Alaska Trip: Days 1,2,&3

Day 1 – trip to the airport

Day one of the trip to Alaska with my brother Jeremy. I had to work in the morning but admittedly I didn’t get much done. I wasn’t packed and I was dreading the idea of leaving my family for a week and a half. The trip to the airport was typical – hectic getting the family in the car, lots of traffic on the way, conversation to fill the drive time was all over the board – Stephanie’s new business, the trip, money worries, Zander, Lexi, etc, etc… The highlight of the trip to the airport was stopping at Burger King with the family. Kind of a last meal together until I get back – but what made it so nice was the pace. We slowed down – went inside – took our time eating – talked about life. I really enjoyed it.

The Flight: Typical. I did pick up a book in the airport to help fill the time on the plane – “I am Legend” by Richard Matheson. The movie based on the book is due out this week end. I wanted to see the film, but I had no idea it was based on a vampire story. Anyway…. I was able to secure an isle seat. I know that I’m the guy the rest of you guys hate to see walk on the plane when you have an empty seat beside you. The whole time I walk in your direction, you are thinking, please don’t let his seat be beside me. I think the same thing when I see guys my size get on the plane. I sat next to an older-than-me couple. I’m glad to say, She made no visible signs of discontent when I sat down.

The flight was about 3 hours to Seattle – I was able to get most of the way through the book during the flight. I did take one bathroom break during the flight – not because I had to go as much as I needed to get up and stretch my legs a bit, plus the bathroom has more room than my seat.

Seattle: Wet, Rainy – but still pretty cool. I’ve never been to Seattle before. Jeremy picked me up from the airport, we picked up his second car from the U-Haul where he had left it and drove to the hotel. This is where I started to earn my way on this trip. Jeremy almost destroyed his car topper pulling into the garage at the hotel and I’m sure much damage would have been done to the SUV in the process – he was too tall for the garage by several feet! I honked the horn and prayed “NO, NO, NO, NO!!!” as he swung in towards the garage. He heard the horn and stopped with inches to spare. I did get some pictures of how close it was but those are staged after he backed out of danger so they aren’t as close as the actual event.

After we settled in, we went to have dinner at a sea food place that turned out to be much higher priced than the hotel attendant led us to believe. After dinner we headed for the space needle – but it was closed for a private party for Microsoft. We took a few pictures and headed in for the night.

Day 2: Seattle, then Ferry

We made a second go at the space needle – this time with luck. It was pretty cool but the thing that I noticed is that as soon as you get off the elevator, you see a long row of flat panel TV screens displaying the view you are there to see. It amazes me that people pay $16 a person to ride to the top of this thing and then choose to stare at a TV instead of looking out the window. The attendant at the top said before they installed the TVs, people would look at the pictures on the wall instead of looking out the window. Amazing.

Pike’s Place:

This was very cool. We opted to walk from the hotel to the space needle and on to Pike’s Place from there. This is the place where they throw fish and shout out orders while working the local market. Very cool environment. There were several shops besides the fish throwing one. Many fresh fish places, as well as farmers market kind of places. At any moment, I expected Gordon Ramsey to step out and start talking about getting food fresh from the market. We also stopped at the original Star Bucks. I don’t really drink coffee, but I ordered a caramel macchiato. Very cool – but I do wish I could have shared this with my wife.

The Ferry:

Well, we hit the road having decided to skip lunch until we were out of Seattle. It was an hour and a half drive to the peer. We talked to the ticketing person about placed to grab something to eat and she suggested a few places we could walk to after we loaded the cars onto the ferry. So we drove up, got in the line to load the cars and were told it would take about thirty minutes to load – which would give us about two and a half hours to walk to dinner and get back on the ferry… two and a half hours later, we were still sitting on the peer waiting to be loaded on the boat. Not the best of times. I did get a chance to finish “I am Legend” which as it turns out is more like a short story than a novel. There are several other short stories in the book.

We found our room, brought up our stuff and headed to the cafeteria. Of course the food was way over priced, but it’s the only option if you didn’t bring your own groceries, which we didn’t. We did meet John. John is a pilot heading for Anchorage. Jeremy and John had a lot to talk about. I assume this is what non-computer people feel like when I meet someone in I.T. and start talking geek – I was lost. I did learn that Jeremy doesn’t seem too shy to start up a conversation with almost anyone. That night we met John, Mandy and Robert, and another guy whose name I cannot remember – but he has 12 kids with only one set of twins.

