Daily Archives: July 29, 2010

Alaska, Getting to Anchorage

Traveling days typically aren’t as fun as the rest of the trip and this one wasn’t an exception.   It is funny now but seemed like torture at the time.

The Flight

We left late in the day on Friday for a couple reasons.  Due to some work factors, I was only able to secure a week of vacation.  To fly on Saturday, however, would have cost a couple hundred extra dollars too purchase even more frequent flyer miles.  So I planned to work that day and we’d catch the five o’clock flight out.  Since it was April when we planned this, of course things at work cleared up and I took Friday off too.

As the goal was to use public transportation in Anchorage to avoid a ~$25+ cab fare to downtown, we needed to get there to make one of the last two buses, 9:15 or 10:15.  We were scheduled to land by 8:40 so it seemed like we might get lucky and be at the B&B and in bed by 10:30.  Take note that Alaska is three hours behind CST, so that would have been 1:30 am Minnesota time.

Turns out we boarded about half an hour late and then had to wait another twenty or so minutes to take off.  This put us squarely in line to maybe make the 10:15 bus.   The pilots must have burned some fuel because they managed to make a five hour or so flight half an hour shorter as we were on the ground by nine and to the luggage pickup area in time to see the 9:15 bus come and go.   No problem, right, we’d get our luggage shortly and then leave.

But not so fast!  Forty five minutes of trickling luggage later, we finally had our bags and made to the bus stop which was a great relief.

Bruce Lee

At the bus stop, we had the great fortune of meeting Bruce Lee’s son.  First he tried to sell us a gaudy leather and other thing necklace (real gold!) for $10.  The he asked us what time it was, and after Kristin told him “10:10” he asked us whether it was am or pm.

They he explained to us how he loved Kung Fu and how he had seen all of Bruce Lees movies.   And then that Bruce Lee was his dad.  Next that Brandon Lee was his brother who had been killed making The Crow.  That’s why he (our new best friend)  had to step in and play the role of the Hero in The Crow: City of Angels which “Hollywood paid him good money for.”  Disappointed that we didn’t follow that movie genre very well, he proceeded to tell us all about how  he had been recruited by the government out of Chicago to fly F-14’s.  Upside down and supersonic of course, he assured us this was the best way to fly them.

He then inquired as to whether we were waiting for the bus.  After we said yes, he told us we could just take his Lamborghini.  Or his limo.  Or he would fly us in his plane (not clear on whether this was his personal F-14 or what) or his helicopter.  Because he was a pilot.  And a State Trooper of twenty years.  A lot of work being a state trooper, you know.  Oh yeah, and he got deployed to Iraq.  He got shot in the leg and in the belly, both shots went clean through the body armor both ways.  In Vietnam he got shot in the head.

Finally the bus came and about five of us got on.  Of course, our new buddy sat up front by us and kept interrupting the driver, asking him if this was the last bus downtown, slurring how he needed to get to “Brown Jugs” liquor store because his wife was home drunk with the kids, and reiterating that he had been a state trooper for twenty years.   He saw a liquor store about five minutes into our trip and jumped off the bus which was a relief.

It was mildly amusing at the time and kind of sad in retrospect.  Evidently alcholism is a major problem with the native folks there and we saw many on street corners; the lady from Enterprise that picked us up the next day indicated that was one of the reasons that she was excited about leaving Alaska for the lower 48.  She had a drunk guy come into their house while they were home completely out of his gourd and in Anchorage I guess this is typical.

Arctic B&B

Bed and breakfast was a bit of a misnomer for this place.  It was more like a Hostel with shared bathrooms, etc.  True to the websites claim, it was the cheapest rates in town. It also slammed a wall of smoking pollution in our faces when we stepped into our room that left the clothes we wore into there reeking and lacked blinds to block out the tremendous amount of light available all night long in Alaska.  We did find a nice pleasant place to eat in the Spenard Roadhouse, barely making it in before the kitchen closed at 11.  This was the first of many times we cut it close to (or missed) closing time at places because it was so light out.  How could they be closing when the sun was only just now setting?

Anyway, the fun continued the next morning when we grabbed some breakfast from the shared main room and retreated, not wanting to use the shower despite its apparent cleanliness.   We had to wait until ~10 am for our rental car  and we couldn’t sleep in the smoke choked room past seven we went for a walk.   An interesting site in Alaska are the little coffee huts on many corners.  We wimped out and went and sat at the nice starbucks in the local Barnes & Noble store.  Around nine we headed back to make sure we were packed and ready to go.  That’s when the domestic dispute started upstairs.  F-bombs and heavy thumping proceeded.  I called Enterprise to see if they would pick us up early, nope.  We endured this for a while and finally just stood outside in the rare sun and nice temps.  Finally we checked out and were picked up by a friendly Enterprise lady.

That was when the trip really got started 🙂