Category Archives: Uncategorized

Airstream on the shores of Morro Bay

Open Mic at Maxine’s Glacier City Bistro in Girdwood, Alaska

Brandon Follett at maxine's glacier city bistro girdwood, alaska

Playing a Veronica and Mental Foreplay tune

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With a reputation for fresh flavors, Maxine’s Glacier City Bistro fills with locals every Wednesday Night for open mic tunes. Traveler Brandon Follett checks out the scene and indulges in two of his favorite pastimes — eating and singing.

Casa Del Sol Mexican Restaurant in Girdwood, Alaska

Brandon enjoys the Mexi Bowl

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Traveler Brandon Follett samples the Mexi Bowl at Casa Del Sol on a cloudy spring day in Girdwood, Alaska.

Chair 1 at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, Alaska

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What’s up with the bumper stickers that say “I HEART Chair 1″?  Brandon takes the video camera and investigates.  After riding Chair 1, he too is in love, picks up the guitar and writes a love song.

Learn about all the chair lifts and tram by visiting Alyeska Resort.

Middle Way Cafe located in Anchorage, Alaska

keep in mind cars take more time to stop on ice

I quickly make my way around the parked cars and through the Alaskan winter COLD day to enter the Middle Way Cafe.  As the door opens, I am hit by a gust of warm air and greeted by cleavage, bare arms, fancy shoes and poofy hair.  If I had walked into a strip poker game, I could have easily won.  As a public transit commuter, I don’t even try to fashionably survive the harsh Anchorage city streets.  Layers are the only thing that separate a person from freezing to death on a bus stop bench.

winter layers and a backpack with provisions

I sit at a table next to a clean-shaven man with a fab hair do.  He wears designer blue jeans, a brand new vintage Metallica Justice for All t-shirt, and neatly folded by his side, a Navy blue pea coat.  While I shed my different layers, he looks at me with a weird expression and sniffs the air, probably assuming my last layer will reveal a stained and stinky pair of sweats.

To break the odd moment, I ask, “How do you maintain your mod good looks in the below freezing weather?”

He acts annoyed but must have been raised to be polite, so he painstakingly answers:  “I am used to living in the extremes.  Before living in Anchorage, I lived in Las Vegas.  It’s not about seal fur or loin cloths.  It’s all about climate control.  Heaters, air-conditioners, electricity and gas.  When relocating to Anchorage, I bought a home with an attached garage.  The route to work has several drive through coffee stands, drive through banking, drive through fast food joints, and my work offers underground parking.

Here’s the truth, I like to wake up looking like Paul McCartney from 1965 and go to bed looking like Paul McCartney from 1965.  I also like to get drunk and sing Love Me Do at karaoke bars.”

I tell the man thank you for the advice and next time I relocate I will keep driving routes in mind.

The mod man continues, “Hey, sorry for being rude when you sat down.  I usually only see the Paul McCartney 1969 look at Wal-Mart.

That place scares me.  Just to give you a heads up so you’re not disappointed, the Middle Way Cafe does not serve omelets with canned mushrooms or American cheese.  When was the last time you had spinach that wasn’t in a hot pocket?”

Art by V Rae

I ignore the last comment and order the Shepherd’s Omelet.

The omelet makes a person forget about their Alaskan winter layers and brings about fond memories of a dairy goat named Xagon leading her goat cheese apprentice through a warm New Mexican desert.

CLICK HERE to learn more about artist V Rae

CLICK HERE to become Facebook friends with Middle Way Cafe

Karma

Yes, you’re right,
a Costco membership
in economic hard times
won’t keep my belly full
like a dairy goat
and a veggie garden.

Keep in mind,
in the last ten years
I have donated
2 boxes of fruit loops
and 3 boxes of strawberry jello
to various newsworthy
disaster victims.

If Costco crumbles
in an earthquake,
I won’t go hungry.
I am cosmically vested
in fortified vitamins
and artificial food coloring.

Feel the need to donate check out Heifer International. Maybe a dairy goat will come into your life instead of a box of Fruit Loops.

