Saturday, March 15, 2014

Alaska: Back in Anchorage


Back in Alaska.

In the past Jim’s fly-outs were always in the off seasons so this is the first time is eleven years of coming up here that I’ve made it during the summer.  I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but it sure is crowded compared to what I'm used to. 

'Blue Hair' season in full swing!
'Blue Hair' refers to the swarms of 'packaged' tourists that descend on Alaska between 'school's out!' and Labor Day.  The packaged tours up here are expensive and consist primarily of older couples with their free time and savings accounts.  This means that about fifty percent of the people climbing down off the Gray Lines tour buses are older females and a good number of them sport brilliant 'blue hair rinses'.  Hence 'Blue Hair' season.  (I have been unable to find anybody that can explain why these people, for the most part free of jobs and children, so faithfully vacation during the summer break when families with children have to be out the despite the fact that good weather lasts much longer than that.)

I have found that if you time things wrong at the hotel you get caught in a 'drop off'.  A drop off is what happens when lots of blue and grey buses, returning from wherever it is blue and grey buses go every morning, all line up to unload their chattering cargo at the lobby door.

When that happens the best thing to do is make a break for a quiet corner, otherwise you risk things like huge, lethal purses, or old men, half crippled with 'bus seat rash' blindly stumbling along with cam-corders stuck to their eyes right at head banging level, or the worst, getting stopped by ‘Oh,-what-nice-hair-you-have.-My- niece’s-son's-former-neighbor's-boy-has-long-hair-just-like- yours-and-I-always-though-he-looked-good-with-it.-I-think-I- have-a-picture-of-my-niece-in-here-somewhere’. If this happens the only thing to do is throw yourself into the nearest cam-corder in the hope that you will get knocked back into the crowd where, if you're fast enough, you stand a chance of escaping before the nice-hair-lady's good friend Mildred notices that you’re wearing the same shirt that she once bought for her grandson on his birthday.

If you manage to escape all that then you have three choices when it comes to getting up to your room, and simply getting onto the elevator isn't one of them.  Elevators don't hold near as many people as the blue and grey buses do, so now there's a considerable line waiting for the one available elevator to make it's anemic rounds; and half of these people, not trusting the other half to do it right, are elbowing their way through the crowd in order to punch at the already lit 'up' button. (Why is it housekeeping always seems to pick this time to tie up the other elevator with bins of laundry and carts of ice-buckets?)

Your three choices are, find a spot to sit and wait out the noisy exodus, hoping that the line isn't recharged by more blue and grey buses, or use the stairs, (but of course your room is on the eleventh floor,) or go down to the basement and sneak onto the elevator there (but then it will stop at the lobby level on its way up and you risk the nice-hair-lady and her good friend Mildred again.).

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