Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hey-O! Har-Aska!

June 25 - July 14, 2008

If you had asked me a year ago where I would be traveling to this summer, I certainly would not have guessed Alaska. So how did I end up spending 2.5 weeks there? Well, Rose and Joe decided to live in Alaska for a few months (Alaska has been Joe's wet dream since... well you know) and with some convincing from them both, my flight was booked and off I went to the land of fishing and men...or so I thought.

View of Alaska from the plane:

Anchorage, Alaska Airport:

Thai Green Curry with Fresh Halibut caught by Joe: This is what greeted me when I arrived. Amen for men who cook...

Joe cutting up fresh sockeye salmon sashimi: absolutely the freshest and best tasting sashimi I have ever tasted in my life. The fish was literally caught by Joe less than 24 hours before. How fresh can you get?

Within hours of my arrival, we were off to climb Flattop Mountain.

Flattop Mountain is a 3,510 ft mountain, 2.4km trail, with an elevation of 1,280 ft.

We started the climb at approx. 10pm and this is how dark it was at midnight. It was absolutely amazing not having any darkness. I'm a night person, so this worked out perfectly for me!

Right after climbing Flattop Mountain, we were off to the Russian River which was a few hours south of Anchorage in the Kenai Peninsula.

This pic describes the trip perfectly.... it was all about packing, unpacking, repacking...packing, unpacking, repacking...

Why sleep when you can drink Alaskan beer and watch Joe fish the Russian River at 4am?!?!

Vagine Boots!!!

Vagine boots are the best! You can walk through the river without worrying about getting wet. It's like being a kid all over again!

I love, love, love my Vagine Boots!

Fishing the Russian: I caught a sockeye salmon fish with SARs. It was gross looking. Phil caught the same one the next day.

BEARS! Phil and Joe were on the side of the river with the bears and had to cross the fast rushing river as quickly as possible. I have never seen a bear outside of a zoo, never mind having them so close! A bit too close for comfort if you ask me!

Mountain Goats: Alaska was certainly filled with a lot of wildlife in its habitat! So exciting since I didn't get to see any wildlife throughout my cross-Canada Drive.

On the drive to Homer, we saw this beautiful dog on top of a car in a McDonald's parking lot. Apparently he's always there.
Sigh, what a life!

Eagles, Eagles Everywhere!

Hay-Yay! Blunt Force!

Homer, Alaska: "Homer - A quaint little drinking village with a fishing problem."

Sea Otter: I absolutely fell in love with Sea Otters while in Alaska. They have the ideal life: all they do is eat crab, play and sleep all day long. Also, they do not have any predators because they are so hairy that no other animal want to prey on them! So they have no fears! If there is such thing as reincarnation, I want to come back as a Sea Otter!

Joe fishing in Homer:

King Salmon Catch:
Salty Dawg Saloon in Homer:

Dollar, Dollar Bills Y'all: everyone sticks a dollar bill wherever their heart desires
View of Homer: just breathtaking.

Homer at night:

Don't mess with me right in the morning after spending the night sleeping in the car:

Cabin in Homer:

Enjoying an Alaskan Beer on the patio: what I certainly do best!

View of the Augustine Volcano from the Cabin Patio:

Boys cooking/smoking a king salmon:

The best salmon ever!

I love, love, love fire pits!

Early morning in Homer before taking off on a chartered boat:

Driving out 1.5hr to the fishing site was spectacular. There is nothing like boating through the water with the mountains surrounding you on either side.

Joe's polarized sunglasses are absolutely ridiculous. Honestly, what is the purpose of having the side panels? But in Alaska, these are considered H.O.T!

Fishing was fun but a lot of work. First the fishing rod is heavy. In fact you need a strap to ensure it doesn't fall in the water. Second, the weight/bait was added heaviness (approx. 8lbs). Third, the min. weight of a fish was 20lbs! At the end of it, you are reeling in a 20lb fish from 300ft below with a heavy fishing rod and bait. My first catch was certainly scary and had the captain not been there, I think I would've been a goner... along with the fish.
Rose's 60lb Ling Cod Catch: the captain fillet the fish and found the head of another fish in it's stomach!

1 of 2 of my halibut catches!

All the excitement took its toll on Phil:

E-Fishin-Sea: how clever! must be Asians who own this boat!

Ling Cods are really ugly but damn tasty:

Take that!

A day's worth of catches on our chartered boat excluding the 6 halibuts that the captain fillet on the boat!

Seward, Alaska: before the tide comes in, everyone goes out and digs for clams!

My first clam! Clam digging is a lot of fun....

...but a lot of work! You have to look for dimples in the sand, then dig a hole and really dig your arms in like you're making your way to China!

An hour of clamming brought us all these razor clams! yummm...

