Changes in latitudes...

Trip Start May 05, 2012
Trip End May 12, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Saturday, May 5, 2012

...changes in attitudes, for certain - even though Anchorage could not be any more different than Key West.

The trek to SeaTac with ensuing parking, shuttle, and gauntlet through security went smoothly. The check-in setup there is different than from the last time I traveled, so as I got ready to go through security I realized I didn't have a boarding pass. DUH! Easily remedied, and in short order I found myself with well over an hour and a half to spare...which was good, because the departure gate (20) was, naturally, clear at the end of the concourse. :: sigh :: Oh, well. I needed the exercise anyway.

The plane was packed and very warm (which, for me, is saying a lot) while we prepared for departure. We took off to the south, banked right, and the southern tip of Maury Island, the Olympics, Dungeness Spit, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Vancouver Island passed under the window before the view was completely obscured by clouds

The flight itself was relatively smooth and uneventful. To shake things up a bit I spilled half a glass of cranberry juice in my lap and on the guy seated next to me - I felt he wasn't miserable enough cramming his tall frame into a center seat for three and a half hours. Fortunately he was gracious about it and fellow passengers quickly started handing napkins over the seats to help clean us up. 

Alaska kept from revealing itself until about 15 minutes prior to landing, when the Chugach mountains started to slowly appear, and shortly after that, Turnagain Arm. I've seen some minus tides in Washington which are pretty impressive, but passing over the mud flats on approach put all those to shame. Perhaps it was the added dimension of viewing them from the air, but it was amazing to see how far the flats extended; I think even those who aren't familiar with tides would appreciate the magnitude. The photographer in me beat down the obedient passenger and I had to snap a few shots with my iPhone. 

The tidal range in here is one of the largest in the world and I hope to see the bore tide this weekend as the moon is full. 

As I walked off the jetway and into the concourse, I felt something tug at my back pocket. I turned around to find BZ standing there with a smile. He had told the TSA people that it was my first trip to Alaska and asked if he could greet me at the gate; he showed them my flight info. I was amazed that they were so-laid back about it and allowed him to do so. 

The Anchorage airport is open and airy, and has some great artwork in it. My favorites were a ceiling mosaic and a hallway adorned with a row of lights which waver and change color like the Northern Lights (the video isn't rotating as it should, so I'm posting a still for now). Since it's overcast here, they may be the only ones I see!

I had a few hours to hang out and relax in the room while BZ attended to some business. I'm on the 10th floor and out my window are the Chugach mountains and Merrill Field to the east, and Elmendorf AFB to the NE. 

Anchorage is an odd mix of high-rises and residential areas. The vibe to me is almost like Salt Lake City - but smaller - since the mountains are so close. I can't quite put my finger on it yet.

We had a great dinner at Club Paris, which is an Anchorage landmark. It's considered a fine dining restaurant - the food is delicious and pricey - but looking at it, you'd never guess. It's small, dark, and the patrons are dressed in jeans and tees, while the waitresses wear t-shirts adorned with the Club Paris logo; a poker tournament (featuring the shockingly Grandpa Munster-looking Gabe "Mr. Kotter" Kaplan) on a large flat screen TV dominates the bar area while songs like "Smokin' in the Boys' Room" plays in the background

After dinner, we wandered around the downtown area for a while as it was still light and then headed to the local Wal-Mart (which could be another whole post in itself) for supplies before heading back and calling it a night.

Right now, it's Sunday morning and the sun is struggling to break through the cloud cover. I've got a date with a bike and a coastal trail, so it's ciao for now!


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