A Travellerspoint blog

Day Five - Anchorage, Alaska

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The last hour or so of our flight into Anchorage was spent with the cabin locked down due to predicted turbulence. It didn't eventuate. Landed and disembarked into a quite modern and spacious airport building. Found and retrieved our luggage and went in search of transport to the hotel. When we found the taxi at the head of the queue he suggested we call for the hotel shuttle. Decided to do that and stood like dummies before being advised we needed to call the hotel. Who would have thought ??

Called the hotel via a 'special' phone inside the terminal, greeted by the night clerk and told he'd be there in 5 to 10 minutes. Close to 30 minutes latter we opened our cases to find some extra warm gear. The temperature wasn't all that cold but the wind was icy. The shuttle arrived, picked us up and the driver made us comfortable in the hotel lobby. He also advised us of a number of possible breakfast locations.

Walked less that five minutes and found that the recommended place didn't open at 06:00 as expected on Sunday's it opens at 08:00. Selected an alternative where we had more than enough food to last us all day. The US$ 10 breakfast - each, with gratuities and FX fees will likely come to about AU$ 40. Food is not cheap but servings are huge.

Back to the hotel lobby and waited for a room to be available. At about 10:00 AM, a good five hours early for check-in we were handed the key and directed to an upgraded, ground floor suite. Nicely done Lakeshore Inn !! Stripped and crashed onto the lovely king-sized bed.

By about 16:00 we surfaced and went for a short walk along part of the Hood Lake Seaplane Base. What an interesting location. There are many, many small seaplanes moored along the shore of this busy airdrome. There are up to 300 arrivals and departures in a day. We saw at least six or eight in a very short time.

Back to the hotel and prepared to revisit the restaurant that was still closed this morning. Classed as traditional Alaskan eatery it certainly had an old-time rustic decor and a comprehensive menu. Jenny ordered a 'small' cheeseburger and fries. I challenged myself by ordering the extra-large chilly with a loaf of bread. The loaf was a sizable cob enough for four. The chilly filled a bowl that had at least six normal serves. In cup sizes I'm guessing at least six to eight cups and possibly more. I did eventually manage to eat all the chilly but was beaten by the bread loaf !!

Staggered back to the hotel to write up these notes. Plans for tomorrow are somewhat hazy as the US President is due to visit here tomorrow. Road closures and restricted access to some areas of downtown are predicted. Well and truly ready for more bed time.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view photo for today by following this link to my main album

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 22:06 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day Four - North to Alaska

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Packed up and left the room about 11:00. Handed in the 'keys' and waited for the booked 'Speedie Shuttle'. The van was fully loaded but there was enough room for us.

The driver dropped us off outside the Alaska Air desk and within minutes our baggage had been checked in. Off to the USO to spend the next seven or eight hours. Big disappointment !! No Sir, US Military only. Not the welcome we'd expected.

There were long queues waiting to be checked through the security screening. The official looked at our boarding passes and sent us off to a queue where there was virtually no-one. No idea why but we sailed through while hundreds stood in the long queue. On closer examination I found the boarding pass was marked "TSA Precheck", no idea who, why or when that was endorsed but suspect that was why we went through the same line as aircraft crew.

Found a seat in the crowded 'food court' for a quick lunch. Spent the next eight hours sitting in the departure lounge. Boarding was the usual shambles with people being re-directed because they had jumped the queue. Surprising were a number of families with a baby still in the pusher. Then there were people too large to fit in their allocated seats and they had to re-assign others to make room. No physical confrontation but some unhappy travels.

Departure was scheduled for 20:55 but at 21:30 we were still waiting to push off. Something to do with the state of the 'sewage' tank not having been emptied. A very long drive out to the runway and it was close to 22:00 by the time we were airborne. A mostly uneventful flight, beverage service and some water but no food despite a six hour flight. On-board entertainment is via individual tablets or you could hire one for the duration. I didn't bother.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view photo for today by following this link to my main album

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 21:59 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day Three - Zero Stress

Friday, 28 August 2015

Eased into the day and even managed to snap some images of the rising sun. Didn't expend too much energy, just stepped out the door. Spent some time attending to emails and catching up to the latest news from Australia, sounds like the South East of NSW is being inundated by record rainfall.

We've decided to spend up big for lunch today. There's a book in the room featuring local restaurants and we've picked Tony Roma's. It is under a mile away and Google predicts 15 minutes walking.

Found the place and we were surprised at the size of the dining room. My guess is at least seating for 200. The menu is extensive but my focus was on BBQ Ribs. Ordered the "St Louis Ribs Full Slab (12 Bones)" with cole slaw and the 'Loaded Baked Potato'. It arrived on a large oval platter and extra napkins. The meat was tender and the sauce finger-licking good. Made a proper mess of my meal. Meanwhile Jenny ordered a chicken salad with grilled vegetables and cheese coated flat bread. It arrived on a large plate too and was about as big as she could manage. To clean the sticky fingers and face they thoughtfully provide warmed moist towelettes - nice touch. Not that we needed it but we both backed up for deserts. No rush and we waddled out of there just before 2 PM for a leisurely walk back to the room.

The morning clouds have burned off and the sun is quite intense but we found it more bearable than on the day of our arrival. A notable feature of this area is the trees and green edges along the footpaths. In many places the trees completely shade the footpath making the walk more comfortable.

