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I have officially completed a lifes dream and seen a shuttle launch in person.

I've posted a quick batch of launch photos from STS-129 yesterday.

A few select photos... )


Nov. 15th, 2009 01:22 am
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We ended up not going to Seaworld on up late and just said to heck with it and went to DownTown Disney and hit DisneyQuest and Cirque Du Soleil's La Nouba performance. DisneyQuest was rather cool, and La Nouba was just mindboggling. I left the performance with dry eyes for fear of blinking and missing something...and I know I missed things. It was just mindblowing.

Friday we did Seaworld. It was ok, but not the highlight of the trip by any strech. [ profile] angie_di managed to browbeat me onto the Manta roller coaster, which was tolerable except for the one negative G section(RedOut is no fun and sickmaking). The rest of the park was so-so, and I think I can honestly say I've done SeaWorld and won't care if I go again or not.

After Seaworld we came home, had dinner, and grabbed a 2 hour nap before heading for Port Canaveral to watch the Atlas 5 night launch. The viewing spot was surprisingly easy to find(just look for all the cars) and I got set up and shot several photos of the very spotlight lit up rocket. I wandered over to talk with another photographer and we chatted for awhile...until he heard on his scanner as well as from someone next to us that the launch was scrubbed. Apparently there was a power dropout on a component about 30 min from launch and they decided to scrub, pull it back and replace the part. So the launch will not be until Wednesday at the very soonest, and probably later than that.

Today we went to KSC, which I postponed until today so I could get the Up Close tour that takes you to several not normaly seen areas. I asked as we got there if it was worth going on the normal tour in addition to the Up Close one and was assured that I would not miss anything at all. After doing the tour, and looking at the map of the normal tour...I was fibbed to. The normal tour goes to 2 different locations that the Up Close does not, and while the Up Close gets us right in between the 2 launch complexes and gets great photos, it really did not feel like it was worth the extra money for it. I felt a little gypped in that regard, but all in all it seemed like a decent tour. I just really really REALLY wish that they'd have stopped pointing at things out the bus window as we drove by and not stopping to photograph them. I skimmed my photos and I have SO many shots with peoples heads in them or that are blurred or at strange angles as I tried to grab a shot without looking. Seriously annoyed by that, to the point that I'm likely going to write a letter to the tour company that has the KSC contract to complain about it. If I'm going to pay extra for a specialty tour the least they can do is pause for a moment for photos, even if they're not allowed to let us off the bus.

Tonight is the last night at the hotel, tomorrow we head to Disney. Monday is the shuttle launch..1 Day, 13 hours, 5 minutes left to go.
crisavec: (Default)
We spent today running around and scouting the Titusville spot for watching the shuttle launch. I think it will do nicely, and from the photos I'm seeing online I don't think being 4 miles closer is worth $230 for commercial tour tix. Has a nice view and you can see the VAB(all 52 stories of it) for comparison during launch.

I had a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee again for the first time since I was in Boston 4 years ago...the first sip was not near as good as I recalled(and [ profile] angie_di noticed the expression on my face) but once it cooled a bit it was pretty good for store bought coffee.

We tested out the google maps nav app on my iphone, it was seriously handy as well travelled around but in the 4 hours we were using it it ran the battery down to under 30%. So its very useful, but need a car charger if I'm going to use it extensively.

Tomorrow, we take a shuttle from Seaworld to Busch Gardens in Tampa. Should be interesting, and I know [ profile] angie_di will enjoy it.


Aug. 29th, 2009 01:13 am
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Made it back to anchorage about midnight, to discover that not a single checked bag by anyone made it on the plane...I'm assuming due to weight restrictions since we had a full flight. They say they'll deliver it tomorrow.

On the upside, I came home to a lit candle waiting for me sitting in the window...I like that.

Still here

Aug. 28th, 2009 08:20 am
crisavec: (Default)
Still in Dutch Harbor. I did manage to get a room last night atleast, and the wind is no longer beating on my window, so I may have a fair shot at getting home today.


