Sunday, December 21, 2008

And then they drop me...

... and everyone else. Flight into Seattle was a bit uneventful. Flight attendance tell us on board as we are landing that there have been some cancellations. Oh, that wasnt even the half of it. "Some" was a drastic understatement. Straight off the plane, we ran to the readerboard to find the location of our flight to San Diego. Of the three flights of the morning, two where cancelled. Fortunately, ours was the only flight remaining. We sat at the gate and stared the Alaska Airlines attendants down. We were no intimidation to them. It was not like there were feet of snow on the ground. It was not like the winds were howling at 80 miles an hour. It was not like there were sheets of falling ice rain. It was snow, lightly falling. Hard to believe a few flakes could cause this much disaster. I soon found out that the minds-that-be at Seattle Tacoma International Airport have an unhealthy avoidance of snow removal equipment purchases. I guess they are the thought-theory that if they dont buy anything to remove the snow, then the snow merely shouldn't fall. Are those in the Pacific Northwest that naive? I live in Fairbanks, Alaska. If for one year, I decide not to buy the boys winter jackets. Will the temperature not drop below zero? I do not believe I would have happy-campers waiting for the bus in the middle of December. Yet I digress. We arrive in Seattle at 6am this morning. We wait another eight hours for information pertaining to the de-icing of our plane and listen to countless flights being labeled "cancelled" and we sit in the airport like lemmings before the final run. The sitting becomes the standing; the standing become the pacing, and the pacing becomes frantic lunges for the counter. "Flight 840 to SanDiego has been cancelled. Please exit the terminal to the ticketing counters to reschedule your flight". Fortunately we have a phone number to the agents and start calling the moment that announcement was broadcasting. We are confirmed on a flight out of Seattle on Tuesday, December 23. Too bad the cruise took off earlier this evening from San Diego. Without us. Without several other people in Seattle waiting for the flight. Without other people in Vancouver. Without even more people in Portland. Is no one in the Pacific Northwest purchasing snow removal equipment? Another six hours of phone calls to various airlines and air resellers to come up with a solution. Alaska Airlines rescheduled us for San Diego, yes. But the cruise is no longer in San Diego. It is entertaining hundreds of fortunate OTHER passengers in the Pacific Ocean. We had to purchase (yes, added expense: plane tickets for 7) flights from San Diego, to Houston, to Acapulco to catch up to the cruise ship on Christmas afternoon. Oh, baby. Santa is going to visit somewhere 30K feet above Northcentral Mexico. I hope those reindeer aren't affected by altidude sickness.

Alaska Airlines comes through

So our flight out of Seattle was cancelled and we were rebooked on the next flight out to San Diego three hours later. We would have had a six hour layover instead of the intended three hour layover, but... When we arrived in Anchorage, we found that there were not flights in or out of Seattle, indefinately. Fortunately, "indefinately" was only an hour and half, but our flight hadn't even left SeaTac yet. That flight left. We know have three hours to wait for our flight. Only four hours late. The good side? We get out of Anchorage and we now only have four hours to wait in the Seattle airport. Now just wish me luck getting out of Seattle on time. Really, I never would have thought it would be this hard, but glad it has been this easy. At least they are not like Northwest Airlines that left DH and I in Narita, Japan for over three days without compensation. I try to remember that it can always be worse. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


At 2:40pm my flight out of Seattle to San Diego was cancelled. On the phone with Alaska Airlines right now.

