Sarah Palin and Hawaii don’t mix? About comfort zones vs going rogue

Here’s a tidbit about Sarah Palin that caught my attention. According to her dad, Palin left college in Hawaii because being around too many Asians made her feel uncomfortable. Interesting. Sarah Palin attributes her leaving the Aloha State after just one semester to too much sunshine for an 18 year-old—as in beaches and academics are not a great mix for an Alaskan gal. Read Palin’s book Going Rogue:An American Life and you’ll get Palin’s version.

Whether Palin found hitting the books in Hawaii too difficult– or the number of Asians there too disconcerting, either option brings up the topic of comfort zones travel and going rogue.

People like Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods and Bizarre World thrive on traveling outside of their comfort zones. To them, outside of the comfort zone is a comfort zone. A place where most people feel comfortable might cause them an unsettled feeling. Put a person like Zimmern in the middle of a Wal-mart in the U.S. and he or she might feel creeped out.

Places like a Disney theme park, McDonald’s, Las Vegas and some cruise ships have popular appeal because they have found the magic formula that fits the needs of the masses. They are comfort food with a dash of something that feels like excitement. At these places you know what to expect and can feel safe in the crowd.

How many people don’t travel outside of what they know because of the feeling of the unknown and the discomfort of sticking out in a crowd?

If Sarah Palin’s father is accurate in his assessment that her discomfort with being in the midst of too many Asians sent her to college in Idaho, I’d say Palin’s attitude takes her out of the rogue category and plops her into the main stream. It’s not a matter of being prejudiced either. It has to do with a tolerance for what is different. For some people it’s hard to feel comfortable in ones skin in an environment that is unfamiliar. Feeling comfortable takes time, practice and travel.

As anyone who has traveled extensively in other countries has discovered, travel helps stretch the skin. The more one travels past ones comfort zone, the more ones skin expands. What once felt disquieting feels as comfortable as a well worn shoe. The process of going from discomfort to comfort is one of the joys of travel. It’s one of the elements that pushes world travelers towards new horizons– to a state of going rogue.

Corn mazes, garden mazes and more via Google Earth

Once a person has seen a video of Sarah Palin’s face in a corn maze, it’s hard to imagine what might top it. This Google Earth video “Amazed” has a response. These mazes aren’t all corn related, however. Some, like the Hampton Court Maze in London, are hedge mazes found in formal gardens.

Where ever these mazes are, Google Earth unfolds them in a kaleidoscope trip to various parts of the world–mostly the United Kingdom.

As a note about corn mazes: They change from year to year. For example, this year The Corn Maze at the Butterfly House in Whitehouse, Ohio is of Toledo Walleye Hockey instead of Sarah Palin.

For the list of where each of the mazes featured in the Google Earth video are located, keep reading. The Butterfly House is not one of them.

This list is found, along with the latidudes and longitudes of each maze on the You Tube video page. Click on “more info.” You’ll also find links to the Web sites for most of them.

1. Dole Plantation Maze; Oahu, Hawaii

2. Spider Web; HeeHaws Fun Farm, Layton, Utah

3. McCall’s Pumpkin Patch; New Mexico

4. “HELP” Maze; Greenwood Village, Colorado

5. Fritzler Maze; LaSalle, Colorado

6. Land of Lincoln Corn Maze; Illinois

7. Peace Maze; Castlewellan, Northern Ireland

8. Hazlehead Park; Aberdeen, Scotland

9. Thoresby Mega Maze; Thoresby Home Farm, Perlethorpe, England

10. Wonderland Pleasure Park Hedge Maze; Nottinghamshire, England

11. Hatfield House Maze; Hertfordshire, England

12. Somerleyton Hall Maze; Suffolk, England

13. de Uithof, Den Haag, The Netherlands

14. Amstelpark, Amsterdam

15. Labyrinth & Tree of Life; Milton Keynes, UK

16. Capel Manor College; Enfield, England

17. Alice in Wonderland Park; Christchurch, Dorset, UK

18. Barton Manor; Isle of Wight

19. Amazing Cornish Maize Maze; Smeaton Farm, Pillaton, Saltash, Cornwall

20. Longleat House; Warminster, Wiltshire, England

21. Foot Maze; Conhold House, Wiltshire, England

22. Crystal Palace Park Hedge Maze; Bromley, South London, England

23. Hampton Court Maze; London, England

24. virtual hedge maze you can walk through; Ruurlo, Netherlands

25. Maze Tree; Emsbüren, Germany

26. Herrenhäuser Gärten; Hanover, Germany

27. Guyancourt, le quartier des Saules; Paris, France

28. Lempdes, Puy-de-Dôme, France

29. Labyrinthe de Bouguenais – France

Only in Alaska: Welcome to the 49th state

Alaska is one of those places where your expectations are met and often exceeded: the mountains are gargantuan and they’re everywhere, there are moose wandering the cities, and folks still run trap lines and live in log cabins. Yes, people still mush dogs (an Iditarod champion even lives in my small town), and many Alaska Natives still practice subsistence living.

