Monday, February 19, 2007

Smooth Trip Home

The scenery was so jaw-droppingly gorgeous when Henry and I flew out of Anchorage on Saturday that I just had to do the tourist thing and take photos out of the plane’s window. After several days of frequent snow showers (thrilling the locals, who always hope for snow before the Iditarod starts), Saturday was a clear and sunny day with a brilliantly blue sky. The new snow—about three inches of pure powder in the two days we were there—made the surrounding mountains sparkle with freshness. Denali (a.k.a. Mt. McKinley) stood out sharply against the cloudless sky; it is the taller big mountain on the right in the photo.

This quick trip to Anchorage was so fraught with frustrations that all other recent trips pale in comparison to it. The great scenery and smooth hour-long flight home to Bethel were preceded by a seemingly endless number of little things going wrong. Most were trivial, like the car rental company not having our reservation, and felt like small stumbles in the trip’s stride.

One was potentially huge. Henry lost his wallet. We are fairly sure it was at the restaurant where we stopped for a late dinner before checking into the hotel on Thursday night. We discovered it missing on Friday morning and backtracked to the restaurant, but did not recover it. The loss of the credit cards, money, and treasured old photos was sad and inconvenient. The loss of his driver’s license meant not getting on an airplane to go home. He had no other ID with him. So in addition of the stress of being there for a medical appointment and a somewhat painful procedure, there was the additional stress of not knowing how we’d get Henry home.

His appointment was at 1:00 on Friday. Another stumble. The medical assistant showed us into a small exam room, and when I asked about the pending biopsy, she responded “oh no, the appointment is not for a biopsy; this is a meet-and-greet appointment.”

“No,” I said. “We’re here for the biopsy, not for a handshake. We’ve flown 400 miles and spent a thousand dollars on plane tickets, hotel and car rental. We’re not leaving without the biopsy.”

Well, that flustered her a bit, but she rose to the challenge. The physician was informed, the schedule was adjusted, and the biopsy was done. We were out of the office by 3:00. Instead of going back to the hotel to relax and be glad it was over, we were off in search of the Department of Motor Vehicles to try to get the lost driver’s license resolved.

The main problem was that Henry’s old DL was issued in 2003, just before the State of Alaska went to digital technology. The old system had no computer storage of the photo on the license. Henry had only his checkbook and copies of some medical records we had brought along to prove who he was; it was not enough. The DMV people were not even impressed that he could recite his DL number. No. They had to have a photo. The only hope, we were told, was if the Department of Safety (the Alaska State Troopers) would fax over a copy of Henry’s current DL from their files. On Friday afternoon, an hour before closing. Otherwise, we’d have to wait around in Anchorage until Tuesday (Monday being a holiday).

Well, miracle of miracles, the State Troopers came through for us with 30 minutes to spare. The fax arrived and Henry received a renewed DL with a new photo on it—one with a big grin! We were both so incredibly relieved.

The moral of this adventure is: don’t travel with only one form of identification. Too much is riding on it. The advice of the Alaska DMV was to apply for a state ID card in addition to a driver’s license. Keep the ID card in your pocket for getting through airline security and pack the DL safely in your carry-on luggage.

With the driver’s license renewed we could finally relax. We went to our favorite steakhouse for a divine dinner and then saw an excellent foreign film, Pan’s Labyrinth. There ended up being no time for shopping, but there were no crucial items on the list anyway. Nothing that can’t wait for the next trip out of Bethel.

Photo by The Tundra PA



Blogger SeaSpray said...

This is so interesting and I LOVE the dogs on ice pic. Wow! :)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007 6:14:00 PM  

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