Founded in 1944, Heifer Project International is a humanitarian assistance organization that works to end world hunger and protect the earth. Through livestock, training and passing on the gift, Heifer has helped 8.5 million families in more than 125 countries improve their quality of life and move toward greater self-reliance. Heifer helps build strong communities because each project participant agrees to pass on the gift of animal offspring, training, or skills to another family in need.

Charity Navigator Rating gave Heifer International an over all rating of 3 out 4. click here for more details

Tunnel Ends Cafe and Espresso located in Whittier, Alaska

Plenty of Parking for Vehicles and and Boats

Despite being surrounded on three sides by mountains and the other side by ocean, Whittier, Alaska happens to be one of the most car friendly towns in the nation. Not even the world’s best driver can navigate the mountains surrounding Whittier, but not to be bested by nature, a vehicle lover can drive through a 2.5 long tunnel into a city mostly paved in parking lots.

Nestled between parking spaces is the Tunnel Ends Cafe and Espresso. Finding this little eatery is like discovering an organic honey crisp apple among the candy bars, chips, soda and other such food staples at obese super markets. Biting into the sweet juiciness of the apple, I get distracted by a woman in grey sweat pants who doesn’t seem to notice her anatomically correct camel toe or the loud Black Eyed Peas ring tone coming from her duffel bag sized purse. I see her move a hand towards her lower regions and I think, “Thank god, she’s going to pick up the phone or adjust her sweats.” She does neither but snaps her thong. She seems too engaged in trying to discover the greater price value between a six-pack or liter of soda.

delicious omelet

At the omelet cafe, large trucks as unflattering as the sweat pants pull up next to the cafe to refuel. When the truck engine begins to rumble, the exhaust spews out smells and burps that make me realize just how hurt Uncle LeRoy must have been to subject himself to carbon monoxide poisoning. Cough Cough

Bless poor Uncle Leroy

Tasting the spirit of fall in the apple at the grocery store takes me back to autumn bicycle rides with a crispness in the air, reds and oranges in the trees, and the Boise River slowing down to a crawl.

The omelet has the same effects. Soon we are back enjoying the omelet and listening to Tanguy’s vivid description of France. Click here to learn more about CouchSurfing Tanguy.

Earthworm Envy gets Invited to a Poodle Party


Dear Earthworm Envy,

I came across your blog about the Picnic Puzzle Party while surfing the web for cute dog photos. My eyes teared up when I learned about your mom and dogless dog collar. That is why I am inviting you to Whitebird, Idaho for my poodle themed birthday party this summer when I turn 16. Don’t worry about not bringing a poodle. I have two toy poodles, and you can borrow the one named Natty Light.

The party will be fun. I am asking my friends to not trim their poodles for a month before the party so we can have poodle makeovers. There will be different prizes for sexiest, ugliest, sluttiest, and most republican looking poodle. Then we’ll bake special treats that poodles and people can enjoy.

Before I blow out the candles on my poodle shaped boston cream pie, I want you to recite or sing a poodle poem or song. When my parents go to sleep we’ll move the party down to a beach along the Snake River. Around the fire we’ll play spin the bottle. Last time I had to kiss my own poodle 3 times (GROSS)! Will you buy us a case of Natural Light beer?

My parents say if you want to stay longer than a night, you can camp in the backyard and explore the area. You can take Natty Light swimming, hiking, fishing and bicycle riding.

Hope to see you this summer,

Andrea Robey

Hello Andrea,

Thank you for the invite to your poodle party. I hope you didn’t get too choked up over the Picnic Puzzle Blog. Like Jesus, I tend to use parables. My mother happens to be a terrific woman who has never given me a dogless dog collar Christmas present. I hope this doesn’t disappoint you.

As of right now, I cannot commit to making it to your poodle party. Amy and I are thinking about returning to the lower 48 states this summer. We are contemplating riding our bikes from Boise to Sandpoint. If we do, it would be fun to stop by and say hi to you, Natty Light, and your parents. I have always had a good time in Whitebird, especially at the Whitebird Rodeo.

Sounds like your party will be perfectly planned. Don’t forget that your poodles can teach you some valuable travel lessons. Up here in Alaska, I too have been partying with a four-legged friend. His name is Murphy the Friendly Black Lab. Murphy taught me that clapping can be a great nonverbal exclamation point. Also, if you clap enough times in a row, your request might be granted.

