Just as there is more to Canada than Toronto, and more to England than London, so we all found out there is more to Alaska than Downtown Anchorage!
And we met some “real locals” in a working man’s diner and bar.
Now, was the SOBS Tour to Alaska a success?
Well, for sure the trip passed all the required primary parameters;
- Everyone was at the airport on time.
- Everyone got home in one piece.
- The Alaska Mountain Rugby Ground and the Old Oosiks both met expectations.
- Whittier, the proclaimed “Strangest Town in America” did not disappoint.
- Everyone stayed out late on the last night and slept on the plane home.
- Nobody can tell me if Marla and Erin were two moose (on Saturday) or two whales (seen on Monday).
- Nobody got arrested.
I believe we also passed most of the secondary expectations for a good Tour;
- Staggy created a scene in the visiting clubhouse.
- Fiddy complained about the cut and colour of his Tour t-shirt.
- We actually played some good rugby, and everyone got on the pitch.
- We drank the clubhouse out of beer.
- We were the last to leave the clubhouse when the bus arrived late.
- We drank the Tour Boat dry of beer.
- The “Tony Tour Tab” also ran dry and was closed out at 23:15 on the last night.
- We got asked to leave the locals bar at 2:30 in the morning on our last night.
- Fiddy complained about the size and shape of his room.
- Everyone slept on the last bus ride.
Other notable, yet totally predictable, highlights include;
- Half the group were at the Air Canada Check-in on time as directed.
- Half the group decided the Jade Statue was the Air Canada Check-in counter, but they were there on time!
- The first double Cesare was ordered behind security before 10:00 am.
- Matt took a select group into the Air Canada lounge, and then left 4 half drunk beers on the table.
- Richie, Randy and Gerrard decided to delay the flight, and a full airport P/A announcement was issued to hurry them along.
- Matt paid a $40 premium for the exit row seat, but the others in rows 16 and 17 all got their space for free!
- A fair number of Tourists went to the Great Alaska Bush Company bar, but saw no bush!
- One of the Tour Hoodies did not make it past the first 12 hours and disappeared at the ABC.
- Only the rookies decided not to wear their Tour #2 to the game, and afterwards.
- Richie scored a great forwards try.
- Randy scored a great backs try.
- Paddy was clearly our Man of the Match.
- Poor old Ian G only lasted 4 minutes.
- Young Gary F lasted most of the game!
- It was young Ian G’s birthday on game day.
- Byng paid $2,000 for 3 hours of Shannon McGuire’s time; she stayed for 9 hours- and so did her Mother!
- Byng and Jeff both made great Try Dives into the pond.
- Several Tourists threw the referee into the pond after the game!
- Roger “out Stagged” Ian Stagg with his suit and tie.
- Ian S “Kooched” Andrew H when he collected the accolades for organizing the Tour.
- Gerrard managed to “give away two of “his”” hoodies at the post game function and yet still came home with his intact.
- Completely unrelated to the above, Ian S had a “small hissy” because he could not find his hoodie part way through the evening.
- All rookies successfully Ran the Gauntlet, despite the absence of Tarling.
- Ian S was asked to leave the mechanical bull bar quite early in the evening.
- Several found it difficult to find a Saturdaylate night taxi and almost missed the Sunday lunchtime bus.
- Richie led off Karaoke Night with a rounding rendition of Yellow Submarine.
- Rick K was the big surprise with his Kentucky Country music numbers, but a huge success.
- Matt decided he wanted to be an English bi-sexual 1970’s pop star, covering Elton John and Queen.
- Shane was impressive with his “slow beat” version of Pin Ball Wizard.
- Gary and Katherine performed a wonderful duet.
- Not to be “out Stagged” by Roger, Ian S wore his Purple Pimp suit from Las Vegas
- Ian S then tried his hand at Mac the Knife.
- Matt tried to redeem himself with a solid version of Summer of 69.
- Andrew H thought doing the back-up La La La chorus on Crocodile Rock and We Are the Champions excused him from singing at all.
- Byng entered the gay icon fray with a cover of his favourite Barry Manilow Cuban opus.
- Byng then sang a different version of Mac the Knife!
- There was talk of a “sing off” between Matt and Byng, decided by who best covered George Michael’s Wake me up when you Go Go.
- After a little liquid courage Andrew F sang a great Journey cover.
- Jeff and Jim M stayed in the bar and took the heat like men for not singing.
- John and Gerrard slinked away and did not take the heat like men for not singing in the bar!
- We paid for a group rate on the pool table and left before the locals got into their ritual fight over a girl.
- I am not sure what time the last person went home, but Beverly the Barmaid told us we had put more money over the bar in a single night than any other group.
- Rick K “Kooched” Katherine when he took her Monday morning breakfast.
- Not to be out done, Gerrard “Kooched” Byng’s breakfast not two minutes later.
- The Phillips Glacier 26 boat trip was a lot of fun. Our reserved seats were right beside the bar and were identified as “SOB Rugby Vacations”.
- After a tentative start, with low cloud, the skies parted, and everyone was on the upper deck most of the time.
- We got as close as 100 m from the famed Harvard Glacier, a mile and a half wide, and we could hear the cracking of the ice as it calved.
- However, we still managed to drink the boat bar dry of all beer.
- Ian S paid for a round of beer on the boat, which was greatly appreciated by all.
- When we docked at Whittier, we could see the glacier just above our hotel.
- John, Shane and Richie were the Judiciary, who got summarily deposed by The Prez!
- Court was Court, not much more needs to be said!
- But the highlights included Beverly the Barmaid being called as a defense witness.
- And many locals decided to come and participate in Court, some were heard to say “we have not had this much fun in here for years!”
- Everyone decided to take a look in the tourist bar in town, but the only tourists there were us, so the group went back to the locals bar where there was karaoke, pool and shuffle board. Not to mention locals!
- Matt got behind the karaoke microphone again, and he was heard singing “Summer of 69” (for the second time) as far away as the foot tunnel into town!
- We were asked to leave the bar at 2:30 as it was getting late!
- Rumour has it Matt and Richie received a complimentary tour of the Cold War Officers Quarters, or as Matt later described it “a tour of the Gestapo commune block.”
- Richie and Andrew F hiked up to the glacier above town for some great photos.
- I am sure someone was “Kooched” at Tuesday morning breakfast, but I did not find out!
- Most folks slept on the bus, and I am told on the plane also.
So, in my books, this adds up to time well spent, and another successful addition to the SOBS Touring Legend.
The SOB Rugby Vacations office will be offering another trip in July 2018 to the RWC 7’s in San Francisco, and in September 2019 to the full RWC in Japan.
Thank you all for coming.
Anthony S. Greville.