Christmas Knitting

So this is my fast frenzy of Christmas knitting. These are Gentleman's Fancy Socks for Isaac. They will not be done by Christmas, so he will get them early January. These are Warmest Mittens for my sister in Michigan The Baby Surprise Jacket for niece Sarah in Juneau The Wonderful Wallaby for nephew Joseph
Aran Slippers from IK Holiday Gifts for sister-in-law in Juneau
Kate for Layla from and "Kate"-inspired hat and scarf for her older sister Gwennie in Washington
Drop Stitch Scarf for Carter
And how am I spending my Christmas? That would be on a Holland America 14 day Mexican Riviera holiday cruise. We fly out tomorrow afternoon to Seattle (and great, they are having a HUGE storm and we were told to expect delays {of which we can't have a single one because there is ONE SEAT out of Fairbanks to the lower 48 from now to Christmas / if we miss any flight at all, then we miss the cruise} there was no alternative on the plane tickets at time of purchase because we used airline miles for all seven of us). Seattle is expecting a massively historic storm. When? Tomorrow! Lovely, just lovely.
If everything goes as planned, we will be spending Christmas in Acapulco and New Year Eve on board in Mazatlan. And with the price for the cruise, it is a very humbling Christmas.
But why would someone want to leave their home for the Holidays?
Because this was the photo I took while in town yesterday. It was just after sunrise at 11:28 as I was driving south on the Steese Hwy coming up to the 10th ave intersection. Thankfully tomorrow is Solstice (the longest night of the year) and I will miss it. Hopefully not to be spending my vacation in the Seattle airport.
But also on my drive to town, I am rewarded with this view at the top of Halgerbarger hill. A view of Fairbanks:
Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Australia: Costal (part 2 of 2)

