g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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  4/4/2005 -  4/10/2005
 3/28/2005 -   4/3/2005
 3/21/2005 -  3/27/2005
 3/14/2005 -  3/20/2005
  3/7/2005 -  3/13/2005
 2/28/2005 -   3/6/2005
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 2/14/2005 -  2/20/2005
  2/7/2005 -  2/13/2005
 1/31/2005 -   2/6/2005
 1/24/2005 -  1/30/2005
 1/17/2005 -  1/23/2005
 1/10/2005 -  1/16/2005
  1/3/2005 -   1/9/2005
12/27/2004 -   1/2/2004
12/20/2004 - 12/26/2004
12/13/2004 - 12/19/2004
 12/6/2004 - 12/12/2004
11/29/2004 -  12/5/2004
11/22/2004 - 11/28/2004
11/15/2004 - 11/21/2004
 11/8/2004 - 11/14/2004
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10/25/2004 - 10/31/2004
10/18/2004 - 10/24/2004
10/11/2004 - 10/17/2004
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 9/13/2004 -  9/19/2004
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 8/16/2004 -  8/22/2004
  8/9/2004 -  8/15/2004
  8/2/2004 -   8/8/2004
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  7/5/2004 -  7/11/2004
 6/28/2004 -   7/4/2004
 6/21/2004 -  6/27/2004
 6/14/2004 -  6/20/2004
  6/7/2004 -  6/13/2004
 5/31/2004 -   6/6/2004
 5/24/2004 -  5/30/2004
 5/17/2004 -  5/23/2004
 5/10/2004 -  5/16/2004
  5/3/2004 -   5/9/2004
 4/26/2004 -   5/2/2004
 4/19/2004 -  4/25/2004
 4/12/2004 -  4/18/2004
  4/5/2004 -  4/11/2004
 3/29/2004 -   4/4/2004
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  3/8/2004 -  3/14/2004
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 1/26/2004 -   2/1/2004
 1/19/2004 -  1/25/2004
 1/12/2004 -  1/18/2004
  1/5/2004 -  1/11/2004
12/29/2003 -   1/4/2004
12/22/2003 - 12/28/2003
12/15/2003 - 12/21/2003
 12/8/2003 - 12/14/2003
 12/1/2003 -  12/7/2003
11/24/2003 - 11/30/2003
11/17/2003 - 11/23/2003
11/10/2003 - 11/16/2003
 11/3/2003 -  11/9/2003
10/27/2003 -  11/2/2003
10/20/2003 - 10/26/2003
10/13/2003 - 10/19/2003
 10/6/2003 - 10/12/2003
 9/29/2003 -  10/5/2003
 9/22/2003 -  9/28/2003
 9/15/2003 -  9/21/2003
  9/8/2003 -  9/14/2003
  9/1/2003 -   9/7/2003
 8/25/2003 -  8/31/2003
 8/18/2003 -  8/24/2003
 8/11/2003 -  8/17/2003
