, but sadly you’re sat only 6 feet away – fortunately we have no TV signal, Trump and Clinton that close up would be so scary you wouldn’t be able to drive a wet watermelon seed up me butt with a sledge hammer.

rant header

 

Kitchen.

Kitchen.

You know you’re a geriatric when a young women comes up to you. Wow you think you’re lucks in, but no she offers to help you carry the groceries up to your cabin. How very kind but oh so cruel.

joke header

 

Just lately I’ve been giving this Illegal immigrants and economic migrants (AKA refugees) issue a lot of thought and have come up with a simple solution. Ship them in batches of 200 to Belthorn for 3 days. By the end of 2 days of Belthorn’s weather they’ll be begging to return hence from where they came.

Monday – hot and sunny.

Games room.

Games room.

A lazy morning while Wendy unpacks and does battle with the giant washing machine, don’t forget it’s America and everything’s bigger.

Finally we toddle off into South Lake Tahoe. First stop Starbucks to communicate with the World and publish a long overdue travel / rant blog.

Drive down to the lake to park up and then have a pleasant stroll around.

Master bedroom.

Master bedroom.

Wow Tahoes changed from when we skied here. All very swish but wot no snow? If I stick around long enough I’ll be able to use my Park City Epic ski pass for free skiing. The most noticeable thing after 10 days on a floating calorie factory is the lack of blobbies. Most people look fit, healthy and capable of walking 10 feet without the need of an electric wheel chair.

rant header

 

TV room.

TV room.

It must be karma. Yesterday I facebooked (it’s a new word) how we’re out in the wilds but at least there’d be no noisy Harley Davidson scrots gunning there engines to compensate for having a small dick. Today we end up travelling at the speed of an arthritic tortoise behind two such noisy scrots down the 4 mile single dirt track to our cabin. No doubt we’ll be awakened at the crack of sparrows, as they share their macho excess decibels with the whole neighbourhood, in the hope of convincing everyone of what a big dick they are – are they red necks?

Tuesday – hot and sunny.

Have a wander down to the village store, beach and boat dock. Then set off to the Tallac Historic Site.

Well we're we've encountered warning signs for Falling rocks, bears, rattle snakes, mountain lions, even carcinogenic chemicals, but this has to be a first - plague bearing fleas.

Well we’re we’ve encountered warning signs for Falling rocks, bears, rattle snakes, mountain lions, even carcinogenic chemicals, but this has to be a first – plague bearing fleas.

I’m so glad we’re in a civilized country, who gives a dam about the risk of plague if you venture into the Tallac Historic Site, after all it’s nowhere near as virulent or dangerous as Ebola. Glad to see there’s a picket fence around the site. That’ll keep the plague ridden fleas in!

Despite the plague it’s all very picturesque and best of all free.

Log cabin in plague land - probably going cheap.

Log cabin in plague land – probably going cheap.

Then we encounter the road works. Sat for 15 minutes whilst a man with stop sign holds everyone up despite the road being clear. There’s more of these men with stop signs than there are tea towels ridden with dandruff in Afghanistan. I can’t begin to explain the stupidity being demonstrated on 89 down the side of Lake Tahoe. Who ever’s in charge of this is certainly a few fries short of a happy meal.

Call in at Raleys for some wifi.

Wendy takes a driving lesson.

Wendy takes a driving lesson.

Then it’s back home for coffee on the deck, amongst the shimmering silver birch and watching the boats on the lake.

religion header

 
George Carlin: The islamic extremist will win.

Wednesday – hot and sunny.

North Lake Tahoe.

North Lake Tahoe.

Off for a drive around Lake Tahoe. It’s 72 miles round and with all the road works and side trips takes us about 5 hours. The shades of blue in the lake are amazing. Some awesome scenery and as soon as we cross the state line into Nevada then it’s casinos galore.

Call in at some of the ski resorts we skied way back when, including Squaw Valley and Heavenly. Wot no snow.

religion header

 
Fairy Tales and Fables – The Quran

Squaw valley.

Squaw valley.

