Saturday, September 28, 2013

Landmark 100th cruise excites our cruise-crazy lovers

Escape to a world of dreams, moonlight and indulgence on a barge trip or cruise.

Try a relaxing week on the water for a rejuvenating break

I have sailed the world, beheld its wonders,
from the Dardanelles to the mountains of Peru.....
--from "Sweeney Todd" and the song, "No Place Like London"

One of the world/s prettiest harbors is in St. Thomas.

LIKE Anthony in "Sweeney Todd," we have sailed the world, beheld its wonders.
If we had to pick a favorite destination, it would be difficult.
Ocean crossings, canal cruises, fjord trips, wine tasting our way through the Loire Valley, a barge-and-hike trek through Picardy.... a river cruise to marvel at the cathedrals of Eastern Europe and the Danube, drinking in Holland's springtime in a blaze of tulips.
BARGING OUT of London beneath Tower Bridge on the Thames. Biking and imbibing through Burgundy.  All so wonderful, so glorious, so exotic in their ability to transport one to other worlds.
Dance, romance, dine, enjoy on the water.
GIVE ME a week on the water and I'm a new girl: refreshed, rested, excited for the next adventure.  I love cruising and barging for myriad reasons: music, reading, gourmet fare, nature viewing, long evenings of Broadway revues, star gazing, lazing with the world passing by. Dancing, romancing, cuddling, cavorting!
Whether on a thousand-person cruise ship or an eight-passenger barge such as the classic Anjodi or La Belle Epoque, a trip on the water is guaranteed to cure what ails you.
WHILE MY recent 100th cruise is a landmark, it was never a goal. It just happened, year by year, traveling since the 1960s, a couple or three cruises or barge trips a year.
The ship's attention to service is a part of the appeal. 
Cruising is a balm in times of heartbreak and loss. After each of  my husbands died, I took to the sea.  It is equally satisfying to take to water in times of joy -- to
European Waterways offers delightful barge cruises.
celebrate anniversaries,  toast a parent's birthday, gather the clan for a reunion, or simply escape to indulgence with your partner, enjoying your ship's superb service.
KELLER AND I celebrated my "Cruise Centennial" in Alaska, combining a toast to my own August birthday and his September natal day. (The Alaska cruise, aboard Carnival's Miracle, marked mid-point between our two birthdays.)
My eternal wanderlust will never be satisfied.
I'll always have a ticket in the drawer.
The Norway, formerly the
SS France, a true liner.
Aboard Carnival, Captain
Luca Lazzarino hosted
the writer and photographer
in the bridge for "cruise 100."
 I've cruised, sailed and barged into exotic ports and rivers in Vietnam and China.  I've cruised into New Zealand's south island and fished for trout the size of salmon. Cruise ships, yachts and barges have taken me exploring --  to the wonders of India and Turkey, the splendors of St. Petersburg, the glory of chateaux country and champagne cellars in France. Barge cruising has taken me through the Loire valley, sipping and supping in Champagne and Burgundy, traversing Holland at tulip time and enjoying a marathon of plays in Stratford Upon Avon, departing the barge for a quick walk to the theater.
The Queen Elizabeth II
may rank as the writer's favorite.
My sisters and I have cruised Holland America to the breathtaking Alaskan fjords, and deep into the Dutch Antilles on Princess, Royal Caribbean and the lovely Odyssey.  I twice cruised on the splendid Norway, formerly the SS France, one of the day's great liners.
Cookie has her cake and eats it, too -- two cakes
 courtesy Carnival's Captain Lazzarino. 
The QEII may be my favorite all time ship -- for I've crossed the Atlantic on her many times, both east- and west-bound.  Ah, such memories, such advantages to water travel: you pack and unpack once, see a new port or village each day, make lively friends, dine on delicious, custom-prepared fare.
My 100th cruise is history now, but as with all cruises, memories linger. During our recent odyssey from Seattle to the splendid southeast Alaskan coast, we were welcomed aboard Carnival's Miracle with fanfare from our
charming Italian captain, Luca Lazzarino. He presented us with a handsome "100th cruise" poster congratulating us on the landmark. He had the chef craft two splendid cakes in honor of the cruising centenary. He honored us at a cocktail party for the guest naturalist, officers and the "Miracle team."
Crystal's Symphony at sea,
ranked one of the world's top
mid-sized cruise ships.
Cookie sometimes combines her two favorite pursuits
-- cruising and playing the piano!
Fellow seamen asked what attracted us to cruising and where future cruises will take us.  We're enjoying the perks of "Diamond status" with Royal Caribbean, crossing the Atlantic again in late fall, sailing out of Barcelona. And we'll transit the newly enlarged Panama Canal in April. Beyond then?
BROCHURES ARE piling up: Crystal, Oceania, Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Cunard, Holland America, Carnival, Disney, Windstar.  We may
A rainbow is a good omen for our cruisers, here from their suite
on Tagus River harbor at the elegant Altis Belem in Lisbon, Portugal.
revisit favorite barge and canal cruises on smaller enterprises such as the elegant European Waterways and its beautiful retinue. Part of water travel is savoring each port, taking side trips to wondrous sights.
My goal is to  take a "round the world" cruise -- around 60 to 85 days. I'd love to book an owner's suite complete with a grand piano.  I've played in many ship lounges and cocktail venues, always with permission when friends have approached the hotel director to gain approval. But a piano in my penthouse? Sign me up now.

