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Old 10-02-2013, 11:50 AM   #196
IBelieveInTheMagic
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Hi Erica! As I write you from my Mac, I'm so glad yours is back and working!! WOOHOO I love my Mac and like you said, I've never had any issues and mine I believe is 3 years old going on 4. Night and day difference over my work PC. Sorry getting off track!

Awesome you're on "our" excursion and I was seriously giggling about you being a felon and carrying off "live milk"! I was a little surprised about the speech too and I'm not sure you remember but there was a mother who had a young boy with her and she was saying they made her throw out the milk from his bottle and they only had water I believe and he wasn't too happy. I can't remember if she said they had breakfast or not. I had never heard this before our excursion and then our driver, like you said, made it seem like it wasn't a big deal and wasn't sure why DCL told everyone that.

ANYWAY - agreed it was a great excursion and we had a lot of fun. I had in my head from other reports we would do the train first then the Yukon bridge and bus afterwards but obviously we didn't, so that sort of threw me off at first. I wish we weren't so rushed at the bridge but it ended up working out just fine. I also had really hoped for a picture by the Yukon sign but I guess that wasn't in the cards so we'll just need to return to get that picture!

I'm loving your pictures and reliving our cruise! I'm sure I probably have you guys in the background from the Train/Bridge excursion

Looking forward to more!

Heather
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Old 10-02-2013, 08:03 PM   #197
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chilly View Post
Woohoo a new update

Glad the Mac is all fixed.

We did the same tour and really enjoyed it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennifer48 View Post
Glad your Mac is all better!

Geez talk about food Nazis. If they don't want food off the ship, they should at least provide something edible for you!

Great shots so far!
Indeed. And thanks! I have to give my husband the credit for those. But every now and then I surprised myself by getting a decent shot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IBelieveInTheMagic View Post
Hi Erica! As I write you from my Mac, I'm so glad yours is back and working!! WOOHOO I love my Mac and like you said, I've never had any issues and mine I believe is 3 years old going on 4. Night and day difference over my work PC. Sorry getting off track!

Awesome you're on "our" excursion and I was seriously giggling about you being a felon and carrying off "live milk"! I was a little surprised about the speech too and I'm not sure you remember but there was a mother who had a young boy with her and she was saying they made her throw out the milk from his bottle and they only had water I believe and he wasn't too happy. I can't remember if she said they had breakfast or not. I had never heard this before our excursion and then our driver, like you said, made it seem like it wasn't a big deal and wasn't sure why DCL told everyone that.

ANYWAY - agreed it was a great excursion and we had a lot of fun. I had in my head from other reports we would do the train first then the Yukon bridge and bus afterwards but obviously we didn't, so that sort of threw me off at first. I wish we weren't so rushed at the bridge but it ended up working out just fine. I also had really hoped for a picture by the Yukon sign but I guess that wasn't in the cards so we'll just need to return to get that picture!

I'm loving your pictures and reliving our cruise! I'm sure I probably have you guys in the background from the Train/Bridge excursion

Looking forward to more!

Heather
I remember that! I thought, how awful...even the airport lets you bring milk for kids through security!

I'll go ahead and share one of my favorite group shots from the entire trip, because (a) it totally captured the genuine fun we were all having and (b) I'm pretty sure you guys are in it too!



Working on a new update, should have it ready to go by the weekend
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Old 10-07-2013, 12:28 PM   #198
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New update: suspension bridge, ho!

When I had first researched the suspension bridge, I had pictured something a bit more….a bit less….well, I guess I didn’t picture it being as TRANSPARENT as it was. Or, you know, not something that resembled chain mail (you geeks out there know EXACTLY what I am talking about). If you’ve ever seen that episode of Mythbusters where they make a bridge out of duct tape? And then walked across it? Over a giant shipyard? I can easily imagine the sinking they felt in the pit of their stomachs because that’s exactly what I was feeling.

Family photo op – before traversing the treacherous canyon! Frankly, we all look a little concerned here....



I’ve never really thought of myself as being afraid of heights, but when I stepped up to the edge I thought I was going to lose my you-know-what. I watched my husband, who IS afraid of heights, step casually out onto the bridge and stroll across as if he were crossing Main Street at the Magic Kingdom. To add insult to injury, off went Isabelle, happily traipsing along after him. And I was frozen.

The bridge is not small, but it isn’t big either. I’m 5’3”, and the sides were easily up to my chest.

Stef standing on the bridge, and a few other brave souls crossing over…



Still….it just freaked me out.

