Alaska Bound

A peek under the covers into the journey of a lifetime.

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Location: Anchorage, Alaska, United States

The ulcer is gone. I think I got used to the water. Now I just have to get used to the prices....

Friday, August 03, 2007

300 Miles to Nowhere

Our plan was to visit Seward, but that was quickly replaced by Soldotna. Had I known what was in store, I probably would have just stayed home. Thank God I didn’t.

It was sometime after 8:30pm that we limped into Anchorage. One foot was broken - the other was missing. We had traveled around 300 miles in just over 6 hours. I suppose it would be a good time for a dog sled team. The problem was that we were driving a car. My butt had been glued to the seat for at least an hour more than it should have. Things were starting to go numb, and sadly I was starting to enjoy the feeling.

The road to Soldotna is as much a road race as a pleasure cruise. There is nothing like doing 75-80mph while looking at a lake, “who’s colors just can’t exist”, and then realizing that a 1200lb bull moose just walked into your path. You jam on the brakes praying that you don’t hit the thing. Not because you don’t want to kill it, but because you don’t want it to kill you. The moose are dangerous. The people are downright insane.

This is "Moosie". He is still undecided on which vehicle he is going to run in front of.

No need to follow any laws out here I told Dianne. Civilization is 300 miles behind us I said. That’s when I saw the cop with flashing lights. Luckily it was in front of us and already pulled off to the side of the road. As we drew closer I noticed the yellow police “do not cross” tape. It was a sure sign that something, “serious” had happened. As we passed I got a glimpse of just how serious. Someone, or something was covered in a blue tarp. Just about the size of a person, and with either human like feet, or a moose that was wearing tennis shoes.

About this time, Dianne turns to me and says, “Well, so far we’ve seen 2 sheep, one moose, and a dead body, I wonder what’s next”? I was too busy craning my neck to try to get a look at the body to hear what she said. I asked her if we should turn around and drive back to get a better look. She didn’t think it was a good idea. I mumbled something about getting a good picture, but it was too late. We were passing a naked man with a walking stick. I think he may have been hitch hiking, but we didn’t stop to find out.

About the moment that we reached our destination was about the same time that we decided to go home. I mentioned eating and Dianne agreed that food was good. Finding a place to eat wasn’t hard. It was the first place we stopped. Sal’s Dinner was the order of the day. From the outside it looked strangely like it had been there for 70 or so years. Faded paint, dirt lot, strange people. I liked the looks, so we went in.

I was handed a newspaper. It turned out that the paper was also the menu. We sat down and I read. Dianne asked me what I wanted, and I quickly replied, “The fried fish sandwich and a Ford f-250”. I didn’t think she got the joke, so I quickly told her that the Ford was on page 4. She just shook her head. The food was very good, but what was amazing were the cinnamon buns. They were the size of entire loaves of bread. I asked the waitress about them, and she replies, “yea, those are the small ones”. Thinking she was joking, I said, “yea, right..” She was not joking. She went over and pulled out something that was the size of a bread box. She needed two hands to hold it, and said it was heavy. I believed her. It was the largest baked thing I had ever seen. I quickly wondered where you get a pan to bake something that large. One slice of this thing was probably bigger than most dinner plates. I stared in amazement.

This is Sals Diner. They serve the largest cinnamon buns on the planet, or at least the largest that I have ever seen...

