Film touring by bicycle, during winter months, in Alaska, is proving to be more practical than one might imagine. Before I left Homer, I spent very little time thinking about the ethics I would employ for this tour. My idea was and is, show the film at the scheduled screenings and try to get to the events by bike. If that is impossible - hitch-hike. So far, that basic idea is proving sound.
One of the big topical themes within my film, Heart of Alaska, is climate change and ocean acidification. Beyond the fact that I actually like riding my bike in winter, it also opens up an easy dialogue/train of thought about climate change. "Why are you riding your bike in winter", is a fantastic question and a great way to start a conversation.
After two wildly successful screenings in Homer, I packed up and hit the road for the next event in Soldotna. I'd given myself two days to make the trip, that in the summer would take only one. The forecast was as grim as it could possibly be for any winter road traveler, but especially bicyclists. I made it 20 miles out of town before the sleet began, and then it started to snow - for serious.
My thumb seems to have some charm left in it and before long I was comfortably seated in a pickup truck with the bike stowed away in back. While the windshield wipers and defrost were on full bore, the driver and I had plenty of time to discuss some of the big themes as we slowly drove through the storm. Even though this man was heading to the North Slope for a three week stint on the oil fields and I was out bike riding with a film, we had much in common based on our life-long residency in Alaska and shared love/concern for this place.
"Let's just pretend", I said to a man after the screening in Soldotna, "that since the Industrial Revolution there has not been an incredible increase in greenhouse gasses, with no "natural" perturbation outside of human activity to account for it. Instead, lets return to the idea, in the film, that asks, 'what do we think the future of Alaska will look like in 50 years?' No matter what, non-renewable resources will be either gone or radically depleted, so why not throw our entire weight behind renewable energy projects now and begin creating sustainable economies?" Then we changed the conversation to salmon and discussed our favorite subsistence fishing techniques.
For two short, mid-winter days, I rode my bicycle from Soldotna, through Cooper Landing and Moose Pass to Seward. I camped on the shore of Kenai Lake and woke to ice-fog and a flock of hearty swans. I passed lynx tracks, saw crosbills, ravens, eagles and siskins, and had a solid half an hour of direct sun on my face, from Lower Trail Lake to Primrose. As I rode, my mind would wander to the recent conversations, then back to the cold beauty of the Kenai. Hours sliped by without notice until finally my brother Lars passed me south of the three bridges in Seward.
A warm meal, family and friends are what I had been hoping to find in Seward, and find them I did.
Heart of Alaska will screen at the KM Rae Building, here in Seward, Tuesday the 24th at 6:30 PM. At present, I am planning my next leg to Whittier, then Cordova, by the weather. If it remains clear, I will leave here on Thursday, miss Thanksgiving, and ride to Whittier with enough time to make the ferry for the screening in Cordova on the 28th. If it storms again, I will spend Thanksgiving with family and friends and hitch out early on the 27th. Either way...I win.
I hope to see some of you Seward folks at tomorrows screening.