Reading in 2019

2019 isn’t quite over yet and it’s possible I’ll still get through another book or two before the year ends1. However, I think we’re close enough I can safely list the books I read.

In 2019 I read 80 books2:

  • 1 Anthology (though I’m partway through another)
  • 3 Graphic Novels
  • 3 Non-Fiction Books 3
  • 45 Novels
  • 13 Novellas
  • 1 Novelette4
  • 2 Juvenile (one novel and one novella)
  • 1 Poetry book
  • 11 YA Novels

Overall, I feel like most of the books I read were excellent. However, there were two I particularly loved. They aren’t necessary the “best” of the bunch but these are the ones that completely sucked me in while I was reading:

Swordheart by T. Kingfisher
This is my favorite book of the year. It has so many things I love in it: middle-aged woman, snark, practical outlook in life mixed with optimism and a dash of naivete, and a magic sword. I bought the physical book and then bought the ebook. I’ve already re-read it. I desperately want there to be an audiobook version so I can add it to the books I use to help me fall back to sleep. This book makes me happy just thinking about it.

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
This was my favorite book published in 2019. I really enjoy mysteries that are set in a science fiction universe.

Books read in 2019:
The Outside by Ada Hoffman
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard
The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard
This is How you Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar
The Princess Saves Herself by Amanda Lovelace
The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie
Shadowblade by Anna Kashina
Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson
The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander
Witchmark by C.L. Palk
Red White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Rule of Capture by Christopher Brown
Once & Future by Cori McCarthy
Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Catering to Nobody by Diane Mott Davidson
Fatally Flaky by Diane Mott Davidson
Killer Pancakes by Diane Mott Davidson
Lark! The Herald Angels Sing by Donna Andrews
Wilde in Love by Eloisa James
Fair Play by Eve Rodsky
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee
Cruel Prince by Holly Black
The Wicked King by Holly Black
One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg
Early Riser by Jasper Fforde
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik
Small Favor by Jim Butcher
Turn Coat by Jim Butcher
White Night by Jim Butcher
Giant Days by John Allison
A Very Scalzi Christmas by John Scalzi
After the Crown by K.B Wagers
Beyond the Empire by K.B Wagers
The Last Sun by K.D. Edwards
The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley
Gods Monsters and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
Sisters of the Vast Black by Lina Rather
Paris in Love by Lisa Kleypas
Penric’s Fox by Lois McMaster Bujold
Prisoner of Limnos by Lois McMaster Bujold
Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan
The Late Show by Michael Connoly
Spaceside by Michael Mammay
Kingdom of Needle and Bone by Mira Grant
The Armored Saint Myke Cole
Catfishing on Catnet by Naomi Kritzer
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
I Moved to Los Angeles and Worked in Animation by Natalie Nourigat
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Escaping Exodus: A Novel by Nicky Drayden
The Black God’s Drum by P. Djèlí Clark
Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs
Spousonomics by Paula Szuchman and Jenn Anderson
The Invasion by Peadar O’Guilin
The Library of Lost and Found: A Novel by Phaedra Patrick
The Poppy War by R. F Kuang
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas
Star Uncharted by S.K. Dunstall
Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang
Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire
The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire
The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire
Ebony in Onyx by Sharon Shinn
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev
Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher
Swordheart by T. Kingfisher
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Children of Blood and Bone my Tomi Adeyemi

  1. Especially since my kids will be with their grandparents.
  2. Assuming I haven’t forgotten any books . .
  3. These are books I’ve read all the way through, not books I’ve referenced specifically sections.
  4. I read all the 2019 Hugo Nominee Novelettes but I’m only considering one for this count because it’s the one read as a hard copy, which I admit is a weirdly arbitrary distinction.

Reading Goal December, 2019 Update

Right after I made my goal I read several books within my goal categories. Then December got stressful and I reverted to comfort books and re-reads.