By now pretty much everyone was on the other side, except Stef who was stopped in the middle taking photo after photo, seemingly oblivious to the fact that every moment spent on that bridge was another moment it could spontaneously snap right in the middle, leaving all of us to grasp desperately for any hand-hold as we plummeted toward the side of the canyon – much like that scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

What? I have an active imagination.

After a few minutes the paralysis began to dissipate. I think it might have had something to do with the growing shame that my 3 year old was braver than me. I stepped out onto the bridge, thinking “ok, this isn’t so bad.” I took a few steps, and a few more steps. Ok, still doing ok. As I got further and further away from what I deemed to be the “safe spot” (where I was pretty sure I could still climb back up to safety once the bridge snapped in two, which was inevitable) panic crept back in. I stopped, turned around and walked back to solid ground.

And then, in what was either a surge of bravery or the shame that my three year old daughter was happily bouncing around on the other side wondering why Mama wasn’t across yet, I MADE MYSELF DO IT. I did not pause, I did not look down, I did not look out to either side. I just kept moving forward until I felt solid wood steps at the other end. Somewhere around the middle I remember being surprised by the quiet, and the sound of the wind. And then, I was on the other side with my family.

Apparently if you stopped to look, this is what you saw. Pretty, if you’re into that sort of thing.



Izzy, bouncing around on what she saw as a giant playground. OF DOOM!!!



The others explored the wooden trails and buildings on the other side, but I knew time was short and I had really wanted to check out the gift shop. And also grab a snack. It wasn’t until then I realized my glaring error: I had to go back across that Godforsaken bridge.

Well, poop on a cracker.

My mantra of “don’t look down, don’t look down” got me about a third of the way across, when some folks came behind me who were clearly oblivious to the fact that I was about to give myself a stroke. You would think the white knuckles on the cables would have given them a clue. But no. Said thrill-seekers thought that would be a great time to test the bridge’s BOUNCING RECOIL. Kids, you may never see me run across a suspension bridge that quickly ever again. Truth be told you won’t see it, because I’m never crossing one again. On the other side I dropped to my knees, panting heavily and kissing the ground. That might be an exaggeration. I think I just rubbed my cheek against it. I’m pretty sure a few people stepped over me before I realized it was safe to stand again.

To give a little perspective of the bridge....here is me, charging ahead to the end. Don't stop, feet, DON'T STOP.



Once my wobbly knees started working again, I popped into one of the lamest gift shops I’ve ever seen. Seriously. It had a handful of t-shirts in odd sizes, some stuffed animals in a can (still trying to figure that one out) and some other handmade items that were not awful but seemed out of place there. You would expect, oh, maybe a magnet or something that said something suspension-bridge related, maybe a little witticism or the trite “I survived” but you, like me, would be wrong. Trust me: I like to shop. If I leave a gift shop empty handed? Especially after looking death in the face over a giant canyon with a raging river beneath it? Yeah, that’s a lame gift shop.

Ah well, there was still time to grab snacks for the troops, who desperately needed them by this point. From the way the bus driver had described it, I was expecting more than just a snack bar. Maybe not quite a café, but something between the two. What I got instead was a counter with an assortment of candy bars and chips, a cooler with water and soda and some wrapped cinnamon rolls. I grabbed two candy bars, two cinnamon rolls and a bottle of water. And then I waited approximately 10 minutes for the world’s slowest cashier to ring up the single person in front of me. I watched her in amazement, moving as if she were underwater. It was like some form of retail Tai Chi. But as much as I wanted to go outside and soak up the scenery from the safety of the sidelines, I was not about to put back anything edible. We still had a two hours left on the excursion, and I had a rumbly in my tummy. Plus, I had promised one of those coveted cinnamon rolls to my dad.

By the time I left the gift shop everyone was boarding the bus. We had enough time to get our passports stamped at the little booth near the entrance (which was actually kind of neat) and then we piled back on to the bus. After a quick headcount, it was determined that no one had plummeted into the river below - success!

Impression of the suspension bridge overall? Beautiful. Amazing. Terrifying. Impression of the surrounding retailers? Plbbbbt.

I really, REALLY wanted something cool related to the bridge. I guess they’re just not into that sort of thing up in the Yukon, eh? Despite what I would start describing as my “near death experience” it was worth the visit. The visit WAS very short, but it was long enough to take in the view and to read all of the info. Isabelle enjoyed climbing all of the stairs and checking out all of the buildings. So overall, fun.

Next up: the cinnamon roll…..exactly HOW long has it been sitting in the Yukon? Also, I enjoy the sites from the train without ever leaving my seat.

