London: Unexpectedly, my job took me to London last October. With one ticket and a hotel paid for, C tagged along for the ride. The work was for a client that pays for business class travel on any trip over three hours, and the flight to London easily qualified. C's personal travel was, of course, not subject to reimbursement, meaning she was stuck in coach. We parted ways boarding our trans-Atlantic flight, settled into our respective seats, pulled out our phones, and sent the following messages to one another:
C: "All settled in, and such luck! The guy next to me moved into an empty seat and I have a whole row to myself!"
Me: "I was just given my first glass of champagne and my chair is massaging me!"
Anyway, the trip pretty much ruined coach flying for me, which is really too bad for two reasons: 1) we can't afford to fly business class; and 2) we live in Alaska and have to fly if we want to get anywhere outside the state in less than a week.
The work part of the trip was interesting, but stressful. The tourist part of the trip was great. London had never crossed either of our minds as an actual travel destination, and I don't know that we would have ever opted to go there, but we really enjoyed it and would go back on our own dime (in coach). We saw some sights and did a lot of walking, but for purposes of this blog post I will focus on a single morning. We left our hotel intending to meander through Mayfair and angle towards the London Museum to partake of some of England's cultural riches. Our route required crossing Oxford Street, which I have since learned is London's (and perhaps Europe's) consumer heart. Department stores and retailers lined the road, and the crowds flocked to spend hard earned pounds.
Crowds on Oxford.
C caught scent of opportunities to spend, and dove head long into the chaos. I valiantly tried to keep pace, and found myself outside of multiple changing rooms trying to regain my strength. However, I wasn't alone:
These two gentleman look like they lost battle. Regrettably, their napping occupied the only two seats available.
The crowds and sales having sapped our strength, it was time for lunch. Having suffered the inequities of sheepishly following C around stores with an increasing load of tailored goods draped about my shoulders, I at least got to pick the location. This being England, then, we headed for the pub:
Appropriately fortified, the afternoon's shopping was almost pleasing in comparison. We never made it to the London Museum.
Fairbanks: My in-laws, long residents of Fairbanks, had the idea of changing scenery. And what better way to force the issue than selling your home in one state and buying a new home in Nevada? Fair warning, though; such a decision has consequences, chiefly that selling a house requires you to move. C's folks have been rooted for approximately 40 years, so this was no task to take lightly. C took several trips to Fairbanks to help out as she could, and the both of us went north for the final weekend. Anytime you start to dig through 40 years of accumulation, you are bound to discover forgotten treasures. Imagine all of our surprise when we unearthed the Servicemaster First Aid Kit.
Note how the dutiful house wife sits upon the lush shag like a mountain-lamb, prepared to do what is necessary such that her husband will never, ever, have to lay his eyes upon a shameful carpet stain. In case you are wondering, the First Aid Kit included a helpful dial. Tune in the type of stain, and you got specific instructions on how to address it.
I'm frankly not sure what to make of the fact that the dial was set at "Urine (fresh)" when it was last stored.
The back of the box was equally interesting:
At first I assumed this was the formerly unseen husband, returned from a hard day at the office and inspecting his old lady's accomplishments. But the clip board suggests this may actually be a Servicemaster representative, sent to critique his customer's work and presumably offer helpful tips for better stain management. In either case, something about the photo makes me think the woman is about one minute away from offering to mix a pitcher of martinis.
Florida: We just got back from a few days in southern Florida, including Thanksgiving in Miami, a short jaunt to the Everglades, and a trip out to Key West. Much like London, I had never previously considered Florida as a travel destination. But here it is winter in Anchorage, and it just sounded so... warm. We rented and borrowed cruiser bikes to explore in both Miami and Key West. The day we piled back into the rental car to head back to the airport, we learned that Key West had the dubious honor of having the highest number of serious accidents involving bicyclists and pedestrians of any town in Florida. Not a surprising revelation, really, but it all worked out OK for us. If we ever live somewhere warm and relaxing, we'll probably need to get a couple of cruiser bikes in the stable. But I'm adding hand breaks and a free wheel to mine.
The Daily Grind: All of the above leaves us plum center back in the daily grind. As of today, the annual December warm up has turned the snow to slush, fated to be ice as the temperatures drop back below freezing. Previously beautiful ski conditions have faded like our Florida tans. So nothing to do now but sit back and wait for more cold and more snow... and if you really have patience to wait for the next blog post.