& Bill’s Holiday
4 August (Thursday)
Ohio to Minneapolis (via Northwest)
to Seattle (via Northwest)
to Ketchikan arr 332 PM (via Alaska Air 69)
dropped me off at the airport early on her way to work. Fortunately,
Columbus is not busy this
morning, considering I have four pieces of luggage, and all are quite full and
heavy. There was a minor mix-up
that only marked my luggage to be sent as far as Seattle, but the gate agent is
reasonably certain that all four pieces were re-located and re-tagged for
Ketchikan. But I should check to make sure in Seattle. I’ll
only have 2 hours on the ground
there, but this will be a good trial run to see how things will go with Susan
in two days when she has 6 hours, but will have Mystique to deal with.
are uneventful and I manage to watch a half dozen episodes of Profiler
on the first two flights.
time after landing at Seattle.
Sure enough, the gate that I was told Susan will
arrive at is near the
escalator down to the subway platforms.
One stop, and I’m at luggage.
I wait at the carousel whilst all the luggage
from my flight passes by –
no sign of mine – this is good. I
headed up the nearest elevator, and come straight out at the Alaska Air
counter; repass through security, and head for the Ketchikan gate.
process took less than 30 minutes, so I am certain Susan should not have too
difficult a time.
seat-neighbour on the flight to Ketchikan is a long-term local, who proceeded
to tell me all about Ketchikan when he discovers that I am moving there, The
flight passed quickly, and soon we’ve landed in a steady rain, not unusual for
a rainforest. Since our new car is
not supposed to be delivered for a few days yet, I had already arranged for a
Chevy Tracker from Budget Car Rental.
After leap-frogging all my luggage to the car
(fortunately, the car
rental parking is a very short distance – the whole of Ketchikan International
Airport would fit in most major airports parking lots.)
straight for the ferry, which was currently loading for the city, and within 10
minutes, I am at my new home.
that’s exactly how it feels: like home.
Then to XXXXX Reality, where Bill XXXXXX was
patiently waiting for me
with the keys to
flat. I follow him in my car into
an area of Ketchikan I have not been to yet – up on the boardwalk roads on the
side of the mountain.
are quite steep and windy and narrow – very grateful I am driving an
automatic. Street parking is a bit
scarce, but we finally located a spot for me, grab my luggage, and we both head
up to Unit 3, on the second (or third, or first, depending on which side of the
building you are looking at!) storey.
Bill gave me a quick tour of the unit, and gave
me with pertinent phone
numbers. The he imparted the bad
news – the house won’t be ready to close for quite possibly a month yet; the
appraiser is not even due until tomorrow.
a bit of a problem in that Susan is here to help set up the house, and he’s
talking like it might not close whilst she is here. We check out a calendar, and see if we can’t push it to two
weeks – at about the time we are due back from Anchorage. In the meantime,
he’d arrange it so
that we can get in on Monday so that Susan can actually see our new house for
real, rather than through the numerous photos I’ve sent her, and therefore we
can start getting things set up for when the house does close.
Now that I
can sit down for a bit, the first order of business is to ring Ann and let her
know I made it here safely.
order is to ring Susan and let her know that I have in fact arrived, and that
her passage through Seattle with Mystique should be as easy as Alaska Air had
described to me previously over the phone. I reached her on the first try; she was rushing around
trying to get everything done in the next few hours. She is relieved I made it there in one piece without
accident and that I will be at the airport to meet her when she arrives, as
well as giving me a list of things I need to pick up before she and Mystique
5 August (Friday)
A busy day of
running around to Safeway to get needed groceries, toys, and bowls for
Mystique; find the Ketchikan Veterinarian for some Science Diet, a quick look
at our new house to see how the move out is going, and the swimming pool to get
the swimming schedule as well as fees.
Finally, the post office, where they have a hand
truck for me with all
the parcels on it waiting for Susan and me.
Most of the
day is spent at the flat cleaning up and putting everything away, and at least
have it presentable for when Susan arrives. Hopefully, we’ll be in our new house by the time Ann arrives
– the flat is nice, but there’s not enough room for three people and 6 dogs
here. If the house still hasn’t
closed, the hospital will need to find us a larger flat.
raining, but the forecast for Susan’s arrival is a warm, sunny day. This is good.
weatherman was right – it is a
beautiful, sunny day.
getting everything set-up for Susan’s arrival later today, and then head out on
foot to the Blueberry Festival in downtown Ketchikan. I knew the streets were steep here from driving on them, but
they feel even steeper when walking down them. Didn’t have any specific directions to the festival,
but there are a lot of people walking towards downtown, so I just followed them
through the tunnel.
On the other
side, the music could be heard quite clearly.
giant blue and white balloon archway
greets me to the festival, along with the smells of all the barbeques running
with various foods for sale.
bad they’re all selling meat, but I do get an ice cream. The festival
is mostly arts and crafts
by local artisans, but there are a lot of them for such a small community – the
entire state office parking lot (both levels) is filled with stalls and booths,
as well as several of the near-by streets. I see a lot of things that might look nice in our new home,
but since Susan is not here yet, I am hesitant to pick up anything, not knowing
what she has exactly planned for themes.
ran into my traveling companion from the
inbound flight, who introduced me to his wife. I also met several of the neighbours who live near the flat.
Everybody is very friendly, which
is quite a change from Ohio.
given several offers of a ride home, but I decided to walk it as I had plenty
of time, and it would give me a chance to explore… unless I get lost.
tried to head straight back over the
tunnel, and instead find myself lost in a maze of boardwalks and dead end
streets. Lots of old houses,
wonderfully kept up, in a dazzling array of styles and colours. Finally, I
gave up and retraced my
steps back to the festival and head back to the flat through the tunnel.
cleaning up, it was time to head out
– Susan was due to arrive shortly.
But first, I needed to pick up a small surprise
for her. Of the two florists in town, one is not
open, and the other has only religious themes – I don’t think so. So, it’s Safeway, and not only do they
have some good ideas, but they have green daisies!
it’s off to the ferry and the airport…
Sydney 6-8-05 145PM
San Francisco 6-8-05 1005 AM
San Francisco 6-8-05 1250 PM
Seattle 6-8-05 244 PM
Okay, according to the computer, it is now 11.09am which
means I have been awake now for 30 hours… and I am dead tired. I’m here
in Seattle at the moment and
what a beautiful part of the world.
What I have seen of it, that is.
From the air – the wonderful incredibly tall pines – and the jade green
of the ocean here. Everyone is
incredibly friendly. I didn’t have
to get a Skycap in the end here – I managed to find Mystique and with the help
of some friendly dog-lovers, managed to get Mystique collected and the luggage
juggled, and everything safe and sound.
Sitting at the gate at the moment with an hour to go before I fly out
and I thought I would at least make an effort to start this before I fall
asleep and I have this feeling, I am not going to see Ketchikan from the air
coming in --- I will be asleep. I
had a little nap on the flight between San Francisco and Seattle --- I wish I
had had a camera for the flight as I had a lovely window seat – mind you it was
literally the last seat in the flight!
We followed this really large river and I have no idea what it was, and
then there was this incredible harbour/basin of Seattle with its fir-trimming.
uncomfortable flight from Sydney --- the kind
check-in lady made sure I had a double seat so that I could rest with
everything that hurts these days, and then these school girls decided they
couldn’t possibly be split up so I ended up with a teenager sleeping almost on
top of me the whole time and by the time we reached San Francisco, I really
needed the help getting off the plane and through immigration, etc. Mind you, they
sent a little old asian
lady who had a hard time struggling… and then, when the dog was picked up, she
pretty well abandoned me to do it all myself. Next time I will know.
So tired that I keep yawning at the moment, and
are watering. But don’t dare sit
in a comfortable chair in case I fall asleep and miss the plane. And this time I am
in row 9! Kind of used to getting in the back of
the plane by now.
Weather’s really hot (just over 90 degrees F at the
moment)… my hair is soaking wet already… I think I will be showering and
washing my hair before I go to bed tonight … as long as I ring home, feed the
dog, and get out of the shower before I fall asleep.
I don’t have no stamina no
Seattle 6-8-05 724 PM
Ketchikan 6-8-05 820 PM (Alaska Time Zone)
Arrived in Ketchikan 830 PM or something
Concierge Bill was
waiting at the security gate near the end of the jetway.
Concierge Bill was waiting for me, as promised, complete with big green dolphin
and a bunch of green daisies, and a nodding polar bear. Even the trip to the city was great.
Standing on the deck of the ferry breathing in real air instead of the recycled stuff on the plane or airport. Nose to the wind. I love it.
Crossed from Ravilla Island to Revillagigedo Island on
the Airport Ferry;
The Twins are both in Ketchikan now. Watch out!
Concierge Bill was waiting for me,
as promised, complete
with big green dolphin and a bunch of green daisies, and a nodding polar
bear. Even the trip to the city
was great. Standing on the deck of
the ferry breathing in real air instead of the recycled stuff on the plane or
airport. Nose to the wind. I love it.
The drop to the ferry was a long way – apparently they
have 16 foot tides here – easy to believe.
Made it to the store before real drag
to the heels set
in. Still like that at the
moment. Nearly 12 hours later and
am dead tired.
7 August (Sunday)
[Susan and Bill]
a really glorious sight last night – the sun setting shining this pink gold hue over Ketchikan as the plan swung around
and landed on the island nearby. It was amazing. So tired.
Sat up chatting for way
too long last night, just catching
up with the news of what is happening with the house, the move and everything
This morning is brilliant and bright and it’s supposed to
be wet and miserable at the moment --- Ha!
The view is spectacular - and every five or
ten minutes a
sea plane takes off. I’ve just
resisted the urge to stand at the window and go “Da plane, boss, da
plane.” I guess around here that
joke would wear thin very quickly.
Bill went down to the street to get the suitcase and
crate out of the rental car (no, the ordered car hasn‘t arrived yet) and
managed to press the panic button on the car alarm. Well, Mystique barked at whoever was trying steal her crate
(and incidentally the car)… and the neighbours all came out with some offering
their 44 shot guns to silence the alarm… others offering interesting
suggestions like shooting the battery, or shooting the alarm, or shooting the…
only half kidding here.
Bill wrestled the car bravely and returned in triumph,
spilling kibble all the way up the staircase. Mystique was not amused.
We are walking her out the backyard,which is quite
slope. And she is being mostly
very good. To say the least. We’re very
proud of how she handling
The trees here are enormous and I
don’t think I will be able to take enough pictures to be able to express what
The mountains, the
pines, and wonderful sea smell.
At about 10 we set out hoping that
the Blueberry Festival was on again today, but it wasn’t, so had to make do
with exploring the town with the compulsory two shiploads of cruise ship
Missed it by ‘that
We did a brief tour of the
tourist zone, where Mystique made friends with locals and visitors alike. She
was quite welcome in all of the
shops we entered… thankfully, she is a little more graceful that Skyladd;
otherwise, we would have even been more welcome in the store, after all of the
glassware, scattered in pieces, was paid for after the ‘Tasmanian Laddie’ took
a pass. We admired some beautiful
Alaska themed quilts until we discovered that the Mac Store was actually open
on Sunday, and talked shop for a bit.
We continued our tour of Salmon
Landing, buying scrapbook supplies at the Tourist Trap Curio Store, as well as
an Alaska themed gift for our grandson, Connor, and one of the nephews in
Quickly obvious that
the post office is going to on the agenda also.
By 3 pm, after a late lunch of, what
else, fish and chips on Creek Street.
Mind you, it was halibut – and
not flake and not too much of it as
well. Next time, we find a
fisherman’s co-op. The iced tea
was exactly that – I had forgotten that Americans just brew up a pot of tea and
then stick it in the fridge to chill.
I will remember next time.
Still, it was a very tasty… snack.
We then went for a drive through the
tunnel to get out of downtown Kecthikan – honest – to escape from downtown you
must go through a tunnel. We
toured the North Tongass Highway – all 18 miles of it. Took
in a quick visit to Totem Bight
State Park – a very small park with a large group of totem poles recreated by
native artisans, as well as a clan house you can actually walk into. There
were very few visitors at the
park, bringing a pleasant silence over the area as we walked through the totem
poles. Exiting the clam house, you
can actually come through the base of a totem pole.
We then continued on past ---------- Court.
We’ve actually driven over the
boardwalk streets – you can tell, but they are all firmly covered in tar so
it’s hard to tell… kind of. Bit
Called into Safeway-Carrs and got my
Safeway card which now makes me an official Alaskan resident since I can use it
as ID as well
Dinner at Dockside Diner which is a great
Mexican Restaurant… where we had the Italian meal… Yummy.
Was really ill by the point from a sinus
infection and the travel, so I fell into bed after we touched up the colour in
The twins are reborn.
11 am – Portrait session in our new
Ann had t-shirts made up
with our picture on it as ‘The Twins – Friends Forever”, and insisted we wear
them for a portrait session she had set up for us. The original camera-person’s equipment was broken, but a
session was hastily arranged at the camera store, where the gentleman found us
quite amusing, especially in the t-shirts.
Wandered around Salmon Landing (in the
middle of tourist district) where several people took our photographs, and
asked us if we were really twins.
After several complicated responses,
we simply told anyone who asked –
“No, we’re not twins, but we are best friends forever.”