If Allah is a supreme being, creator of the universe and all that codswallop, how come he suffers from indecision and memory loss? In the Quran, allegedly the pure unadulterated word of Allan, he constantly contradicts himself and changes his mind, even more than Donald Trump. In fact it’s such a feature of his fables that there’s a recognised term for it, abrogation. His later pronouncements, usually more violent than his earlier ones (that’s convenient for the extremists), are deemed to override his earlier pronouncements – abrogation.

You’d think a so called supreme being would be able to make his mind up, or was he starting to suffer from Alzheimer’s, after all he would be 13 billion, or at least by his reckoning 4,000, years old.

joke header

 

THESE ARE ACTUAL COMPLAINTS RECEIVED BY “THOMAS COOK VACATIONS”
 FROM DISSATISFIED CUSTOMERS: 

Bought Ross's ski boots here al those years ago.

Bought Ross’s ski boots here al those years ago.

“The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the
 bus ride to the resort.  Because of this, we were
 unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun.” 

 “It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England.  It took the
Americans only three hours to get home.  This seems unfair.” 

 “I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends’ three-bedroom and ours
was significantly smaller.” 

 “The brochure stated: ‘No hairdressers at the resort.’  We’re
 trainee hairdressers and we think they knew and made us wait longer for service.” 

 “When we were in Spain, there were too many Spanish people there.  The
receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish.  No one told us that there would be so many
 foreigners.” 

Thursday – hot and sunny.

Fallen leaf lake

Fallen leaf lake

Down to the supermarket for wifi and last minute vitals. Then in the afternoon we tidy up and pack for our next adventure – hopefully with wifi this time.

Managed to get a brief FaceTime with Jasper. Wow, he’s such a happy sole, bubbling over with all that he’s done at nursery etc.

I was going to have an exploratory walk around the lake but rain stopped play.

Now I know I like a bit of salt on my food but Wendy's bought 26oz. She's only jealous of my low blood pressure and trying to get even.

Now I know I like a bit of salt on my food but Wendy’s bought 26oz. She’s only jealous of my low blood pressure and trying to get even.

To better appreciate the up and coming presidential election pantomime I’ve lashed out on an esubscription to the Wall Street Journal. Cost all of £1 a month for the 1st two months, by which time it’ll all be over and the mass exodus to Canada – like a Caraboo crossing – will have commenced.

rant header

 

When you’ve no wifi it makes you appreciate how much you use it.

Our cabin.

Our cabin.

Especially as a retired nerd, but even Wendy has been bemoaning the lack of Internet. There’s just so many things throughout the day that you use it to refer to; saying nothing about missing the online newspapers – even the daily blood boiler like the Mail and Express; then there’s contact with the kids; TV such as Netflix and BBC are sorely missed; preparing my daily blog without internet is dire. The withdrawal symptoms are worse than a crack addict going cold turkey, my fingers keep tapping away at an imaginary keyboard, like Elton John playing an imaginary piano.

Pool room.

Pool room.

But the one good thing to come out of it is I’m being weaned off Facebook. It’s just like giving up East Enders, you just don’t miss it and it frees up time to do more productive things like watching paint dry or reading. It’s such a pity that there’s no way you can suppress all those inane likes of trite little sayings being shared with you.

religion header

 
Qur’an Gangbang episode 6: Daughters of Allah

20160911 – Alaska – Part 2

Sunday – hot and sunny.

Oh look our first glacier.

Oh look our first glacier.

Breakfast, lounge around, lunch and then off to catch our tour to the Mendenhall glacier. It’s a lovely sunny day which is rare for Juneau as they average 22 days rain a month and can have up to 20″ in one day. Makes Belthorn seem like a desert.

Mendenhall glacier.

Mendenhall glacier.

Good information centre, great views of the glacier and waterfall but unfortunately the waterfall walk is closed off due to flooding so we end up hanging around for an hour.

Have a wander through Juneau, more diamond and grot shops than taliban at a stoning. Then it’s back to the ship for dinner. As we’ve missed our fixed dining slot we defect to the anytime dining. Interesting table as one of the geriatrics is a 90 year old state Supreme Court judge. Very interesting and she still has all her wits about her, more than can be said for some of the other geriatrics at the table. Conversation with some of them who have 5 minute pregnant pauses between each sentence as they wrack their memory for a word – could come to all of us anytime soon.

