Friday, March 28, 2008

Xtra Tuff

A quick summary:

March 27, 2008

Wednesday -- Our flight leaves Baltimore at 8AM, arrives in Anchorage at 4PM. Seanyboy picks us up at airport, we drive to Cole's office to pick her up. Decide to eat dinner at a place called Humpy's. Apparently, a humpy is a type of salmon. After dinner, we drive about an hour to get down to Girdwood. Beautiful drive along Turnagain Arm, but it's kinda cloudy and visibility is low. Arrive at Sean and Cole's house in Girdwood, they teach us a new dice game. We head out to Maxine's, a local bar where they have open mic night on Wednesday nights. Meet a few locals,
Listen to Sean play at open mic. Meet the owner of "the most beautiful laundromat in America". Tired. Head home to bed.

Thursday -- A beautiful day. Cole heads off to work in the morning; Sean, myself, the J-Dog and Milo (the dog) head out for a GORGEOUS walk, checking out the area around Spiff and Cole's house. Mountains, rivers, snow, blue skies. Very much like the picture I had in my head of what Alaska would be like. We get back to the house and have a little down time, and then Sean's brother, Luke, comes over and we drive in Luke's truck down Turnagain Arm. By this time, clouds have rolled in, but nonetheless a beautiful drive. Luke has some driving incidents, we tour downtown Girdwood, and then Luke drops us off back at Sean's house. That night, Sean and Cole have invited several friends over for a huge seafood feast. Huge Alaskan King Crab legs, shrimp, clams, salad, and potatoes. We met Ben and Tiff (friends of Sean and Cole), Luke and his girlfriend (Sarah), and Tony (who would later be coming back to play bass on the recordings that Sean and I were making). Also, Tony's son, Ashton, who was disappointed that there were no spiders or worms at Spiff and Cole's house. Good people, good food, and a very good time. I wish I had taken a picture or two.

Friday -- Sean and Cole had booked a night at a cabin overlooking the Matanuska Glacier, so on Friday morning we woke up, had some breakfast, and drove up to Anchorage to meet Ben and Tiff, who were also going to the cabin. Then we drove
another hour or two until we got to the cabin, which was in a beautiful, isolated spot out in the woods and mountains, with a gorgeous view of the glacier and the surrounding area. And it was an absolutely perfect day, which made things even better. We got to the cabin, unloaded our stuff, gathered and split some wood and got a fire going in the wood stove, and sat and admired the view for awhile. Then we all headed out for an exploratory walk, and found a hill that was perfect for sledding. So after Spiff slid down the hill on his back, we headed back to the trucks to see if we could find any makeshift sleds. We ended up using a tarp and some sort of plastic bed liner from one of the trucks, both of which worked pretty well. Had a great time sledding in several different locations, then headed back to the cabin for some brats and tofurkey. After dinner, Spiff and I played a little guitar, we got a nice fire going outside, and then had a somewhat testy game of CRANIUM WOW (tm). Some more sledding occurred, beverages were imbibed, and folks began to hit the hay one by one. Spiff and Ben and a guy Matt (who arrived at the cabin later in the evening) hung out outside until the wee hours.

Saturday -- We all woke up and packed up our stuff, then headed to the Long Rifle Lodge for a delicious breakfast with a super nice waiter who reminded me of J. Knese. It was another beautiful day, and a gorgeous drive back to Girdwood. I have no memory of what we did Saturday evening, but on late Saturday night, we drove Jeannie back to the Anchorage airport for her departure to Baltimore. On the way home, Sean and I stopped in at Chair 5 (a local bar/restaurant, also called THE DIVE) then stayed up until 6AM, talking and working on songs.

Sunday -- Sean and I worked on recording music most of the day Sunday, and then he and Cole and I went to Chair 5 for pizza. Vicious dice games after dinner.

Monday -- Sean and I spend the day working on music, we take a break to take Milo for a walk on the flats, and then Cole makes stuff pasta shells for dinner. Delicious. After dinner we played hearts, and Cole is accused of throwing the match in order to go to bed.

Tuesday -- Sean and I start working on music, and then get a call from Tony, who Sean had talked to about coming over and playing bass. So Tony comes over and lays down some sweet bass tracks. He's a great player, really fun to watch, and a super nice guy. Spiff and I finish up our tunes for the day, then Luke comes over and Spiff grills up some pork tenderloin. Also had mashers and asparagus. Once again, delicious. After dinner, a game of Euchre, which I had not played in about 15 years (although I think I did ok in Tuesday's game). As Luke was leaving and we walked out to his truck, Cole noticed a glow in the sky, which proceeded to develop into a display of the Northern Lights. Which was pretty cool. I have learned this: attempting to photograph the Northern Lights doesn't work very well.

Wednesday. -- Sean and I finish up any final recording we want to get done. Luke calls in the afternoon and tells us he has scored some free passes for the tram that goes up Alyeska mountain at the local ski resort, so he and Sean and I head over to the resort and head up the mountain, which is absolutely gorgeous. Some really unbelievable views. We head back to Spiff's, and Sean lays down cause he's feeling poorly. Cole and I spend a little time chatting, then head over to Coast (a local restaurant that used to sell tacos. When the current owners bought the place, they didn't have the money for a new sign, so they changed the name to COAST
and used the existing letters from the TACOS sign. One of my favorite stories that I heard while in Alaska) to pick up some subs for dinner. We watch last week's episode of LOST (which Spiff had been kind enough to tape for me, but which unfortunately
cut off right before the end), and then Sean drove me to the airport. And here I am, sitting in the Phoenix airport on my 4 hour layover, and I have to poop.

Some general observations about the trip:

* Alaska is gorgeous. Duh.

* All of the vacations that Jeannie and I have taken together have involved visiting family or friends. This has been a good thing. It is especially good when the friends you're visiting happen to be tour guides.

* Spiff and Cole are the best hosts you'd ever want to meet. They made plans for us, but not too much plans. They like hanging out and playing games. They sure know how to make folks feel comfortable and at home.

* Alaskan folks seem to wear boots called Xtra Tuffs. They are, indeed, extra tough. And waterproof. And awesome. If you go to Alaska and you don't have anybody who could loan you a pair, do yourself a favor and get some Xtra Tuffs.

* Steady, throughout-the-day recreational drinking seems to agree with me. Or rather, I agree with it.

* Going to Alaska and then coming home to Baltimore makes Baltimore feel sad and mean.

* Long plane rides are a form of birth control.

* Spiff and Cole are kind of celebrities in Girdwood.

* Being around lots of people in ski-wear makes me feel uncool.

Pics to follow....eventually....


Anonymous said...

Ultra glad you made it up here, and glad you made it home safe, my man. "Ya'lls" are welcome back anytime...sean...

JW said...

Dude, I was in that part of AK last July. Seriously. Right around Girdwood. Crazy. Hi, Sean.

Schluetermetz said...

Don't anybody tell Stinky that people sled sans sleds.

My god is Alaska ever beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Well, hello to you JW, even though I'm not sure exactly who you are, since you're anonymous and operating in initials. And to think you were so close to my place and didn't stop by. Whoever you are.

Jen (and Brad), your blog is great, and sledding WITH sleds is much better. Trust me....


Jen Worth? It's all I can think of...