Four cruise ships in so lots and lots of
people and we went back to Dockside to have the seafood fajitas that we planned
to have the night before. Mystique
dined on the kitchen leftovers out on their verandah overlooking the strait,
and a bowl of water with ice cubes rapidly melting in it. She
got a great view, even though it
was hot out there.
We dawdled over lunch --- Alaskan time ---
and got to ----- Court late.
----- Court which was exactly as I had
pictured it from the photos. Still
full of stuff though.
[Susan] got to meet the wonderful Bill ------ who made me feel very welcome –
as did ------, the gentleman who is selling the house.
Then went KPU (Ketchikan Public Utility)
to set up our electrical, phone and internet – and finally got our email
addresses activated – different to what we had told everyone.
Late afternoon we traveled the South Tongass
Highway – trying to photograph salmon jumping (we missed) and finding a
wonderful waterfall on the way.
Bill twisted his knee climbing over
the rocks… so I could be driving the
rest of the trip.
Got up late. Did the tourist area and saw our photo proofs. Made a big leap of faith and ordered
some of them… Wishing Ann was here.
We had halibut tacos ($10 for two lean
tacos) and crab cakes ($11 for two tiny cakes) which were delicious but
Got mobiles set up with Mobile One which
took them forever.
Had a talk with
Gary the tech guy who will be cabling the house.
DSL was finally set up and we had email so
we spent the evening checking the email and answering the mail. Had
a chicken from Safeway; wasn’t bad,
but Sprinbgwood’s is better. We’ve
also both developed a taste for the lemonade in a bottle. Fortunately,
Safeway sells it in the 2
We went to Sears to check out prices and
washers, which they had on sale.
It’s a much smaller store than
I expected, but is more a shop front that
you can order from the on-line catalogue and have delivered to.
My first day of driving – Apart from
having to tell me to drive on the right, dear, I did okay according to Bill. Stopped in at the Post Office and no overnight
packages so no clean socks for Bill.
This could be a smelly couple of weeks…
We also went to Hometown Furniture and
selected the flooring.
to run past Ann, but we’re pretty sure which one she will prefer. We
then continued onto the Bar Harbor
Restaurant, where we took Bill ----------'s advice and sampled the tasty halibut
burritos. Once again had to leave Mystique tied up but within sight. She’s
not happy about this, but is good
for us. The burritos were as good
a Bill had promised and the decking took great advantage of the views
across the channel.
We also found Rainforest Gallery which is
the closest thing to a scrapbook store in Ketchikan and were once again
frustrated in our efforts to find an Alaskan themes 12 x 12 inch album. Everything
else is A4 and we would
never fit the numbers of photos we are taking in those. Thank
goodness they love dogs around
here. Mystique is still
introducing herself and being everyone’s friend.
Met Dr Dan at last, at the Ketchikan Vet
Clinic. Mystique passed her vet
check with flying colours and ended up with an extra immunization against
Kennel Cough. Dinner
was leftovers and chocolate chip
mint ice cream (diabetic) and Mystique kept sneaking under the coffee table to
take one grape at a time from the bowl on it. We rang Alaska Air about the problem of
getting the dog to the airport two hours before the plane when the ferry isn’t
running at that time of day.
Therein we had loads of fun trying
to get information.
Bill did some laundry after spending ages
trying to get the machines working – hobbling up and down the stairs outside
frustrated – only to find the slots in the machine were mislabeled. He
did the underwear, thankfully, so we
at least had clean socks and knickers for the morning… Another late night as we had to pack for
the week away.
I was still ill so
it was hard to keep going and Mystique would not settle because there was
something out back – possibly a bear – that she wanted us to investigate.
am flight from KTN; be on first ferry to airport at 6am (Alaska Airlines 73)
am Anchorage (ANC)
Up at 4.30 am and just couldn’t get moving. So left at 5 am for the first ferry
across at 5.15 --- didn’t even get gas in the car before returning it. And it
was a good thing that the
Ketchikan Police weren’t up as we barely made it to the ferry. We were the last
The terminal doesn’t actually open until
5.30, would you believe? And with
our 6.40 flight… well…. All rush, hurry and low and behold, ------ (the gentleman we are buying the house from)
is the man
on security checking luggage as we came through. But we made it.
Mystique charmed all the employees.
The flight was packed to Juneau, but after
that, we spaced out a bit and I took some great photos through the window. When
we stopped in Juneau, by the way,
Bill tells me that we cannot get off, but he won’t explain why…. Apparently has something to do with his prior
trip there with his friend Petra a fw years back. Curiouser and
From Juneau on we got great views of the
Inside Passage and miles and miles of glaciers and icebergs. Lots
Bill promised me a polar bear and grizzly bear to greet
me at Anchorage Airport, but they aren’t there any more – made way for the
suspended glass glaciers through the amazing entrance well. A good start, Mystique
waiting for us at luggage collection, charming all the employees as usual.
At this point,
though, we found hiccup number one for our day: Dollar Rentals do not take dogs in their cars and it took
some time and negotiation to find that National did and we ended up with a
white SUV at twice the price.
Feeling a little
shell shocked, I rang ahead to the hotel to confirm our booking – only the
Comfort Inn doesn’t take dogs too. Unless you are a smoker which Bill and I are not. My goodness. A few phone calls
to Smitty who was in
the backlots of the Zoo at the time, and we found her a place overnight…
Went to Carrs in
Hoffman Plaza and got a new blood sugar tester because the US and Australian
test strips are incompatible. This
machine will live in the Batho-Hupe northern residence for when I am visiting,
Drove down the
Seward Highway to the Whittier Tunnel. Made lots of stops on the way for the fabulous views. And made the tunnel (which
just in time for the current passage.
We had lunch of
buffalo burgers and onion rings which Mystique definitely approved of in
waterfalls. Great harbour.
I drove back through
the tunnel whilst Bill took pictures. Grabbed chicken at Safeway and went back to the hotel.
Went to Petco – the
supermarket for animals where I found ordinary mixed bred rabbits for $95 each!
Later on we dropped
Mystique off at the Zoo where I met Tommy for the first time. It was then he invited us back, ‘behind
the scenes’ to help him feed his ‘kitties’ – a pair of Siberian Tigers named Al
and Ed. We
strolled up the back
access way of the zoo, Mystique in tow, sampling all the wondrous and strange
smells, until we came to the rear of the tiger enclosure.
Tommy opened the
rear door access, and in we went – into the tiger’s den! He popped the food bowl in the cage,
and then let in the first tiger for his meal, and we found ourselves standing,
quite literally, 3 feet from the jaws of a Siberian Tiger! Amazing, huge animals, that are
starting to show their age by losing some
weight and having
problems with arthritis. We took
some astounding close-ups of the tiger, and then Al snorted at me. Bill explained that he was simply
showing he liked me… maybe or maybe not for his dinner.
We spent over half
an hour back there, as Tommy gave us the history of the brother tigers, and he
cleaned the rear enclosure, but we kept coming back to the eating tigers. Being that close to such an animal…
what a special treat. Mystique had
to stay outside of the access altogether, which certainly did not make her
happy, but it beat Al or Ed deciding that border collie might be a tasty hors’
Finally around 10
PM, darkness settled in, and we had to regretfully big adieu to the two tigers
and lock the access area up. We
waited for a few minuets while Tommy ran to take care of one thing, admiring
some of the huge orange mushrooms that were growing nearby, and then it was
time to leave the zoo.
We headed back to
our hotel, while Tommy headed back to his trailer with Mystique, who he had
graciously allowed to say with him for his days off and then would kennel her
until our return from Fairbanks.
Another late night,
but an experience we’ll never forget for the rest of our lives.
Stayed at the Confort Inn ship
Creek, 111 w. Ship Creek Avennue, Anchorage.
strange not to have to worry about our dog first
thing in the morning. It’s about
2.30 am on Saturday as I write this.
It’s been a very long day and we get our wake up call about 5 am to
catch the 5.50 am shuttle bus to the airport to catch our flight to Barrow
later on today.
I’ve done most of the driving today as
Bill’s knee is getting worse and worse.
He’s in a lot of pain at the
moment. We forgot for him to take his pink knee pills for this long
We had breakfast about 9.00am in the
breakfast room of the hotel. It’s
a beautiful place.
Bill gave me a
plate of biscuits and gravy and it wasn’t what I was expecting at all….
Gravy is white and made up with crumbled
cooked sausage – beef we think. It
was a bit spicy.
And the biscuit
was nicely cooked scones. I should
have had them with butter and jam instead, but it was good anyways. We
were a little distracted watching
Regis and Kelly, but that was more in the form of groans as we couldn’t believe
they were doing that.
We set out then for the road out of town, stopping to get
a few things we thought we would need in making ourselves the artic blue twins
from Ketchikan for our Barrow trip.
Eventually, and it must have been about 11 or later, we were on our way
north. North to Alaska seemed to
be redundant, but it kept playing in my head as we headed for our first stop,
The road was pretty straight and the trees
were thick and there seemed to be an absence of layered undergrowth such as we
know in our bushland.
mainly elms, and pine in no particularly order at all. Bill
says the area is probably
replanted after being logged at some stage… I think it was a happy abandon of
shades of green.
At Palmer, thirst got the better of us,
and we got a really large Baja Blast – which is supposed a lime drink. I
could taste the lime, but I swear
there was something else in there as well --- maybe caffeine … as I felt
incredibly refreshed after having some.
We pulled into a lookout, which was across
a wide glacial valley with fast running water. Even though way up above it (logs looked like twigs in the
water), you could see we were only on the high side of where it could be flowing
during the spring thaw.
It’s very peaceful there.
With regret we headed back on the road,
aware that it was still a long way to go.
We headed off to Denali via Hatcher
What a drive! This is National Parkland and you can understand why --- the
trees got thicker and wilder, and the wildflowers were brilliant against the
greens. We stopped to take photos
along one of the rivers with its huge smooth boulders and rapid milky blue
water… racing and frothing its way alongside the road. Then
drove on, up and up towards the
will do with GB along some day. At
that point, we had to make a turnoff to Willow to get onto the Park Highway and
Denali… This dirt road did not inspire us with confidence, but it was obviously
well traveled at this time of year…
The Pass took us up to the tundra, the
frozen earth under the bare covering of green, land hugging plants. Short
lichen-like species. Lakes of solidly frozen snow dotted the top of the Pass.
Marmots darted across the road, some times, pausing just long enough to get the
digital camera turned on – then darting under a rock before we could aim
We came upon a serene
lake at the top of the pass, along with a hint of the vista that we would have
been afforded if the haze in the sky had not been so great.
We then descended the west side of Hatcher
Pass, the road turning horribly rutted, twisted, and washed out – exactly the
type of road forbidden by our car rental contract. But at every bend we were greeted with the building torrent
of water crashing over the boulders as the snow melt added to the flow. The
water is crystal clear, unlike the
silt-filled waters along the Glenn Highway.
It was quite slow going, and the posted 23
miles to Willow (according to the odometer it was almost 40), took well over an
hour and a half, but we finally found our way back onto rental-car approved
pavement, and onto the Parks Highway, heading north.
The closer we got to Denali, the less the
As we were told
when we stopped, there was a huge fire at Eagle (on the Canadian border, a few
hundred miles away) and the smoke was blanketing the upper 2/3 of Alaska.
Although it was getting late (after 8 PM),
we did stop for a break at the Denali shops and picked up some more presents
for family in Australia and California, as well as a splitting a sandwich from
Subway. We headed off for the last
hundred miles to Fairbanks around 9, and although it was still very much
daylight, the haze from the smoke was reducing visibility quickly. That,
coupled with extensive roadworks,
made it 1130 before we pulled into Fairbanks.
We pulled into a restaurant Bill had been
to before and had really enjoyed (an all you can eat Mongolian
BBQ/Japanese/Chinese buffet). The
sign said open, but they told us they were closed inside. Upon
returning to the car, we
discovered the digital camera was nowhere to be found. We
pulled the car apart – no luck
The only thing we could
think of was that we had left it at one of the shops at Denali, and since we
had an early flight to Barrow in the morning, there was no time to return to
Denali to locate it, and we weren’t about to go to Barrow without a digital
So, it was off to Freddie’s (Frey
Meyer’s), whose the door said they closed at 11 pm, but they were still
open. We rushed to the camera part
of the store, and found the newer model of the one we had lost. When
we tried to pay for it: the cash
register had been shut down, so there was a quick frantic search for a register
still turned on.
It took a few,
but one was found, and we were in possession of a digital camera once again.
Being well after midnight by now, we found
a Carr’s/Safeway still open and grabbed a salad for dinner back at the hotel,
to eat while we pulled out the blue dye and turned the ‘twins with red hair’
into the ‘twins with blue hair’.
It took us until 3.30 am to accomplish
the blue streaking of our hair.
The hotel, by the way, had the nicest
concierge at that hour of the day.
Nothing was too much trouble.
He even took the luggage up for us.
Suites Fairbanks, 575 1st Avnue, Fairbanks.
Air Flight 143 depart Fairbanks 8 AM 13 August
at airport by 645 AM
to Fairbanks same day at 9.05 PM flight 146
19D-E both flights.