Last edited by zweihund; 10-08-2013 at 06:45 PM. Reason: Added "bridge of terror" photo
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Old 10-07-2013, 01:26 PM   #200
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Giant playground of doom.!

I totally feel you. I had a similar reaction at the Royal Gorge bridge in Colorado.

Jill in CO
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Old 10-07-2013, 03:16 PM   #201
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Yikes! I'm with you on the suspension bridge. My knees would knock together so much I'm sure the bridge would sway!
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Old 10-07-2013, 03:39 PM   #202
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I soo wouldn't have made it over that bridge...

I'm trying to figure out how to do the one on the Wild Africa trek at AK...

I imagine promising myself tequila at the end will do it...
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Old 10-07-2013, 04:07 PM   #203
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Looking forward to seeing the photo of terror, i'm imagining something like this
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Old 10-08-2013, 04:58 PM   #204
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From the Yukon to Skagway...

Back on the bus, I divvied up the sugary snacks and tore into that cinnamon roll, ready to sink my teeth into all of its cinnamony pastry goodness. The smell of cinnamon was intoxicating as it approached my mouth. I’m surprised I wasn’t drooling. And then?

*crunch*

Wait. What?

I passed a piece to Lionel, whose horrified expression confirmed my suspicion: either the driver didn’t get out much, or she was a bald-faced LIAR. Cinnamon rolls are NOT supposed to go crunch. Smoosh, yes. Squish, maybe so. But crunching was definitely not an option in my book. I resisted the temptation to fling that sucker at the driver, and instead wrapped it back up and shoved it into my bag. Cinnamon roll my hiney. More like a cinnamon puck! The other junk food I’d purchased would have to fill the void until we made it back to town.

No matter, we were pulling into the train station and I was starting to get really REALLY excited. Cool vintage train car, amazing scenery, what’s not to like?



When we pulled up our driver told us which cars were “ours” – I was a little concerned we were going to have to vie for a decent spot. But pretty much everyone else went to the other car and ours was nearly empty, save for ourselves and one or two smaller families. We sat on the right hand side for the trek downward, which I had read on the DIS. So take note: left side up, right side down. Not that you won’t see anything from the other side, but when your arm is pinned beneath a snoozing three year old being close to the correct window is much appreciated. We’ll get to that.

And, we were off. Once we listened to the safety instructions and got the all clear, nearly everyone was out on the platforms between the cars. Everyone, that is, but me. And my peanut.

Me: Izzy, honey, don’t you want to go stand outside and look?
Izzy: No. *zzzzzzzz*

Who would have predicted a pseudo-sick preschooler who’d been up since 6 am would doze off on a soothing, if not slightly rickety-feeling, train ride? Guess I should have seen that coming.



Well, no matter. I still had an awesome view as we chugged along. Every so often Lionel would pop in, all giddy from giant-lens-induced photographer hysteria, and ask if it was ok to head back out. Which, of course, it was. We made a plan that we would switch at some point, but to accomplish that I would have either had to chew off my arm or wake the dragon. Guess which option I chose? I spent the rest of the journey admiring the view from the window and trying to wiggle my fingers every so often to prevent the loss of my limb. Even from my seat the views were spectacular, and though I had been looking forward to some time out on the platform I still enjoyed the train time immensely.

Rocky mountain to the left, ridiculous amount of snow and ice to the right. Spectacular views ahead!





We saw this scene earlier….from the other side of the mountain.



We were on the train for over an hour but it didn’t seem like time passed at all. It was just one “wow” moment after another. The train never got boring, the view never got repetitive. There was always something new and cool to be excited about.











The clarity of the water surprised me – I guess I’m used to murky Florida lakes. As the snow and ice melts, it forms these little ponds and streams that look like glass. You can clearly see the bottom as well as the reflected sky and surrounding scenery. They were so serene. I could have sat and looked at those pools of water all day.







The verdict? Wow.

While I enjoyed the bus ride and the suspension bridge, the train ride was the star of the show. What gorgeous scenery, everywhere you looked. My sister lived in Seattle for a few years and once told me she was tired of looking at the Pacific Northwest. Looking at these images, I just can’t imagine that being possible. Then again, most people who come to Florida love palm trees and I don’t give them a second glance. In fact, we have three in our yard and I find them to be a nuisance. If you can get them home, you are welcome to them – good riddance!

Up next: Skagway is full of grumps.
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Old 10-08-2013, 06:54 PM   #205
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One more bridge pic

My dad found one more picture of the bridge, taken as Lionel and Isabelle reached the other side. You can see me a little further down, ready to mow that poor unsuspecting lady over if she didn't get out of my way.

