Friday, August 29, 2008

Wasilla's Vice Presidential Nominee Sarah Palin

This is the third biggest event to happen in Alaska history! Governor Sarah Palin was noiminated to be the Vice Presidential Nomination on Sen. John McCain’s ticket. The only days more memorable in state history are when Alaska became a state 50 years ago, and when the pipeline was put in.

This photo is a bad one I took with my cell phone at her inaugural ball a year and a half ago. I wasn’t very far away and did get to talk to her, but the photo came out poorly in the low light of the dance. It was very cool to go to a governor’s inaugural ball. And I can claim to have met Gov. Palin several times. For a while a couple of years ago, we used to bump into each other at the grocery store. You know how if you see someone in one aisle and say hi then bye, how you keep criss-crossing every aisle with them? That’s the extent of my personal knowledge of Sarah Palin, that I said I thought it was great that she might run for Governor, and now she’s running for Vice President of the United States. Alaskans are so excited today!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fair time!

The Alaska State Fair is held near Palmer, just about 4 miles from my B&B. It's the busiest time of year in this area for us because on top of all our Lower 48 and International visitors, many Alaskans come to the Fair, too. The phone rings all day with people pleading to just let them have a sleeping bag on the living room floor for a place to stay.

I always have good intentions of buying a 3-day pass for a discount, but the truth of it is that it's a struggle to get away even once a year to attend the Fair, with all the sheets and towels to wash and endless chores of the B&B. Layer onto that, that at this point, we B&B hosts have been going constantly for over 100 days in our season...Usually we're thinking, "you just gotta make it through the Fair..." because then typically after Labor Day, our season ends. Visitors head home for the start of school; Denali's season of bus tours comes to a close and Alaska starts to "shut down" to some degree. That's changing year by year as more visitors are around later and tourism businesses stay open later, but usually by Fair time, we are good and tired.

This year, I did go to the Fair on the second Saturday. Our B&B association took part in Experience Alaska Day, which was an opportunity for tourism businesses from around the state to promote what we offer here and around Alaska to the Fair visitors. We had a booth where we gave out our brochures, and we also had a quilt raffle going on. One of our members made a quilt for us with an Alaskan theme to raffle as a fundraiser. After I worked at the booth, I met my friend Cassadra and her son for a walk through the exhibits and dinner.

It was fun to hang out with them and to eat "Fair food" which is different here from state Fairs I'm used to in the midwest. In the midwest, of course the Fair is held during hot weather and what you crave are cold foods like lemonade and ice cream. Here, it is almost always moving into "fall' weather with rain and cooler temperatures by the time the Fair starts. We go for hot foods which are often seafood based, like delicious salmon chowder, halibut skewers, crab bisque, and bacon-wrapped scallops. There are also the "regulars" like cotton candy and funnel cakes.

The photos show what has to be the most beautiful, natural parking lot in the world, me at our booth, and Cassandra and her son on a kids' ride, with the mountains in the background. It's hard to tell the scale of the delphinium flowers in the photo, but they are HUGE. The flower stalks rise nearly four feet out of the vase and are as big around as a basketball at the lower end.