Porcupyn's Blog

July 5, 2017

Alaska Trip Day 2 – continued

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 9:36 pm

Finally at Seattle, nearly 12 hours behind schedule, we were able to quickly get out to baggage claim, locate our one checked-in bag, and check it right back in with Alaska Airlines. It was located not too far from baggage claim (though on the floor above) and it was easy peasy. Now, we had a couple of hours on our hands and were miraculously back on schedule (if you ignore the small matter of being, literally, sleepless … in Seattle!). But we were hungry for sure and I was a bit upset about losing our money on the Seattle hotel reservation that we didn’t use – I am still trying to see if we can get it back from the credit card one way or the other! We got pizza and sandwiches while Baab went around the terminals taking plane photos. Soon, it was time to board which, finally, we did without a hitch and soon we were airborne.

The scenery was absolutely captivating minutes after departure from Seattle. I don’t know if the mountains belong to the USA or Canada, but they looked really inviting. Snowcapped, with trails (or were they motorable roads?) at the top. they would come with great views for sure. There were also small lakes at the bottom of some of the mountains. After some more time, we started seeing snow on top of the mountains and glaciers as well. We touched down into Juneau.

Now, there was an ulterior motive in getting a connection via Juneau. Originally, we wanted to cruise to Alaska; however, all of the cruises had a halt within Canada and, as my mother did not have a Canadian visa (and didn’t have enough time to apply and get one), that was out of question. I thought that if we could get the routing that stopped in Juneau, we could at least see the local scenery – if only from the air.

As it turned out, that worked out just right. Though only Baab was able to see the Mendenhall glacier on the landing approach (the rest of us were on the left side of the plane), we had seats on the right for the next leg, and so were able to catch it while taking off. There is a whole story about our seats being messed up by Alaska Airlines that I will add later!!

Though/because we were (only) transiting Juneau, I had not researched the area. So, I was unprepared for the possibility of being able to go out to the glacier in the two+ hours that we had at the small airport. When we went outside the airport, the one taxi-driver we talked with informed us that all five of us and our (carryon) luggage wouldn’t fit in that taxi and we would need to get a bigger one. And, besides, they would charge us $10 per person even to just take us up to the glacier and back, as it was part of the national park system. By this time, we had less than two hours and I didn’t want to take a chance with missing a flight – besides, we would be seeing glaciers after we got to Anchorage anyway. So, we abandoned any plans of leaving the airport area and got back in through the security area.

As we flew over a sea of white (mountains) with glaciers all around (OK, I can only vouch for the area to the right of the plane), I got into a conversation with some high school students on our row – they were on their way back to the Bay Area after a school trip as part of their curriculum (sociology, human geography, or some such). Basically, they were there for a two-week program to live with folks in the outlying areas and experience life in the Alaskan remoteness.

Well, they apparently got some more than they bargained for. Their boat (?) was late arriving into the Glacier Bay airport (Gustavus) and so they missed their flight to Seattle. Now, they were going to San Jose from Gustavus via Juneau, Anchorage and Seattle. And instead of landing in San Jose before midnight, they were getting into Seattle at two am! Well, I guess our detour – though way longer by distance – was definitely not as long in terms of travel time difference!

There were many Alaska Airlines planes with unique livery. We saw several with college names and colors on them; but this was my favorite :-)

There were many Alaska Airlines planes with unique livery. We saw several with college names and colors on them; but this was my favorite 🙂

Didn't quite get what the sign indicates

Didn’t quite get what the sign indicates

One of the islands around Seattle

One of the islands around Seattle

Snow capped mountains - in USA or in Canada?

Snow capped mountains – in USA or in Canada?

And some lakes

And some lakes

... and is at our gate ... and is at our gate
Lots of snow

Lots of snow

Nearing Juneau - a cruise ship?

Nearing Juneau – a cruise ship?

Taking off from Juneau - Mendenhall Glacier

Taking off from Juneau – Mendenhall Glacier

An island near Juneau ...

An island near Juneau …

... and another ...

… and another …

... and a nice glacier!

… and a nice glacier!

... and is at our gate

This is a cruise ship for sure

More snow ...

More snow …

... and glaciers (some with exquisite medial moraines)

… and glaciers (some with exquisite medial moraines)

... and is at our gate ... and is at our gate ... and is at our gate
Seward Highway near Girdwood

Seward Highway near Girdwood

Seward Highway between Anchorage and Girdwood

Seward Highway between Anchorage and Girdwood

Seward Highway (closer to Anchorage)

Seward Highway (closer to Anchorage)

... and is at our gate

Island upon approach into Anchorage

Lovely collage of photos at Anchorage Airport

Lovely collage of photos at Anchorage Airport

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Alaska Trip – Day 2

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 8:43 pm

Though we have the occasional thunderstorm in the evening, I don’t recall having significant travel disruptions leaving in the evening from Orlando. The only time I recall missing a connection was nearly two decades ago; otherwise, we’ve been late, but not too late, like maybe an hour or so. This summer though, it’s been a haul – we’ve been having thunderstorms nearly daily. In fact, I recall the date very clearly – May 30th – when I was practising tennis with Katya when we were rushed offcourt at the local club (they were afraid that the rain would damage the ball machine). Since then, I’ve been able to play tennis only a couple of times in the evening – it has rained every day!!

Anyway, where were we? Yes, we took off right after sunset and reached Midway. Before leaving, we had tried to call relatives in Chicago to see if there was a chance of hanging out – though with an arrival time of nearly 10 pm and check-in of about 4 am, we wouldn’t really have had a lot of time. In any event, we couldn’t contact them, and decided that we would hang out in the airport itself.

Once we got to the airport, we were unable to find comfortable seats to lie down and sleep/rest. Somehow Katya and Baab managed to squeeze themselves under the chair armrests and sleep. Mrs. Porcupyn, I and mother managed to catch 40-80 winks! But my 4 am, we were frozen solid – they either turn down the AC really low or the human body just stops generating heat after some time, take your pick. That was one of the rare occasions that I was feeling cold and not sweating while at the airport.

As we already have our boarding cards, I’m like we should be good to go. So we didn’t even communicate with the GA and just went up to the gate when our Cxx number came up. Once more, our boarding passes failed to pass muster. Back we go to the GA, and she prints out more – now only ten more thankfully – boarding passes.

One thing I gotta emphasize. Because of the rerouting, we got a really scenic route as opposed to what would’ve been a routine night flight from Chicago to Seattle! Check out these photos 🙂

The Rockies

The Rockies

One of the many canyons

One of the many canyons

My guess is that this is the Grand Canyon

My guess is that this is the Grand Canyon

Landing in Las Vegas

Landing in Las Vegas

Sin City, baby, though we don't have time to waste as our connection is in just over an hour!

Sin City, baby, though we don’t have time to waste as our connection is in just over an hour!

Crater Lake, from above 35,000 feet

Crater Lake, from above 35,000 feet

Broken Top mountain and the Three Sisters, Oregon

Broken Top mountain and the Three Sisters, Oregon

A (too) perfect oxbow lake

A (too) perfect oxbow lake

Mt Hood, maybe?

Mt Hood, maybe?

Mt Rainier, Seattle

Mt Rainier, Seattle

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