Monday, June 9, 2008

Alaska, the journey.

I finally got to visit Alaska! Martin and I, along with our very good friend Dan, flew up to Anchorage on May 25, flew to St. Paul Island, part of the Pribilof Islands in the Berring Sea the next day for 5 days, went back to Anchorage for 3 more days and came home June 3. It was an exhausting trip with many high points and a couple of low points, one being extremely low. I normally do these blogs as a day by day experience. I am going to write this one a little differently, as the days on St. Paul were all pretty much the same and are running together in my mind.

Martin and I left out of Dallas mid-day on the 25th. Our plans called for us to meet Dan in Minneapolis and then fly on the Anchorage, arriving at about 7pm. There were storms and possible tornados predicted for the Minneapolis area, so we were a bit concerned. Our flight got in without a hitch, but I had a voice mail on my phone from Dan saying that he had not been so lucky. His flight to Minneapolis had been cancelled and he had been re-routed through Chicago and wouldn't arrive in Anchorage until after 11pm. We kept a nervous eye on the sky, but nothing developed and our flight took off on time. The pilot announced that we were having to fly around some weather and would be a few minutes late, but it was no big deal. The next day I found out that a tornado hit a suburb of Minneapolis less than an hour after we left, killing a person, so we truly dodged a bullet!

We had an long uneventful flight, on which I pulled different books and my I-pod out of my carrier bag. The vistas below the plane changed from flat farm land to green mountains to snow capped mountains to glacier covered mountains. It was breathtaking, to be cliched.

We landed, picked up our luggage and went to the courtesy phone to get the van to our hotel. I called the hotel and no one answered. Not good. I left a message, but knew that wasn't going to cut it. I called back in a couple of minutes and the front desk clerk answered. I asked about the shuttle and she said "Oh, the shuttle driver called in. You will have to take a cab." I was pissed and let her know. She was very sweet and said "Its ok, just have the driver come in and we will pay him". We grabbed a cab and headed over. The hotel was decent, nothing special, but it looked clean and the lobby was ok.

The clerk asked for my credit card and I reached into my bag. It wasn't in the pocket I usually keep it in. My gut dropped a bit, but this is a huge bag. It was in there. It had to be. I checked the main part of the bag, I checked the side pocket. I checked the other side pocket. I checked the zipper compartment. I even checked the cell phone pocket. No wallet. I was exhausted from the flight and I was fighting hysteria. Martin handed the girl his card and she was very sweet. She gave me a phone number for Northwest Airlines and we lugged our gear upstairs.

I called Northwest and the agent was great. He called both airports and left messages. He told me they would call back shortly. I still didn't feel great, to say the least. I hung up and started calling credit card companies. I had just gotten Amex, when my cell phone rang. I was a ground agent at Northwest, advising me they found the wallet on the plane!!! I couldn't believe it. I told him we would be at the airport in the morning, but he said he would bring it by to the hotel, as it was close by, when he got off of work at 11pm. I was stunned. I am constantly disappointed by customer service people. This was incredible.

We relaxed for a minute, while Martin called his friend, Dave, one the best birders in the state. It was only about 8pm, so he came by and picked us up to go birding for a little while. I was so shaken and tired that I remember very little of it, except seeing a dipper nest. We got back to the hotel at about 10pm, with the sun still brightly shining. We went upstairs and I waited for the guy from Northwest. About 11pm I went downstairs and was fooling around on the computer in the lobby. I looked up to see Dan walking in. I was so glad to see that he made it. Right after he arrived the guy from Northwest walked in with my wallet. He handed me the wallet, while Dan said "Hey! Make her show some ID before you give it to her" The guy laughed and said he had already looked and even though my hair is a different color, he recognized me. I went up to bed and despite it still being light, I fell asleep.

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