Sunday, March 29, 2009

Safely in the frozen North

I made it in to Anchorage about fifteen minutes ahead of the ash cloud from the latest eruption of Mount Redoubt, about 100 miles South-West of the city. After connecting flights to Houston and Seattle, our flight to Anchorage was delayed for a couple of hours while the weather prophets and others tried to figure out whether we could get in safely (and, just as important for the airline, get out again!). My host tells me that volcanic ash is like powdered obsidian - fragments of glass, not stone, and very, very scratchy. Apparently, if it gets into an aircraft engine, down you go. She says that if driving with volcanic ash on the roads, she has to change her engine oil and oil and air filters, every fifty miles, or risk the destruction of her car's engine. Scary stuff!

Anyway, we finally got in at just after 4.30 p.m. As we walked off the plane, ground staff were frenziedly refilling her with fuel, and passengers were lined up ready to board and get off the ground as fast as possible. Continental didn't want their nice new 737-900 stuck on the ground in Anchorage, that's for sure! Minutes after it took off, the airport closed again, and stayed closed overnight until this afternoon.

Today we went shopping for food, and this evening I cooked supper - swordfish steaks, accompanied by a melange of onion, mushroom and artichoke heart, with fresh asparagus on the side and home-made bread (the latter two provided courtesy of Miss D., my host). We're both sitting back now, replete, our stomachs making little moaning noises of satisfaction. It's nice that both of us enjoy good food, and cooking it! Now it's her turn to come up with something tasty.

I'll be gallivanting around here for the rest of the week, discovering a little about a State that's new to me, and enjoying making new friends and meeting old ones. Ash clouds don't make for good photographic scenery, but if I get some good pictures, I'll post them.



Loren said...

You might see about stopping by the shop of the author of "The Whiteboard:"
which, while paintball might not be your cup of tea, is highly amusing in many ways. His site is down right now, something with the way he updates, or I'd give name and confirm that he lives somewhere around there. I'm pretty sure he's in Anchorage, but don't remember.

Judging from the comic, I'm sure he has a few stories that would amuse you.

Gene said...

If the mountain decrees that you stay in Anchorage for longer than life will allow you, you might look into catching a ferry to Juneau and flying out of there.

Enjoy AK, it's one of my favorite states

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Doc's down in Sterling, I thing - I know he's down by Kenai/Soldotna way. Which is very close as the plane flies - in my tiny taildragger I could be there in half an hour - but as the car drives, it's all the way around the ocean arm and through the mountains. 155 miles or so, if the road isn't closed by avalanches.

And we already had the road shut down last week by avalanches, prior to a warm spell followed with snow. Theoretically it's open, but I refuse to try in my tiny econocar. There's a reason that if it's further than eighty miles away, I fly.

George said...

I have heard that volcanic eruptions make some really nice sunsets and sunrises...

Old NFO said...

If you get up to Fairbanks, go to Pikes or the Pump House for dinner! Excellent places and lots of history in both!

Jake said...

a great link to a story about flying into a volcanic cloud: