Stephen Fry In America (2008) s01e06 Episode Script


1 You can just see in the background what the theme of the last leg of my journey's going to be.
That little patch of blue there is the Pacific Ocean.
I'm going to go up from California, to Oregon, Washington State, Alaska and finally, in the middle of that ocean, the state of Hawaii.
Off we go.
Its combination of architecture, situation and history make San Francisco one of the most distinctive and beautiful cities in the world.
Even the transport system is a uniquely reliable and lovable mixture of the new and the old.
Chinatown! Chinatown stop! Thank you so much.
A truly cosmopolitan port city, San Francisco has its eyes to the Far East, which confusingly, lies to its far west, across the great Pacific Ocean from where many of its early immigrants came.
The Chinese originally arrived here as coolie labourers to help build the railroads.
They still keep together, giving San Francisco the oldest and best-established Chinatown in America.
- These are chocolate ones, aren't they? - Yeah, OK.
Take one? Come on.
Would you like to try one? - Yeah, I'd love to try one.
- OK.
They're hot.
Woah! Really hot.
Good! What's my fortune? Foo Ling U says, "Dedicated bachelor is one who believes in adage of wine, women and so-long" Oh, it's a joke.
At least a kind of joke.
Here's my card.
That's your card.
Thank you.
Golden Gate Fortune Cookies Company.
How long have you been doing this? 1962 46 years.
46 years.
And are the fortunes always true? HE LAUGHS Extraordinary that after 46 years, his English could still be quite so eccentric STRINGED INSTRUMEN PLAYS "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN" .
which could also be said of this rendition of our national anthem.
Though the Chinese always do things their own way, which I suspect is why they've been able so successfully to blend their culture with America's without losing their identity.
Passing the now-gentrified quayside where the coolies, prospectors and snake oil salesmen once tumbled off their leaky boats, I head up to Nob Hill and a meeting with a more recent immigrant to this great city.
Jonny Ive, Essex-born and Newcastle-trained, is the design guru for Apple.
The MacBooks, iPods, iPhones and iMacs, they're all his babies.
- Not many cities can boast such a view, can they? - It's extraordinary, isn't it? - And that's the famous prison island, isn't it? - Yes, Alcatraz.
Which only Clint Eastwood ever escaped from.
It could be said that the two most influential Britons of the past 30 years are Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web, and you, who have given us the iPod and all the train of Apple products.
You've both chosen to live and work in America.
- I wonder if that says something about Britain or, more importantly, America.
- I think that there's just a a conspicuous lack of, um .
cynicism and scepticism.
Ideas are so fragile, aren't they? It's so easy to sort of miss an idea, because they can be so quiet, or to snuff an idea out.
I think that the sense of the inquisitiveness and the willingness to try is so important for .
for design, for developing those tentative, fragile ideas into a real product.
There's nothing fragile about an earlier design classic.
The Golden Gate Bridge is the gateway to Northern California and my journey up the coast.
I shall be travelling into Oregon and onto Seattle in Washington State, before heading far north to Alaska and finally journey's end in the far south on the Islands of Hawaii.
California has the seventh largest economy in the world, but it's not all high-tech and showbiz.
Agribusiness is huge, and while wine may be the best known, it's estimated that the largest in pure dollar terms is weed.
Mendocino County is the marijuana-growing centre of the nation, not least because under local law you are allowed to grow up to 99 pot plants for "medicinal purposes".
Sheriff Tom Allman is on the front line.
Last year we eradicated 344,000 marijuana plants.
We eradicate so much marijuana in the summer logistically, it's hard to get rid of.
We had to buy last year a very large 12-inch tree chipper.
Oh, yes, I know the kind of thing.
We chip marijuana up and if it's on public lands, we'll just chip it and let it go into the woods for the wildlife to eat.
So there are a lot of rather dazed birds flying into trees It gives a whole new meaning to birds that are high.
THEY LAUGH At the sheriff's compound, a crack team are preparing for a drug bust, but before I'm allowed to join them, I have a very special date with firearms supremo Greg Stefani.
Have you ever fired a hand gun? - I haven't.
This is absolutely my first time.
- Really? - Yeah.
It really is.
A rifle at school but that's it.
Lying on my stomach.
We're honoured that you're shooting here.
I brought a Dirty Harry pistol for you.
- No, not a Magnum? - Absolutely.
God almighty.
That would be the greatest honour of my life.
- This is the Dirty Harry revolver.
- Oh, my! - Smith and Wesson Model 29, 44 Magnum.
- Ah! This one's going to be a bit easier to shoot than Dirty Harry's - in that it has some extra weight in the barrel and the cylinder.
- Right.
Now you know the old cowboys used to keep a 20 bill in one cylinder.
- Really? - Because that would be their burial cost if they lost the gunfight.
Oh, my word! I know what you're thinking.
Did I fire five shots or only six? To tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I've lost count myself.
But being as this is a .