This one really gives you some perspective of how far below the steps the bridge starts, and how low it slings down.



Is that, or is that not terrifying?

Working on another update!
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Old 10-09-2013, 04:50 AM   #206
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The train was amazing wasn't it, how they built it I don't know!
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Old 10-09-2013, 02:42 PM   #207
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wow!
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Old 10-12-2013, 05:00 PM   #208
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Oh Skagway, you fickle lady...

At the bottom of the pass, I was on a Skagway high. First, we had an amazing excursion experience. I mean, how many times do you get 6 adults and two preschoolers together for hours on end when they all emerge smiling? And the best part? It was only lunchtime! Which meant plenty of time to eat and explore the town I had most enjoyed on our prior Alaska cruise. I had so many big plans: the cupcake shop, a micro-brewed root beer, some salmon chowder, chocolate….so much shopping to be done. SO much.

Psssst – dude, the train just left.



Skagway is super cute. There is this mostly-authentic-but-also-a-bit-overdone historic look to the place.







First on the agenda? FOOD. My parents headed back to the ship to eat lunch, but with Isabelle freshly napped and Lionel actually on board for browsing (a rare occurrence, my friends…..very rare) I didn’t want to lose any ground. I spotted a little sandwich place two shops down that sold salmon chowder, and reindeer sausage. Score. Hearty, Alaskan and local: exactly what we were looking for.

And here, my friends, is where the downfall began.

For the guy who ran this shop was not the kindly independent restaurateur I was expecting. Rather, he was the surly “are you done yet? Because I have stuff to do” kind of chef. It was pretty clear that it was HIS shop, so I’m not sure why he gave off such a cold vibe. It wasn’t particularly crowded, but there was a steady flow of customers. He just seemed to find us all bothersome.

Still, we were hungry and I was having myself some chowder, dammit. Food in hand, we parked ourselves at a table in the back alley (apparently Skagway has alleys. Who would have guessed?) And it was….underwhelming. The chowder was good, but I from the expression on everyone else’s face it tasted better because we were hungry. The reindeer sausage, according to the boys, was nothing special. Just sausage. And it was all rather pricey. It was a little disappointing. From the outside, it looked like this quaint little food-truck type establishment, just on solid ground. I guess we should have looked a little further down the road, because after we moved along I noticed they were selling salmon chowder pretty much everywhere.

No matter, we had eaten locally, which had been one of my goals for the trip. And with some food in our tummies, we all felt better.

It was root beer time.

Jason and I bee-lined for the Skagway Brewing Company, where we were promptly….ignored by the hostess. Not unseen, mind you: completely ignored. We opted to go right to the bar, where several other of the customers were headed. Seemed like they knew what they were doing. Well, along with them we were ignored for several more minutes AT THE BAR. All around us it was chaos. People trying to grab the attention of the waitstaff, waitstaff flirting with other customers and ignoring them, hostess wandering off and returning occasionally to grudgingly shuffle customers to their seats. And we waited, and waited and waited.

After a few “excuse-“ “excsu-“ “EXCUSE M-“ which ended with someone bustling past in a blur, we gave up and figured we’d just stop at the Red Onion on the way back to the ship. So far Skagway had been kind of a bust, but I was about to turn that all around with a trip to the chocolate shop. This was the one and only time we had good customer service in Skagway. I guess you can’t help but be happy if you work in a chocolate shop. Armed with a bag of sweet treats (which are fab, by the way – check that place out if you ever end up in Skagway) I was ready to do some serious shopping.

At some point, we got separated from Jason and Stef and Paige. I have no idea where. It was getting kind of crowded so it was hard to tell whether people were coming in to a shop or heading back out. Last trip, I bought Isabelle a darling set of moose PJs in a kids’ clothing store, and I wanted to go back. Well, apparently somewhere between then and now the price had gone up by $10, and I was having none of that. Plus? That quaint little brand I was so excited to get again? Was in EVERY SINGLE STORE WE WENT IN. And also, I discovered, not actually made in Alaska. Strike two. Wait, was that three? I was losing count of the strikes by now.

Last time in Skagway, there were three ships in port. This year there were four. You wouldn’t think one more ship would make such a difference, but let me tell you: it was CROWDED. People all over the sidewalks. People in the street. Shops overflowing. Plus? It was really warm. All those layers I had been wearing up in the Yukon had been peeled off one by one and shoved under Isabelle’s stroller. And shops in Alaska? Not so much air conditioning.

