San Jose to Victoria 2008

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Up ] Caribbean Coast 1995 ] Central Highlands 1995 ] Pacific Coast 1995 ] Final Leg 1995 ] Victoria to San Jose 2008 ] Southern Sky Fiesta 2008 ] Poas & Sarapiqui 2008 ] Arenal Volcano 2008 ] Arenal to San Jose 2008 ] [ San Jose to Victoria 2008 ] La Ensenada Nature Walks 2008 ] Horseback Riding 2008 ] Mangrove Boat Ride 2008 ] Tractor Ride 2008 ] Carara National Park 2008 ] Likes & Dislikes ] Victoria to San Jose 2009 ] Southern Skies Fiesta in Costa Rica 2009 ] Tamarindo 2009 ] San Jose to Victoria 2009 ]


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Sunrise from San Jose Santamaria Airport, Continental jet awaiting loadingFebruary 15, 2008 - Friday - San Jose to Seattle - I'm up at 4am after getting about 4 hours sleep - I'm going to be beat flying to Seatac!. It's probably a good thing that I overnight in Seattle. At least I'll be able to get some sleep before returning home. Diego and Walter are there at 4:45am to pick me up along with another couple who are taking the same flight as me. I guess Diego and Walter will shuttle the group to the airport all morning as our flights depart.

I pay my US$26 Departure Fee, clear security and wait for my Continental flight to Houston. I hesitate to call this departure area a lounge, since there are only folding chairs to sit on, there is no counter, and the gate itself is well-hidden. I find a carpeted bench area to sit on which has a power plug nearby, plug my notebook adapter in, and start the waiting process by sorting through my photos. My friends Wendy and John soon show up, and we trade stories about what we were up to this last week, since they went off on their own instead of booking the Volcanoes and Rainforest tour (which I took). My group certainly accomplished more, but they wanted some down time to just relax, which I can certainly relate to.  They found a nice place to stay near the Monteverde Cloud Forest.  They remarked how friendly and helpful the people were, which is something most visitors to Costa Rica experience.  This is one constant I can verify from what I also found on my last trip to Costa Rica way back in 1995.

Aerial photo of Costa Rica landscape looking westward toward the Pacific CoastIt's not long until we all board the aircraft and we're on our way.  Since I'm short of sleep from last night, I try to get some rest on this leg of the journey to Houston, Texas. Our flight appears to be full. As on previous flights, I zoned out by listening to music from my PDA through the Shure earphones. That way I isolated myself somewhat from the stress of a full aircraft cabin as well as from the noise of the jet engines. The breakfast bun Continental served was dreadful, but I ate the egg and ham out of it, and drank the lukewarm coffee.  After we arrived at George Bush Airport in Houston, I retrieved my bag, cleared customs and immigration, and then rechecked my bag for the flight onward to Seattle.  As it turns out, Canadians can clear immigration through a priority line along with US residents.  This can save considerable time, since other international passengers must go through many more questions, fingerprinting, and have their photo taken.

Aerial photo of  sunset lit snow and ice over North Dakota and Idaho John, Wendy and I found out our gate for our flight from Houston to Seatac is located way across the terminal, so we took one of the golf cart shuttles.  Our flight from Houston to Seatac was also full. As on the previous flight, I zoned out by listening to music from my PDA through the Shure earphones. That way I isolated myself somewhat from the stress of a full aircraft cabin as well as from the noise of the jet engines. When I arrived at Seatac, I experienced no ringing in my ears. Previously, I would have had ringing in my ears for a couple of days afterward, and would have had trouble hearing.

I like George Bush airport in Houston. Although it is huge, it is well laid out, and I found it easy to navigate. There is a good choice of services near each group of gates, and the airport staff are helpful and friendly. I found that Seatac airport is also improving as far as customer service is concerned. The only strike against Seatac is the poor layout, and those infernal trains, which force passengers to figure out how to navigate to the various terminals to find their gates.

After arriving at Seatac, I retrieved my bag and then proceeded to the ticketing and check-in area at the front of the main terminal. Due to a scheduling mistake by Continental Airlines, I have to overnight here before traveling home to Victoria tomorrow. Despite knowing this, I wanted to double check with Horizon Airlines to see if all their flights this evening are fully booked. I found the Horizon counter and they confirmed they had no space, so I then found the Continental counter and told them I would need a hotel voucher. After a short delay, the woman gave me the voucher for a stay at the nearby Clarion Hotel. The Clarion at Seatac is not exactly a first rate hotel, but the room is clean and the bed felt good.

February 16, 2008 - Saturday - Seattle to Victoria - I was up at 5am in order to be at the gate at Seatac for my 7:30am flight to Victoria.  I checked in at the Horizon kiosks that are located in the walkway between the shuttle drop-off point and the main terminal.  I print my boarding pass and then go to the baggage check-in area for Horizon/Alaska airlines. It is very crowded, but I get through after waiting only about 10 minutes and check my bag - no overweight charges this time thank goodness! The line to clear security is very long, but it moved quickly and I find my gate with almost an hour to spare, so I get myself some coffee and sit down and work on my notebook computer for awhile. It is great to have my notebook with me while traveling, since it gives me something productive to do during the inevitable waiting around that always happens in airports. By the time I get home I'll have all my photos organized and captioned, which will be a big help to process them more quickly than my last trip (which took me many months).

Olympic Mountains - aerial photoThe Horizon flight to Victoria departed on time, and the flight to Victoria was uneventful. Although there were lots of clouds, there were enough clear spots for me to photograph the Olympic Mountains from my left side window seat. My checked bag appeared on the baggage belt at Victoria airport, and I cleared Canadian Customs in short order. The officer asked me about my farm stay, but wasn't concerned since I said it was a week ago, and my shoes had been washed since that time. I found my vehicle parked in the long term parking, paid the $88 fee, and drove home.  When I left San Jose yesterday morning it was about 30C.  Here in Victoria it was just a few degrees above freezing at 4C, and they had used salt on the parking lot the previous night to help melt the ice!

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