Farmer and wife take a cruise

August 3, 2018

Yes, we did it! Because of partial retirement, my husband, Boyd, and I knew we would have some time to vacation this summer. So in February, we signed up for a cruise to Alaska. WOW!! Something we always talked about doing but had never pushed ourselves to do. But we were unprepared as anyone could be when we finally got going!

Did any of you ever watch the TV show “The Hillbillies”? Well, that was Boyd and I on this cruise. Don’t get me wrong, we had a good time. We just didn’t take advantage of everything available and I think we stuck out like a sore thumb! Oh I could tell some funny stories of other passengers, so maybe we weren’t the only odd men out.

One thing we both enjoyed was comparing the loading and unloading of passengers from the bus to the ship and back again to the loading of cattle. When we got to Seattle, our group had name tags and we were put in one place, a pen with a fence around it. A holding pen? (I think the sorting pen was when we got to the airport and we were given a tag and told to have that and our photo ID handy at all times.) The fence was blue and plastic, where our gates in the pasture are a green heavy metal. I discovered the restrooms right close to the fence, so one of the ladies and I just opened up part of that fence, walked through, turned around and shut the fence, and went to the restroom. When we were all accounted for, the gate was opened and we were “herded” to the buses. There were people standing along the pathway to the bus making sure we did not “get loose” or “lost.” There was always a leader among our group. And always someone at the end of the line making sure no one escaped. One positive note: We weren’t divided according to weight or age as cattle are!

Arriving at the ship, once again we were put in groups. There were a lot of people to board the ship. The loading ramp, uphill like into the top layer in the stock trucks. I’m glad we didn’t have to have ear or brisket tags like the cows and calves, but again it was so similar we both laughed and watched. We realized, because of our age, that we would be some of the first culled when we got to the sale yard, so we decided to enjoy what we could. There were no hotshots or anyone hollering “Heyaw” as we were moving up or down those loading ramps. Instead it was: “Move along a little faster;” “No, no you are in the wrong line, get over here.” “Everyone have your picture ID and your ship card to speed up the loading.” Things like that.

Yes, not a lot of difference in loading cows and calves. Except for the noise and the smell of cow manure. The loaders wore uniforms but not cowboy hats, jeans and boots, and were very well-trained working with passengers from all over the world. It had taken us most of the day to get to this part of our journey and we were glad to be able to find our room and plop on the bed.

I believe I embarked on this cruise with the wrong ideas. I looked at the ship as a vehicle to take me from one place to another where actually it became a small town with about 5,000-plus population. There were stores and all kinds of activities going on all of the time: dancing, swimming, hot tubs, comedians, musicians, magic show, even some kind of a dog show. There were people in the swimming pools any time we were out walking around whether it was cold or not. There were formal dining areas, buffets and pizza kiosks.

Unloading for the last time, we were once again put in holding pens dockside. When everyone was accounted for we were led down the pathway to the buses, with the leader up front, the guys on the side making sure no strays got away.

What a fun and interesting time we had and how fun it was to compare the way we work our cattle with the way travel agencies work with humans. Boyd said he thinks he could give them some pointers that would speed things up, though. We did have two excellent tour guides, Debbie and Shanna, who really guided us through this memorable week.

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