Friday, June 17, 2011

Day One of The Grand Adventure - Thursday, June 16, 2011

Two in the morning our alarms went off. Time to get ready to go. We were all packed. That was yesterday's project. We juggled things around until we had all three big suitcases filled and less than 50 pounds. We also each have a carry-on and a backpack. I hope we remembered least everything important.

Juel & I at Van Galder Bus is Janesville, WI

So then, Cortney, in her pajamas, drove us to the VanGalder Bus and we boarded for 3:20 departure. After stops in Beloit and Rockford we arrived at O'Hare. The bus was comfortable and we had a great driver. One way was $28 each. We checked in and found our gate, after getting some breakfast at McDonald's. (Biscuit with egg only and large orange juice, $5.00+.) I forgot to mention that I got "chosen" to go through the scanner thing at security in O'Hare. It crossed my mind to object, but I really did not want any troubles or things to hold us up. Then, I had to stand aside because I had forgotten to take my cell phone out of my pocket. They had me take it out and they put it through their scanner and a lady politely patted the area of my pocket and we were on our way.

Above the clouds.

Our flight to Seattle was booked full, and it is crowded to sit three people together. Juel let me have the window seat and she sat in the middle. We were served a cookie (which I gave to Juel) and a little drink (I had tomato juice). There was lots of clouds, but we did see the Mississippi River, some land that looked flat, at least from the air, then some mountains with snow caps. Just before Seattle we saw a mountain that was was snowcapped and above the clouds. We were told it was Mt. Rainer and that the small mountain was called Mt. Adams. I took some video as we landed so the children can see what it is like.

Mt. Rainer in Washington

Descent into Seattle

We had a four-hour layover. We got a nice lunch. I had cod and chips and Juel had halibut and chips. Mine was a $7.99. The airport was very busy but didn't feel as crazy as O'Hare.

Seattle Airport

The flight to Ketchikan was awesome. I had my nose or camera lens to the window all the time. Much of the time there was cloud cover, but whenever there was a break the scenery was worth the wait. Shortly after take off the pilot announced that we were over Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. However at that moment it was all clouds. I wish pilots could do more telling what we were seeing, but I suppose they have more important things to be doing.

Soon we were seeing rugged snow-covered mountains...lots of them. Then we saw the rainforest. The colors we so beautiful...the dark rich forest greens, bright blue skies and darker blue waters....and, of course, pure white of the clouds which are ever present.

Descending through the clouds.

It was not long until we began the descent into Ketchikan. When the plane touched down, it seemed to be going so fast that it would be impossible to stop it in time (the airport is on an island). We got our first views of Ketchikan, first from the air and then from the ground. The airport is directly across from Ketchikan so we got a view of the whole town as we landed.

First looked at Ketchikan

                Two docked cruise ships

We took a ferry from the airport to Ketchikan. I had so much troubles with my luggage. Juel makes it look so easy as she handles two large suitcases, her carry-on bag, and backpack. Of course, she has had lots of practice (and her luggage is much nicer than mine and steers so much easier...LOL). After watching me struggle with the bags a bit, a nice man helped me by taking my large suitcase down the ramp to the ferry for me. Juel just laughed at me...old lady needing help! But I was so appreciative as I was trying to look at everything. The ferry ride only takes a few minutes, costs $5.00, and is the only way off the island (except for getting on another plane). The ferry landed just blocks from the hospital where Juel will work.

Waiting for others to get off
                 Juel & our luggage on the ferry

We got a taxi. Our driver was Ethel. She was a sweet and very talkative lady. We asked her lots of questions about Ketchikan on the short drive. She dropped me and the luggage at the house and then took Juel to the hospital. Juel then walked home after checking in with her new job. Ethel gave us her card and told us to call whenever we need a ride. She also gave us some insight on some of the other drivers...telling us which ones were good and who NOT to get...LOL. She is a fun lady. The short drive with tip was $12. We could easily have walked the few blocks if it hadn't been for the luggage.

Our apartment is right behind the hospital. It is a little house that has four apartments in it. It is small, but very clean and nice. We have lots of windows and I can see mountain tops over the houses in two directions as I sit in the livingroom and type.

                    Our little home in Ketchikan

Ketchikan is on the side of a mountain. The main street runs along the water and is level. However, as soon as you turn off the main road you start climbing. The block and half that we are off that main road is so steep. We walked last night and going down is easy, it would be easy to get going so fast you could not stop. But...coming back up was a whole new story. Grandma had a hard time. I got very winded. I am hoping that the walking I do here will make me stronger. I am not going to let the climb keep me from seeing everything here!

We walked to The Landing, a restaurant in a Best Western hotel about 3 blocks away. We had a nice dinner. Juel had a bleu-cheese burger ($9) and I had a bowl of wonderful "baby red potato" soup ($4.25). This was not a fancy place like we expected to find in a hotel. It seemed like the home-town place to eat. It seemed like locals, not tourists were eating there. The food was very good and since it is so close we will probably eat there again.

Then we walked a couple more blocks to the A&P grocery store. The prices were very high, though not as bad as they had been for Juel when she was in Bethel, Alaska. We only bought yogurt for breakfast, and a bunch of salad fixings for lunch on Friday. Juel has a friend here. She worked with Ruth in Fairbanks. Ruth will take us shopping for more groceries on Friday. She will also drive us around and show us the town. Note: Juel won't be getting use of a car until the 28th as none are currently available. So until then we walk or make use of the many other forms of local transportation.

It was hard going to sleep at 10:00 when it was still so light out, but I slept well. I got up at 4:45 and it is LIGHT OUT! Very overcast, but light. Welcome to Alaska, Grandma!

1 comment:

  1. Great first day! Very much enjoyed reading this, Mom. I will read it to the kids tomorrow. You are giving great detail that you will cherish in the future!