Aug. 27th, 2009 11:05 am
crisavec: (Default)
Hmm....I may be stuck in Dutch. There's a goodsized storm blowing through, and the first flight of the day didn't make it in. And with the crosswind on the runway, no flights may make it in or out. I'm on a waitlist for a room at the hotel, so all I can do is keep my fingers crossed that there are enough people not making it in that I have a room if we don't make it out.

Fun stuff alaskan weather.

Made it...

Jan. 4th, 2009 03:37 pm
crisavec: (Default)
Elite Tier Status Qualification
YTD Alaska/Horizon Miles

YTD Alaska/Horizon/Qualifying Partner* Segments

Now if only I hadn't gotten a cold on the final flight that pushed me over the top, and spent the last 3 days sick...ah well. It was good to see the parentals and Grands again.


Dec. 30th, 2008 01:48 am
crisavec: (Default)
Year To Date Alaska/Horizon Miles Flown: 38,950

1,050 Miles to Gold

Miles I am from Home, 1,682

Looks like I'm going to be MVP Gold on Alaska next year....just in time to not be flying for work much. Figures... ;-)


Nov. 24th, 2008 04:40 am
crisavec: (Default)
I hate getting up at a quarter to 4 to go catch flights.
crisavec: (Default)
Today I'm in Craig...and flying to Ketchikan in about 3 hours or so.
Ketchikan is the southernmost city(there are a handful of villages, but no cities) in Alaska. Monday, I'll be in Barrow, the northernmost city in Alaska.

The symmetry of this amuses me. As a random factoid, its just over 1300 miles between these two cities. Even california north to south is less than 700 miles.
crisavec: (Default)
When not only do the cats not try to hang out in your luggage, they don't really even seem to notice you're gone anymore.

That, and you get the same room in the same hotel in Ketchikan for the third or fourth time, and you're not asking for it specificly.


Nov. 6th, 2008 02:34 pm
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Made it to Dillingham safely. I had no net access in Naknak, but the Bristol Inn in Dillingham is alot nicer and has net access to boot. And is NOT just a few rooms above a restaurant.

I liked the flight though. We flew King Salmon to Dillingham in a Piper Cherokee...I LOVE being able to see out like that, and having the instruments right there to see whats going on.
crisavec: (Default)
So, Wednesday morning I got up bright and early at 4am to be at the Sitka airport at 5am for a 6am flight to Juneau and then on to Skagway. Or so i thought. We processed though security and then sat there. At about 615 the lights went out in the entire building and didn't come back on till 7am...there was a storm rolling though that knocked something down. At 7 they announced a weather delay(finally some news) and said the next update would be at 8. This kept up till noon...I actually left security at 830 and went to find a caffeinated beverage, and when I poked my head in the Cafe there and saw the whole flight crew having breakfast i said to heck with it and did the same. If they're in there we're not leaving anytime soon.

The "Next update in an hour" kept up till noon, after they announced the cancellation of the Juneau stop and that we were going direct to Anchorage. At Noon the "Still on weather hold" changed to a "we're now on crew rest hold and will not be departing until 930pm". Crap...

So I had to hang out all day in the Sitka airport, and ended up getting my tickets changed twice. First time to get us into Anch, and then later I asked how we were supposed to get to Juneau and the counter agent did some checking and unbooked us to anc, booked us to Juneau on AS 64 and back to Anc Friday evening, then rebooked us back onto the flight to anchorage that left at 930pm. The weather cleared around 3pm or so, so I made it home and was able to sleep in my own bed last night. Had to get up this morning and head to the airport for the noon flight, but that wasn't too bad.

