July 28- August 6, 2008
By LEWIS NOLAN
To View Photo Album of 298 Pictures mainly taken by Betty Nolan, Go to http://ritzpix.com, sign in and look for lewis_nolan/ photos. Or, email email@example.com so he can send you a link to the website. (Page updated Aug. 30, 2008)
Monday, July 28, 2008
– Flights to
Betty and I arose in our
All in all, we enjoyed a fabulous trip that included a seven-day cruise on Alaska’s Inland Passage; a visit to what must be one of the top flower gardens in the world at Victoria, Canada; whale watching boat ride off the Alaskan coast near Juneau; a fun ride on an antique train through snow-capped mountains on the way to the gold fields near Skagway; and poking around what is billed as the salmon capital of the world, the bustling souvenir town of Ketchikan, Alaska.
The trip got off to a poor start in part because we were not
well rested. We had attended a family reception the previous night to pay our
respects and mourn the passing of Irwin Leatherman. She was the elder sister of
our dear friend of many years, Will Leatherman. Will and his immediate family traveled to
Despite the sadness of the occasion, it was a treat seeing
Will, who had come to visit me at my home in
The Leatherman family, whose huge cotton plantation south of
Others Betty and I saw at the beautiful St. Peter’s church included Will’s wife, Carol, whom we hadn’t seen in several years; Philip Zanone, Irwin’s husband who greeted us warmly; Molly of Atlanta, beautiful and elegant daughter of Will and Carol and a graduate of the University of the South at Sewanee, TN; Shea, son of Will and Carol who carries the name of Will’s younger brother which is also the maiden name of Will’s late mother, Jeanne Shea Leatherman; Andy Hill, longtime friend of Will we used to see fairly regularly until she moved to St. Louis; Jim Harwood, a retired, senior executive at Schering-Plough from which I also retired; and several luminaries of the Memphis business community and society including B. Lee Mallory and Mike Pleasants.
Coincidentally, The Commercial Appeal happened to have a
news story the day Irwin’s obituary ran in the paper about the Leatherman
family selling 250 acres of their land at
After paying our respects, Betty and I extracted a pledge from Will to come by our home for a visit when in the area on a future trip for family and personal business. We then went home to complete our trip packing and plans.
Betty put us in the mood for our big excursion to
We had made arrangements for the retired custodian of our church, Arthur Marion, to check our home every few days to add water to the pool if needed, water plants and cut the grass. We had invited our next-door neighbors Kate and Chris Morse and Bert and Marty Dargie (and also our friend Tim Parks) to use our swimming pool during our absence to give the appearance of activity at our home. Betty added some extra chlorine to the pool and I hosed the deck to ensure that the property didn’t look abandoned.
We both wore jeans, running shoes and casual, pullover
shirts for the trip. The United plane was a commuter model – small with tightly
packed seats for the four-hour flight from
After waiting for two hours, we finally boarded a big United
jet for the flight, with six seats across in the Tourist Section. We ate 1 ½ of
Betty’s sandwiches on the plane and enjoyed a Diet Coke and tiny bag of
pretzels on the flight. We happened to meet a nice woman who said she was from our destination of
On the plane, I sat next to a civil engineer from
Like that of
Unfortunately, things really fell apart once we painlessly
He wore a tiny, metal cello on his blazer lapel and told us he was a musician. So we figured that due to the lateness of the hour – just after 8 p.m. local time – he probably had a gig or social commitment. It turned out to be an irritant that he ditched us since the bus failed to arrive in the 10 minutes he had promised.
Thirty minutes later, still no bus. We talked to an “airport cop” in the pick-up area jammed with waiting taxicabs and other buses. It was outside, in a covered area but still cold and noisy from all the traffic. The cop advised us to be patient.
After an hour, we started talking to taxicab drivers and
were told the fare from the airport to the hotel would be $30-to-$40 and the
drive would take about an hour. We were about to bite the bullet and ignore our
pre-paid bus fare when a Transporter bus finally arrived. The driver rather
lamely told us and others similarly stranded that the earlier bus had “car
trouble.” After stopping to drop off passengers at various
The hotel reception desk checked us into our pre-paid room at the high-rise, five-star luxury hotel. It wasn’t their bus so they couldn’t do anything for us to assuage us from being hungry, cold and tired from the all-day travel except to refer us to a Holland America desk in the lobby that would be open the next morning.
Restaurants in the area had closed, so we had no choice but to use the hotel’s after hours room service for a late meal. We had a club sandwich with salad and French fries and two bottles of beer. With delivery charges and tip, it cost $52.
The next morning, I was at the Holland America desk to bitch and ask for reimbursement of our prepaid bus fare and meal. The middle-aged woman working the desk, name of Joan, was nice enough but all she could do was give me a card with a Holland America guest relations address
and suggest that I write the company with the details of my bad experience.
We later described our bad experiences upon arrival to a pleasant young woman named “Joanna” at the ship’s guest services desk in the main lobby. She seemed to be especially empathetic and sympathetic since she experienced a somewhat similar “no show” while at an airport several years ago. After a brief meeting with her supervisor, she called us a few minutes later to offer the cruise line’s apologies and a cash credit of $100, which we opted to take as a credit against our shipboard account used to purchase drinks and other services. I thought it was a fast and decent response to our complaint.
Upon arriving back home the next week, I wrote a fairly
detailed email to
The Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel was a gem. It was on the waterfront and adjacent to a big parking dock for the cruise ship. The only complaint we had (other than the price of room service) was that the kingsize bed in our spacious and well-appointed room had a hard mattress. Betty’s back was sore for several days. We would probably want to stay at the hotel again on a future trip provided they could provide a softer bed.
The hotel is in a new, glass-covered building at
From the large windows of our room overlooking the harbor, we had an excellent view of the seaplanes landing on the water every few minutes. We later learned that the presence of a great many islands not served by bridges in the area has led to a lot of transportation by seaplanes – locally called floatplanes - seating 4-to-8 passengers and huge ferryboats that carry cars and buses and hundreds of passengers. The ferries offer cafeterias, lounges, comfortable inside easy chairs and outside deckchairs, laptop hook-ups, souvenir shops and rooms full of video games.
The largest ferryboats – 560 feet long – are operated by BC
Ferries, which boasts 36 vessels serving 47 ports of call on 25 routes
Due to the high cost of Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel room
service-delivered food, I had a sparing breakfast the next morning of two
pieces of toast and a three pieces of pieces of well-drained ham with a Diet
Coke. It was pretty good but cost $22 with delivery charge and tip. I could
have gone to the lobby to use a discount coupon and had a full buffet breakfast
for $29.50, which is comparable to a
Some of the guidebook information given me said
There was a bit of confusion at 9 a.m. when we reported as
directed to the Holland America desk in the hotel lobby. We quickly found out
that our excursion for the day to
However, their driver – a pleasant chap named Jack Kastelein
- had been in the parking area of our hotel about the same time in the morning
that we were hassling with