Books I’ve finished recently:

  • Bestseller: The Late Show, by Michael Connelly
  • Graphic Novel: I Moved to Los Angeles and Worked in Animation, by Natalie Nourigat – I’ve never wanted to work in animation (fortunately) but this was an interesting read and it was particularly fascinating to read the bits about adjusting to moving to LA.
  • Juvenile: The False Prince, by Jennifer A. Nielsen – This book was a fun, fast read.
  • YA: Catfishing on Catnet, Naomi Kritzer – This was delightful. It was uplifting and funny even while discussing scary topics.
  • Juvenile: Minor Mage, by T. Kingfisher – I bought this one on a whim because it’s by T. Kingfisher and I enjoyed the first paragraph. In the acknowledgements T. Kingfisher says she thinks it’s a juvenile novel and I agree so that’s how I’m categorizing it.
  • Memoir: Paris in Love, by Eloisa James – This book has a nice and chatty tone that I listened to while making suppers.
  • Graphic Novel: Giant Days, by John Allison – This was the start of a series and, if I remember, I’ll read more in the series.
  • Poetry: The Princess Saves Herself in This One, by Amanda Lovelace – Poetry isn’t something I naturally pick up. However, I really enjoyed this one and ended up buying a physical copy.

I’m currently in the middle of reading two short story anthologies so I might be able to cross that goal off soon. However, it’s slow reading because even if I like the individual stories, the lack of an ongoing plot means I don’t feel any urgency to continue after I finish each chapter.

Current Goal Counts:

Category Goal Number Read
Best Sellers 2 1
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir 2 1
Librarian Recommended 2
Written by an author from another country 2
Graphic Novels 2 2
Historical Fiction 2
Informational 2
Juvenile Books 6 2
YA Books 26 1
Literature 2
Mystery 2
Poetry Anthologies 2 1
General Fiction 2
Short Story Anthologies 2
Total 36

Reading Goal 2019/2020

For the past couple of years I have loved nominating and voting for The Hugo Awards. While I enjoy it, I also feel like it has consumed my reading life. Particularly in the months right before nominations open I felt like I was trying to cram the best science fiction and fantasy books of the past year. In 2019 I have already read a fair amount of excellent science fiction and fantasy. However, I’m going to take a break and branch out more. I’m still planning on nominating the books I happen to have read and loved but won’t try to be as systematic about it.

Back in 2013 I had a goal to read 36 books across a range of genres1. I’m going to something similar this year, though with minor tweaks in the categories. Here’s my current goal:

Best Sellers 2
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir 2
Librarian Recommended 2
Written by an author from another country 2
Graphic Novels 2
Historical Fiction 2
Informational 2
Juvenile Books 6
YA Books 6
Literature 2
Mystery 2
Poetry Anthologies 2
General Fiction2 2
Short Story Anthologies 2
  1. I just realized this was when Calvin was turning 4 and Julian turned 4 this year. I doubt this is coincidence.
  2. Not romance, mystery, science fiction/fantasy, etc

Alaska Cruise: Cost and Reflections

I really enjoyed this cruise but I also think a substantial reason I enjoyed it was because I was traveling alone. It was glorious to only be responsible for myself and not to have to consider anyone else’s preferences. I’m really going to miss a lot of things such as taking a nap whenever I feel like it and food magically being ready whenever I want it without me having to think at all.

Costs (excludes shopping)
This cruise wasn’t cheap. If I had been sharing a room with someone else it would have been much cheaper, at least as an average, but when traveling alone you basically pay double for the base cost. People tend to be very vague about costs which makes it hard to predict how much one will end up spending. So, in case anyone stumbled across this and wants to know, here’s the breakdown of what I spent:

Base cost of cruise (for a solo traveler) – $1,662.00
Airfare/Hotel – $0 (since I departed and returned directly to Seattle)
Bus to Cruise Ship – $2.75
Lyft Ride Home – $23.85
Thermal Suite and Thalassotherapy Pool 7-Day pass – $139.00
“Premium” Internet – $111.99
Hotel Service Charge – $1401
Spa Pedicure/Manicure/Products/Tips – $311.68
Juneau Shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier + Tips – $62.25
Sealaska Heritage Museum – $5.00
Totem Center (Ketchikan) – $6.00
Southeast Alaska Discovery Center – $5.00
Total – $2,357.53

If I were to do it again, I’d probably skip all the spa stuff. The pedicure was probably worth it this time, because I definitely needed it and I’d never had one before, but this is something I could do much, much cheaper elsewhere. I also found interacting with the nail technician to be slightly stressful which was contrary to my goals in taking the cruise (nothing to do with the nail technician, this is a me thing). If you like drinks (not just alcohol but things like soda also), that would be extra and I believe the cruise tends to make a lot of money that way. I also didn’t go on any of the official excursions. For me, this was the right choice but others might enjoy some of the excursions. I only ate on the cruise ship and only in the included dining room/buffet. I might have eaten off the ship if I wasn’t a vegetarian but, as far as I knew, there weren’t any world class vegetarian options in the towns I visited so there wasn’t much point in eating off the ship.

