Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy Birthday, Aidan, and how we spent one more day in Anchorage

Called AK Air this morning and were told there were no seats available at all today. Yes, flights were going but we were not getting on any of them. Resigned, we got on the computer and pricelined another room, halfway expecting to get the Millennium again but we were given the Sheraton for $50. Happy to get a room for $50 but that meant we had to pack up and move to a different place. Reserved the car for another day. Checked my emails and a little birdie blog reader had sent me a message that fellow blogger Lauri (Life on the Rock--the Unalaska one, not the Akutan one) was here in Anchorage at Providence Hospital! Bless Lauri's heart, she'd been having some respiratory problems for several days and finally got flown to Anchorage. Rich and I ran down to say hi and see if she needed anything. She was in good spirits and said to tell everyone hi--she will definitely be blogging about her experiences when she can. She has taken up knitting and has had a friend spending a lot of time in her room with her, so that's good. And is quitting smoking, so that's even better. We know that's a hard habit to break but know you can do it, Lauri--take care of yourself, we want you around for a long time to come!! Hey, everyone, go to Lauri's blog and send her some good wishes!

So we did a bunch of running around today. Had a fabulous late breakfast at the Snow City Cafe. We found this place when we were here another time and just loved it. SO busy! I think everyone in town loves it. We drove by yesterday and it was packed but today we managed to get in around 11 so the breakfast crowd was gone and the lunch crowd had not started arriving yet. Dee-lish! Then to the Post Office to mail 47 pounds of frames and supplies in a big box marked FRAGILE. We bought some insurance, halfway expecting that at least some of them will be shattered by the time they arrive. However, we were most surprised and pleased that the shipping was only $18. SO much cheaper than ordering stuff from down south and having to pay for shipping. Then to the 5th Avenue Mall where we browsed the shops, bought Rich some shoes, and I stocked up on greeting cards at Hallmark.

The photo above is from the favorite store of many Alaskans, Fred Meyer, aka "Freddy's." I told Rich I was sure we would run into someone we knew, and sure enough, there was Amy Rose at the counter returning some items! We had a good chat; she, Forest and Arne are doing great in Anchorage and it was so nice to see her. She recommended we try a place called Dami for supper--Japanese and sushi--which is exactly what we did. Turns out it's right around the corner from our hotel and we just finished a very nice dinner there. Thanks for the suggestion, Amy!

Lauren, our general manager at UCB, was supposed to fly from Unalaska to Portland tonight for the same conference I am trying to attend. She called to say she was still scheduled to leave home at 8 PM but her Portland flight had been cancelled. She went on to say that she'd just heard that the volcano had blown again! We'd been in and out of the car all day and hadn't heard a word. Oh. my. gosh. She was trying to decide what to do, and we are both wondering if either of us will make it to the conference. Rich and I are still confirmed on the milk run tomorrow, but not sure how likely that is looking. We have now missed his sister Vesta altogether (we were all meeting at their brother George and wife Nadine's in Sutherlin, OR before the conference) and she has headed home to California. If we get out tomorrow, Rich can still go to see George and Nadine while I am finishing up my training. But what are the chances?? (Based on the poll on the sidebar, not good!)

Finally, just have to send out birthday wishes to my sweet grandson, Aidan, who just turned 6. I talked with him after school and he sounded like he had a happy day. He is my #1 boy and I am just crazy about him (as I am my two little granddaughters as well). As I mentioned with Bonnie yesterday, I don't have photos on this new laptop but you can just imagine his big blue eyes and cute smile (or go back and look at older posts!) We love you and miss you lots, Aidan!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Bonnie, from "Still Stranded."

Today was my middle daughter Bonnie's birthday. Hope you had a great day, Bon! I am on a new computer and totally forgot to transfer any photos so I could upload a few to commemorate the occasion. :( But you know we love you lots and wish we could have been there to celebrate with you.

Above is a small slice of the scene at the Anchorage airport today. When we got up this morning, we called Alaska Air to check on flights. Lo and behold, we were told that we could get on a flight at 3 PM but to get to the airport early because it was going to be a madhouse. It was a sunny day with a lot of snow on the ground, clear skies, no sign of ashfall. We were feeling giddy that we were actually leaving! After returning our rental car, we walked into the terminal only to discover that the volcano had erupted again and all flights to Seattle were cancelled. You. have. got. to. be. kidding. me. We hauled our luggage over to the AK Air counter to have the information confirmed. For some odd reason, they were still sending planes to Honolulu. Now I do not get this at all. If it is unsafe to take off, it's unsafe to take off, right? We had a split second thought about changing our trip to Hawaii.

