The flight into Anchorage was amazing! If you ever have anything resembling a choice, fly in during the daylight hours. (I’m told a lot of people fly in at night and miss the show.) Once we started our descent and got below the level of the clouds, you could see the mountains jutting out right into the ocean and real glaciers! None of those “Oh, I mistook it for this year’s snow that just hadn’t melted yet.” glaciers from Glacier National Park. These were honest-to-god GLACIERS. (I think I mentioned during the summer that my mental image of glaciers was always that of an iceberg on land.)
I’ve had a blast in Anchorage; I was picked up at the airport by the District Librarian and a few other new teachers that were in town getting their own shopping done and we headed to dinner at this cool restaurant called Moose Tooth, which has amazing pizza. (If you’re ever in Anchorage, make sure to eat there.) The next day was full of grocery shopping ($165 in meat that is one of my checked bags, $600 in non-perishables and $140 in postage at the post office), meeting Lynda, one of the returning teachers from Shaktoolik, and a couple of the former teachers who were in Anchorage. The welcome wagon that the district put together this year was really helpful, but, I’ll be leaving a few suggestions for them to try next year (this is the first year they’ve done this).
It’s probably needless for me to say, but… I’m in love with Alaska already. Anchorage is fantastic, it’s a gorgeous small city nestled between the mountains and the bay and I’m really excited to board my plane in an hour and see more of Alaska.
I spent last night with my friends Tim and Jess, (watching Hairspray) who live a couple miles away from the Detroit Metro airport (which I flew out of). Tim dropped me off at 5:30am, and I had checked my luggage, made it through security and had a cup of over-priced coffee by 6am. A search for the bathroom and finding a seat in the lounge left me with only a 5 minute wait to board the plane. We even pulled away from the gate 3 minutes early and the flight was surprisingly nice. I found out I don’t much care for takeoffs and banking, but that could have simply been my mostly empty stomach.
I’m sitting in Las Vegas, NV right now on a 3 hour layover… it’s awfully weird to take a 4 hour flight and land an hour after you took off. So, next stop, Anchorage, AK where I will hopefully hook up with a guide from my school district and pick up a rental car. (I’m less hopeful about the car rental than the guide – Anchorage is notorious for being difficult to find hotel rooms and rentals in the summer.
I’ll update again when I get settled for the night. I should have a bed at the university, and I’ll be crashing early since 8pm there is 12am by my body’s clock.
Well, I have the feeling that the previous 45 days have been a once in a lifetime experience. I traveled through Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Montana. I’ve met an incredible number of new people whose company I have enjoyed immensely. I’ve taken more pictures than I can count and most will never see the light of day.
I visited 8 National Parks and 5 National Monuments stopping at countless other places along the way. Spending two minutes thinking about it, I actually spent longer than half an hour in the following places:
Badlands National Park
Minuteman Missile National Monument
South Dakota Air and Space Museum
Rapid City, SD
Mount Rushmore National Monument
Jewel Cave National Monument
Wind Cave National Park
Colorado Springs, CO
Garden of the Gods
Wings Over the Rockies
Cripple Creek, CO
Rocky Mountain National Park
Hill Air Force Base, UT
Salt Lake City, UT
Shoshone Falls, ID
Craters of the Moon National Monument
Arches National Park
Canyonlands National Park
Zion National Park
Grand Teton National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Glacier National Park
Devil’s Tower National Monument
I’ve also come up with a list of figures:
8 National Parks, 5 National Monuments
9 nights in hotels, 4 of which I paid for
10 nights at my brother’s house
207 hours, 54 minutes of driving
9,230 miles driven
$1,286 spent on gasoline
I’ve seen 1 presidential candidate for the 2008 election
And kept track of when I rolled over every 1,000 miles:
1,000 miles – May 31
2,000 miles – June 05
3,000 miles – June 10
4,000 miles – June 19
5,000 miles – June 24
6,000 miles – June 30
7,000 miles – July 07
8,000 miles – July 09
9,000 miles – July 12
Woke up this morning at 7am in order to head back to Michigan. After an awful experience at the Perkin’s on Collins Ave. by Kevin’s apartment (that is the most disgusting Perkin’s I’ve ever been in) we were on the road by 9:30.
It wasn’t long before I was in Illinois, which is probably one of my least favorite states. It’s boring and the drivers education system there leaves much to desire in Illinois drivers; especially around Chicago. And then… a few hundred miles or so left to drive through Michigan to make it to my parents house, where I will promptly collapse in bed from what I think was a mild case of food poisoning from a Wendy’s along the way. Not too much exciting happened during the 12 hours of traveling today.
And that brings my trip to a close… forty-five days of vacation and I’ll have 16 days to get all my affairs in order before I fly to Alaska. Hopefully I’ll make it to Houghton one last time and down to see Rae in Ohio. Tomorrow, I’ll put up a post with all the statistics for my trip.
Travel Distance: 628 miles
Another nice slow day today, spent hanging out in Cedar Rapids. Kevin took off from work early, and we’ve watched a couple movies (Top Gun and Hot Shots) in addition to spending a little bit of time out on the town. Tomorrow I head back to MI, but I was really glad to spend a bit of time with one of my best friends before heading to Alaska.