Sitka (afternoon) 8/7/17

Did you ever write a page-long post and have it completely disappear? Oh well, I will try to recapture everything here. (Man, I sounded so eloquent before. Now I can’t remember how I phrased everything.)

So, when we last left off on Monday afternoon, we had just finished our ATV adventure and were exploring the town of Sitka. After grabbing some lunch at a local pub, we decided to visit The Fortress of the Bear, a local bear sanctuary that rescues injured bears. Being that it was 5 miles outside of town, we called for a cab. 

We started walking back, because we didn’t want to spend another 20 bucks on a cab ride (!)  We passed a group of workers in front of a fish processing plant who were waiting for the bus. only $2? That sounds like a better plan.

Once back in town, we went for a hike in the Sitka National Historic Park. The park had beautiful wooded trails, flowers, and totem poles.

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Finally flying the first leg of my trip, I saw the full moon out by the wing of the plane.

Our flight arrived in Seattle at 2am (5am East coast). Our connecting flight to Alaska would leave at 6am (Seattle time). Four hours to kill in an  almost deserted airport terminal. 

Big statue of Walter Jones. Seattle Seahawks.

FINALLY! I am on a flight bound for Alaska.  We have to fly to Juneau first, and then on to Sitka. I am going to make it there by the skin of my teeth. 

YAY! I’m finally here!

So, as you know, I was supposed to arrive YESTERDAY.  Kyle and I had an ATV adventure booked for 10am TODAY. My flight touched down in Sitka at 9:10am. Kyle met me at the airport (A very small one…one baggage carousel). My bag was the first to come out…we grabbed it, the courtesy shuttle from our hotel brought us back, I checked in, even had time to brush my teeth (yay!) And the ATV people picked us up right at our hotel. 

The ATV shuttle took us to the dock where a boat would take us to Kruzof Island, where our ATVs (mules actually) awaited us.

We drove through rough terrain on a trail that snaked through the woods, up and over many large speed-bump like mounds. The island is 26 miles long and 9 miles wide. We traversed the full 9 miles across to a beach on the other side. Along the way we experienced the raw beauty of this heavily forested area, and saw meadows and rivers, where the bears like to frequent. We saw much evidence of bears such as many piles of scat along the trail, and saw bear footprints along the river (where there was an abundance of salmon swimming and jumping) and also bear footprints along the beach as well.

Then we traversed the 9 miles back to where we started, where the boat was waiting for us.

Mount Edgecomb, a dormant volcano.

Once back on shore, we had a lot to do. Fit 2 days of sightseeing into 1.

These two photos (above and below) are St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox church. Alaska had first belonged to Russia, and a lot of buildings still remain from that time.

A statue to the pioneers, the prospectors who first came to settle here.

Below: a Russian block house

I have to continue this day in the next post.  Wordpress had a meltdown with all my pictures! Lol

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LONGEST Day 8/6/17

So, Carmen Sandiego is off to Alaska this time. My highly anticipated trip didn’t go off without a hitch however. 

Sunday, August 6, at 7:15am, I was scheduled to fly out of Logan airport in Boston.  I got up at 4:15 (even though I had only managed to fall asleep at 3) and Tom drove me to the airport. 

I arrived at 6, boarded the plane at 7, and then we sat there. The pilot came on the PA and said there were some mechanical problems and they would be fixed and we would be on our way.

After an hour and a half, at 8:30, they kicked us all off the plane and told us to take all our bags with us. We waited around the gate area, but no further information was forthcoming. 

People started lining up to rebook their connecting flights and because of the delay. I was going to miss my connecting flight from Seattle to Sitka, Alaska. We were standing in line for TWO hours and I still had not moved at all. 

No information, no announcements were made by the airline people at the gate. We saw the flight crew leave and some people in our line started getting text alerts from the airline,  saying that our flight was cancelled.  STILL no word from anyone working the gate.

Finally, at 11:30, we were told that our luggage was being offloaded, and we could pick it up downstairs at the baggage carousel. They informed us that our flight was being rescheduled to 10:15pm! 

My fellow flightmates were highly agitated by this point. (Picture angry farmers with pitchforks) and one girl started yelling. Everyone was on their phones trying to get through to reservation agents trying to book ANY flight out. People were sharing phones with fellow passengers to try and find flights (because everyone was madly calling and being put on hold. When you finally did get through to an actual agent, you kindly passed the phone off so the next person wouldn’t have to wait on hold.)

I wasn’t going to sit at the airport for another TEN hours.  I tried calling home. No answer. Tom’s cell. Nope. Bob…nope. Ryan’s cell…finally someone at home answered. He was leaving for work, but he woke up Bob to come get me.

