I’m packing for Alaska. I’m teaching for Melissa at Craft Cruises on a cruise between Seaward (near Anchorage) and Vancouver. I’ve just read the itinerary (talk about leaving it to the last minute) and looked at what is needed for social events, teaching and outdoor activities.
Formal dress is required on at least two nights and smart casual on all the others!! Eek, do you know how long it is since I last dressed up? I just don’t do this anymore; dressing for colourful comfort is what it’s all about. However, if I am going to play the cruising game, it behooves me to honour the spirit of the thing and become a bit more genteel, if not decadently elegant.
I have never enjoyed fancy clothes much, but I’ve been sliding downhill lately. Back-country camping has an altogether different dress code: warm, wind and waterproof are the three watchwords. On Tancook Island too, one is overdressed if one doesn’t sport holes in the trousers or paint on the sleeves.
Back in dress-up land, I’ve been on the rampage in my wardrobe, revealing a couple of unpalatable discoveries in the form of one or two zips that have ceased to zip. I have now managed to unearth a couple of functional venerable dresses, perhaps worn once or twice, which will now be pressed into service. Yes, I have taken the precaution of trying them on for fit. Now to check the other details: Do they require fancy bras? What kind of shoes? Are pink and turquoise Doc Martens considered evening wear? Maybe not. Is pink hair formal enough? Oops.
The very worst thing about dressing up is the legs: What on earth does one cover them up with? I usually wear crazy long socks, but even I am forced to admit they can not even pass muster as semi-formal. I hate tights, as they are exactly that; they make me feel like an over-stuffed sausage and the strangle-hold around the waist just about kills me. ‘Buy bigger ones’, I hear you cry. Sorry, if they were big enough to be comfortable they’d resemble a mosquito net and not stay up. This leaves us with good old stockings. They are a true performance to get fastened, like wrestling with an octopus, but the result is slightly less confining. My entirely new idea: forget the stockings, just apply boot-black to the legs! Seems like the best option to me.
For normal teaching trips I have a simple formula: calculate the total days, divide this by the expected number of washing machines/opportunities = number of days for which a full wardrobe is required. Pack the appropriate number of tops, bottoms and underlayers, plus at least one set for luck and to cope with seasonal anomalies. Add into this a bit of really casual wear for travel days, and I’m good to go.
This trip is far more complex. Aside from fancy stuff, I need casual stuff, hiking gear, swimming stuff, teaching gear, teaching supplies, rain and really chilly gear (just because today is sunny in Nova Scotia and the last time I visited Alaska it was lovely, doesn’t mean it will be like that this time). I just realized that I left my Goretex on the island earlier this week, but since the first port of call is Haines (which is apparently really Skagway), I remember the outfitters where I bought mittens and gaiters before embarking on hiking the Chilkoot trail last time I was there. That’s a lot easier to visit than hauling myself all the way over the bridge to Halifax to get a new one. I have of course packed my usual emergency supplies: mug, kettle, tea bags, hot water bottle etc!
During the course of the night I remembered a few more items, such as knitting, books, some work to do on the plane (it’s a very long flight to AK), computer and associated goodies. Anyway, I’m at the airport now (and look like being here for an eternity) and if I forgot anything else, it’s too late now. It’s forecast to be a stunningly beautiful long weekend here (these are rare as hen’s teeth) and I just managed to pop in a few bedding plants before I headed out. Fingers crossed that they don’t get frosted.
I was really delighted by my flights to Anchorage. I thought that it would take forever with a thousand lay-overs. But I had only two, Halifax to Chicago, Chicago – Anchorage. 10 hours flying. Now imagine my chagrin at discovering that bad weather yesterday in Chicago had delayed my first plane so that I would miss my flight to Anchorage! C’est la vie! Ah, the vagaries of the universe.