Keller and Cookie at the Monument to the Discoveries in Lisbon.
COMING UP: Travel with us to the picturesque harbor and the view from the Altis Belém Hotel and Spa, a five-star design hotel in Lisbon.  Located in Belém overlooking the Tagus River, the Altis Belem offers a contemporary view of the Golden Age of Discovery. Portugal's proud nautical history is reflected in wall panels transporting pampered guests to exotic places: Mauritania on Africa's West coast, Arabia, India, Siam, Osaka and across the ocean to Brazil. We cruised there in comfort of a Royal Caribbean suite. Remember to explore, learn, live and visit us Wednesdays and Saturdays at: 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Happy 90th birthday to 'Papa' Martin, who's living a happy life

Grady Martin poses in his wonderful summer garden at home on the Stillwater River.

Widower rebounds after loss and 66 year marriage with gardening, travel, birds, dogs, friends


HE'S 90  years old tomorrow, and he's the only thing between me and the orphanage.
Grady savors a meal with Cookie and Keller at La Jolla 
 Shores Restaurant near their San Diego home.
My sweet neighbor, Grady Martin, nicknamed "Papa" by me 18 years ago, is as American as apple pie.
A self-made man, veteran, father, devoted husband for 66 years and my pal during my West Fork summers in Montana, Papa  traveled the world, returning to his adored Montana to build his retirement home in 1995. He became our family's cherished "grandfather figure," part of every celebration, reunion and memorial.
When his wife Kathy passed away three summers ago, folks speculated that Papa might not make it. But after a couple difficult years and a bout with pneumonia, Papa is back in fine fettle and ready to celebrate his 90th.
BORN IN 1923, he grew up in rural Florida, raised by his mother and grandmother.  He lost his only sibling, Jackie, at a young age. He says he never went hungry, but recalls eating "plenty of beans, biscuits and
Grady and his brother
 Jackie, circa 1928.

veggies from our garden."
Kathy and Grady with their 
daughter Pam, circa 1945.
"I was probably what we'd consider poor now," says Grady. "But I didn't know the difference.  Most everybody was in my boat. We kept cheerful, worked hard and didn't complain."
In 1940, in his senior year of college, Grady won a 4-H trip to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  There he met the love of his life, a Billings, Montana, girl, Kathy Suiter.  "She was chosen for her cooking ability and I for farming," laughs Grady. "We went on all the tours together, holding hands in the bus."
Nick and Nora with Papa in San Diego.
AT THE END of the conference, they promised to write. In those pre-World War II days, courting was by letter.  The two corresponded, and after a year of college at University of Florida, Grady traveled to Oregon to work for the Forest Service near Bend. Each was dating other people, "but we kept in touch," says Grady. They arranged -- all by letter -- for Grady to return to Florida via Montana. He took the bus to Billings where Kathy met him and ushered him home to meet her family.
Cookie and "Papa" christen a wllow in Kathy's memory.

