Monday, March 30, 2009

It’s not spring yet (or even that close), but I’m doing my best to act like it. It was a few degrees above freezing on Saturday and the sun was fairly bright, so I decided to throw the new tires I had purchased a few months ago onto my cross bike. It felt very warm outside (maybe I am getting acclimated?). I followed that up with the installation of a new Open Pro wheel for my Orbea, still happy to be standing outside, even though the trails are still fairly icy and not ready for riding. Break up will come sooner than I expect though, and both bikes are now ready.


I’m never going to see Slumdog Millionaire, at least probably not in a theatre. Smaller films take the slow boat up here to Alaska, which is fine. While the western media was fawning at the feet of Slumdog we simply had to wait for our chance to experience it -- something we eagerly awaited. Bear Tooth Theatre is a great venue for second run films, smaller flicks, and great food. About 2 months ago they advertised that Slumdog was coming in March and we happily decided to pass on the full price theatres that had it and enjoy it at Bear Tooth. The food there is excellent and it’s a great place to watch a movie. We watched it come and go from the February first run screens and drove down to Bear Tooth Saturday night at 7:20 for a 7:50 showing only to discover that it was already sold out. Ouch. Bear Tooth is a popular place, but this was a little busier than usual. Hey, the movie is a hit and has a lot of buzz. Along the drive we started to realize that while we had hung around the house all day doing many small, vital weekend tasks, we completely missed the ash that descended onto Anchorage that afternoon. About 25% of the people we drove by or observed waiting in line for the ‘Dog were wearing masks. Once you keyed it on the larger snow mounds the glazing of black ash became obvious. Even though we busted out on the movie, we got a quick, fun tour of Anchorage post volcano. Slumdog is also playing at the other normal discount theatre (sans brew and view option) so that became the Sunday plan.

We showed up early and eager for the 3:20 showing, easily found seats in the large auditorium, and watched the first 40 minutes of a very enjoyable film. Then the film itself broke.

“Folks, we should have it fixed in 5 – 10 minutes”

Time passes.

“It should be fixed soon. At the end please see the manager for complimentary passes. Thanks.”

Time passes. Some people leave.

“It should be another 5 or 10 minutes.”

We were pot committed at this point. We also figured that the people leaving would guarantee the film getting fixed in mere seconds after they left the building.

Time passes.

“Sorry, but we’re just going to hand out passes.”

The lights click on and we wonder if we have a chance at seeing this thing in the theatre. I liked the first third though. Maybe next weekend?

Friday, March 27, 2009

I noticed another chip in my windshield the other day, though thankfully it and its 2 other friends (from the drive up the Alaska highway) have not blossomed into a spiderweb of cracks...yet. It is a very common occurrence up here -- I'm lucky to have made it thus far to be honest. It didn’t cause more than a shrug for me when I identified it on my windshield though. Add a point in the Alaska column.

I have hip waders in the back of my truck almost all the time. Point, Alaska. I also have an empty 5 gallon gas can in the truck bed as well. I’m almost at the end of my first Alaskan winter and I survived with a smile on my face.

So I guess I have enough points to be on my way. I don’t say “snow machine” yet, but I rattle on seamlessly about “termination dust” and personal bear and moose encounters.

There is always somebody around with more winters in their life and a longer beard to tell me I’m a city slicker and I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Just give me some more time – I’m still in training.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Apparently it is the first day of spring, but it was 0 when I walked out to start my truck at 6:45 am this morning. Thankfully I have a block heater, which is worth its weight in gold. That engine starts like it's 60 degrees outside if that sucker has been plugged in all night.


I think I am slowly becoming more Alaskan as the days click by. Listening to the news on the radio this morning I noticed a report about March Madness and the results of U-Conn, but I only heard and understood "Yukon." My brain began skimming ahead to the Yukon river, Fort Yukon, and the Yukon Territory. Do they have a basketball team up there? I wonder what their Salmon run is like? I should plan a camping and fishing trip there this summer. Oh yeah, University of Connecticut -- the lower 48. In a small way, I've lost track of the world.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Aside from going to work and saving like a good little ant, how does one pay for a wedding? By gambling of course! We’ve got 4 tickets for the Nenana Ice Classic and several crossed fingers.

Call it whatever you want, it’s still the Sears tower. And it remains Comiskey Park as well.

It’s hard to come up with something to say about attending the Iditarod in Willow this past Sunday. The Saturday start in Anchorage that makes the newspapers is really a ceremonial start, and certainly has its place. However, the start in Willow on a frozen lake is the real start (they call it the restart). We trudged with our sled of wood and tailgating supplies to a patch in the middle of the lake and set up our operation. Soon our fired roared on top of the ice, though the clear, windless, sunny 20 degree weather was plenty comfortable. People were in a perpetually great mood, while walking around in every type of fur hat and gloves, along with the ubiquitous Bunny Boots. Simply a pure Alaskan party in every way. The crystallizing moment for me came right after we removed our stocking caps for the national anthem. We kept them removed as the loudspeaker crackled a perfect soprano of Alaska’s Flag, ultimately clapping and all rejoicing at the unique place and moment we were in. Alaskans really love Alaska – very few people here find themselves in the great white north by accident. The moment struck me as beautiful, crisp, and alive. I can’t find a recording of that moment on the internet yet, but these kids really nail it. It also helps that it is a really good song.

Eight stars of gold on a field of blue —

Alaska's flag. May it mean to you

The blue of the sea, the evening sky,

The mountain lakes, and the flow'rs nearby;

The gold of the early sourdough dreams,

The precious gold of the hills and streams;

The brilliant stars in the northern sky,

The "Bear" — the "Dipper" — and, shining high,

The great North Star with its steady light,

Over land and sea a beacon bright.

Alaska's flag — to Alaskans dear,

The simple flag of a last frontier.