We finally left our building a little after seven thirty and headed straight for the deli. I had packed the majority of my items, and Dana threw his into a small case, which I had put out for him that morning. At a little before midnight, we were packed and ready to go, and hoped that we would sleep before having to rise at 4:45am, for our very early flight.
My jet lag had finally worn off, and despite being able to sleep at between six and eight each evening for the last week, I was wide awake at midnight, wondering why it had chosen this particular day to depart. I finally dozed a little before the alarm sounded.
The trip to the airport was uneventful, as expected when everyone else was fast asleep in bed, and we headed towards the security check point. The queues at both ends of the airport were very long, and we did not have a 'pre' status, which allowed us to march through the crowds of people in the post office line, to the front. However, all was not lost, as I waved my little silver card from my 'preferred' airline (I am sure gold or platinum would have got me a ride to the gate!) and this appeared to be good enough to jump to the front. I have long since given up feeling guilty using this advantage as it is an advantage, I am quite sure that any one in the line, given the opportunity, would take it!
The young female member of staff started to gather bags that were 'checked' and hauled them (her frame was as small as my husband's is tall) along through the crowd congregated at the gate. Inadvertently, I took charge! I made a pathway for the young girl to walk, and then told the agitated mother with the push chair that she should not wait in line, but take advantage (after all I am sure all in the queue would have done given the opportunity!) of pre-boarding as she would need extra time. She agreed and thanked me very much. During my self imposed reign as concierge/manager in charge of boarding, I had made my way to the front of the queue, with Dana in tow, (if I could have fitted him into a spare push chair, by this time, I would have done so!) and when they called for the remainder of the passengers to board, we were first!
Our seat were in the economy plus section, so the leg room was acceptable to the tall frame and I was rather glad, as we have not travelled with Alaskan before, and my mileage status with their partnership is negligible. After my performance at gate 2, I am convinced they will either ban me from the airline, or offer me a job! Our bags fitted nicely into the roomy overhead compartments as we had suspected, and there was no need for everyone to deplane and draw straws to see who was going to have to put their luggage in the hold!
I slept for a short time during the flight to Seattle, and Dana managed to sleep for about two and a half hours out of the three and a half hour duration. Stuck in the middle seat (I defer to my husband and let him sit in the window seat, as he does not get the opportunities afforded to me transatlantic), I took out my crocheting and continued with the current project! The lady to my left also slept for the majority of the flight, and I was treated to the full life story of the gentleman in front, who had four children, all of whom had grown, but refused to fly the nest! Our flight landed on time, and we took the train to the appropriate terminal, where our next plane was situated. As we had nearly three hours to play, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, before heading to our gate.
The very pleasant lady at the desk for our onward flight, swapped our row three seats to row one, the exit row on the small (not tiny) propeller run aeroplane that we were to board. I pointed to the tall frame sitting in the chair in the waiting area, and pity flooded across her face. She printed out two new tickets, and told me that Dana needed to sit in 1B. I nodded, knowing that he would want the window, and returned to my husband who was wondering what I had been doing! Two ladies, who had been discussing war stories about their current travel plans, commented on my crocheting, which I had taken from my backpack, and asked what I was making. I told them about the project, and revisited the story of the Batman blanket. I told them that I had been instructed, by my daughter, to crochet 50 squares in one colour, and then I would await further instructions. They found this to be very funny. They commented on my cardigan and asked if I had knitted it to which replied in the affirmative. Dana started to get a little restless, as our boarding time was approaching, and no call had been made. He then observed that there was no plane to board, and the former air-traffic controller was not happy. Much as I love my husband with all my heart, he sees the world in black and white, and this is quite a challenge when he is married to the queen of sarcasm! I could not resist a few quips, and finally the smile broke out across his lips. I assured him that the current air-traffic control staff are probably as capable as was he, and if they were not....well, we wont go there! Finally, after a short 30 minute delay, our flight was called and I wished all around me well for the rest of their trip.