Early night after all this sightseeing.

joke header

 
Rather appropriate for this floating old folks home, George Carlin on getting old.

Monday – cold and wet.

Dramatic calving in Glacier Bay.

Dramatic calving in Glacier Bay.

Well it’s cruise Glacier Bay National,Park today.

Rangers come on board – how neat is that. They give a talk on the the park and then I nip upstairs to buy a baseball cap. Amazing isn’t it this boat sells more crap than there was junk in Steptoes scrap yard, yet when it comes to something sensible like NP items they’re in short supply because they have to drag them aboard. Any I’m lucky and get a cap to add to my collection.

Glacier bay glacier.

Glacier bay glacier.

Ship positions for photo opportunities at two glaciers and I’m lucky enough to capture a great calving – see pictures.

Evenings another round of fixed dining. By now I’ve weakened and resorted to 2 glasses of Zinfandel from happy hour and have them over dinner. We’re lucky in that we’ve got a good group on our table but I can imagine 10 dinners with people you don’t get on with must be dire.

Then it’s some sort of entertainment, I’m being generous with that word, and then try a quality bourbon to help me cope.
Please

Wendy endures Glacier Bay

Wendy endures Glacier Bay

rant header

 

How perverse are the habits of your average cruiser. You have those drinking at 09:00 in the morning; the sun lounger hogs who have their towels out by the crack of dawn on the same deck chairs, and even though it’s freezing out there spend all day on them and in the nearby jacuzzi; of course there’s always the gluttons who seem to be attempting some sort of “how much can I pile on my plate” competition; there’s the escapees from Las Vegas who spend all their time in the casino, throwing money away like an 8 armed Hindu god on steroids, rabidly milking the slots or shouting at the little white ball on the roulette table; for the ultimate in the money burning braggarts on board you just have to go to the art auction; finally there’s the snoozers who seem to be nodding off by 10:00 in the morning and spend the rest of the day snoring away, gobs wide open like some Venus fly trap.

Tuesday – warm and sunny.

Start of our Wallace Arnold coach trip in Skegway. My 16 year old's brain is struggling to cope.

Start of our Wallace Arnold coach trip in Skegway. My 16 year old’s brain is struggling to cope.

Today it’s Skegway. We’re on a crack of dawn Wallace Arnold tour. Train up and over Whitepass; coach into Yukon, Canada; lunch at Caraboo crossing, they also have the most amazing collection of stuffed bears, mammoths, moose and other Alaskan mammals; photo opportunity at Emerald lake; brief wander around Carcross, quaint local town; then drive back down Whitepass with a photo opportunity at a bridge ? waterfall.

Now a train over White Pass to Canada.

Now a train over White Pass to Canada.

Very expensive ($219) but I have to admit it was worth it, as we did pack in a lot. But I can’t help feeling sad that it come to this. I’m too young – 16 year old in the mind – to be on one of these Wallace Arnold extravaganza. They’re full of geriatrics, people our age. The ultimate for those with no sense of adventure, imagination or risk. Oh what has it come to. Still I suppose we’re the lucky ones, so much better than the alternative.

Tours late back but they have to hold the ship.

Yukon terroirity Cnada - spectacular.

Yukon terroirity Cnada – spectacular.

Then it’s straight to the dinning room. By now I’ve abandoned all hope of sobriety and as we missed the cheap wine at happy hour I succumb to buying a bottle and will just have to try and make it last.

After dinner we catch some more orgasmic entertainment. Including an Elton John show, somehow I end up doing a French test on my iPhone and then nod off. Yes it was that scintillating.

Emerald Lake in Yukon.

Emerald Lake in Yukon.

Can’t persuade Wendy to have a cocktail but I finally get to try a Vodka Martini, shaken of course. Well I won’t ever get to be a spy at this rate as that was my first and certainly my last Vodka Martini.