What Went Well and/or Lessons Learned

  • In general, I preferred eating in the dining room. It was the one social thing I did and offered a social situation in a formal enough setting it didn’t cause much stress. In addition, the dining room offered a built-in portion control that the buffet didn’t (though, dessert was offered for every meal).
  • Liked hiking by myself
  • Skip shopping – it’s not for me, particularly with crowds
  • The therapy pool was lovely and, for me, was worth the extra cost.
  • Internet . . . I’d pay again but would know that I couldn’t rely on it.
  • Going alone was fantastic as I could completely focus on what I wanted to do without any guilt.
  • Skip the spa stuff
  • Liked taking the morning/evening deck walks
  • I took the right amount of luggage, even though it felt like I over-packed.
  • I really liked departing and returning to the city I live in. Flying would have added more stress to the adventure.
  • Alaska had a pretty good mix of sea days and shore days. However, I would have preferred longer on shore (the 1/2 day made it challenging to do anything other than the cruise excursions and shopping).
  1. $14.50 is charged automatically per day unless you specify otherwise.

Alaska Cruise: Day 7

Today was our last full day. I woke up around 7:00 and walked 2 miles around the deck before going to the dining room for breakfast. Then, I went to one of the lounges and read until lunch time. I went to the dining room again for lunch and then came back to my room. I intended to walk around the deck some more but got sucked back into reading.

Right before arriving in Victoria I grabbed some supper from the buffet. I was on the fence regarding whether or not I should get off the ship but I had just finished my book so decided I should probably stretch my legs. I walked to the Royal BC Museum but, once there, wasn’t sure I wanted to pay attention to the exhibit. So, I walked to the lighthouse and then came back on board ship.

I finished a novella and then procrastinated on packing my luggage. Once I finished packing my luggage I placed it outside the door, as instructed, and then went to bed.

Alaska Cruise: Day 6

Last night I was planning to watch a movie before going to bed but I was so tired I went to bed at 7:30 (Alaska time). I set my alarm for 6:00am both because we were scheduled to dock at Ketchikan at 7:00 and also to get myself somewhat back on Pacific time. When I got up I only walked a mile around the deck and then went to the buffet for breakfast.

Not surprisingly, it was raining in Ketchikan. I had thought about going on another hike but my body was still a bit tired from yesterday. Plus, I had to be back on board ship by 12:30 so it didn’t allow for a lot of time. Instead, I decided to wander around town. Unfortunately, only the super touristy shops were initially open. I can’t figure out why there are so many jewelry stores around the docks of both Ketchikan and Juneau. Why would I buy stuff on an Alaskan cruise that I could pick up anywhere else?

Ketchikan Creek with iridescent mosaic sculpture of a salmon.

Terry Pyles “Yeltatzie Salmon” Sculpture

I stopped by Artic Spirit Gallery and bought a butterfly print. I talked to the owner for quite a bit and he said I should go to the Totem Heritage Center. It was already on my list of possibilities but based on his recommendation I decided to do that next. On the way, I stopped by Parnassus Books & Gifts. When I had first looked them up, Google had said they weren’t open til 10:00. However, it was open well before 10:00 today. I picked up a book for Julian and one for Calvin (because neither have enough books).

The Totem Heritage Center was very interesting. It provided more context than I had gotten the previous day from the Totem Trail (though, to be fair, I didn’t listen to the audio tour so possibly that would have gone into more detail). Unfortunately, my back started hurting while I was walking around which distracted me a little bit. I must have done something to it while hiking yesterday but nothing obvious springs to mind.

I walked back to town and was contemplating going back to the ship early. However, I meandered around town instead. I went into a Salvation Army thrift store and found a Lightning McQueen life jacket. However, given Julian already has a good life jacket, I did not purchase it. Next, I stopped by Crazy Wolf Studio and admired all the art. I ended my Ketchikan experience by visiting the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center. It wasn’t huge but had a variety of exhibits and was definitely worth the $5 entry.