While Bob was driving down from NH (1-1:15 hour ride to Logan), I retrieved my checked bag, then stood in line for an hour again to re-check my bag so I could get my boarding pass for tonight.

I eventually got through the line and Bob finally made it to Logan. It’s 1:30pm at this point. I have been at the airport since 6. I haven’t eaten since early this morning and I haven’t peed since we were first on the plane.  I had no opportunities to do so, because I was waiting in LINES!

Bob was starving, so we stopped for a slice of pizza when we got to Seabrook, then home, where I took a 2 hour nap and had a shower. 

Back in the car again at 7:15 for another trip to Logan.  Big shout out to BOB for making TWO round trips to Boston in one afternoon for his mama! THANKS BOB!!

I had met a really nice lady named Judy from Holliston, Mass this morning while waiting. We were both going to Sitka. We waited in line to board in the morning, we waited in line to rebook (which didn’t happen because we got cancelled), we waited in line together again to re-check our bags. So when i got back to the Airport in the evening, we picked up where we had left off and sat together waiting to reboard. 

FINALLY,  we were able to board. It was the same plane from this morning,  they had towed it from the gate, fixed the mechanical problems, and towed it back. 

My new seat assignment was in row 11 (I had previously been in the last row 31). A lot less people had stuck around for this flight, it was probably 2/3 full. I was seated in the middle seat, kinda crowded, when the flight attendant told me someone was signalling me. Judy was a few rows back, in the emergency exit row. No one was sitting with her, so I gladly gave up my middle seat and went back and joined her. (And there’s plenty of leg room in the exit aisle!)

The plane finally departed at 11pm. I even managed to sleep another 3 hours. That’s a grand total of 6 hours sleep in the past 2 days! OH well, we have a 4 hour layover waiting for us in Seattle, before our connection to Sitka. Maybe I can catch a few more winks there. Gonna hit the ground running when I make it to Alaska. Literally.  We are supposed to make it to Sitka around 9:30am and Kyle and I have an ATV tour booked at 10!

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Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego off to this time? Stay tuned…

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Click your heels together 3 times and we’ll be home! 7-23-17

Travel day! After showers and a breakfast downstairs, we finished packing for our trip home. I looked out our window to take a picture of the Bristol skyline and spotted a hot air balloon.

Made our way across the street to the bus station, where a bus to the Bristol airport was just boarding. 20 minutes or so later and we were at the airport. Only 2 lines for check in for our flight and naturally we picked the wrong line. The one that didn’t move. UGH. It just DID NOT MOVE.  There was a guy at the counter for at least 20 minutes arguing about paying extra weight fee on his luggage. People that came in on the bus with us and got on the adjacent line, sailed through and checked their bags. All told, we spent an hour in line.

So..finally checked in, go through security, stop at the shops and buy a few last souvineers…last stop was to buy a water bottle for the flight. Find our gate…end of the concourse, up a flight of stairs, turn left, turn left again, then right, then down another flight of stairs…and as I’m going through the gate I realuze that i DON’T HAVE MY CREDIT CARD!!!!! I left it at the store where I bought water! I hand Ryan my backpack and I RAN! Up the stairs, down the halls, down the other stairs, across the concourse to the shop, where I had to push past people in the crowded aisles to get to the register. The clerk recognized me and handed me my card across 2 lanes of people queing for the register. Then sprint through the terminal again back to my gate, where I arrived gasping for breath. 

First flight was a 2 1/2 hour leg from Bristol to Keflavik, Iceland. Great to be back in Iceland.  Wish we could have stayed longer. 

We had enough time to grab lunch and briefly browse the few shops.  The good shops and food court were on the upper level, which we were not allowed to go to or we would have had to go through security.

Speaking of which, our airport trials and tribulations weren’t over yet. So, they call our Flight, we get in line at the gate. The airline guy goes down the line checking people’s passports and boarding passes. He looks at ours and picks Bob for a random security Check. That means that Bob gets pulled out of line and has to go upstairs to security.  So Ryan and I go thru the gate, board the bus that will take us to the plane on the tarmac.

We board the plane and wait…and wait…and WAIT.  40 minutes go by and we are sitting on the plane waiting for Bob. I’m getting really nervous. Am I going to fly home with Ryan and have to leave Bob here? Did they strip search him? Arrest him? A million things were going through my mind. 

The crew was also waiting for 6 other passengers coming in from Germany, whose plane had been delayed. Finally, everybody showed up, Bob included. At which point, he promptly kicked us out of the window seat and made us switch.


WE ARE BACK in Boston!

Let the laundry and unpacking commence!

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Last day in Bristol 7-22-17

Last day here in the UK. Woke to beautiful sunny skies here at 5:50am. Bob, even though he had come in from his night out at 1:30, set his alarm for 6:45 to go running. 