"Then she decided to come visit me in Florida over Christmas," remembers Grady. In the shadow of Pearl Harbor, Kathy took the train.  "It wasn't long after she arrived that we decided to get married," says Grady.
THE LONG marriage included Grady's World War II Army service in Europe.  Kathy wrote love letters.  Grady responded.  They had four children: Pam, Doug, Marty and Sean.  The three sons will be in Montana for the celebration.  Pam died in 1989.  
Grady has achieved what few people do:  he's been retired longer than he worked, mostly at
Grady & Cookie  share a sunset picnic over looking La Jolla Shores.
Western Airlines (bought up by Delta, after Grady's retirement!) He and his family still travel on Delta and her partners, using "non-rev" or stand-by passes. It's a fitting perk for a guy who still loves travel. He worked the ticket counter in Billings, then Phoenix, and finally San Diego, all places dear to his heart.
"Now, I am content to stay put," says Grady, surveying his handsome corn crop on the Stillwater's West Fork.
Last year, he visited Keller and me at our town home in La Jolla. He twice crossed the Pacific to spend time with son Sean in Maui, where he and Kathy loved to vacation.
Grady and Keller barbeque fresh trout on
the "Stillwater Beach," below Grady's house.
He also visited Phoenix friends, and made a couple trips to Seattle where his other sons have lived. Marty, a builder and handyman, recently moved to Montana and hopes to stay here to keep his dad company.
DESPITE A low-grade leukemia that requires a monthly blood infusion, our Papa keeps fit -- walking, gardening, chopping wood, helping keep my lawn green and flowers watered when I'm cavorting. He still cranks up the barbecue and plays pinochle Monday nights, shows up at church occasionally, although he's an avowed agnostic. ("I'd say atheist but it makes people jumpy.") He is known for his kindness, amiable nature and appreciation of our environment. He even planted petunias and lilacs at Nye Post Office.

Grady tucks into mussels, fish tacos and wine with
Cookie and Keller at La Jolla Shores Restaurant.
Since Kathy died (she called herself my "mountain Mama") Papa and I established a ritual of dining together several nights a week.  The evenings includes "Jeopardy," a glass of wine on his deck and lively conversation while I rustle us up a stir fry or pasta.  Often, Papa prepares salad with veggies from his garden, full circle to his childhood. Having lost both my parents now, my beloved Papa is a sounding board -- the compassionate, thoughtful elder we all need, no matter how old we are.
PAPA FIGURES his European travel is likely ended, and doesn't intend to reprise the skydiving escapade of his 75th birthday.
Grady gives travel advice for Cookie's frequent
commutes between Montana and California.

But he has promised to come see us in San Diego in 2014, where we treat him to a mean fish taco. He's talking about next year's garden. He still loves to study maps, keeps the coffee pot on for pop-in guests, likes a glass of wine, fills his bird feeder, indulges in a cookie or two at the post office, and admires a Beartooth sunset.
All good signs that he's here for awhile!
"I'm one lucky guy," he says, gazing at the mountains which frame his home.
So are we to know you, Papa.
Love you, and happy, happy birthday!

Cookie, Keller, Captain Lazzarino and officers.

COMING UP: We celebrate my 100th cruise with pointers on cruising, a look at barge and large-ship travel, and a visit to the bridge with Captain Luca Lazzarino onboard Carnival's Miracle. We also look at Holland-America, Crystal, Celebrity, Oceania, Cunard and other favorite lines. 
Then we continue our revels in Portugal and one of the country's most elegant hotels, Altis Belem, overlooking the Tagus River harbor. Remember to explore, learn and live. And check us out at:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

All aboard for a wild, scenic ride on the White Pass and Yukon Railway

Some of the world's most rugged terrain challenged engineers who built this trestle on the steep hillside.


White Pass and Yukon conductors bring the train home from the hills.

IT'S DIFFICULT to imagine our forefathers blasting a train track through the granite rock of Alaska's spectacular White Pass in the winter freeze of minus 60 degrees.
But they did!
We followed in their footsteps -- the easy way.  With binoculars and bottled water, not pick-axes, dynamite and hungry horses.
We recently answered the "all aboard" call to ride the spectacular iron trail outside Skagway.
DEPARTING Carnival's Miracle, we walked just steps to the convenient platform of the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway, a daring endeavor of the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush.
Travelers are all eyes as the train
offers stunning views on both sides.
Built through some of the world's most rugged and spectacular terrain, the narrow gauge railway is still in operation, using old-fashioned parlor cars much like the originals.
A narrated train journey takes travelers
deep  into Yukon territory.
As we left colorful Skagway behind, we climbed a steep grade past gorgeous falls, gulches, canyons and riverbeds, heading to White Pass Summit which is the international boundary between the U.S. and Canada.
We'd taken a self-guided walking tour of Skagway earlier, to enjoy the dog sled and whale whaling lore, and admire the Skagway Street Car and signature yellow buses.  We also visited the
Keller poses in downtown Skagway where historic rail cars
are on show and visitors can walk or shuttle to ships.

