From the frozen tundra straight to pizza nirvana

Trip Start Dec 28, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Friday, September 16, 2011

well friends and neighbors, Alaska is pretty far in the rear view mirror which is a glorious thing to stop and think about for a moment.  My job in Alaska is OK and pays well but the owner has this annoying habit of forgetting how hard i bust my ass for him all summer when the slow down finally occurs in mid august.  he's a nice enough guy but a little appreciation would be nice.....not to mention not having to justify my hours and work ethic for 2 weeks.  a bit annoying.

as an example of this sort of behavior, i was planning on flying to anchorage from a town called soldotna which is about 90 minutes from homer.  i asked the owners son if he could give me a ride a few weeks in advance and he said no problem.  i asked the owner 3 separate times just to make sure and there was no problem (repetition is key since he forgets everything about 30 seconds after the conversation concludes) but of course the day before i leave i get the "i really don't want him driving all that way on a school night".  very understandable and i cant argue the point but you don't tell me this shit the day before i am supposed to leave. thank god i had not bought the plane ticket yet.  so instead of flying to anchorage i hitch hiked all the way there which was not that bad.  it only took me about 4 rides to make it to the front door of the airport.......300 miles in 4 1/2 hours.  gotta love Alaska.

i have spent the last two weeks in the burbs of Chicago, doing my best to visit and see as many people as possible since my presence is a rare event. i added up all the people i was able to squeeze into visits and it was 34.  for only being in town 13 days this is an impressive number but of course there were those who i was not able to reach out to...there are only so many hours in the day and as my parents will attest, i really tried to use all of them.  for all of you who I could not make it out to see, I apologize and hope to see you on my next visit which we can only hope will not be in another 5 years.

i was able to see all 3 of my grandmothers ( one is technically a step grandmother).  my paternal grandmother is back in the Chicago area after 30 something years in Florida.  she's 97 and a tough old bird, though she is having a bit of trouble at the moment.  it was a nice surprise to be seeing her on this trip since I was not expecting her to come up from Florida and while i understand that unexpected circumstances brought her back up to Illinois, it was still great to see her.

it was great to see all of my little nieces and nephews.  there have been so many additions into the family as of late i needed people to wear name tags so i could figure out who is who.  i am sometimes tempted to give up my wandering ways and stay closer to home since it is so nice to see everyone but then my common sense returns and i realize that i would not be all that happy living back in the burbs.  the family aspect of it would be great.  the work/social life/weather aspect would be pretty crappy though, so i think i am doomed to spend eternity it tropical paradise.

in addition to seeing all of these friendly faces, i was also able to make it to my most cherished food destinations.....oh Lou's pizza, how i yearned for your deep buttery crust and spicy sausage and yet after 3 separate visits i still yearn for you.  El famous of the tortilla the size of a child's tent and salsas hot enough to put hair on a mans chest, you did not disappoint me my old friend. cheesecake factory and maggianos, Luke's hot dogs and by far the best Chinese buffet on the much good food and good company.

on a different roommate from college decided to get married during the time that i was going to be in Illinois so grabbing this fortuitous chance by the balls, i hopped on a train down to Springfield Illinois and reunited with a few old college friends where we commenced telling stories of the most vile and embarrassing sort. made me miss college a bit but now we are all grown up and getting married.  its funny how we all think we are going to stay young forever and then biology and life have other plans for us and put us on paths squarely in the opposite direction of youth.  if there was one thing that i took away from the two days i spent with these guys its that while you may grow up in some respects, in many others you are still just a giant man child and the second thing being, these people should not be allowed to consume this much alcohol while together in one place.

it was nice to see family and friends and it was great to see the old hangouts but after two weeks it was time to pack up my crap and get on the move once again.  a word about packing up my crap.......When i first left for Thailand, i had a few boxes of mementos and various keepsakes from my college days that i stored up in the rafters of the parents garage.  my thinking was that i may want these things when i return after my 3 or 4 month vacation in Thailand.  as i traveled, i also sent back souvenirs that were too heavy or bulky to carry with me, so my collection of crap slowly grew.  well as we all know, my 3 month vacation is still on going after almost 7 years so while i was at the parents these last few weeks i decided to go through all of my stuff and bring back what i could to Thailand and discard most of the rest.
for the first time, i was worried about the weight allowances for checked baggage on an international flight and i found it a bit absurd that Cathay pacific only allows you to bring 50lbs.  i mean the average tourist will pack more then 50lbs for a two week vacation so you don't even want to think about how much crap i had.  i was obviously over the weight was actually exactly double the weight limit but no worries.  there is always the famed carry on bag which was of immense proportions and weighed just as much as my checked bags.  i mean really, there should have been no way that i got this bag onto a plane.  but not only was i allowed on, i then proceeded to cram the damn thing into an overhead bin much to the chagrin of the little Asian stewardesses that were watching my efforts.

other then the baggage allowances, i have nothing but good things to say about Cathay pacific.  the food was great with the haggan das ice cream for dessert (first meal). great entertainment system with about 50 movies.....a whole season of "family guy" and a whole season of "the Simpson's" plus many many more TV shows and the end all be all..........they had a power outlet.  i have been bitching about this for years, how planes are these multi million dollar machines but you cant charge your god damned laptop because no one thought to put a plug on the frickin thing.  well lo and behold, as you bring your tray table down for a meal, there is a beautiful little glowing plug just waiting for your ipod or computer. praise be to jesus. 

the flights were uneventful and i arrives to a drizzly Bangkok at about midnight.  off to khao san road through the rain and into my crappy hotel that i always stay at.  i have decided to change crappy hotels because number one....its crappy and number two it is now overpriced for what you get. i have been looking around khao san and have found a few hotels that are about the same price but offer more in the way of amenities.  I'll keep you posted.

on a happy final note, i would like to announce the addition to my happy little family.  weighing in at 4lbs and shaded a beautiful dark new backpack! although i am terribly saddened by the theft of my old backpack who served me well over the years, i am happy and a bit giddy by the arrival of my new travel buddy.  there are new and unexplored pockets and ways of packing that were never available to me before.  oh the joy.

so here i am in Thailand.  getting ready to settle down to another season of diving which should be great fun.  stay tuned :) 

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