Well, it's back to reality...and the oppressive heat that is Houston!
My flight home was a chore. 1.5 hour delay leaving Anchorage meant a 1:45 AM departure. Then we had a one hour layover in Seattle after arriving at 5:00 AM Seattle time, which meant getting off the plane so that they could clean it and restock for the next leg. Argghh! Then a 4.5 hour leg to Houston. Obviously there was no chance to get any sleep on this flight.
I was so glad to be back in Houston. Even the 107 degree temps didn't dim my relief to be home. That first night home I forced myself to stay up until 9 PM so that I could get a start at getting back onto Central Time zone schedule. By the time I flopped into my own bed at 9 PM, I'd been awake for 37 hours. I'm getting too old for this!
Miserable return flights aside, I am still reliving this fantastic trip in my mind! Every minute of every day was a treasure...a gift. I will remember this trip for a very long time.
So many people - too many, actually - kept telling me what I NEEDED to do and see while I was in Alaska. I know they thought they were helping. I did and saw everything that I wanted to see and do. And I probably saw and did a whole lot more than most folks. The great thing about seeing Alaska by car, not through a cruise ship or tour bus window, is that I could go and do whatever I wanted and got to see lots of things that were well off the typical well-beaten tourist path. I could experience the local flavor of a town in intimate detail without rushing. I value that more than anything.
The weather...perfect!! My flightseeing trip over Denali couldn't have been better. The day before and the day after I took this flight, they were socked in with bad weather. The Fjord cruise was perfect weather-wise. The day before, they had rain, the day after they had dense, low clouds which obliterated any view of the coastline. Race day the temps were perfect: low 50s at the start of the race and not a cloud in the sky. The day that I drove down to Whittier and took the ferry to Valdez was perfect as well. Clear, cool, not a cloud in the sky
Hanging baskets of flowers everywhere!! Oh, my!! They were gorgeous, with blooms that were huge!!
Coffee shops everywhere!! Everywhere I went I did not want for a good espresso or cappuccino! Museums, shops, everywhere...they had an espresso machine. I loved it!!
I'm still processing this trip in my mind, savoring every moment, dissecting every experience. What a trip!!