Alaska Cruise Vacation: A Study in Mountains

So it's been a long day today. A reeeeeeeeally long day. Like, the sun's been up for 22 hours now, and I've been keeping it company for most of that.

We started out in good ol' K town, with our rolling hills and rounded green mountain tops. The flight took off around 12:30pm, and we waved goodbye to the Smokey Mountains as we passed over their peaks. We passed from Eastern time to Central time, and then into Mountain time as we landed in Phoenix. (From Tennessee to the Valley of the Sun to Alaska, you say? Those crazy kids over at Travelocity!) Phoenix is two hours behind eastern time, so a four hour flight got me there two hours after I left, which for some reason amuses me to death. (Give me a break. I've been sitting on a plane for 5 hours. I am easily amused by EVERYTHING). Anyway, there was a bit of a delay with the flight into Alaska (a flight being delayed? Shocking, I know!) so I got to watch the sun set in desert, which was cool.

Have ya'll ever been to Phoenix? It was my first time there, and it was absolutely amazing. First of all, it's all brown, with only a few palm trees and some scrubby brush scattered around. Secondly, it's flat. Knoxville is all green hills and valleys and whatnot, so the sheer flatness of this dirt-colored land was a bit alien. But my favorite were the mountains. The Appalachians are old. They're worn down and softened and green and kinda flow from one into another. Phoenix mountains aren't. They look like giant piles of dirt got randomly dumped in the desert. It's so weird to see them just rising out of the ground like that. Flat...flat...flat...boom! Mountain. All brown and cliff-y and...there.
After a couple hours in the Phoenix airport, it was back into our little flying tin can for another 5 hours to Anchorage. And this is pretty cool, because remember how I watched the sun set in the desert? Well, it came back up. I'm not sure when, but at some point I glanced outside the airplane window and it was light again. Not exactly noon bright, but like maybe 8pm bright. Which is doubly crazy when (even with losing another two hours), it's about 10pm Alaska time. With the airport delay and everything, we ended up landing at about 1:30am Anchorage time, (which was 5:30am Knoxville time- ouch!), and even then the light was only about dusk. Twilight-y, but not really dark. It's a good thing I'm a night owl.

Even if I was a bit tired from all the extra daylight, stepping off the plane certainly perked me right up. Because for the third time today, I saw the mountains. And not like any I had ever seen before. Mountains that may have shared the title with those in Phoenix and Tennessee, but differed in every other way imaginable. These weren't green or brown or sloped or giant piles of dirt. These were mountains with a capital M. They were black. They were jagged vertical cliffs of rocks. They were covered in snow. And they were HUGE. That's really what strikes me most about Anchorage. The mountains. And even now when we're in the hotel room, trying to figure out how to sleep when it's only dusk and adjust to the time changes and getting everything ready for the start of the cruise tomorrow, I can't stop thinking about the mountains.