44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and can blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself a question GUN SHO Ah! Ooh, hot! Do I feel lucky? HE FIRES Aah! Mummy! Well, punk, do you? Oh! THEY LAUGH Oh! You feel that, don't you? Oh! That scares the life out of me, that gun.
You had the movie lines perfect up to the last part - Clint Eastwood did not say "Holy mackerel"! - He didn't, did he? He just slightly narrowed his eyes.
That looks big enough for my tummy.
This is the absolute - newest 2008 model.
- Thank you.
- You're welcome.
We need to take care of you.
- Thank you.
- It goes with my trousers, which are appropriately brown.
- We're ready.
All right, pony up.
And it's gonna go well.
I'm following our heavily-armed convoy to a remote farmhouse where it's believed a large illegal crop is ready to be harvested.
We have arrived.
- And this is all based on intelligence from your undercover operatives, is it? - It is.
So the first units are on scene.
We have to knock on doors by law.
- We can't just bust in.
- Even with a warrant? Even with a warrant, you have to knock on the door.
- You have to serve it physically? - There's a 10-second time frame.
You have to announce your presence, and then if the door doesn't open and you don't hear people saying, "Just a minute," then you can go ahead and force your entry.
But forcing your entry sometimes means turning the door knob and opening the door.
Oh, right, it's as simple as that? So now they're announcing Come on out, you can get out now.
- So they've made some arrests, have they? - Sounds like it.
When we pulled up, on the radio, I heard them say they had players inside.
- Oh, players is the word you use for that.
- Players means crook.
We got what we came for.
- Which is all exactly as the intelligence predicted.
- Yeah.
We have two grow rooms in here that are full of plants, and there's another grow room up there.
Apparently there's two people in the house who are in custody right now.
We'll get you the names later.
They were pretty quiet - they don't resist arrest? No, we don't have them resist at all.
We're good.
No, you look pretty formidable.
I don't think I would resist you, I have to say.
So a good result.
So, Stephen, if you assume that marijuana is 3,000 a pound and each plant can produce two pounds, we're going to see what kind of finished product - these people would have.
- Oh, my goodness me! - Oh, the smell! - So we have another room to our right.
They look like they're a little smaller.
And then we have these.
And what they're trying to get is, they're trying to get the perfect bud for THC content - The active constituent - Now it's going to be on your hands all day.
- Whoa.
Holy That It's an oil, isn't it? It's like an oil, almost.
- Yes, it is.
- Whoa.
- That's very strong.
- These are all female plants.
And it's just like life, the females have no use for males whatsoever.
These people surely can't make a claim in court that they're growing these for medicinal reasons? - They would have to be very sick.
- Even if they bribed a doctor to give them a - This is clearly a commercial operation that's got nothing to do with - Yes.
I've suggested to our elected board of supervisors that if its going to be legalised as medical marijuana, that we, the sheriff's office, sell these plastic zip ties that would have serial numbers on them, and they would go on the base of each marijuana plant and we could identify that plant as being legitimately medical and we would be able to get some money from it.
Leaving the heady aroma of Mendocino, I drive north to the infamously laid-back campus of Humboldt University, where I want to find out what's cooking with the new generation of the counter-culture from student siren, Carmen King.
CHEERING AND CLAPPING If you've never been here before, it is an all-women open mic.
Only vaginas welcome on stage.
If you have a penis, you are welcome to be in the audience, but you cannot perform on stage unless in full drag.
What we do that's a little different is we don't have a sign-up list.
We think lists are too hierarchical, so we have a love-bubble sheet.
Thank you, Melody.
So if you want to play, just come up.
We'll give you a love bubble and when you're ready we'll just pop your bubble.
LAUGHTER Great! Well, I'm gonna play another song, kinda goes with the last one.
She's got curly hair Wearing boys' underwear She's got golden tanned skin Please let me in Let's have some fun, some fun Some dirty girly fun.
You know what I'm talking about.
Don't have to be the only ones Invite some friends and have some fun.
You're a smoker of the weed, are you? I've smoked weed in my time, I have.
I've smoked my fair share.
So is this quite a weed-smoking college then? I've heard a statistic that only 53% of the students smoke weed, but I think - Only 53? - But I think it might be a little higher than that.
But what would your mummies and daddies say? A lot of their mummies and daddies smoke too, especially if they're from here.
Do you believe it should be legal? I do, actually.
The city of Denver - I dunno if you guys have gone there - they did the Alcohol And Marijuana Equalisation Act, and so I mean they just brought it to the point that 20,000 people die of alcohol-related deaths in the US every year and none from marijuana.
- You're about to graduate, are you? - I graduate in one month.
My specialty is energy efficiency.
I came actually to study environmental science, but it was just ridiculous.
It was just a bunch of hippies bitching about everything.
"Oh, this is wrong, this is wrong.
" And nobody ever talked about how to fix it, you know, what to actually do.
I call myself a practical idealist.
I'm not running around hugging trees and sitting in them, trying to get them to not be cut down.
