My mother's consort wasn't feeling well enough to travel, and surprisingly it took only a couple hours and not an extreme amount of money to get me to Alaska to take his place.
I took my mother to the airport on Saturday and I left on Sunday evening. I got into Anchorage at 12:40 am and it appeared to be twilight. I heard someone say that the only stars visible were the ones on the flag, and it was true! The airport was going full-bore, and all the restaurants and shops were open! I was told that that was common in Anchorage, as flights had to leave very early so that travelers could make morning connecting flights in Seattle (the closest US hub). I joined my mother at the hotel and fell right asleep.
When I woke up my mother was not in the room; she'd gone down for breakfast. She came back into the room and said matter-of-factly, "I've got to go home. George died." He'd had flu-like symptoms for a couple days but...wow. We discussed it for a bit but she insisted that I go on the cruise. There's nothing I could do about the situation at home, really, and she wanted me to see the beauty of Alaska--and I certainly wasn't going to argue with a grieving widow.
She joined me on the train to Whittier, where we spent the day walking, talking, and having a couple drinks. When it was time for her to get on the train to return to Anchorage (she couldn't get a flight out until the next morning) I got on the ship.
That was the cloud under which my Alaska cruise started.