I like Alaska, especially the DOs

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by violist, Apr 6, 2015.  |  Print Topic

  1. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    I was thinking about Dos, having recently enjoyed the Austin
    and (part of the) Japan ones, and noted there's another
    Alaska one coming up, See here for details.
    This report attempts to demonstrate that one can be sick
    as a dog but still enjoy a Do if the thing is set up well.
    Sadly, somewhere between Williamsport and Newark I managed
    to get this massive intractable cough, barely managed by
    large doses of medication. Several segment runs on US Air,
    not supremely pleasant to begin with, were turned into
    sheerest torture, and the other denizens of the various
    aircraft, earnestly plying the air currents to such garden
    spots as Baltimore and Philadelphia, must have been rather
    put off by my snorts and throat clearings. Suffice it to
    say that I tried to put myself into an alcoholic and drug
    induced trance, over which a discreet curtain may be drawn,
    for all of these. I found myself in Newark at the end of a
    string of these flights, and the Do trip began in earnest on
    a windy late July day.

    UA4885 EWR IAD 1010 1140 Q40 4C

    My seatmate on this flight was a UA 757/67 first officer
    who kept me entertained with tales of the rather bumpy
    merger for most of the rather bumpy flight; he didn't seem
    overput out by my impertinent questions and potentially
    contagious condition. We landed a little late owing to
    weather and flow control, and I hobbled down to Fuddrucker's
    for a burger (you can get one rare, and it's more meat for
    the money than at the otherwise estimable Five Guys) and
    then to the LH lounge for drinks and wireless. I prefer the
    business lounge downstairs and generally go there. The pours
    were generous (a young Middle-Eastern-looking bartender who
    pretty clearly didn't himself drink and who had no clue
    about what he was pouring) and the boozal quality high.
    Snacks were at best interesting, and I was glad to have
    had a burger-filled stomach before arriving.

    UA1122 IAD SFO 1505 1747 738 7C

    It was getting on to boarding time when I arrived at the
    gate - the roped lines with the zone labels were flagrantly
    ignored, and it was the usual snafu - relevant as my upgrade
    had not cleared, and I was battling the masses for overhead
    space - the one disadvantage of the bulkhead.

    My seatmate, a rather lovely woman of about my years, and I
    reflected on how upgrades were harder than ever to come by
    (I was #4 in line for 0 seats, she #5) and how - despite
    what people say - the flight really is much longer in coach.

    I tried to snooze without success. An expired drink coupon
    was refused, but a fresh one was found, and Courvoisier
    helped ease the discomfort.

    UA1257 SFO ANC 1947 2345 738 2AC

    I was feeling really rocky, what with the cough and not
    having gotten any rest, so I greeted lili at the club with
    rather less than the usual enthusiasm. For the hour and
    change there I kept counsel with a succession of cups of
    pineapple juice and pass-o-guava, while envying lili's
    Stag's Leap Artemis Cabernet, which I probably wouldn't
    have been able to taste anyway.
  2. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Boarding was an unsightly mess, but everyone eventually
    got on the plane. A poker-faced bunch of flight attendants.

    Despite our crew sort of going through the motions, it was
    an enjoyable flight, thanks to the company and a few
    iterations of Courvoisier and hot water, not together. The
    meal was the Mediterranean snack plate, which I passed on.

    Toward the end of the trip there was an unexpected flurry of
    activity, almost as if the crew had suddenly heard of a
    secret shopper on board. If it weren't so funny it would
    have been pathetic.

    The Hampton shuttle showed up as soon as we got to the
    pickup spot, a record of the welcome sort, and soon (after
    trying to get off at the Homewood Suites in my stuporous
    state) I was snoring away gratefully.

    lili and I had been scheduled on a tour that left before
    we were going to arrive at the ADQ airport next day, and we
    had tried in vain to juggle things so we could make it;
    but given the way I felt I was thankful to be on the later
    flight. It turns out that the tours got jiggered around so
    everyone eventually got accommodated.

    Breakfast was a carbon copy of every other, though the room
    was high-ceilingeder than normal. Afterward, the shuttle got
    us back expeditiously and dropped us off at the wayleft part
    of the airport, which was a section new to me. Spartan
    despite a bit of cheap art down the mostly faceless corridor.

    7H 888 ANC ADQ 0950 1100 DH8 5EF I think

    We were sitting quietly when a familiar face appeared -
    LIGrin, on our same flight. A happy chat, interrupted only
    by the boarding announcement, which came in a timely manner.
    No security to speak of at the ERA gates. Maybe just an ID
    check, but if so, just pro forma.

    The flight was reasonable, the weather not too bad, but we
    were on the wrong side of the plane to see anything.

    We got a room at the Best Western Kodiak that had two beds
    but no working lock. According to the front desk, they'd
    done some work on the doors, but there had been subsidence
    from some kind of seismic activity, so the plates and the
    bolts didn't match so well; nobody seemed too concerned
    about any of this. It turned out not a big deal, as I
    spent way too much time there while the rest of the people
    gallivanted about. I was feeling about as crappy as I'd
    ever felt.

    Nonetheless, I dragged my ass to the events. I seriously
    considered bailing on the bear-viewing trip, but I'd paid
    over $300 for this rare opportunity and wasn't inclined to
    miss it.
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  3. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    The floatplane dock is a ways away from the real airport.
    Shuttle by Luth was provided. Our trip started off on the
    wrong foot as lili managed to trip over something on the
    dock (about 4/10s of a second after one of the staff had
    said "be sure not to trip on the ____") To give a modest
    facsimile of an excuse, we'd just been issued waders to
    slog around in and were still getting the hang of walking
    in these.

    lili, GrjApp, myself, and the pilot in this DHC-2 Beaver.
    Also someone in the front seat, I forget who, but he was
    sharp eyed and asked lots of mostly pertinent questions.
    He reminded me a lot of cova, but he wasn't. Sorry for
    the lack of proper identification, but to be fair, I was
    in a state of near torpor when I got on the plane.

