My next few postings will deal with the conference, but since Walt asked, here's my odyessey:
Sunday March 28 - Board a plane in Fairbanks Alaska around 1pm with three fellow librarians and an author/presenter.
Flight plan is Fairbanks to Anchorage, then board a plane that goes to Juneau with stops in Cordova and Yakutat. When we arrive in Anchorage, we are told our flight is cancelled due to bad weather. We are booked on the same flight on Monday. (approximately 3pm)
One of my friends suggests we rent a car and stay at a reasonably priced downtown hotel. We agree and five of us pile into a small car with our luggage. Careful packing on our part enables the trunk to hold most of what we have, with me and another person holding small bags in our laps.
We check into the Anchorage Westmark (recommended) and have a WONDERFUL dinner at the Glacier Brewhouse -- food and beer both recommended. Nothing like three librarians and an author for stimulating conversation.
Monday March 29,
We have a very pleasant breakfast in good company and decide to tour the UAA consortium library, since at conference I'd been invited to do so "next time I was in Anchorage." The five of us agree that even though construction was in progress, it is a fine facility with a lot of potential.
We hop on the plane. We are told "conditions are marginal in Juneau -- we may have to land in Sitka instead." That's ok. We've previously determined that there was a viable ferry connection in Sitka that evening. If we get stranded there, we'll just spend an extra 40 bucks and get HOME! We get to Cordova w/o incident and land in Yakutat ok. At Yakutat we stay on the ground -- without being let out -- for an hour and a half. We are waiting for conditions in Juneau or Sitka to clear. Sadly, weather is very bad in both places. Alaska Airlines decides to route us directly to Seattle.
Midnight Mar 29/30 - We arrive at the Seattle airport very bleary eyed. Airport staff inform us booking counter is closed and gives us discount hotel vouchers and the Alaska Airlines 800 number. Dozens of people rush to phones. One of our number is fortunate to have a sister in Seattle and drives off with her.
After consulting with us about conditions and library personalities in Juneau, our author friend understandably gives up trying to come to Juneau, since her last talk was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon and returns to her home.
After some haggling, I am booked on a Wed 6:30pm flight. One librarian friend is booked Wed at 8am and the other at Wed at 3pm. We join the aforementioned dozens of people at the Seattle Clarion around 1am where a clerk does an excellent job of checking in very annoyed and sleepy people.
Tuesday March 30 - Spent a great (under the circumstances) day with my two friends, both of whom have been to Seattle before. We check out the Pike St. Market (go see it), the Seattle Art Musuem, and the Space Needle (great place for sunsets). I'm so fascinated by the Seattle Art Museum that I leave my backpack with flight confirmation code there. Ugh! After the Space Needle, we had a small dinner at Ivar's seafood place. Ivar's is rightly renowned for the clam chowder it ships throughout the Northwest.
Wednesday March 31st.
One friend leaves on his 8am flight and does get into Juneau. My other friend and I take a leisurely drive through West Seattle on our way back to the Seattle Art Musuem. Once my bag is recovered, we go to the Seattle Aquarium. The Aquarium has a great display of sea otters and sea lions which I could have watched all day. However, my friend and I did want to go home so we drove our rental car back to the airport so we would be in time for her 3pm flight, which I entertained dreams of flying standby on.
Once we get to the airport, my confirmation code does not work, much to my dismay. I see a live ticket agent who tells me that the computer believes that I used up my ticket since I did board a plane in Anchorage. My being in SEATTLE as opposed to JUNEAU doesn't concern its binary logic. Thankfully, humans are more flexible and she fixes me up with manual paperwork to go with my boarding pass.
HOWEVER, this manual paperwork flags me for "secondary screening" in Security. Being a displaced passenger apparently being a cause for suspicion. I had to take off my shoes and belt, empty my pockets of nonmetallic items and turn down my waistband and be physically patted down. In addition, they search my backpack (which I understand) and my wallet (which I do not understand). Eventually they let me go. I am NOT grateful to my government for this treatment, but plan to write no letters at this time. I think we'd be better off creating separate cockpit entrances and walling off the passenger cabin than these intensive screenings -- but that's another story for another time.
9:20pm HOME IN JUNEAU!!!! My wife brought me roses and a card! I am thrilled to be so loved.
This sort of travel disruption truly isn't common in Southeast Alaska, but it's not rare either. It's something people should be prepared for, but not to expect. Much of Alaska doesn't have this problem at all, as the capital movers often remind us. Still, I'm grateful for my little piece of rainforest.
Until next time,