Joe made clam chowder with the clams we got from that morning. It was sooo good. My mouth is still watering just thinking about it... yummmm

Church on top of a hill in Seward:

Kayaking in Seward:

Seward, Alaska:

Seal in the Seward Aquarium: we sneaked in by initially going to the bathroom and realizing that you can just enter without needing to pay! Asian Efficiency!

Cabin in Seward:

Nothing makes waking up easier than knowing there will be an awesome breakfast waiting for you!
Outside of the cabin:

Star, the real owner of the cabin!

Drive to Hope, Alaska:

Hope, Alaska: Like the sign says, "Alaska's Best Preserved Gold Rush Town" They weren't lying. It was like a deserted town from a scary movie!

This liquor store was going out of business. We got some ridiculously cheap liquor. Though now that I'm thinking about it, I wonder how long the liquor had been there...

Don't ask me why I put my entire face in the cutout of the dog's eyes...

Library, Gift Shop, and Espresso of Hope. The sign captures the extent of the whole town.

Old and abandoned in Hope:

After a week of road-tripping around Alaska, we went back to the city... or as close to a major city that you can get in Alaska.

Sashimi Time!!!! Sigh, nothing like fresh caught sockeye salmon sashimi...

Copper River, Alaska: We stayed in an efficiency cabin which means its literally a cabin made of plywood with bunk beds and sink. It really showed me how little one actually needs since even though we had very little we had the most fun here.

Joe making pigs in a blanket on our beloved fire pit.

Phil and his perfectly put together s'more. The Horng brothers always had the most perfectly roasted marshmellows, whereas I always had carcinagenic ones =(

Bugs absolutely love me. Bug nets are hot in Alaska. Honestly, what man can resist me while donning such attire?

Note the sign. The shop not only offers groceries, beer and liquor but also showers! Only in Alaska...

Historic church made entirely of tree logs.
Valdez had many little quaint shops with aboriginal items:
Only in Alaska would you come across such a sign.

This is the lodge that Rose and I discovered on our walk that we used as our luxury getaway from the efficiency cabin.

It's raining, our fire is out but the fun keeps on going...

Breakfast of champions:

All the signs in Alaska are riddled with bullet holes:

Drive to Kinnecott:

Kinnecott, Alaska: an abandoned mining camp. The last train left in 1938 leaving it a ghost town.

Footbridge to the Kennecott shuttle: This is the only access point to the town.

Under the sand/gravel are glaciers:
You know me well enough to know that I am scared out of my mind being in such a scary place!

All the old abandoned buildings:

We think this is the skull of a least that's what I keep telling myself....

We kept walking into abandoned buildings with obvious signs prohibiting entry. I am more worried about ghosts than the building collapsing on my head!

I'm a curious monkey...

Phil obviously likes boys...

Shuttle back to the pedestrian bridge: the words on the van did not lie. The driver was quite entertaining.... well as the people riding along with us.

The gravel road to Kennecott was a road of GIANT pot holes which left us with a flat tire. This definitely confirmed 2 things for me. 1 - Kennecott is a town to be left alone. 2-Alaskans are the nice and most helpful people you'll come across.

Drive to Valdez:

Glacier on the way to Valdez:

This is how we stretch our legs during long road trips:
Glacier on the way to Valdez:

Take that!

It's amazing that on the drives to various parts of Alaska you can pass snow covered mountains and lush green mountains within miles of each other.

Valdez, Alaska:

Bears are everywhere.... and close too! If you forget about the fact that they can kill you, they certainly do have the cutest butts!

This dog just wanted to join in the seagulls fun!

This picture is what Joe and Phil pleasure themselves to:

Yay! I caught a salmon!
Efficiency Cabins in Valdez:

The boys at work cooking up our dinner:

Ferry ride back to Anchorage:

Glacial Pieces:

View of Whittier from the ferry:
This apartment building is where all the residents of Whittier live. I do not kid. One apartment building for the ENTIRE town!
This building has asbestos which means they cannot destroy it.

This peach really took a beating in my bag but it was still really tasty!

Arriving at the train station in Anchorage:

While Rose and I took the ferry & train back to Anchorage, the boys went fishing on a boat. This fish looks like Nemo:

This halibut that they caught was so large they had to shoot it with a gun first!

Again, another sign riddled with bullets. I guess Alaskans have to find amusement somewhere...

The boys took a private plane out somewhere to fish.

View from the chartered plane:

The boys were in fishing heaven:

Phil got to fly the plane:

While the boys went fishing, Rose and I enjoyed eating and drinking in the city:Alaska is certainly one of a kind:

Eagles are absolutely beautiful:

A rainbow over an Alaskan Mountain:
Alaska was an absolutely beautiful experience. The pictures do not do it justice. I have to say, Alaska taught me how to enjoy the simple things. All you need in life is good fresh food and good people to share it with.