I use paper, I live in a wood house, I understand that the economy must go on, but the economy is not going to go on if we keep using energy the way that we do.
California is the only place where the trees literally hug YOU, so it's little wonder that this is where tree-huggers, tree-sitters, eco-warriors and Earth Firsters started their environmental campaigns.
The Pacific Northwest has amongst the most ancient woodlands in North America.
Some of the Sequoias, the giant redwoods, are over 1,000 years old.
For the past 40 years, loggers have been at loggerheads with the Greens, for whom the preservation of the forest has become the clarion call for saving the planet.
The pristine Rogue River Forest in Oregon is one of the key battlegrounds, and I'm travelling down the river with two Arborio advocates, Nate and Laura.
They're taking me to a remote part of the forest to try and track down the red tree vole on which the spotted owl feeds.
Now this owl is an endangered species and as such, under federal law, its habitat must be protected, so if they can find a tree with evidence of red vole habitation, then an area of 10 kilometres around will be, by law, protected from logging.
So, the vole's the thing to catch the conscience of the king.
This is the kind of tree that would have the red tree vole that you've been telling me about.
Yes, this is the one it would be in.
Yes, with the big fat branches they like, and then the broken tops that they can get down in the crevices.
So they live their whole lives up there? They're born, they breed up there? The females will stay up there their entire lives and breed and have babies.
The males, however, come up, they have a little visit, and then they go on to some other lady.
Oh, men, honestly! I wish I could be going with you, it's just that I have this awful - it's a real nuisance - I have this awful cowardice.
It's just come over me.
Oh! Can you imagine when I woke up this morning and I felt all cowardly, how annoyed I was? SHE LAUGHS - Got it! - It's coming down, bouncing around.
Send it down.
It's coming down in between them.
There you go! - You want to test it? - Yeah, you want to jump? - Yeah.
- Come closer.
Save me(!) - Oh! So the way we test it is if you can put two people's weight on it, you know it'll work.
- Then it's good to go.
- So put it between your legs.
- So what we do is go like this, and so - See that? Watch your head.
That's why we test it.
Bits do come down? So now it will go up again.
But the actual limb didn't snap? Because it's a huge branch.
But it's better to have a break before you go up than when you're up there.
It makes you nervous.
Are you good to go? Yeah, we're ready to go.
The Douglas fir bark has all these like prickly things, like little splinters, where if you hug it - you don't want to hug this tree, because it will put pricklies in your arms.
Really? That's not very friendly.
What's your view of the tree-hugging classes and the people who stay on trees to stop the developers or the loggers? - Oh, I was one of them.
- Oh, were you? - Yeah.
- So you're a big supporter? - That's where I met Nate.
It was out at a tree sit.
I definitely support it but I think, you know There's all sorts of tools you need in your tool box.
- Can you check that branch? - I haven't gotten there yet, hang on a second.
Let me get a little higher.
I haven't checked the first branch.
- This is no time for a domestic spat! - It looks like there's a nest in it.
- I see branch clippings sticking out.
- You see branch Ow! - At least you both wear glasses! There's a nest right here on this branch.
- A vole nest? - You found one! There's one inside this dead branch.
- Are you getting a sample, Nate? - I'm getting a picture.
Hooray! Yes, this whole branch here is hollow, - and it's just full of vole stuff.
- Would that photograph constitute proof? - No, they'd have to have one of their climbers look at it.
- Oh, I see.
Cos the nest material and faecal matter they leave in there is specific to the vole, and so we just take a pinch out and put it in a plastic baggy, and use the GPS unit to mark where the tree is, and then submit that.
- Goodness me! - Do you want to pinch a sample? - Yeah, I'll do that.
Can you save some faecal matter for me? - I'll bring you down a little bit.
- Thank you! It smells piney fresh.
STEPHEN LAUGHS That the forests still stretch for hundreds of miles is in large part due to the activities of people like Nate and Laura.
And it is in this vast hinterland of Oregon that a creature even more endangered than the spotted owl is reputed to live.
Well, according to Matt Johnson.
We want to prove the existence of the animal officially, and therefore get it listed on the endangered species list and protect its habitat.
Right, tell me how you know that he does exist.
Well, my family and I, we went through the Oregon caves, and we decided to hike the big tree loop trail.
So we were about a mile up the mountain, around 5pm or so, and we started smelling something coming downwind, down the hill.
And then we hear this noise, as we walk.
Very deep, bass, guttural, mammal and much louder and more bass than I can do right now, but it went, "Wuh, wuh, wuh, wuh.
" And we're like, we stop.
It stops.
And we're looking at each other like, "What is that?" We walk again, it, "Wuh, wuh, wuh.
" We keep going.
We eventually get to a point where Mother Nature's knocking on my door - Oh, right! Yes, go on.
- .
so I have to hike up the hill, through the brush, probably about a good 60, 80 feet away from my family, and I'm behind some brush and trees, doing my thing.
Then all of a sudden, out of the left corner of my eye, I saw something move and I turned my head.
