Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Signs of Spring in Alaska

So it's about 25 degrees for a high here in Anchorage and looks very much like this picture, which I ripped from somewhere else, of course. This is apparently a signal to every Walmart and Sears in town to dump the winter gear and explain to us that it's almost spring, dumbasses. We arrived as prepared as two fellows from the desert could be - we even had long johns, and I cannot recall why on earth we would have ever bought or worn them before - but we assumed we'd find some ear muffs and maybe a nice sweater or two up here. No dice. Will have to borrow some from the innkeeper at the Garden Gate B&B in Palmer, where we're staying.

Oh, did I mention that the innkeeper is an old, old friend, Karen Harris, who gave up a journalism career in Minneapolis to open a B&B in Alaska, a lifelong dream. I can't wait to see how that worked out for her.

We're now chilling at the Dark Horse Coffee Shop in Anchorage. It's cute, although Miles complains that his mocha-machiatto-whatever is a little too heavy on the whipped cream, light on the juice. Oh well. My hot chocolate looked sumptuous, but isn't really. Oh well again.

We had lunch at terrific trendy eatery called the Snow City Cafe that a college-campus feel to it. I had the "crabby omlette." Yum. And we're likely to go to some brew pub for dinner where Karen has advised they have the best salmon chowder in, uh, history or something.

I am forbidden on this trip from working, which is difficult when there are a few good stories up here I could so easily string for the Times. In the center of the state, the mayor is following a middle school social studies class' advice to repopulate and giving away 26 large land plots. The results have been fascinating. Plus, there's a dog-beating scandal in the Iditarod, which is wrapping up now.

OH! And one last thing I did today. I made Miles stop and let me browse a tourist trap called the Ulu Factory. Why? Because for years now I've been using the word "ulu" in Scrabble and I've never known what it meant. I just thought it was a clever way to dump unwanted vowels.