Ran into a few people from Unalaska, one of whom stated that the volcano was erupting as they flew past. How exciting would that be?! Apparently at least one flight got in, maybe more. I called Lauren, the general manager at the station, discussing when our point of no return would be. She's trying to get to ANC tomorrow and all the way to Portland to attend the same conference I am supposed to attend. Unfortunately, since Rich and I changed our flight to today, we lost our confirmed seats for tomorrow. I called AK Air back and the first confirmed seats we could get will be on the aforementioned "milk run" through Juneau on Wednesday--the day my conference begins. We were told to call back tomorrow as other flights may be added. So far our luck has not been the best on this front, has it? If we don't get out by Wednesday, I think we will just try to go home. The way things have been going, that could take another week, no?

We have become pros at priceline on this trip. While still at the airport, we pricelined a room and got the same hotel again, but this time for only $60. Nice! We then reserved another rental car, went to pick it up, and finally got to eat some lunch (after no breakfast) at Ray's Place, a Vietnamese restaurant that was recommended by my friend Shelly. Great suggestion--thanks, Shelly! We loved it.

From there, back to Michael's crafty store to buy a bunch of photo mats and frames for Rich's photo business. They were having a 40%-50% off sale. Sweet! Plus bubble wrap and tape and then to Office Max to purchase a couple of boxes to ship everything back to Unalaska since it is way too much to carry with us. Hopefully we can get the stuff home without any breakage.

Dinner tonight at Mexico in Alaska, and some delicious flan, which you know I have to try no matter how full I am.

We will get up tomorrow and do it all again. I think I am going to add a little poll to the sidebar on the blog and you can vote on what you think the most likely outcome will be. :)

Welcome, Lori and Unalaska Newbie--thanks for following! Hopefully there will come a day when the topic will not be "stranded in Anchorage."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Should we take bets on when we will get out of here?

Cool ice walls around picnic tables in a park downtown.

Not that I don't enjoy Anchorage, but it would be good to get where we need to be! Since we were pretty much destined to remain here today, we decided to rent a car and get out and about. First we pricelined a room for tonight and were given the same hotel (Millennium) for a cheaper rate than we paid last night--woohoo! We didn't even have to change rooms. We took the hotel shuttle back to the airport to get the rental car and the airport was quite a spooky looking place. No one at the counters at Alaska Air, pretty dark all around, though there were a few people waiting for who knows what. Technically, the whole airport was closed.

We spent the day running around town, did some shopping and browsing, ate lunch and dinner out, and saw the movie "Duplicity." It was pretty cute and we enjoyed seeing a movie in a theater for a change! I also bought four books at Borders so maybe I will catch up on my 100 book challenge while waiting for planes or flying on planes (that's the optimist speaking).

I called Alaska Air tonight and was told that no planes went to Seattle today, tomorrow is unknown but all flights are sold out, including the "milk run" that we missed this morning. We were advised to keep our reservations for Tuesday but to check back tomorrow just in case some more flights get added or seats open up.

There were some greyish clouds hanging over the city today but I really didn't notice a lot of ash or grit when we were walking around. Hopefully it is dissipating.

One thing I love about Alaska is that we run into people we know no matter where we go! It's crazy--such a big state but it feels like a small town at the same time. We've seen folks from Unalaska, a friend from Dillingham, and one of my former bosses.

Tomorrow is a little iffy....we will have to play it by ear and see if we can find a flight out, but I am not feeling too hopeful. I never thought I would be happy about a confirmed seat on TUESDAY but now I have to admit I am very grateful for it.

Vacationing in Anchorage

So we get up at 5:30 AM to get ready to go to the airport. Because I hate getting up early, I took my shower last night and put my hair up on top of my head in hopes that I would not have the worst bedhead in the world this morning. That hope was not realized. While Rich showered, I got dressed and checked emails, including a message indicating that our flight was cancelled. I checked Alaska Air online and sure enough, it confirmed that fact. Next, back on the phone with AK Air to see what the deal was, and when we might reschedule. I was told "all planes are cancelled, the airport is closed, and the next available flight to Seattle is Tuesday at 3 PM." Okay, we will take it! The good news is that it's non-stop. The bad news is that it's two days off. :) I was also told we could keep calling the airport to find out if it had opened back up and it is possible that some extra flights will be added once the planes start flying again.