Up at 5.30 to
catch the shuttle bus to the airport. Dead tired doesn’t begin to describe
how both of us felt.
Whilst waiting for the plane
to Barrow, we could feel the
earth move- literally. It was one
of those Alaskan earthquakes that they have all the time. It was a bit unnerving.
The boarding announcements were a bit worrisome. We were on an extremely full flight and
they were worried about the weight of the aircraft, so no luggage would be put
in the hold.
We finally did take off, and the flight
was packed, with no room to spare.
The third person in our row, a school
teacher in Barrow, explained that
this was the last day of summer holidays and everyone was returning… and she
was quite upset that her luggage wasn’t on board – until the stewardess came by
and said the captain had taken it aboard into the cockpit.
There wasn’t much to see on the flight
with all the haze between us and the ground, so we both caught some shut eye
during the flight.
smoke cleared as we got closer to Barrow.
Instead of the expected frozen tundra,
all we could see out the window
was actual lakes and green grass all the way to the horizon. Then
we heard the flight announcement
stating that it was a balmy 60 degrees in Barrow. When Bill, Ann, Colleen, and Keiko had done this same
journey 12 years ago, on almost the same date, Barrow was having a heat wave of
Whoever still thinks
global warming is a fable needs to get a reality check and visit Barrow.
We landed just a few minutes late, and
found ourselves in a packed, tiny terminal and hardy able to move. There were
so many people!
If was an
interesting experience to deplane from a 737 with the engines still running (and
very loud), but due to the extreme cold temperature when gaining any altitude,
all of the fluids in the plane had to be kept warm –- hence, the engines were
We quickly found someone who directed us to our tour bus
waiting outside – Tundra Tours.
First impressions were grey mud, drizzle grey wooden buildings. We
boarded the bus, and after everyone was rounded up, we were off. Our guide, Mona,
an Inuit local,
introduced herself as she started the bus trundling off… drove for about 30 yards,
brought the bus to a stop, and announced the tour was complete. Actually, it was the
first of many bad
jokes she told in her monotonal way.
In fact, we were at the Barrow Information Center, as well as the Wiley
Post and Will Rogers Monument, honouring the two American folk heroes who were
killed in a plane crash near Barrow about 70 years ago. We took photos.
We hopped back on he bus for another short
drive, this time to a recently-discovered buried home over 600 years old,
including remains in the main house of an adult and young girl, as well as a
third in the sub-house.
Apparently, it was usual at that time
to bury your dead underneath your
house. Not much to be seen except
for a small mound indicating where the
excavation was. From there, it was to the “Welcome to Barrow” or “Paglagivsigin
Utqiagmun’ in the native language.
We of course had to have our photo
taken with it: The Twins were
officially taking on Barrow. And we have a camera! Watch out residents!
As we continue to drive around, it is
amazing to note how green the area is – and how warm it is. Glad
we wore t-shirts today. Bill continues to be
stunned about the
huge changes in the environment since his trip here twelve years ago. Grass
and tundra cotton abound, instead
of the grey mud he had seen last time.
We make a stop at the Barrow Beach,
where everyone is invited to dip an
appendage in the Artic Ocean. I
fear and dipped my hand in it (Bill took
pictures to prove it!). Cold, very
cold, but not as cold as I thought it would be. And very salty when I tasted it. (I learnt this trick from watching Due South)
All of the buildings are built on stilts, which is
probably a good thing considering the ground is frozen about 18 inches down,
and the huge amounts of standing water.
Open-hulled boats are scattered all about, and there are even
birdhouses! Well, one
birdhouse. And yes, I took a photo
Mona continued our tour of Barrow,
pointing out the various restaurants, shops, post office, etc, and then we
headed out of town, where a vast array of satellite dishes stretched from the
road to the horizon.
explained that these were all communications satellites – connecting Barrow to
the rest of the world.
helping to connect the rest of the world. We then continued on to one of
Barrow’s two cemeteries, and we were shown the gravesite where the remains from
the just excavated hut were buried.
Mona explained that because of the
severe winter cold and the
permafrost, people who die during the winter must be stored until the summer,
when heavy equipment can dig far enough into the ground to bury the dead.
At this point, the bus turned around and
we headed back to town for our choice of lunch. On the way, Mona mentioned that volunteers would be accepted
later in the afternoon who wished to join the Polar Bear Club. Bill
had told me about this one, and
anybody who knows me in the slightest knew my response was “Two chances,
But, believe it or not, I
actually started discussing it with Bill, who had done it the first time he was
here, albeit it was considerably colder.
By the time we arrived back in town,
we had made a pact: The Twins would
do it together, or not do it at all.
Although we had our choice of several
eating establishments (Chinese, Japanese, pizza); our choice was obvious:
Pepe’s North of the Border, Barrow’s Mexican restaurant. Big
Bill had made quite an impression
the first time he was here, and we wanted to see if he was even allowed back
in. We were quickly seated and
browsed the menus, ordering a shrimp dish, for starters, and chimichongas and
fajitas so I could sample a few of the dishes. There’s something a little unreal to be sitting this close
to the North Pole and eating Mexican food.
Then the owner of the restaurant, Fran
Tate, came out, and explained to us all that there were postcards on every
table that we could write out and she would post home for us, and if we signed
the guestbook, she would mail each and every one of us a calendar at
She then started going
to each table and greeted each visitor.
I have to explain that Fran is very short,
even shorter than I am. And when Bill had been here before, and she realized
how tall he was, she had Big Bob, the world’s tallest Inuit, located and
brought to the restaurant, where it was determined that Bill was even taller
Fran insisted on a
photo, and from Bill’s description, she looked like the filling in an Oreo
cookie in that photo.
When Fran made it to our table, she stared
long and hard at Bill, and asked if she knew him. Bill said he had been here 12 years earlier, and that’s when
she recognized him – 12 years later!
She told us her son had waited on us
and had told her that Bill looked
awfully familiar – like he was in one of the
of the photos that litter the walls of the
Fran ran and got the
returning guests present – a Pepe’s cap!
We continued to chat for a while; Bill
introduced me as his best friend
and twin – she loved our tshirts Ann had made for us with our photo on it. We asked her about the Polar Bear Club
and we were told to meet at the hotel at the conclusion of our tour and she
would take us to the swimming area.
She then took our photo, and walked
We ate a delicious leisurely lunch; almost
too leisurely – we were the only ones left in the restaurant from the tour by
the time we finished.
As we left
the restaurant, we took a closer look, and found the photo of Bill, Bob, and
Fran posted in several places about the restaurant – including the place of
honour above the door.
We went out
to out bus, and seeing that it was still waiting, we went into the grocery
store to take a look around, and hopefully find some Barrow scrapbooking
themes. It was very surprising:
other than the large drying area at the entrance, the store looked like any
other grocery store in America, or Australia for that matter. Prices
were considerably higher, of
course, as everything must be flown in here, but the store carried just about
anything you could possibly need to survive in Barrow – from fresh produce and
other food staples, to heavy clothing and even hardware!
We reboarded the bus and headed for the
Cultural Centre, our next stop.
There we were treated to a fabulous
display of native dancing and
singing from the very young to the aged.
All were dressed in brightly coloured
native costumes, and all were
native dances and songs; a young boy who
couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 was simply amazing – he had obviously
worked very long and hard to familiarize himself with the dances. An
entire row of natives beat the drums
that the dancers danced to.
We were mesmerized.
As the exhibition came to a close, we were
all invited to join in one last dance, which I quite happily volunteered to do.
Bill sat and took photos of my dancing, as his knee had been playing up all
day, and there was no way he was up to it.
Out of breath, but enjoying myself
immensely, I returned to my seat while the native children displayed the use of
some of their toys – yo-yos, and an object that one twirls above his head and
off to the side that makes a high-pitch whistling. Everything was made out of locally found items. Then, the natives gathered together
with a huge blanket made of sewn-together seal skins. Our host explained that if enough of the guests volunteered
to assist, they would be able to demonstrate one of their favourite games – the
Several of the men
from the tour group went forward, and some of the women, but they still needed
a corner person, and everyone was looking at Bill. So, he hobbled forward and took a corner.
It was explained that the goal was to hurl
the person standing on the blanket into the air high enough that he or she
could touch the ceiling (about 8 metres or so high). This would be accomplished by everyone pulling the blanket
outwards, and thereby pulling it taut.
After a few trial runs with a small
Inuit girl, the countdowns began in
She was hurled higher and
higher, but not all the way to the ceiling. The host was about to call it quits when everyone gave it
one last try – and her hand touched the ceiling! Then the young native boy who had stunned us all with his
dancing, climbed on the blanket, and he was sent to the ceiling in short
order. Then a adult climbed on –
and up he went too!
We cheered and thanked the natives, and
the exhibition was finished.
Outside in the lobby, many of the local
artisans had gathered with their
wares on display and for sale; mostly carvings or scrimshaw, on bones, as well
as some clothing, mittens, gloves, etc.
All very nice items, and I would have
loved to take some home, but all
of the items, having been made from animal products are illegal to take into
So, we settled for
going into the giftshop, where Bill located the greeting card he had told me
about – “Midnight Sun” a photo taken once an hour a Barrow on a day where the
sun never set.
We bought a pair, as well
as a couple of other art prints, and promised to contact the artist, Tom
Soucek, when we got back to Anchorage about prints of Midnight Sun.
We reboarded the bus and headed north out
of town, towards Point Barrow itself.
Along the way, we stopped at the University
of Alaska Branch, where some
local artifacts, including those from the hut we had been shown earlier in the
way, were on display.
We then went
to the northernmost bridge in North America – can’t drive over it, but you can
walk on it, so we walked onto it and one of our fellow tourists snapped a photo
of the twins.
We also made a short
stop by the only tree in Barrow, one very dead-looking Palm tree. We
then made it to the Point itself,
the northernmost spot on the mainland of North America, where the Chuckchi and
Beaufort Seas meet.
It is very
windy and grey; the water is very choppy, and the whole area looks very very
It also looks very
cold. Didn’t stop one of the
locals though – we could see a powerboat on the water hading towards us! The temperature is dropping, so we don
our sweatshirts, which we were very grateful to have on board the bus.
It’s back to Barrow, where our tour is
completed in front of the hotel.
Some of our fellow travelers had selected
the overnight option, and were
booked into this rather inviting looking establishment; the rest of us had
about an hour until our flight. We
made enquiries about doing the swim, but we needed a change of clothes as we
weren’t staying overnight. We were
directed to he giftshop – but there were no shorts to be had. The
receptionist placed a quick call to
Fran at Pepe’s and she had some shorts we could purchase – with the Pepe’s
logo, of course!
Time is very
short, although we have been assured that the shuttle will get us to our flight
in plenty of time.
I dash over to
Pepe’s and purchase two pairs, we quickly change in the washroom, then hurry
out the door to catch up with the rest of the ‘swimmers’.
We have both completely lost our
minds. It’s fifty degrees out
there, we’re standing on a beach in Barrow in short black shorts and tshirts
with our picture on it, taking off our shoes and socks, planning to swim in the
The water temperature
is only 47 degrees.
people have already been in and out, and the dozen or so people standing around
are looking at us: we’re next. One
of the onlookers offers to take our camera and record our insanity for
I surrender it without
I really should change my mind about doing
this. We look at each other. We made a pact: The Twins will do this
We take each other by the hand and step
into the water.
Not as cold as I
expected, but damn, it’s cold!
Full body immersion is required, so we
need to go out a ways.
is way too shallow close to shore.
Bill leads me out further, and then
the bottom drops down to my
waist. This’ll do. We’re both shivering. Full
body immersion. We can do this.
Bill and I look at each other and start
counting: 1… 2… 3. Holding on, we drop,
Bill is completely
under; I only go in partially and I can’t breathe. My inhaler’s back at the hotel. I can’t breathe.
We look back at the shore – Fran’s shaking
I didn’t make it; Bill
did. Bill is shivering madly as he
tells me he will do it again with me, if I want to try again. I
don’t answer – I just start
Bill tries to pull me down
with him on the count of 3, but I can’t do it. I can’t breathe.
It’s too cold. I can’t
I turn to head back to shore, but Bill
“You can do this –
remember: Best friends do this together.”
“I can’t breathe. I can’t
“So we cheat. Bend over.”
I bend over and stick my head in the
water, an d Bill madly scoops water over my head and back until I’m drenched.
We look at Fran – she’s got her thumb
up. I did it! The
Twins did it – we
joined the Polar Bear Club. We stumble
back to the beach, drenched,
shivering, freezing, holding each other upright. We’re greeted ashore by everyone, who is congratulating
us. I just want to get back to the
hotel and dry off and warm up – I forget about the camera.
We stumble back to the hotel, and we both
start laughing when Bill asks if I realize we are both walking in our bare feet
in Barrow, Alaska.
Leave it to
Bill to find a way to make me laugh at a time like this. Bill
chivalrously (or is that
shiverlrously?) lets me change and dry off first – damn good thing we brought
our Alaska sweatshirts along. Then
it’s Bill’s turn to change. and we are rushed off to the airport – only 10
minutes until our flight.