  8/4/2003 -  8/10/2003
 7/28/2003 -   8/3/2003
 7/21/2003 -  7/27/2003
 7/14/2003 -  7/20/2003
  7/7/2003 -  7/13/2003
 6/30/2003 -   7/6/2003
 6/23/2003 -  6/29/2003
 6/16/2003 -  6/22/2003
  6/9/2003 -  6/15/2003
  6/2/2003 -   6/8/2003
 5/26/2003 -   6/1/2003
 5/19/2003 -  5/25/2003
 5/12/2003 -  5/18/2003
  5/5/2003 -  5/11/2003
 4/28/2003 -   5/4/2003
 4/21/2003 -  4/27/2003
 4/14/2003 -  4/20/2003
  4/7/2003 -  4/13/2003
 3/31/2003 -   4/6/2003
 3/24/2003 -  3/30/2003
 3/17/2003 -  3/23/2003
 3/10/2003 -  3/16/2003
  3/3/2003 -   3/9/2003
 2/24/2003 -   3/2/2003
 2/17/2003 -  2/23/2003
 2/10/2003 -  2/16/2003
  2/3/2003 -   2/9/2003
 1/27/2003 -   2/2/2003
 1/20/2003 -  1/26/2003
 1/13/2003 -  1/19/2003
  1/6/2003 -  1/12/2003
12/30/2002 -   1/5/2003
12/23/2002 - 12/29/2002
12/16/2002 - 12/22/2002
 12/9/2002 - 12/15/2002
 12/2/2002 -  12/8/2002
11/25/2002 -  12/1/2002
11/18/2002 - 11/24/2002
11/11/2002 - 11/17/2002
 11/4/2002 - 11/10/2002
10/28/2002 -  11/3/2002
10/21/2002 - 10/27/2002
10/14/2002 - 10/20/2002
 10/7/2002 - 10/13/2002
 9/30/2002 -  10/6/2002
 9/23/2002 -  9/29/2002
 9/16/2002 -  9/22/2002
  9/9/2002 -  9/15/2002
  9/2/2002 -   9/8/2002
 8/26/2002 -   9/1/2002
 8/19/2002 -  8/25/2002
 8/12/2002 -  8/18/2002
  8/5/2002 -  8/11/2002
 7/29/2002 -   8/4/2002
 7/22/2002 -  7/28/2002
 7/15/2002 -  7/21/2002
  7/8/2002 -  7/14/2002
  7/1/2002 -   7/7/2002
 6/24/2002 -  6/30/2002
 6/17/2002 -  6/23/2002
 6/10/2002 -  6/16/2002
  6/3/2002 -   6/9/2002
 5/27/2002 -   6/2/2002
 5/20/2002 -  5/26/2002
 5/13/2002 -  5/19/2002
  5/6/2002 -  5/12/2002
 4/29/2002 -   5/5/2002
 4/22/2002 -  4/28/2002
 4/15/2002 -  4/21/2002
  4/8/2002 -  4/14/2002
  4/1/2002 -   4/7/2002
 3/25/2002 -  3/31/2002
 3/18/2002 -  3/24/2002
 3/11/2002 -  3/17/2002
  3/4/2002 -  3/10/2002
 2/25/2002 -   3/3/2002
 2/18/2002 -  2/24/2002
 2/11/2002 -  2/17/2002
  2/4/2002 -  2/10/2002
 1/28/2002 -   2/3/2002
 1/21/2002 -  1/27/2002
 1/14/2002 -  1/20/2002
  1/7/2002 -  1/13/2002
12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, August 7, 2005
01:03 - Never thought a paved road could look so pretty