    As it was as clear and windless a day as they'd seen in
    quite some time, the pilot decided, with our enthusiastic
    consent, to deviate from the planned itinerary and to fly
    us down the backbone of the island, through to some inlets
    where there had been recent whale sightings, and then to
    the bear sighting area we'd been assigned to, Frazer Lake.

    The ride down the center of the island was one of the most
    spectacular I've ever been on. We were mostly at a couple
    thousand feet AGL and even I could enjoy the rock formations
    and glacier-surrounded mountaintops. After which we went
    down to an inlet I believe on the western side, where there
    is a fish cannery, and at which there had been radio reports
    of a pod of whales. We found the whales (at least the rest
    of them did) and followed their travels for a bit before it
    was time to go to our rendezvous with the grizzlies at the
    fish ladder. We landed on the mirror-smooth lake and hiked
    a kilometer or so through the devil's club to the bear
    viewing site (actually built as a fish ladder, but the
    local bears are not dumb), where we were met by the resident
    fish and game officer, who was delightful, informative, and
    fearless. We watched as a local male tried to bully one of
    the females and her cubs; eventually our ranger went out
    there to give him the what for, which was impressive as she
    was perhaps 10% the size of the boar. Even though she carries
    noisemakers and I believe firearms I don't envy her her job.

    We spent the better part of an hour watching bear antics,
    and the time came too soon to return to the plane.

    As it turns out the officer was heading out for supplies, so
    lili hitched a ride behind her on the tractor with me in the
    trailer behind.

    On the way back the pilot took us along the east side of the
    island, making a short detour to buzz his father's house,
    which was kind of fun.

    Dinner at Henry's Great Alaskan Sports Bar and an Elton
    sighting. A large, good-humored table, intent more on
    consuming vast amounts of seafood and products of the local
    brewers' art than on fussing about miles and points, though
    I suspect there was some of that too.

    My Captain's Platter offered local cod, very good; jumbo
    prawns, pretty good, though I suspect from warmer waters
    than local; and Kodiak scallops, disappointing as modest in
    flavor and sweetness; all fried with a defter touch than I
    would have expected. A Kodiak North Pacific Ale went quite

    Apothic Red was off, so the fallback was something somewhat
    worse but cheaper, Jacob's Creek Merlot.
  4. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Breakfast was upstairs in a dedicated room; it resembled the
    Hampton one, the sausage and eggs slightly better, potatoes
    slightly worse.

    The daily adventure was a trip to Chiniak, where there was
    an abandoned airstrip, among other things.

    We think we found it - anyway, a longish stretch of straight
    road. After a bit of further wandering around, we headed
    toward lunch, which was at the slightly hyperbolically named
    Road's End. This roadhouse is run by a family, complete with
    kid running around the dining room. The mommy greets you and
    waits and does kitchen things as well; someone, presumably
    daddy, runs the grill and fry station.

    A jalapeno burger was okay, your basic well-done flat patty
    with pickled peppers. I'd have preferred fresh, a la Five
    Guys, but there's reliable testimony that jalapenos are not
    grown in these parts. Nor apparently airlifted thereto.

    One of the vans didn't show up for the longest time. Turns
    out there was a puncture wound in one or more of the tires,
    which impeded their progress.

    Eventually, back to town. I holed up in the hotel.

    Everyone but me went off to Pillar Mountain (where they
    suffered yet another flat tire) and then to the Old
    Powerhouse, which is said to have surprisingly good sushi -
    I was feeling like death warmed over and in no mood for
    sushi or in fact any other kind of food. I just slept
    fitfully for the next 24 hours.

    I don't know what people did on the next day; I am fairly
    certain I didn't do it.

    I woke up periodically when I soaked through the bedsheets,
    but other than that, oblivion.
  5. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    7H 893 ADQ ANC 1900 2010 DH8

    I told lili to take a right-side window seat, as that's
    where the views are. Everything was socked in. It was a
    somewhat more bumpy than usual flight and unpleasurable for
    me, but we got in more or less on time, whereupon lili got
    her rental car and took me out to my friends' place in
    Muldoon that was to be our base for the next few days;
    instead, it turned out to be my isolation ward, mostly,
    except for the one altogether too brief visit to Casa de
    Bob and his famed WoW.

    Unfortunately for me, I wasn't hungry and couldn't take
    advantage of all the tri-tip I could dream of eating; I
    slept most of the time in BobW's comfy chair, taking care
    not to drool or do anything communicablish.

    There were wines aplenty, of which I managed to taste a
    few '07 Washington Cab-Merlot blends - D2 from Delille,
    Ch. Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Merlot, and Col Solare, in
    order of bigness and chocolatiness and in reverse order of
    fruitiness. I was sadly pretty addled and was unable to
    appreciate these fully so had just small sips, medicating my
    condition mostly with lesser alcohol and saving the good
    stuff for those who could actually taste.

    jackal made me a to-go plate, which was gratefully
    consumed bit by bit over the next days.

    Back to the airport and the Boardroom, where I choked down
    a mug or two of hot chocolate in deference to my condition
    rather than the usual Alaskan Amber.

    UA1243 ANC SFO 0035 0613 738 3AC

    The meal was the Mediterranean snack plate, which I passed
    on, subsisting on Courvoisier and hot water, not together.

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