Since it was almost time to leave anyway, I went back to the ship for lunch. Then I went back to my room and took a nap. I was a glorious nap. The kind where when you wake up you’re still floating in a delightful haze. Eventually, I did wake up all the way and spent the rest of the day reading until it was supper.

After supper I walked two miles around the deck and then soaked in the thermal pool for a bit.

In retrospect, I think I probably should have made a hike work, in spite of the short shore time, rather than wandering around the town. I seem happiest when I don’t have a lot of other people around me.

Tomorrow we going to Victoria, BC. However, we don’t get in till 6:00. I’m planning to spend most of the day reading. I’m still debating whether or not to get off the boat in Victoria. It might depend on how much reading I get done. I can visit Victoria sometime with my children. It’s much harder to get time alone to read.

Alaska Cruise: Day 5 (Sitka)

Today we arrived in Sitka. We were suppose to get into port around 8:00am and I was planning a long hike so I didn’t bother walking the deck this morning. Also, I didn’t want to wait for breakfast in the dining hall so I braved the buffet instead. Given I was planning a reasonably ambitious hike and wasn’t sure I would get lunch, I ate a fairly large breakfast. After breakfast I had just enough time to go downstairs and double check my plans before it was time to disembark.

Sitka islands.

Oosterdam docked at the Old Sitka Dock at Halibut Point Marine which is about 5 miles away from downtown Sitka. Fortunately, they had shuttle buses to get us downtown. Once the bus arrived I double checked all my time assumptions and then headed off on my hike.

My plan was to hike the Indian River Trail and hope I had enough time to get to the falls before coming back. First, I had to get the the trailhead which was about a mile away from where the shuttle bus dropped us off. There was a city bus, which would have gotten me very close, but I suspected that it would be faster to walk. I think this assumption was correct as the bus did not pass me on the way. It rained but I had my wool socks, raincoat, and a cover for my backpack1. On the way I passed a cemetery which looked more like a park than a cemetery. The graves were nestled in between trees. It looked really nice. I’d definitely like being buried in a setting like that.

I did take a little, slightly unintentional, detour on a trail along Yaw Dr. It was pouring so I was amused to see a bench with the sign “Here comes the sun”.

Bench with plaque saying Here Comes the Sun

While cutting over to the official Indian River Trail I passed a couple who pointed out blueberry bushes. Once I was on the Indian River Trail I continued to see masses of blueberries as well as huckleberries and salmon berries.

Blueberry bushes

Huckleberry bushes.

Salmon berry bushes.

I don’t think I’ve seen so many (non-blackberry) berries in the wild before. The hike was gorgeous.


Indian River.

Devil's Club

I was fascinated by the bridges they built for the trail. They took what I assume was original trees and augmented them with supplies brought in. The bridges were very sturdy.


Tree sections cut as stepping stones.

The path was very clear until it wasn’t. I was probably about a mile away from the falls when the path disappeared into a thicket of salmon berry bushes.

Trail disappears into Salmon Berry Bushes.

I could see that the path continued under the bushes but it looked more like a deer path rather than a path made for humans. I double checked the way I had come and confirmed I was definitely on a human path which appeared to continue through the bushes. So, I went through the bushes. I mentioned it was raining? The bushes got me sopping wet. From that point on I went through multiple salmon berry thickets while staying on the trail and it was the wettest I remember getting in recent memory. The water soaked my hiking pants and then ran down into my socks so I started squishing as I walked.

At one point the path was what looked like a seasonal creek bed and I missed the turnoff for the real trail and ended up off the trail facing the remnants of a rock slide. For a while I couldn’t figure out if the rock slide was the trail or if I had made a wrong turn. Eventually, I figured out the wrong turn and got back on the correct trail.

Because I needed to make sure I was back on the cruise ship before it left, I had set myself a soft deadline of 11:00. Soft in that if I thought I was close and heard the waterfall I’d continue up to another 15 min but would turn around right at 11:00 if I thought I wasn’t close. I was starting to get nervous because it was almost 11:00 and I hadn’t heard any obvious waterfalls yet. However, I ran into two Forest Service people, the first people I had seen on the trail, and asked them if the waterfall was close. They told me it was right around the corner. Right as my 11:00 alarm went off I arrived at the waterfall.

