Monday, June 3, 2013

Travel talk

Back by popular demand... and stuff.

It's been a reeeeally long time since I've posted, once again.  In the midst of the April hip injury, finishing out my season at Lifetouch, and taking on a handful of my own personal photo events, last minute plans with friends/family... time has been fleeting.  I didn't even start packing to leave for Alaska until the day before - for me, that's really bad.

I left Chicago last Thursday.  It was a horribly hectic and stressful day.  The bon voyage lunch with The Boy did not get to happen.  Things did not go as planned before I got to the airport, and continued to carry the same path after I arrived. My checked bag was overweight by 6 pounds, so there I sat on the airport floor trying to pull out the right combination of items that I could (A) carry on the plane with me, (B) would fit in my carry-on stuff, and (C) would lighten the load enough so I wouldn't be subjected to United's $100 overweight baggage fee.  Ugh.  With Aaron's help, I managed to get the bag to weight EXACTLY 50 pounds.  After that fiasco, and the organized chaos of going through security, I had just enough time to grab something super-quick for lunch and board my plane.  Upon boarding the plane, I realized the window seat that I had requested for this particular flight ended up actually being a middle seat.  I was not happy.  But at this point I just wanted to reach Seattle.  To carry on with the theme of the day, I then sat on the plane for nearly 1-1/2 hours before the plane left the gate... because we had to wait for a thunderstorm to pass through.  My only relieving thought was that I had a rather large cushion of time once I got to Seattle.  I was scheduled for a 3-hour layover.  By the time we actually left Chicago and landed in Seattle, that 3 hours turned into just a little over 1 hour.  Still I was happy to have time to make it to my next gate, sit on the floor, call The Boy, and decompress some before I had to re-board the next plane for Anchorage.

Fortunately, the next flight was uneventful.  We chased the sunset from Seattle to Anchorage... and even found that at 11:30pm, the daylight was better in Anchorage than it was when I left Seattle at 9ish pm.  Surreal indeed!

Arrival in Anchorage at 11:30pm (cell image)

I had made previous arrangements to stay overnight in Anchorage because I was going to be arriving near to midnight.  So I caught a yellow cab that whisked me away to the Spenard Hostel International.  It was after hours when I got there, but via prior e-mail I had been given the evening entry code, and was greeted with a note on the stair banister letting me know which room and bunk was mine, and that I could settle up with them in the morning.  Gotta love that!

The hostel was great - far better than the ones I stayed in last year.  Very clean, they enforced the quiet hours, and overall friendly.  Should I need lodging in Anchorage again, I'll certainly be going back.

The following afternoon, I hopped on board the Stage Line van for my 5+ hour drive between Anchorage and Homer.  I arrived in Homer just a bit after 8pm that evening, and was picked up by Allison... one of my new host family members, and her other volunteer that would be leaving the following day.  It was short drive back to their house (with an AMAZING view).  I got situated in my home away from home - a yurt - and called it a night fairly early.  I'd felt like I'd been on the go consistently for the last 2 days... and I was toast.

View from the Sterling Highway between Anchorage and Homer

View from the Sterling Highway between Anchorage and Homer
The view from the back deck of my host family's house - with the Homer Spit in view!
My new furry friend, Tutka! (cell image)
The yurt - my home-away-from-home lodging.  :)  (cell image)

Saturday, my first full day in Homer, was busy!  Allison had volunteered at her 7 year old daughter's school to help plant their garden, and her other volunteer and I tagged along to help.  We spent 2 hours planting, and helping the little kids plant beds of veggies and pots of flowers.  Once finished, we drove over to the Homer farmer's market where they have all kinds of goodies - produce, baked goods, crafts, etc.  And from there, we grabbed lunch at a little place in downtown Homer called Two Sisters Bakery.  It was at that point that Allison's other volunteer parted ways with us.  Allison and I (and 8 month old, Declan) headed back to the house to work in her greenhouse and garden for a bit.

Yesterday morning, we worked in the high tunnel for a little while before taking advantage of the beautiful Homer weather (mid-50's and sunny).  That afternoon, Allison and family (husband Malcolm, daughter Maggie Mae, and Declan) went on a bike ride on the Homer Spit, and offered to drop me off so I could do some exploring on my own.  I wandered the shops and the boardwalk, stopped for ice cream, and perused the coastline for the afternoon.  I even located the crab boat called  'Time Bandit' from the TV show Deadliest Catch in the harbor - apparently it summers in Homer.  A gorgeous day, and a really nice afternoon!

The harbor on the Spit
The Salty Dog Saloon
A memorial for those lost at sea.
A pretty common resident
The views really are this amazing!
'Time Bandit' from TV's "Deadliest Catch"
'Time Bandit' from TV's "Deadliest Catch"

In contrast, today was a drizzly cold mess.  No one wanted to get out of bed or do much of anything, but necessity demanded it.  Allison had a ton of computer work to do for her work, and was not going to be spending any time in the gardens today... so I took it on myself.  I spent the better part of this morning and early afternoon planting bulbs, weeding, and cutting greens for our dinner salad tonight.  I was pretty productive.  And this evening, we dined on grilled salmon, fresh greens, and wild rice with the family and Malcolm's mom, Bev.  After dinner, we were serenaded by 7 year old Maggie Mae's violin practice (she's pretty good!).

Tomorrow, I'll spend part of the day downtown... Allison gave me some great ideas on places to check out. I hope to get out on the coastal beach for photos, but that will depend entirely on the weather.

**I know that a lot of these photos are watermarked with a 2012 date - I'm editing with an old software version, and I didn't remember to update the date until after these images were processed.  From here on will be correct.**