Islands and Iditarod–our winter respite

It’s time to warm up again–February is always a good time to consider alternative lifestyles in Hawaii and our good friends in Kona invite us down.   There is now a direct Alaska Air flight from B’ham to Hono-town (hate this place) but we hop over to Kauai, pour a couple Pina Coladas and begin to unwind…..ahhhh!  feel the ocean breeze?

First stop–Waimea Canyon, Kauai.  One good thing about living in a rain forest here in Alaska is you’re used to rain–and rain it did.  Kauai hold the planet’s record for rain at over 400″ but at least the waterfalls run.  Grand Canyon of Hawaii???… not even close, but it is beautiful.  We discover a nearby CCC camp and visit there and even make a donation for their restoration.  Visit our new website here to find out about this place.

I take surfing lessons from one of the best……   No wipe-outs for me!

Over on the Beeg Island, Kilauea is still erupting.  Can you imagine, after publishing our Hawaii poster two years ago, this volcano re-erupted and last year we sold over 800 posters compared to about 10 the year before!  Pele’s still happy and so is Ranger Doug.

Here is a typical Kona sunset, filtered through volcanic smog or vog…..

All this vog makes my head spin but I find relief in these pills, or are they suppositories–yikes!  There is so much fufu on these islands.  We visit the Avocado Festival where a silent auction lists custom “Light Infusions,”  at $350 each–or two for $750….later changed to $700, the correct amount.  And get a load of this scam:

I don’t mean to mock religion (OK, I do)……so we tour  a 600+ acre paradise where 23 monks (ex-California hippies) live tax-free and the land was donated by the state!  I’m OK with all their messages (I even wore a sarong for three hours because they didn’t like my knobby, sunburnt & bare knees!), but do they really need a multi-million dollar hand carved granite tax-free temple too?  I say tax all religions.  Read more here.

Then, there is the average Joe on the street–actually, this guy was very nice and let me take his picture.  He ran a piercing shop and tattoo parlor in Hilo.  Now, I attended about 10 years of college before I could pierce anyone (I’m a dentist as you know) and I never could figure out why and how these businesses can possibly be legal….  Time to head back home to sanity….

All flights directly from Hawaii to Anchorage were fully booked so we ferry back to Petersburg and immediately fly to Anchorage to view one of the last great races on this planet–the Iditarod.  Man, was I blown away by the crowds and commercialism.  Not sure this is any more sane than Hawaii really.

People are now ‘training’ 365 days a year for this and spending tons of money doing it.  The top winner so far (this was the 40th anniversary) is Jeff King at over $750,000.   With incredible lightweight sleds and top-science dogfood (12,000 calories/day/dog), this race has been pared down to just under 9 days.  The original “Great Race of Mercy” in 1925 took only five and a half days, but began from Nanana; 674 miles from Nome–today’s race is 1049 miles.  Follow the race here.

Here is Lance Mackey, who won both the Iditarod (four times) and Yukon Quest in the same year and is a heavy favorite this year although the competition is fierce with 67 teams entered.  Over 1000 dogs will run.

And everyone dresses up–Alaska style…..

Move over Pamplona–here is the queuing up for the “Running of the Reindeer.”  Never seen such pandemonium, drunkards, and tattoos since my college days.   Oh, their ‘Queen of this Madness’ was none other than Bristol Palin (white coat).  Pity the poor reindeer.

Here is Martina and friends where we watch the Fur Auction–now this is not for the squeamish.  I doubt PETA was invited.

What with all this global warming, animals are turning in their fur coats by the hundreds and this is where you can buy one.  One wolf fur went for $500; bobcats about $100; beaver about $50.  Actually, fur is quite simply the best insulation there is for ultra cold weather.  I’ve picked up several items from native Alaskans in many of the villages during my travels.

All this madness makes me thirsty and one of the best places to ‘cut the dust’ is Club Paris in downtown Anchorage–all the festivities you just witnessed are right smack dab downtown (4th Avenue)  and so is this watering hole (actually on 5th).  They serve probably the best steak I’ve ever eaten.  One thing about Anchorage is it’s a fun town to visit, especially when you live in South Kupreanof.   Stay tuned…..

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