When he got back, we decided to go to the Bristol Harbor Fest, a yearly event with Boats and musicians and vendors and food stands. We walked down, stopping in a few tourist shops along the way. Bob’s friends Ben and Lynn from the course joined us.

I had my first proper cup of English Tea in England.

We walked ALL over the harborfront and heard amazing musicians and had a great time.

We even found a statue of a local bloke. You may have heard of him…Cary Grant.

I even met a friendly sailor.

You know a great way to keep the rain away? Buy a new raincoat! Hopefully, I won’t get as drenched as with my old one.

Not only did I have proper English Tea today…I had fish and chips from a takeaway!

After the festival, we went back to the room to nap for an hour, before heading out for dinner. We grabbed pizza (again) and Bob headed off to see his friends for one last evening and Ryan and I went to the movies to see Dunkirk. Pretty good movie. Some parts were pretty intense. I didn’t know the story or the outcome beforehand, so I was anxious watching it.

Well,  11:30pm…time to get packed up and get some shut eye. We fly home tomorrow morning.

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Cardiff, Wales 7-21-17

Today we popped across the border to Wales for a day trip into Cardiff. Just a short 20 minutes from Bristol, you cross over the Severn river into Wales. Another 40 minutes and you’re in the capital city of Cardiff.

The bus arrives in the Sophia Gardens area. (Pronounced So-FI-a, not So-FEE-a as we would say).

As you walk through the park, you can see Cardiff Castle next door.

There is also an interesting clock tower,

And along the wall, different animals are carved onto it.

Our main destination today was The DOCTOR WHO EXPERIENCE! We needed to take a water taxi down to the harborfront (its called an Aquabus here). We went to the dock and found a sign saying, they were picking up passengers at a different dock! We had 10 minutes to find it and we were running against the wind to get there. It was just about to pull away when we came running up.

They brought us to the harbor called Mermaid Quay, and we disembarked. At the dock, there is a shrine to Ianto Jones from Torchwood.

Further up on the wharf, is the actual entrance to Torchwood.

Also there is this church, where Roald Dahl was baptised.

Now onto our premier destination- DOCTOR WHO!

Ryan and Bob are big fans.

The 11th DOCTOR, Matt Smith! 

The first part of the tour, you were not allowed to take pictures.  It was an interactive experience and we went onto the Tardis and went on a journey. It was very well done.

After we came through the Tardis, the next part had costumes and props from the show that you could take pictures of. There was even a section with a Green Screen, where they photographed you and put you into a scene. This is Ryan’s before and after:

All in all, it was a very enjoyable experience.  BRILLIANT!

When we arrived, it was very blustery and overcast.  When we came out of Dr. WHO, it was pouring buckets and windy. We had to wait outside for about 5 minutes for a bus, then took that back to the castle area. We walked around for about a half hour, trying to find someplace to eat lunch (It was now 3pm) finally finding a sandwich place. The sandwiches were enormous! We had to take half with us for later! Time was running out and we had to catch the bus back to Bristol.

OH! Outlander fans! I found standing stones in Wales!

Yes, I did try to touch the stones and go back in time to find Jamie Fraser!

Here are some more of the beautiful flowers at the park.

We finally made it back to the bus stop…only to find that the bus was running late due to traffic. UGH 

The 5pm bus finally arrived at a little after 5:30 and we made it back to Bristol a little after 7.

Ryan and I are relaxing here at the room, while Bob has one last night out with his friends.

Good Night!

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Graduation Day 7-20-17

A beautiful day today here in Bristol. Great weather. Not too hot, not too cold, and no rain!

After breakfast, we decided to see more of Bristol, as the Graduation wasn’t until later in the day. We walked over to the harbor (near the bombed out church), to catch the Water Taxi to go further down Harbor to the SS Britain.

The water taxi works much like a regular taxi. You wait on the dock and wave one over.

We got off at the Historic museum ship – the SS Great Britain. There was a museum that told the history of the ship, then you boarded the ship and went on all Decks. In each section of the ship were recreated smells that went with it, like the kitchen, the animal section smelled particularly bad.

I even stopped to converse with one of the first class passengers.

We took a return trip on the Water taxi, grabbed takeout – sorry, they call it “take away here for lunch and brought it back to our room. 

Time to get ready for graduation! Bob went over earlier with one of the girls from his class who was staying at our hotel. The graduates had to be there earlier to get their robes and pictures. 

Ryan and I showered and changed after Bob left and took a taxi over to College Green. Not where his college is, but that’s what they call the area where the Bristol Cathedral. 

It is a really beautiful building, built over 900 years ago!