I suppose the best entertainment on board has to be people watching, especially on peacock evening. I’ve come to the really sad conclusion that there must be a major opportunity for an enterprising young lawyer to put his shingle up and create a web based law firm of DivorceMyFatWife.com. He could hand out posters on the cruise as I’m sure there would be rich pickings. These floating gin palaces are a magnet for the clinically obese. Unbelievable I know but at least 60% must be blobbies.

joke header

 
THESE ARE ACTUAL COMPLAINTS RECEIVED BY “THOMAS COOK VACATIONS”
 FROM DISSATISFIED CUSTOMERS: 

Wow it's big. Fortunately it's stuffed.

Wow it’s big. Fortunately it’s stuffed.

 “We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand
 as white but it was more yellow.” 

 “It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallarta to close in the
 afternoons.  I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time — this should be banned.” 

 “No-one told us there would be fish in the water.  The children were scared.” 

 “Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no
 egg-slicer in the drawers.” 

 “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store
 does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.” 

Wednesday – warm and sunny.

Ketchikan red light district. Wot no propositions.

Ketchikan red light district. Wot no propositions.

Day 6 so it’s Ketchikan today, so it’s a lazy morning as we don’t dock until 12:00 then a spot of lunch before we set off to explore.

Have a wander around. Head off to Creek Street, the red light district, but alas, unlike Carl no one offers me a blow job for $5, despite wondering up and down for hours. Quaint little town, obviously more diamond shops than prostitutes. Oh how things have changed from gold rush days.

Quite nice to just wander around under our own steam.

Fixed dining yet again followed by more drinks and people watching in the piano lounge.

Our American dinner friends. Spot the democrats, spot the republicans!

Our American dinner friends. Spot the democrats, spot the republicans!

Crown the evening off with a brandy nightcap in our cabin. Wow, certainly helps me get a great nights sleep.

I’m starting to loose the will to live. 7 days on a cold weather cruise is enough. Geriatrics, blobbies and crazy people – moose racers certainly fit the bill, along with the art auction buffs – are starting to get to me – depressing. Why is it that these geriatrics – I know where well on our way there – seem to zig and zag about in front of you. Problem is they zig when you zig and zag when you zag, almost as if they have hidden rear view mirrors in a bid to stop you overtaking.
rant header

 
Don’t you just love those PC progressive duckies in the Guardian.

Met police to start using spit hoods on suspects within weeks

Critics say hoods to protect officers from suspects who try to spit at or bite them are ‘primitive, cruel and degrading’.

Perhaps they should try being spat at, after all they’re witless enough to deserve it. Then we’d get to see how they feel about them.

Thursday – cool and cloudy.

Day 7, just 3 to go. It’s a sea day. I used to cope with these but no more.

Go to a naturist talk, not very good, followed by a mediocre quality video of our Glacier bay experience. Somewhat ironic that I normally complain – yes I know you’ll find that difficult to believe – that there’s not enough talks / lectures, yet this cruise has had quite a few and yet I’ve not bothered to attend. Perverse.

Evenings another peacocks parade so great people watching. My Rohan, trainers, white shirt and tie barely pass muster as the Maitre De looks at me like something he’s trod in and got stuck on the sole of his shoe – never mind little does he know that we’ve cancelled our fixed gratuities to ensure that leeches like him get no tip. You may feel this is a bit harsh on Maitre De’s, but we’ve yet to encounter one who isn’t a complete waste of space, you see nothing of them for the first three quarters of the cruise and then starts to smarmy around you as you approach the last evening and the hopes of a big tip.

Friday – warm and sunny.

Victoria on Vancouver Island.

Victoria on Vancouver Island.

Up at the crack of sparrows as we dock at 07:00 and depart at 13:30, so by the time we’ve had breakfast we’ve only about 4 hours in Victoria.

Walk into the city and catch a hop on hop off bus tour, just 90 minutes, but a great way to see Victoria. Then it’s a wander around the city with a very welcome dirty chai at Starbucks to defrost the frozen blood in my veins. Boy was it cold on that open top bus. Call in a few tat shops and Wendy manages to get the mandatory fridge magnet. Then it’s a gentle stroll back to the ship. It’s oh so nice to get out and have a walk.