Australia continued... The first post covered the Outback as we made our way to the coast. We drove all day and just as night was falling, we started our ascent of the Great Dividing Range. Not taking more than two hours, which ironically included a dinner stop at The Hilltop Cafe (of which we have a restaurant of the same name in Fairbanks, also at the top of a hill), we descended at what felt like 90 degrees on switchbacks for 40kms. We made it into Cairns to spend the night at the Holiday Inn, which surpisingly is much much nicer than the Holiday Inns in the States. Woke up the next morning to head to Port Douglas. Just north of Cairns on the Bruce Highway, we first see the Great Barrier Reef: We find a place to stay in Port Douglas and decided upon taking a short drive through the Daintree National Forest. Well, the short drive turns into a daylong adventure and we figured it was quicker to continue the scenic path north to Cookstown to spend the night. A fabulous dinner on the wharf, a pleasant nights rest, and back to a faster highway south to Port Douglas. Side note: Port Douglas isn't pronounded: Doug (dug), like the American name. It is pronounced do-g, like go "do" this for me +g. I couldn't hold back the giggles whenever anyone would ask me where we were staying. The first night in Port "do"glas we boarded a sailboat and had a pleasant sunset sail around the inside of the reef. We saved the adventure for the next day when we boarded the Poseindon for an afternoon of feeding the fishes... through the mouthpiece... thirty feet below water level. Oh, sorry, that was just me. I get seasick very easily and was hoping diving would treat me with more respect than snorkling does. Obvious to all the other divers: I was wrong. If you ever wanted to know: yes, you can get seasick while diving. It isn't fun. It also isn't life threatening. We did rent an underwater camera and were able to take pictures; which unfortunately all turned out very blue. Are you curious about those sexy light blue suits we are wearing? I was curious until I had to wear one. Stinger suits. So whatever nasties (jellyfish) that live in the coastal northern waters don't sting us to death. Most flattering suits imaginable. Here is Mark equalizing his ears. Since we survived the Introductory dive, twice. We decided to continue our journey south to Arlie Beach and occupy our time drinking with all the foreign workers, avoiding teenagers on their summer vacations (how dare they take summer vacation during our winter?), and touring the Whitsunday Islands on the rainiest day of the entire trip. While we cannot plan the weather, we should have skipped the three island tour. Hanging out on a desert beach sounds super-sexy until you realize you are being lightly misted on while expected to don yet another sexy stinger suit just to go swimming. No one's fault. Just a matter of circumstance. These ladies didn't seem to be bothered by the weather. So what where we living in this whole time? Funny you should ask. I did take a couple pictures of the inside of our humble abode. This is walking in the from the only doorway near the back. To the close left you see the refridgerator, behind that were the cupboards. Above center is the fold out bed all tucked away and to the right is the seating and the air conditioner.
and looking down from the bed, you can see everything in reverse:
From Arlie Beach we continued southward to Fraser Island, which was a stellar trip. I would highly recommend this trip to everyone. The whole island is a forested sand with a Seventy Mile Beach.
First stop on our island tour was McKinsey Lake. Nice lake, we didnt swim, too many other places to see. I couldn't bare stopping and staying at the first nice place we stopped off.
and then I couldn't bare halting at the second place we stopped at. Although, of any of the activities that I wished I would have taken the time to enjoy, this lake was it. It looked to gorgeous and refreshing, but we were beach camping with no running water anywhere and the thought of swimming in stagnant hot water without being able to rinse off scared me. We have swimmers itch in the gravel pits. I have no idea what I would have gotten "down under", if you know what I mean!
After three or four hours of driving, we finally protruded upon the east side of Fraser Island to Seventy Mile Beach. The island is run by their EPA, which is much more lax than ours would ever think to be. If an island in the States were run by the EPA, do you think they would allow up to drive 4X4 diesel campers up and down the beach?
It was hard to put the camera down for just one minute for thought I might miss the perfect shot. Every curve of that beach was gorgeous!
A stop at the shipwrecked cruise liner left to decay gave me time to stretch my legs and enjoy the sun, the surf, and the sand. We were able to walk around the SS Maheno for quite a while. I think I probably have 20 or more pictures on my flickr account.
Our little 4x4 campervan went everywhere on the island, except to the Champagne Pools at Indians Head. Here the little campervan that could: couldn't. We tried and tried, but eventually gratiously accepted a push-out by two safari truckloads of foreign student workers that in the bests broken English they knew explained to us that there was much deeper sand ahead. Turn around and stop trying. I will never know what we missed. I can only assume it was as great at the Garden of Eden. Or maybe it was just more sand.
We set up camp on the beach and watched the sunset, only to be reminded by the bored dingo that our nightlife had much to be desire.
I enjoyed the relative peace. It would have been nice to run into someone our own age. Most travelers were local Australians with small childern, foreign workers primarily from Germany with a few Frenchies thrown in, or summer-breaking teenagers. Which judging from the local waterholes, these summer-breakers are allowed to drink at 16 without, what Americans consider, an adult. Wow, way to make me feel really old.
Our final destination while still in the campervan was the Australia Zoo. We tried to time it so that we would NOT be visiting the zoo on their busiest day. We failed. As time came around, we realized that we would be visiting the zoo on November 15th, which coincidentally was Steve Irwin Day. The zoo was packed with people in cars, campervans, shuttle buses, motorcoaches, city buses. I was looking for an airstrip with planes landing every 15 minutes, but couldn't find that. Once we were in the zoo, it surpisingly did not feel crowded at all. There were dozens of special activites and superb shows being held. Volunteers were everywhere to assist guests looking for special exhibits. I was surprised at how many special activities there were going on at once.
as I looked over pictures of Australia on Flickr before heading over, I kept seeing photos of wombats. Whoa, those are cool! The zoo offer pictures with the wombats, but not until 2:15 and we needed to return the van by 2, so I missed getting my picture with one of these freaky little mammals. Too bad, cause I was going to comb it and mix the fibers in with some merino for an exotic pair of socks!
Man, and I thought my job was easy.
an obligatory photo with the koala bear
after the zoo, we returned the campervan in Brisbane, rented a car and drove another hour to Surfer's Paradise. The beach was gorgeous, but I came for a little bit of city life/ shopping/ relaxation.
Finally after living in a campervan for more than two weeks, HOTEL-land. We stayed at the Marriott Surfers Paradise. This was an awesome hotel. Outdoor swimming lagoon, bar, two restaurants. It was so nice to end the vacation with a little bit of luxury.
Well, that is all for Australia. I thought I should get these posted before I start posting about all of my Christmas knitting that I have been frantically working on. I will throw in a couple of obligatory pics and then wont be posting again until my return from Mexico. We are taking the kids on the Ryndam for the Holiday Mexican Riviera 14 day cruise. I hope to blog more about it soon.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A little meme for you, from me...

