The populace looked west, some with fear others, with longing. Longing for a view of a sun fading out, a foot of ash, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. Maybe longing because it's the only way to feel connected to the natural world while texting, twittering, changing one's clock for daylight saving, and eating Argentinian asparagus.
It faded to page 3, people forgot. Scientists spoke of "geologic time" and of patience.
On March 22 at approximately 22:38 local time, Mount Redoubt erupted for the first of six (and counting) times. Ash went from 40,000 to 60,000 feet in the air. Wind patterns steered most of the ash toward Skwentna. Residents reported half an inch on the ground.
Planes heading to Anchorage hauled twice as much fuel just in case the wind switched and they had to turn around. Even if the passengers made it to their destinations, their luggage often did not because it had to be left behind to offset the extra fuel.
Brooke took off from Seattle on Monday evening. The plane turned around by Sitka, 590 miles southeast of Anchorage, and landed in Seattle. Her luggage made it to Anchorage on another flight. She and Neil hit the thrift stores on Tuesday.