Alaska Airlines flight 143 touched down on time at Ted Stevens International Airport. 11:52 pm. Exactly eight minutes later, Shawn Loberg of Northern Exposure Shuttle Service loaded my stranded suitcase into his 1998 Dodge van and safely deposited me at Ted Stevens former home, just footsteps from Ted’s Express – Alyeska Ski Resort’s high-speed quad and homage to our former US Senator. It was now an hour into August 7th, and I could feel the sand speeding through an ever-growing gap in the pinch of the hourglass. Only 23 more hours to be in my 48th trip around the sun.
Anyone who knows me well understands that I hate birthdays. And not really all birthdays, just mine in particular. Something about the annual reminder that none of us get out of this thing alive hasn’t resonated well as the years speed past at an exponentially increasing pace. Anyone will tell you it’s just another number, but there’s no stopping father time. In the eternal words of Indiana Jones, “…it’s not the years, it’s the mileage.”
Having just flown 5000 more of those miles and crossing four time zones, I’m not exactly feeling as spry as I normally do. We’ve done nothing but scramble to put our Humpty Dumpty home back together again. No real exercise to speak of, eating out late at the Dragon Palace Chinese restaurant, and falling victim to constant dehydration because you just can’t replenish that much sweat, has taken it’s toll. My original plan of returning Friday had me thinking I’d at least have the weekend to unpack, get on my mountain bike, and eat a proper meal. Yeah…no.
After five hours of sleep I hauled my sorry ass into the office to excavate three weeks of e-mail, voicemail, snail mail, and any other kind of mail heaped on my plate. Meanwhile, in a time zone four hours away, Diana worked through an ever-shrinking punch list. From the pictures I’ve seen, 91 High Street looks like a much different house. Neighbors, the UPS driver, and our new friend Steve The Mailman (yes, I have his cell phone number now) have all remarked on the contrast.
I’m now back in Girdwood after 27 days of firewalling the gas pedal. Day 28 here in Alaska wasn’t much different, and I don’t expect life to decelerate any time soon. Diana and Kéa have two more days in Rhode Island before making the trip to New Hampshire, returning the Mercedes, and saying goodbye to family before crossing the continent on Friday night. It’s a long way from the smallest state to the biggest one. 4528 miles to be exact. 10 days in a car, 9 hours in a plane, or 389 hours on a bike because you can’t take Amtrak. From the Lower 48 to 2 hours away from 49, I guess that they really are just numbers after all.