Tuesday, September 16
My summer effectively ends today. A month ago I couldn’t get a flight out of Valdez and needed to get home to my plans which had already been cut short when I opted to stay at work an extra two weeks. Determined to be in Oakland rather than Valdez on Thursday morning, I booked a ticket on a flight leaving Anchorage just before midnight on Wednesday August 20th and hitched a ride from Valdez with my friend – another girl who is also a second mate and who was already driving to her home outside of Anchorage. Her chief mate, who lives all the way out in Maine, also rode along. We drove the Richardson highway to a small town called Glenallen before turning west and into the beautiful Matanuska Valley toward Cook Inlet. It was a beautiful sunny day and we were hot, still in our work clothes. At one point as we passed another one of countless lakes near the highway, she hit the brakes even before asking “do you guys want to go swimming?!” Of course! The answer was obvious and unanimous. So we went swimming in the perfectly cool water with the most magnificent glacier-carved mountains as our backdrop and my first time venturing into the Alaskan interior was marked by fun and new friendship.
I was so exhausted from the day and the midnight flight from Anchorage to Seattle that when I arrived at my gate at 5 in the morning to fly to Oakland I was sure it couldn’t hurt to lie down for a quick nap – I set an alarm and bedded down with my backpack and chart tube filled with out-of-date charts of Prince William Sound. Only when I woke and sat bolt upright, heart pounding, thirty minutes after my plane was supposed to leave the ground did I realize that I had woken up to my alarm and promptly turned it off, rolling over to continue snoozing and sleeping straight through my boarding call. I had missed my plane.
The next few minutes dragged as I panicked and scrambled to collect myself and my belongings, gasping for air and probably totally freaking out the people who were sitting near me. I pulled out my phone to find the next Alaska air flight leaving for Oakland: not until noon. I had a box of frozen halibut just hanging out at baggage claim waiting to be picked up and a train to catch, so noon was not an option. I bought a Southwest ticket for 9:10 and flew standby on the sold-out 7:55, getting myself to Oakland at 10. I got a rental car (forget the train), picked Jake up from west Oakland bart, and after stopping at Brown Sugar Kitchen for lunch (the chicken and waffles are bomb! Go there!), we drove to Tahoe for a visit with dad.
Jake flew home to Seattle at the end of the weekend and I stayed in Tahoe for another week. When it was time for me to go down to Napa, I managed to continue my travel snafu by missing my bus out of Truckee – I thought it was a train, so while I was waiting for a train I missed the bus. Dad was in Reno playing handball and wouldn’t be back until late so I discovered the Tahoe regional transit system and for $3.50 got myself back to Tahoma for a pizza and some beers and spent one more night in Rubicon.
The next day I made my *bus* and went home to spend time with my mom and brothers and finish my best friend’s wedding dress. She gets married next month in St. Paul, Minnesota and I will be there four weeks from this Thursday via Anchorage and Chicago O’Hare, all going well. I can’t post a picture of the dress because it’s a jealously guarded secret until October 18th but Jaime loves it, so I’m off the hook.
I flew up to Seattle last Friday to spend at least a little time with Jake before coming back to work. Today I flew up to Anchorage and at the moment I’m back on the highway with my friend heading to camp tonight somewhere on our way to Valdez. We’re laughing about how excited we are to camp, not thinking about how we’ll be working for 4 weeks on the other side of tonight. A camping trip should ease the transition back to life on the boats, no?