And I looked down, and that's when I saw Bigfoot walk off the pages of myth and legend into reality.
You know, I had some people afterward say, "Well, why didn't you stop and take pictures?" And it's like, I have my family there.
And I'm not going to stop and take pictures and risk losing my family.
So you're talking about a hairy primate.
We're talking about We're talking about a very tall hairy primate that walked upright like a human being.
After we got off the mountain, we made a report to the park headquarters, and he said, "You need to know that the park has a policy where we will not publicly "acknowledge the presence of a sasquatch.
" What is it that they are trying to hide, do you think? All I'm going to say, and it's just a guess, is that you saw what happened over 30 years ago when they declared the spotted owl an endangered species.
It locked up a whole lot of timberland, shut down a whole lot of logging companies and towns.
The State Of Oregon is still recovering from that 40 years later, economically.
Now, can you imagine what would happen if you identified a seven-to-nine-foot primate species living in these mountains, how much land that would lock up? What kind of economic devastation that would create for the entire Pacific Northwest? Northern California? Personally, I think its existence is about as likely as me playing in a cup final.
But Matt is certainly convinced, and if more of this extraordinary ancient woodland can be preserved, so much the better.
Heading up the Oregon coast into Washington State, and the raw energy of the Pacific Ocean is ever-present.
It's a different but equally invigorating energy that awaits me in the eclectic city of Seattle.
Seattle is a more urbane version of Liverpool - energy, wit, and a centre for new music.
At Pike Place market, I meet up with Christoph Snell.
He owns Seattle's Can Can Cabaret club and is a bringer-on of young talent, who relishes the edginess and creativity of this major Pacific port.
Oh, you see, I mean, this is fabulous, it really is.
I mean, not many European markets can compete with this, actually.
Fresh fish off the boats, baked goods they bake right here in the market.
Look at that.
Whoa! That's Turns it into an art form.
- Whoa - Oh, yes! There it is! Thank you.
You've been a wonderful audience.
- Oh, my, it's so soft.
- Steam.
- Melts in your mouth.
- Oh, my Lord! Oh, they are Oh! Seattle of course has got a reputation as Well, 15 years ago it was the centre of the musical universe, wasn't it? - Absolutely.
- With that wonderful word "grunge", but is it still a place of lively music? Yeah, absolutely.
The music scene, you know, we're in the heart of it because we get to see the beginnings of the music.
When someone is starting out, they're playing at our club.
Ladies and gentlemen, she just turned 15 years old! Please put your hands together and give a warm round of applause for Hannah Weeks! CHEERING AND APPLAUSE Just because I hold your hand doesn't mean that you're my man I believe in second chances but three is more than two You say you'll prove me wrong this time, but I - The suicide rate in Seattle is very high, isn't it? - It's very high.
As is the heroin use, and so these kind of.
So, despite the fact that it's a vibrant and wonderful place, - it's also a place where kids are very disaffected and alienated? - Absolutely.
Is that also because it has maybe three of the most famous businesses in America? You've got Microsoft, you've got Boeing, who make all the aeroplanes and jumbo jets that aren't made by Eurobus, and you've got Starbucks.
I mean, they are three very, very famous world brands and maybe the kids are all, are they kids of executives or something? Is that why they all commit suicide - because they've got hideous corporate parents? Exactly! The weather has a huge part in it, I think, you know.
There's also a certain melancholy state that is conducive to creating art.
Right now Put your lips at my command Right now Fly me off to lovers' land Baby Don't you leave me at the post Kiss me You can feel it coast to coast Right now The Pacific Ocean defines Seattle, and while its weather may contribute to its citizens' overall melancholy, the sea breeze certainly helps with a hangover.
A stone's throw from the Can Can, I have a rendezvous with some aquatic denizens of the city.
Carol, CJ and Barney, who has a personal hygiene problem.
He has his own toothbrush Oh! An electric toothbrush! - Sonicare.
- You lucky fellow.
Yeah, nothing but the best.
Now if we don't do this, he'll get gingivitis.
Harbour seals in the wild have been found with gingivitis.
I was just going to say, in the wild, they don't have this regime - No.
- Even with manual toothbrushes in the wild.
No, there's hardly any of that! Now they really are like dogs in some ways, those faces.
They're very trainable.
- They bark and they have pups.
- They don't bark.
They will make a growling noise at night, but we don't really know what HE BARKS No, kind of like SHE GROWLS AND SNARLS - Yeah, kind of like that.
- OK.
How old is he? Barney's 22.
He's an old guy, but probably in the wild we don't really think they probably live that long, it's just that they're so protected from predators and bad food here.
And like a lot of old people, he's decided to take fish oil supplements - All his life, and look what it's done for him.
- It's clearly good.
OK, get in the water.
Yes, right there.
Ready? Get it! Yeah! - Yeah, sometimes we get a little wet.
- Yeah, that's fair enough.
CJ has another treat in store for me.
These are northern, or Alaskan sea otters.
They tend to spend a lot of their time diving up to 200 feet or more, and then they have loose pockets of skin right underneath their arms and they'll stuff those like a kangaroo full of food, and then bring it to the surface and use their tummies as a dining table so I've noticed they're swimming backwards.
It's charming.
We used food colouring to bring out the patriotic aspect of it That's beautifully done! - There you are.
- You'll see.
I think he stood to attention, you know! He went right for the red stripe.
He's got the fish straight away.
Now he's greedy.
He's got the Union Jack and the ball of They eat up to 25% of their bodyweight a day.
Yeah, your own bodyweight in quarter-pounders, isn't that amazing? This, Washington, is the 48th of what they call the contiguous states, the states that adjoin each other on the continental landmass.
Only two more to go now, Alaska and Hawaii.
And I'm afraid there's no room for our cab in the snowy wastes of Alaska, or across the Pacific, so this is where we say goodbye.
My first port of call in Alaska is Kodiak Island, the second biggest island in the US.
State number 49.
And what a state! The largest in America by far, it's over three times as big as France and 13 times the size of England.
What many people don't realise about Alaska is that for much of its recent history it was owned by Russia, not America.
The United States paid the princely sum of 7.
2 million for it back in the 19th century.
That was two cents an acre.
There are actually signs of that Russian ancestry all around in the names of the roads and particularly in the methods of worship that are still practised in this community to this very day.
The Russians first came to Alaska as their empire expanded eastwards under Tsar Peter the Great.
After Vitus Behring's expedition of 1742, sea otter pelts, which are the warmest of any fur, became a major source of revenue.
Realising how efficient the native Aluit peoples were at hunting, they were effectively enslaved by the Russian merchants, and both otters and the Aluits were to be driven to the brink of extinction.
THEY CHANT IN PRAYER With the merchants came the Russian Orthodox church, which in 1794 set up this mission in Kodiak.
Some missionary churches were not welcome by the local people.
Was yours? Missionaries originally came to minister to the Russian fur traders that were here.
- When they first landed - Oh, so not to convert? - Right.
But it changed very, very quickly.
Almost immediately, when the missionaries, led by Saint Herman, saw that, in fact, many of the natives, local native folks were being enslaved and treated poorly by the Russian fur traders, and that allowed them to begin to minister to the native communities which led to the church becoming indigenous very, very quickly.
'It's estimated that over a million of these delightful sea otters were hunted for their fur.
'Today, their numbers have recovered, although they are still endangered.
'I'm eager to see them in the wild, and Lee Robinson, a local fisherman, 'takes me to the far side of the island, 'where he says he sometimes sees rafts of up to a hundred of them.
' I'm astonished by how beautiful Alaska is.
I've been saving up the knowledge that I'll be coming here, and thinking, "wintry wastes", you know kind of ghastly cold winds but you're not prepared for how It's a very subtle and extraordinary kind of beauty, isn't it? - Yes, it is.
- What is it about this kind of living that you like? Or do you think you are an unusual person you don't like the human race? I think I'm not unusual.
I think most men that live in Alaska want to do this same thing.
It gets into your soul, does it? Yes.
I'm only being blessed because I was able to find the land, and I got a great wife that will live in the wilderness, who will live out here with me.
So what's your attitude towards the rest of the United States of America? How do you refer to it? Do you call it "the mainland"? "The Lower 48".
The Lower 48? Is that contemptuous? Oh I don't That's what we call it.
The Lower 48.
You know, we're up north, they're down the lower 48.
That's true.
So what have we got here? Is this bait? Yeah, this is bait.
It's herring.
I've cut it and salted it.
And then we've got a jig there with a single little squid.
- Little plastic squid.
- If the bait falls off, we've still got the squid.
- That's clever.
- The one thing I don't have down here is hot running water.
You've just wiped your hands in freezing sea-water.
- Smell them! - I suppose it's better than having them fishy.
- Smell it? Smell it? - Yes, charming.
- Hang on here a minute, we're going to move over to our spot.
- Oh, OK.
Come on, fishy Come on, halibut, just for the hell of it! Just for the halibut how big can a halibut get? I think the record sport-caught is out in Dutch Harbor it's real close to 500 pounds.
- Good gracious me! - You get me out here.
I miss my cabin! I'm sure I can I'm sure I can feel something.
- How do I reel it in? - Just spin.
- Shall I pull it up? - Yeah, yeah.
Bring it in.
See what we've got here.
Most definitely I can see it! - Oh, what is it? - Oh, it's an Irish lord.
Has it any idea how ugly it is? Yeah, I think it does.
Here, go ahead and bring it to me.
Ugly beast.
Surely you can't eat that.
Oh, sorry.
- Is that edible? - Um, I usually don't eat them.
- So he lives in the deep? - Yeah.
I've found that generally speaking, the fish, the lower down they are - The uglier they are? - They don't need to be pretty because Look, what are you? You silly thing! Oh, an Irish lord? Irish lord.
They've got a few mechanisms here that kind of hurt.
Yes, a lot of spikes going on.
