Musing on food and cooking ...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Back to Alaska, Part 1!

Yes, yes, I know, I know. Alaska was a couple of weeks ago. Too bad! It took me a while to get everything organized.

Over the next few days, I will be posting a little bit each day about my fabulous trip. Enjoy! All 500+ photos will eventually be posted at Gourmet Goddess's Flickr account

Anyway, back to Part 1. I prepared to fly to San Francisco on August 13, leaving my house around 3:30 am on a Sunday for a 6:50 am flight. Who could possibly be flying at Sunday morning at 4 am? Apparently, everyone in Chicago, Indiana, and Ohio. The line was out the damn door, a situation not helped by the fact that only one of the security checkpoints were open at that time of the morning.

Oh, and I have mentioned the terrorist monkey wrench? The one where you couldn;t bring anything liquid or gel-like on the plane (as if a TSA agent would know the difference between a gel and a liquid and a colloid). As I sent to friends in an e-mail before I left, I was afeard the situation would end like this:

TSA Security: It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever it is told.

Yours Truly: Mister... my family will pay cash. Whatever ransom you're askin' for, they pay it.

TSA Security: It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again. [to his dog, Precious] Yes, it will, Precious, won't it? Itwill get the hose!

Your Truly: Okay... okay... okay. Mister, if you let me go, I won't -I won't press charges I promise. See, my mom is a real importantwoman... I guess you already know that.

TSA Security: Now it places the lotion in the basket.

Yours Truly: Please! Please I wanna go home! I wanna go home please!

TSA Security: It places the lotion in the basket.

Yours Truly: I wanna see my mommy! Please I wanna see my...

TSA Security: Put the fucking lotion in the basket!

Sorry, Hollywood, but I couldn't resist.

Anyhoo, I finally made it through security and to my gate only to discover they have oversold my flight by about a billion people. Since United is offering a free round-trip voucher plus a First Class Upgrade on the next flight to San Fran, I volunteer to give up my seat. It was working for me. The catch - they might not actually need my seat. So I wait and wait and make a fabulous new friend while waiting only to be called to the counter 5 minutes before the flight, handed a new boarding pass, and told to get on the plane. Kid you not. "Get on the plane." No thanks, no nothing, bastards. Not only that, but they took my old seat away and stuck me right next to the bathroom.

Needless to say, I got no sleep. Some people were up to the bathroom five times during our 4.5 hour trip. Five times. I counted. They must have peanut bladders,

I finally get to San Fran, collect my luggage, and begin to make my way over to the terminal where Northwest flies in to meet up with Mom. Her flight is an hour late, but she arrives, and we collect her luggage and catch a shuttle. We get to the hotel - Hotel Miyako - in Japantown around 2 pm, where we get checked in and realize we are completely famished. We hit the little shopping center immediately next to the hotel and stop at a Korean restuarant for dinner.

I give it up for Mom. She will try everything joyfully! It's so refreshing. Anyway, we had a seafood pancake appetizer (a favorite of mine from when I lived with a South Korean woman at HDS). And then ordered the squid and bulgogi platter. It came with tons of little authentic side dishes like kimchee and various pickles in addition to soup, and rice. It was so good. So good!!!! We ate everything. Then we went out and explored the street fair.

Yes, friends, we hit a street fair. What an excellent intro to San Fran. We got to see some real folks, listen to some music, visit with artists, and watch local dancers. It was great. Then we realized we were still hungry and went to a Japanese noodle shop, where I had my regular beef udon soup with a side seaweed salad and Mom tried the Nebeyaki Udon. She loved it and intends to learn how to make it at home.

Exhausted, we went back to the hotel and vegged, taking advantage of the Japanese style soaking tub, for a while and then went to sleep.

In the morning, we got up and checked out, hailing a cab to take us to Fisherman's Wharf. The cruise ship left from pier 35 and we figured it would be a short walk and a nice time for some sightseeing. We started walking and ended up having breakfast at the Eagle Cafe at Pier 39, described by my San Francisco for Dummies book as the only authentic restaurant at Pier 39. Again, very delicious. I had a California style omelet, that was stuffed with bacon, avocado, and sour cream, and served with fruit sourdough toast, and red-skinned home fries. Hot damn, people! I almost managed to eat the whole thing, which is saying a lot considering how small my stomach is now.

We then walked over to pier 35 and dropped our luggage with a porter and went and hung out on a bench adn watched the port, until noon, when we could get in line to board the ship.

When we got in line, we were handed a little form that described the noro-virus as a mild intestinal discomfort. Um, excuse me. I had noro-virus once and I honestly thought I was going to die. It was so bad I lived in the bathtub for 24 hours. Whatever. If you have had any symptoms of noro-virus within the last 24 hours, the cruise line denies you boarding. Doesn't matter if you have the illness or not. No cruise for you!

Well, neither of us had any vomiting, etc, and so we got on, got to our cabin, and then went to go see what everyone else was up to.

Word of advice. If the cruise employees try to sell you something within the first day, wait. Mom and I both jumped at the purchase of unlimited bar soda for $37.50. Which is really only good if you are going to drink a lot of soda, which neither of us did. Oh well. Live and learn.

What everyone was doing was eating at the buffet, which is apparently the primary activity of everyone on the cruise. I was not all that impressed. I honestly couldn't tell you what I ate, except for fruit salad, which was quite good.

After lunch, we participated in the life saving drill, which involves a lot of people standing around putting on their life jackets before they are given permission to do so. Frankly, if I fell in the water in Alaska, I was just going to die. I'll never let go, Jack! Yeah, right.

Then we left port!

Heading north, we went under the Golden Gate Bridge, and then Mom and I went below deck. Damn cold up there in the wind.... Little did we know that we were preparing ourselves for nearly three days of nothing but water, water, water, and so-so food, broken movies, bad Broadway reviews, and rude passengers!

Part 2 to come .......

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