The van driver informs us on the way that
we will be there in plenty of time – the incoming flight has been delayed. But still, we breath a sigh of relief
when we get there and the airport is packed. We quickly find seats so we can brush our hair out, and as
luck would have it, we sit near the woman who had kindly taken our camera to
take our picture.
She brings the
camera over to us and shows us the great photos she took, plus her sister had
also taken photos, and promised to email them to us.
We have a pleasant conversation with the
two ladies while waiting for our flight – of course, one of their first
questions is if we really are twins.
Before we know it, the plane has arrived,
is quickly offloaded, and then we are called to pass through security and into
the plane, and strap ourselves in.
I’m still cold.
The pilot comes on and tells us that we
will be delayed while they add extra fuel to the plane – Anchorage Airport is
closed due to fog, and Fairbanks may also be closed thanks to all the smoke
from the fires: we may be rerouted to Kotzabue. Bill says Ann worked there one winter and he always wanted
to see Kotzabue, but not today – some other time when I’m over. I
don’t know – I’m still buzzed – we
did it – we joined the Polar Bear Club!
We take off finally, unsure of where we’re
headed. The plane is only half full,
so the stewardess offers Bill another seat up front to give us some space to
I fall asleep.
When I wake up, we are descending into
Can hardly see a thing
with all the smoke, but at least we are landing at the right airport. We
call the hotel for the shuttle on
our way through the airport, and wait out on the curb. The
air is heavy and thick with the
smoke. Two of our fellow tourists
come up to us – they’re from Canada – and we discuss the trip and the fire
until the shuttle arrives.
Still bound and determined to get to the
Mongolian/Chinese/Japanese restaurant, we get into our rental and head straight
back, but tonight they’re closed early.
So it’s time for the next best
thing – Pizza Hut – neither of us have
had pizza in quite some time, so we can cheat on our diets for one night. We’re
quite hungry, and we consume the
entire pizza, garlic bread and pitcher of Sprite in short order.
Exhausted, tired, but full and satisfied
with ourselves, we head back to the hotel to download the pictures to the
laptop and fall into bed.
What a day: in less than 25 hours, we both
dyed our hair blue, took a tour of Barrrow, and joined the Polar Bear
Club. Just another day neither one
of us will never forget.
We actually got
up at a reasonable hour this morning and
were treated to a wonderful breakfast of eggs, reindeer sausage, juices, and
waffles – with, get this – real peach topping (peaches have to be flown in from
the lower 48), all part of our night’s stay. A touch on the expensive side, but the Springhill Suites is
we wandered across the street to admire
the fountain, only to find it had been turned off during the night. But we did get
nice photos of the statue honoring the pioneers and
builders of Fairbanks. Everywhere
there is colour although the smoke is really bad. Then someone came over and made us an offer that we could not
resist… a bit of Shakespeare in the park.
a bit was a bit of an understatement: it was a whole lot of Shakespeare. It was all of “Much Ado About Nothing”
which was being taken to New York as part of the Fringe Festival there. It was as
much fun as I
remembered… And we were thoroughly
entertained for two hours, which meant then that we went quickly on our way
after the play was over.
Traveling down to Denali was like driving through thick
fog over the roadworks which, apparently, is perpetual in this part of the
countryside. Not easy driving.
We arrived in Denali and tried immediately at the Subway
because I had a horrible feeling whilst watching the play that that was where
the camera had been left. The nice
lady behind the counter promised to ask her boss, so we started to backtrack
and went into each of the shops we had visited on Friday. The first remembered us
right off, and
was very apologetic; however, at the second, after walking up to the same clerk
that had served us, and mentioned a missing camera – “We’ve got it upstairs.”
A minute later, we were re-united with it. We took a shot of The Twins to
So, we grabbed some ice cream and a
sandwich for the road,
and headed out again. It was
already 5 PM… and 250 miles to Anchorage.
midnight, we had only made it as far as Wasilla, so it
was the usual stop at a Carr’s/Safeway for a salad to share, call the hotel to
let them know that we were still coming, and back on the road again. Late night, of
course, since we didn’t
arrive until 2 AM.
A quiet day at
last… we went shopping. Bill’s really ill with his headache and
knees and we both slept in having arrived last night. First stop: post bail for Mystique at the Doggie Motel on 68th
Street. We arrived at 11:30 to the
sound of the inmates banging their food bowls against the cell bars (just
kidding). But she was quite happy
to see Mom and Dad.
We loaded her up and headed
off for Sam’s Club to do
furniture and TV shopping for the new house. Got a few ideas there, but not too successful. If we buy something there
don’t do containers anymore of furniture… because of homeland security. Each
piece has to be shipped to the
airport, then they go on as air freight.
We had lunch Downtown (there’s a song there somewhere) at
the Alaskan Salmon Bowl and had salmon chowder with fresh salmon sandwiches for
a whole $7.95 each (after finally locating the restaurant – Bill’s faulty
us walking all the way down 5th Street – and it
was on 4th. ) . Talk
about great food! It was
incredibly pleasant there. I know
I said it about Fairbanks, but the flowers…. Everywhere there are flowers and I
took loads of photos of flower beds.
And public art – I love public art. Obviously Alaskans have a great sense of humour and there’s
been a competition with salmon – salmon as in statues. A blank metal ‘statue’
of a salmon was
provided and people made art with them and we saw “salmon-ella” and
“salmon unplugged” and “school salmon”
that were a real hoot! And, of
course, I took photos.
We shopped at Polar Bear
Gifts, Grizzly Gifts, and Once in
a Blue Moose. Mystique went with
us at each of these places and we bought her some salmon treats…
We sampled reindeer sausages and
Mystique approved. They were really flavoursome and spicy
and we got the non-hot ones. We
had decided not to have the meal deal… which proved to be a mistake and went
back and got our can of lemonade… swapping grins with the cook! The next people
did what we did – and
just took the sausage on a roll…. And we just exchanged smiles as we walked
off. They’d learn.
the city and its glorious colours we headed to the
huge Borders store which was near the Petco that Mystique approved of and got
us some Alaska books before we had dinner at The Royal Fork which was a
pleasant all-you-can-eat restaurant.
We did a good job of that one.
Although Mystique wasn’t too impressed with the baked ham we snuck her
for a treat.
We then visited Tommy. An amazing,
wonderful man that I
could spend hours with just talking.
I met Sasami (which should be Tsunami!) the beagle cross who turned out
to be a love, and the two dogs set up their pecking order – Sasami coming over
the top of the couch to sit next to us and Mystique claiming the feet.
I bored Tommy for hours with photos of our trip and of
home and he showed me great photos of the animals he has hand reared at the zoo
and the moose that moved into his front yard that his dog has been protecting
the trailer from ever since!
We did not get to
bed early. No surprise by this point.
We actually did get up with the alarm at
6.30 AM, grabbed a quick shower and breakfast, and headed out for Seward. A
beautiful, clear day, perfect for the
drive to Seward along the Seward Highway (A1 and A9), considered to be the most
scenic drive in North America.
With the bit of rain the day before,
the skies were perfectly clear,
providing a stark contrast to the haze fill skies we had for the drive to
Whittier the previous week.
made numerous stops along the way to snap photos,
including a nice shot of the twins against the backdrop of Turnagain Arm, as
well as a brief movie of the outgoing tidal bore. It’s amazing to watch the tide go out in waves. Unfortunately,
we did have to get on to
Seward as we had to be there by 1145 am, and it is a 2 1/2 hour drive under the
absolutely best of conditions.
But, traffic was surprisingly light (the lightest Bill had
ever experienced during his numerous trips down this road), and we made it with
almost 2 hours to spare.
This is not Seward
itself but Seward North where the boats
are all moored and what boats… a picture-perfect setting of a sheltered
breakwater harbour, rows of white yachts and trawlers, and motor boats, and
cruise ships, all waiting patiently against a background of mountains and the
hint of snow and ice, and glaciers.
What a place!
We spent a while browsing the shops before
settling on a few bookmarks, and went to the Northern Star where we were met by
Captain Jay, our Ranger for the day, and various crew members. Our
photo was taken (yes, we purchased
two copies of the photo) and we settled into our table for the cruise… table 7…
with a pair of elderly ladies who were entertained by the idea we were twins
and a young couple from Ohio who were a little worried when we started being
cheeky. But they were all great
traveling companions and we had a good time with them.
However, being a boat lover from the day
my cousins, Tom and Barry, took me out in their row boat on Sussex Inslet, I
was out of there and out on the deck and looking for wildlife. And
there was wildlife aplenty. We were barely out into
harbour when we were greeted by a pair of
frolicking sea otters… well, sort of.
After the ranger explained that they
were probably playing, but if one
were to bite the other on the nose, they were mating. It was only a few moments before he announced, “Well, we’ll
move on for now,” amid comments of “get a room”.
We continued out of Seward Harbour into
Resurrection Bay, with amazing backdrops of glaciers and a geologic anomaly of
basaltic rock mountains from the Pacific Plate that had torn off at some point
in the distant past and came up over the North American Plate. It
wasn’t long before our table was
called for the buffet, and what a buffet it was. All you can eat silver salmon caught locally, prime rib from
Omaha that melted in your mouth, salad, and rice. To say it was delicious is an understatement.
It got chillier as we got further on out
towards the open waters of the North Pacific, so we donned our Alaska
sweatshirts, and settled back.
Soon, we came upon a bald eagle in
a treetop, who posed patiently while
all us tourists snapped his photo, and then a group of sea lions sunning
themselves on one of the guano-covered rocks thrusting up out of the bay. Teenage
sea lions we were told, readily
identified as they were laying about and doing nothing.
And hundreds of birds of various species;
the most remarkable being the puffins, with their black and white bodies and
There weren’t many
of them, and those that were there hit the air as we came past – with their
short sings compared to the gulls and terns who were chatting loudly in their
Out in the open bay we all took turns at
skimming the water looking for
any sign of whales. And, as we
were heading towards Bear
Glacier, we were rewarded with the slim tall fin of an adult orca. Then,
amazingly, the rest of the pod
surfaced and Bill steadied me in the open water, with its inevitable waves, as
I took as much footage as I could of them. Five altogether in a pod that had not been
in the bay before. Four adults and a baby. I managed to take what I thought was a
pretty spectacular shot… Next time
a digital SLR with telephoto lens.
But the feeling of elation kept us all
high for the rest of the trip. The
beauty of the bay was incredible, the stories of the 1964 earthquake which
nearly wiped out Seward completely with its tsunamis, and then, an eagle’s nest
with two eaglets still in it.
Wow! And sea otters on each
side of us.
Smiling we left the boat, vowing we would
do it again.
We did a quick trip into Seward itself and
I think this whole area you could spend days in exploring. But
we didn’t have much time. Picked up a couple of
headed out of town.
On the way home we took a detour to Exit
I still can’t say I’ve
touched a glacier – Ranger Amy would have
not liked that at all (apparently, Bill did it when he had been there 2 years
ago and got yelled at) – but I have stood close enough to feel the heat being
sucked out of me --- crossing the quick flowing water coming from the glacier
as she melts.
And the glowing blue colour! Amazing. The side trip
took a lot longer than we
thought, but it was truly worth it and we walked back with Ranger Amy,
chatting, aware that a black bear had been seen in the area not a long time
before. But we got back to the car
safely and headed into town. It
was about 9:45 before we hit Anchorage again. A quiet drive, thank goodness. We stopped at Carrs for some chicken and salad and headed
back to our room to download the photos, and gloat and moan over them
It was 1:30 am before
we hit the bed again.
17th August (Wednesday)
We had a small
sleep in, and headed off to pick up
Mystique. We decided that we would keep her with us at night rather than try
and organize and pick her up at some incredible hour of the morning. Realizing we
only had one day left in
Anchorage, we dashed around, trying to get all the stops in that we needed to
do. First, we hit up a stamping
shop, who had some fireweed stamps and interesting ink pads, but not much in
the way of scrapbooking otherwise, although they did put us on to another
store, not listed in the phone book, on Denali Avenue, back towards
downtown. We vowed to try and get
to that store, but we have oh so many stops to do.
then went to Sam’s Club and Office Max, an office
supply store, to look at computer desks for Bills’ room. Came across several
ideas that we might
order, but that can be done online, and it was rapidly approaching
lunchtime. As we pulled out of the
parking lot, though – lo and behold – here was the Amish furniture store we had
been trying to locate since our arrival in Anchorage! Sigh. Closed.
Seeing as we were already on the road, we decided to
postpone lunch and dash for the scrapbook store that the stamping store had
told us about earlier. Miracle of
miracles, we found it without any trouble. And what a good things it was we went there – 12 x 12
scrapbooks, at last! Not Alaskan
themed, per se, but she had all sorts of ideas and tips how to make them
Alaskan themed, and had lots and lots of spare pages for the matching pair of
books we purchased, so as not to repeat the problem we had with our Australian
books – filler pages not fitting.
Plus, we purchased stickers, paints, and lots of other goodies, spending
way too much at the store, not to mention the time was getting late.
We then headed back south towards the zoo for our tour
with Tommy. Figuring we had enough
time, we stopped at Taco Bell, so that Bill could introduce me to an entire
sampling of Mexican food. Okay,
it’s fast Mexican food, but there were some things I had only heard of, and a
lot of things I never had heard of before. So, we ordered an array of items, a giant Baja Blast to
drink, and proceeded to sample Mexican food. Burritoes, tacos, gorditas, quesadilla, etc. Some were better than others,
definitely a delicious education
A little late,
after giving Mystique a break and a walk,
it started to rain – and we had left our umbrellas back at the hotel, seeing as
how nice a day it was going to be.
