Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The adventure home

Sadly, I had to end my trip to Alaska and Tuesday was the day. I tried to mentally prepare myself for a day of traveling, but as I write from the Dallas airport on Wednesday, I realize I couldn't have been prepared for the next 36 odd hours.
Rewind- sweet Kristina rolled out of bed around 4 am Kenai time to take me to the airport. Back on the small plane and an uneventful trip to anchorage. Although a beautiful view of snow dotted mountains and glimmering water. Wish I had taken a picture but I have an underlying fear that another passenger will tackle me to the ground if I show my phone. Irrational, I know. 

Anchorage also was uneventful and pleasant with the 5:30 sun beaming through the floor to ceiling windows. Flight left at 8 as scheduled to Seattle. Ate... Well some random airport food. I get to Seattle and have time to eat lunch, go to the restroom and relax for a bit. Then the phone rings (I now have a whole new reason to hate seeing a 1-800 number on my phone) and it is American saying that my flight is delayed. Instant panic about making my last connecting flight in Chicago, but no really great options here. Finally board for chicago, luckily a window seat and elbow room. After about three and a half hours we start circling Chicago for an additional hour or so. Forget my next flight cause they overlap now. What to do?

As soon as we land (weather was horrible with tornadoes and such, thus the delayed landing) I have another voicemail with a delayed flight, this time working in my favor. Grab a bite to eat and check the board but my flight is no where to be found. I ask at the gate closest and she says it has been cancelled altogether! Can they do that?!? Apparently they can. She directs me to a phone booth to reschedule. After an eternity of waiting, she comes up with another flight- Thursday, TWO days away! What???

So, I ask about accommodations for the night and of course, being weather related, they don't foot the bill. Quality inn it is. Being so tired, I can't say I was as upset as I should've been. Now to find my bag. So many places it could be... When I got to the baggage claim counter, they informed me that my luggage was on its way to Nashville. What? How did I not get to the plane and the suitcase did? And didn't they tell me that flight was cancelled altogether? Although frustrated, the woman next to me was more than making up for my anger by being furious (and representing nashville not-so-well). As a consolation prize, I got a nifty little overnight kit with the basics for the night. 
When I stepped outside to catch the shuttle, there were tons of people waiting as well. After about 45 minutes and 2 phone calls to the hotel, the shuttle showed up! Upon seeing the hotel, I wondered if I would survive the night in this seedy place... Out of other options, I took my chances. 
So happy to have a pillow and a bed, I finally settle in to be awakened by horrible thunder and finally- the fire alarm! Totally dazed and dumbfounded, I scurry into my clothes and peek through the peep hole to see the manager running through the hall. I asked him if we needed to evacuate and he said, "no, no! Go back to bed. It was just lightening that struck the building. It's fine." Debating my next move, and seeing firefighters in the hall, I made a decision to just go back to bed. Speaks to how tired I really was. Not a shining moment for me.
Next morning (I did survive the night), I woke up and called the airline to secure an earlier flight. They booked me on the 11:00 to nashville by way of Dallas. So thankful! Got to the airport and through security in record time (flying with only my purse saves lots I time) only to have one last phone call. Flight to Dallas was delayed another hour. Finally made it onboard and from Dallas to Nashville. Chalk this one up to one crazy marathon of flights! But all in all, completely worth seeing good friends!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kenai, Alaska

Well, I finally got to leave the Dallas airport on Tuesday evening around 5 to board a plane headed straight for anchorage! And let me tell you a six hour flight and not on the top of my fun list! I ended up having a middle seat and very little elbow room. Just par for the course I guess. And as I was sitting on the plane, settling in, that's when the real fun began. 4 hours of turbulence. And I don't mean "that was like a bump in the road" but "I can't hold my book still" turbulence. They even stopped the drink service because the drinks were sloshing on people. 
Finally arrived to anchorage about 8:45 (11:35 Nashville time), grabbed my bags and high-tailed it to my next and last flight at 10:00. This is what greeted me at the gate.

On seeing that, I wondered if I was better off on the ground in anchorage. I was thinking the plane might be remote control, by the looks of it. But, I had made it this far so I strapped on my big girls pants and boarded. 25 mins later I landed in Kenai (thankfully) at about 10:30 (1:30am Nashville time). 
Got to see some familiar faces and see the beautiful Alaskan landscapes (including a moose hanging out by the road) on the way to their house. In my room, they had put together this welcome basket. 
They are seriously the most thoughtful and generous friends! The basket included brochures of what we will be doing, Alaskan chocolates (do they know me or what?!?), Alaskan tea and Alaskan playing cards. Love it!
Thought I would be heading straight to bed, but catching up with Clint and Kristina gave me a second wind (or maybe third or fourth at that point). We watched the sun go down around 12:30 and turned in shortly after. All in all, the ending of the day made the trip totally worth it!
After sleeping in, we spent the day riding around  town, seeing different parts it the town including the doctors office they had set up as an allergy clinic. Also took a picnic lunch to the park by the Kenai river. So peaceful. 
Visited their church that night and enjoyed some delicious ribs made by a couple who summer here and park their camper behind the church. Such an interesting culture and super kind people. 
After church, we went "moose-looking" to no avail, but got to see some great parks and trails. And of course... THE BEACH! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Alaska Bound!

So excited to be on my way to Alaska to visit some great friends today! And a small milestone here since I'm traveling completely by myself. Makes me feel the need to be super aware. My flight out of Nashville  was already delayed by an hour which changed my whole day of flights. Thankfully they change them for me except the fourth flight. My four flights became three pretty fast. Fine with me- longer layover means getting to eat AND go to the bathroom on the ground, both of which I am very fond of. Now as I sit through a three and a half hour layover, American Airlines call to inform me that my flight has once again... been delayed (insert sigh). Another two hours in Dallas/Fort Worth airport. If I had known, I would be tempted to actually see Dallas. So my options are to people watch (which is always entertaining) or ride the skyline around to all the other terminals. I've already done some of both but I'm thinking I might start to look like the people that live on subways if I ride the shuttle too long, and then that ideas becomes less appealing. 
Anyways, I'm so excited about Alaska and seeing another (completely different) part of the US. I think at this point I will be arriving around 1:30 am Nashville time. Doubtful that the James' are getting me at my best (or even close for that matter). 
So, until then, here is my exciting view. Don't be too jealous now...