Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fairbanks to Barrow

Chena Hot Springs Resort #7

We didn’t see the Northern Lights on our last night at Chena Hot Springs. I got dressed about 10:30 and went across the street to the Activity Center, but the gal on duty said they had just checked and they weren’t visible. Oh, well, there’s always a chance we’ll see them in Barrow.

When we got up on Friday morning, we decided to eat breakfast and then go to Rock Lake when it started to get light. While we were waiting for our food, Bernie Carl stopped by our table and sat down to visit. Meeting him was such a treat. I hope we can convince Murray Harris and some Boy Scouts to join Bernie’s project next summer. He wants to give them an opportunity to earn their Eagle Scout rank with good old fashioned hard work and manual labor. And Bernie seemed genuinely interested in our volunteer work through the Elks, with Hospice, and in the community, which was quite a complement.

The sun wasn’t quite up when we went into Rock Lake. The water seemed really hot today. Carl went to the other end where it approaches 120 degrees, but down at the opposite end it was hot enough for me at about 105. Again we found plastic chairs and sat up to our necks in the water next to the snow covered boulders surrounding the pool, Mallory from North Carolina who was working in the bath house came out and took our picture. Afterwards we sat in the indoor hot tub for a while. We asked Mallory if she would dry our swimsuits and she said she wasn’t supposed to but if they happened to be wrapped in the towels when she washed them, we could come back in an hour and a half to get them.

About 9 a.m. when it was getting light out, we started to pack for our trip to Barrow. Checkout was at 11 a.m. so we took our suitcases to the front desk and then went to the Activity Center to wait for our shuttle at 2 p.m. Our driver today was Bill who had ridden along with Mike when we got picked up at the airport on Tuesday. He grew up in the area, and on the way to Fairbanks he turned off the highway so I could take a picture of the Alaska pipeline where it comes above ground. Unfortunately, Mt. McKinley wasn’t visible today.

The check-in at Alaska Airlines took quite a while because they only had one agent besides first class. Then another agent opened another station, so we headed to security about 4 p.m. There wasn’t a restaurant in the gate area, so we stopped at the snack shop. I had a cup of clam chowder and Carl had a hot ham and cheese. Our gate was being used for to a flight to Seattle. Then soon after our flight came up on the board, it was announced that it would be about an hour late. They had to switch out the economy jet in Anchorage due to mechanical problems and they sent a Boeing 737 with 144 seats. That was good for us because with the smaller plane we would have had to go outside on the lower level and walk up the stairs to the plane. Instead we got to use a jetway on the upper level. There are only 30 people on the plane but they didn’t have time to stock it with any meals, just snacks. We finally got off the ground about an hour and a half after we were supposed to.

I called Steve and Vanni from the Fairbanks airport as soon as we found out the flight would be delayed, and she said that they’d just check on the Internet for the arrival time, which will be around 9 p.m. instead of 7:30.

It seems incredible that we are actually going to the farthest point north in the United States—Barrow, Alaska. What a treat this trip has been! Obviously, we won’t be going anywhere like this until we drive to Austin, Texas, for the Elks Convention next July, We have been very fortunate to have had the Elks help with our expenses for the past 21 years and provide the opportunity to travel all over the United States. Granted, we spent 8 hours a day (or more) working in the newsletter office at those conventions, but we have been able to drive and see many of the 50 states along the way. Carl remarked to Bernie Carl that we’ve been in most of the states except for 7 states the Northeast (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island). Mmm, might have to add those to our bucket list.

We know we’ll be going back to Florida because of our timeshare in Cape Canaveral, but I’d like to go to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and the Sea of Cortez to see where Steinbeck wrote The Pearl. Carl would like to return to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. And I really think we’ll to return to Hawaii (Maui this time) and Alaska again (but probably in the summer during the salmon run).

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