Amanda’s Birthday.

The nicest part of road trips is being able to stop whenever you see something pretty. The problem in Alaska is that everything is gorgeous. It is hard to drive anywhere because you are stopping all of the time. It already takes a long time to get anywhere here. We headed to Homer for an overnight birthday trip.Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.36.30 AMWe stopped if we felt like it. If we saw a cliff and wanted to know what was on the other side, we went to check it out.Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.39.49 AMEventually, we made it all the way to Homer. We found our cabin and admired the view. Homer is beautiful with water everywhere and big mountains and glaciers visible from town.Homer spit is a big draw and we headed there immediately. Going into the Salty Dawg is mandatory.Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.40.14 AMWe found a great restaurant at the recommendation of our cabin owners. What a beautiful place. The decorations are one of a kind and the food was outstanding. We ate enough to keep us full for our adventures the next day.Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.40.51 AM Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.41.33 AMThe next day, we looked off the balcony and figured we should get to the glacier that we could see while eating breakfast.Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.42.13 AMThe biggest problem is that it is on the other side of Kachemak Bay. Luckily, there are a few boat owners around that were willing to drop us off near Halibut Cove so we could hike to the glacier.

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We jumped out like a relaxed D-day and watched the boat leave.

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That is when you start hoping they will come back when they promised. Or that you will make it to the extraction point. Or that you should have brought some bear deterrent. Although we did have cell phone service the whole time. There are many well maintained trails on the opposite side of the bay. The hike was beautiful.

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We were making good time and decided to detour to Humpy Creek. Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 11.06.51 AM

While there were no Humpies (pink salmon), there was a beautiful view and a rare way to cross the creek. Well, it is  rare for us before moving to Alaska. This is the second hike we have been on with a hand tram used to cross a river.Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 11.07.09 AM

Eventually, we hiked to the glacier. It turns out we hiked to the lake that is made by the glacier. We couldn’t actually get to the glacier from where we were if we wanted to get picked up today.

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Amanda did get to touch the glacier. In her own way.

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We made it to the extraction point and survived. Somehow. The boat returned. We weren’t eaten by wildlife. We even had a delicious dinner in the car on the way back home.Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 11.19.59 AM

Happy Birthday Amanda!

Visiting Seward, Alaska.

Amanda’s parents were visiting and we filled our time doing great activities. Visiting Seward was one of the first things to do. We lucked out and left Anchorage on a beautiful sunny day. With minimal clouds and wind, we hoped that the weather would stay this way all day. Headed south, the views of Turnagain Arm were fantastic.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 10.03.15 AM

We arrived in Seward and puttered around town waiting for our ship to sail. When we left the dock we flipped through our brochure hoping to see some animals from the boat. Before we left the harbor, we were excited to see a few sea otters.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 10.06.17 AMWe were surprised to see lots of Humpback whales so close to our boat. There was even one breaching which was typical in Hawai’i, but pretty rare here.

There were lots of Stellar Sea Lions hauled out on the rocks which was very interesting. There were mothers feeding their babies and even one showboater sticking out its tongue.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 10.07.21 AM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 10.07.45 AM

We saw bald eagles, coastal mountain goats, and lots of glaciers. We spent most of the trip pressed against the railings on the side of the boat. The weather was great the whole time.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 10.05.01 AMScreen Shot 2015-09-28 at 10.08.03 AMThere were glaciers and icebergs that were tough to imagine the size. They seemed small, but as we got closer and closer, they got more and more enormous.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 10.10.02 AMAfter the boat trip, we needed just a little more adventure. We headed to Exit Glacier to look for Obama’s footprints. We didn’t see any, but the glacier was beautiful.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 10.10.18 AM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 10.10.52 AMUntil next time. Thanks for reading.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 10.05.31 AM

Still Thankful.

Maybe it is all the time in the hospitals, maybe it is our awesome new dog, maybe it is because it has been almost a year since I broke my neck, but I am feeling very lucky/thankful/grateful lately. It is a good feeling. It is good to have when the stress of school is starting to build. Sticking with the Star Wars theme, we named our Pointer Obi Wan.

The newest family member.

The newest family member.

The weather in Seattle has been insanely nice. Sorry everyone on the East Coast.