Though the stereotypical Alaska is alive and kicking, there’s a whole lot more to the state. Environmental issues such as climate change and Pebble Mine, the political scene in 2008 (remember Sarah Palin? We’ve still got her), and an 800-mile pipeline that supplies a sizable sip of oil to the rest of the country all make Alaska more than simply a vast and beautiful place where hairy hippies live in off-the-grid harmony.

I hope to highlight some of the quirky qualities of living in or visiting Alaska – and there are plenty. Here are some stats, just to get you started:

  • Alaska is the largest state in the US. It’s more than twice the size of Texas, which means that if you cut Alaska in half, Texas would be the third largest state. In general, it’s about the one-third of the size of the continental contiguous US.
  • Though it’s not the least populated state (that would be Wyoming), it’s the least densely populated. There’s just under one square mile per person.
  • The population is approaching 600,000. Around half that number lives in Anchorage (279,000), and another 35,000 are in Fairbanks. The state capital, Juneau, has 31,000 residents, while Ketchikan, Sitka, Homer, Soldotna, Wasilla, and Seward collectively add roughly another 40,000. That leaves only 215,000 residents scattered across a massive sweep of land. It can be pretty quiet up here.
  • It’s the only state with a capital that’s not accessible by road.
  • Alaska has the US’s largest national park (Wrangell-St. Elias, 13 million acres), national forest (Tongass, 17 million acres), second-largest national forest (Chugach, 5.5 million acres), and the highest mountain (Mt. McKinley [locals call it ‘Denali’], 20,320 ft).
  • Though English is the official language, it is still possible to hear Yupik and Iñupiaq spoken. It’s not common in the cities, but in rural villages many residents still use their native languages.

With the widest spaces, the highest peaks, a somewhat surprising political influence, and a romantic place in Americans’ imaginations, it’s no wonder that Alaska receives $1.6 billion in tourist dollars. But if you can’t afford the trip this summer, I hope to provide a virtual tour of some of unique aspects of the state. Stay tuned!

Man sues strip club for getting whacked in the face with a boot

What is it about Ohio? During Jay Leno’s monologue last night, he quipped about a man who is suing a strip club in Akron for getting hit in the face with a stripper’s boot when it flew off her foot during a high kick.

That’s more weird than the story I heard on Saturday Night Live last September about Sarah Palin’s face being mowed into a corn maze in northern Ohio.

Here’s what happened in Akron, according to this report on When the man’s cousin from out of town came for a visit, the bright idea of heading to a strip club for a good time came up. So off they went, perching themselves on chairs close to the stage.

Unfortunately, when “Tiara” did her high kick, her boot flew off, smacking Yusuf Evans in the nose, bending it a manner that it shouldn’t have been bent. Because the boot was a platform-style boot, it did extra damage. Now Evans says he has a hard time breathing out of one nostril. It gets clogged, you see. He’s asking for more than $25,000 compensation for his woes.

To avoid getting hit in the face with a stripper’s boot, here are three suggestions for what to see in Akron if one has an out of town guest. You can see a stripper club anywhere, but these three places are one-of-a-kind.

  • At Harry London Quality Chocolates you can tour the factory and sample chocolates. That might satisfy another type of craving since there are 500 different varieties.
  • Learn about another type of rubber at the Goodyear World of Rubber Museum. Akron is the “Rubber Capital of the World,” after all.
  • Dr. Bob’s Home–Dr. Bob Smith founded Alcoholic’s Anonymous. His home is now a museum. Some people who go here say they feel calm.

Humorous round up of 2008 and 10 Gadling posts connected to this year’s news

Here’s a humorous round-up of news stories that made it big in 2008. Uncle Jay, whoever he is, sings a medley of carols with the words changed to offer a unique twist in the explanation of some of this year’s major events. His cast of characters and happenings include Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, gas prices, the economy , the Olympics and more. While watching the video, I thought of Gadling posts that also made reference to the themes of these stories.

Here are 10 Gadling posts by 10 different bloggers that have related to the news. There are scads of other posts. This is merely a sampling.