Friday, June 25, 2010

Earthquake up here

It was subtle, but Tok and I defintely felt it. The plate is moving, folks.

White spots among the wild flowers

A baby goat is called a kid; and around here, those kids are superb rock climbers. Along Turnagain Arm, I pulled over with some other cars to catch this family in action.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lost Lake Trail

Over Memorial Day weekend, Brad, myself, two friends from Anchorage, their dog, and Tok embarked on the snow laden trail that was Lost Lake. We trudged along, the dogs, Marika, and I gingerly walking atop the snow pack with poor Jon and Brad post holing the whole way. We did not complete the 17 miles trail, and instead stopped for a brief break after two hours of hiking without snowshoes.

In all it was a good time; but, Marika insisted that the trail was a blast in the summer. For matters of edification: Memorial Day in Alaska is not summer. Fast forward three weeks, and the constant rain followed by increasingly longer days bring us to solstice. After surviving five days of rain and overcast, I woke up to bluebird sky on Sunday morning. I readied Tok, brewed coffee and made oatmeal with packing my camelback. I was one of the first cars in the parking lot at the trailhead for Lost Lake and was delighted to have the trail to myself for the majority of the hike.

I entered a different world once I started climbing. The trail narrowed thanks to overgrown ferns and blooming salmonberry bushes. Flowers lined the intermittent mud puddles and the waterfalls were picturesque. As we departed the tree line, the mayflies clustered in large groups, making Tok sneeze as he rushed through them with my impersonation of the “Alaskan wave” as I did the same. For about a quarter mile any voyeur could see my arms flailing in a mock wave to brush those pesky flies away from me.

Being atop the tree line doused me in sunshine, breeze, and views of the Bay with eagles soaring overhead. That sheer delight, that euphoric state of breathing in fresh air is not only better than any drug out there but worth suffering through days of rain. I came off that trail happier than I had felt in days. And now a plethora of pictures:


the beginning of the trailthe trail out of the treeline
First glimpses of the mountain range as you move toward the treeline

You cross multiple waterfalls on this trail
A very happy puppy found snow
Beware: Cheesin' eco-geek

And a happy puppy

Friday, June 18, 2010

Greenery after the rains

Wild strawberries are everywhere on our acre.
Do you see the bunny trail under the Devil's Club (aptly named plant, I promise)

Some baby ferns at the back of the property.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Evening at On the Bay

The drive to Lowell's Point is an adventure, and reminded me of Kodiak so much that my heart stopped. After the bridge into the unincorporated town of Lowell Point, the road turns to gravel, and the recent rain left potholes worthy of Kodiak. As I bumped along, with Bearfoot singing on my stereo, I curved around waterfalls and million dollar views of the Bay.

Our cutter's ombudsman is the owner of a wonderful B&B called Cottage On the Bay. She invited me for dinner to meet and chat about all things Mustang. I think we spoke of the boat for a grand total of three minutes during my three hour visit.

I learned that today was her birthday and that her hubs was out of town, too. Armed with a bottle of J. Lohr and my new favorite Giada recipe, I drove to Lowell Point to spend some time getting to know my right arm for the next two months.

With the Celtics/Lakers match in the background, this former Bostonian gave me the scoop on all things Seward and invited me to the Saturday night potluck at Miller's Landing-- where, she promised to introduce me to the stars of the eco-documentary, Paddle to Seattle. They are "Lowell Pointers," she quipped with pride.

After the Lakers won, we turned out attention from the tube to the peaceful scene of sea otters playing in the bay. I snapped a few pictures; but the rain and the distance was against me, so forgive the grainy-ness.

As she bid me adieu, Sue said to me, "It's gonna be a fun two years with you!" With how much I laughed and loved spending time with her this evening, I echoed the sentiment and returned home, snapping a few more photos along the way.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Birthday Celebration

To celebrate my birthday, local Rotarians joined me at the Resurrection Roadhouse for drinks and apps. We started with some wine, lots of gossip, and introductions among those locals who crowded the bar during "locals night" where the chef features special apps and double wine and beer points for those of us enrolled in the wine/beer club (clearing of throat, yes, I am a member).
After the wine came a special present from our incoming Rotarian president, Deb. She is in CA with a sick father, with whom I share a birthday. A few years apart, her 92 year old father and I exchanged text messages today to celebrate our special day (seriously, how cute is that?). She went a step further and had champagne ordered at the restaurant to celebrate my birthday with the gals. I've known the woman for a grand total of six weeks, and she is already buying me champagne! And yes, for those who know of my collection, the bottle already atop the cabinets in the kitchen.
After opening cards, I grabbed what I thought was a wine bag. Upon picking it up did I realize it was far too light to be a wine bottle! That's when Kristi started to giggle. She had come to our home on 27 May when Brad and I hosted a fete for his change of command and birthday. When she arrived, we had popped out for moment, and while absent, she cased the joint. Apparently, she checked the cooler to see if the ice was cold and looked into the back door to see our slammin' spread on the dining table. When we pulled into the driveway, she was about to get into her vehicle and depart. A few hours later, when cleaning up the back yard of its bocci and cornhole games did I realize that one of the flamingo tent stakes was missing. "Perhaps Kristi or Amy took it?" quipped Brad. "Never!" I replied, "No Rotarian would steal!"
Alas, I was wrong.