A little tidbit about my girl: she LOVES to shop. So we kept popping in and out of stores. It was burning off some energy, and it was making her happy to browse. She would stroke a random cheapo t-shirt and say “oooh, look at this shirt Mommy!” Or pick up a stuffed animal and declare that to be her favorite animal, and could she get it, only to immediately drop it and fall in love with some other stuffed animal.

We were in the middle of said ritual, when suddenly we heard “hey, get out of there!”

At first I thought she was yelling at Isabelle. Or me. Startled, I turned to face the angry clerk who was glaring at two unsupervised children. They looked to be about 9 or 10, brother and sister. They weren’t being obnoxious or anything, but the brother had unfortunately chosen to park his bottom in a low bin full of stuffed animals. The kids froze in fear.

“Get out of there! That’s not for sitting on!”

There was steam coming out of her ears and her eyes were glowing red. Or at least I’m sure that’s what it looked like to them. The boy sheepishly said “sorry….” and got up. But that was not enough. The clerk turned her attention to the girl, who was trying on silly knit hats shaped like animals. “Those aren’t for playing with!”

She slowly removed the hat, took her brother’s hand and vacated the store. The clerk looked at me next. I didn’t know whether she was going to say something like “kids today!” or whether she was going to yell at me for letting my daughter’s petite little hand (which was clean, for the record) foul the inside of a polar bear puppet. But she said nothing.

I don’t know how long we stood there, looking at each other. Minutes, hours, days….the seconds ticked on and I thought at one point, this is what crazy looks like before it does something you read about in the news. Without turning my head, I said “Izzy? Put the polar bear back please.” She must have known something was up by the tone of my voice, because she dropped the bear in the bin without question. I reached out behind me, never taking my eyes off the clerk. Isabelle took my hand, and we backed out of the store.

Outside, I decided I was done with this place. Skagway wasn’t fun any more. Everywhere I looked, people were in freak-out mode. I felt like an imposter in this faux Alaska tourist trap, and I wanted to go back to the ship. Back where people were nice, and called me ma’am without a tone of voice that implied some deep-seeded desire to break my arms.

Lionel: “I thought you wanted cupcakes?”
Me: “I changed my mind. Let’s go.”

And then, there was the Red Onion Saloon. Root beer. I took a chance. How much worse could it get? Inside, it wasn’t as busy as I expected. Maybe it would be ok. Heck, a refreshing chilled root beer might even replenish the desire to snag a few Alaska-made cupcakes. The hostess was dressed in period costume and playing the part, flirting shamelessly with what appeared to be a crew member of one of the four docked ships.

*Ahem*

Cue “the look.” Too late to turn back now.

“Can I get a root beer?”
She eyed me up and down. “At the bar, you can.”
“Don’t suppose there’s any chance of getting one to go?”

I swear, if a record had been playing, the needle would have skidded across it and the place would have gone silent. That was the way she looked at me. Apparently I had three heads or something, and they don’t do anything “to go” in Skagway. A simple no would have sufficed. It had been wishful thinking anyway. I just really wanted that root beer. But I didn’t want to sit in there and drink it, alone at the bar.

Defeated, I headed back out into the bright sunlight and we slowly made our way toward the end of the main street, where the train had dropped us a little over an hour ago. I wanted desperately to be back on that train, to see the good in Skagway again. And then, I saw it: the caboose.







Our faith in the town was redeemed. No one was around, so we even braved the train store. I hadn’t gotten anything but chocolate in Skagway, and that would be gone soon enough. Inside the shop it was calm and quiet. And cool! The clerk looked up and smiled, and I finally relaxed. Isabelle did some more shopping (“ooh, Mommy, a train whistle! A hat! A…what is this? Can I have this?) and settled on a neat little train ornament. I got a few pins too. It only reaffirmed what I had learned about Skagway this time around: trains good, tourist shops bad.

I was relieved when we got back to the ship, reunited with the crew and able to remove our shoes and relax. How could one day be so amazing, disappointing and then amazing again? At dinner, Stefanie told us she had found the cupcake place, and it had been amazing. And Jason had hung at the Red Saloon bar long enough to have a root beer, which had also been great. Ah, well. I was a little sad, but at the end of the day it wasn’t the end of the world. I had chocolate, and a cool ornament.

And sadly, a sick little girl. For this was the night the whining began…..

Up next: whining and whales! And a little more whining.
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Old 10-13-2013, 11:41 AM   #209
jedijill
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I wonder if the shops were just overwhelmed by the crowd from the extra ship. No matter what reason, no reason to treat you guys like that! Glad the day ended up on a positive note.

Jill in CO
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Old 10-14-2013, 12:32 PM   #210
Jennifer48
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Yikes! Sorry to hear about all the cranky Alaskans!
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