The ride home was much like the second time on a roller coaster. It was exciting, and fun, but it lacks the thrill and excitement of not knowing what is just around the corner. The fear of death that comes with every twist and turn. The newness of the act has been replaced with the fact that you will survive and that there is an end to your journey. The moose have moved on, the bodies have been removed, and the sun is setting fast - Time to go home.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Searching for Bobby Fischer

Ok, so I have been a bit lax on the postings lately….. I know, I know, you live for this stuff….yea, right. In any case, I have given up my old hobby of drinking until I pass out for a more frustrating one - chess. Yep, I am teaching myself a game that will drive you to drink. Since I was not very good at drinking (I never won that game either) it comes as no surprise that I am not that good at chess. I know, most of you would say that someone that has only been playing chess for 2 weeks is going to stink like last weeks garbage, but I am different. I expected to be able to play on a grand master level in at least…..well, I thought I would be there by now. I have however been ever so slightly disappointed. You see, as it turns out, chess is a game that takes years to master, or at least that is what the internet says… Had I known this before investing so much time into it, I would have just had another drink. Unfortunately for me I did not know this two weeks ago. So here I am, sitting quietly trying to remember that white should open with E4 and that loosing is a learning experience, not a devaluation of your manhood. I guess that would be good advice, but for someone that can’t beat a retarded three year old, I am starting to get a complex. I suppose that I have to remember that the road is long, and in the end, it is really the journey, not the destination that counts. I may be learning to play bingo if this doesn’t work out…

Thursday, June 07, 2007


This is the Ebola virus. I took this picture with a scanning electron microscope that I keep in the bathroom. Don’t ask where I keep the Ebola….

I was woken the other day out of a blissful sleep to the words that a man fears the most. Dianne woke me and said, “I think the dog has Ebola”. My response was, “Ok, ok honey, and my overies are killing me. Can we go back to bed now?” No, really she said. I think he is going to kill us with some strange disease that he picked up from a moose, or worse yet, a bear. I really just wanted to go back to bed, but I was curious as to what it was that was going to kill me and cause a plague on the nation of Alaska. So I rolled over and looked at the dog. He was staring at me like I could rescue him from the arms of his mother (Dianne). She had a grip on him that was slightly less than that of a strangle hold. I looked at his face and quickly recoiled. It was Ebola, or at least some sort of flesh eating disease that was not there 24 hours ago. It was an open wound just below his left ear that was about the size of a golf ball. After getting over the initial shock, I quickly told Dianne to throw him off the bed. She angrily asked why. I said, “He is diseased and going to kill us, now throw the plague ridden dog down. She slowly released him and he quickly ran under the couch (The couch is still a plastic lawn chair from Home Depot). After much discussion we decided that we would take him to the vet to be diagnosed. I was in favor of cooking the non-Ebola parts, but I was over ruled by the wife, and the dog. So we made an appointment for the next day.

Much to my surprise, the Doctor really liked dogs, and Nick(the dog) seemed to really like her. I could just hear the dog telling her about my cooking comments… She quickly diagnosed the problem as something I thought was just another name for Ebola, but as it turned out, it was just a hot spot. A hot spot you ask? Yes. I asked the same question. What is a hot spot? I had not attempted to cook him yet, so whatever it was, I knew it was not my fault. The doctor went on to explain that hot spots are things that dogs get, and are not related to Ebola, or any flesh eating disease that we could catch. I was very relieved. We could keep the dog, and I would not have to worry about loosing my boyish good looks. The doctor took him away and when she came back, she handed me the dog, and a bill that was almost as heavy. I told Dianne to pay the bill, that me and the dog were going to pass out in the car.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Summer Days

This is my new, “Fishing Pole Antenna”. I use it to listen to the radio and fish at 60mph. I guess you could call that speed fishing… Click on the picture to get a closer look.

….And like a bad habit - I’m back. It seems that sometime while I was sleeping, the snow melted, the sun came out, and the grass turned green. I think they call it Summer, or something like that. All I know is that construction is going on at a fever pitch. My favorite dirt lot was paved, and there are rumors that they are going to turn it into a restaurant. I will now have to look for rocks elsewhere. The ravens that circled my sleeping body during winter have now been replaced by seagulls. They screech and dive at me, daring me to feed them McDonalds® fries - They will not get my fries.

