Sunday, April 18, 2010

Alaskan Prom

We were invited to attend the before drinks of our friends' daughter's prom. Be warned: this is like a matric dance on steroids! The twelve teenagers in the group rented a limo for the entire afternoon. They drove down to Girdwood, stopping at Beluga Point for photos. They then took the sky tram to the top of Alyeska Ski Resort for more posing. After this they headed into south Anchorage for dinner, and only then, did they go to the Prom. Although the temperature was a fresh 7 degrees, the girls refused to don parkas over their beautiful strappy dresses!
Oh, and by the way, did we mention that the limo was a truck? Truly Alaskan! We just want to know if there's a hot tub in the back...

Monday, April 12, 2010


Daniel booked a surprise weekend away in the quiet town of Talkeetna. It lies 2 1/2 hours north of Anchorage and is famous for its proximity to Denali (Mount McKinley to cheechakos), the highest mountain in North America. Eager climbers catch bush planes to the Base Camp to commence their attempt up the 20,320-foot summit. We were treated to a beautiful view of 'The Great One' as we drove in, but we missed the photo point. Unfortunately the clouds rolled in before we could capture the spectacular mountain on film, but we were awed by its beauty.
The population of Talkeetna is 800, and we saw quite a few of the locals in the Fairview Inn pub on Saturday night. The Denali Brewing Co. operates out of Talkeetna and there were plenty of local beers on tap. Daniel sampled a Chuli Stout, while I enjoyed a nice brown ale of Moose's Drool.

Talkeetna is the place where three rivers meet to form the formidable Susitna River. On our first foray along its banks, we saw great examples of Alaskan break-up. Ice was cracking up along the surface and the glacial waters were crystal clear in the pebble bed. Our second visit was slightly different as two inches of snow had fallen during the night. So much for spring!

Talkeetna is another quiet Alaskan town just waiting for the summer season. If there's nothing to do, the locals have a couple of suggestions...

Monday, April 5, 2010


Finally! After 3 1/2 months in the snowiest state, we got round to building a snowman. It was great fun - we felt like two kids in a playground. Our snowman, affectionately nicknamed Snowy, sports a carrot nose, pebble eyes, pine-cone buttons, twig arms, a Pebble cap, and a Springbok scarf. Not something you see everyday...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Alaska Aces

We received company tickets to attend the final match of the 'regular season' between the Alaska Aces and Stockton Thunder. The atmosphere inside the Sullivan Arena was out of this world. Honestly, Loftus on a warm day with the smell of boere rolls in the air doesn't even come close! It turns out the old adage is true - everything in America is bigger and better. Even though it was just a Minor League match, the crowd stood for the national anthem, before taking up the chant of "Drop the puck!"

Suddenly it was all action! Within the first minute, while we were still getting to grips with the speed and skill of the players on the ice, two players (for no apparent reason) took off their gloves and helmets and starting circling each other like boxers in a ring. The rest of the players cleared the field, the referees went to supervise, and the two started to fight! Apparently it's legal until one of the players falls down. This was achieved quite quickly, but the refs seemed to go down with him. Then it was all over and the two players were sent to the sin bin, only to be replaced from the bench. Bizarre!

The subbing system accounted for another unique and crazy learning curve for us. Players on the bench just pour over the side into the arena as the others skate off the rink. Sometimes all five players come off and a new team takes the field. It seemed to be superbly-choreographed, organized chaos.

We soon worked out that Ice Hockey is all about the entertainment. Matches run for three 20-minutes periods, with a 20-minute break between each period. But with all the stoppages for fighting, ad-breaks and time-outs, the game took 2 1/2 hours. An extremely biased warcry leader provided a running commentary over the loudspeaker throughout the game. There were raffles, pot luck draws, a 'chuck the puck' competition, galloping mascots and more! Even the restarts are action-packed, and the scene after a goal is scored is simply sensational.

In the end, the Aces won 4-1 to finish second on the log and qualify for play-offs. What a great game!