It’s that time of year for my Idaho report. All is well. It’s still there.
I printed our boarding passes the night before we left and got up the next morning to an email saying Alaska Airlines had canceled the flight! True to their mission, however, they had rebooked us as close to our original schedule as possible. But I couldn’t print a new boarding pass. I agonized we would have to pick up our luggage in Anchorage to get it rescheduled, but the agent at Ravn in Kenai worked a miracle and got it clear through to Pullman/Moscow without our having to look at it again. Not so us: we had to go to the agent at each stop and explain the problem.
Alaska Airline had scheduled us through Juneau with only minutes to spare between planes and a packed airport where everyone had to speak to the agent it seemed. But we made it. Seattle was also on the dead run. I’m sure those of you who fly Alaska Airlines are aware of the unwritten rule that if your connecting flight is in the Main Terminal, your plane will land at the North gates, and vice versa. Every airport must be undergoing reassembly like Kenai‘s, because Seattle was a real mess. Getting from N concourse to C is usually a piece of cake, but this time required a stop at D and a sprint up to C. Again we made it … the last ones. The flight attendant smiled and said, “We’ve been waiting for you,” and closed the door behind us!
Not sure if it was the knowledge we were on the last lap, or the promise of a free glass of wine, but by the time we cleared the Cascades, I was relaxed and looking forward to the next several days of family, friends, and the hoopla associated with being on vacation. It’s a good thing Seattle to Pullman/Moscow is a short flight, because two free glasses of wine might have had me dancing in the aisles.
This visit was a little later in the year than usual. Harvest was in the cleanup phase. Great stacks of baled straw were in the fields, ready for the farmers to take advantage of a new industry “down on the river” (how quickly we fall back into the vernacular: that’s the Snake River) that turns the straw into pulp that is then used to make any number of products, much like wood pulp is used.
The farmers were moving machinery up and down the roads making for slow going some days. The county fairs were just beginning and the major rodeo towns were gearing up for weeks of fun. And it was HOT.
We enjoyed a huckleberry milkshake. First time for a few years I have watched a milkshake being mixed rather than a lever opened and a glob of semi-frozen stuff poured into a cardboard cup. Real huckleberries, mixed up with the other ingredients in a tall container (still cardboard, I must admit) and presented with a straw. We usually miss the huckleberries by a few weeks because we travel earlier to escape the heat. That milkshake was worth it! And it was purple!
We visited family and friends, drove the back roads, ate out a lot and generally took advantage of being on vacation. Our kids had planned a birthday party for my milestone year — my kids have been known to declare milestones for finishing the dishes or getting through a Monday, and especially TGIF, so “milestone” is relative here — so we had a major family gathering just before we came home. Granddaughter #2 came up from Pendleton, Oregon, and Hubby’s sister from Portland. Other family came from far and wide, including from Alaska, and it was a great excuse for a party. We were four generations. The grandkids of my nieces and nephew were there. I’m not sure how they got old enough to have grandkids, but the fourth generation are a bunch of cuties and already know all the family quirks!
And then it was time to come home. The airport at Pullman/Moscow closed right after we arrived for a major redo of the landing field, so we had to make an early morning trip to Spokane for the flight to Seattle. Of course we landed in C concourse, connecting in N. This time we were stalled in the tunnel between Main and North, but maintenance was quick and we made our connecting flight with a few minutes to spare. Altogether the return was pretty uneventful. Anchorage was pretty much as we left it, and our Ravn flight was only half an hour late taking off. As we cleared Cook Inlet, I thought of how I had felt crossing the Cascades, and breathed deep. No free wine, but we got a cookie when we landed in Kenai. Glad to be home!
Virginia can be contacted at email@example.com.
• Virginia Walters, For the Peninsula Clarion