I leave you with a meme, poached shamelessly from Becca and weezalana
Things I've Done (In Bold)
1. Started my own blog (yep)
2. Slept under the stars (I was a Girl Scout)
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii (all the islands, was married {Maui'd} in Makena, Maui)
5. Watched a meteor shower (just saw one in Australia two weeks ago)
6. Given more than I can afford to charity (honestly, this wasn't as humanitarian as you would think. I was in Anchorage for work and gave my last $5bill to the bell ringer and went up to the 5th floor in the 5th Ave mall to the food court only to find out the hotel triple charged my debit card for the hotel room and used up all my space left on debit and I didnt have any food money. I didn't eat for two days. Nothing. Not a single thing. I now carry an emergency credit card for this reason alone.)
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain (does Mount Healy Outlook count?)
9. Held a praying mantis (had a whole egg sack of praying mantis hatch for a Jackson cameleon to eat, only to find out that the praying mantis babies were smaller than the screen mesh on the tank. That was a learning experience)
10. Sung a solo (if I did, your ears would still be bleeding)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightning at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch (knitting counts, right?)
15. Adopted a child (do step childern count? I legally have to feed them)
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables (I came up to Alaska because of the FFA)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train (from Cairo to Luxor)
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (but only to knit)
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping (several times, but most recently in Bora Bora)
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset ( and in Alaska, those are within a few hours of eachother)
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise (and will be on anther one in 17 days.... Mexican Riviera, I work for a cruiseline)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (life in Alaska allows that quite easily)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke (tested the ear bleeding of others)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (unfortunately, while on a date with him)
44. Visited Africa (my uncle worked there)
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance (46.5 taught myself to snowboard, hence the ride)
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing (yum, halibut)
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud (Starvation Gulch, baby!)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater (don't ask me the movie playing... tee hee)
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class (yellow belt, would have made orange, but I was 7 months pregnant)
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (donate blood regularly, and sold plasma for food money to support my family during hard times. I still have track marks to prove it)
65. Gone sky diving (why jump out of a perfectly good airplane?)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter (Kauaii)
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job (Wedgewood, but it wasn't my fault, really!)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (cheekbones)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (115mph)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car (21 miles on the odometer)
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper (front page my first week in Fairbanks, student housing crisis)
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (by auto, but don't tell Fish and Game)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life (sister from drowning)
90. Sat on a jury (fu*ker should have fried, but I was choosen as the alternate right before deliberation. And have jury duty this month as well!)
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby (and lost one as well)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone (work owns it, I would NEVER own my own)
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Rode an elephant

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


how about some editing so that everything left aligns? I am seriously thinking about trashing this whole damned mess. How hard could it possibly be to get everything to left align? isnt' that was the left align button is for? Blogger, get a clue: YOU SUCK!

Australia: Outback (post 1)

Usually my blog is all about knitting, but that isn't the only thing I do in the wintertime here in Fairbanks. Sometimes I actually like to get out of this state, especially since we are now down to just a little over 5 hours of daylight and well below zero. All summer long, Mark and I (mostly Mark) have been planning a trip to Australia. Every fall, Mark (DH/ HighOhSilver) and I take a vacation away; away from the kids, away from work, away from Alaska, away from house construction, away from stress and committments and responsibility so that we can reconnect as a couple to strengthen our relationship and rid ourselves of any negativity that may interfer in a happy relationship. We take a vacation with the kids in the winter/Christmastime and then another short vacation just Mark and I in the spring as a jump-off from one of either of our work-travels. This year, we decided to go to Australia. May's calendar picture was the Great Barrier Reef and I causually mentioned wanting to see that sometime in my life and the vacation was born. Plan was 1) see the Outback, 2) See the Great Barrier Reef, and 3) take two weeks to do it. After months and months of planning, late October came and off we went. Since I have so many pictures, I will be breaking them up into several different posts. The first post is just a sample of our Outback pictures. We took over 700 pictures during our time in Australia, I wont bore you with all of them. Here are just a few starting in the Outback: We flew from Fairbanks, to Anchorage, to Seattle, to LA, to Sydney, to Alice Springs: the center of Australia, referred to as "the Outback".

We flew into Alice Springs, collected all of our luggage (thank you luggage-Gods, we received every piece we relinquished to you hours previous), rented the campervan, stopped at the grocery and LiquorLand to load up on supplies and immediately headed south to Ayers Rock, also known as Uluru.