Indian River Falls

I rested briefly at the waterfalls and drank most of my remaining water. I thought about eating some snacks but at Mendenhall Glacier that were very adamant that one not have food because of the bears. So, I decided to play it safe and not open up my snacks at Indian Falls either.

Nurse log between two trees.

Walking back was a lot quicker. Both because I didn’t have to wonder if the path really went through various salmon berry thickets, it did, and also because it was a slight slope downhill rather than up. From the trailhead, it took me about 2 hours to hike to the falls but only about 1 1/2 hours going back. On the way out I ran into a random gnome village in a tree. It was not what I expected to see in the forest but it did add interest.

Gnome, AK sign

Tiny gnomes kissing.

Gnome in jail.

Once I got back to the main road I got out my snacks and started eating “lunch”. I was ahead of schedule and decided I could get in one more attraction so I walked to Sitka National Historical Park and wandered around the totem trails.

Totem Pole.

They were really interesting. I would have liked to have spent more time there and listened to the audio tour but I didn’t feel like I had enough time to listen to them all. Part of the trail was parallel to a river and I glanced out and saw what I assume was salmon spawning. There were just masses of fish. I also got to see several bald eagles hunting the fish (though I was unable to get pictures).

After a quick walk through the totem trails I headed back to the bus. I made it back onto the boat with about a 1/2 hr to spare (before we were due back, not before the boat left). My clothes had mostly dried by the time I made it back to the boat. However, my shoes and socks were still sopping. Plus, it turns out I had somehow collected a huge number of pine needles in my shoes. Not sure how that happened. I had eaten a couple of energy bars for snack but decided to go up to the buffet to see if there was anything else I could eat to tide me over till dinner. I was hoping they had chocolate milk but settled for tomato soup instead.

After the snack I headed up to the therapy pool in hopes of mitigating some of the aches due tomorrow. It was the busiest I’ve seen it. Not sure if everyone else had the same idea or not. (Though, I’m willing to bet I hiked farther than anyone else.)

I came back to the room and read a bit before the dining room opened. I was delighted to sit with the same people I had the previous night. The prior night I had talked about my hiking plans and one of the gentlemen was obviously worried about me going hiking by myself. So, I was happy he could see I made it back on board without any incident.

I’m very tired. I’m contemplating watching a movie for the rest of the evening but I may not have enough energy. Tomorrow we get into Ketchikan around 7:00am and have to be back on board by 12:30pm. I don’t think I’m going to go on any hikes tomorrow (among other things, I doubt my shoes will be dry by then). However, I might try to get up at 6:00 to start getting me back to Pacific time. I have a feeling getting up at 6:00 Pacific next week for work is going to be very hard.

  1. I don’t think my backpack really needs a cover, it’s never gotten wet inside before. However, since I just discovered the hidden pocket that contained a cover for the backpack I decided to use it.

Alaska Cruise: Day 4 (Hubbard Glacier)

Today we visited Hubbard Glacier but we didn’t visit any ports. I had a manicure appointment at 9:00am today which messed up the routine I’ve started following. I figured I’d just skip my deck walk and go straight to the dining room for breakfast. However, I belatedly realized the dining room wasn’t open till 8:00 and expecting to be done in one hour would probably be overly optimistic. So instead I braved the buffet and then used the extra time to walk 1 2/3 miles around the deck.

The manicure was ok. In retrospect I wish I had stuck just to the pedicure which had the very noticeable benefit of getting the calluses off my feet. The manicure wasn’t quite as useful. I had intended to go to another America’s Test Kitchen demo but was sleepy and so went and napped instead.

After waking up I started reading The Poppy War, by R.F. Kuang, and read until it was time for lunch. I went to the dining hall for lunch and met more nice people. I was facing the window and watched us pass chunks of ice all during lunch. After lunch I went back to reading my book until we got close to the glacier.

Ice in water.

There was an excursion to get really close to the glacier. However, I was impressed by how close the cruise ship itself got. I was surprised by how loud the glacier calving was. It was raining so it was hard to get good pictures. I stayed outside and gawked a little bit and then went back inside. I grabbed my book and found a comfortable seat that had both a view of the glacier and was by speakers that were playing dramatic classical music.

Hubbard Glacier

I continued reading until supper and went to the dining room again and met more people. So far, I haven’t sat with any of the same people more than once. We had a nice long conversation about many topics and I also got a chance to do some education about library budgets and electronic resources.