See, these are spines.
Oh, yeah, if you get those stuck on you, they're really kind of poisonous.
Goodbye, Irish lord, and bless you.
There he goes! Leaving my lucky lord and happy Lee behind, I'm heading north a thousand miles to Barrow.
Perched on the Chukchi Sea area of the Arctic ocean, it's almost entirely inhabited by Inuit people called the Inupiat.
I've come as far north on my journey as I can.
In fact, I've come to the farthest north city in all of America.
It's called Barrow.
It's more of a village really.
It's right within the Arctic circle.
Behind me the sea is frozen.
This looks like a desolate place.
It's certainly as far north as I've ever been or would ever want to go, and as cold as I've ever been or would want to be, but despite appearances, this is a very exciting time of year for Barrow, because the sea is actually breaking up, and that means a great deal around here.
'Henry Kiniak is captain of one of Barrow's whaling boats that are allowed by international law 'to hunt the bowhead and beluga whales that cruise these Arctic seas.
' Inupiat people are entitled to hunt for whales but no-one else is in this area, is that right? I think 10 communities that can whale.
And how many are you allowed to capture in one year? In one year we can they gave us 22 strikes.
So it's not as if you are slaughtering huge pods of whales, are you? We don't call it slaughtering.
- We are feeding the community.
- Yes.
You know, to me I thought that my mom and my dad breeded me for hunting.
When we are whaling, this is what we use.
Oh, my goodness! It's a whalegun.
A whalegun? It's so heavy! - It weighs about 60 pounds.
- 60 pounds! There's a propellant charge that'sa primer, like a primer.
- Oh, I see.
- And then from there, then the shell is about this big.
Oh, my goodness! What's the best part of the whale? - Everything is the best.
- You love it all.
- Yes.
There's different ways that you could eat it.
You could eat it raw, frozen.
- You could cook it.
You could ferment it.
- Really? - Yeah.
And the fermenting is "mikiup" that's what they call it.
And you let it age for about a week.
All my kids love it.
And me.
The whole family.
- It is getting kind of warm, because this time of the year it would be really, really cold.
- Oh, really? - You don't call this cold, then? - No.
To us, it's kind of warm.
20 past 8 in the evening And the sun is still out.
And how long will it stay light for? Right now it stays nice and bright untilOctober.
- Good lord.
And it stays bright all through the night? - Yeah.
So it never sets? If it's winter when of course there's no sun at all, do you ever go out? Yeah, we have to go out.
It doesn't matter if it's day or night.
You know, we go caribou hunting in the winter and sometimes it gets dark.
And do you find your way by the stars, then? Yeah.
Stars, or GPS! Modern technology! Henry, one thing that Alaska is becoming famous for also is oil and gas.
The oil companies been coming up here, talking to the whaling captains and the community, - and they want to try to drill here on the ocean.
- Really? I say no to it because this is our food, this is our livelihood right here.
If something happened and the oil rig or something breaks down and oil starts coming it would contaminate our food.
Our garden.
Yes, your garden.
That's a very good way of putting it.
A cold, wet garden.
'The wind changes direction and threatens to break up the frozen sea.
'The fragile sealskin boats are easily crushed by breaking ice.
'Thoughts of finding a bowhead whale are shelved for the time being, 'as everyone scrambles to get back to land.
' Right now, this is not a good time to try to harvest the whale in these conditions, because of the west wind and the currents keep changing.
I can see the white on the horizon.
It's kicking up waves, isn't it? And the flocks of birds are coming in here.
We call them eider ducks.
Eider ducks.
Famous for their feathers, making good quilts.
- Eiderdown.
- Oh, yes.
Good eating too.
- Are they? - Yes, they're the best! When we harvest that whale, we work all night.
It takes about 24 hours, by the time we are done with a whole whale.
How do you hide the smell from the bears, because they have an amazing sense of smell? Well, that's the thing.
We can't.
They come to the area where we're butchering, and we give them a warning.
We give them a warning shot and if they don't acknowledge it, we shoot them right there to protect the rest of the people.
That's how dangerous they are.
They're a supernatural being.
Just one blow, it can crush your skull.
Just like how they do it with the seals.
One blow, that's all it takes.
So what do you do if you don't have a rifle? Well, you hightail and run! On a snow machine, or literally with your legs? A snow machine or boat.
Sometimes we got chased before.
There will be no whales today, but over the three-month season, the Inupiat will harvest their allotted 22 bowheads, enough to tide them over the long winter.
Well, if I seem a little inappropriately dressed for the Arctic Circle, it's because I'm saying farewell to Barrow, northernmost city of the United States.
And I'm going to say hello to the southernmost part of the United States.
I'm on my way to Hawaii, which is apparently 3,450 miles in that direction.
MUSIC: Theme from "Hawaii Five-O" 'On Honolulu's famed Waikiki Beach on the Island of Oahu, 'I ingeniously disguise myself as an absurdly-dressed overweight tourist 'for a meeting with Terry Pennington, a private investigator.
