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2002-12-29 - 11:47 p.m.

Animals & Alyeska

Warning, many pictures ahead!

It's been a fairly busy few days. Thursday and Friday we went shopping (I was amazed at how not crowded the mall was), saw a movie (Gangs of New York), went out to dinner for my brother's graduation, slept a lot, and went to the Alaska Zoo.

Bactrian Camels
Snow LeopardSnow Me

Oh, and we also saw a big bull moose with a rack of antlers off the side of the road. Pretty cool.

moose and moon

Saturday we went to a holiday open house and then picked up J. & C. (I went to high school with J. and C. is her boyfriend) and drove to Alyeska for a bluegrass concert by the local band Bearfoot Bluegrass. JR, JK, and JK's girlfriend M. were supposed to go with us, but they decided not to at the last minute. My mom hooked us up with a friend's cabin (there were no hotel rooms available because the ski season just kicked off and there was fresh snow) and their son was going to be there too so we gave him one of our tickets.

After a stop at the liquor store, grocery store, and gas station, we hit the road. Unfortunately, it was snowing and as soon as we got out of town it got worse. And worse. And worse. Soon it was a blizzard (both because of the snow coming down and the snow blowing around the road from the wind and the other cars). Visibility was almost nothing and the tracks in the road where other cars had gone before me veered all over, not staying in the lanes at all and making the car go over the loud "you're about to go off the road" strips. But it was that or not be able to tell where to drive (if I didn't follow the tracks of previous cars). I was driving my dad's Jeep which although it has 4 wheel drive does not have studded snow tires (a serious lapse in my opinion). I was very tense. I think my passengers were tense too, but everyone was very supportive.

We finally arrived but then couldn't find the cabin. I had directions, but was missing one crucial point which was to turn right off the main road (I thought the turn was at a t-intersection but it wasn't). Plus, we discovered that most of the street signs were covered in snow. At that point I was so glad to be going 25 (or less) that I didn't care at all that we were lost. After driving around for a few minutes, we headed back down the main road. I saw a hitchhiker on the side of the road and decided to pick him up. This isn't something I'd normally do, but he looked like a normal guy in his late teens or early 20s with a snowboard, clearly trying to get from the ski area to wherever he was staying.

As it happens, picking him up was the karma boost we needed. He was up from Homer (a small town south of where we were) and staying at the local youth hostel. The youth hostel which was off the very road we needed to find. It was a wonderful feeling - not only did we rescue a very cold (and perfectly nice) person, but in doing that he got us to where we needed to be. We dropped him off and gave him the other 2 tickets we had to the show that night.

A. was waiting for us at the cabin when we got there and we settled in for a few beers. Eventually we realized we were late to the show (mmmmm....beer) and headed out. We walked up to the ski area where the concert was being held (in the day lodge) and for some reason A. didn't wear a hat, coat, or gloves. Okaaaaay. It was still snowing (and snowed all night) and it was cold.

The show had already started when we got there and we made our way up front to stand on the side. It was great. A. really got into it and took off his boots and danced around with all the hippie kids. The rest of us just swayed slightly from side to side. We hit the beer garden (a roped off area for those who were over 21) during intermission and C. ran into a bunch of people he knew. J. and I saw a woman who graduated from high school with us (J. even remembered her name) but neither of us knew her well enough to say hi. The show was really fun and the walk home was much easier (downhill).

We kept drinking at the cabin and went to bed around 2. A. is clearly a quirky guy, although really friendly and nice, and when the rest of us were going to sleep he decided that would be a good time to blast the U2 Achtung Baby album. Strangely, I fell asleep right away (and The Scientist did too).

Alyeska in the snow

Everyone was somewhat hung over in the morning but we went out to breakfast at a local cafe. The food and coffee revived us and we drove over to the big new hotel to try to go up the tram to the top of the mountain (it's a non-skiing tram as opposed to a ski lift). Unfortunately, J.'s free passes only worked for half of us and we decided not to pay the $26 ($13 each) to go up. We walked around the hotel for a while and then drove back to Anchorage.

The drive back was much less eventful and I was much less tense (although still somewhat tense because it was really slippery).


Later Sunday night J. & C. picked us up and we all went to see The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (again). C. had a free ticket to use and so did we. I think I liked it even better the second time. I can't wait until the DVD (hopefully another extended version DVD) comes out and I can own it!

Evidently we converted J. & C. to sitting close to the screen. I thought it was funny because when we sat close with AR (to see A Beautiful Mind) she got motion sick but J. & C. were raving about how much better the movie was closer to the screen. I told AR about it later and she said that we were all crazy.

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