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Well, that's two mornings up at 5:00 for the Barrow day trip; this time, though, we successfully got on the plane and completed the flight and the tour and the flight back. And now, after a few photos from the Top of the World, to sleep.


Meltwater lakes on the approach to Barrow.


The Alaska Airlines terminal, Barrow. It's a whole airport all in one building.


Mmm. Snacks.


Our tour bus, parked outside the Arctic Pizza (recommended by our driver over the other two pizza places in town).


Inupiat native dance demonstration.


The traditional blanket toss. I'm over on the left.


Dipping into the Arctic Ocean. I took a rock home from the beach.


Beautiful downtown Barrow. That's the police station on the right (a.k.a "the Blue Hotel"), and there's a Wells Fargo with modern ATM and everything in the building off-screen to the left. Behind me is Pepe's, the northernmost Mexican restaurant ever.


Tomorrow: Denali (Mt. McKinley.


06:00 - AUTO-POST: Whaddya do for fun in this town?


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Day 9, Sunday, 8/7: Puttering around Fairbanks. No distinct plans for this day. There's plenty to do in the area, though, so no getting bored allowed.
Saturday, August 6, 2005
20:41 - Plan B 1/2

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Okay, well, today was going to be Barrow.

We got up at 5:00 to be out and ready for the River's Edge Resort shuttle bus to the airport; we stood in line, got our tickets, went through the stringent security for this flight to the heavily guarded terrorism-prone metropolis of Barrow, got on the plane, and sat down... but unfortunately it turned out that the flight (it's on a 737-200 Combi, a half-passenger half-cargo plane with room for about fifty) had been badly oversold, and our seats were being occupied by some people who had been booked straight through from Anchorage to Barrow and been told that their seats would not change for this leg. We clearly had the more morally-superior seating arrangement, but when after a lot of fluttering and barking between flight attendants and booking agents it became clear that they could just put us on tomorrow's flight and get us in with the River's Edge tour that would occur tomorrow, we volunteered to give up our seats in the interest of getting the flight off the ground. They gave us vouchers for a free flight anywhere Alaska Airlines flies during the coming year, as well as getting us booked on tomorrow's equivalent trip; pretty sweet, since it meant we could just use today as the do-random-stuff-in-Fairbanks day and have tomorrow for Barrow after being nice and rested. Plus it was raining in Barrow today, and not being able to see the sun there seems like a disappointment. (Further inspection reveals that tomorrow will be even more rainy up there, so I guess that's not really an improvement. But oh well.)

So Fairbanks it was, today. The forest fires continue to blanket the valley with all-concealing haze, but it didn't interfere with such things as a trip through the University of Alaska Museum, with a lot of great human and natural history exhibits. We also ate at a Pho place near the hotel; you can find good Pho just about anywhere, it seems. We also did laundry and put the car through three successive washes, both pressure-hose and hand-administered, to try to get the bugs and dust off. They've both proved quite resilient. The car's in for a serious hand-wash once we get home. Other than that, though, it's behaved very well, the only exception being that the cruise control stopped working as we came across the Yukon/Alaska border two days ago; it came back to life after the car was shut off and restarted, though, so whatever that was about, it seems to be over now.

It'll be an early night tonight, as we're repeating this morning's exercise tomorrow. I'm sure it'll be worth it, though.


06:00 - AUTO-POST: Hi! I'm knee-deep in the Arctic Ocean!


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Day 8, Saturday, 8/6: Early-morning shuttle to the Fairbanks airport to catch a 737 for a day-flight up to Barrow. It's all guided, and there's no relying on my own driving or anything. Top of the world, baby!
Friday, August 5, 2005
21:21 - A brief respite

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So here we are in Fairbanks. Right along with the schedule, too... even though the first couple of days of the Highway itself fell short of the pre-planned destination milestones, things worked out such that this last day of driving was nuthin'—just 200 miles of pleasant 65-mph forest speedway. Certainly a far cry from yesterday's trek from Teslin to Tok, much of which (from Haines Junction all the way to within miles of Tok itself) was under construction and seemed to have more stretches of gravel than of paved road. (Of course it wasn't, but time-wise it felt that way.)

By the way, behold the wildlife of the Yukon and northern BC! Setting out from Fort Nelson two days ago, we stopped at the sign for the Liard Highway turnoff to get a better photo with us in the picture; I set up the shot on a tripod so that I could use a fairly long lens, putting the car in the background about fifty yards away, and getting both Paul and myself into shot in the foreground along with both the signs. Just as we were ready to take the shot, I noticed a black bear walking across the road, between us and the car, which suddenly looked a lot farther away than before:



He disappeared into the brush, though, and we made it to safety without mishap.

Fairbanks is a pleasant large town or small city, depending on how you define it; nice long expressways, all the modern amenities including malls and multiplex theaters: a far cry from Whitehorse, whose Quanlin Mall—serving a town roughly the same size as Fairbanks—consisted of a drug store, a food store, a miniature Staples, three little mall-style shops, about six forlorn vacant storefronts, a single-stall open-door bathroom opening onto the general entryway, and several huge signs warning people against things like public drunkenness and spitting. Whitehorse didn't strike me as a very wholesome sort of town, and neither did Watson Lake; but other towns, like Fort Nelson and the little pit-stop villages like Teslin, seemed like little oases of down-home hospitality. Tomorrow we get to find out what it's like in Barrow, at the very top of the world, or as close to it as one can reach with any practicality.

The marathon of driving is over. We've got four nights here in Fairbanks, with Net access and everything, so more installments (and photos) will surely follow.

