... Also known as the continuing true-life adventures of Bergl's search for the real Alaska.
This is the story of my search to discover Alaska, to find for myself the little towns that are like our town of Elmo on
Men in Trees
, which, in case you haven't heard, was the No. 1 show on Friday, woo-hoo! I'm really looking forward to seeing this week's episode (people always think I see them ahead of time, but I watch them on TV like everybody else), not only because it's written by another redhead, Anna Fricke, but also because I can't wait to see our auction scene. I will reveal that in this episode we hold an auction of Elmo's eligible bachelors, although I won't tell you if Annie ends up walking away with one of her own. What a crazy day it was shooting that auction. I think we worked on that one scene for at least 15 hours. The most amazing part was that
, who has almost all of the dialogue, entertained us the entire day as our auctioneer. Even when she was off camera, she was up there selling those men and cracking us all up. She never lost steam, even after doing it, without exaggeration,
! If we could harness the energy from the combination of Anne Heche and Red Bull, we could probably power the entire state of Alaska.
Our Alaskan journey began as Tyler and I traveled to Pelican, a town so tiny it isn't even mentioned in our guidebooks. The ferry travels to Pelican only once a month (kind of hard to work around
schedule), so we had no choice but to fly. We found ourselves, in the wee small hours of the morning, at Alaska Seaplane Service (affectionately dubbed "ASS Air" by the locals). The landing strip for ASS Air was, in fact, an actual body of water located next to the regular airstrips at the Juneau airport, upon which our teensy-weensy three-seater floatplane bobbed precariously. Apparently, if you want to sound like a real Alaskan, you never refer to said plane as a seaplane, only a floatplane. I have to admit I wasn't expecting the plane to be quite that small, as in smaller than any of the little planes that brought Buddy Holly et al, to their demise, but I put on my game face and climbed aboard.
In an attempt to make friendly conversation with our pilot, I asked him how long he'd been flying. His response: "I just took a course on the Internet last night." You have to appreciate the Alaskan gallows humor. The subsequent flight was one of the most breathtakingly beautiful and turbulent I have ever experienced. We ascended over the Mendenhall Glacier and then made our way over a perfect ocean and untouched islands. Once again, whales were literally frolicking and spouting in the ocean below as we flew over. Not even the fact that I had to clutch an airsick bag to my mouth could take away from all the natural beauty.
Finally we landed in Pelican, a town the locals say has a population of 113 year-round, although the official population count is 163. Contrary to popular belief, Pelican is not named after the bird, but after its founder's boat. Most of the town lies on a short boardwalk, and as you fly in, what you see is pretty much what you get. As our miniature plane taxied in, a lone woman waiting for us on the dock threw out a rope and pulled us in single-handedly. I immediately ran up the dock in an attempt to keep my airsickness to myself. After finding a bathroom at the top of the dock, I tried desperately to open the door, heard a disgruntled fisherman's yell from within, and, well... I'll spare you the details and skip to where I'm recovering in a beautiful room at the Highliner Lodge. Even airsick recovery time turned out to be an opportunity to see the Alaskan wildlife, and as I lay in bed Tyler pointed out all the bald eagles that were in the trees right outside our window.
After a little recuperation, Tyler and I walked down the boardwalk in search of sustenance as people rode by on bikes and ATVs, the only vehicles besides boats we saw during our entire stay. After passing the schoolhouse, library and church, we came upon the Lisianski Inlet Caf