Murphy clapping

I’ve also met a few dogs that can fly through hoops and balance on logs.

Earthworm Envy

P.S. Have you considered decorating for your party by hanging cardboard pink poodles from the trees in your backyard?

The Flying Terrier

No Yellow 5 at the Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn

Jeremiah enjoying a Christmas cookie

The Christmas cookie baking party was a success.  The only person who did not have fun thought he was coming to a processed cookie baking party.  “What, no one brought yellow 5 or high fructose corn syrup?  How I am supposed to turn my cookies red and feed the craving? I’m going down to Tesoro to buy Christmas colored Oreos and a can of hairspray.”

At the hostel, cookie admirers and bakers of homemade cookies happily mingled. When the sugar rush got too intense, people stepped out into the snow towards the light.  As a hostel employee, I yell, “Follow the steps to the land of drink and fire.  If you stumble past the boulders onto the road, beware of the large red speeding truck.”  Cookie munchers switched into beverage drinking mode. When the beverage drinkers couldn’t handle the 15 degree cold, they warmed their hands with hot out of the oven cookies.  This cycle continued until the booze and cookies ran out.

If GABI can't pleasure your needs maybe the porch can

One might ask how a dry hostel can have so much baking fun.  A unique feature at GABI is that the deck has been built onto public property.

Girdwoodians haven’t had this much fun at GABI since the dedication when we served booze and ice cream.  Bar owners take note that Jack on the Rocks served alongside a warm sugar cookie or with a huckleberry ice cream cone are a wonderful marriage.

travelers and the Girdwood community love cookies

Girdwoodians and hostelers learn about new cultures through the cookie

Hostels are more delicious when they smell like a fresh baked cookie

St. Nicholas and the Schmutzli at the Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn

St. Nicholas and the Schmutzli making their way to Girdwood, Alaska

December 6th was a rough day because this year I have been bad.

During the summer I accepted the use of a large black Dodge truck that sported a George W. Bush sticker. I didn’t even use the truck for its utilitarian value of hauling sheep or large flat screen tv’s.

Seaview Cafe located in Hope, Alaska

Amy and I drove the truck to Hope, Alaska to simply wander around for an hour. Usually I enjoy being a smidgen evil because I can always seek forgiveness in Christ and offset my carbon footprint through credit. These fun-loving, not-holding-myself-accountable ways changed when I met our Swiss guests.

They have been scaring me with stories about an individual who doesn’t listen to sob apologies. His name is the Schmutzli. Every 6th of December, he and Saint Nicholas visit families in Switzerland and hostels in Girdwood, Alaska. Saint Nicholas gives out fruit and nuts to good people while the Schmutzli kidnaps people who have been bad. The misbehaving people awake in a secret location somewhere in the Black Forest of Europe. Saint Nicholas has a very hungry donkey who loves carrots, and the bad people are forced to peel carrots until their fingers bleed. The Schmutzli adheres to the notion that bad people must be tortured into being good.

Click here to learn more about the Schmutzli

I tell the Swiss I don’t believe in St. Nicholas aka Santa Clause. The Swiss then giggle, “Really, you don’t believe in Santa and the Schmutzli? For the last 8 years, who has been giving out gifts of freedom? Yes, Santa Bush, and who is his helper? The CIA Schmutzli. And where did Santa’s helper take the bad people? To the land of rendition probably somewhere in the Black Forest. Check out the 2009/11/05 New York Times, Italy Convicts 23 Americans for C.I.A. Renditions.”

I prefer the December 25th holiday where I turn my thoughts toward the birth of Christ in a stable and the infanticide of the all the males in Bethlehem under the age of two. These images are much more joyous than dealing with the anxiety of being abducted by the Schmutzli.

Luckily, 2009 has been a great year for everyone at the hostel.

Here are some photos of making and eating Swiss bread babies on Dec 6th. Special thanks to Salome and Avi, THE SWISS.

The Swiss

A bread baby can represent one's alter ego

bread baby action

Bread babies are fun to make and fun to play with and when the fun's gone you can eat them

At GABI guests and the community can feel safe being themselves, i.e. playing with dolls