We went to breakfast at 6:30 and just got back to our room. Now our dilemma is whether we should reserve a room for another night or go hang out at the airport this afternoon and try to get on a flight. IF the airport opens. Since it is still so darned early, we can put this decision off a little longer.

Rich watched "The Dark Knight" last night while I was mostly on the computer, though I did catch a little bit of it. We figure we can get in another movie this morning and it will still be early when it's finished. LOL Personally, I think I am ready for a nap.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More Adventures

We woke up this morning to blowing snow and lots of wind, poor visibility, and a big question mark about whether we would be flying anywhere today. Off to the airport at 9 AM to join the throngs of people waiting to see what our four planes would do. As so often happens, the sun came up and the runway got cleared off and the planes got de-iced and all was well with the world. We got our boarding passes and were told we had a connecting flight to Seattle at 6:40 PM but no flight to Portland. Oh well, we figured we could do something about that later, as long as we could get out of Unalaska! Rich had already started entertaining the idea of driving from Seattle to Oregon anyway. We were on the second plane to take off, around 1:30 PM.

Approaching Anchorage, the flight attendant pointed out Mt. Redoubt, which had begun to erupt a bit again, but we were told the ash was blowing away from Anchorage so we were fine. All of the passengers were crowding around the windows and taking photos as we flew past.

Pretty cool, huh?

So we get to the Anchorage airport and note that our 6:40 flight has been changed to 7:55. Still no worries as we make our way through Security, buy some magazines, and drop in at Chili's to have some supper. Sitting at our table, we start overhearing people talking about their flights being cancelled. Rich checks the board a couple of times and our flight is still on. Eventually our waitress tells us that all flights are cancelled and they are closing down and going home. What?
Yes, unfortunately it is true. Now we have to find our bags amongst the hundreds of bags being lined up against the walls, find a hotel, and see if we can get a flight for tomorrow. The Alaska Air "Customer Service" folks tell us they are closing and there's nothing they can do so we should call the 800 number and see if we can get re-booked. (So much for customer service).

Rich got us a room while I spent 30 minutes on hold with AK Air. We were told the only flight available tomorrow was through Juneau so we took it. We have an 8 AM flight, a 4 hour layover in Juneau, and then are on what's called the "milk run" to Ketchikan and Wrangell, dropping off supplies, before heading for Seattle. We will be having big fun for 12 hours and arriving in Seattle at 8:45 PM. Woo-hoo! We can't wait!

I commented that I wish we had known earlier that we'd be cancelled so we could have gone out to a nice dinner somewhere other than Chili's at the airport. We soothed ourselves by calling room service for some chocolate "moose" (yes, see the antlers?) and bread pudding. Not to be whiny, but Rich makes much better desserts. :) Actually, we first tried to go to the hotel gift shop to buy a snack there and avoid the huge cost of room service. However-get this-the gift shop was closed "due to ash fall." Now, I am not sure how much ash fall was getting into the hotel lobby but it was a good excuse for going home early, if nothing else.

Our shuttle driver was wearing a mask and we heard that the hotel is giving them out to anyone who wants one. I did have some grit in my mouth upon arrival so I don't doubt that it's coming down. It's dangerous stuff and I wouldn't want to spend a lot of time in it.

Luckily, we are both in good spirits and just laughing the whole thing off. What else can ya do? Who knows what tomorrow will bring and I halfway expect our morning flight to be cancelled. Rich promises to take photos of Ketchikan and Wrangell, at least from the air. I don't think we are allowed to get off.

Sweet dreams, everyone.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A beautiful day for a flight to Anchorage

The sun's been shining and it's been just gorgeous all day.     We were chasing volcano and flight updates as the hours went by.   At 2:30, we were told that some planes were going to try to come in from Anchorage and we should call back at 5:45 to find out if one was in the air.   If it was, we would be confirmed on a 9 PM flight.
As instructed, I called the airport at the appointed time.   Imagine my surprise when I was told, "several planes are here and others will be landing shortly so you should come now!"   When I asked about the 9 PM thing, I was told, "oh, they got out earlier after all."   Ooops. Rich wasn't even finished packing.    Upon arrival, we joined a very long line, got our boarding passes and were told that, unfortunately,  our flight to Portland was somehow scheduled for the 30th.  No telling how that happened.   The local Pen Air folks could not get the itinerary worked out so we agreed to deal with it in Anchorage if we could at least get out of Unalaska tonight!

