Thursday, January 26, 2012

Seattle to LA - Clouds, Snow, Sun, Olifactory Seeing, Clear LA

One more trip to the airport.  First we took the ferry into Seattle.  It was raining this morning when we walked over to M's place.  But by the time we were headed to the ferry the sun was out.  We walked from the island into Seattle - around and around the ferry.  But on the water and in the wind, we were reminded why a jacket was still a good idea.

I still hate the TSA charade, but as an older white male who doesn't yet have any metal parts, it was relatively painless.  I guess I'm like the frog where the water temperature goes up slowly so you don't notice you're starting to boil.  I don't deny there are fanatics out there who might like to blow up a plane, but the way they check for that person is overkill.  We tolerate much higher death risks (autos, guns, no health insurance, etc.) with far less protection, but the symbolism of a plane coming down makes us spend way too much money and wastes way too much of our time.  Of course if you're a 1 per center, you can just take a private jet and by-pass it all. 

Soon we were in the clouds again, but on the sunny side.

We bought some yakisoba at the Waji's in SEATAC and I had Cutting to Stone with me.  I'd bought it nearly a year ago, but had put it down for other reading.  So it was just as we were passing over that I noticed we were right on top of Mt. St. Helens.

Crater Lake was glowing in the sun's reflection.  But the photos weren't good enough to put up.  But you could see the bowl holding the lake and an island.

Eventually we were in Southern California with the ocean mirroring the sun and wispy clouds gauzing the mountains.

The Channel Islands came into view.  (Thanks nswfm for confirming this on an previous trip.)  The picture is even more dramatic than the real thing.  To keep the sun's reflection from washing everything out, the rest of the picture had to be darker than it really was.  It was still pretty spectacular. 
I figure getting to see the earth from the air is one of the benefits of flying.  I understand that most people prefer the aisle, but that's a small benefit compared to this incredible view of the earth's geography. 

It was about that time I read about Shiva and Genet and Marion were playing Blind Man's Bluff on the Missing Hospital grounds in Addis Ababa.  Marion and Shiva discover their sense of smell.

I'm still amazed that I can be flying over the Western United States and be in Ethiopia at the same time.

As we made the slow turn into LA, Santa Catalina Island was relatively clear out in the distance.   And below me was LA's south beach coastline.
We turned in over LA south of the airport and then looped back to the north and around south of downtown.  It was an amazingly clear day.

Downtown Los Angeles
People often ask how we could move from LA to Anchorage and when I say there are similarities, they can't imagine what I'm talking about.  But both have salt water on one side and mountains on the other. 

If you click on this photo you can see the Hollywood sign on the closest mountains on the left.  You can't quite read it, but it's the white horizontal line on the top of the hills.  My little Canon Powerpoint surprises me when it gets pictures like this.  But then LA surprises me when it offers a day like this.  For those of you who don't know LA - we're looking north.  Downtown's buildings are on the right.  The first range of hills is the Hollywood Hills.  The Griffith Park is there with the observatory and the zoo.  Hollywood is at the foot of the hills.  Between the hills and the next range is "The Valley."  The ocean is off to the left.  Pasadena is north and a bit east of downtown.

And then we were on the ground.  This new construction made me think about how old this airport is.  The basic structures were up in the 1960's.  For high school graduation I went with a group of friends for dinner at the restaurant on the flying saucer like building in the center.  [I like different music, but the current restaurant's website music fits a science fiction movie rather than a fancy restaurant.] And now, the long tiled tunnels to baggage seem pretty bare compared to the many airports that have been built since then.  It looks like LA is now working on looking like all the other airports.   This is when I realize I better look this up.  Here's a bit of what I found on the LAX website:
Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) is in the midst of a multi-billion dollar development program for Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).  The centerpiece of the program is the Bradley West Project which includes new gate and concourse areas at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT).  LAWA also recently completed a $737 million renovation of TBIT that upgraded the facility with a new in-line baggage screening system and interior improvements to enhance service and convenience to the passengers and tenants who use LAX's premier international terminal.  The TBIT renovation incorporated sustainable design and construction guidelines developed by LAWA and the facility is more energy efficient and environmentally-friendly as a result.  LAWA’s commitment to sustainable development and the environment was recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council which awarded its prestigious Silver LEED-EB (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – Existing Building) Certification which is the first-ever for a renovation project at a U.S. airport.
There was a tour for media about the construction on Tuesday.  Here's the news release link.

Because I had to take a suit along for the wedding in Portland and we had some bulky gifts and because we flew enough last year to get MVP for this year - we decided to check in two pieces. On the up side, Alaska Airlines 20 minute baggage pledge meant the luggage was out after we took pit stops and checked on which bus to catch.  The on the down side  only one of our suitcases was there.

I saw one similar to J's but it was bigger and had pink yarn on the handle. The baggage person said everything was out. When she asked the color I pointed to the one that was like it. She got it. Looked up the passenger and said, "They had three bags." There wasn't much left, so the odds were that they had picked up the wrong suitcase, because one of theirs was still here. She found their cell phone number and within ten minutes we were exchanging suitcases at curbside.

Then we got on our bus and I snapped this sunset shot before getting to our stop.  And soon we were having dinner with my mom. 


  1. Steve.
    Thanks the pictures of the flight are beautiful. But I wanted you to know that with the new Alaska Airlines 49er program, any Alaska resident can check two bags on out of state trips. You don't have to be MVP.

  2. Glad to see such nice photos. Welcome to Southern California.

  3. yes, welcome ...
    and a big shout out to nswfm

  4. Thanks anon for reminding Alaskans that you don't have to be MVP to get the luggage benefit. Of course, that happens when I get MVP for the very first time. But priority boarding was nice too.

    nswfm and fawnskin - thanks for the warm welcome and arranging the weather so nicely.

    1. I took pictures of the ocean waves and mountains and islands in your honor today.

      If I remember, last time it rained, so it's the least we could do...huh, fawnskin? ;)

  5. i'm afraid that neither of us can take credit for the weather...there's this little thing called global warning that loves that honor.
    but i'm happy for you that your adventures here will be surrounded by sunshine.


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