Victoria’s a lovely city, so relaxing and laid back with plenty to enjoy. We really must think about coming back for a couple of weeks, it’s quite mild in summer and we’ve had a couple of home exchange requests for here, but I’d always dismissed them as being too cold. The real pity is we didn’t get a whole day here.

Empress hotel Victoria.

Empress hotel Victoria.

Of course you might question why the hop on / off bus doesn’t stop at the cruise terminal gate, I did. The cynic in me expects it’s another marketing department plot to extract the maximum out of us by charging for the bus into the city and encouraging everyone to go on the cruises more expensive hop on / off tour. I bet they black mailed the city council into banning a stop at the cruise terminal or they wouldn’t visit Victoria.

By way of a change we escape fixed dining and sneak into anytime dining, no one bothers to check on you. We have a good group at fixed dining but it is nice to meet the range of different people offered by anytime dinning. This time we get an interesting table of 6; one guy just recovered from chemo, so an interesting slant on life; yet again we encounter a judge – conclusion is that this cruise must infested with judges.

Vancouver Island might be ideal for 2018 Canada trip. Fly into New York; drive up through Niagra; Ottowa; Montreal; Toronto; then drive or train across Canada and the Rockies; Vancouver Island; then fly back from Vancouver, or vice versa.
religion header

 
Sexy Justice Warriors and the Truck of Peace

Saturday – cold and foggy.

Yet another sea day, the last one thankfully, they’re getting a tad boring now. Highlight of the day is people watching, blogging, exercise, a fandango with the shower curtainand then it’s time to put on my fodder bag and head down for dinner. I would say dress for dinner but jeans and jumper hardly meet the Downton Abbey standards of sartorial etiquette.

After yet another lunch Wendy packs whilst I get a well overdue espresso fix, write me blog and watch people buy gold chains as if there lives depended upon it being a lifeline to heaven.

Two of our fellow diners decide they’re celebrating their wedding anniversary, it being 3 months away doesn’t seem to deter them, and of course they get a chocolate cake and card from the crew.

Booze evening with our diners.

I think the highlight of the day has to be walking and chatting with this old couple, 90+ years, married for 60+ years – earlier in the lounge they managed a 2 minute dance together, not sure who was holding who up. They both walk with a walking stick, backs bent over double like a tree bowing to the wind, the very epitome of a Disney geriatric. The old guy congratulates us on BREXIT, about time he says, smart move. Then they proceed to walk up the stairs. Yes, they walk up. No lift, no wheel chairs or scooters, even though they can barely walk. Puts the youngsters – everyone on this ship is younger than them, to shame. Awesome.

Good news is that despite Princess’s best efforts at turning us all into blobbies, we’ve survived 10 days of rampant gluttony all around without gaining any weight, despite the wine, brandy and not forgetting the all important vodka martini. Mind you weighing yourself in a what seems like a major maelstrom is an exercise in understanding of Newtons laws of motion and gravity.
rant header

 
Cruising the good and the bad:

Good – Wendy likes a change, with the luxury and no cooking or housework.No change for me!

Good – get to see a lot of places without unpacking. Sadly it can be too short a visit and you’re up against a deadline to get back to the ship on time.

Good – entertainment allegedly. Especially people watching.

Good – a gym.

Bad – too relaxing. The lack of mental stimulation is enough to turn your brain to jello.

Bad – food, Food, FOOD every where you turn and every minute of the day. Just a floating adipose tissue factory of calories and cholesterol.

Good – More super blobbies than there is blubber on a whale, providing a superb incentive and motivation to have your gob sewn up and go on a permanent zero calorie diet.

Bad – more geriatrics than fans at a Vera Lynn revival concert.

Bad – geriatrics provide a depressing visual reminder of what’s possibly in store for you in the years ahead.

Good – formal nights are now anything goes, thanks mainly to Americans bucking the trend. Thank the FSM penguin suits are now in a minority.

Bad – wifi is so extortionately expensive that you’ve no internet access.

Bad – it is Wallace Arnold afloat, designed for the timid with no imagination or sense of adventure.

Bad – depressing watching people throwing money away on trinkets, booze and food, to say nothing of the senseless gambling.

Bad – cold weather cruises.