No time to run back; we were already late for our appointment with
Tommy. So we dashed down to
O’Malley Road and sped to the Alaska Zoo.
Tommy had just arrived in the parking lot, looking for us.
First, it was back up the accessway to the zoo, and then
the grand, ‘poisonal tour’, began.
do I start?
Smitty took us from enclosure to enclosure, introducing us to each of
the animals and giving us a bit of history. Especially touching was the tombstone and grave for the
elephant who had started the zoo off many years prior – the alternative prize
in a radio contest – the winner chose the elephant rather than the cash, and so
the Alaska Zoo was started.
Molly the snow leopard
was sunning herself in a rock-mountain
enclosure; very tall, to make the enclosure seem much larger than it truly is,
with the limited space the zoo has available. Then there was Billy the Reindeer; Elvis, Priscilla, Lisa
Marie, and Riley, the Yaks; Athena (Doll Sheep); Petunia the porcupine; Turbo
the river otter; Wilbur the Wolverine; Jake and Oreo, the brown bears; Wiley E
Coyote, and a host of other animals, including Apuna, the polar bear Apuna and Oreo
were given to the
zoo as rescues at a few weeks of age, and for over a year, the two, who are
naturally mortal enemies, were raised as brothers, but they finally had to be
separated as they began to play too roughly with each other.
The Alaska Zoo is situated, originally on the outskirts,
but the city has grown around it, on the south side of Anchorage. It is an oasis of
peace and nature in
the middle of this metropolis.
There are not huge numbers of animals, but most of them are native to
the Alaskan ecology, and great care has been taken to give them a
habitat close to their’s in nature.
Nearly all of the animals were taken in
as rescues: injured, or parents killed in the wild; with little or no chance of
survival if they were returned or remained in the wild.
tour wrapped up around 5.30 pm, with a trip to the zoo
shop and a chat with the lovely lady there. We found that we were not the only people that loved Smitty
– he’s well-loved and respected by everyone. And we bought some souvenirs because it was our way of
helping the zoo. We planned to
meet Smitty for dinner, but he still had a bunch of chores to do, as we decided
to head for where we planned for dinner, the Alaska Sourdough Mining Company,
to see how late they served dinner, as Smitty
figured at least 8 pm. Finding that they served until 10 pm, we let Smitty know and
headed across the street to the Alaska Wildberry Company. Lots and lots of souvenirs,
seriously overpriced. We browsed
for a while, then Bill introduced me to the massive chocolate waterfall. Really –
feet tall, spilling from bucket to bucket, to bucket, ending in a massive pool
of chocolate. 18 feet high… made
me want to get a straw, blood sugars be damned.
Sighing, we left the chocolate waterfall
and headed towards the ‘Wildberry Zoo’, which had been added since Bill was
there the last time.
started to rain again, but the kind concession stand loaned out umbrellas (of
all the days to forget our umbrellas – the only day it rained during our trip
Not too many people had
braved the poor weather, so we had the place pretty much to ourselves. We
were beginning to wonder if the zoo
actually had any animals, as the first few things we saw were the ‘photo-op
boards’, where you popped your camera in a stand and then stuck your head
through the holes and took your photo with a cartoon bear, etc. We
did this, of course.
Finally, we found some real animals
the reindeer enclosure… and they wanted an admission fee. Since
the sign promised you could pet
the reindeer, we were prepared to pay the fee – except we couldn’t find anyone
about. Another couple came back –
and they had no luck either.
However, as we started to walk off,
an employee came up and offered to
let us in for free.
that because of the weather, they were closing, but he would bring a reindeer
out for us to pet.
He spent the
time explaining how they care for their reindeer better than the Alaska
Zoo. We diplomatically kept our
mouths shut as to where we had just been and who our friend in Anchorage was.
Seeing as it started to rain even harder,
we cut our zoo walk and headed back to the Wildberry Company. We
freed Mystique from the car and took
up residence on the bench outside under cover, people watching and letting
Mystique charm all the tourists.
Apparently, a lot of the cruise ships
offer side tips to the Sourdough
Mining and Wildberry places.
However, we did not have long to wait –
Smitty called and was getting off early, so we put Mystique back and ran across
the street to make reservations.
They weren’t too busy, being
between tour buses, so we had no
Smitty arrived a few
minutes later, and we sat down in this delightful restaurant. Obviously
meant for tourists, it was
fashioned after an old mining settlement eating house, complete with rustic
décor, and even a dinner show, which we were unfortunately too late for.
Bill had promised me they had excellent
seafood here, and the menu made it clear that was their specialty. It
was a hard decision, but I finally
decided on prime rib and shrimp; Bill had the seafood sampler; Smitty had his
old standby favourite, steak. We
also ordered absolutely delicious appetizers of stuffed mushrooms and a sampler
plate of all sorts of seafood and other goodies. However, when dinner came, we realized we had ordered way
too much food – the servings were massive! We did the best we could, but a doggie bag was the last
request we had.
A bit on the
expensive side, but certainly worth a return trip. As with the journey so far, Bill’s experience on the various
restaurants paid off again – a delightful meal.
However, it was getting late, so after
again thanking Smitty for the tour and overnighting Mystique at the ‘Smitty
No-Tel Motel’, and the requisite photos of the three of us, we had to part and
bid him good-bye, promising to see him again on one of my annual return
trips. Bill will probably see him
sooner, though, as he will only be a 2 1/2
hour plane flight away, and they have been friends for 12 years now.
We headed back to our hotel one last time,
and crawled back to our room, both of us completely exhausted and it was
approaching midnight, again, and we still had to pack for the flight in the
We did notice on the way
to our room that the hotel pool was finally open, after being closed for the
last week… not that we had time to use that facility.
We started to pack our bags, and it didn’t
take long for us to realize we had accumulated A LOT of stuff –mainly for the
new house in Ketchikan, but also gifts to send home to the relos. It
took considerable manipulation,
repacking, and plain-old-fashioned cramming, but the suitcases finally zipped
shut. We had only needed one bag
coming up, but we had fortunately packed that bag inside a larger bag. Bill
estimated that one was just under
70 pounds, the other about 75 (70 pounds being the weight limit); not to
mention a creative interpretation of one carry-on each – we each now had a
scrapbook bag, overstuffed, of course, that we were calling ‘handbags’ (our
usual purse Bill would hide behind his scrapbook bag so they hopefully wouldn’t
notice the two handbags!), plus a computer bag, and yet another bag.
Yes, you guessed it – another late night.
off rental car at terminal
am flight to Ketchikan Alaska Airlines 62
at 6 am)
pm arrive at Ketchikan
It was an early morning rising to get to
he airport by 6 am. We were a little late getting there, but we were assured
our luggage (which was seriously overweight and had gone from one shared
suitcase to two overstuffed suitcases with booty from Sam’s Club and souvenirs
to send home) and a box – so we had to pay for excess baggage) and Mystique
would make the flight just fine.
Security took forever to get through,
and making our flight started to
become a serious issue. Finally,
we were admitted to the gate area and we rushed for the gate. Our
plane was already well into the
boarding process, but we still made it.
Unfortunately, we did not have time
to call Ann to see if our new car
would be waiting for us in Ketchikan.
Our traveling companion this time was a
talkative young adult from Wrangell, who had apparently been to Anchorage for
but a little odd.
short nights quickly caught up to us and we both nodded off. Susan
missed Juneau entirely this time,
where we lost half our passengers, and by the time we left Wrangell, there
weren’t that many people left aboard.
We arrived late in Ketchikan and found the
nearest payphone to call Ann… and the cellphone went off, telling us we had
Messages from Ann,
saying to call her.
say, we went through 20 minute of chasing Ann who was chasing us, to find out
the car was still in Seattle – we would need to rent a vehicle. After
our experience in Anchorage about
rental cars and dogs, Bill went to gather our luggage and Mystique (we were
already being paged to get our dog!), and I went to arrange for a rental car.
Unfortunately, there are only two rental
car agencies in Ketchikan, and both had no vehicles available. Now,
this would be interesting, to say
Then, the clerk at
Alaska Car Rental remembered he did have one car available – did I mind a
manual, obviously concerned about my accent. A car’s a car, and we can both drive a manual, so I took it.
After a minor snafu with our credit card,
we had our vehicle, and Bill went through the rain to get the car, while
Mystique and I waited in the dry area.
We thought the first car was small
and nearly impossible to get the dog
crate into – this one was even smaller and low to the ground – both of our
knees were going to pay for this car very quickly. We finally managed to shoehorn the crate into the back seat,
as well as some of the luggage (the trunk was quite small), and poor Mystique
had a tiny cubbyhole to sit in.
We headed back for the flat so we could
empty out the car, and give Mystique some space. When we arrived, we discovered she had climbed on top of the
crate in the back seat, and was jammed in place. Took us a while to get her out, but we finally did extricate
her. Forever the gentleman, Bill
took the heavy bags and I led Mystique with some of the smaller stuff up the
three flights of stairs.
We had planned to check on the new house
when we got in, but our answering machine already held the answers for us. Another
delay in the house closing,
which also affected the monies for furniture, flooring, etc. So,
rather than head for the new house,
we headed to Safeway to restock the larder, as well as going by the public swimming
pool to see about getting our memberships and getting back into the daily swim
We had hoped to go
swimming today, but we got there just as open swimming had completed, so we
would have to return another day.
Instead, we returned to the flat and had
salmon burritos that Bill prepared for dinner, and had a quiet evening of
watching a couple of Due South episodes, unpacking, and playing a game of
Alaska Monopoly, having purchased a pair of them up north – one for Ketchikan
and one for Australia.
I clobbered Bill.
We were too
tired to finish the game, but he conceded anyway.
Actually had an early night to bed.
A day to spend trying to sort out what was
happening with the house. After a
late rising, eggs for breakfast and a large mug of coffee, as usual, and taking
Mystique out to do her thing, we decided to start at the south end and work our
way up. First stop was the camera
store in downtown Ketchikan, to pick up the 8x10s we had ordered of our
They came out
beautiful; thankfully, we had ordered three of each at Ann’s request, leaving
her one for her new office, 1 each for me to take back to Australia with me,
and the rest for the new house.
From there, it was back to Salmon Landing
to bring Gary up to date and make sure out pair of ipods were ordered in time
for me to take mine back. Gary
only had a few minutes to spare – he was finally psyching himself up to get
ready for the open water swim on the 28th – 8 miles
in the open
ocean around the neighboring island.
Wanted to know if Bill would join the
race; he wisely declined, but said
he would try next year if I would be his kayak companion for him. Does
he think I was born yesterday or
Must be something, as
he spent some time convincing me I could do it.
After a brief stop back at the flat for lunch, we headed
past the post office to check our PO Box, and then on to Victorson Court to see
how that was proceeding – nothing so far as we could see. We headed back into
town via Rainforest
Crafts, a scrapbook store we had noticed on our way up, the bank, Sears to
order appliances (we were advised to wait one day for the 10% off sale) and
finally Hometown Furnishings to tell hem hopefully the floor could start to be
laid on Monday, but we would call.
It was just past 5, but the long days were
catching up to us, so we headed back to the flat for another salmon burrito
dinner (yum!), laundry, and more Due South until we both started nodding off.
20 August (Saturday)
gully washer as the locals say around here. A busy day regardless, because of the Sears sale and we were
worried that there would be crowds of people at it. Well, this is Ketchikan. They came in a steady stream all day, but we had virtually
no waiting at all when we went in to order the chairs and the washer &
done that with Bill & Ann’s brand new Sears card (thus earning a further
10% off from the 10% off sale), we grabbed a sandwich and drink and headed out
were working on the road (only one road, folks) north of town so we were faced
with some delays, but since we weren’t in any particular hurry, it was just
fine. A little down time and I
snoozed unashamedly at times. So
the normally 12 minute journey took twice as long, probably more. We
weren’t looking at the time.
the way, we pulled into Victorson Court to see how the place was going and
there was no visible signs of the place being cleaned up ready for our move in
on Monday…. Not a great sign.
pulled in at Settler’s Cove which looks amazingly untouched although there are
campsites everywhere, screened from each other by the rainforest. Someone
should tell people that pit
toilets are fine, but you still need to wash your hands afterwards! Note
to self: Thank Barbara for the wet
face washer in the plastic bag idea.
three of us (Bill, Mystique and myself) had lunch together in the quiet green
there, where the drizzling rain could hardly be felt at that time because of
the canopy above.
filters through green.
lunch we wandered down the trail towards Lunch Falls. There are rest stops and seats to sit and admire the view
all along the trail, so I took photos (of course). Of the beach, of fishermen… and that’s where I stopped for a
while because I thought they were crazy to throw out in a river mouth full of
only it wasn’t weeds, it was fish!
Hundreds of fins breaking the water,
and slippery bodies and fish
I missed all the jumping
in the photos, but watched in the drizzling rain, entertained and horrified….