{seriously, blogger is rough to work with, it wont let me place commentary where I want it, I apologize in advance for the lack of explanation on some of these pictures} above: the land was SO red in some places. I was so amazed at the redness that we pulled over just to take pictures. It is not called the red center for nothing below: we arrived at Uluru very late (dark) and set up camp for our first night in a plug-in site at Ayer's Rock Resort and woke up early 6am to see the rock at sunrise. Not realizing that 6am would be more than an hour after sunrise, we caught the rock mid-morning. Realize that 6am is not mid-morning for me.
Yes, Mark is catching a wave this morning. I like to call this picture: "Geologist Surf".
As they say, 'Geologists know what makes the bedrock", give a man his props!
So I dont exactly have that, "I'm ready for you to take the picture" smile on, but I still like this photo. It is difficult at best to approach someone with your camera and ask them to take a picture. Most people just act like you are invading their personal space just by walking by them. It was hard to find anyone friendly. I blame it on the lack of coffee available in the area. We found lots of Iced Coffee, which was just coffee flavored milk, but drip coffee is hard to find. Guess no oen likes hot coffee at 90F. Don't blame them much but I don't like coffee flavored milk much either. How about just plain iced coffee?
After Uluru, we headed back north heading to Kings Canyon. Needing to fuel, the next fuel stop had a bunch of kangaroos and camels. Hating camels because of a bad camel riding experience in Egypt, I seared clear of those vile creatures and stopped to feed the roos. This fella here decided he was hungry enough to care to nibble out of my bag of feed.
This guy only wanted to scratch himself...
After fuel and feed, we hopped back in the camper and made way to King's Canyon
There were three walks described: a casual walk at the base of the canyon 0.5kms, a stenuous hike around the upper lip of the canyon 6kms, or a full on all day 30kms trek. We discussed our options and decided on the 6 kilometer hike.
it started off with steps like.. yes, these are steps
a brief pause for photos
hello down there
this hike was one of my favorite activities of the entire trip. We were upset that for the first few days there were scattered sprinkles and it was only in the 80's. We wanted HOT! But after the first afternoon of hot, we realized how grateful we should have been that it was only in the 80's because it would have made this hike impossible to accomplish
after the hike we tried to drive into the West MacDonnell mountain range, but running into soft, lofty, red dirt on the road only making 50km/h, we realized we wouldn't make it to the next campsite on the path, so we sorrowly pulled back to the King's Canyon Resort campsite.
and we were so grateful that we did. Everyone before dinner headed to the viewing area and watched the sun set and the view of Kings Canyon to darken to a golden burgundy. A gorgeous view before dinner.
Day 3: drove through the MacDonnel's in the morning, hit Alice Springs by mid afternoon and continued North to Tennant Creek. Along the way we noticed this pullout. I figured it was picture worthy, since it isn't every day that I cross over the Tropic of Capricorn.
Once the heat of midday broke, we realized we would be hitting Devil's Marbles with perfect timing. An hour or so before sunset, we could run around and not be dying. {note: this Alaskan girl does not handle much above 90F. Day3 's mercury hit 35C, which is about 93F}
Here is Mark pushing this marble back into place...
Just a drive off the road
can you imagine how nervous I was that these two rocks might decided to meet?
Ah, making camp at Tennant Creek. And our first of many Red Rooster chicken sandwiches.
Day 4: Tennant Creek to Julia Creek. This was a refreshing repreive. I still miss all the Ginger Beers, our Ginger Ale is not the same. Australian's don't know how good they have it!
Our first sighting of a wild emu. They aren't exceptionally attractive birds, but they do make good sausage.
Day 5: Julia Creek to Cairns: Welcome to Queensland
When your husband says, "honey, I found a shortcut" act like you don't hear him. Seriously, listen up: ACT LIKE YOU DON'T HERE HIM
A word of advide: When an Australian map says Development Road. They mean: a road UNdeveloped. Our shortcuts lead us on these undevelopments.
First there was the Kennedy Undevelopment Road, which lead to great views, one blown tire, in places lofty sand almost a foot thick, no other automobiles, lots of cattle, and five hours of solitary driving.
Secondly we hit the Gregory Undevelopment Road, which unlike the first was paved. But only one center lane was paved. There were Road Trains, which if you don't know what those are, let me fill you in. Road Trains are semi-trucks with not one trailer, not two trailers, sometimes not even three trailers, but as many as four trailers, going 110km/hr (70mph) coming at you as you are diving on the same one lane at 110km/h. It was fun. I wasn't brave enough to take a picture when we saw them coming. We just pulled off the road, as gently as one can do at that speed and let them pass. Fortuneately, Australians are smart enough to stay off those roads and stick to the more developed motorways.
as to make this posting manageable, I will post on the rest of the vacation in another post.