Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wainwright to Barrow to Anchorage

Wainwright to Barrow to Anchorage

• Friday, November 25, 2011

We got up at 6:00 to fly back to Barrow at 9 a.m. (we're 3 hours ahead of the Midwest). There is no terminal in Wainwright because the airstrip is smaller than the Charles City airport. We just got a ride from the Olgoonik hotel manager at 8 a.m. in his pickup. Scott was really nice to call ERA Aviation in Barrow to let them know we wanted to come on the morning flight instead of the evening flight. I hadn’t realized until I looked at the tickets last night that we were scheduled for the night flight. The pilot will have our names on his clipboard! Then we are going to see if we can catch an 11:30 a.m. Alaska Airlines flight to Anchorage instead of waiting until 8:30 p.m. That way we'll get to spend more time with our friends Vic and Kathi Johns in Palmer.

It was a bigger plane from Wainwright to Barrow with maybe 18 seats, and there were 4 passengers. They unloaded a lot of freight before we boarded. There’s no TSA security, no baggage tags on your luggage, no checking of your ID. You just put your bags by the cargo door and climb up the stairs! The co-pilot is the baggage handler, and he wears a headlight lamp over his stocking cap to help him unload the cargo. He and the pilot are wearing Carhart coveralls. The freight is loaded into a pickup with “ERA Alaska” painted on the sideboards!

In Barrow we tried to get on the morning flight out of Barrow, but it was full so we came as scheduled on the evening flight. Spent the day at the AC Store in Barrow where we had lunch. We were so thankful that Steve Culbertson had showed us around, and we just got a cab after checking our bags at the airport for the day. The flight from Barrow was not full at all, so we had a row of 3 seats to ourselves. Of course, it has been dark every time we have flown (hey, it’s dark 22 hours a day in the winter), so we didn’t get to see the Brooks Range or any herds of caribou.

The plane stopped in Fairbanks and all but 4 seats are now occupied. When we landed, it really was pretty with the snow. We arrived in Anchorage at 11:30 and came to the Coast International Inn. It was snowing lightly, just like it should on Christmas Eve, and that 's the first falling snow we've been in this year. All that we've seen in Alaska so far has been on the ground or just a few flakes in the air. Yesterday it started at 6 a.m. and was coming down at the rate of an inch an hour, according to our friends in Palmer when we talked to them. 

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