Here is where the fun begins. AS 64 is a Combi flight, half cargo half Pax. Its also a milk run, landing in Juneau, Petersburg, Wrangell, Ketchikan, and Seattle. We got to the Juneau area and had to orbit for about 40 minutes before they THOUGHT they might be able to land, but we got buffeted and bounced around so badly they aborted and we headed to Petersburg. Not what I'd expected...I figured we'd get into Juneau and get stuck there for a few days then fly home having never made it to Skagway...Not making it to Juneau was a surprise.

We land in Petersburg and they have all of us heading for Juneau get off to figure out what to do with us. This is where I learn that MVP has some serious perks I was unaware of, when the two counter agents started sorting though it all and called me by name up to the counter. Seems I had first dibs on what I wanted to do, whether it be fly to Ketchikan and then try to go north back to Juneau or overnight in Petersburg and head for Juneau in the AM or fly on to Seattle or what. I decided at this point that the weather was unlikely to change substantially in the next 36-48 hours, and I canceled the rest of this weeks installs and told her to book me back home to Anchorage. I also managed to finagle her to rebook my junior tech with me so he wasn't totally SOL and stuck there over night while I flew onward.

She booked us though to Wrangell, Ketchikan, and Seattle on the rest of AS64, then got us booked on a 1020pm flight from Seattle to Anchorage to get us home, and booked me first class out of Seattle without even me asking.

So, I made it home about 2am. Its been a long 2 weeks, and the 16+ hours in Sitka airport(If you can believe it, the cafe there was out of its famous pies! I was shocked) and the flying all over the panhandle has gotten old. I'm glad next week is a driving only, Homer Kenai and Soldotna trip.

Atleast I'm home though...[ profile] angie_di and the kitties should be happy at that.


Oct. 22nd, 2008 12:35 pm
crisavec: (Default)
So,I was supposed to be on a 6am flight from Sitka to Juneau today....yeh, not happening. We got here and were delayed, and delayed again, and delayed some more...all due to weather. There is a storm already here, and another bigger one just behind it. We can't get into Juneau at all and they've had a total of one plane make it out of there. And considering that I'm supposed to get into a Cessna to fly to Skagway once I get to Juneau, I think I'm pretty well SOL here.

Its noon here now and I'm still at the Sitka Airport, and they just announced a crew rest delay til 930pm tonight. There may be an earlier flight, but its highly iffy as to if it can land here or take back off.

Fun stuff.


Oct. 20th, 2008 02:06 am
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Sitka has been fun. On [ profile] name_omitted's suggestion I made sure I was here for Alaska Day on Oct 18th and I'm very glad I did. We didn't arrive till nearly midnight on Friday, but I made sure to check the schedule of events before I crashed out.

Got up about noon and headed out to watch the parade. I could have watched it march right past my motel, but decided to walk a few blocks downtown and see where else was around. I stopped at Highliner Coffee for a mocha(good mocha, but its strange to see a coffee place where any size drink only comes with a single shot of espresso...even the 20Oz). I ended up standing in front of the old Orthodox Church in the middle of Lincoln St(yes, in the middle of the splits around the church). I watched/photographed the parade while talking with the photographer from the local paper, atleast until it got to the end of the military section and passed into the politicians...they were so busy talking with people that they were blocks behind the rest of the parade. So I headed for the end of the parade route and waited on that.

Next up was the reenactment of the transfer of Alaska from Russia to the US. That is done at the grounds on Castle Hill, and had a full contingent of Army and Coast Guard present, including 7 soldiers present for the Reading Of the States(each state received a single shot salute, followed by a Empty the Clip salute at the end). It was a really interesting thing to see, even if I did pick the wrong side of the castle to stand on for it.

I got to chatting with an Army Sargent while we were waiting for the next event...a Coast Guard rescue demo. It got delayed due to oil spill response...they caught someone dumping waste off his boat just as the demo was starting off so they delayed about 15 min to deal with that. Meanwhile the boat with the guy about to be tossed overboard was hanging out far off the bridge trying not to be TOO obvious it was waiting on a helicopter.

