Anchorage to Seattle

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Today was taken up with completing our cruise itinerary by returning to Seattle where we have overnight accommodation as part of the cruise package which officially finishes when we checkout tomorrow morning. Thus as tourism goes, after the experiences of the past 10 days, it was not much of anything.

I woke at 6:00 and got up to tinker with blog and photos. Majella had been up a few times through the night to look in vain for more northern lights (I heard one of those but slept through the others) so I let her sleep until she woke around 7:30. 

We went out then in search of a simple breakfast. I was hoping for a bagel and coffee, probably at Starbucks, so we headed for that but found a faux French place first and decided to eat there. That was probably a mistake as the best we could see on offer were ham and cheese croissants. They were a bit greasier than I wanted after my burger and beers dinner and Majella could not finish hers. I did, more out of determination than need or enjoyment. My black coffee was OK but Majella’s cappuccino looked a bit too frothy for comfort.

One good thing about the coffee shop was that it was just a few doors up from a store we had noted last night, Raven Quilting. We walked by and noted there was somebody already busy inside and that opening hours were from 8:30. By the time we had walked around the block, replenished my cash supply at an ATM, and returned it was open for business. Majella inspected the wide variety of fabrics, patterns, and kits on offer and purchased some fabric before leaving. We had not gone more than a few metres when she doubled back to make another purchase, this time, a pattern.

We walked back to the hotel, packed our bags ready for the 10:00 am deadline and relaxed until it was time to go. I worked on photos and uploaded some more on the hotel WiFi while Majella dealt with her email and Facebook.

At 10:45 we were on the bus to the airport. There was more than one bus waiting outside the hotel but, unlike yesterday, once we identified the bus for the airport, people were called by name from a manifest. Evidently the cruise company cares enough to ensure that we are on our way and out of their hair, and that we are accompanied by our luggage.

Our driver gave the obligatory safety messages and then proceeded to introduce himself as seems to be the custom among drivers and guides here. We learned that he was local, where he had grown up, where he now lived, how he sometimes was required to drive round trips to Denali and back in a single shift and had moved to Anchorage to avoid a 50 mile (80 km) drive home after one of those 12 hour marathons. Good idea and I cannot imagine what workplace health and safety or a union might say about such work practices. We did wonder then if the personal introductions might be akin to an indigenous statement about belonging to country. 

He took the scenic route to the airport. We passed the earthquake park again with more details of how a few hundred metres of cliff top land had sunk into the mudflats below. Near the airport we again passed the light aircraft area with more details of how many planes were there. He claimed that about 25% of light aircraft in the world were in Alaska.

Airport procedures flowed as they do with check-in at terminals, baggage drop, security, waiting, and boarding. Soon after 1:30 we were airborne though not without some trepidation as the aircraft seemed to need almost all of the runway to get off.

Majella had a window seat and for the first section of the flight was entranced by the mountains and glaciers laid out below. Both length and breadth of the glaciers were impressive. They seemed vastly larger than any we have seen in Switzerland or New Zealand, or even in Glacier Bay, though the angle of view there is different. We were over water for a bit but then Majella noted a couple of towns that were probably ones we visited last week though she could not pick which from the aerial view of the topography.

Beyond that point we were over sea or cloud and there was not much to see until we were approaching Seattle. Majella turned to her puzzle book. I finished reading David Marr’s Quarterly Essay, The White Queen, about the rise and fall and rise of Pauline Hanson, wrote some of this post, and worked on processing photos. I am a long way behind on that and still have not worked through all 170+ from Glacier Bay.

Arrival at Seattle was on time and our baggage was on the carousel by the time we had walked that far. We crossed over to the shuttle area and waited for the Four Points by Sheraton shuttle to arrive. It was not long but a tight fit by the time it had collected passengers and baggage from 2 locations. The hotel is some distance from the airport and we arrived and checked in about 10 minutes before the end of the happy hour from 5:00 until 6:30 during which there is free beer, wine and nibbles. Majella enjoyed a glass of merlot and I had a large beer before we went up to our room.

We will eat in the hotel restaurant since there are few alternatives within easy walking distance. Today was a no-photo day for me. That seems strange but city streets for breakfast, airports, planes and hotels don’t make for a lot of interesting photographs. Tomorrow we begin our independent adventures. Majella cannot wait to be free of the cruise.