... AKA the continuing true-life adventures of Bergl's search for the real Alaska.
You're in for a treat tonight with the second episode of
Men in Trees
, "Power Shift," written by our creator,
, and directed by the awesome film director,
[airing tonight at 9 pm/ET, following an encore of the pilot]. I'm trying to figure out how to make that sound like it isn't just a plug, because I'm in love with this show! Annie is definitely one of my all time favorite characters I've every played. Although I'm a little worried about how we're going to get any press, because we don't have any feuds, crazy dieting, lateness due to partying, or even "creative differences." It's a big ole boring love-fest over here at
Men in Trees
! Practically every Saturday night, which is sometimes our only real night off during the week, we're all hanging out with each other, usually playing poker. If you ever find yourself at a poker table with our star,
, or our producer,
, I would suggest leaving immediately, or at least setting a spending limit, because you might walk away with no cash.
To recap, I decided to take a trip to Alaska before we started shooting Men
. I wanted to find out what it was really like, and experience being a fish out of water, like my character, who moves to the town of Elmo from New York. Luckily my boyfriend, Tyler, had always wanted to go to Alaska as well, so this is the story of what we found.
Last week I talked about going to the charming town of Haines, and this is our time in Juneau, Alaska's second largest city. If it seems like all we did was eat, drink beer, and hang out with random people - which we did - it's because I'm skipping over some of the visits to museums and hiking that we did, so this isn't just a boring, "Here's what I did on our vacation" kind of thing. So with that disclaimer, here we go....
Tyler and I were picked up at the ferry in Juneau by Taxi #8, driven by a great guy named Willie who said we could always request his cab by asking for "Crazy 8." In Alaska we found that the expectation still exists that when people are in close proximity to one another, they make conversation. This is particularly apparent to me right now, as I'm writing this blog on a flight from L.A. back to Vancouver (where we film
Men in Trees
), and when I said hello to my seatmates, they looked at me as if I'd asked them to borrow some money. I suppose I've had some great conversations with taxi drivers in New York, but sometimes they end in an offer to take part in some kind of Nigerian pyramid scheme. As we drove along, our Crazy 8 cabdriver was kind enough to tell us about the local landscape, and pointed out some of the native plants, like the gorgeous fireweed that grows everywhere. He then showed us a place on the beach where his son, Brad, was fishing that day. "If you head out there and yell, ?Brad!'" he says to us, "and someone answers, tell him his dad says you can hold the rod for a little while."
Willie dropped us off at the Alaska Capitol Inn, the coziest of B&B's, and we headed over to the Hanger for some amazing fresh-caught salt cod and gumbo (after going to Alaska, I'll definitely never eat farmed fish again). We also experienced the novelty of seeing people smoke indoors which, even though I've quit myself, I found oddly comforting. OK, to be perfectly honest, Tyler and I did give in to temptation a couple of times. I can understand why Marin (Anne Heche) wants a smoke so badly in tonight's episode, because there is a whole lot of smoking going on up north.
The next day we walked around downtown Juneau and saw the sights. We also experienced some of the insane Alaskan tourism for the first time. After receiving so much street cred from the locals for being "independents," we were getting a little smug about joining the cruise ship crowd. (I should point out here that some of my best friends have taken cruises.) All the massive consumerism made us a little sleepy, so we skipped taking the bus to Mendenhall Glacier, which we'd seen on the plane ride over. Pus it made me feel like I was a bigwig, because only someone really important blows off a glacier.
The great things about Juneau is that you literally have to walk just a few blocks and you are back in picturesque, secluded Alaskan beauty. Actually, I've found that at pretty much any destination, if you're willing to walk more than a quarter of a mile, you can get away from the other tourists. We headed up in to the hills to find the trailhead for Prospect Point. As we turned a corner, we bumped into a barefoot man who was wearing a T-shirt that said, "Mine Is So Big it Hits the Floor" ? with a picture of a guy holding an enormous fish. (What a breath of fresh air to see an original shirt like that, not an Urban Outfitter's imitation on the back of some ironic hipster). There's a scene tonight in
Men in Trees
where Marin is walking down the street, and being a slightly jaded New Yorker, doesn't quite know what to do when everyone says hello to her. It's really true! Even in the big city of Juneau people say hi or even want to talk to you, like Matt, the guy with the awesome fish T-shirt. After we chatted awhile on the street, he invited us in to look at his house, which led to us drinking a beer on his magnificent back porch, which led to he and his wife, Cheryl, cooking us dinner! And this was not the last time this happened to us. Alaskans are the best.
Matt then offered to take us on the hike we'd been looking for. There was brief hold up when we packed along some supplies.
"Matt, you are not taking beers in your daughter's school backpack."
"But it's the perfect size!"
The problem was solved with another method of carrying the refreshments, and we were on our way. We had a short side trip to a stream that has "the best water in the world," which may not be hyperbole. This water was so pure that, according to Matt, the only way to really enjoy it was to do a kind of push-up over the running stream and stick your face directly into it. Delicious.
Even though it was now 11 at night and there was a lot of talk about getting out of the forest before dark because of bears, Matt then suggested we hike on another trail that consisted of a two-foot-wide planks path through the trees. As it got darker and a little scarier, Matt kept on stopping at various points and saying, "You just need to stop and take in all this beauty." I'm sounding like such a city slicker here, but I assure you that there was a whole lot of bear talk earlier, so I was a little torn between stopping and checking out the beauty, and trying to move along the process of getting back to civilization. As we descended out of the forest we were greeted with the sound of hundreds of people whooping and hollering. Turns out we had just stumbled onto a charity run called "Only Fools Run at Midnight," and all sorts of people in insane getups, including an enormous group of people dressed as all 50 states, were running up the mountain waving flashlights and screaming. There were so many random things like this we just happened to stumble upon.
After heading back to Matt and Cheryl's we said goodbye with promises to write - which, I'm incredibly embarrassed to admit, Tyler and I still haven't done, so Matt and Cheryl, if by some amazing stroke of luck you're reading this, we're sending you photos this week, I promise! As we strolled back in the moonlight back to the Alaska Capitol Inn, we laughed at the solemn declarations we had made earlier to finally go to bed at a decent hour, and got into bed for just a few hours before our trip to the town of Pelican the next morning. All I'll say here is that I can definitely understand how my character, Annie, falls in love on tonight's episode, because Alaska really does put you in the mood for romance.
And just to entice you a little bit, Pelican was actually my favorite city in Alaska that we visited. Next week will be a rollicking tale of sea plane sickness, the wildest bar in Alaska, kayaking, and a brush with seals a wild bear family. (I'm not kidding about the bear.) So stay tuned!