Friday, July 16, 2010

Brandi Carlile in Fairbanks

Just so my mom knows: I looked into getting a bus from Denali National Park to Fairbanks and a park service lady actually recommended that I hitchhike!  Hitchhiking is not that bad of a thing in Alaska.
Anyway, I made a sign.  I was making this sign at the park's mercantile and the employee was loaning me markers to make it with.  I guess I shouldn't go into details about poor Sharpies and highlighters but I am aware the sign could be improved upon... but I was hitchhiking so it wasn't like I was gonna put this in my portfolio!

I went down to where the tourist shops are.  It was raining very hard.  I held the sign out and a couple cars passed.  I held the sign out for the next group of cars and one pulled over.  I was shocked how quickly it happened and I was actually in disbelief that the car pulled over for me. A backpacker got out, he had just gotten a ride from Anchorage to Denali National Park. The lady that gave me a ride was very nice.  She was driving from Anchorage to Fairbanks to pick up her 78-year-old mother and drive her back. She said she was borrowing her son's car and if either of her children knew about her picking up hitchhikers they would have a meltdown. I told her if my mother knew I was hitchhiking she would have a meltdown!

When we got to town, I had her drop me off at this area of town that had some restaurants as I was very hungry. I ate at Pizza Hut and looked at the directions to the hostel. My walk to the hostel turned out to be almost four miles! With a large backpack that is a lot! Well, in my mind making it to the hostel was my only goal because once I got there then I would get info on taking the bus to the Brandi Carlile show that started at 8 pm.

The hostel has a big lawn for setting up tents if you choose to camp out instead of sleeping in a bed. So I got to the hostel, checked in, set up my tent, took a shower, and then I was ready to go to my concert which was in two hours. I figured I had plenty of time if I was going to be taking a bus. Well, I was talking to a guy about the bus system and he asked where my concert was.  I told him the Blue Loon and he replied, "The Blue Loon!? You're not gonna make it, the buses don't go out that far!" He asked if I had paid for my ticket already and how much, as if I was only determined to make it there because I paid a whopping $31 for it.  I didn't waste anytime and I said I was going to run.  There was no question about whether I was going to go or not. I took with me my sweater and rain jacket because I had no idea what the weather might be on my long walk back, and a water bottle because I was worried about being dehydrated. It was too warm at the time to run in jeans but I was so thankful I had brought along my running shoes, it would've been painful to run in Xtratufs!
I left at precisely 6 o'clock and arrived to the Blue Loon at 7:09 pm.  I couldn't have arrived at a better time and I couldn't have asked for a better run!  There were so many times I wanted to stop to take pictures, but I felt I had to discipline myself from that if I was going to make it because really I had no idea how far I was going. I was running along the Interstate that runs all the way to Anchorage.  There was this part as I was coming around a bend that gave a wide open view of the trees and tundra.  I was running in daylight but out into the hills were some very dark and massive storm clouds. It was such a gorgeous run.
(click for a big picture. The map has the Pizza Hut, hostel, and Blue Loon pointed out. The run was 6.15 miles)

I got to be in the front row for the concert. Brandi Carlile has two members in her band, Tim and Phil Hanseroth. They played an all acoustic concert, i.e. plugged in acoustic guitars; no electric guitars or drums.  Although they did one song completely acoustic, so they didn't sing into any microphones or use any amplifiers. Anyway, the whole show was completely delightful.

After the show, Brandi was selling posters and autographing them. I told her how I last saw her in Boise, Idaho and since then I moved up to Alaska so I was excited when I saw that she was touring here. She asked if I lived in Fairbanks, to which I replied no, Sitka.  She asked me how I got to Fairbanks. I told her I flew, took a bus, and then hitchhiked. She gave me a surprised look and told me to be safe on my return home. I told her I would be because I was taking the train. Haha.
There were some people at the show that recognized me from passing me on the road. This lady said to me, "Were you the shirtless guy running?" I said yes.  She and her friends had said to themselves that it would be funny if I was running to the concert. They were outside having a cigarette when I showed up to the Blue Loon and they laughed because I had been running to the concert. They offered me a ride home and I gladly accepted.  Since it had been an hour run it could've been a very long walk home! They gave me a ride all the way back to the hostel and they kept saying they couldn't believe I ran all that way. However, they all agreed that Brandi was well worth such a run!

Update: I got some videos uploaded on YouTube so I will post one here now.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Denali National Park

I camped out in Denali National Park for three days. It was cloudy and rainy all three days! I'm not letting it bum me out too much because it was a wonderful experience. However, I went with the idea that it would be a once in a lifetime trip. My plan was to go out to the park, get some good photos of the mountain and go on my merry way. However, I never saw the mountain! Now I feel like someday I will try again but I don't know... it just feels like one of those books that leaves you hanging, or the ending was not what you wanted. Maybe that's a bit dramatic... It was a good trip nonetheless.

I saw wildlife from the bus ride out to the park. I am thankful I didn't run into any wildlife while I was hiking. I took a dip in Wonder Lake. (I hadn't showered in 3 days so it was a good thing I did.) The mosquitos got an early Thanksgiving though.

I'm thinking I will trace an outline of where the mountain should be over my pictures of clouds. Only problem is I couldn't tell where the mountain was supposed to be (I knew the general direction but I had no idea where it's outline would be or how high it would reach in the sky).

The next is a cell phone picture of some Dall Sheep. The sheep were right next to the road!

Monday, July 12, 2010


My time in Anchorage was brief. I did however get a chance to purchase a new camera, which I'm excited about. 

I got to check out the Anchorage Museum and they had some wonderful paintings of Denali. The "technical" name of the mountain is Mt. McKinley, but I much prefer the native Athabaskan name of Denali which means "The High One."

I also enjoyed seeing these kayaks that the native Alaskans built long ago.
Speaking of kayak building: I haven't made progress with mine! For one, my western red cedar that I'm getting from Hoonah is delayed. And for the other reason I don't have a good place to build. Because I could start without the cedar.  I would place all the forms on the strongback, but I don't have anywhere to do that at the moment. I will have a good place in September though, so I'm just hoping things go smoothly soon.