After supper I walked two miles on the deck and then ended by soaking in the thermal pool. Tomorrow we’re suppose to arrive in Sitka at 8:00am so I don’t want to stay up too late.

Overall, this was a really nice relaxing day.

Alaska Cruise: Day 3 (Juneau/Mendenhall Glacier)

Last night we switched to Alaska time. Because my body does not like changing time, I woke up at 6. I got up and walked two miles around the deck. This time I remembered the binoculars and saw multiple whales! After walking I decided to have breakfast in the formal dining hall. It definitely takes longer than the buffet area but my hunch from yesterday was correct, I prefer the mediated seating and formal ordering versus the buffet free-for-all.

(There are no whales in the picture below.)

After breakfast I went to the thermal pool. I woke up stiff this morning, probably from last night’s ab/core exercises, and I thought the heat might loosen me up a bit. After that I watched another demonstration with America’s Test Kitchen. This time it was do-it-yourself takeout meals (Pad Thai and Scallion Pancakes).

I was feeling really sleepy after the presentation so I headed back to my room and considered napping. However, I decided there wasn’t really enough time until lunch to nap. I wanted to eat lunch on the early side because we were docking at Juneau around 1:30. Like breakfast, I chose the formal dining room for lunch. Unfortunately, the specialty was fish and chips, not exactly vegetarian friendly. However, I did find one dish that worked. I sat with an interesting mix of people, included one guy who is also from Seattle.

Because it was in the formal dining room, lunch took a long time. By the time I got back to my room there was just enough time to remind myself of what I was wanting to do in Juneau before we docked. It turns out that my room is beautifully positioned to get off the ship quickly. I was in the first group off the ship, even though I hadn’t really tried1.

One of the things I really wanted to visit was the Mendenhall Glacier. I had contemplated signing up for one of the cruise excursions. However, the Alaska tour guide indicated that it is really easy to hire a shuttle. I got off the cruise ship and a couple of yards away was about 6 different stands selling various tours and shuttle bus options. I paid $50 for a round trip ride to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor’s Center. The shuttle had drop offs and pickups every 1/2 hr till 7:00 so it provided me with a lot of flexibility.

Mendenhall Glacier (view near visitor's center).

I arrived at the visitor’s center and asked the rangers if there was a map of the trails. However, they requested I take a picture with my phone because their promised maps had not arrived on the barge it was suppose to come on. I contemplated the trail options. I knew I wanted to take the Nugget Falls Trail, because that’s where you go to get the good glacier pictures. However, it was only a 2 mile flat hike which seemed kind of short. After talking to a ranger, I decided to first go on the East Glacier Trail and then follow-up with the Nugget Falls Trail. The East Glacier Trail was really nice. It was a hike, versus a walk, and not many people were on the trail. It was beautiful, relaxing, and had enough uphill hiking I felt like I got some good exercise.

Reflection of trees in a pond.

After East Glacier Trail I walked on the Nugget Falls Trail. It was packed. So many people2.

People around Nugget Falls.

Most of the people were meandering very slowly but spread across the path in ways that made it hard to pass without running into people coming from the opposite direction. Both the glacier and the falls were nice but overall I liked the East Glacier Trail better. I thought the view of the glacier was better farther away but Nugget Falls was nice.

Nugget Falls.

Mendenhall Glacier (view near parking lot).

I got done with both hikes just a smidge after 4:30 and waited at the shuttle stop for the 5:00 shuttle to take me back to downtown Juneau. I had a list of other things I wanted to do but realistically was running out of time. I decided I could probably squeeze one more thing in so I went to the Sealaska Heritage Museum. It was very interesting. The museum also has a shop with Southeast Alaskan Native art and gifts. I was excited to see that there was a picture book about Salmon Boy3 that contained the story and illustrations one of the museum exhibits had featured.

By the time I finished with the museum and store it was after 7:00 and I was hungry (I hadn’t eaten lunch, only snacks). I decided to return to the ship and eat supper at the buffet. It wasn’t as crowded as previous days but still was busier than I preferred. However, fast food was what I needed at the time. After supper I took another dip in the thermal pool. I needed to take a shower to wash off all the sunscreen and bug spray anyway so I figured if I needed to get wet anyway I should relax in the pool some more and hopefully prevent any new aches from appearing tomorrow.