I am having a hard time sleeping. We are getting somewhere on the order of just over 21 hours of daylight, and it is getting longer. It will climax on June 21st when the sun decides that it will not set, but just kind of does loops in the sky. Around that time we will have about 24 hours of usable daylight. This is great if you happen to be a potted plant, but can cause some problems if you happen to be a mammal that tends to enjoy sleeping. Lately I have been getting up at 8am. To most people, that would sound great, but the problem is that I have been going to bed at about 4am. Yea….4 hours sleep. The past few days (I say days because there really aren’t any nights right now…) I have seen the sun set and rise within about 3 hours. The moon is in the same sky as the sun most of the time and the rivers are going to start flowing red again. No, not with blood, with salmon. They get so thick in some areas that you could walk from one side to the other and never get wet. Although, if you are trying to catch them, they will ignore you completely. This time of year is lots of fun.

Dianne and I have been contemplating moving out of Anchorage, and back to Alaska. We took a drive over to Palmer the other day, and really like the area. I noticed that they had at least 2 bars and a library, so I was good with it. Dianne saw a Fred Myers® and tried to move in on the spot. So we will see. The people are friendly and they seem to drive better than in Anchorage.

Other than that, not much is new. I have been trying to convince Dianne that we need a new truck. Every time I bring that subject up she says, “Ok, go buy the truck, but just remember that it is going to cost $370,987.89”. When she brings the price up, I usually agree that buying a new truck is not such a good idea and quickly change the subject. I figure that the van will be able to last at least another 3-5 years - hopefully…

So summer is here and in full swing. Soon it will be in the 80’s and I will be trying to crawl into the refrigerator. The salmon are coming and I have to get my fishing license. Hopefully home prices in Palmer will be slightly less than those in Anchorage, and I need to get the oil changed in the van. I think I may be keeping it a little while longer.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Starvation, Styrofoam, and Chocolate Sex

Well, my wife left me yesterday. Not for another man, but something worse…much worse. She left me for Florida. Yea, she will say that she was only going to visit he mother and family, but I am not convinced. If all she is going for is to see her family, than why is she so happy. When I spoke with her last, she was talking of going to places like Disney, Busch gardens, and the beach. These are all places where you pay to stand in line to hand total strangers your money and have them make fun of you about how much you overpaid. Well, expect for the beach. There you just pay a lifeless parking meter for the privilege to park (.25 for 10 minutes) in a parking spot. You then get to walk around and stare at naked people.…..Hey, now that doesn’t sound too bad…. And it is a lot cheaper than one of those nudie bars where it costs $5 for a bottle of water. Perhaps she has something there.

In any case, I am alone and depressed. I have nobody to walk the dog, take out the trash, or make me lunch. I may die of starvation in a dirty apartment. Well, if that happens, the dog may eat my lifeless body and start drinking out of the toilet again. I don’t think he will mind not being taken out for walks in the melting snow. He may however be upset that there is nobody around to change the channels on the TV for him, or discuss the finer points of quantum physics. Other than that, I think he may be able to last the 2 weeks (more like a lifetime) that Dianne will be gone.

Just as I thought I was not going to make it much longer, the doorbell rang. At first I was hoping it was a hooker, but then realized that food would be a much more needed gift. I threw on a robe and answered the door (last time I answered the door naked, the delivery man ran away). It was a big light package. It was too small to be a mail order hooker. Well, maybe if it was a midget mail order hooker from Ethiopia, but since it was from Kentucky, I knew I was out of luck. The package was addressed to Dianne and came from a place called Candy Blast™. Since Dianne was not going to be around for another 2 weeks, and I was starving, I figured that it would be a good idea to open the package and eat whatever was inside. I was hoping for chocolate strippers, but soon found that someone had shipped me a box of Styrofoam peanuts. Now I like a good practical joke as much as anyone, but sending a starving person a box of barely edible Styrofoam is just not that funny. Digging deeper into the Styrofoam, I discovered something amazing. It was food, or at least something wrapped in a plastic bag. I pulled greedily at the handle and yanked out an Easter basket along with about 854,789,045,789,453 Styrofoam peanuts. The Easter basket was filled with candy of every description. It was wonderful. I quickly removed the plastic bag to get a better look at the candy. It was everywhere. It was in the green plastic grass, it was on the sides, it was on the handle, it was wonderful. I figured with all this candy, I would be able to survive for at least another 3-4 hours.

