Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The 50th state - Whats the date!? Bollocks.



I made my way to O’Hare airport early Saturday morning and began the beginning of the end of this particular journey. My first flight took me way across America to the West coast where I landed in Seattle. This was just a quick stop though as an hour later I took my second flight of the day – heading north - further north than I have ever been – flying over and beyond Canada until I landed in the largest state in America - Alaska. The journey, especially the final half hour or so was brilliant – looking down out of the window at the snow covered peaks and the odd pure white glacier here and there filling up the gaps between rocky hills. It’s a stunning landscape and I am now closer to Russia than I am to Winnipeg. Saying that, I’m closer to Russia than I am to almost anywhere – except Alaska itself!

First views down into Alaska

A glacier....

Closer view

It just went on and on...
I couldn’t wait to land and have a look about, but I actually got a little sad when I finally made my way out of the airport. It’s felt like the end of something special – It was after all my 50th and final stop on my look around these United States. I was happy when I could say that I had travelled around the world – literally. Now, to that I can add that I have visited ALL 50 states in the USA. I must admit to being chuffed to fuck to be able to say that. 

Anyway, there wasn’t a bus for over an hour, so I grabbed a taxi into town and was given a little tour by Tracey the taxi driver before she dropped me off at the Bent Prop Inn and Hostel. The owner, Dave, had a good chat with me and suggested a few things to do before I went out into the city for a quick look around. He also explained that although there are times where it doesn’t get dark here – There will be about 4-5 hours of night while I am here. I don’t know whether to believe him because as I type this its 10.20pm and the sun is still shining through the window! There seems to be plenty to do and I can’t wait to go exploring tomorrow, but for now, I think it’s time for a shower and then bed. My head woke me up just before 5am Chicago time and currently the time there is 1.18 am, so you could say it’s been a long day.
50 states – bloody hell - I didn’t think I would ever do it. Awesome.

Anchorage from the air

and the airport

Bears....everywhere!

Even though I was knackered I decided to go out and watch the sunset – at 11pm. There is a small cove just a five minute walk away and I sat and watched the slowest sunset I have ever seen. In the outback in Australia, the sun is there one second, before a dazzling display of colour marks its departure below the horizon and then it is just black. Not here though. I saw the sun slowly disappear and for nearly two hours I wandered up and down the shoreline watching the sky stay red. I didn’t think it was ever going to get dark and I must admit that just before1am and after walking backwards and forwards for about 5 miles I headed off to bed, sure that the sun was going to reappear any moment over the eastern horizon. 

1115pm sunset
1230 am - still light!!

I never saw the dark – I went to sleep in a half light and woke up a couple of hours later in half light. It’s weird and messes with your bodies systems. There’s no wonder that after midnight there were still kids playing on the swings and a huge eagle sitting up a tree watching them. It is indeed the land of the midnight sun. I’m sure the crime figures here are incredibly low as there are no dark corners for the burglars and muggers to hide in!
Eagle in a tree at about midnight

and the mountain view from where the eagle was


Sunday - a day on a bike. The trail I watched the sunset from last night is called The Tony Knowles trailway and leads about 10 miles or so out of town through a forest and past the airport. I had already seen around town, so decided to spend the afternoon cycling the trail and looking out for all the wildlife that you can see along the way. Supposedly there are moose, eagles and lots of other things to look at – but I saw nothing but squirrels!! It was still a lovely afternoon and I really enjoyed being sat on the path, just beyond the end of the airport runway and watching the huge planes land and take off above my head. The cycling didn’t turn out to be the best idea though as I seem to have aggravated a couple of old knee injuries from all the frantic pedalling, so I will be taking it easy for the next day or two. That's the plan anyway.
 
Me on my bike prior to knees killing me! Nice background!

Another view of Anchorage - from just by the airport

Plane!

Well, it’s Memorial Day – Monday 27th May – and it’s been a lot different today than I imagined when I got up this morning. I left to get a bus to the airport in order to collect my rental car, but signs had appeared overnight telling me that there were no buses running today – so it was a $20 taxi to the airport, with the nicest most talkative taxi driver I have ever met. Then it was all downhill from there.........

I have had two different rental cars in the last fortnight – no problems or worries with either of them - They obviously didn't notice my out of date licence. But today, when attempting to collect my third rental car, I was stunned to be told by the clerk, that my driving licence had expired in January. Bloody hell – no rental car for me then! How the other companies didn’t notice I don’t know, but at least it happened here in Alaska and not in another state or somewhere where I needed to actually get somewhere rather than just being a tourist. 

So I wasted another $20 on a taxi back into town and quickly sorted myself out a bus and boat trip for tomorrow to head out and see some of the Alaskan countryside, snow and glaciers. It’s bloody expensive and an early start, but I’m not going to sit on my arse and sulk for the next two days. 

Anyway, with that sorted I ended up spending the majority of the afternoon, sitting in a nice little park right in the city centre, reading a book, watching the world go by and eating a reindeer hot dog. Yep, Rudolph over here ends up between the two halves of a particularly tasty bun, covered in onions and he tastes lovely!! I might well go back before I leave and try a bit of prance or dancer too!!

Rudolph hotdog! Lovely!!

What does that date say? Bugar.
So that’s been my day today – taxi, disappointment, taxi, spend lots of money, sit in sunshine, and eat reindeer. Not a bad end to what could have been a traumatic day!! Oh, well, you live and learn – I will make sure that on my return to Winnipeg I get my up to date driving licence out of its box and destroy the old one I have here!!

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