Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Goodbye, Alaska

Sunday was our last day in Alaska, and we decided to make the most of it. Sunday morning we got up early, packed up at our Airbnb, and met Joe and Sarah for church at Faith Christian Community. They were celebrating baptism that morning, and it was cool to participate with other believers in that. I also hunted down the sound guy after service to ask a few questions (as is custom).

After church, we swung back by REI to drop off our skis (great deal, by the way - $19 cross country ski rental for three days with REI membership) and then went to Play It Again Sports to rent ice skates for our last adventure!

Westchester Lagoon (with mountains)
From the research I did, Westchester Lagoon seemed to be the most popular outdoor ice skating area for families in Anchorage. Maintained by the Municipality of Anchorage, it consists of a large cleared oval almost a quarter of a mile long. You could really get up to speed on the straight stretches, as opposed to an indoor rink - which was a ton of fun.

Speaking of getting up to speed. I knew we would all have various levels of experience, but Adam really surprised me. Before we went out, he told us he had been on ice skates one other time in his life, when he was a kid. However, he neglected to mention the years of inline skating and roller hockey experience that obviously translated beautifully to the ice. The rest of us were in various states of wobbling around while Adam was literally skating circles around us - backwards.

Moments before disaster
Now, if it weren't for this final outing, I would be able to say I brought everyone home who went with me alive and uninjured. Alive, yes. Uninjured, not quite. Jocelyn took a pretty hard fall to the kneecaps near the end of our time on the lagoon. Adam and I were coming up behind her, saw her fall, and slowed down quickly. I admit my first instinct was to reach for my camera, but it looked like she might actually be hurt. When we got to her, she was laughing, but it was obvious her knees hurt pretty bad. They had some pretty healthy bruises, but she was a trooper on the way home.

After ice skating, it was time to part ways. Seth, Jocelyn, and my flights all left mid-afternoon from Anchorage, while Tanner, Katy, and Adam didn't fly out until 11:30 PM that evening. They dropped us off at the airport, and we all said goodbye. It was strange how significant this goodbye felt, despite knowing how soon we would see each other in Blacksburg. There's just something about spending a week in close quarters together that strengthens the bond between friends.

Goodbye at ANC
The next hurdle to get over was the massive snowstorm that was starting to slam Seattle, where our connections were. According to Seth's pilot, "Snowmageddon part #3" was beginning, and our friend Michael, who lives in Portland, warned us that the worst storm of the last 20 - 30 years was supposed to hit that night.

We three convened again in Seattle once we had made our snowy landings and had dinner at Qdoba. As it turned out, we were able to take off again with only minor delays to deice the wings. Meanwhile, in Anchorage, Tanner, Katy, and Adam visited the Flat Top Mountain overlook and spent part of the evening helping Joe and Sarah move into their new house, utilizing the rental vehicle as a moving truck.

The remainder of our trip home was mostly uneventful, with the exception of the breakfast bagel incident in Atlanta. Taking into account the fancy bagel with fixings I received, some poor guy was going to be pretty disappointed with my ham and Swiss on a plain bagel that he was stuck with. This trial aside, team APART was back in Christiansburg before noon on Monday, as was JUST ME soon after.

Team KAT had a little more excitement on their way home. Despite seeing their bags sitting on the tarmac, they somehow didn't actually make it onto the plane in Denver. When they arrived in Greensboro they waited at baggage claim for a while before realizing their bags hadn't made it. They were, however, helpfully delivered to Tanner's house at 2:30 AM the next morning.

Possible favorite Airbnb thus far
Cumulative Moose Count: 25 (two airport moose)
Cumulative Bear Count: 0
Moose Involved Incidents: 0

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