As I was figuring what I would eat first, the dog came over and started staring at me. He was giving me those eyes that said, “please feed me, I am starving too”. I looked at him and said, “yea right, if you are lucky I will let you smell my fingers after I am done eating your mothers gift”. He looked at me and started eating the Styrofoam peanuts that were covering the floor. I was happy that I would not have to pick them up.

So now I am thinking about calling Dianne in Florida and letting her know how good her gift was. I sure hope she appreciates me going out of my way to make sure her candy was eaten quickly, and thoroughly. I am not sure who sent it, but whoever you are, “Thank you - You saved my life”.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Build it and it will break - On me…

Nick (the dog) examines the missing radio, and wonders why the top of the dash is missing.

You know about the problem with the van, but what I have not told you is that I also have some other electronics that have decided that it is time to check out of this world. Luckily they are still under warranty, at least for the next 5 days.

As it turns out, I have a knack for picking out electronics that will give up at or right around the time the warranty expires. Just last week my laptop decided to mysteriously just shut down and not start again. It didn’t matter what I would do, it would not start. All I was getting was an amber flashing power indicator on the front of the laptop. I eventually removed and replaced the battery just to see what would happen, and low and behold it fired right up. Being the nervous type that I am, I decided that a call to the laptop customer service number was in order. I gave them a call and explained the situation, along with the steps that I took to remedy the situation. They seemed genuinely worried about the laptop blowing up at any second. They said that they were “very concerned” about the situation, and advised me to take it into an authorized service center if it happened again.

Now I don’t know about you, but I have this sneaking suspicion that my computer is going to be just fine until the day after the warrantee expires, at which point it will spontaneously combust. This will be nothing unusual for me. It seems that whenever I purchase something of any complexity, the life span is determined by the warrantee. Now I could have taken out an extended warrantee, but for that price I could probably buy a new laptop in 3 years. That and the fact that I very rarely have a computer around for three years. Well, actually that is not the truth. I did keep parts of my old 486DX 50 for about 10 years, although they were just parts, and I doubt that they would ever work again.

Enough about the broken alarm and computer. Lets move on to the broken car stereo. Oh, yea! Once again, before we left Florida I had a car stereo installed so that we could listen to some snappy tunes on our way to the great white north. What we found out was that the FM receiver only picks up stations where there are people and civilization. Seeing that we were mostly traveling in the middle of nowhere, we usually had to rely on the cd player. Actually we only had one cd that I had burned and we must have listened to it about 458,043,20,954.376 times. I am actually thinking about copying it and sending it to all my relatives for Christmas. That is how close I am to this cd.

In any case, about a month ago I realized that the radio was not playing. I figured this out when I turned it on and no sound came out ( I’m quick like that…). Everything else seemed to be working just fine, but it just didn’t want to be heard. I am not sure if it was broken, or just sick of hearing the same cd a zillion times. I tried the radio - Nothing. I tried turning up the volume - Nothing. I tried threatening it - Nothing. I tried begging - Still nothing. I gave up. I figured that by the time I removed it and had it repaired, the warrantee would be over. I was wrong.

Today I checked the warrantee information and as it turns out, my particular brand was covered for 2 years, not the typical 1. Apparently the radio had some bad information and thought that it should break down at about 1 year instead of 2. So now I have to remove the radio, take it to the authorized “radio fixer”, and have them tell me that it is not fixable. At that point I will have to wait probably another 2 weeks for a replacement. Now knowing that this radio is no longer made, I have a really strong suspicion that I will be getting a new(er) model - hopefully. At that point all I have to do is pay to have the radio re-installed, and wait for the warrantee to expire again. Oh, the joys of being a technophile!!!!

