6/7/19 My Place Hotel, Anchorage, AK
‘Getting Up Early’ to get some work done takes on new meaning up here. Exhausted after the five-plus hour flight from Denver to Anchorage, we didn’t do a whole lot but settle into the hotel, grab some dinner, and hit the sack. I think it was barely 7:30 when we turned off the light and went to sleep.
As an old fart I find it difficult to sleep more than six or eight hours anyway, so I started stirring around 4:00 AM. Curiously, there is all this light coming from behind the window blinds. At first I thought it was hotel lighting, but remembering that the days are much longer in the summer at these latitudes, I pushed the blinds away a bit. Sure enough, the hotel didn’t need any artificial lighting – it was simply already daylight. Looking it up on my Weather Undergound app and there it is – Sunrise at 4:25 and Sunset at 23:29. My god, that is barely five hours of nighttime! And we’re not even to the solstice yet, so nights are only going to get shorter.
Of course, people get used to this, at least in some fashion. But exactly how does that work? Do Alaskans simply get by on less sleep? Do their circadian rhythms somehow stop taking cues from the sun? Do Alaskans simply have more control over their bodies so they can ‘force’ themselves to get sleep? What will happen to Joan and I? We don’t need as much sleep as we used to, but we certainly do need some – we get tired easily, will we get even more tired with these mixed up solar cues? I guess that is part of the adventure.
And with today’s post I think I can safely say that the Alaskan Odyssey has started – we are here now, none of this preliminary travel stuff in Colorado. Our feet are touching Alaskan soil, after two years of thinking and planning about it – we are actually here.
The flight was actually as bad as I expected it to be. We were, as we thought, in the last row of seats just in front of the toilet. With that lucky location, we were unable to move our seat backs even a millimeter and, lucky us, we got to hear every single toilet flush. (Thankfully, other than people clunking around in there, we didn’t hear any other typical toilet noises! And, as far as I knew, no-one got sick, so …)
But the legroom was intensely painful. The dude in front of me did decide to lower his seat back a bit – he could – and the chair hit my right knee cap when he did. But I was already in pretty good pain, so the incremental increase wasn’t all that noticeable.
Joan slid into the middle seat and, given her size, she actually fit fairly well. She tried to slide her backpack under the seat, but couldn’t wedge it down onto the floor between the seat and the next-row seat back. So I had to find space in the overhead bin, which, since we were in boarding group 4, was already pretty full.
Once she was in there, I began my descent. I stuck my right leg over next to hers and then tried to slide my butt and back down the seat back. I got about halfway down before my knee hit the seat in front. About this time, the dude in front of me has to adjust his seat, so bam my kneecap suffered another blow. With a great deal of twisting I got my knee off to the right of the seat support, over into Joan’s knee area. Then letting the sheer weight of my oversized carcass, I just fell into the seat, my knees pushing the seat in front of me about to the maximum of its metal limits. There was a burst of pain, but, at least I was in there.
I repeated that process four more times during the five hour trip. I simply couldn’t stay in that position the full five hours, but had to get up several times to shake the cramps out of my right leg. The left leg wasn’t too bad – I managed to find a position where that knee stuck out into the aisle. That of course works just fine right up until they start serving food and beverage. Those carts, running up and down the aisle are almost as wide as the aisle, so there isn’t much room for a knee in there as well. If I paid attention, I could try and retract the knee some and move it inward as much as possible. Then the cart just hit the knee on a glancing blow instead of full on. Of course, when the carts came up from the galley, I couldn’t see them and my arm and shoulder got clobbered a couple of times. We took advantage of the booze cart a couple of times for gin and tonics – helped ease the pain.
I was hoping to write on the plane and, for that purpose, I brought my iPad. However, after getting into my seat I tried to lower the tray to support my device. The tray hit my tummy and wouldn’t go down all the way. When I positioned the iPad between my tummy and the seat, I couldn’t open the keyboard. So the iPad stayed in the seat pouch the entire trip. In between pain-relief spells, I tried to read my Michener book. Made some progress, but my discomfort was distracting and will probably have to reread that chapter.
Coming into Anchorage was visually stunning. I’m used to the Rockies, of course, since I live in them. But the mountains around Anchorage have a lot more snow. And the contrast between the peaks and the Gulf of Alaska is remarkable. Unfortunately, picture taking opportunities three-seats over weren’t very good, and it was difficult to get to my phone anyway. So pictures will have to wait another opportunity.
Despite a lot of traffic – Ted Stevens airport is one of the busiest because it is a common fueling stop between the U.S. and Asia – the airport is fairly small. It almost has a small town feel. We started to reduce our stress.
While in Anchorage, we are staying at the My Place Hotel. Apparently this is a new hotel chain, attempting to compete in the budget category, with things like Holiday Inn Express and the like. They are designed with small kitchens and so are intended for long-term stay, but that gives us some cheaper opportunities for meals. Staff is new, but friendly and, after one night, we are learning how to get breakfast, but are happy with the quiet and the comfortable beds.
After settling in yesterday afternoon, we hiked a few blocks to an Anchorage hot spot, The Moose’s Tooth, a pizzeria and brew pub. They offer a full menu of home-brewed beers. I had a Raspberry Wheat that was very good, although I’m not exactly a beer expert. We ordered their ‘Call of the Wild’ pizza with reindeer sausage – very different kind of taste, but not gamey. We both enjoyed it very much, although part of it might have been just being tired and relieved that we were here. JoJo, our waitress, was fun and informative. In fact, our initial impression is that Anchoragians are friendly sorts.
Joan is up now, and we are starting to plan the day. I best wrap this up and get moving.