Oh yeah, I failed to mention that as we were leaving the house, Rich was watching the news and reported, "the volcano just blew again!"   Nevertheless,  four planes had arrived in Unalaska in quick succession and there were more than enough of us to load them all up.   Two planeloads boarded while we were waiting for our turn.   As we sat, we saw all those people get back off their planes.   Soon we heard the announcement that none of us would be leaving tonight after all.   Come back tomorrow at 9 AM and we will try again.  

We don't often have four planes overnighting in Unalaska.   The good news is that when they go tomorrow, we should be on one of them.  :)   Stay tuned for more adventures.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Patience and Acceptance

All planes cancelled today due to another eruption of Redoubt.   I'm packed,  the house is fairly clean, bed sheets changed for our house/cat sitter Jeff,  last minute errands under control. it's a little anti-climatic to be told "sorry, you are not going."    Now we wait till tomorrow, when we will show up at the airport at 10 and try again.   No telling how many others will be waiting with us, as it's that time of year when many temporary workers are trying to go home as well. Frustrating, annoying, and still, "it is what it is," so there's no point dwelling on it.   Living in remote Alaska has certainly taught me that there are many things beyond my control and that I might as well have a pleasant attitude about any situation that presents itself.   What a wonderful opportunity to practice.   LOL

Ironically, it's a beautiful sunny day out here.    :)

Yesterday I sat in on a webinar about using facebook for our radio/TV station--sounds like a great idea and one I will be pursuing when I get back from training in Portland (see, I am still counting on going!)   I'm also looking into starting a blog for the station so stay tuned for news about that.  We are definitely interested in using "new media" to make more contacts.

My new job is going really well and I am completely enjoying every minute of it.  Hurrah!  

Send up positive thoughts that we will get out tomorrow and I will be posting from our travels.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Plants, Flowers, Herbs, Tea Party, and a Volcano Eruption to Top it All Off

My thumb seems to be a bit greener these days.  Our plants are coming along nicely.

The aerogarden is full of fresh herbs for the taking.

Char gave me an amaryllis for Christmas, but since we were going to be traveling, we saved it till we got back, hoping it would still grow.   And, wow, it certainly did!  It took off really fast and was in full bloom in no time.  What a gorgeous sight!   Thanks, Char.

My friend and former co-worker, Judi, is a very talented quilter.  When her sewing machine had to be replaced at a huge cost, some of the local women decided to get together for a little tea party/fundraiser.   And it just so happened to be Judi's birthday!   It was so much fun getting everyone together, sharing good food and good conversation, and acknowledging Judi for all she does for the community.

Kathleen, Annabelle and Sabrina

Not only does Judi donate her beautiful quilts to many a non-profit fundraiser, she also quietly makes "comfort" quilts for individuals in the hospital, dealing with severe illnesses, or coping with difficult life circumstances.  

Tonya and Anne

Oh, and new baby quilts to welcome sweet little ones into the world.

Melanie, aka Cookie Dough

Judi in the purple.  Somehow this is the only photo I managed to get of the guest of honor. 

Man, we have some talented cooks and bakers in this town.   Way too much food, but all of it had to be tasted.

Sharon was sitting with some others, who shall remain nameless (but their initials are OPLG and LS) because they said I could not put them on the blog.  Cropping does come in handy.   :)    I guess I am going to have to carry permission slips around with me.   

Zoya, who hosted the tea party

We are having more excitement on the volcano front.  Mt. Redoubt decided to pop five times last night.  Flights are cancelled due to ash fall.   Rich and I are trying to get out on Thursday so really, really, really hoping that things calm down before then.

Send up some good thoughts for us!   We had lots of blowing snow all weekend and part of today but now the sun is shining brightly.  

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The little details of life

Anne getting hugs after her performance in "Grace and Glorie" on Friday night.  Great job, Anne and Linda!

Saturday we had a party to recognize 25 years of Unalaska Community Broadcasting.

Melanie's friend Cheryl came to visit from "down south" and they were busy bees running all over town.  Here they take some time to help us out at the membership meeting and birthday bash.  Thanks, gals!

