28 June 2009

Waiting long

Now, Tal tells me I never have to confess this mistake. But, no account of our Alaskan adventure will be complete without it. I promise.

As we boarded the Super 8 airport shuttle at 9:00 this morning, I looked at our Delta/Northwest itinerary for the umpteenth time -- checking, checking, always checking. My heart stopped, then sank. My blood froze. My head began spinning. That irritating buzz that happens when I'm confused flipped on. The single letter behind behind 11:50 was not an "A," it was a "P." I told Tal above the van's squeaking and rattling that I thought I had some bad news, but that I'd save it until we arrived at the airport.

Indeed, I was oh, so terribly right. Our bad news and angst was magnified by the fact that the Delta/Northwest counter was not even open, their first flight out not being until 7:00PM -- to Detroit. With no one to ask anything and since we couldn't move beyond that point without a boarding pass, what did I do? First, purchased two cups of Starbucks coffee and two luscious muffins. (Did I mention that the Super 8 had run completely out of breakfast food and wasn't expecting a delivery until Monday?) Second, signed on to the Internet. It was then that I learned that there were no morning or even early afternoon flights on any airline going east. Oh, I just hate it when things like this happen.

My darling Tal took the news in stride and settled in with his book. We took turns exploring that part of the terminal, a remarkable, bright building filled with all manner of art, the building itself, come to think about it, an art object. At 2:00 or so a lone Delta/Northwest agent appeared at the counter. Sympathetically, she confirmed that we were stuck, assigned seats, issued our boarding passes and relieved us of our luggage, declaring us free to move about the building.

If we had to be 15 hours early for a flight, this was certainly the right place to be. We were comfortable and entertained in the spacious observation deck, overlooking the runways on one side and the lobby (security) one level below on the other. We read, plane and people watched. I wandered with the camera. The hours passed.

Looking toward the main entrance of the terminal from the observation deck. Security is to the right. Concourse is to the left.

Interesting lights over the entrance to the concourse.

Here is the view from where we sat for much of the afternoon. Alaska Airlines is predominant. The airport also does a remarkable cargo business with carriers from all over the world, especially the far east (China, Korea), the predominant aircraft being DC-10s and Boeing 747s.

Speaking of cargo planes. The one (which I cannot identify) on the runway in this shot is huge, completely dwarfing the Boeing 747 waiting on the taxiway behind and to the left of it.

The mountains are both an actual feature here, the airport positioned between the Cook Inlet and the Chugach Mountains, and the terminal itself mimicking the mountains (with the feature, sightly cut off) in the upper right of the photograph.

We had a leisurely (how else might it have been given our situation?) supper at the only sit-down restaurant in the terminal -- a Chili's, enjoying our final Alaskan brews -- beer for Tal and wine for me. The sun's beginning to set and we'll be boarding our flight soon.

Homeward bound, finally ...

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