On the final day in Alaska, I finally feel like I’m sleeping soundly. I’m ready to sleep all morning, but get up at 7:30 to take Jayson to a sight-seeing tour with Copper Valley Air (their above-the-tree-line hiking tour sounds fantastic, by the way.) I head back to the camp site, stir Kevin and Dan, and start packing for the last time. It tales us a long time to pack because we have to pack for the commercial flight home; it’s amazing how much less stuff we have when packing efficiently.
We stop by the side of the road and snap on last picture of Mount Drum before heading west. I drop Kevin and Dan at the Caribou and then pick-up Jayson. My meal was waiting at the sit-down counter when I return and it’s served with enthusiasm and sass. Coffee was $0.25. Highly recommended.
We drive three hours back to Anchorage but it seems even longer longer. I’m occasionally getting sleepy but Jayson starts a conversation that lasts the rest of the drive. I stop to add an extra 3 gallons to the tank and take a quick baby wipe bath in the gas station bathroom. It feels amazing to be clean. I put on the last clean shirt I have, a white undershirt. I use deodorant. I’m definitely back in civilization.
We head to the Snow Goose Restaurant, which contains the Sleeping Lady Brewery. We sit on the deck on a perfectly clear afternoon and watch F16s performing maneuvers over the Cook Inlet. This a a very relaxing cap after several days of non-stop action.
The rest of the day in Anchorage was a blur. We walk around the touristy downtown area, drop Dan at the airport for his earlier flight, search unsuccessfully for a replacement gun case for Jayson at Wal-Mart, find one at a local sporting goods store, have freezer-burned ice cream at Baskin-Robbins, head to the airport, clean-out the car, and back-packed to the terminal.
At the terminal, Kevin finds that he is accidentally scheduled on the flight for tomorrow. After a few minutes of confusion, the lady behind the counter takes care everything and he’s on our flight. We hang-out at TGI Friday and wait for the flight. Wait a second, that’s Dan wandering around the terminal! Isn’t he supposed to be on a plane right now? Turns out, he was upgraded to a direct flight home.
Kevin and I end up in the exit row with an empty seat in between us. This is the first time he and I really spent talking one-on-one and we take full advantage. We talk the entire flight. I’m amazed by his spiritual growth and his vision for the church. His sacrifice of status and prestige for a pure vision for Cool River Church is inspiring. We talk about Vietnam, Haiti, people we knew, and ourselves.
I say a quick good bye and rush off to my flight to Indy. I sleep about 20 minutes but can’t find a comfortable position after that, so I watch an couple of episodes of Battlestar Gallactica on my Treo to pass the time. A quick baggage claim and I’m outside waiting for my father-in-law to pick me up. What a great surprise when my smiling wife shows up instead! Have have a happy little reunion and head home, where I doze in and out of nap state for the rest of the day, in front of the TV. At night, I finally get to experience darkness again, and I sleep very soundly.