Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cruising Alaska

Well, we've booked a cruise for Alaska.

We decided we couldn't afford the really small ship cruises that were our first choice, but couldn't bring ourselves to do a large ship trip either. The compromise was a cruise on Majestic America's Empress of the North -- a modern paddlewheel-style ship that cruises the inside passage. With slightly more than 200 passengers, a reasonably good itinerary (they don't currently have a permit for Glacier Bay for any of the sailings that fit our schedule), and a price half-way between Cruise West and most mega ships, it seemed like it was designed for us.

Still, the idea of a paddlewheeler -- that I'm used to seeing on the Mississippi here -- sailing the bays of Alaska seems both really weird and kind of cool.

I'll let you know how it goes in August!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Seasonal Confusion

I know it is already acting like spring in much of the northern hemisphere, but here in St. Paul it is a little hard to tell exactly what season it is.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Cactus Blossoms

My mother reports that the wildflowers in the mountains around their place in Arizona have almost finished blooming for the season -- that means the cacti must be starting. I REALLY wanted to get out to either Arizona or California to see the desert in bloom this year. Unfortunately, my workload at the office doesn't allow for a long weekend away now.

These blossoms are on a small cactus in my window at work. If I concentrate on them, I can almost forget the snow falling outside and instead imagine being in the desert again.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Five Minutes of Fame

I know it's said that everyone gets 15 minutes of fame, but I'm not up to 15 minutes yet. Five is about right.

I got to be the lead-in for an article in the paper here this weekend. For those of you who don't read the StarTribune, here's my part of an article by Chris Welsch about coping with increased travel costs:

On her blog called the Travel Gal, Cindy Carlsson of St. Paul shares stories and photos from trips to Botswana, Ecuador, Cambodia and Thailand, but it was the expense of a potential trip to Berlin this summer that finally put the brakes on her wanderlust.

"We looked at the cost of the air tickets and the exchange rate and decided we couldn't do it," she said.

Fuel surcharges and increasing demand have steadily pushed the cost of tickets up. Travelocity estimates that prices rose on average by 7 percent last year; on some flights, the rise was much higher than that. Ticket price is only one measure of the increased cost of flying; passengers also paid extra for their box lunches, their exit row and aisle seats, and on United at least, their second checked bags.

There are ways to fight back.

Carlsson is a good case in point. After giving up on Berlin, she patiently monitored airfares. When Northwest, promoting its direct flights to Paris, offered a $2,100 deal on a weeklong hotel-air package for two, Carlsson snagged it. She and her husband, Lane Phillips, are going to France in May.


The story goes on from there, but that's my few minutes of fame for now :-)