This was their final journey and they were determined to make it.
bit further on, a bridge over the falls afforded us an amazing view of their
struggle, especially against the water that was powering down after the
rain. Bad timing for their
I wonder if this will
affect the numbers of salmon in years to come.
we left our watch.
were coming up the trail wanting to view it as well.
took Mystique back to the flat and went off to the Swim Centre. It’s
an A frame building held up by
huge logs, with two pools – a small one and a lap pool. Thankfully,
for me, they divide the lap
pool up into shallow end and deep end during free swimming time so I was able
to get back into the rhythm of my walking and exercising in the pool and the
occasional swimming lap. The
chlorine is quite strong so I am going to probably need goggles if we do this
but it was pleasant and
felt good to be back in the pool again.
came back to the flat and worked at printing off all the photos we have been
Sooner or later we
are going to have to bite the bullet and actually work on the scrapbooks….
Preferably more than one week before I go, but we have days that are long and
absolutely packed already.
many photos I take… my goodness, if these were on a SLR, we’ve have to consider
taking out shares in Kodak….
actually left it all and headed back to the Plaza for a free Sounds of Summer
Concert and it was a lot of fun.
We got there in time to hear Don who
had a very smooth sound and was
singing science fiction folk which was fun. Then came the Celtic Plaides who came with costume – hats
and tartan and fun little songs and music. A bit of a problem with some of the meter though at times –
one got the feeling that they weren’t too used to working together – but they
were all talented and entertaining.
The singer especially was great and
when they added an extra male voice
for the herring song, it was really good.
Then there was Paddy’s Leather
Britches which is the one we had come to
hear which promised Scottish folk rock and started off with a Mexican song
they made up for it
later with lots of great music.
The last of the night was a rock n
roll bad with – amazingly enough –
members of the other groups in it….
this was a lot of fun for me and deadly for Bill whose headache has not gotten
any better for days now. They were
very good and we sang along and our feet kept moving. Next thing I knew I was being asked by an Amerind a little bit older than myself and we
danced every alternative song – recovering between. A gentleman who just wanted to dance because the music took
And we matched each
other for the dancing so that was great.
Bill headache got a lot worse with the level of sound for the last group and we
went home to bed.
August 21 (Sunday)
quiet day for us so far. We have
been working on packing up some mail, putting pictures in frames and catching
the dog when she decided she was taking a walk around the neighbourhood,
standing outside our car waiting to go somewhere. Didn’t have the heart to tell her that today we go swimming
without her, and do the washing and drying (and its hard to get things dry in
this kind of weather.
The t shirts
we washed two days ago are still damp and we have them hanging everywhere about
But we needed to at
least get the towels washed and dried so that we can use them for swimming
did some more ordering of furniture on line which means none of it will be here
by the time I leave.
Sigh. So much for having a lovely picture
perfect home for Ann and Bill to move into.
out to Ward Lake to have some afternoon tea. We forgot to have lunch so we ended up getting some chicken
and cookies and sat at a picnic table, watching the salmon jump in the
lake. If there had been no breeze
have been a mirror lake set in the pine tree dressed mountains. There
is an incredible nature walk
through the rainforest and we took our time. They have three log cabin-style picnic areas made of huge
logs with proper fireplaces made of slate…
eating, we headed out on the nature trail to circumvent Ward Lake. Mystique
explored all the new and
wonderful smells while we spent our time watching the salmon head upstream to
spawn. The trail is a fairly easy
2 kilometres, but we took our time (and lots of photos),
returning to the car and seeing we still had daylight and a reasonably clear
early evening, Bill suggested we continue on up Revilla Road to Brown
Being afraid of heights
I was a bit sceptical at the hour of the day and doing this drive, but off we
went. It seemed like a lot
further, but in reality it was less than 10 miles to the end of the road, with
me griping the armrest all the way on the narrow, winding, steep dirt road when
the edge was on my side of the vehicle.
Fortunately, Bill was familiar with
the road, and we made it to the top
safely. However, with the other
nearby mountains, it was getting too dark to see much of anything, so we only
dallied for a moment before heading back down.
back at the flat after 9 pm.
Scrapbooking. Time to start
the dirty deed.
Bill took to the
floor to start slicing the photos out of the paper, and I did layout of the
pages. Once we got started and had
the music going on the computer, we just worked away. Before we knew it, it was after 1 am. Only a few pages down – two of each, of
course! – but a great start to what I know is going to be a mammoth
22 August (Monday)
arose early this morning and had a quick breakfast of eggs: the new house was
We were still a bit
mystified how the previous owners planned to be out by today, but no worries,
not our problem.
Turns out it is
Ann called before we
get started to tell us the house closing is delayed for a few days. Grrr. I leave in a week and a half and we need to get this house
well. Plan B it is.
After doing a
couple of scrapbook pages, we head off to Tongass Trading Company, the second
furniture store we needed to visit.
Not having been overly impressed with
Hometown Furnishing (the place
just didn’t feel right); Tongass was a welcome change. Friendly
staff, better selection, and
We spent over an
hour browsing with the saleslady, and by the time we had finished, we had
picked out a sofa for the lounge (that reclines!), a reclining easy chair for
Ann’s room, a Queen Anne’s chair for my room, and an end table for the lounge
quite satisfied with ourselves, we checked our PO Box, then headed off to the
swim centre for an afternoon swim.
I swear: the water feels colder each
and every time we go here! Afterwards, we return
to the flat for
more scrapbooking and give attention to Mystique.
late afternoon, we were ready for a break, and Mystique wanted some
So, going past Safeway
for chicken to eat, we headed back to Totem Bight to have tea and casually
re-inspect the totem poles. Although
nothing had changed from our previous visit, we had plenty of time this visit
and Bill and I spent a fair bit of time picking out the symbols and the animals
will never cease to fascinate us.
the temperature starts to drop, so we headed back for the flat and more
It is always a lot
of fun, but making two of everything is a bit time-consuming; it helps
considerably that Bill is cutting up all the photos, and when he gets far
enough ahead, takes over the duplicate pages for a while. We
aren’t even to out flight to
Anchorage yet – beginning to wonder if this book will
two volumes and surpass the size of our pair of Australia volumes from earlier
Seeing the stack of
printing photos, we had best make plans to find a second set of scrapbooks.
late night, working past midnight, scrapbooking, listening to music, and
hitting the bottle (of lemonade!)
23 August (Tuesday)
were up by 8 AM, Mystique wanting to go outside, which left us with a good
excuse to get an early start on scrapbooking. Completed a few more pages over our usual coffee and egg
breakfast, before heading out to do the day’s errands. We
started out at Salmon Landing to
check in with Gary, as well as admire some of the incredible quilts on display
at one of the shops.
and would be lovely in the new house, but terribly expensive. Took
some photos of them and maybe I’ll
make one of the designs myself one day.
then continued on south to Saxman, the other totem pole gathering in the
We hoped to find
out when the native dinner and dance was scheduled, but they don’t appear to be
doing those anymore.
We did browse
the gift shop for a bit with Mystique (no dog treats this time, but plenty of
kids for her to charm) and found lots of nice stuff, but again, prices too
high; although we did buy a lovely pair of t-shirts. Our excuse to put off the laundry for another day!
cruise ships were obviously in, as the totem pole area was literally packed
with tourists, so we snapped a few quick photos, and went on our way back into
town. Seeing as we actually had
some time today, we went by the Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles in the State
Office Building downtown, where Bill took his Alaska State Driver’s Exam and
had his photo snapped… and had his Alaska Driver’s License ten minutes
later. Actually, we were there
considerably longer, as there weren’t any other customers, and both ladies
working there were named Linda. We
got to chatting, their first question of course being if we actually were
twins. I showed off my New South
Wales driver’s license, and we talked for quite some time about Australia and
Bill’s and my travels in Alaska – especially when the twins joined the Polar Bear
Club in Barrow (which they corrected us – it is pronounced ‘Brrrrow”).
then headed to Talbot’s Building Supply, where I picked out the colours for the
house and had them mixed. Positive
thinking – we’re going to need this paint in the next two to three days!
returned to the flat for some late lunch and more scrapbooking. Completed
several pages before Mystique
made it clear she wanted a good walk and more attention.
we had plenty of daylight left, we decided to head back to Brown Mountain in
broad daylight and take in the view.
In daylight, the ride wasn’t
quite so terrifying, but Bill took it slow
anyway. By the time we reached the
end of the road, cloud cover had moved in – so we couldn’t see all that far,
but the views were still quite spectacular. Took just a few photos, including using the car as a tripod
to get a shot of Mystique wrapped around the legs of the twins
taking in all the sights and opting not to take a hike to the top of the hill
(neither of our knees would have appreciated that today), we headed back down
and then took the other branch (Revilla Road) to Lake Harriett Hunt. Although
it was fairly level, it was
still quite twisty and very very bumpy – not very well maintained. We
arrived at the lake as twilight was
swiftly approaching, and Mystique went into overdrive – there was a black lab
and a German shepherd running loose – chasing sticks into the lake. She
wanted so very badly to join in the
fun, but we only had our lowly rental car, and no towels to wipe her off
with. We did talk for a while to
the dogs’ owners, and were told there wasn’t much in the way of an obedience
school in Ketchikan, but there was a woman who did it privately. Anyway,
we continued on to talk about
our dogs until it
quite dark, and it was time to head back.
Harriett Hunt is quite secluded, fairly far off the beaten track, and
definitely some place to come back and explore later. Even in twilight, you could tell the water is crystal clear,
and on the right day, would probably mirror the surrounding mountains. There
were what looked like to be a
canoe rental of some kind set up, obviously not open, and, of course, the fish
our way back to the flat, we stopped at Safeway to get some more supplies, as
well as a salad for dinner. Bill
had brought along my now quite deflated dolphin, and the florist cheerfully
refilled it for us.
dolphin flies again!
rest of the night was spent scrapbooking and listening to music, while
Mystique, after a long day, hit the bottle (lemonade) for a while, then was out
like a light.
And we went to bed
again after midnight.
24 August (Wednesday)
got up early as today would be the big day – the house was closing. So,
we had a quick breakfast and then
the phone rang.
It was Rocky from
the mortgage company; the house was not closing today – the wife’s lawyer
wanted some changes to the paperwork, so we needed to sit tight. This
was not the news we wanted to hear
– I leave in a week, and so far I’ve gotten a lot of things set up, but no
actual work done on the house itself.
we grumbled and groused a bit, then went back to our scrapbooking. Always
a way to cheer up, especially on
such a rainy, gloomy day. We spent
a couple of hours on the scrapbooks, then headed off for the swim centre for an
enjoying ourselves in the water for an hour or so, we came out of the building
to be greeted by a wonderful, sunny, Ketchikan afternoon with stunning
clouds. Had to get some photos of
those as Bill drove around trying to find better vantage points, including
accidentally backing up on a one way street. One of the locals kindly let us know it was a one way
street, but it was too late – we
were already out to the downhill street.
to the flat, for a dinner of salmon nachos (Bill’s idea for an alternative to
burritos – quite good, but very messy), music, and scrapbooking.
I say we went to bed late again?
25 August (Thursday)
is the big day.
We actually awoke
early and on time to the alarm clock; even skipped breakfast and simply opted
for our normal giant mug of vanilla-flavoured coffee to down our morning sleep
apnea pills, and rushed off to the mortgage office: the house is to finally
This will give me one
week to help Bill get everything set for Ann’s arrival before I return to
were on time to meet Rocky at the mortgage office, who escorted us upstairs to
the title office and a mountain of paperwork. Ann’s power-of-attorney in hand, Bill started going through
all the forms.
wondering if one pen will do it – seeing that huge stack, and will his
arthritis hold out to sign everything twice, as well as some legalese with each
and every signature.
he was taking his time and actually reading everything, as he didn’t get too
far before he discovered an error.
tried to call Ann at her office to confirm the correction, but she was not
So, we all decided to
come back together in a few hours, after Rocky updated things with Ann, and
finish the signing process.
Disappointed, but undaunted we headed
back to the flat and Mystique,
determined to log time working on the scrapbooks while waiting for the
was toasted cheese sandwiches with honey mustard (Bill’s suggestion, and a damn
good one) and onions (not so good).
we were preparing to leave, Rocky rang; there was a hold-up on the signature of
the spouse selling the house; we need to reschedule for Friday. Grrrr. Another day lost.
Since we have arranged to meet the
satellite and the fencing people at
the house tomorrow, everything will have to be rescheduled. Bill
is really bummed out at this
point, anxious to get some start on the house whilst I am still here, and I
don’t blame him.
fun, but we have serious work we need to get taken care of.
fish burritos for dinner (they are seriously addicting!). We
are both emotionally drained from
the day, so it is not a late night.
26 August (Friday)
wake up to pouring rain. I hope
it’s not a premonition of how the day is going to go. After another breakfast of eggs and the mug of coffee, we
head back to the mortgage office.
The changes have been made, and the
signing is completed.
