Across Continents

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Who’s hockey Mom home?

September 24th, 2011

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And who’s hockey Mom home might this be? Yep, Sarah Palin’s. Alaska’s Governor and apparent Presidential hopeful. Couldn’t pass up a chance to drop by. Tree on the left is probably some security chap. And the old tyre a cunningly disguised anti-terrorist measure.

By all accounts a pretty down-to-earth family. Often found down at the local supermarket. And, yes, the odd hockey match. No. Really. Forgive me if I seem a bit vague on the details but that is quite deliberate. Some strange people out there.

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The Undefeated

September 23rd, 2011

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I suggested it sounded like a spaghetti Western, half expecting it to feature Clint Eastwood as a hired gun. Had that ring to it. "The Undefeated". But Mary Ann was quite sure. It was a movie about Alaska’s Governor and Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin. Released a month or two ago. Without trace. In Alaska the silence is always deafening.

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I’d met Mary Ann – the English spelling she’d assured me – working in a small bookshop in Palmer. I’d wandered in a little before closing time, looking for maps. Born in Japan, she’d grown up in California but had tired of the encroaching San Francisco suburbs and the smog. Choosing to seek clean air and space. Which Alaska has in spades.

I was quite envious of her. She’d be canal boating. Admittedly to Leeds, but it’s all too easy to inadvertently wander into Yorkshire. Something I always wanted to do, but never quite got around to. Thought it really needed a decent sized group of friends, the sort who got on in a confined space. Mary Ann suggested four was a good number, some of the locks pretty hard work. I favoured being the navigator.

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Disturbing evidence

September 21st, 2011

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Seems people’s willingness to talk about voting for Sarah Palin, Alaska’s Governor, is up there with incest. But, along the Old Glenn Highway, north of Anchorage, disturbing evidence of at least one voter prepared to make a public admission..

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Sobering thoughts

August 31st, 2011

Sobering thoughts. Never mind the bears, watch out for the moose. The former may leave you for dead, whereas the latter will make sure first. By trampling. And they’re not the only things that can be fatal in Alaska. Wear the wrong sort of clothing – cotton for example – and you can easily succumb to hypothermia. The Arctic Circle lies just a matter of four hundred or so miles to the north of Anchorage.

I’d been met at the airport by host and fellow cyclist Linda. Five am. Driving across town, we’d discussed a few of the challenges ahead, the dangers one might face. This was not, she explained, the place for romantic notions. I’d nodded in agreement. Adding that hopefully I at least knew what I didn’t know. Keen to draw on her experiences, her knowledge drawn from over a quarter of a century living in Alaska.

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She’d dropped me off at her house before heading off to work. I’d meant to go to bed, I really had, but my body clock was askew and I found myself inexplicably wide awake. Besides, there were maps on the kitchen table for me to peruse. Far from unsettling me, I’d found the conversation in the car inspiring. There was much to do, and I wanted to get started. I’d sleep later when I actually felt tired.

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Domestic dramas

August 30th, 2011

Domestic flight it might have been. Domestic bliss it was not. Honolulu to Anchorage, Alaska. Five hours of hell. Or, put another way, can a small child scream, virtually without pausing, for the entire time? Yep. A few fortunates, those closest, were moved to the precious few vacant seats further up the cabin. The rest offered ear plugs. I gladly accepted. Actually, in my already sleep deprived state, I initially mistaken them for complimentary chews. Bright red. Strawberry flavour. Did seem a bit tough.

Don’t want to sound unsympathetic, but some sort of sedative would have been in order. For fellow passengers that is, just in case you think I’m being a tage harsh. Maybe that’s why Alaskans elected Sarah Palin. Tape of her favourite speeches would have really hit the mark.

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Into the Twilight Zone

August 30th, 2011

Brief stop-over in Hawaii complete, I was bound for Alaska. The Twilight Zone. During the summer months almost perpetual daylight. That’d already begun to diminish by five minutes or so each day, just as the relatively mild weather conditions would start to ebb away shortly. Knew I’d need to press on out of Anchorage just as soon as I was ready. Not a moment to loose.

Shuttle bus back to the airport I’d left the previous day. Agricultural inspection. Free carriage of thirty pounds of approved pineapples was an irresistible offer that proved to be very resistible. Check in with Alaskan Airlines swift, no quibbling over the half pound I was over on the baggage limit.

All terribly polite and efficient. And as yet no utterance of "Have a nice day". Only criticism I’d have, and it is a minor one, is that full body scanners are probably not best suited to airports in warm climates. Gets your attention. So to speak. And the alternative they offer, full body pat down, didn’t strike me as having much less scope for, shall we say, embarrassment. If you’re male and facing a similar dilemma, imagine Sarah Palin riding a moose. Worked for me. Nice horns.

[At the time of writing the author was partially sleep deprived and riding on a sea of caffeine. So probably not as his best. Humble apologies. But do look out for more Sarah Palin jokes. And remember, people must have voted for her]

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