Gifted to me was our missing flamingo tent stake, whom I blew up and posted on our table for the remainder of the evening. Five years later, and our totem remains a present figure at each of our celebrations!
Amy and the thief, ahem, Kristi
Linda Rae and Sharon
A sampling of the Rotarian Ladies

Then came the food. Chef Eric rolled out the good stuff for us foodies:
Flatbread with poached egg and bacon

Prawns with truffle oil

Pulled pork with a spicy black beans

Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy

For two years, I searched for waders that fit me. I love being an eco-geek, nature lovin' female; but GAWD, it is hard to find gear that fits. Having a female CEO keeps my arse in REI because they actually stock women's apparel; but, admittedly, and REI habit can be a wee bit expensive. And REI does not really carry fishing cache. Hunting and fishing gear is best left to outfitters like Cabelas and such. Alas, Cabelas idea of stocking women's gear is $200 waders and camo lingerie with hot pink lining (seriously? Who buys that ____?).

In Kodiak, I "got by" with my $4.00 salvation army-found hip waders. Fishing along the road network in Kodiak was easy. Here in Seward, you wade into the tide to snag reds. If you don't judge the tide correctly, you end up wet.

Enter my renewed search for waders: determined not to spend over $100 for ones in my size, I searched ebay and found an XS with size six boot that had been a display model in a sporting goods store. $40 and then $25 S&H (gotta love Alaska) got them to my yesterday!
With Brad in Ketchikan for the summer (boat is in dry dock), he is fishing for King salmon to bring home. A small but hearty competition has started between us, and I hope to "out catch" him. Although highly unlikely because, physically, I cannot wrestle a large king to shore (the better part of valour is at least admitting it, right?); I do hope to snag some reds and perhaps talk myself onto a halibut excursion sometime soon. At least I'll be outfitted to keep dry, as long as I stay upright!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Birthdays Boat Wife Style

He is gone a lot. I knew this when we got together ten years ago. I knew what I was getting into. Does it make it easier to bear the celebratory milestones alone? No. Hell no. It's tough to be a boat wife; but, as the old adage states, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." And our extended periods apart does make the reunion more cherished and special.

"How do you do it?" I am often asked. Honestly, there are good days and bad. Like when I can make a batch of cookies and have them all to myself...for dinner-- that's pretty awesome. Or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, like when I have to celebrate a birthday without him-- that's not so awesome.

Yes, this year Brad and I celebrated our fifth year wedding anniversary in person-- for the first time in our five year marriage. We also celebrated his birthday together, too. But, alas, the streak had to end somewhere- my birthday. My darling husband is in Ketchikan, where his boat is in dry dock through the middle of September. Yay. So the idea of breakfast in bed, followed by fishing, followed by hike, followed by dinner out, etc, etc, is not going to happen on June 16, 2010.

So, here I sit, in a new town, without any "real" friends around to party into my third century on this planet. Despite that, I piped up at my Tuesday Rotary meeting and put a "happy buck" into the scholarship jar and announced my impending birthday. In a group of 30, two other Rotarians followed suit and put a buck in the jar for their birthday-- on the same date. How great is it that in a town of 2500, and in a club of 30 people, three of us have the same birthday?

Alas, this boat wife has invitations for both lunch and dinner tomorrow. It may not be with my beloved; but, at least I get to celebrate. I look forward to celebrating with him, belatedly as it may be, when I see him in a few weeks.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Maiden Voyage

Upon receiving orders to Seward, I bought a used kayak. I wanted one that was light enough for me to load solo and easy to handle in the water. A fellow coastie on Kodiak sold me his Rascal, a paddle, lifejacket, and spray skirt; and, I took her out for the first time on Sunday. The afternoon turned warm as I finished lunch and loaded the Rascal into the bed of Brad's truck. I journeyed north to Kenai Lake, where a small campground has a boat ramp to offload into the turquoise waters of the Kenai River. Silt from the nearby glaciers turn the water this magical color but it remains cloudy lake itself and then clears up later down stream. I nosed the kayak into the water, adjusted my skirt and set off with a goal of getting to one side of the lake and back with no incident. I succeeded.

The rascal moves solidly, is easy to maneuver among the tight spaces near the shore, and is wide enough to balance my shifting my hips and getting comfortable in the pocket. It's a bit slow, due to design, so I will likely rent or borrow a larger kayak for actual sea kayaking or longer day trips.

Not many salmon inhabit the lake itself, and fishing for them is prohibited. Trout limits are one per person, but due to the cloudy water, I did not spy any. Instead, I chased some gulls and loons occupying nooks around the water's edge and enjoyed the sunshine- while it lasted. Through the pass, the wind picked up and gave me 12-18 inch waves across the lake, making my transit back to the ramp a test. I was out for about 2 hours before heading in under rainclouds.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Behemoth Mulcher

Brad and I worked to clear a bunch of debris from the yard. Much of the property's arbors needed pruning and the spring melt left behind lots of litter. With the help of a great house guest who wanted to do yard work (seriously, she did!), we gathered the branches and fed them to the mulcher.
At Resurrection Rentals, they only have one size of mulcher available for rent: behemoth. Even Brad went "whoa" when he saw what he was getting for his money. Alas, it was a wee bit much for what we needed to do; but he still had fun playing with heavy machinery. Clad in protective head gear with ear muffs, he safely operated the noisy and destructive vortex for about two hours.
Although the machine sprayed the mulch into a specific area in the yard, it was certainly not accurate. Despite the hardwork for us and our houseguest, we enjoyed warm 60+ degree temperatures and direct sunlight in a cloudless sky. The yard is taking shape but needs lots of work. More to come!