  1. They did expressly forbid people from lining up on the stairs or in the entry ahead of time.
  2. Yes, I realize I’m a tourist complaining about other tourists.
  3. The picture book is in Tlingit and English. The website has an audio reading in Tlingit.

Alaska Cruise: Day 2

I slept really well last night. Except, it turns out that I forgot to bring my nighttime audiobook phone with me. I improvised with the mini iPad but it doesn’t work as well since the sleep timer setting isn’t sticky so it can easily drone on all night unless I wake up enough to turn it off but not enough to need it to go back to sleep. I remembered to turn off my 6:00 AM work alarm. However, I forgot to turn off my 6:55 AM bus warning alarm. So, I woke up at 6:55 AM. However, I already had more than 8 hours of sleep at that point so I decided to get up and walk around the deck for some morning exercise. I walked two miles around the deck again. There were quite a few whales. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to bring the binoculars and they were close enough I could tell they were whales but far enough away I didn’t really see any details.

After showering I went and explored the breakfast buffet. There was a very nice variety of breakfast foods available. However, I wasn’t fond of the seating. It was busy enough that there wasn’t a lot of seating available and there wasn’t any formal seating to introduce seat mates. I ate quickly and then found a nook to read in. I first tried the observation deck, but it was really busy and not really conducive to reading. However, there was an interesting LEGO model of the Oosterdam. Eventually, I discovered some nice seating outside the Lincoln Center room.
Lego model of the Oosterdam.

When booking the cruise I had decided to splurge on a pedicure. I was a little nervous about the whole thing because I’ve never had a pedicure before. However, I had terrible calluses on my feet so I figured this was as good a time as any to try it out. It was . . . fine. The calluses are gone and professionally painted toenails do look a lot better than what I can do. However, there was the whole awkward conversation bit. I think I might find massages more relaxing in the short-run but you can admire painted toenails longer than a massage. The nail technician did talk me into getting a manicure later on.

After the pedicure I came back to my room and read for a bit. Just as I was contemplating lunch, the steward appeared ready to clean my room. So went up to the buffet for lunch. Like breakfast I found the seating situation to be awkward. I decided it might make sense for me to take most of my meals in the formal dining room instead of the buffet. I might try that approach out tomorrow.

After lunch I had just enough time to finish my book before there was a cooking demo by America’s Test Kitchen. This one talked about chilies. Neither of the dishes were vegetarian (though I think one of them could be made vegetarian). However, the cooking techniques and tips were really interesting and I’m definitely glad I went. After that I went to an “Ask the Captain” session where the captain talked about the boat. It was fairly interesting but I was getting sleepy so I slipped away once the captain started taking questions from the audience.

I took a nap and it was glorious. After my nap I briefly caught up on email and then decided to get ready for dinner. Tonight was a “gala” night so guests were expected to dress a little nicer than usual. Though, in practice that appeared to vary a great deal. I was seated at a table with 4 other people, all southerners and a very different demographic than my first group. However, I decided that even if we were polar opposites in many ways 1, it was good to be familiar with other perspectives.

After dinner I decided to go use the Thermal Pool2. It was really nice. In the pool there were metal bars along one side that were shaped similar to a lounge chair. So you could lean back and bubbles floated around. Kind of hard to explain but very relaxing.

I eventually got out and wavered between walking around the deck some more and going to a dance show. I eventually settled on the show. After it started, I decided I had made a good decision. Except, only a couple minutes in they had technical difficulties which they were unable to recover from. So, I ended up walking another two miles on the deck after all. Like the morning, I forgot the binoculars and there were whales. However, this time they were close enough that I could see them pretty well without magnification. Also, my (phone) camera is clearly not designed to take pictures of whales. If you look at the picture below you may see a black blip on the water. That would be a whale.
Tiny whale fin in a large swath of water.

When I got back to my room there was a stingray waiting for me.
Stingray towel.

Tomorrow will be our first port day, in Juneau.

  1. One older gentleman proudly told me he had only read one book in his life: the Bible. I really hope that was an exaggeration. You can’t get through school without reading at least several books, right?? I mean, not everyone has to be a reader but one books ever? I was also really curious if he had actually read the Bible all the way through but decided not to administer a pop quiz on his favorite passages.
  2. An extra charge but I bought a 7-day pass for it.