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Lady Catamounts in Alaska - Day One

Nov. 24, 2004

A mere six hours after securing their first victory of the season -- and the first in the head coaching career of Kellie Harper -- the Lady Catamounts loaded up bound for the Great White North.

9:30 pm - Nov. 23: Western Carolina completes the comeback to defeat Eastern Kentucky, 73-60;

3:00 am - Nov. 24: The bus pulls up to the Ramsey Center, met by a few sleepy-eyed coaches and staff;

4:08 am - Nov. 24: The bus backs out of the Ramsey Center parking lot with the destination Atlanta, Ga.

7:27 am - Nov. 24: After fighting rush hour traffic in and around Atlanta, the team arrives at the Delta gate to check baggage and report to the gate. En route to the gate, we see members of the Kansas State women's basketball team. Then, at our departure gate, we discover that we will be sharing the flight to Salt Lake City with members of the Furman University men's basketball team, which is headed for Anchorage, Alaska for the Great Alaskan Shootout.

8:08 am - Nov. 24: The plane starts with a jerk and slowly backs away from the terminal gate, rolls down the taxi-way and waits behind approximately seven other planes for take-off. Around 8:23, we blast forward, pressed back into our seats by the momentum and we're off!

12:27 pm - Nov. 24: We arrive in Salt Lake City, Utah at around 12:30 pm Eastern Standard Time. After a brief layover, which many of the Lady Catamounts' travel party used to eat what for us was lunch -- despite the mid-morning local time of 10:30 am.

1:32 pm - Nov. 24: Back in the air again for what is ironically enough the longest portion of the trip -- Salt Lake City, flying over Idaho, Seattle, Wash., and portions of Canada and the Gulf of Alaska to Anchorage.

6:40 pm - Nov. 24: Tierra Firma is once again achieved as we touch down outside of the contiguious 48 for the first-time on the trip. After a brief layover, which included identifying our luggage to be transferred on to Fairbanks, we were back in belted airline seats preparing for departure. The flight was delayed from its original departure time of 3:48 until just after four our time -- 8:00 pm on the eastern sea board ... nevertheless, the plane took off, zoomed to its cruising altitude of 30,000-feet, then decended upon Fairbanks as night was falling -- and it was only around 5:00 pm where we were, although it appeared more like the 9:00 time frame our bodies were feeling.

As we proceeded down the escalators from the terminal to the main entrance of the Fairbanks airport, we were greeted by our host family, donning signs that said "Welcome Western Carolina" and "Lady Catamounts - Queens of the Court." The host parents and youngest daughter were there to greet the weary travelers, with the eldest sibling (12) attending her first basketball practice with her middle school squad.

Below are some pictures from the first day of the Lady Catamounts' trip to Alaska. Activities of Day Two include a practice session, dog mushing, and more discovery in the snow-covered Fairbanks, Alaska.

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