Decided to spend the heat of the day in air-conditioned comfort. Will consider a possible evening stroll.

Once the sun had set we wandered down to the local bank and withdrew some more US cash. I now have a slab of $20 bills that would choke a bull. Pity the ATMs only dispense $20 bills. Consumed most of the fresh produce still in the refrigerator leaving just enough for breakfast in the morning.

Tomorrow is going to be a difficult day with check-out at 11:00 AM and the flight time being 9:00 PM leaving us with 10 hours to fill in. We could leave the luggage in the hotel lobby and wander the streets in the heat for five or six hours, but that isn't an attractive option. We've decided to go out to the airport at 11:00 and spend time in the USO lounge, if they'll have us. No idea what it is like but anything is better than sitting or standing around in the departure lounge waiting to check in our luggage.

To some of you reading this, it may appear that we've wasted our time here in Honolulu but we've been here a number of times before and have visited all of the obvious tourist attractions. The time we've spent just lounging around has recharged our batteries after the frantic three weeks after the move to Canberra. Nothing to do and all day to do it. Heaven !!

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view photo for today by following this link to my main album

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 23:28 Archived in USA Tagged honolulu Comments (1)

Day Two - Recovery in Honolulu

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Slept late and did very little. Spent part of the morning recharging the Kindles and the phones. Tried to stick the suction hooks on the wall of the shower - total failure after three attempts, gave up. We use the hooks, when they work, to hang our dainties to dry after we rinse them. OK !! I admit, my boxers can't be considered dainty.

Had the regular afternoon showers but they were nothing like the storm that belted us yesterday. After the rain we ventured out and visited the ATM again. The exchange rate is not favourable but they are unlikely to improve. Also picked up replacements for the scissors and multi-tool that was confiscated by airport security. Didn't spend too much as they will possibly fail the ship's scrutiny. There is a certain length of blade that marks the limit of edged blades that can be taken aboard. Yes ALL the check-through luggage is scanned as is the carry-on.

Picked up some more food to tide us over until check-out on Saturday. The kitchen facilities in the apartment are a bonus giving us the flexibility to eat when and what we eat. With a full stove, microwave, toaster and even a rice-cooker there isn't any real limit to what we can cook. The real limit is the weight of produce we can carry from the supermarket.

The free WiFi in the room is excellent and I've applied as many of the software upgrades that Microsoft insists are necessary. I'll have to turn the 'update' facility off when we board the ship. I just can't afford the $0.75 per minute on a slow connection for updates.

We intend to get a bit more active tomorrow but it will largely depend on the weather as to when we venture out. The stop here in Honolulu is performing its planned function as we both feel fully recovered from any Jet lag. The shock of the heat and humidity is more difficult to adjust to.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view photo for today by following this link to my main album

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 23:27 Archived in USA Tagged honolulu Comments (1)

Day One - Canberra to Honolulu

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

G'day Friends and Followers

Just a brief note to let you know that we've arrived and have settled into the 'hotel'. Strange set-up with the reception in one building and our accommodation in another complex about two blocks down the road. Certainly not the most impressive establishment but Jenny judged it "All right" because the sheets are clean. I must admit it wasn't the top priority for me.

The journey overall went very well and there were no problems. On the contrary, when we checked in at the Canberra Airport we were given two visitor passes to the QANTAS Lounge. A comfortable place to while away a few hours.

The security check was a new experience with me receiving special treatment in the form of a physical pat down rather than a scan. We were also caught out with some prohibited items in our carry-on luggage. I lost a small Leatherman Tool and Jenny a pair of scissors. Jenny was also singled out for a drug test - it is because she looks so sweet and innocent and would no doubt fit the profile for the perfect 'drug mule'. There was a long wait in Sydney, fully expected and we departed about 22:40. The flight was uneventful and I managed to doze off for a good part of the trip.

Arrival in Honolulu reminded us that the Tropics are HOT and HUMID. It didn't take long for my shirt to be completely saturated. While we waited in the queues for Border Security we were twice selected, along with a dozen or so others, to join other queues that were moving faster. A bit like a VIP promotion. Again no hassles and reasonably fast processing.

Connecting with the 'shuttle' crew was somewhat haphazard but again not unexpected. There was a considerable delay as other members of the group were located and we waited for the bus to arrive. An additional little incident occurred when our bus was involved in a very minor collision. Someone bumped us from the rear, no damage to the bus but the driver was most concerned when I mentioned 'whiplash'. He was much relieved when I told him I was kidding. He must have asked us at least five times to find out if we were hurt in any way. It would have been a LOT of paperwork all round

We had to fill in some time after we checked into the 'hotel', our room was not yet ready. Their check-in time is 15:00. During a walk to fill in time we withdrew some money from an ATM. There are transaction limits, not very clearly stated and all amounts are paid in $20 bills. That makes for quite a bundle when we're withdrawing a few hundred.

The 'studio apartment' is quite comfortable comprising of a large bedroom, quite adequate kitchen and a sizable lounge room.

As I write this we are experiencing a violent thunderstorm accompanied by a tropical down-pour. We'll have to find something to eat or at least some supplies for our three day stay but may have to hold off for an hour or two.

Take care and enjoy the chills of the Australian winter.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view photo for today by following this link to my main album

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 21:53 Archived in USA Tagged flight honolulu Comments (1)

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