Friday, August 04, 2006

The Anniversary Tour--Alaska

The Gone Gaming Anniversary Tour next arrived in Fairbanks, Alaska. Oh to be home again! Up to this point the heat was killing me. Even in Berkeley it was scorching hot. To tell the truth, it had been so hot up to this point that the red shirt I've been wearing might as well have been a turtleneck sweater. "Why didn't you take off the red shirt?", you are thinking. As fate would have it I needed to wear the red shirt just to hide the giant pit stains on the blue shirt. My 24-hour antiperspirant didn't even last until noon in Idaho, and I had already gone through half of my second can by the time we left South Dakota.

We were fortunate, the flight from San Francisco to Fairbanks was painless with only a brief stop in Seattle. Although the midnight sun is waning everyone was surprised that the sun was still up when we arrived at 11:00 p.m. Since it was too late to see the sights we retired to Coldfoot Manor for a late night game.

Yehuda suggested we play a game with an Alaska theme. I was stumped. Alaska Monopoly was out, as was The Yukon Gold Rush (Alaska Monopoly by another name). An Alaska theme. I drew a blank. Someone spotted my copy of McMulti, a game about drilling for oil, refining it, and bringing the finished product to market, and suggested playing a game of it.

"Nah," I said, "the only thing most Alaskans know about the oil business is that they get a check from the state every year from the profit on oil leases." Then a light bulb went off, "How about Caylus?" I said.

"Caylus?!? For an Alaska theme?"

"It's perfect. Every round you get money just for playing. It's the perfect Alaska theme. Only five can play, though."

DW looked pretty skeptical. "Caylus? That's one of them Eurosnoot games. You guys play, I'm going to bed." So DW - being old and all - retired early while Shannon, Yehuda, Mary, Joe and I played a game of Caylus. The Aussies decided to sit on the porch (wearing jackets, of course) with Dame Coldfoot under the midnight sun to marvel at a land without snakes, poisonous insects nor crocodiles.

We were up early the next morning to see some of the local attractions before the tourists started congregating. We piled into a rented Suburban and saw the sights. I drove, thank you very much. After all the walking in Berkley on the previous day there was no way I was going to walk my fat ass any further than was necessary.

The pipeline.

The Santa statue at Santaland RV Park in North Pole.

The Musk Ox Farm.

(Picture deleted on the advice of counsel)

There was an incident at the Musk Ox Farm involving French tourist on a BMW motorcycle. I decided not to post that picture until the lawyers give the OK. I might post it on my blog after the litigation is over.

After a brief wait at the Santa statue, waiting for the North Pole Fire Department to rescue Fraser from dangling on Santa's nose (you can't take Aussies anywhere), we went into Fairbanks to look around. Joe and DW had heard stories about "Two Street" during the glory days of the pipeline construction, and requested we take a trip downtown.

Two Street is an affectionate name for Second Avenue. In the pipeline heyday of the 70s and 80s it consisted of bars, hookers, and illegal poker games. Today there is a Marriott, a parking garage, and numerous touristy stores selling Russian Matryoshka (stacking dolls) and authentic Alaskan jade figurines made in Korea. Only two bars remain on Two Street, and the rumor is that one of them will be out of business by this winter.

DW spotted the card room just off of Two Street. He excused himself while the rest of the group wandered the shops. He didn't stay long, he came out muttering, "Pan? What the hell is pan? Card rooms are for poker. What's this pan-euro-card-game crap, anyway?"

"Pan is the game in Fairbanks, DW."

"Looks like they're playing... playing..."

"Rummy," I ventured.

"Rummy. In a card room no less. If I wanted to play Rummy, I'd play Ticket to Ride."

Including the brief stop on Two Street to shop for souvenirs, we saw everything there was to see in Fairbanks in about 45 minutes. We let DW stew in the back seat still mumbling about Alaska and card rooms, and it was back to Coldfoot Manor for games.

I would have liked - nay, would have loved - to have played an RPG with this group. I know Yehuda and DW have experience with RPGs and Shannon - well, let's just say - Shannon is the RPG man. I had to hold my tongue though, I don't own any RPGs, nor do any of my acquaintances. Then again, this wasn't the Gone RPGing world tour.

To start things off we all played a game of Formula De, which came to be called the one-lap-death-match, or Formula DeMolition Derby. When the smoke cleared Mary crossed the finish line first, never having gotten out of second gear. Melissa was the only other survivor. Her brakes were shot, the transmission was fried and all four wheels were flat, but she survived. That was good enough for second place. And just between you and me... (looking around cautiously) After seeing Shannon drive a pretend car, I think it is a good thing that he doesn't own a car. Ahem. Anyway...

After Formula DeMolition Derby I heard rumblings about a charades rematch. That wasn't happening. Not on my watch. We hurriedly broke in to two groups for Age of Steam and Railroad Tycoon while Mary was in the bathroom. After that time just flew. I know I played one game of Puerto Rico and another of El Grande. I'm not sure what the others played, I didn't keep track because I was having too much fun. The important thing was that we didn't play charades... again.

Then it was off to the airport. Fairbanks to Anchorage to Seattle to LA to Honolulu to Tokyo to Seoul to Singapore to Port Moresby? , yes to Port Moresby and eventually to Australia (that's what you get when you use PriceLine) for the next leg of the tour. Accounting for the time change we arrived about a week after we left Fairbanks. DW tells me that if we had flown the other direction we would have arrived about a week before we left Fairbanks. We'll have to remember that on the next tour.

All I can say is: Thank God it was winter Down Under, I have heard that Australian antiperspirant is made from seaweed and smells like sauerkraut.


Gerald McD said...

I think all of you should be writers for Saturday Night Live (is that still on?).

That was a great segment. Keep it up.

Coldfoot said...

SNL huh? Well, at least you didn't say Mad Magazine.

Coldfoot said...

I was glad to see that your wife's good sense had won out and the Game Couch wasn't hanging on the wall, endangering lives!

Dame Koldfoot said...

Endangering lives? You didn't go with Coldie into the game room, did you? (During the entire Gone Gaming visit, I was working to support Coldie's gaming habit and was not there to supervise any tours). I cringe of the thought of going in there without full haz-mat protection, espcially since I turned control (and the cleaning) of the room to Coldie. The "game couch" needless to say remains in the living room where the fat dog snoozes on top of Coldie's new acquisitions.

Anonymous said...

You didn't mention going to "The Fudge Pot".