Alaska: Land of the Nice and Slow...
LEZ ZEPPELIN arrived late last night in Fairbanks, Alaska, wrapped in layers of jackets, scarves, furry boots and guitars, ready for snow drifts as high as our knees and a sub zero refrigeration that we heard would turn the marrow in our bones into a congealed and icy alchemy of fluids. Exhausted, after a 10-hour trek from Denver, (65 degrees and sunny, thank you very much), where we played two shows in a row that averaged 2.5 hours of non-stop Zeppelin, we pushed through the doors of the Alaska Air terminal and braced ourselves. Albeit, to our shock and delight, we were greeted not by an arctic assault, but by a balmy 50-degree breeze and a gargantuan full moon that hit our eye like a big pizza pie. Could this be Sicily and not the Yukon? Nah, it would fail to explain the giant bear hanging out next to the conveyer belts in baggage claim.
Happy, we checked into the rustically elegant Pikes Waterfront Lodge and headed — in only our leather jackets — straight for the bar. A toast to the great Northern Territories — it’s colder in bloody New York City!
The next day, after a brunch of all-you-can-eat shrimp and smoked salmon in the lovely dining room overlooking the Chena River, we headed out in our cool red Camry to the destination of every child’s dream: The North Pole. Santa’s very own digs, and only 10 miles from our hotel! Unfortunately, when we got there we were told that the elves had taken the day off, Santa was on his lunch break and the reindeer had headed south for Spring Break in Miami. So, we slid our Christmas lists under the door and sat for a pic in Santa’s big red sled.
Not content to leave the winter wonderland behind, we then sped to the Alaska Ice Park, where the most amazing ice sculptures were…unfortunately, melting. But, we did manage to catch them in their last moments of glory and had a laugh crawling through the maze of crystalline sculptures the likes of which Michelangelo could only dream! If he had lived in Alaska instead of Florence, that is.
We ended our day’s trek through the frosty frontier with a quick trip to the shops in Fairbanks, where one can buy a bag of wolf legs (to be used as mufflers or maybe guitar straps?) for as little as $20; and a miniature moose for as little as $40; and a giant stuffed bear head for…we were too afraid to ask.
After a sumptuous Thai meal – suitably spicy, go figure – we headed back to Pike’s for a nightcap, and plotted on how we might bottle some of the Aurora Borealis to take with us and use for a light show.
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