06:00 - AUTO-POST: On Into Fairbanks


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Day 7, Friday, 8/5: The final stretch of the Alaska Highway, and the gradual return to civilization and settled land, finally ending in Fairbanks. Then an evening of well-deserved resting up.
Thursday, August 4, 2005
06:00 - AUTO-POST: Whitehorse, Kluane Lake, and Alaska at Last


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Day 6, Thursday, 8/4: The main attractions of this stretch include Kluane Lake, bordered by the Kluane Mountains, eastern outliers of the huge bunched mountains in Southeast Alaska, and where Mt. Logan (Canada's highest peak) is. Also lots of glaciers. I hope to make it across the border and into Tok on this day.
Wednesday, August 3, 2005
06:00 - AUTO-POST: Yukon Do It


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Day 5, Wednesday, 8/3: Several border crossings into the Yukon Territory; the Signpost Forest at Watson Lake; and woods and canyonland until we get to Whitehorse. Here I hope to find such niceties as an Internet cafe, there to update the blog and post a few photos and generally let everyone know I'm still alive.
Tuesday, August 2, 2005
23:54 - I'm in Fort Nelson! (Haw haw!)

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Dang, we're far up north!

This motel in Fort Nelson was such a great deal and so laden with amenities (including a comic-minded receptionist inclined to give us sidelong tips about connecting to the not-really-free Wi-Fi connection) that we couldn't pass it up; we'd hoped to get further tonight, but Fort Nelson is plenty of progress for one day since starting out from Grande Cache on Alberta 40, and we can fit the remainder of the Alaska Highway to Fairbanks easily into three days.

After setting out from Kelowna, we wound our way into Banff and Jasper; nothing could really prepare me for what we saw there, and words really can't do it justice. Not that I didn't try, in the written journal we're keeping. After that, we hit Hinton in remote prairie Alberta, then took AB 40 north to Grande Cache, through what turned out to be a stupendously pleasant scenic byway (I'd been leery of that road and pondering taking the long way around, via Edson and AB 43). Very glad to have stuck to the original plan!

Today we left Grande Cache, did the remainder of 40 (skirting the Rockies), passed through the farmlands of Grande Prairie and surrounding canola fields and elk ranches, and reached Dawson Creek by 11:00. Rain followed us throughout the journey from there to Fort Nelson. After checking in at this great motel, we did about five miles of the Liard Highway, enough to get photos and a feel for what it would be like to travel the remaining 70 miles over gravel and through rain to reach the Northwest Territories border. I'm afraid my brother will have to do with these photos:



I'd write more about this awesome little town and this phenomenal motel, but I think I'd rather enjoy the amentities than write about them. Catch you at the next wi-fi spot...


06:00 - AUTO-POST: The Alaska Highway


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Day 4, Tuesday, 8/2: the Alaska Highway segment itself begins. After taking the obligatory photos at the Highway's starting cairn, off we go on BC 97 again (we could have followed it all the way up the center of BC, but then we'd have missed Banff and Jasper). It's anybody's guess how far we'll make it, but I like to think Fort Nelson is a good landmark for midafternoon. If there's time I want to take the gravel-surfaced BC 77 north for about sixty miles, there to take a picture at the "Welcome to the Northwest Territories" sign, and then head back. But if time is tight, that part can be skipped, I suppose. Back down to the Highway; I suspect the best place to spend the night will be a campground in the vicinity of Muncho Lake.
Monday, August 1, 2005
06:00 - AUTO-POST: Banff, Jasper, and Points North


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Day 3, Monday, 8/1: after stopping off at my company's building, there to wave at people who don't recognize me, we strike off north along one of the three branches of BC 97, taking the easternmost arm which joins Canada Highway 1 at Sicamous. This heads east into the Rockies: Glacier National Park, then Banff and Jasper (be sure to check out the satellite views of these). After spending the early afternoon driving north through the formidable valleys that make up these two parks, we cut east and then north on Alberta 40, before reaching Hinton. This road leads through some wild logging wilderness before finally dropping back down to the Alberta plains at Grande Prairie, where we turn west again and try to make it to Dawson Creek—the official start of the Alaska Highway—by nightfall. (If we don't, no big deal.)

(Addendum: just got word that the Kelowna office is closed today. Oh well. Maybe that means we'll have pressed on further than Kelowna for Sunday night.)
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© Brian Tiemann