Wow … is all I can say!

We packed in a whole bunch of stuff on our nine-day Alaskan cruise-vacation. I am so thankful that I was able – I dare say forced – to take this vacation, and, bring my son with me. So nice to get away… and spend some additional quality time with Nathaniel. As a matter of fact I got to see a side of him that made me extremely proud – and would probably have made any mom proud.

I say Wow for another reason. With the exception of a couple short 3-day trips, I have not had any time off – that includes sick days, vacation time, or any other type of R & R – in the past 13 years.

Our trip started off at 3:00 a.m. with an Uber ride to LAX. Note: It’s not that easy to find an Uber driver at 3:00 a.m. … and the first guy was dead honest and told us he was too tired to take us from Irvine to LAX. I appreciated his honesty. A second guy came and took us… I guess the amazing thing is that you can even find someone to take you at that hour. So the trip there ran $60.00 plus tip and I think he was a little tired too because he went past our destination by 10 minutes and he was going 90 mph most of the way.

I think most people will agree that long-distance travel usually presents interesting challenges. Whether it’s logistical, unforeseen events, jet lag, stress, fatigue, or merely financial, there are always challenges to overcome during a long-distance trip.

For starters, we each took a couple suitcases rather than one and I had to pay an additional $100 for the xtra bags… each way. But I noticed a lot of other people throwing out stuff that was not permitted on board the aircraft. At least we didn’t have to do that.

The other thing is this, Nathaniel is prone to anxieties, so aisle seats are always better for easy exit … but in the hustle & bustle of planning, I forgot to request an aisle seat for him. It all worked out though due to a nice gentleman who was willing to swap his seat so that my son could have the aisle seat.

So once we were settled in and airborne, we took a sigh of relief. We started our first leg of our vacation.

Westin and the Secret Service

We were booked at the Westin Hotel in Seattle, WA and we checked in and then wanted to do some fun touristy stuff. So we hit the town. On the way back we were greeted by police and secret service agents at almost every corner within a 2-block radius of our hotel. I asked what was going on? President Obama was in town and just happened to be staying at the… you guessed it… the Westin… while campaigning for the governor of the state.

Remember what I was saying about almost all long distance trips present their fair share of challenges. The President of the United States is no different except for the magnitude and complexity of the operation in order to plan, secure and execute his itinerary plans. I’m told over a Million Dollars in tax-payer funds was spent for this trip alone.

Anyway, we were told to come back to the hotel in a couple hours. We came back and we had to go through metal detectors and answer a lot of personal questions. I was very honest with them and complained to the staff & management and they were paying me lip service because I was told about 5-6 times that someone would call but the call never came. I realized at one point that I was a little cog in the wheel… and that we live in a dangerous world… and that we are talking about the President of the United States… but still my anxiety levels were rising quickly and the whole thing was very traumatic and upsetting.   We felt uncomfortable answering their questions. Our stay at this hotel on my vacation was being disrupted and I wasn’t too happy about it. I wanted to speak to management but that was not happening… and it ruined parts of my vacation. I felt triggers and was getting agitated by the questions…. I wrote a respectful letter to the President when I arrived back home and, am finally speaking to senior management at the Westin.

Target: Stranded Toddler

So we go to the Target store in Seattle and Nathaniel had his camera gear with him – he’s been into photography for the past year or so and showing some promise. Anyway this store had those separate escalators for your carts. So this woman had her toddler in the cart and she puts the cart w/ her child on the cart-pull next to the escalator and she takes the escalator, while her child rides the cart-pull alone up in the cart. However, not even half way up the cart pull it gets stuck and makes a repetitive clicking noise. My son and I were already at the top of the escalator and cart-pull area when Nathaniel noticed this.

What does he do? He takes all of his camera gear off from around his neck and throws it to the ground, then jumps across the escalator banks onto the stuck cart-pull hand rail and like a scene from a Hollywood chase scene, slides down half the way to rescue the toddler from its predicament, releases it from the cart and delivers the toddler to its mother. A couple of the store employees and other staff looked on helplessly… and then like a scene from another movie, many of those who witnessed this erupted into applause and whistles. Had my son’s paternal instincts gone into overdrive? One woman even screamed above all the commotion to tell him he was a hero.

I must admit, this sent shivers up my spine. Then the mother of the toddler came up to me and she said, “So what, now your son is a big hero?” In total disbelief, I said to her, “What?” So you’re upset at me when all I was doing is asking if your daughter was OK…?” “I don’t need help from anyone” and then she stormed off. My son and I were shaken to our core… Whatever!

St. James Cathedral

Onward brave souls. We didn’t want to take Uber everyplace like a bunch of sissies, so we walked. And walked some more. And then we walked some more after that. Hey c’mom, it was good exercise. I’m always moanin’ & groanin’ about my weight, so I told myself, “Shut Up.” We went to the Space Needle and St. James Cathedral. There I prayed and took time to reflect and to seek forgiveness for others…. and for myself. This was strengthening and empowering and well worth the four-mile walk there. So thankful for God’s offerings and blessings. Grateful beyond words.

