Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 2. Seattle to Fairbanks, via Anchorage.

04:16. I awoke for no apparent reason at 04:14. After laying there for a minute I heard, "Knock knock." KNOCK KNOCK! Awww heck, I thought the bellman would just open the door himself, but I had to get up and let him in. Since we had 90 minutes before our flight, decided to eat at the airport. As we walked into the food court, we notice that it has two huge fish restaurants flanking it like sentrys. They seem to be very proud of their fish in Seattle. Amy and I settled for croissants and coffee.

On our first leg, I thumbed through the Alaskan Air magazine. The first full-page ad was for major construction equipment, and I thought, "Now that's something you don't generally see in an in-flight magazine." I realized that Alaska is a workin' state, with big things to be done, so that ad (and the several others on later pages) were probably spot-on for a large percentage of flyers.

First advertisement in the Alaska Air in-flight magazine.

As we descended into Anchorage airport, I was able to see several glaciers pass under our wings, one of them huge. It was a beautiful sight, seeing them morph from their beginnings as creamy white snow, to a blackened highway of ice.

During our layover, I went to Quiznos for a sandwich. The menu was very limited, and didn't have what I wanted. I asked the older lady (who appeared to be a native) at the first station for a "sandwich with wheat bread, two cheeses, onions, and vinaigrette dressing." She nodded knowingly and said, "Ahhh, veg-e-tar-i-an." I felt like I was some kind of exotic life-form that was only rarely seen in Alaska. When I told the lady at station two, after the toasting oven, that I only wanted lettuce, I think she felt sorry for me. She put some on the sandwich, shook her head and put another layer on it, and finally a third towering level. She gave a satisfied smile, as if to say, "Now that poor young man won't starve too quickly, even if he doesn't eat any meat."

I ate my sandwich sitting in the breezeway of the airport. The makeup of people here is interesting. Lots of typical tourists-types. Lots of Asian folks.

A few granola back-packers, B.O. and all. And a goodly number of what appear to be "bush-types." I don't mean Republican voters, but people who look like they spend most of their time in an unforgiving environment. They have well-worn, rugged clothing, generally not freshly-laundered. Their faces are weathered, and they all have a similar look. It seems to say, "I've seen what nature can dish out, and I can take care of myself." The range in age from 30's to 60's. (Note: Don said they were mostly pipeline workers.)

View of the tidal flats while descending into Anchorage:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Alaska 2009 - Day 1. San Antonio to Seattle, via Phoenix.

Amy and I and 7 members of her family are doing a 12-day Cruise/tour with Princess. We start in Fairbanks, work our way overland down to Anchorage, where we board the Diamond Princess for a 7-day Inside Passage, debarking in Vancouver.

Day 1. San Antonio to Seattle, via Phoenix.

We stayed at the Mom Inn last night (Amy's mother's house). She's so sweet, and always leaves a chocolate on our pillows when we stay there. I tucked them into a vest pocket for emergency snacks during the day. As we were de-boarding in Phoenix I felt like a pick me up, so I pulled them out. I guess I must have a hot body, because they were liquid. Thank goodness the wrappers held them all inside. I can imagine traipsing around Alaska in a vest that smells like Nestle Crunch could make me very attractive. To bears.

After arriving at Seattle, we caught the shuttle to the Princess-provided Doubletree. It was one of the nicer hotels I've stayed at, and I've stayed at a lot. The only hiccup was that they "lost" the room reservation for Amy's sister Tracy. It took a while to get her settled, and I don't think the desk clerk knew how close to death he came. :-)

After a nice dinner, and a few local beers, we retired to await our 4:15 a.m. bag pull the next morning.

Seattle hangar. I don't know why, but this seems vaguely naughty.
The intrepid travelers:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Packing for the Great White North

Amy and I prefer to go the minimalist route. Here's everything for two weeks in the Great White North:

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Arkansas 2009, the journey home

We left Broken Bow Oklahoma and headed South.

Ahhh, back on Texas soil!

The temperatures were brutally hot. We had to stop every hour just to stand inside the air conditioning and drink (or douse ourselves with) water.

Texas lakes.

Home at last! 1948 miles in 4 1/2 days. I think that max speed is a bit optimistic.

Arkansas Day 4

We left Table Rock and headed to Eureka Springs for breakfast. Someone just outside the park has a nice little crib.

Missouri has some beautiful roads.

Into Eureka Springs for a quirky little breakfast at a quirky little cafe.

This little fellow was in a display window. I don't think he was for sale.

Then, down to Nimrod Dam for a cigar.

They were letting a LOT of water through those floodgates.

We headed to Beavers Bend State Park in Oklahoma to camp for out last night.

Turns out that they had also had some flooding, and the park was overrun with mosquitos.

We ditched the park in favor of a nice cabin across the street.

Arkansas Day 3, continued.

We decided to catch the ferry into Missouri.

As we pulled out, I noticed a disabled ferry with an interesting name.

After disembarking on the MO side, we rode past a demonstration of just how much rain they've had lately. Can't we get a bit of that down in Central TX, pretty please?
On to Table Rock park in Branson for the evening's campsite.

The tower at Shepherd of the Hills had an eerie look with giant birds circling it.We stopped at Old Matt's cabin to smoke a cigar.

Then back to the campsite just in time for the sunset.

Arkansas Day 3

We had a delicious breakfast at the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge, along with a little jelly.

Then we suited up to continue Northward.

The road down the mountain into Mena is beautiful.

Mena had just had a tornado pass through town a few weeks before, and the buildings still showed the damage.

We headed North up the "Pig Trail," i.e. 23. Considering that were were riding big heavy pigs, the name was apt.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Arkansas 2009, Day 2

(Click on any of the photos to see the full width--some of them aren't showing the full image.)

Early on, we passed into Oklahoma (home of some OK riding, if you'll forgive me).

Okay riding.

No, that mark is not from the Viking's rear tire!

Until we reached Queen Wilhelmina State Park and Lodge. This place always feels like home to me.

And they feed you like home too!

The Viking had never worn a Tilly hat; I convinced him to try mine. Looks so good on him, I think he's a convert.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Arkansas 2009. Day 1.

(Click on any of the photos to see the full width--some of them aren't showing the full image.)

Dog is my co-pilot? Preparing to depart.

Big Bertha and the Viking.

I love the hill country! The Viking seems to like it too.

Entering the final stretch of the 365 miles done since 1pm.

We stayed with some old friends in Longview. Ummm, let me rephrase that. Not OLD friends, but friends from long ago.