Seattle weather.

Another day on the water.

So if anyone thinks that they are having a bad day, go and volunteer at a hospital. Or maybe an animal shelter. Life is good.

At the beach.

The beach is a lot different here than it is in Hawai’i. Here, we have real tides. Here, the sand isn’t quite as fine. Here, people aren’t laying around in bikinis every day of the year. Here, however, we have salmon and trout. Dan and I took the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston in search of either salmon or trout.

I’m on a boat.

We saw a couple fo fish jump, but fishing close tot he high tide is tough. There isn’t much room for a backcast and the neighbors wonder what you are doing. They are protective of their clam digging beaches. We saw a lof of signs telling everyone that they were on private property and you aren’t allowed to take their clams. It doesn’t sound like much fun hunting things that can’t run away very quickly.

There are lots of little beach houses that are very close to the water. I am guessing that they belong to the much larger houses up the hill from the water.

My latest dream house.

The thrones.

Just another day in the life.

Off the boat.

A lot of things have changed. My new place has apples growing outside and a fireplace that is attached to the thermostat. Lando enjoys chasing squirrels, birds, and neighborhood cats.

The fireplace.

The apples.

The dog.

That is about it for now. School starts soon. The holidays are about to start and hopefully end.

Oh what a week!

I flew out of Anchorage to Yakutat.

On the way to Yakutat, we stopped in Cordova. It was beautiful. It made me wonder if I could live off the grid out here.

I arrived in the evening and the crew of my boat picked me up. We dropped off my belongings in my new stateroom and went out for dinner. There is no cell phone coverage in this town, but the bars/restaurants have slow wifi occasionally. Everyone is on their phone. We aren’t allowed to use Skype. In fact, the password was “nofnskyping”.

The next day we were under way. The harbor was beautiful.

As soon as we left the harbor, the weather got (to use a nautical term) shitty. I wanted to die. If I sat up, I would start sweating and was sure that I would vomit all over my new boat. I didn’t eat for 24 hours. I didn’t really move. The captain asked me if I was sick as I was running to the head. He said that I looked pretty green. I felt a little better to hear that one of the crew was throwing up and another also couldn’t get out of bed.

The next day was slightly better. I eventually got to work. I busted my butt for a week. There was no normal schedule as the crew was on their last trip of the season and needed to catch all of their fish while I was on board. They utilized “sleep turns”. They would sleep for 6 hours and work for 12. All day every day. It was brutal. These guys work damn hard. I couldn’t keep up.

Eventually, they caught all the fish they could. It was a record trip for them. We were at the plant offloading and they plant processor had never seen such a big haul. Obviously, I took most of the credit for their good luck.

After a week, I am being assigned to another boat. I am flying out of Yakutat today and should be in Anchorage tonight. Tomorrow, I am off to Dutch Harbor. I have no idea what boat I will be on or what kind of fish we will be going after. I have a few ideas though. My life is a series of “hurry up and wait”.

The village of Yakutat has no cell phone reception, but it does have the Situk River. It is one of the best rivers to fish for Steelhead and Salmon. There are all kinds of people at the airport, but most of them have rods. I am a bit jealous.

I was warned not to walk along the road because Brown bears have been spotted beside the roads. I didn’t see any.

First week in Anchorage.

Wow, 5 days can really be a long time! 5 days without laundry. The itchiest 5 days of not shaving. 5 days of only learning how to collect data for managing fisheries. 5 days of barely having enough time to eat meals. These are long hard days. But… it is awesome.

There are a lot of rules about what I can and cannot say. My pictures will also be limited. As anything else in the government, there are acronyms up the wazoo. (The acronyms are typical although there are many that think the government putting things up our wazoo is typical as well).

4 of us are living in a small apartment. We have bunk beds. And sleeping bags. All of this would matter if we weren’t too tired to care every day after class. My job will be to take a sample of whatever is in the net, pot, or on the hooks when the fishermen retrieve them. I collect the data and turn it to someone that double checks my work before it is uploaded to a huge database that should help keep the fishery sustainable.

I need to learn ho to properly do that though. So this 3 week intensive course will get us all up to speed.

The roomiesOur house.

Post office.

Downtown park.

A local hero. Not really.