Monthly Archives: September 2009

Ferry cruise

Christine and some other folks might be shocked to know my ADD brain didn’t get bored during a 38-hour ferry ride.

eaglesSince I last rapped at ya, we wandered around Haines, had breakfast at an American breakfast cafe / Thai restaurant / European bakery (a surprisingly good breakfast burrito — one of at least three I have consumed on this trip — WTF?). We went to the headquarters of the National Bald Eagle Reserve. We didn’t see any eagles in the reserve, but saw one on the ferry. You’ll have to just take my word for it — that black speck is a bald eagle. Continue reading

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What I love about Kelvin

DSCN2087

I have had a lot of time to jabber with my old friend and traveling partner Kelvin. One random topic of conversation was favorite childhood memories. Without a pause, Kelvin said his favorite memory is sitting on top of a ladder eating a fresh plum at the age of four. That’s so beautiful and great.

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What I love about Canada

I feel I have to counteract my last gentle jab at Canada in that last post. Here’s what I love about Canada.

• The 1,200 km of forests and mountains (much of which is federally protected) between Prince Rupert and Jasper National Park).

• The 11,000 square km of Jasper National Park.

• The metric system (no multiplying by 5,280 to convert meters to kilometers).

• Official pricing signs that list the price as “one loonie” or “one twonie.”

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Funny Canadian signs

• AJ’s Shroom Shack (I know Canada’s more liberal, but I didn’t think that was legal)

• “Speed limit 50 when children are on highway” (good idea, but maybe they should just keep the kids out of the road)

• The town of Smithers, followed by Moe Road, followed by Burns Lake (I think Springfield is really in central British Columbia and “Simpsons” fans have been wasting their time for years trying to guess the right American city.

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What I have learned in Alaska (and the Yukon)

After two days of working and hanging out in Anchorage, Kelvin and I have now been on the road for about 30 hours (including six hours camping last night and about six hours in and near a motel in Haines, Alaska).

Here’s what I know.

a moment of clarity• Every city seems to have a downtown diner that doesn’t need to serve dinner or have a full bar to be a hipster haven. It’s Snow City in Anchorage, if you’re ever there (but it doesn’t have cross-dressing waiter/esses — Denver 1, Anchorage 0).

• You can wake up to snow falling on your face if you camp without a tent in September in Alaska.

hows your aspen Continue reading

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Everything is relative

Warning: This post is a downer. Skip to the next one for pretty pictures and happy trails.

This week, I had coffee with an Anchorage police patrol sergeant at the counter of a greasy spoon. It felt like something out of the movies.

I learned that small-town Alaskans think of Anchorage as big and scary; Anchorage police officers think of cities in the lower 48 as big and scary; and many people in big cities in the lower 48 think of Rio or Mexico City as big and scary.

Having said that, Sergeant Mike had his share of war stories and grim statistics about Anchorage. He said the largest number of Alaska suicides are in the spring, rather than the dark, cold winter. He said that lonely, depressed people start to believe they have no reason to live when they see everyone else coming out of hibernation and starting to get active and prepare for summer.

He also broke off our coffee early to deal with an assault call, after employing the unique police skill of stopping in mid-word to listen to his radio, then returning to the conversation without missing a beat.

Thanks, Mike, and all the other good police officers out there for always keeping at least one ear and eye out for our safety.

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Alaska by air

KinTalkeetna

Make friends with a pilot — and a foodie.

I have both in Kelvin, the kindest guy you could ever meet (pictured here by the river in Talkeetna, a summer tourist haven that is already deserted even before the termination dust falls). He flies single-engine planes and has spent about 18 months in Alaska working for airlines with big planes and giving lessons to students in small planes. And he knows good food and good desserts.

zeplane zeplane

Since meeting in Anchorage 18 hours ago, we have flown over a glacier, past a mountain range and near Sarah Palin’s house. I also have had veggie pizza and an IPA in a famed brewpub that just hosted the great Hold Steady last week; Saag Paneer in a wonderful, small Himalayan restaurant, and hot chocolate in Talkeetna.

KnikGlacierHere’s Knik glacier, just east of Wasilla, home of Sarah Palin. My small digital camera can’t do it justice, but it’s huge, stunning and more than a little imposing from about 100 feet over the ice.

At right is the view from about 1,100 feet.

At left is the view from about 500 feet. Deep cracks glow bright blue, the face of the glacier is like a white cliff, and the “ice cubes” floating in the glacial lake become the size of cars.

KnikGlacier side

The only downer was the overcast weather, which meant we couldn’t see Russia from Wasilla.

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