Tailgate Alaska Day 1 - winning at failing

Earlier this week, I went to Mont Tremblant for the third try at passing the freeride teaching component of my CASI level 3 instructor's certification but didn't meet the standard yet again. The reason this time was that it was judged that I hadn't pushed the students hard enough during my lesson. Whether or not they left as better snowboarders was irrelevant; apparently the alliance has become more about creating return customers than about making better snowboarders. In spite of the overwhelming negativity which I was feeling toward CASI, I decided to put that all behind me and focus on what is important: snowboarding. I got packed up and jumped a flight to Anchorage, the launching point for my Tailgate Alaska adventure.

Charlie packing my ice axe for my alaska trip.
Originally, I had planned on doing this trip lone wolf style. But then Charile (Waldo to most of you) decided to join me.

This trip to Alaska has been in the works for well over a year now; you don't do Alaska on a whim. However, the trip got off on the wrong foot when Delta lost my carry-on bag on the flight from Ottawa to Detroit – how an airline manages to lose a carry-on bag boggles my mind and is a bit of a long story. The worst part about it was that my carry-on bag had my down jacket in it so I was facing the prospect of freezing my butt off in Valdez for two weeks. Fortunately the baggage claim services folks at Detroit Metro managed to find my bag and have it tagged on through to Anchorage. Unfortunately, this did not stop the baggage handlers from going through it and making off with $250 USD cash that was to be my spending money for the trip (note: when traveling, keep all cash on self). So I arrived in Anchorage basically broke, hoping that I can get by with credit cards until I could get my cash situation sorted out. Fortunately, all the big stuff was already paid for.

My stop-over in St. Paul Minnesota was a lot less eventful than my Detroit stop. However, while waiting for my connecting flight to Anchorage, the T.V.s in the terminal were playing footage of a speech that Sarah Palin, the darling bastard ex-governor of Alaska, was giving at a Tea Party rally some place. She was talking some kind of nonsense about “Obamacare” and in spite of the fact that I was pumping Metallica's “Ride The Lightning” on my iPod, it still wasn't enough to drown out her voice. Sarah Palin was already stressing me out and I hadn't even made it to Alaska yet. Hopefully this doesn't prove to be an omen, my buddy Mark from Vermont warned me that Sarah Palin likes to hunt Canadians from airplanes; I plan on leaning on the gas pedal a little harder when I drive past Wasilla on Sunday.

Charlie reading the Anchorage guide book.

I was counting on Charlie to get me going where I needed to in Alaska. I was stoked to have a co-pilot.

This was not the end of the drama on my trip, however, on the flight from St. Paul Minnesota to Anchorage, I heard something on the P.A. System that I had only ever heard on television or movies prior to this trip: “Ladies and gentlemen, if there is a doctor on the plane, we could use your assistance in first class.” I still don't know what that was all about; I decided that it would be best for my own personal constitution if I just mellowed out to Coeur de Pirate instead of trying to figure out what was going on. So I tuned out the apparent drama in the bourgeois seating area, rocked out to my iPod, and finished reading Out West by Dano Pendygrasse to pass the time – along with the rest of the proletarians – until we landed in Anchorage.

Fortunately, once in Anchorage, things were going quite a bit more smoothly. I managed to find Clippership Motorhomes without too much trouble, and my rig was ready for me so at least I had a place to sleep. There remained some paperwork to do in the morning before making the drive from Anchorage to Valdez, but my co-pilot Charlie (Waldo to most of you) had already plotted out the route so we were ready to go first thing in the morning. Hopefully the rest of my time in Alaska is eventful for much different reasons than my first day has been. Part of the responsibility falls on me, however, I came on this trip to snowboard, and I shouldn't let anything detract from that. I came across a rather appropriate quote of Derek Heidt while reading “Out West” which illustrates this quite well: “Our sport is being picked down to the atomic level. Focus on one discipline of the sport, excel, get sponsored, make money, hockey mom and hockey dad bug the team manager every day! I see more and more of this and slowly forget the good old days when you just rode everything and making money was the bonus to all the fun you were having.” I guess in my case, I should just look at the recent drama as the toll I have to pay to get to where I'll be having a ton of fun of my own. The ship is scheduled to take off on Monday, I plan to be on it with a big smile on my face no matter what.

Winter Matters Bubble

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