It was a fun to see lots of interesting things and I'm glad I was able to be here.

Off again

Oct. 17th, 2008 09:22 am
crisavec: (Default)
Petersburg is an interesting little town...just wish I had time to actually see some of it this trip instead of dashing off for the airport to go fly to Juneau where I get to have a 10 hour layover before I fly to Sitka.


Oct. 14th, 2008 11:13 am
crisavec: (Default)
Made it to Wrangell safely. I managed to cop an upgrade to first class all the way down...that was really nice.

I have to admit that I'd always been puzzled as to why the Alaska Marine Highway ferrys and the cruise ships went up along the Wrangell Narrows to the west of Mitkoff Island rather than down the much wider passage though Dry Strait to get from Wrangell to Petersburg....until I overflew the Dry Strait and the mouth of the Stikine River area when it was clear enough to see down. No more wondering...for all that its wide, its nearly mudflat shallow. Makes lots of sense to me now.

I also have perfect timing it seems. I got in town last night for an install tonight, and discovered that GCI has a big crew here(in the same lodge I'm in) cutting over the whole town from Satellite to fiber. I just hope they're 100% operational tonight...because being on a dial backup while I'm replacing a dozen PCs would suck horribly. I was on the phone with [ profile] angie_di last night and didn't notice that the TV went out till later..i thought it had just sleep timer shut off, but actually the cable box went black with no signal and the TV was on with a black screen and a faint hiss of static I almost didn't hear.

I think I'm going to go grab J and wander around town for a bit, we don't have to be at work till about 3pm or so. Tomorrow is going to be sort of sucky, we have to fly to Petersburg on the 1037am flight so we need to be at the airport by about 9 or so, and working till 3 or 4 am and being at the airport at 9 is evil.
crisavec: (Default)
We made it out of town about 1030 or so, which put us into Healy at 230am. We managed to drive past the hotel completely because its totaly unlit from the road. The office was long closed but I'd called to talk to them about it and everything was good. Set an alarm for 9(there's no way I'm getting up at 6 when I get to bed at 3..just isn't happening) and crashed out.

We got a much later start than I'd have liked, by the time we got our passes(343 for sat and 44 for sun) it was nearly 11am. Really really late. But it worked out for us. We didn't see many moose before Savage Rock, but we spotted the mountain just over the first rise past it. Mckinley kept playing peekaboo with is as we drove in, being at least partly visible. Later on I learned she'd been out in force most of the morning and we'd missed it. We saw a bear ambling under the bridge at East Fork before Polychrome pass and got some great shots as he wandered along. We didn't see much after that until later on, but the scenery was gorgeous once we passed Tolkat and got up into Stony Hills and beyond.

The new Eielson visitor center is rather nice, only opened this past June. It sits near the Mulrow Glacier and has an outstanding view of McKinley(if you made it out early enough to see it). The mountain did peek out a bit, but not too much so we moved on. Just after Eielson we ran into [ profile] words_spoken and husband and talked for a few min. She said that the mountain had been out in full force that morning, but was hiding now. She also let me know that Kantishna was socked in with fog. We headed off in that direction and came across a big bull moose about halfway between Eielson as he wandered across the road.

Kantishna was totally fogged over, so we ended up only going to the river crossing before heading back. We drove down into Wonder Lake just to see the lake and have dinner. The road back was pretty lightly traveled, it was 640 before we left wonderlake and the only oncoming traffic we saw were rangers heading in to start the outward sweep at 9(you have to leave wonderlake no later than 9pm, and be past Savage Rock by midnight since your pass is only good for the one day).

One thing that threw both of us and made us want to track down a ranger to ask was the absurd number of rabbits on the road. We counted over 60 of them as we drove from Eielson to just past PolyChrome Pass. We found out later that there is Calcium Chloride on the roads and they LOVE the stuff.

