Goodbye, Lower 48

I’ve found a nice, secluded corner of Gate C16 here inside the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.  Looking out through the windows behind me into the darkness of the night as midnight slowly approaches, I see nothing but Alaska Airlines jetliners all around, waiting to be filled up with passengers bound for destinations unknown.  In less than an hour, I’ll be in the air in one of those airplanes, except my destination is known:  Anchorage.  I’ll be arriving at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport at 2:35am AKST, with a 3.5-hour layover before the next leg of my flight – which should give me a good amount of time to explore the airport and step outside to experience how cold the city is.

The desk agent just announced that we will be boarding a Combi aircraft, which is a jet that carries cargo in the front half, and passengers in the back half.  Interesting…this will be a first as well.  She also added, “If you have a jacket, we recommend you pull it out now – it’s cold up in Anchorage, folks.”  A quick check on weather.com shows the current temperature there to be 9 degrees Fahrenheit.

Not bad at all – considering it’s currently 23 degrees BELOW ZERO in Fairbanks, my next stop after Anchorage.  I think my definition of the word “cold” is about to be vastly redefined on this trip.

I can’t wait 🙂  Another update in a few hours when I make it to Anchorage.

And So It Begins…

I’m sitting here at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and in a few short minutes, I will begin the first leg of my trip to the Iñupiat Heritage Center in Barrow, Alaska.  On Tuesday of this week, they will begin hosting the Elders & Youth Conference, and Rosetta Stone will be one of the exhibitors.  The purpose of this conference is to preserve and promote the Iñupiat culture, heritage, and language.

My first flight will take me to Houston, and then it’s off to Seattle, with additional stops in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Deadhorse / Prudhoe Bay (AK), and finally Barrow.  With a population of just 4,500 (mostly Iñupiat natives), Barrow is the northernmost city in the United States of America, located 320 miles (500 km) north of the Arctic Circle, on the edge of the Arctic Ocean.

At this point, even though I’ve researched the native culture and Iñupiat language in Barrow as much as I possibly could in preparation for the trip, I don’t really know what to expect.  Honestly, I don’t think it has really hit me yet that in about 24 hours, I will leave this cozy 75-degree Austin weather and will be in the Arctic Circle in sub-zero weather and 24-hour darkness (well, with a little twilight).  I’m about as ready for the trip as I’ll ever be and I am so very much looking forward to having an amazing, unforgettable experience in a part of the world that I will probably never get to visit again.  I’m looking forward to many things, including getting to see the aurora borealis and hopefully a polar bear or two (from afar, of course).

I will write more from either Seattle or Anchorage later tonight.