I had the pleasure of meeting Governor Palin this morning in a hardware shop of all places - I even managed to shake hands. Willow is a blink if you miss it sort of place, alongside the main highway in Alaska, en-route to Denali National Park. The huge metropolis of Willow has a population of about 2000 and is at mile 69 on the Park highway. As far as I can see it consists of a couple of shops and a drive up takeaway outlet for food and espresso coffee. 69 is a lucky number for many and certainly for us this morning!
We have been boiling water in a pot in the Wanderly Wagon in the absence of a kettle and have been caught out a number of times with hot handles as a result of the quick burning gas cooker. Drawing on my experience as a Health & Safety Nazi, I decided to shout myself a kettle, one I could take use here in the camper and then take home as a souvenir consequently using it in my own camper. That’s initially what prompted us to turn off the main highway half a mile earlier when I noticed a sign indicating a Thrift shop. I love old crap and stuff that carries a sense of nostalgia, so was sure I would find something there that would suffice as a kettle. I have also been looking for a guitar. I hardly pick mine up anymore but for the first time in what seems like years, I have some time and inclination to do so in the evenings with the long daylight hours and a bit of down time. I intend finding a cheap one to leave on the sidewalk in Vegas in three weeks’ time after I have given it a bit of a hammering developing those callouses on the end of my fingers that used to be there when I played often.
The Willow Rose Thrift shop had neither, but I did manage to leave with a couple of Bohemian looking numbers that were on the clothes rack for sale. Burnt orange is my colour and the bright frock was begging to head back to NZ in the case of a mad woman with an eclectic dress sense. The real treat was that if you brought one, you got a second one for free so that reduced the price of the first one to $4. I was as happy as hell when I climbed aboard the camper again heading for the nearby town of Talkeenta for a bit of a poke around.
I was sure the nearby hardware store would have a kettle so off the main road again we parked the camper and proceeded in. The store keeper was leaning against the counter wearing a crisp blue and white striped shirt, a baseball cap and grin a mile wide. He had no idea initially what I was after, I’m not sure if was the kiwi accent or the product was lost in translation. The shelves were jam packed shelves with stuff but no kettle. The closest was a metal coffee pot and I was too tight to buy it.
I initially wondered if the place doubled as a pet shop. There was a couple of small Pomeranian dogs curled up asleep on the counter and a couple more loitering on the shop floor - all as happy as Larry. One on the counter was sporting lovingly brushed long hair and when I reached to stroke it, it sleepily opened one eye and looked at me before returning to its slumber. Its sleeping partner appeared to have very little hair on it other than its head and its paws but had managed to retain his dignity wearing a onesie to cover his naked torso. I asked the store owner whose name I later found out to be Doyle about the nakedness? He said the dog suffers from Alopecia, a hair loss condition that affects many humans as well. He had five of these little dogs holed up in the store and explained we were about to meet another rare site indeed – possibly the only grey Pomeranian in the world. They are rare and are some type of throwback from the days when the Queen Victoria (yes the queen) took a fancy to these little feisty snow dogs after a visit to Poland and started a breeding programme back in the 1800’s to reduce their size somewhat to the little fluffy dogs we know them to be today.
I asked Doyle if we were in Palin country? Back at the thrift shop I had seen a book on Sarah Palin for sale and had this urge to buy it but space concerns in my luggage made me put it down. Sarah Palin was the elected Governor of the Alaska region back in 2006 until her resignation in 2009. The outspoken, female republican made headlines all around the world with her good looks and sometimes redneck ideas and I can remember her often on our news back then. We had stayed overnight in neighbouring Wasilla so Doyle assured me we would have driven right by her house only half an hour before in our travels. Her profile isn’t as high these days as she speaks to few according to Doyle after taking a hammering from being stalked by the media and press at the height of her reign. She was known as the hottest Governor in the coolest state! Evidently people went to mad lengths to intrude on her life and I expect it became tedious and horrid so there is no surprise that her home and privacy are paramount these days.
It turns out that prior to being elected Governor, she was the Mayor of the town Wasilla. Doyle from the hardware store had held the position of the deputy mayor under her reign and I expect they became close personal friends over that time – it would be pretty hard not to like Doyle. In NZ we would call him a good bugger.
Doyle and his wife Debbie had been invited to a party with Sarah and her entourage the night the election results were going to be announced. The little Pomeranian asleep on the counter was due to have pups and Debbie refused to leave her side to attend the party until the pups had been born. A compromise was reached and Doyle and Debbie took the dog and its bed along to the election party to monitor her. Doyle made Sarah a promise that night, if she won the Governorship for the state, they would name the first-born pup after her. The party was a success, Sarah won and the dog had the pups on the way home. Everyone was happy so it seemed as it had all worked out except the first pup born was a male. In the USA its ok to have a boy named Sue but apparently not Sarah it would seem!
That’s how this auburn ball of fluff sporting a pair of dog nuts became Governor Palin. I was ever so pleased to make his acquaintance.