Sunday we got a slightly earlier start. Or tried to anyway...I had to get gas and [ profile] angie_di wanted to get a more substantial breakfast than cereal so she ran into the cafe. They told her 15 min, and then took over 40. I was about to come in to the cafe just to see what was up when she opened the door to walk out. She made it up to me by sharing though :-)

Sunday itself was a quieter day. We saw a few distant caribou and bear, but nothing close by and the scenery was less brilliant due to more cloud cover. We ran into [ profile] northrngirl and her friend just after Highway pass beyond Tolkat River, and she mentioned she'd see 7 moose around Savage Rock before the river and that the mountain had been out earlier in the day but was completely hidden now. She also let us know that wonderlake was totally fogged in as well as Kantishna. Based on that we confirmed our decision to turn around at Eielson.

We headed onward from Highway pass and 2 ridges over found a fox bounding across a field, then saw his counterpart on the other side of the same field on our way back. We had planned to walk the trails at Eielson, but 2 bears decided they wanted to cross the road and head for their favorite berry patch(according to the ranger watching them) and most of the trails were closed. So we watched the bears for a bit, as well as some sheep cross the road off in the distance, before heading back.

There was not alot to see on the way back, Just the fox's counterpart, a few distant bears, and a group of sheep walking across a slope(that were actually close enough to photograph relatively well).

We ended up making it out of the park at about 5pm...dead center between when she was hoping we'd be out, and when I was hoping we'd be out. Since we had a bit of time we stopped at Panorama Pizza at the end of the cabins/houses/lodges section of the highway and had dinner.

Heading home was fairly uneventful, we only stopped in Broad Pass south of Cantwell which still had some color to it even though it was well past peak, and the south Denali viewpoint that had its view totally clouded over(no surprise). We made it home abut 1030 or so...and i was exhausted. It was a good but long weekend and far too little sleep.

And for the person that emailed me, yes we made it home alive :-) And no, I haven't had time to do any more than dump photos to disk...didn't even get to look at them yet. But I'm working on it :-)
crisavec: (Default)
I think we're ready. Truck is loaded, I have the cameras fully charged and all the storage cards in the bags, I have the lens I rented, I have the suitcase and the cooler of food...I think I'm good.

Now to get some ice for the cooler, and go collect [ profile] angie_di from rehearsal and off we go. Hopefully we'll make good time and get there about 2am or so. Will end up being a lateish start tomorrow, but we can try for earlier on Sunday.

Off to Denali and the road lottery!


Jun. 18th, 2008 02:55 am
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We made it to Lihue at about 730pm tonight. For some reason both flights we were on the airflow nozzle was barely working, so they were both rather warm...I guess that was to get us ready for landing here. Its after midnight and 75 degrees and 94% humidity. Seriously muggy.

It took ages to get our bags, well over an hour and they came out on the wrong carousel to boot. Atleast it was the next one over though. First thing we did when we got here was run into a gaggle heading out of the condo to the we went and changed and went swimming for awhile. It felt wonderful...great way to get used to the mugginess as well as work out the kinks from the flights. Its weird for it to be dark out and still be warm enough to wander around in shorts and barefoot(just watch out for the frogs).

There's a quasi batchelor/bachelorette party going on, mostly snacks and drinking and chatting...nothing too big. We're in a 2 bedroom condo thats about 100 yards from the beach. Nice little place they have, you can walk out the sliding glass door onto the patio and then out on to the grass and the seawall. Can't get to the beach directly that I can see but its dark...have to check it out tomorrow. I havent checked out net access on the cable modem here, it says to connect and see the for pay options and I did not bring a cat5 cable with me. I did bring both my personal and work celldata cards with though, the work card wanted to only connect at GPRS which was just painful, but later on decided it could do EDGE data. Not great but it'll do for the little bit I'll be online here.

I think I'm gonna head for bed, its 1am but my body is thinking its more like 3am(Hawaii doesn't observe DST so its two hours behind AK in the summer) and it was a long day of flights.


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