Fish & Chips in Seattle were delicious… but they were really awesome in Skagway and even in Juneau. These were truly some of the best ‘eats’ on our whole trip.

A Side Note: We kept asking Siri and MapQuest for directions but it doesn’t work that well in Seattle. Not sure what it is but even had a debate w/ Nathaniel; he said it wasn’t me that MapQuest was all messed up. Oh well. Getting lost is an adventure, right?

No Glacier

My son was up at 3:30 a.m. so he wouldn’t miss the views and photos of a glacier. He has a new found love of photography … and is pretty darn good at it. I of course waited till 5a.m. to go up to the tippity top for a view. It was warmer than anticipated however, and the Captain announced he would take a different route for safety reasons. All we saw were a few ice chunks – so I had that $1.50 hot chocolate and I went back to sleep. It’s ok…. I did say I wanted to sleep, right?

The Food

Most everyone on the ship was complaining about the food. They said it was way below standard … I thought it was just me. I was so worried about gaining weight, but not on this trip – a blessing or a curse? I was really looking forward to it. One lady stated if she was to rate food on a scale of 1 – 10, she would rate it a -3 and several others sitting by us chimed in and even agreed.

Years ago a dear friend told me her food in the hospital was like eating a hockey puck. That’s what I thought about when I tasted some of the cookies on the ship. In Juneau however, we found a little shop with some amazing cookies that were out of this world. Heavenly…

Surprisingly, the best food was the pizza we ordered via room service. Go figure. And we did that several nights in a row. So best of both worlds, good food while still in your jammies watching TV. Now that’s what I call vacationing. (No, I have not taken leave of my senses)

A Healing Moment

As we arrived at our cabin I could see my son’s concern. He was thinking about our names listed on the outside of the cabin as is the norm. I didn’t say anything until he mentioned it that evening and said we should remove our names. I’m still traumatized by what happened to me 13 years ago. Very few people know where I live. I am very guarded and very secretive about that kind of stuff for fear of … well, how sad that is in so many ways, but more for him too. I held my head high and for the first time in 13 years I said “NO! I’m tired of hiding and living in fear. If that jackass comes around us or anyone else comes to harm us now, as survivors and fighters we will not stand down. We will protect ourselves and kickass on anyone who tries to bring us harm. He smiled and put his arm around me and that was the end of the conversation. “We are SURVIVORS THRIVING!” (I hope that wasn’t a moment of false bravado on my part)

Excursions: Zip-Lining, Tram & Train Ride

The Zip-Line Experience – Ketchikan, Alaska

The highlight of our trip, second to me witnessing my son’s heroic actions.

This is the first time in a long time that I honestly didn’t think about my weight, trauma, work, organization or life issues. It was truly a liberating moment. It was the purest expression of freedom that one can get without being a 100% daredevil. A fun-filled E-ticket and filled with nature and God’s blessings.

Before I was worried about the line holding me or being so out of shape I wouldn’t keep up. Not the case! In fact, we picked the hardest course: 7 lines and 4 bridges and had a blast.

I kept up with everyone and only once put my hand where it shouldn’t be and could have lost my fingers, but I still have all ten and a newfound appreciation for each and every one of them. I told this story to a friend and she told me I should get a zip-line put in my home to access every night. 🙂


What an experience! I kept thinking I want to go higher or further. I’m a risk taker… 🙂 My son, however was going to walk back down by himself, so I went back to the ship myself, only to find out later that he fell down and hit his head on a rock, but thankfully he was ok. He too, it seems, has become a risk taker, trying to capture the best photo or image to share. Let’s be honest here, he has always been a risk taker and a bit of a rebel. But I continue to tell him, it’s not worth losing your life. Sadly, he’s not on the same page with me.

A 3-Hour Tour – Juneau, Alaska

(No, not on the Minnow) Actually, a three and half hour tour…by train. A great way to view all of God’s blessings and witness all that life has to offer. It was great to witness waterfalls, nature, and so much greenery, and pink unicorns … just joking (no pink unicorns) Relaxing, informative and educational. A time for strengthening, reflection and the reality of life’s blessings outside oneself!

Victoria, British Columbia

We walked the shops together and then went our own separate ways wandering the streets of Victoria. It was refreshing talking to the locals. They were very friendly and informative. Great deals at a swap-meet-like fair, but I had already personally spent so much, couldn’t justify spending anymore.


I didn’t pick up any gifts to bring back on this trip – no souvenirs – and I feel a little guilty about it. A part deep down inside of me wanted to but when I thought about how much debt I was incurring on the trip already, I pulled back. For those who know me well – my generosity shines through in different ways throughout the year. So I hope that none of you interpret my not bringing back a souvenir as that I don’t love you. Nothing could be further from the truth; I love you all very dearly and I totally appreciate the work that each and every one of you make.

To CSI Board Chair, Tom Laing, and each and every one on the Board of Directors: Thank you from the bottom of my heart for twisting my arm and getting rid of me for nine days. I would never have done it on my own. So this was good and I want you to know how truly grateful I am. It means the world to me to have your support and continued friendship!

I feel rejuvenated and refreshed. I love you all, lots. Muah! PW