It's Tuesday evening in Japan and we've finally arrived! Yay! Our 4-hour layover in Alaska stretched to four days and the novelty of being there in the winter was beginning to wear thin. We still loved every minute of it but it was time to move on. Various delays meant we waited in the passenger terminal at Elmendorf Air Force Base for countless hours at a time. It snowed a lot, so much so that one of our delays was because the runway couldn't be cleared fast enough, for long enough. In another delay the plane took off but turned around half an hour into the journey because of a faulty cargo door. The tag line for flying Space-A is, "The flight schedule is subject to change" and it certainly did, several times!
The military flight personnel were extremely helpful and as forthcoming with information as they could possibly be in a situation that changed all the time. The passengers bonded over speculation and helped each other with luggage and tired children. The logistics of getting to and from the hotel, grocery stores and restaurants were often shared. This was important as the mercury fell to below 0*F (about -18*C) and it was impossible to walk everywhere, at all hours, as one could easily do in the summer. Since we've packed very light we chose a hotel room located in the building closest to the terminal. We each have a backpack but didn't envision how useful that would be so early in our journey - a suitcase with wheels could not have been pulled along on the snow and ice encrusted roads. As it was, the short brisk walk in sub-zero temperatures every morning was perfect.
In the deeply cold air our awareness was crystal clear; from the loud crunch of snow underfoot in a relatively deserted landscape - where sound is strangely muffled, to the cloud of breath in front of our faces as we realized that even our nostril hairs were frozen, to our fascination with the incredible white blanket that covers everything as far as the eye can see. Here's another family that loved their morning walks!
After a lot of snow we still couldn't see the mountains; we knew they were there but the weather just wasn't cooperating. The sun tried very hard to make an appearance.
This morning was especially beautiful. By the way, it was Monday morning for us - the 18-hour time difference across the dateline means we've skipped over most of Tuesday. We've been waking up every day in time to see it get light but only because sunrise is around 10am! It gets dark around 4pm so that makes for a very short day. Today we awoke to much clearer skies, a distinctive sunrise and several planes in the air. So we had a good feeling that the next scheduled flight would be the one!
Once we got to the terminal and checked in I rushed outside to take some sunny photos. Mountains! Seeing is believing, right? The scenery was pristine, absolutely gorgeous! This shot was taken around noon - amazing how low the sun is at midday.
Back inside the terminal to warm up ... I took this one from the window looking in the other direction. As a matter of fact it was tough to tear myself away from the windows!
Then back outside, I couldn't resist, for a couple more ...