This past weekend, Neal and I made a trip to Fairbanks for a much needed break. Packing two barely filled suitcases, we celebrated Eben Hopson's birthday, which has become Inuit day, by boarding the Thursday night flight to Barrow, continuing onto Fairbanks.
It was a really great time and we came back with much more than we had anticipated. We even needed to make one last run to Wal-Mart to buy another duffel bag. The whole experience was really great, but after living in a village you start to have a little sensory overload after the third day in a bustling town like Fairbanks.
We visited Chena Hot Springs, and to anyone who hasn't made that trip before, I highly recommend it. Sitting in the water, taking in the beautiful sights and complete quiet is absolutely amazing. The water was 107 degrees near the entrance to it and as high as 115 degrees in other places. Truly a relaxing time.
The one downfall to this escape to the "big city" was the return trip home. I have come to find Fairbanks airport a serious inconvenience. I'm not sure if anyone else has had the same experience as me, but I have found the TSA agents there to have quite a superiority complex and way too much free time. Every time I have passed through that security checkpoint I have been pulled aside for some reason or another. Yes, I'll admit that I am somewhat absent minded, but seriously, what the heck. This time I did forget that I had purchased an ulu while visiting Santa's Workshop at North Pole. It was still completely in its packaging, tightly wrapped up. After going through security they pulled me aside, having to go through all my bags, remove items purchased from their packaging (even things they honestly didn't need to, like a Santa doll), and generally tick me off. I sent Neal off in search of an envelope so we could mail the ulu back to us and we were finally set free 15 minutes later. After that fiasco, I figured we were home free for the flight home. Boy, was I wrong. The next few hours passed with no issues and we made our way to the gate when it was nearing the time to board the plane. So did about eight TSA agents. Announcements were made, people made their way to the lines, and Neal and I made our way to join them. We were actually very close to the front of the 15 person long line, but as I reach the ticket agent, I was asked by one security man to show him my boarding pass and I.D. as part of a "random security check." Of course, I had put away my I.D. since you don't need to show it again most anywhere else. I needed to step out of line, dig through my back pack, and show the jerk my stuff. Irritation!!! It wouldn't be such a big deal if they wouldn't say it's a "random check." Just tell me that I'm on the list, or pick on someone else for a while. I was the only person to be picked out of the line, most of them we there when I was pulled out the first time, and there really aren't that many people at the Fairbanks airport. Seriously folks, get it together.
In the end we did make it safely back to Barrow last night and all was fine, but I have determined not to return to the Fairbanks airport if there is any way around it. I hope this is happening to more people than just me and that someone else agrees that the security measures are a little extreme. At least I had a relaxing weekend to prep me for that travel experience.