Sitting in 1B, as I was, required me to be the one to perform the exit row duties, should there be the necessity and Dana, who was snickering in his window seat, would be first off the plane! I agreed to be the 'one' and the crew member appeared satisfied. Our bags were stored, the door was closed, and after the safety procedures were performed, (and the forward cabin crew member really did a performance that could be Broadway worthy!) we took off! Wine and beer were complimentary, and despite the possible (although hopefully not probable) need to take charge of the passengers, I was given a glass of white wine! The giggles hit shortly after I had drunk half the glass, followed by the need to teach everyone good manners. The restroom was at the front of the aircraft. After use, one passenger failed to close the door, and it swung back and forth as the aircraft wobbled in the turbulence. Having been given, or at least assumed, added authority, I unfastened my seatbelt and lurched forward to shut the door. Dana resumed his chuckling, knowing that I was not quite in charge of my actions after swigging the fermented grape juice. As another passenger made his way to the smallest room, I said, possibly too loudly, "Remember to close the door properly". He did. In fact, he checked it twice!
The airport at Bozeman, Montana, was beautiful. It resembled a log cabin and was very pretty. The shops and restaurants all looked beautiful, and I lamented on the fact that we would probably have no time to experience them as we had a very early departure on Monday. The car rental desks were all inside the cabin, and we were given the keys to our vehicle for the weekend.
The plan (why do I even bother!) was to go to Yellowstone Park on Saturday afternoon, and spend Sunday driving around the city of Bozeman and the surrounds, in Montana, to enjoy the scenery, as well as any places of interest that might be shown to us once there. As it was past four when we landed at our hotel, we chose to make the trip to the Park the following day, and instead, headed to a recommended restaurant, Downtown. However, although we had checked the weather a few times during the previous week, we were not very well prepared. Dana's flip flops would not be ideal for the following day, as it was going to be quite chilly, and windy, and he also failed to bring a hat, which would be an advantage. We headed to the trusty Walmart store and purchased socks, tennis shoes (for Dana) and two windcheaters, which we assumed would be .necessary.
Belgrade, the city in which our hotel was situated (in Montana, not Serbia!) was quite compact. There were several signs for Casinos, but we failed to see the large, flamboyant establishments with which we are familiar. Instead, they were within shopping strips, and petrol stations. It was like walking down the road in my home town, in England, and passing the supermarket, newsagent, casino, dry cleaners, and travel agent! I found it most amusing!
Ted's was very busy. However, the very popular restaurant has a policy to save some tables for 'walk in's', and our wait was less than ten minutes. The menu was as busy as the establishment! All the 'steak' options, including the burgers were either beef or bison. My thought was, 'When in Montana', and chose the Bison Ribeye. Dana stuck with beef and whilst he maintained that Texas beef was superior, he admitted it was very good. My meal was spectacular! Portions were enormous but I managed to finish every last bite. Everything that was brought out of the kitchen looked as good as my dinner, and plates were just as full! The ice cream that we had decided to get on the way back to the hotel was foregone.
We headed back to the hotel. The Super 8 did not sound particularly savoury, but Dana had done his homework, and it had looked reasonably nice. Apparently, there were a lot of weddings, and soccer tournaments Labor Day weekend, so the choice was limited. The entrance was very pleasant, and the breakfast room rather quaint. The rooms were small, but spotless, and we had a coffee making machine, so I was not complaining. We decided that that an early start to Yellowstone National Park, the following day, would be a good idea. I was going to have to 'check in', at around 7:15am, for our flight on Monday, and so we were not going to be able to take advantage of a longer snooze! After a cup of tea, we fell exhausted into a deep sleep.
A little research had let Dana know that it would take about an hour and a half to reach Yellowstone, but after looking into it a little further, our destination, which was 'Old Faithful', was a fair way in! Our journey was going to take us longer than we anticipated, but as I said, we were planning for an early start (did I say plans?) and we were prepared. Did all go according to plan? I shall have to leave that for .............. another story!