Bob with his friend and fellow course-mate, Ben Morris-French.

Bob with his fellow classmates.

Proud family!

After the ceremony, there was a champagne reception. 

Celebrating with Ben, his mum Julia, and grandmother Pat.

Then out to dinner at a Mexican tapas place with 20 of his classmates and family. After dinner, Ryan and I walked back to the hotel so that Bob could stay out and celebrate with his friends. 

Time to rest up for tomorrow’s adventure!

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Bristol UK (7-19-17)

Today was a much better day. We Finally have free breakfast in the hotel, and they had a pretty decent spread. Had a waffle maker with fruit to top It, eggs, bacon (if you like that sort of thing), sliced ham and cheese, juices and many other things. Ryan had a bagel and sausage, I had all the above stuff minus the bacon.

Good thing we fortified ourselves because Bob took us on quite a hike today. We left the hotel in the city center and walked through the shops to an area called the Christmas Steps. (The steps are somehow better than walking up a steep hill?)

Looking up

Looking back down.
We continued walking uphill to Bob’s old neighborhood to see his old flat. 

12 Canynge Road, Bristol UK

The shared kitchen in the house.

Bob’s old room.

We wanted to stop in and visit his landlady, but she wasn’t home.

Continuing on our journey (hike), we next visited the Clifton Observatory. It sits in a park high on a hill in Bristol overlooking the Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge. 

Next to this park is the Clifton Suspension Bridge.  And yes, we had to walk across to get to Bob’s campus.

Stopped briefly at the Visitors Center on the opposite side of the bridge and then continued our hike. Next stop Ashton Court Deer park.  Normally, Bob would walk through the park to get to his campus. We got there today and the gates were locked because of young deer newly introduced. We had to walk around the park…but were still able to see deer through the fence.

Past the Deer park was Ashton Park, a former manor house.

Finally arrived at UWE – University of West England.

Bob showed us around the classrooms and we met the program director of his course, Peter Venn.

Peter Venn, Bob, Rob Prynne, and Michael I.

We managed to catch a bus right outside campus and head back to the city center. We went shopping and bought some clothes.  Bob needed a belt for his suit tomorrow and I actually needed a belt…the shorts that I brought that were snug last week were actually falling off me (Bob’s boot camp has my clothes loose!).

Grabbed a sandwich and at an an outdoor table and were entertained by a street performer who had a beautiful voice!

Last stop on our grand tour was Castle Park which is located alongside the floating harbor. In the park is located St. Peter’s Church, which was bombed out during WWII. 

By this time, we needed to go back to the room and rest for a bit, before heading out for dinner. 

On the way to dinner, we stopped at Brandon Hill Park to see Cabot Tower, for spectacular views of Bristol.

Bob took us to his favorite burger place in Bristol- Grillstock. They make burgers with pulled pork on top. Yummy!

Time to call it a night!

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London day 2 (7-18-17)

Last day in London. Limited time to see things. Everybody got to pick ONE thing that they,wanted to do.

Ryan and I found a bagel shop next to the hotel (Yay. A real breakfast) I had checked out the hotel breakfast (19 £) and nothing was edible to us. Fish, meats, fruits…and the eggs looked to runny. No thanks.

We checked out of the room and stored our bags with the concierge. Due to time shortage, we took a cab to the London Eye (Ryan’s choice). We had a bit of a wait for the ticket office to open but we were on the first ride of the day when it opened. I’m not a fan of heights, but the car was open and spacious and didn’t bother me.

View of Parliament from atop the London Eye. 

Next stop (My choice) was the Imperial War Museum, with interactive exhibits from WWI through the present. It was interesting to me because my grandfathers both served in WWI and my Father and Father-in-law both served in WWII.

Ryan, inside a recreated bunker.

Another cab ride took us to Bob’s choice – the shops on Carnaby Street. Not really my cup of tea. I can’t really handle crowded areas. Plus, I REALLY hate shopping. Much too slow paced for me. 

Anyway, after browsing the shops, we walked back past Picadilly Circus to our hotel. Grabbed our luggage and our last cab of the day to Victoria Cross Bus Station, where we would board a bus to Bristol. I’m WAY too much of a germaphobe to handle waiting in a bus station for 45 minutes , but I got through it. We finally boarded our bus and the A.C. broke. We pulled over twice for the driver to try to fix it. He finally opened the ceiling vent and that helped. We had been boiling like a sweat lodge!

Finally arrived in Bristol, in the West of England, about 6:15pm. Our hotel was right across the street, in the city center. We checked in and decided to meet up with Bob’s friend Ben, from film school, for pizza by the harborfront.  The place was similar to Flatbread, but it was another walk through city streets to get there. 

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