Tal and I are settled in our comfortable room at The Alpine Lodge within sight of the Fairbanks International Airport at the end of a long day. This morning we rose promptly at the sound of the 5:30 alarm. My watch now tells me it’s 1:00AM -- tomorrow. Of course, the long-shadowed daylight outside the window has my body mightily confused, as does the bedside clock that glows 8:00.
I am deeply grateful to be here and to be here with Tal, who can now say he’s set foot in 49 of the 50 states. While the day was long, everything went smoothly, from locking up the house (sadly in need still of dust cloth and vacuum cleaner) and dropping Whitby and Belle at the vet’s office (along with a large vase of roses for the receptionist that we couldn’t bear to leave on the kitchen table or simply to throw away) to four airports (Columbia, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Fairbanks) and three aircraft (a Freedom Airlines Embraer 145, a CRJ 700 operated by Comair and a Northwest Boeing 757 -- all technically belonging to Delta). We moved north and west pretty much on time, the longest delay being at the gate in Cincinnati where an on board coffee maker had to be replaced before we could depart. Couldn't fly without that and I did ask for coffee during beverage service in appreciation.
The flip side of the long hours is the opportunity to sit quietly, aware of the magic of the adventure in which we are involved -- and to read for lengthy periods. Tal is into a Louis Lamoure and I am being awed by Greg Mortenson’s saga of school-building in Pakistan in “Three Cups of Tea.”
All three aircraft flew full, our flight into Fairbanks met by well-scrubbed, placard-toting folks from Celebrity, Princess, Gray Line and the likes. AND, our two bags rode up a conveyor from under baggage claim, made a hard right, dropped an amazing three feet onto the carousel and after circumnavigating 3/4 of the long oval track found themselves back in our possession. Miraculous.
Harder, I think, than the hours of sitting in close quarters in airport waiting areas and while hurtling through the sky is the challenge of eating. The terminals all have restaurants, of course, but connection times being what they are and sheer numbers of travelers kept a sit down meal from being a possibility. In Cincinnati I found raw almonds and a granola bar at a newsstand. In Minneapolis, while Tal sat with the camera equipment, I walked back to a kiosk vendor I’d spotted for a turkey sandwich and a bottle of milk. Delta has the most delicious ginger cookies, called Biscoff, which we savored on each leg of the journey. They taste much like the ginger crinkles my mother used to make, only very crunchy rather than soft. But, a meal they do not make.
While we avoided the pizza and chip temptation through the day, we arrived here hungry and not quite too tired to care. The hotel’s restaurant, called The Finish Line (I’ll have to find out why tomorrow), was our closest choice and the only one not requiring a taxi. We ate beautiful fresh green salads and shared a crab cake appetizer, none of which I’m sad to say I actually tasted, but which I hope will help me sleep.