Of course, I snap a photo so we can
prove to Ann that the deed is finally done – they own a house in
Rocky hopes to have the
last signature by the spouse, who is in the hospital, and the paperwork turned
into the title office by the time they close at 4 pm. He says to check back later, and then we can get the keys
from the realtor’s office.
head back to the flat and a quick lunch, grab Mystique, and head for the
house. The satellite installer is
already there and has confirmed we can get a good signal, although he wonders
why we need a new dish when there already is one. We explain that the owner is remaining on the island and is
taking the dish with him. We walk
through the cable layout and the placement of the receivers; there will be a HD
connection for both the lounge and my room, we already have the HD flat panels
ordered for both of those rooms.
have some time until the fencing people arrive, so we head across Tongass
Highway to the North Shore Gardens.
We need to find a couple of trees to
plant at the new one, one each for
Ann, Bill, and me, to celebrate the new home and that we can see grow
throughout my annual visits to Ketchikan.
We also find a host of rabbit statues
(I know, I can only have one) to
choose from for the house. We
decide on a pair of cherry trees, and will wait for Ann to decide when she
comes up (will probably be a cherry tree, too, being one of her favourite
things from Japan); Bill will plant them when he has all three. Besides
the trees, there is an amazing
variety of flowering bushes, available in more colours than I would have
North Shore Gardens will
definitely see plenty of business from us as we get the garden and other
landscaping lined up in the spring.
I must find a guidebook on the local
plants and flowers before I go
head back to the house and meet Southeast Alaska Fencing Specialists, and do
the layout for the dog fencing.
Fortunately, there is a doggie door
out of the garage.
this time, Rocky calls on the cell phone – the wife’s lawyer did not meet with
her, and therefore she did not sign the paperwork. The closing is delayed until Monday.
the rain was an ill omen. We head
back to the flat for a quiet dinner of salmon burritos and scrapbooking. Wish
it would have stayed quiet. When we were about ready
to knock off
for the night, Bill went to take Mystique out back in the rain, while I wrapped
up the page I was on.
All of a
sudden, there’s this huge crash and dead silence out back.
ran to the back door and looked outside… and then down. Bill
was sunk halfway into the porch
with one leg underneath him, and the other twisted at an odd angle: the porch
had rotted out underneath him and he had fallen through. Mystique
was nosing around, trying to
figure out what was wrong.
was obvious he wasn’t going to be able to pull himself up, so I had to brace
myself and lift him up out of the hole – no mean feat considering he is quite a
bit bigger than me.
I did manage
to pull him out.
When we looked
into the hole – we realized how lucky he was – he had been dangling over two
stories of empty space!
helped him inside and cleaned off the cuts on his legs, then he went into the
shower to try and clean up some of the mess he was covered in.
27 August (Saturday)
slept in, knowing that the house cannot close until Monday, and Bill probably
needed to recover from his fall.
When we did finally get up, Chef Bill
(I really could get used to this,
you know!) made eggs again: he always offers me a choice, even though I give
him the same answer every morning.
Bill is obviously in a lot of pain
and requires assistance walking,
although nothing appears broken; we already talked to Ann and she said to give
it a few days if nothing appears to be broken.
to work on scrapbooks… and then the phone rings. Apparently, the spouse has decided not to sell the
house. Didn’t know she could do
this after everything was agreed to; but apparently, she can. It
seems we are back to square one and
must start with finding a house in a few days. We call the realtor; Bill E. is in Tacoma with his daughter,
so one of the other staff members hurriedly starts to set up some viewings for
us. I leave in five days, and we
may not even have a house! Very
strange, the way they do things here.
realtor calls back as we are getting ready to leave to tell us to sit tight
until Monday – he’s done some checking, and either the spouse signs, or the
house defaults in days; what we were caught in was the lawyers getting too
need to get out of the flat for a while, and today there is open swimming, so
we decide to head for the pool. As we leave, we can see one of the barges with
cargo coming into the port – and we are almost positive we can see the new
car! Finally, we can get rid of
the tiny rental car soon! I have to drive as Bill can hardly get into the car,
let alone drive a manual.
Thankfully, the pool is fairly empty
today, so Bill can just ease along
with me as I do my walking, slowly today, as he can hardly keep up.
daily trip to our Post Office box yields a pleasant surprise – our special
t-shirts have arrived!
We had a
pair of t-shirts with our photo on it made it – wearing the “The Twins –
Friends Forever’ t-shirts Ann had made of us in Barrow – as we joined the Polar
The caption reads
(complete with typo): “In Barrow, Alaska, Best Friends don’t let Best Friends
swim in the Artic Ocean alone”.
These t-shirts are even better than
We love them!
had planned for Bill to take me out to dinner the night before I leave, but
seeing that we might be scrambling at the new house, we decide to go tonight
He had already promised
to take me somewhere where I could go dancing, and as we hadn’t seen anyplace
so far, we decided to try this place called “The Landing” that we had been by
several times but never went into.
Wasn’t sure if I could dance
here, but they did offer karaoke on Friday
nights (damn it’s Saturday night!), so we figured it worth a try.
went back to the flat to clean up for swimming and let Mystique out. I
should point out now that during the
entire trip so far, we had gone around as twins, wearing the same t-shirts
every single day.
We had set this
up when Bill was visiting me earlier this year, when we bought pairs of several
border collie, as well as Alaskan-themed, t-shirts. Besides making us twins, it would save me from lugging a lot
of clothes back and forth – he would have a lot of shirts here for me already. As I have for him at home in
It certainly got people
to scratching their heads, and others
along with us… we had both agreed from day one it would be fun to play with
everyone’s heads. However,
tonight, I decided to throw everyone for a loop, and wear the pretty blue dress
I had asked Bill to pick up for me to save me bringing over any dresses.
bad we didn’t run into anyone we knew over dinner!
Landing served an interesting mix of American, Chinese, and seafood. We
tried a few starters, and they were
all delicious, especially the mushrooms.
Too bad we hadn’t checked before
we ordered all the starters; when our
meals arrived, they were huge servings.
No chance I will eat all this food! I did make an honest effort though. I have never had prime rib that tasted
so good before – and it melted in my mouth – literally! Bill
had the seafood platter, which he
said was just as good – he let me try a few things from his plate, and I’ll
have to agree with him.
long, though, it was closing time, and no dance floor, so we headed back to the
flat and more scrapbooking before heading to bed.
28 August (Sunday)
let us sleep in this morning. We
continued our scrapbooking over eggs and a cup of coffee for breakfast, as well
as Bill getting some laundry done.
We thought a bit about going back to
the pool today, but decided instead
to try and find the Alaska Rainforest Experience that Rocky at the mortgage
company had recommended to us the other day, mentioning that this Sunday was
Ketchikan Resident’s Day. We
searched the phone book as well as the internet, and couldn’t come up with any
address besides Herring Cove. So,
we headed south on Tongass Highway and hoped for the best in locating it.
we headed south, I had to pull up for some amazing views of the Narrows. The
day is so bright and sunny, and you
could see the islands in the distance with crystal clarity. It
was a picture-perfect day; I don’t
think it has been this clear in Ketchikan since my arrival.
we approached Herring Cove, there is only one side road, so I took it. The
road is not very well kept up – it
certainly is not promising.
However, we round a bend – and
there it is. We head inside, where we’re informed the last tour of the
day has just left, but they will try to reach them on the radio. Turns
out the group is still at the
trailhead, and they’ll wait for us.
We quickly show our ‘local ID’
– our Safeway Cards – and pay $20 each
rather than the usual $79. Wow –
what a discount!
Seeing how bad
Bill is hobbling from his fall the other day, they immediately offered to take
us to the trailhead on golf cart, and assured us that the entire walk is
downhill with plenty of stops.
short ride up a track met us up with the rest of our group – 4 other
locals. Everyone introduced
themselves, and we headed out.
are quickly surrounded by a vast array of green, thick with trees, moss, fungi
– we are truly in an undisturbed rainforest. The ground is spongy, little rivelets flow everywhere; the
feel of this forest is incredible – and indescribable. One
of our group obviously has run a
similar tour before, and quickly answered any questions our guide posed to us
(although Blll doesn’t do a bad job, either!), and filled in beyond her
question; she tried not to be annoyed.
we admire a raven cawing at us up in a tree, our guide motioned for us all to
Not 20 metres away is a
bear cub… and moments later, his mother comes into view. We
are all deadly quiet; the only noise
being the shutters of everyone’s digital cameras. Before long, a second cub and its mother come into
view. We all stand there in
stunned silence, watching nature unfold in front of us, snapping photos. A
few minutes later our guide explained
that bear sightings in the wild are extremely rare, and what we have witnessed
is a once in a lifetime event.
There was only known to be one mother
and cub in the area.
we had all taken our photos, we move on; however, it seemed to anticlimactic
now after the bear sightings.
eventually left the forest onto a boardwalk through wetlands, which, earlier in
the season, would provide spectacular view of native birds. Instead,
we are treated to salmon
running to a local fish hatchery to spawn – apparently, they had escaped a few
years before from a breeding program there. There are so many salmon jumping it is impossible not to get
a good photo!
now, the walk has taken its toll on Bill and he requires assistance to
continue, so the rest of the group continues on and we catch up in a little
while. It wasn’t not too far to
the reindeer enclosure, so Bill could sit down for a while, while the rest of
us fed the reindeer greenery that had been set out for us. Bill
did manage to get a nice photo of
me hand feeding one.
the reindeer, it was another short walk to a shed, where a local master carver
is working on a totem pole. It
looked as if he had a long way to go, but he explained that he is actually
almost finished, and the pole will be done in time for the pole raising one
month from today, and encouraged us all
return for it.
Pity I will be back
in Australia by then.
it was a short walk and a video of the old sawmill operation here at Herring
Cove, and then back to the entrance/gift shop. I help Bill over to the bench so he can sit while I go
inside the gift shop, but we wind up being distracted by the scenery and I
didn’t make it in before they locked the doors.
talked to our tour guide a for a few minutes as she left, set the camera up to
take a picture of us, then headed back into Ketchikan and the flat to Mystique,
who is probably aching to go out by now.
laundry, dinner of, you guessed it, salmon burritos, and scrapbooking. We
stayed up very late and get quite a
few pages done and actually assemble the twin scrapbooks to the point where we
have completed so far.
We have a
lot done, but there is so much more to do, and with any luck, we assume
ownership of the house tomorrow, which will be good, but put a definite crimp
on our scrapbooking.
head for bed very very late.
29 August (Monday)
get up a little late, knowing that if there’s any word on the house, the phone
While Bill made
breakfast, I snuck a picture of the neighbor’s house, which is host to a huge
display or colourful bird houses.
When I return, I look out the window
– and what do I see – a seaplane
taking off – and I capture it on film!
Now I know this will be a good day
– I have been trying to snap a photo
of a sea plane taking off the entire trip – and not only do I manage that this
morning, but a second one snuck into the frame as I was taking the photo. Yes,
it will be a good day.
started working on our scrapbooks again over our eggs and the mandatory cup of
coffee, and we don’t get too much done before the phone rang. It’s
Rocky from the mortgage
The spouse has decided to
only a few words needed to be changed on some paperwork. He
hoped to get the paperwork into the
title company today and get us the keys, but even if it isn’t, we could start
working on the house this afternoon when Scotty gets home and can let us in.
it is going to be a good day.
work some more on the scrapbooks, then head out to get everything lined up:
calling Ray Garton to tell him he can start tomorrow, Tongass Furniture,
Safeway, the hardware store, and other stops to pick up materials we’ll be
Knowing that we won’t
have time to do so again before I leave, we pay a last visit to Totem Bight. This
time the bookstore is open and I
buy a book on native Alaskan flowers and plants, so I will be able to help Bill
with gardening suggestions in the spring.
also drove by the Subaru Dealership, where we had been told that the new car
would be delivered.
We walked in
and started making inquiries… and it was quickly obvious that no one knew what
we were talking about.
receptionist’s husband worked for Alaska Marine Lines, so she called him to see
if our car could be located.
Meanwhile, the owner of the dealership,
a pleasant man named Rob Skinner
– who we quickly discovered lived two doors down from us in Victorson Court! –
tried to sort things out for us.
First problem was we bought a Toyota,
which they do not sell, and
normally would not take a courtesy delivery on, but he would have been happy to
if that was required.
proceeded to point out that we could have bought a car from him for just as
much as Ann paid for the Toyota Rav4.
Bill tried to politely extricate himself
with offending the man. Ron remained pleasant,
the receptionist found our car and said we could pick it up directly at the
port. So, we head back to Alaska
Marine Lines; yes, they had our car, but we can’t get it until tomorrow. They also had two containers of
household goods they had planned to deliver to us tomorrow at 10 am. Uh-oh
– we were told it wouldn’t be
delivered until Wednesday – and there was only supposed to be one
We are going to have to
work very very quickly to make sure we have space to put everything!
finally arrived at Victorson Court in late afternoon, and Scotty let Bill,
Mystique, and I into the house.
The paperwork won’t be filed
until morning, but he was happy to let us
get started on our work. Mystique
is a very happy border collie with lots of space to run.
we have our work cut out for us – all of the carpeting must be ripped up, and
four rooms must be painted. We
decide to start in the upstairs master bedroom (Ann and Bill’s); I’m applied
blue masking tape to the edging, and Bill ripped up carpet and the boards it’s
attached to; Bill’s idea is to paint the room before Ray lays down the floor so
that he doesn’t have to worry about getting paint on the new flooring.
only took an hour or so to realize that Bill’s idea simply wasn’t going to work
– the carpet was taking far longer to get up than we originally thought, so
before long, we are both working on getting the carpet up and cutting into
smaller pieces that we can actually roll up and get outside to be hauled off.