Food, games, a silent auction, and a little bit of a business meeting rounded out the afternoon.
Happy Anniversary, Bonnie and David!   Aren't they cute as can be on their wedding day?

We're still getting lots of eagles hanging out on our porch and our fence.
I'm so happy to have my internet back!   After days and days of calling TelAlaska and trying one thing after another, they sent the techs out to our house while I was at work yesterday.  Rich said they installed some new wiring and told him that the original wiring hadn't been done properly in the first place.   Maybe that explains our on again/off again internet issues!  Thanks, guys!    They said the TV should be clearer and the internet faster.   We can't be sure, but both DO seem better.  Maybe true, maybe wishful thinking!

I have to admit that the internet seems to grab a lot of my time and I managed to get SO much more reading done when I couldn't get online.   :)  Check out the latest additions to the 100 Book Challenge list on the right.

In A Private History of Awe, author Scott Russell Sanders ponders "the astounding 'is-ness' of things."   "Why this apple, say, gleaming in sunlight on a pine table carved with lovers' initials, why this sound of a cello and fragrance of lavender filling the air, why this flow of breath, this mind absorbing it all, this planet hurtling through space, this universe unfolding?  The moment we begin taking this skein of miracles for granted, we cease to live, no matter if our hearts still beat."    Others call it "being present,"  living in the moment,  experiencing the now without dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.  How difficult that is!  

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

No, I have not disappeared, but...

I think this is the longest I have ever gone without posting!  We are having major internet troubles at our house and I have not been able to get them resolved through Tech Support over the phone.  Took our modem to the local office to have it checked that was not the problem. Now we are waiting for someone to come to the house and troubleshoot.  Meanwhile, I can't be messing with all of my "personal" online stuff at work so the blog and facebook and emails have fallen by the wayside.  It is very frustrating!!  But bear with me and hopefully I will soon be back in cyberspace.

There's lots going on and I have some photos to post when I get back on. We had live local theater last Friday and Saturday night with Linda Ellsworth and Anne Hillman putting on a two woman show called "Grace and Glorie." They both did a great job with a story that was a mixture of sweet and funny and sad. Really fun to get to see live theater for a change, too!

Saturday I was busy all day with Unalaska Community Broadcasting's annual membership meeting. We celebrated 25 years since our articles of incorporation were filed, though local TV and radio have actually been around since the mid-1970's. We had food, games, a silent auction and election of Board members.

Sunday I tried to get some work done for my "old" job, still a few things pending even though I am officially off the payroll. I may never really leave. LOL The main office in Anchorage sent me a gorgeous print called "Aleut Town Girl" as a going-away present. I was surprised and touched since I had only been with the agency for four years and did not expect that I was "entitled" to anything upon leaving. Rich and I had just purchased some frames and tried to find some spots in our limited wall space to hang the other artwork we've accumulated lately. Now I am not sure where to put this new piece! My coworker Anne suggested what she calls "the Scottish method," which entails hanging artwork up to the ceiling. It kinda made me laugh after I had just been lecturing Rich about hanging everything at eye level.

I've been reading a lot more lately and haven't had time to enter the titles on my 100 book challenge list, but there will be several more books added soon. My sister recommended A Private History of Awe, which I just finished and loved. I was going to post a paragraph from the book but don't have it with me so that will wait.

Rich and I are going to Portland on the 26th but hopefully I will be back online before that day arrives!

And HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to Bonnie and David tomorrow, March 18th! We love you and wish you the best year yet!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Happy 2nd Birthday, Ally!

Our second grandchild, Allyson Avery Turnell, was born on March 8 two years ago.  We were not able to get to Texas till she was almost three weeks old so we had to be satisfied with phone calls and photos till then.  Here she is with her proud mommy Susan and daddy Corey a few days after coming home.

Big brother Aidan was not quite sure what to think of this little newcomer!

Finally in Texas, just in time for a baby shower given by Susan's sisters Sarah and Bonnie.

Back in Texas for Ally's first birthday.   She was just starting to walk and cute as can be!

Out for breakfast with the family.   

Cute family photos taken by Uncle David.

From our recent family gathering in Sedona at the end of 2008.   Little Miss Independent wanted to do everything for herself and explore everything without any help.

Gigi loves having time with her sweet girl.

Ally with her brother Aidan and little cousin Elle.

Happy Birthday, Ally!  We love and miss you and can't wait to see you soon.