Monday, March 05, 2007

When Technology goes bad...

Today we had things to do and people to see. You know, the kind of day when you actually have a schedule that makes sense and you really feel like your going to get some things done. Since my day usually consists of wandering around the house in a daze and wondering what I should do, this was a welcome change.

It started by me and Dianne going out to eat lunch at Hoggs Brothers. As it turns out, this would be the highlight of our day. If I had know what fate was about to befall me, I would have asked for a job as a dishwasher. I probably would have been happier. So we order our food (It was soooo good) and ate like we had not eaten in 2 days. Actually I think it had been 19 ½ hours or something like that…. We left just as they were closing the place. It was about 4pm and I needed to find a photo processing place that was on the same road.

Being a man I did not bother to write down the address or name of the location. I just know it was somewhere on the road we were on. “Not a problem” I keep telling Dianne. We will just drive up and down the street until we find it. Ok, after the 20th lap up and down the street I decided that I should probably find the address. So we stop at a shoe store and I ask for directions. The shoe repair guy just stares at me like I am about to rob him or something. I ask for the yellow pages, and he snaps out of his dazed stare. I quickly find the place I am looking for in the yellow pages, and quickly memorize the location. It is just a few blocks down the street anyway. I hop into the car, program Petuna - she is our “never get lost anymore GPS unit” that can find anything (Yes, we do name or electronics, especially if they talk to us…).

Now here is where the real fun begins. You see, when we left Florida we had an alarm system installed into our car with something called “Blackjack™”. What that is, is a device that prevents your car from getting stolen if you are carjacked. Ok, stop laughing. We figured if someone wanted to steal a minivan with a trailer, they wouldn’t get very far. Today we proved that theory. You see, when we pulled out of the shoe repair shop, and entered our, “oh so secret and mysterious” code into the key pad (it actually only has 2 buttons, but for what we paid I am calling it a keypad) nothing happened. We entered it again - nothing. Ok, we believe it is not working, but are not sure. So what should we do? That’s right, we ignore the problem. If we don’t acknowledge the problem, it really doesn’t exist, right? Wrong. Just like the manual said, about 30 seconds later the car dies, the lights flash, and it begins making sounds that would make a circus jealous. We are now in an alley with a dead car, lights flashing, and siren going off at full blast. No, this does not look suspicious at all…..

All efforts to enter the “secret” code fail and I am forced to walk to a business and call AAA. Just 2 short hours later the tow truck shows up and hooks us up. I help by putting the car in neutral, turning the wheel, turning off the alarm, and starting the car. Yep, the car knew that AAA was there, and decided to work. I thought about telling the tow truck driver not to worry about it, that we had just gotten it to work, but I had been waiting for 2 hours. Instead I had him tow the car to a car stereo shop where he dropped it off. I advised the shop of the situation, and promptly drove off.

Now I do have the alarm in “valet” mode which should keep it from going crazy, or at least not working until tomorrow. You see, tomorrow I will be having the “amazing costs too much” alarm system ripped out and turned into a pile of yesterdays trash. I am not even going to bother trying to figure out what is wrong with it, if anything. I decided this while waiting for 2 hours in 10 degree weather in a car that would not accept it’s little “secret code”.

We are going old school. Back to the days of actually having to unlock your car with a key. And if you have to unlock the other doors, you will have to press the power unlock button. I am actually thinking about getting one of those “clubs” that you lock to your steering wheel. Well, then again, probably not. The crime rate around here is nothing compared to where I came from. I actually told the guys at the audio shop that I had an “anti-car-jacking” device on my car, and they laughed. I found out that there are not many car jackings in Alaska.

I suppose that I will miss the little chirping bird that locked me out of the car and made me sit in a freezing alley for 2 hours. Then again, probably not.