10 pm, we realize we have taken on a Herculean task – only the master bedroom
is complete in 4 hours. And we are
We decide to head
back to the flat for some salmon burritos and work on the scrapbooks – which
must be finished before I leave in 3 days.
to say, we get to bed way too late… again.
30 August (Tuesday)
got up early.
We are both very
tired after so little sleep, but were anxious to get started. Bill
made a quick breakfast and I got a
page together of the scrapbooks, and we’re off to the new house at 8.30am. Ray arrives just after we do, and we
let him know about the cargo containers being delivered shortly. He
sees Scotty still has stuff in what
is to be Bill’s
downstairs, shakes his head, and starts his work. He did loan us
handy tools to get the staples out of the floor quickly and easily, rather than
one by one, which is how Bill had been pulling them out.
and I moved downstairs to my room to start
up carpet – I am determined to stay in this house one night before I
leave. Since my bed is in the
cargo container, my room had to be done.
we don’t get very far, when someone’s yelling into the house, looking for
us. The household stuff had
arrived, along with five young men to offload the truck. Bill
wound up out in the truck sorting
out everything and telling the young men where to put everything, while I
continued to work.
But I had to
move to Ann’s room, as they won’t bring stuff into the house in areas where we
are working, so everything going downstairs must go into my room,
1 pm, both cargo containers have been offloaded – and the house is full – very
full; Bill is concerned where everything is going to go. There
certainly is a lot of stuff.
finished Ann and Bill’s room, then headed off for the day as he has another job
to finish, which was good for us in that we don’t really have another room
ready for him yet.
He promised to
bring his daughter back with him the next day to help with unloading.
took a much-needed break and headed for Alaska Marine Lines, as well our PO
Box. When we arrived, Bill signed
a piece of paperwork, and their brand new silver Toyota Rav 4 was brought
Bill shocked me by
handing me the keys and said he’ll follow me to the gas station so he could
fill the tank up on the rental car before we return it. I
was very nervous, and can’t believe
he gave me the keys, so I cautiously drove the half mile to the Safeway gas
station, and then to Alaska Car Rental.
Bill was perfectly willing to let me
keep on driving, but I insisted he
we returned to the house, Scotty arrived before too long and we told him we
needed Bill’s room emptied downstairs; he was happy to oblige us. This
allowed us rip up the carpeting
and then move everything out of my room into Bill’s room, and then we quickly
got all the carpet up in my room.
also turned over the key to the house to Bill. The house is now officially sold!
tired, we decided to stop early and head back to the flat for dinner and
We discover on our
return that the phone at the flat has been shut off, which means we can’t check
email, but we did accomplish a lot today.
Tired, but satisfied – we will
certainly sleep well tonight.
31 August (Wednesday)
again early, a fast breakfast, and then threw everything in the car that can
possibly fit – fortunately, the Rav4 has a lot more space than the little
rental car we had.
rushed to the house; Ray and his daughter are already there and are getting the
last of the staples out of the floor in my room. Bill and I headed upstairs to start cleaning kitchen
cabinets and putting in shelf liner.
When Ray was ready to start on the
flooring in my room, his daughter
headed upstairs to help move boxes and unpack. We discovered very quickly that she is a hard worker, and
quickly has the boxes in Ann’s room transferred to Ann and Bill’s bedroom. In the meantime, her friend called on
her cell phone, and wanted to come out to help too. So she and her father leave for a bit to get her friend. With Ann’s room emptied, this allowed
Bill to complete the carpet removal.
Ray and his daughter returned with her friend, the two girls and I work on
putting kitchen stuff away. The
friend is a bit unsure of all of this, until we turn emptying and putting away
Ann’s kitchen goods into a game of ‘guess what this is used for’. It was all grand fun.
Elberson (Mr. Bill, the realtor) arrived in the middle of all this – he had a
present for Bill and me for being so patient with everything – a gift
certificate for the Ocean View Restaurant (our favourite eating place in
Ketchikan), so that we could go out for our last evening. He
had a few minutes, so we rushed and
changed into our new ‘The Twins Join the Polar
Club’ t-shirts and shorts, and everyone laughed hysterically as they realize
The Twins have done it to them again.
Then we showed off our scrapbooks as
far as they are completed, and
everyone was amazed at what we have done
seen in the short time I have been in Alaska, and all the effort that has
obviously gone into creating the pair of matching scrapbooks.
Mr. Bill headed back to work, he took a couple of photos of the twins in their
new t-shirts; Bill & I agree that we need to put one of these images on a
t-shirt – an image within an image within an image. But I have to leave that one up to Bill – not much time
now. Can hardly wait to see what
he does with this one.
was quickly over, and it’s back to work; the girls and I in the kitchen, and
Bill on the lounge room carpet. By
mid-afternoon, we had most of the kitchen unpacked, and it’s time for the girls
to go home, as they start the new school year tomorrow. They’re
obviously dear friends, and
have me take their photo together; we promised to print it out overnight and
have prints for them in the morning.
had planned to have dinner in our new home, but seeing as Mr. Bill gave us this
gift certificate, we couldn’t let it go to waste. We headed back to the flat for a shower and clean up before
As my other new dress
had arrived yesterday in the mail, I decided to wear that out for our last
night. The Ocean View wasn’t very
busy, so we decided on some starters of nachos and shrimp, and had ordered the
seafood fajitas again.
were just as good as before, and the waitress even took a photo of us wearing
It came out fantastic,
and other than the Barrow photo, is one of my favourite photos of “The Twins”
from this, my first Alaska trip.
returned to the flat, for what would be my final visit. Sigh. We struggle to pack my bags (Allowance? What luggage allowance?). Some of my
clothes will have to be left
behind if all the gifts we didn’t ship back, my set of the scrapbooks, and
everything else is going to make it back.
At least all of the clothes are finally
dry, so we sorted out all the
twins’ t-shirts, deciding which sets to go Australia, and which sets to reman
in Alaska for my next visit. The
Twins will be back – in both hemispheres!
headed back to the new house. It’s
very late – but we must finish the scrapbooks tonight. We
struggle away for a few hours, until
almost 3 am.
quite finished, but very close – I think we can finish it in the morning before
we have to leave for the airport.
are very very tired.
We don our
matching nightshirts, and set up a photo of the two of us siting and falling
asleep, just like the photo at the
Animal Day at Glenbrook when Bill was in Australia earlier this year.
My last night for now
in Alaska, but at least it is in the new house, as promised.
We’re up at 7.30, and I do get that meal
in the new house – a breakfast of – you guessed it – eggs and our usual cup of
coffee. Somehow, it tastes even
better than usual – probably because it is in the new house.
We made a mad dash to finish the
scrapbooks – concentrating on getting mine assembled for the flight. Ray
arrives and starts work. But, before long, it’s
9.30, and we
have to leave for the airport soon.
At least my scrapbook is assembled,
and Bill’s pages are all set up, but
he’ll need to buy more empty sleeves.
No worries – we had to do the
same thing with our scrapbooks earlier
this year in Australia.
I say a quick good-bye to Ray and give him
the 8 x 10s of the girls, and we load my luggage in the car. 2
overstuffed suitcases, and a creative
interpretation of 1 carry-on plus purse – a small suitcase, my purse, and the
Alaska carry-bag we had purchased crammed overflowing. Reminds
me of when Bill was leaving
Australia – in exactly the same way, sans the purse.
We crammed a few extra things into my
suitcase – and now we have 15 minutes to get the 11.15 am ferry. We
shut the doors… and then Bill asked
about the car keys.
We had set
them down in the car: we look everywhere, and it is obvious that the keys got
grabbed on accident and shoved into my suitcase. We do not have time to look for them… fortunately, there was
a spare set of keys in the house that we quickly located. We
never did have time to make me a set
of keys to the car or the house… and now they’re in my luggage somewhere. No worries – I’ll find them when I get
back home, and they’ll simply become the set I keep for myself. Bill
will just have to be careful not
to lose his set before he has a chance to make a second pair.
We drove hurriedly to the ferry – and the
gate is lowering as we enter the lot.
But the god of ferry masters was obviously
smiling on us today – the
gate re-opened to let us onto the ferry.
Five minutes later, we’re paying
the fare on the other side and parking
Bill left me and my
luggage at the curb and goes to park the car (not a big deal at Ketchikan
Airport – a 100 foot walk at the longest). By the time he and Mystique make it into the terminal, I’m
already checking in.
Airline personal were very kind and ignore the overweight charge on the luggage
(probably because they’re busy petting Mystique) and check everything all the
way to Sydney, avoiding a possible hassle with United Airlines and their new
lower luggage weight limits.
We headed upstairs to the gate area and
sit down to order a little lunch.
I had a half hour or so before I needed
to go through security, which
should have been enough time, we figured.
We used the waiting time to sort out
everything in my purse; just like
when Bill was in Australia, we kept everything in my purse so as to have a
harder time losing things like keys and wallets, and he carried it all the time
to give my shoulders a break. I’m
going to miss that – especially when the purse gets full and heavy. And
we take one last photo of The
Twins, in much the same way we had done at Sydney Airport only 4 months
Soon it was time for me to go through
security as my plane has just landed.
Our food never arrived, but at least
I’m on Alaska Air for the first
leg, and they do serve food domestically, unlike United. It
was time to say goodbye
– I miss my family a lot, but it’s always
hard when best friends have to say good-bye. At least we know it will only be several months before we
see each other again in Australia, and I’ll be back to Alaska next year with
Graeme along, and the following year
with Joanne and Ian.
It took only a few minutes to get through,
even with Bill calling after me to take my shoes off. Scotty was there, and said goodbye too. Suddenly, I’m
through, and as I came around, Mystique is standing on a chair with her sad
eyes… I’ve had her for 6 months now.
She has rebounded pretty well with
Dad in the past month, but I’m still
Mom to her and she obviously didn’t want me to go. The security person allows me to go the window and ‘pat’ her
through the glass, so I can say goodbye to her and Bill one last time as my
fight is called.
As I walk down
the gangway, I looked back one last time, and Bill has lifted Mystique into his
arms and they are both waving good-bye
As I settled in the seat of the plane, I
almost expected the nice steward from Alaska Air to hand me the now usual card
of “Your friend has been safely seen aboard”. No Mystique. It
was a lonely trip back.
Ketchikan 1-9-05 1252 PM
Seattle 1-9-05 347 PM
Had Hungry Jacks at Seattle airport. Everything
was closing – food wise –
when I arrived.
Ate, reading my
Harry Potter book.
At least this
will distract me.
The Alaska Air
flight is always the best leg of a journey.
Seattle 1-9-05 700 PM
San Francisco 1-9-05 857 PM
San Francisco is bloody big. Unlike Seattle
where you can hop train
to the next terminal – and the trains never stop running – with San Francisco,
if you are lucky, it’s a bus. Down
through a closet door with a barely readable sign and a concierge in a box who
looked like he should be selling coffees and wasn’t doing a good job of
staircase (they don’t care about disabled people), and then the tiniest room
for a whole flight of people…. So there were people packed like sardines
When the bus came, the
concierge came down and directed those who had been waiting longest in the room
onto the bus first, much to the annoyance of those standing outside.
Then is was to the terminal that looked
like a giant bus shelter – obviously unfinished and tucked away under
everything…. no airconditioning down there and more sardine impressions. I
ended up going for a walk and finding the facilities before the flight, and
buying some sweets as I could feel my blood sugars dropping.
Then, finally, an overcrowded plane
again. With the person next to me
getting the aisle seat (and heaven knows how that happened when I had a special
request in) and putting her bags under the seat instead of above. So no room
for my feet, especially with the leg of the chair in front of me right in the
middle of my leg space.
Only two meals served in 16 hours so I was
very glad of the sweets and nuts I got using the last of my US dollards. And
the big bottle of water.
Harry Potter and I got through the flight
Don’t know how. But it was so bad that everytime I
looked at the time, it was just fifteen minutes from the last time and not an
ounce of sleep.
And lots, and lots of pain from the
And why doesn’t United have any of the
planes that have their own individual screens? Once again, had no idea what was on --- could only see about
a quarter of the screen between all the heads. These planes were not meant for short people like me.
San Francisco 1-9-05 1040 PM
Sydney 3-9-05 610AM
September 3: (Saturday)
So looking forward to being home. And when I
finally got through the
gates and out into the airport…. No GB.
None at all. The car had
broken down at Campsie and an hour later, he was there (I was still waiting for
him, seeing him crashed, mangled, dying by then in my mind’s eye) – looking
distract-ed and upset and worried that I might have left. Never. I’d always wait.
So, we managed the luggage unto the new
airport train system, and headed off to Central, then to Campsie, and to find
He had rung the NRMA when
it happened and they gave him a time frame that they would be able to come out
to… and he had managed to collect me and the luggage and get back by the
hour. We got there just minutes
before the NRMA man who managed to get us back on the road safely again. Laddie
and Fitz were waiting for me when I got home… And my own bed. A
quick visit with every rabbit and
guinea pig, and it was definitely time for bed.
Thank you Bill for my wonderful holiday.