' Is there a noticeably dark side to paradise here? Well, I guess there is, like there is in any US city.
There's an element of crime and drugs and prostitution, - government corruption.
- Really? We do a fair amount of criminal defence work.
Are they often innocent, or can't you tell me that? I would have to say more often than not, they have actually participated in some degree or another.
But you might be able to reduce the sentence? Right, right.
But they have the right to a fair trial and we do our bit.
I guess, for me the reward, or what I enjoy in the job, is helping people.
Yeah, I suppose if I was to imagine trying to do your job, the thing one would most find pleasure in would be finding a missing person for a family.
- Is that something you've done? - Many times.
- Really? We found a homeless guy from the mainland who was actually an heir to a multi-million dollar fortune, and he You're kidding me! 15 million had been put in trust for this kid, but he couldn't handle the money.
He would end up using it on drugs and alcohol So are there many down-and-outs in Hawaii? You know, like any city, there's a fair amount.
I think what attracts more to Hawaii is the warm climate.
I mean, the beautiful scenery, you can essentially live on the beach here.
But you need the money to jet over here.
Well, you do.
And at times in the past, we've discovered different governments, municipalities on the mainland, to get rid of their homeless problem, were actually sticking a plane ticket in homeless people's hands.
Dropping them off at the airport Go to Hawaii but don't sit on the sidewalk selling false watches! - It's a one-way ticket.
- Yes.
- Well, it could be worse.
- It could be worse.
On the other side of the island from Waikiki, the north shore, there's a more relaxed ethos, but there's no relaxing for me.
Well, this is a first for me.
I've never swum with sharks before.
I've been in a boardroom full of television executives, which is not that far off.
You don't throw them fish, though.
Hob-Nobs yes, but fish, no.
I may try that in the future, if it works.
So wish me luck.
I have to confess, I'm a little nervous.
- Right, thank you.
- Take a deep breath.
'Joe Pavcek, an ex-PI and friend of Terry, has been running shark tours for over a decade.
'He says these Galapagos sharks are docile.
Docile?! 'They eat seals even bigger and blubberier than me, for goodness sake!' Say goodbye to the people.
Goodbye, everybody.
- Right.
- It's been nice being your host for how many years? Quite.
I'm not very good with snorkels either.
I tend to drown - well, gulp.
That's a dry snorkel, so you won't get water in it.
Just float it to the other side.
Shoot to the back and grab on to the bar.
That's right.
There are sharks there, believe me! They're very close to the cage.
Hey, Steve, - are you scared? - Sorry? - Are you afraid? - No.
Isn't it great how you transform? Yeah, absolutely.
I have to say.
It's not frightening at all.
It's just beautiful.
They're wonderful animals.
Really wonderful.
Joe, when did you first come to Hawaii? I moved here in 1969 from San Diego.
In 1969? I'm only 27! In 1969, I guess it was a lot less developed, especially on the south side of Oahu? Especially on the south.
There's so much development that has gone on over there.
It's kind of an island divided into two, isn't it? - North shore and south shore.
- And we're on the north shore, and you're a north shore kind of a guy, yeah? - Well, this is country.
- In fact I'm wearing this T-shirt defend Oahuand it's all about the country on the back it says, because it's constantly under threat from the kind of development that's ruined Waikiki.
Well, since we've lost our sugar cane and pineapple, all the developers eyeballing all this land.
Right there, you can see, everything would be ocean view.
That's so beautiful.
So do you think you've got a chance, though? Of sticking it and keeping this place free from development? - No.
- Really? Have you seen any place that's been free from development? I think, alas, Joe is not being unduly pessimistic.
It's the curse of tourism to destroy what it most desires.
Hawaii survives on tourism and with good reason.
Its 19 islands, the tips of a mighty chain of volcanic mountains, are all staggeringly beautiful and surprisingly different.
A short but incredibly scary flight from Oahu, and I'm approaching the dramatic coast of Kauai, the oldest of the islands, and to many, the most Polynesian of them all.
Titus Kinimaka is a native of Kauai, and a celebrated champion surfer and mean plucker of the ukelele.
TITUS PLAYS UKELELE - Lovely, isn't it? - It is just heaven.
It's really a special place.
Kauai isvery special.
And in Hawaii, of all these islands, the first island out of the sea.
This island has been populated by Hawaiians for thousands of years.
You're also part of America.
Yeah, we've become very, er, "civilised".
Do you feel American? If someone asked you what your nationality was, would you say American? Er I'm Hawaiian, and I will always be Hawaiian.
And my family, I can trace back my family about500 years.
Really? So that's before And our family's from Kauai.
So that's before the British, which I notice is still in the Hawaiian flag, Captain Cook, before he arrived? Captain Cook, he was probably the one that started it all, yeah.
Yes, I apologise for that.
And then do you know, after him it was Thomas Cook, the holiday man.
You know, they came over here I believe in timing, you know.
I guess they had bad timing.
- He ended up in the pot.