Day 3:

Today we met Jeremy and Hailey. They are a young unmarried couple that live in North Pole, Alaska. They seem very nice. The five of us (Me, Jeremy, John, and Jeremy and Hailey) hung out in their room for a couple of hours playing cards. By the end of this boat ride, I think Jeremy is going to be on a first name basis with everyone of the crew and most of the passengers. This is a very cool characteristic that I did not know about Jeremy. Maybe its from living in small towns for the last two years? No matter the reason, I do enjoy watching him strike up a conversation with strangers and pray that some of that rubs off on me during the next week.

I found out that they have wi-fi internet available on the boat! I turned on yahoo, but Stephanie wasn’t online – I sent her an email and asked her to sign into yahoo, but after watching the movie “Surf’s Up” in the movie room on the boat – I realized that there is a two hour difference from Alaska and Phoenix – so I signed back on at 12:30 am Stephanie’s time – she was not online but had sent me a yahoo offline message telling me that she missed me and hoped to see me online soon… I was glad to hear from her and sad that I missed her.

I’m heading to the North Pole Today, No really…

I’m heading to the North Pole today. Well, first I’m stopping in Seattle, WA. My brother Jeremy is picking me up from there where we will drive his two vehicles onto a three day ferry that will take us into Alaska. Then its a two day drive that will take us into Canada, then back into Alaska, ending just outside of Fairbanks in a town called North Pole. Ok, so its not actually the top of the world North Pole, but its pretty close. Now I’ve been told that it gets as low as -40 degrees there – but its not bad because its a dry cold… (a little Phoenix humor there… Ok a very little Phoenix humor there…)

Anyway, as romantic as heading to the North Pole just before Christmas might sound, its not going to be all that romantic. I’m leaving my family here in Phoenix and the purpose of the trip is to help my brother move there. I haven’t been away from my wife and kids for this long before and I’m going to miss them terribly. I haven’t been away from Lexi at all since she was born and I don’t believe I’ve ever gone more than a few days since Zander was born. This trip is going to be almost 12 full days — and I just now realized how romantic that sounds as well – with the 12 days of Christmas and all. For those of you doing the math, yes I’ll be home for Christmas – Wow – this could have been a made for TV movie (too bad the writers are on strike).

Anyway, I hope to get a few pictures of the Northern lights, and I will enjoy the time with my brother (at least when we are not driving through winding mountainous roads, or unloading moving trucks full of stuff). This time of year the sun doesn’t really come up in Alaska – it kind of rolls along the horizon for a few hours in the middle of the day. Its going to be cold. I even went out and bought some long-johns for the trip.

Here is a picture of winter in Ohio – it was cold there but at least the sun was up.

Protect yourself this Turkey-Day!!!

My wife and I are hosting Thanksgiving Day at our house this year as I’m sure many of you are.  So, I know that you will be as concerned as I am about having a fun and safe holiday.  When I ran across the following information, I knew I had to share it with other Turkey-Day hosts – Enjoy:

In an effort to prevent greedy trial lawyers from wrangling your guests into suing you for contributing to the so-called “obesity epidemic,” we have prepared this essential liability waiver. Make sure all your Turkey Day guests sign it.

With this waiver, Thanksgiving dinner hosts can keep the nutritional puritans out of their dining room. They can also protect themselves from over-stuffed lawsuits filed by attorneys who threaten to sue restaurants, food companies, school boards, doctors, and even parents for the nation’s extra pounds. Our Thanksgiving Guest Liability and Indemnification Form comes in carbon-copy triplicate for proper record-keeping come court time. The waiver includes an agreement not to haul your host into court on the basis of:

1.     Failure to provide nutritional information;
2.     Failure to warn of the potential for overeating because food tastes too good and is provided at no cost;
3.     Failure to offer “healthier alternatives” or vegetarian “tofurkey”;
4.     Failure to provide information about other venues serving alternative, “healthier” Thanksgiving meals;
5.     Failure to warn that dark meat contains more fat than white meat; and
6.     Failure to warn that eating too much and not exercising may lead to obesity.