SPRINGTIME IN WILD ALASKA
There is a TV series titled "WILD ALASKA." I agree with this title.
It is a huge area, untamed and unpredictable! I went there to film
a commercial for Miller's Beer.
The airplane that flew me from Anchorage inland to a mud landing strip
was held together with fourteen coats of paint, trying to hide the rust.
It was a two motor prop with windows too dirty to see out, but cracked
enough to let gas fumes in. I was with three other actors and ten
guys with the production crew. Before we ever reached the mud field,
we all vowed we would never fly in this plane again. We didn't!
The first three days and nights the camera, lights and sound equipment
never got out of their carrying cases. Why? A blizzard hit us! After
all it was April and we were in the southern part of Alaska, near Valdez.
The aluminum, pill-shaped trailers we slept in had been made into two
postage stamp sized rooms with a bathroom. Small? When you put your
suitcase on the floor between the bed and the wall, you couldn't open it.
You had to put the suitcase on the bed to open it. Small? You
had to go outside to change your mind!
The blizzard changed our trailer into our own amusement ride.
A gust of wind would lift one side of the trailer up a few inches off its
wheels. Then the wind would subside and we would bounce down until
the next gust of wind.
Saturday night the storm had passed and the local "Pipeliners" (the
pipeline had not been completed yet) gathered in the Big Quansit Tavern
for the entertainment for the night -- to get smashed. They had poured
a new cement dance floor and we all watched the cement dry... very slowly!
The next morning was too overcast for the helicopter to fly for aerial
shots. A 3/4 ton truck drove to Valdez for wood to build a track
for the camera dolly shots. The actors and the carpenter were going in
the truck and the Assistant Director was to drive it.
One minor problem -- the A.D. was drunk! So, I became the designated
driver. The forty mile drive was smooth compared to the blizzard-bouncing
trailer we had endured.
After purchasing the supplies and lunch, we headed back along the winding
road. The sign ahead read "Slow, Icy Road in Tunnel."
About half way through the tunnel, the truck started to slide into the
on-coming car lane and I could see their headlights. The next ninety
seconds I was very busy. I turned the steering wheel left, then right,
then left again. I could not remember which way the driver's manual
When we stopped moving, the truck was up against the tunnel wall.
One small problem, we were facing the wrong way! I did not mention
to my passengers, that I had my eyes closed a lot of the time.
Once I finally backed the truck, very slowly, out of the tunnel and
got going in the right direction, we hit a white out. The white out
lasted for a very long five minutes. The rest of the trip was uneventful.
Ah yes, Wild Alaska, in the Springtime!