world famous Red Onion Saloon's Brothel Museum -- every gold rush needs ladies of the evening. Keller passed on a good time girl and instead took a look at the steam engine and a gold panning exhibit.  Teddy Roosevelt visited Skagway, named for the Tlingit word, "skagua" meaning "windy place." The pretty little town is famous for sled dogs, gardens, glassware and for being the childhood home of Sarah Palin! ("Can you see Russia?" our guide joked! "Sarah says it's right over there.")
Scenic rail trip aboard the historic White Pass and
Yukon Route Railway offers a chance to step
outside the car as did this passenger and Cookie, left.
AFTER OUR nifty morning Skagway grounding, we boarded our White Pass car, made ourselves comfy, gazed and listened. A lively commentary described the building of this legendary railroad and the brave men who cut grade on Tunnel Mountain and other foreboding hills to accommodate the frenzied gold miners.
THE HISTORY dates to 1896 when George Carmack and two Indian companions, Skookum Jim and Dawson Charlie, found a few flakes in Bonanza Creek in the Klondike.  Although their discovery barely filled the spent cartridge of a Winchester rifle, it triggered a stampede for riches.  The Klondike gold Rush was on.
A detail of the massive snow plow
used by the train in winter.
Our knowledgeable guide didn't sugarcoat this colorful episode in history.  It had its tragic side. More than 30 men were killed during the building of 110 miles of track and many horses and pack animals plunged to their deaths or starved.
NOT ALL miners thought to bring proper horse feed or treat their faithful pack animals with care. Some of the work took place in dead of winter when heavy snows blocked the 16-degree turns and temperatures plunged to 60 degrees below zero.
Skagway disappears as the train heads up the mountain.
Amazingly, the rugged railway's construction was swift.  It began in May of 1898 and continued through a daunting winter. Workers reached the Summit of White Pass in February of 1899.

THE INTERNATIONAL effort cost $10 million, a collaborative effort combining British financing, American engineering and Canadian contracting.  More than 10,000 men and 450 tons of explosives overcame climate and geography.
The miracle of steel, timber and ingenuity was designated an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1994, sharing the honor with the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty and Panama Canal.
Views from the train are dramatic -- here jagged mountain peaks afar.
CHIEF VISIONARY behind the project, many believe, was Skagway founder, Captain William Moore.  He predicted a gold rush and built a sawmill and wharf and helped blaze the trail to the Summit of White Pass, named for the Canadian minister of the interior, Sir Thomas White.
Today's visitors don't have to worry about tumbling off a rocky cliff, losing a horse to starvation or suffering hunger and thirst themselves.
Dense old growth pine forests flank Skagway River. 
THE GREEN and yellow White Pass rail fleet includes 20 diesel-electric locomotives, 82 restored replica passenger coaches and two steam locomotives.  An ongoing modernization program keeps the fleet in tip-top condition, for it is one of Skagway's favorite tourist pursuits.

We enjoyed the cars' names -- they're all christened after lakes and rivers in Alaska, Yukon and British Columbia.  Most are at least 40 years old.  Lake Tutshi, vintage 1893, which starred in the 1935 movie, "Diamond Jim Brady," or Lake Lebarge, which carried Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip on the same trek we took -- back in 1959. The oldest car is Lake Emerald, built in 1883 and still traveling the line.
Picturesque Skagway is home to sled dogs and mushers,
beer makers, glass blowers, fishermen and wood carvers.

We learned from our guide that there
are actual  foot trails, including Chilkoot, leading  to the interior lake country where stampeeders began their 550-mile journey to the Yukon River and gold fields.  Both the railroad's White Pass route, and the Chilkoot Trail are filled with hazards. Various enterprising people tried to cash in on the miners, including George Brackett, a one-time construction engineer who built a 12- mile toll road up White Pass canyon.

So long, Skagway, as the White Pass train returns,
 from its rugged and scenic ride.

