Day 1: Plane, Cars and Long Waits
We awoke at 3:45am on Tuesday, August 10 to get a 4:15am car to Newark Airport, reflecting that it was about bedtime in Alaska. At 5:30am we boarded our flight, but the flight attendants asked for volunteers to be bumped and so Seth and I graciously accepted Continental vouchers in exchange for a six-hour wait in Newark Airport (thus refunding the cost of airfare for the whole trip). Oh yeah, we also got an upgrade to first class for our troubles. Of course, Seth was going to get his anyway.
The flight took us through Seattle rather than Houston. We spent a long time trying to play musical chairs in first class to get to sit together, but it didn't work, although the very nice flight attendant did manage it for the second leg from Houston to Anchorage. The flight went up the western coast of Canada and flew right over the Kenai Peninsula (where we spent the end of the trip). We saw ice fields and snow-covered mountains, with glaciers running down between them.
Upon arriving in Anchorage we discovered that my luggage had been taken off the plan in Houston (the flight we were supposed to be on), and never re-routed to Anchorage. I was worried we wouldn't get it back in time for our rafting trip, so we went to Sports Authority and I re-outfitted myself. The drive to Talkeetna felt very long, since we'd been awake for so long by that point, but Seth made very good time (a little too good, if you catch my drift), and we got to the Talkeetna Roadhouse at 11:30pm, just as the last light of the sun faded out of the sky.
When we the Roadhouse to tell them how late we would be arriving, we discovered a little Alaska peculiarity. They just left the key in an envelope on the door. This turned out to be the case for most of our lodgings. Such a trusting state.
The Talkeetna Roadhouse is well known among mountain climbers who often stay there before attempting Denali (Mt. McKinley, tallest peak in North America). It had log cabin walls no insulation between rooms and bathrooms are shared, but I was so tired it didn't matter.
Seth spent a long time on the phone with Continental (my hero), first to try to get it to our lodging, then to get me some $ as compensation.