- He did, didn't he.
Yes, the first time he came here he was welcomed.
The second time, eaten.
'But the cooking of Cook didn't deter tourists for long.
' All round the world you see local people who are courting the fact that tourism does bring in instant cash and therefore is very tempting.
And then on the other hand, it completely changes the very thing that was special to them and to the rest of the world.
Exactly, which is the values that we should, all us Hawaiians hang on to, because as soon as there's a hurricane here in Hawaii, everybody's gone.
Everybody who supposedly lives here in Kuaui goes back home to wherever they've come from.
So they've got another house somewhere else, but we're still here.
So do you resent that because obviously rich people No, I don't resent that.
I don't resent that.
I justlike to make it clear that I know that when storms come, everybody else has a place to go.
- It's a definition of a fairweather friend.
- Exactly.
'Titus inveigles me to join up with some of his family 'for a quick paddle to his home, 'on one of the most stunning beaches I've ever been to.
' It's quite hard to resist humming the theme tune from Hawaii Five-O, which everybody does, of course.
It's a terrible cliche, but it's hard to resist.
No, that's it.
That's what everybody can relate to in the world.
It's Hawaii Five-O and canoe paddling.
Yeah, you're actually doing it.
That's it.
I never thought the day would come.
Oh! I like that.
- Thank you for that.
- A hike and a paddle.
A hike and a paddle.
What a day! 'Polynesian hospitality requires Titus to prepare a traditional Hula.
'That means singing, dancing and the obligatory piglet.
' It's not like you go to the office every day.
This actually is your life.
This is how people live, with music and food.
Yes, this is magic.
Look at this.
It sometimes gets as cold as 72 degrees, doesn't it? That's bad.
It gets chilly, man, I have to put a long-sleeved shirt on.
A long-sleeved shirt?! Well, there, that's the reason I have to leave.
I couldn't possibly live in a place where I'd have to wear a long-sleeved shirt.
Yeah, it's hard.
But we try to endure it.
You lucky swine.
Talking of swine, shall we have some more of this? Big Island is, as its name suggests, the biggest island of the archipelago, and it's also the most recent.
The tallest of its five volcanos, Mauna Kea, rises 14,000 feet above sea level.
High above the clouds and the distorting effects of the earth's atmosphere, it is one of the very best places on the planet from which to observe the heavens.
The Keck observatory has the largest optical telescope in the world.
Its stereoscopic lens allows it to probe deep into space to the very origins of the universe, which is why astrophysicist Alex Filipenko loves the place so much that he even got married here.
Let me show you the most powerful explosion we've ever found.
Oh, yes, please.
This is a fabulous one.
Watch the star.
Before it exploded, it actually had a double ejection like this.
This was not the end of its life.
That was an explosion before the end.
There's the explosion at the end.
So those two sort of, like bags, what are they? They're lobes of debris.
Double lobes.
This star ejected maybe 10 or 20 years before its colossal death.
So there is this relatively gentle ejection.
- That's relatively gentle.
- Wouldn't want to be in the middle of it! And then a colossal explosion, just bam! Right? Not only are they billions of times more powerful than the sun, but they're crucial for life as we know it.
Did you realise that the heavy elements of which you are made, the carbon in your cells, the calcium in your bones, the oxygen that you breathe, the iron in your red blood cells all of those elements were cooked up in the nuclear furnaces deep inside stars, and then blown out into the cosmos by these colossal explosions.
So you, as Carl Sagan used to say, are made of star stuff.
Are you an optimist about Man's place in the universe? Do you think that we'll screw it up before we get a chance to save it, or save it before we screw it up? Well, that's the million dollar question.
One depressing possibility that explains why we haven't found any clear signals from any extraterrestrials is that something that comes along with higher intelligence is this self-destructive ability.
So what if civilisations out there, the intelligent ones, just go flash in the night? They don't last long enough to explore the rest of our Milky Way galaxy.
Maybe cultures and societies are like the systems you discover, they have their supernovas too? Well, I'm hoping that humans will overcome their difficulties and will last a very, very long time.
And will someday go out and populate planetary systems around other stars.
'I leave Alex and his wonderful and very American sense of optimism 'for a flight over the lava fields that are still spewing forth molten rock that cools to form new land.
' Wow, that's extraordinary.
Nature's furnace.
You can see why people used to believe in Hell.
It looks like the entrance to the underworld, doesn't it? And you'll have to take my word for it, you can actually feel the heat from up here.
I've never seen anything like that in my life.
Well, here my journey has to end because here America ends.
This is as far south as you can get in the whole United States.
Actually you know, America doesn't end here.
Because new America is being made all the time by these extraordinary volcanic forces.
In fact in the last six weeks, a whole 20 acres of new America was made.
It's a country that's constantly being re-born.
'Looking down on the geological melting pot of America, 'I think back over the weeks of this astonishing journey through 50 states of being.
'United or not, a force for good or ill, they make up the United States Of America, 'a land of matchless variety, beauty, energy and life.