ANGRY MINERS tossed the toll gates down a ravine and his road was a failure. Brackett made out well, eventually, when White Pass and Yukon Railroad Company organized and paid him $110,000 for the a right-of-way.
Along our return route, back towards Skagway with its quaint pastel buildings, we took a last look at the Sawtooth Mountains and admired the bright colored flora: golden arnica, pink fireweed, purple monkshood, scarlet columbine, lavender geranium, white yarrow and the deep red berries of the mountain ash.
Skagway is not to be missed.
History, spectacular scenery and a rail ride that some consider the world's most scenic.

Carnival Miracle awaits our travelers
as Cookie continues

her 100th cruise. More on that is coming....  

Coming Wednesday: Happy
birthday tribute to 'Papa'
Grady Martin, 90 soon, here
with Nick on the West Fork. 

COMING NEXT: A salute to "Papa," our Montana neighbor Grady Martin, who will be 90 next week! Then join Cookie and Keller on a landmark "100th cruise" celebration, with reflections on Cookie's global cruising -- from barging and wine
tasting in the French countryside, to canal tulip cruises in Holland, Atlantic crossings on  the venerable Queen Elizabeth II, lazing in the Mediterranean and Greek Isles and transiting the Panama Canal.
Remember to explore, learn and live, and check us out  weekly at:                                                

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Seattle's Pan Pacific Hotel charms guests with service, beauty, extras

The Pan Pacific Hotel's appointments
are artful and Asian inspired,
creating an atmosphere both
soothing and stimulating.  Above,
a view from the 10th floor
elevator and at right,
the tastefully decorated lobby.


THROUGH MY years of travel, I've developed two hotel ratings lists --  "top ten" and "ten worst."
It changes with new finds -- sublime inns and guest houses that do everything right. Then there are the occasional stinkers. Today, a find! A real treasure.
A RECENT visit to Seattle's seductive Pan Pacific has me adjusting my list.  Either Pan Pacific will replace one of the other outstanding discoveries, or my list will grow from
Every staff member exhibits personality and concern for the guest,
here Ryan Crosby greets Cookie at the hotel's entrance. Above left,
the attractive neighborhood include community minded  philanthropies,
such as the Bill and Melinda  Gates Foundation. Upscale restaurants,
  Nordstrom's flagship, galleries amd boutiques are also near Pan Pacific.  
"top ten" to "elegant eleven."
Here's why:

*PAN PACIFIC looks beautiful and welcoming -- with tasteful contemporary art, live plants and pride in service!  A pretty outdoor dining and relaxing area beckons as a staff member welcomes you. The Pan Pacific specializes in personalized service, the kind well heeled businessmen and world travelers are
 Pan Pacific's ice chests are attractive wooden containers.
accustomed to.  The staff conveys an authentic interest in the guest. From the moment we were picked up by Jason and the courtesy limo, to our departure a few days later, we felt pampered, cared about and part of the Pan Pacific family.  The front desk manager wished us safe travels as he escorted us to our car.
* GUEST ROOMS are spacious and handsomely decorated, with thought to relaxing colors and fabric, top technology and an artistic Asian American flair.  Because Pan Pacific Hotel and Resorts spans the Pacific Rim, the elegant chain showcases the art of that vast region from North America's west coast across Asia to the coastlines of Australia.  My first Pan Pacific stay was in Singapore years ago, and I was reminded in its Seattle property of the many genteel touches. (Ice for the rooms is stored in an attractive wooden chest, looking like a piece of furniture.)
Some of the Pan Pacific's spacious suites have telescopes.
* PAN PACIFIC  Hotel Seattle offers spectacular views including one of the attractive Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the star of the progressive neighborhood.  We gazed at the Space Needle from sunrise coffee to sunset cocktails, relishing Seattle's gorgeous skyline with its multi-hued colors.  Located at 2200 Westlake Plaza, it's a superb location.  We walked a few steps to Whole Foods for wine and cheese. Nordstrom's (the flagship store), a fun deli, boutiques and a couple fun bars are within strolling distance.  We enjoyed a brisk and refreshing 20-minute walk to the pier to catch the ferry to
 Seattle's colorful waterfront is near --  a few blocks of pleasant strolling.
Bainbridge.  The property is only 20 auto minutes from Seattle Tacoma International Airport, and a few blocks from Seattle's efficient and much used high speed train, which travels to the airport in a speedy half hour.
* THIS IS A hotel with a social conscience.  Seattle's Pan Pacific recycles gently used soaps and toiletries to a nearby women's shelter, observes the "use your towel again" green rule and donates "unpresented" excess food from the catering department to Seattle's hungry, through projects and shelters.  The energy efficient Pan Pacific has a "Social Responsibility Committee" whose thrust is "giving back to the community."  The property's savvy community relations manager Ryan Crosby says the operation is both civic minded and eco-friendly top to bottom -- even the building's shell and core were made from recycled materials.
A fitness center, complete spa and whirlpool await.
*PAN PACIFIC is a well mannered inn. The staff is enlightened and gracious at every turn. The concierge mailed an art poster home for us, and made arrangements for a harbor cruise. The porter fetched us ice and brought a morning paper without our asking when he delivered our bags. It's obvious the staff enjoys its work and makes easy connections with guests.  Our drivers, concierge and waiters were personable, articulate and courteous, as was everyone we encountered. What an impression this makes.
* AMENITIES, activities abound at Pan Pacific.  We happened to hit the Tuesday night wine tasting, when Pan Pacific invites vintners to set up shop and share their wares.  Locals and tourists mingled to sample both Washington and French wines near the fireplace.  Fun! We loved our room's Shoji screen doors, high-speed wireless, 42-inch flat screen TV and European soaking tub, added in a massive 2011 renovation. The state-of-the-art coffee maker actually steams the water, allowing for delicious coffee and tea in your robe and slippers, also provided at Pan Pacific.
 Pan Pacific's pretty, eco-friendly bathrooms feature compact flourescent
lighting, dual flush toilets, low-flow shower heads and deep soaking tubs.
* PHYSICAL COMFORTS lure guests.  A luxurious, upscale Vida Spa features 18 treatment rooms and every manner of engaging body and mind-nurturing offering.  A spacious fitness center tempted us, but we were having too much fun. Still, it's a must for long trips or the frequent business traveler, and several businessmen and women were working out in the 4,200 square foot facility, which is steps away from the lovely spa. Whirlpools and dry saunas are at your fingertips, too.
* IF YOU don't want to leave Pan Pacific, you don't have to.  The hotel offers 24-hour room service and a fabulous breakfast menu.  Our waiter, a native of Thailand, was gracious and accommodating and the
The Pan Pacific's spacious rooms are elegant, comfy. 
salmon omelettes, muffins and eggs Benedict were beautifully presented. The hotel's Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar are award-winning.
* BRING YOUR pup! Hooray for Pan Pacific for devoting part of its splendid space to dog friendly digs.  Increasingly, the best hotels are doing this, and we met several friendly pups during our stay.  We promised our new friends we'd return with our beloved Yorkies, Nick and Nora.  Turns out the restaurant manager has Yorkies, too:  hers are Sophie and Annabel!
* SPECIAL SPLURGE. If you really want to pamper yourself, Pan Pacific will tailor a wine tasting so you may select wines to accompany your meal (en suite or in the lovely restaurant.) Seastar's acclaimed Chef and owner John Howie, is hands on
Seattle's acclaimed Space Needle may be seen from many parts of the hotel.
with an international  menu that features fresh local ingredients, inspired seafood and meat offerings (the herbed halibut, melt-in-mouth tenderloin and spicy ahi are divine). Howie's global preparations are delivered with precision and flair.
YOU MAY also sample tasty sushi,
sashimi, ceviche, poke and freshly shucked oysters. Or if you wish to go light, try a tasty club sandwich, crisp and tangy Caesar salad or thick creamy soup. We celebrated Keller's birthday, toasting the Space Needle and our wish to return to this perfect property soon!
For rates and reservations, email: or go to www.panpacificseattle
2125 Terry Avenue, Seattle, Wash., 98121. 1 800 992-2694.

COMING UP:  Take a train ride into the wilds of Alaska, on Skagway's White Pass and Yukon Railway. Then join Cookie and Keller to mark "Cruise 100" -- with a tour of the Carnival Miracle bridge escorted by Captain Luca Lazzarino! Oh, yes, and a zillion-calorie cake is enjoyed by all!
Plus a tribute to our beloved, adopted "Papa," Grady Martin, who turns 90 on Sept. 26. How did he manage life's ups and downs -- "mostly ups," he says.  The piece will post on his birthday eve, Sept. 25. Remember to explore, learn and live, and check out our Wednesday and Saturday posts at