... Also known as the continuing true-life adventures of Bergl's search for the real Alaska - and the dirtiest blog to date!
Greetings from the set of
Men in Trees
(Fridays at 9 pm/ET, on ABC). I just returned to my trailer - I still get a kick out of saying that: "Oh, you know, my trailer... " - with a fabulous spread for lunch. I think there's only one thing about the entertainment business that isn't over-glamorized, and it's the food! I've never met a caterer I didn't like, although I must admit that I find "free" to be one of the best spices. On my way over here one of our drivers, Jerry, remarked, "Are you really going to eat
?" Yes, Jerry, yes I am.
Our story continues as Tyler and I were kayaking outside of the town of Pelican. We couldn't believe our eyes at first, but a short distance from our kayak were what appeared to be a large mama bear and two cubs. They were practically cavorting like in some kind of Discovery Channel special. Tyler was quick on the draw with the camera and managed to snap a couple of pictures while the cubs played together. Then the mama bear raised right up on her hind legs to full height, and we got to see her in all her glory. (It's funny, when you look at the actual pictures, it kind of looks like somebody in a bear suit.) As we were gazing in awe at this enormous animal, all of a sudden, right
to our kayak, we heard a loud animal sound that, quite frankly, scared the living daylights out of us. As we turned to look in horror, there sitting in the water was the most beautiful seal, her head bobbing along right beside us. What we'd heard was her gasping for air as she came up to the surface. OK, it doesn't sound so scary now, but it really was an insane noise she made, and if you'd been sitting in a kayak looking at a large bear you might have been a little freaked out, too, so don't judge. As the bear family retreated into the woods, the seal stayed and played with us for a little while, and then swam off into the distance.
Around this time we came to understand why a double kayak gets the nickname of "divorce boat." Even though it was 10 o'clock at night, raining and bear-infested, I was absolutely determined to kayak even further away from Pelican. Luckily I have a boyfriend who is sane, and reminded me of all the other times I have insisted on "just going a little further," like the time when we had to hike down a waterfall in absolute darkness with just the light of a cell phone to guide us. I reluctantly agreed to turn back, although I admit I did pout for a little bit. As we paddled along, a motorboat approached from the distance and pulled up alongside us. It was a lovely couple offering us a "tow" back to town. They told us, "We were just sitting out on our porch reading and saw you guys. Didn't really look like you were making a whole lot of progress, so we thought we'd come out and see if you needed a hand." And here I thought I'd become quite the expert kayaker. After reassuring them that we could make it back alone, we continued our journey back. An hour later, while paddling against the wind and rain, I was thinking that maybe I wasn't too proud for that tow anymore, but eventually we made it back to the dock safe and sound.
Tyler was so damp and exhausted (I don't think I did quite my share of the paddling) that he had to crawl right into bed, so I decided to take another trip down the boardwalk and check out the famous Rose's Bar. I'd already heard about the place from a bartender in Haines. Rose herself is quite the Alaskan celebrity bartender, and is famous for convincing her patrons to take their pants off. Sure enough, as soon as I walked into the place, there were the official T-shirts hanging on the wall emblazoned with "Rose's Bar - Take Your Pants Off!" Rose unfortunately wasn't in attendance, but she looked down upon us from a portrait hanging above the bar depicting her in a fetching fluorescent-pink boa. I was feeling a little shy walking in at first, as the crowd was pretty small that night and it was pretty obvious in a town of 163 that I was a tourist. I would say that the "Pelican, Alaska" sweatshirt I was wearing gave me away, but Pelican is one of the only places I've ever been where the locals actually wear the souvenir sweatshirts. I imagine this is because there isn't much else available in the way of clothing. I approached the bar and came across the waitress from the Lisianski Inlet Café, and she offered me a seat. The drink of the night was a "Dr Pepper," and the waitress, Patti, ordered me one and showed me the concoction, which is actually a shot of amaretto inside a pint of beer. It does, indeed, taste remarkably like Dr Pepper.
I asked Patti why Rose's was so famous for its crazy antics, and she told me that it's one of the only places still open in the winter, and with no fishing everyone goes a little stir-crazy. (I must pause for a moment here to offer a brief disclaimer: If there's one misconception people in Alaska want to clear up, it's that it isn't cold all the time, and they're not running around on bobsleds living in igloos. Actually, people in Vancouver, where we shoot
Men in Trees
, and people in all of Canada, would like you to know that as well. So just for the record, Alaska and Canada have summers, too.) But the winters can be pretty bleak in Pelican, and Rose is quite creative in coming up with the activities. There's a frozen game called hen bowling, and there are relay races. Patti seemed to think that people get a little nuts from eating a lot of canned food. Sometimes supplies can get so low that milk can run up to $14 a gallon.
As the night went on, I started talking to some other people at the bar, except for the extremely drunk girl who kept yelling, inexplicably, "Give me a tall nonfat hazelnut no foam chocolate-whip latte!" over and over. When I mentioned to a man sitting at the bar that I was from Los Angeles, he said, "Oh, I used to travel there a lot. In my former life." This wasn't the first time I'd heard that phrase used. His "former life" had been as an executive for IBM, and when he got sick of the rat race he'd bought a house in Pelican. It reminded me of Ben on
Men in Trees
(played by the dashing Abraham Benrubi of
fame), who cashes in on his successful business and opens up the Chieftan Bar in Elmo. The bartender was one of Rose's 11 children, and she showed me their various pictures hanging in the bar. Just as I decided to head out, Tyler walked into the bar. He'd woken up and come down just to make sure I was OK. We stayed and listened to a couple more people's life stories for a little while, and then headed back up the boardwalk to bed.
We arose the next morning and went to the Alaska Seaplane Service office only to find that our flight would be delayed due to fog. Time for the famous breakfast at the Highliner Lodge! After a few bites of the amazing salmon frittata, all thoughts of the Dr Peppers the night before were forgotten. We sat and chatted with the chef, who was visiting for the summer from Oregon. He pointed to a corner table and said, "See that guy over there? He caught your salmon. And that guy next to him? We took a boat up to his house the other day to cut those chives you're eating." (Don't you wish it could be like that all the time? On second thought, maybe not; it would probably be more along the lines of, "See that guy over there? He worked in the lab that developed the artificial flavoring agent you're eating.") After breakfast we took a final stroll down the boardwalk, when suddenly a woman stuck her head out of a door and said, "Are you Emily? Nancy from Alaska Seaplanes said she has some Dramamine for you." My airsickness the day before had become legendary. We were quite sad we had to leave Pelican so soon, but the rather sparse seaplane/ferry schedules dictated that we had to move on to our final destination of Sitka. Remember when Buzz and Celia flew to dinner on their auction date in last week's episode? That was in Sitka.
So log in next week. I know I always say that it's going to be a great episode of
Men in Trees
tonight, but it is! Marin (Anne Heche) will make you cry, Jane (Seana Kofoed) will make you laugh, and you might just fall in love with Patrick (Derek Richardson). And there is a very special appearance by an adorable skunk. (Alaskans, have no fear - we address the fact that skunks are not native to Alaska.)
See you in Sitka....