Thursday, August 12, 2010

We're only in it for the HALIBUT!

This week I have a lot of down time on tour and things have been pretty crazy lately so I thought I'd bring my computer along and catch up with some of the latest Alaskan Adventures.

We had a week off toward the end of July because a company rented out one of the cruise ships so I was able to go on a Halibut charter with two of my friends and one even had his Dad and Grandpa in town. We went this summer again with Frank and Wild Rose Charters out of Ninilchuk (seriously highly recommended he is so great!).

After an early start and a small boat advisory we made an adjustment and drove down to Homer instead to stay safe, and luckily we got BEAUTIFUL weather and had so much fun on the boat together reeling in the fish!

Fun story the first two spots we caught only two small guys that you couldn't keep and a mother-in-law fish (that's what they called it, it's really ugly)! So once we moved to the 3rd spot and we're fishing 250 ft. down and Grandpa had the rod that's called a "jig" I think but he was tired of it so we switched this round - well within ten minutes I felt a strong bite, hooked my first Halibut and reeled it in -It was so hard to reel about 30 lbs. up 250 ft. but I didn't want to seem like the girl so although my fore arms burned I caught the first keeper of the day.

Then we got him in the boat and re-baited my line and I let it down. Within ten more min I hooked the second keeper of the day. About half way though I had one of the boys help me out it hurt so bad on my arms. Then I gave up the "hot" pole and moved to the other side of the boat by two poles just sitting in the holder I did a half reel on one pole as Frank instructed to move the bait a bit and within 30 sec I saw a halibut take the bait so I started reeling the 3rd KEEPER of the day. I didn't want to lose the fish which is why I started reeling right away but I also turned and stated - "Someone come take this I'm NOT reeling this one it!" I turned it over and was officially dubbed the "lucky" one of the day!

We continued for the next hour or so catching keepers and the occational Scate (sp?) which is like a sting rayish fish that spins the whole way up - poor boys had to reel that one in. But we caught our limit of two a piece and I think maybe Grandpa got the biggest of the day (it was between him and me). And it was nice to see that the boys were struggling to reel in the fish all the way from 250 ft down too! Cohen's Dad just sat there and laughed at us at first so we were more than happy to return the favor once he finally felt the "forearm" pain.

Then after we had a successful morning we went with Frank to check his two crab pots in the bay. I became the official crab measurer - which may be my future career calling (here I come Deadliest Catch)! But in the first pot we got an additional starfish and in the second pot AN OCTOPUS! Apparently they make great Halibut bait so we kept him but had to put him in with the fish and seriously five of us had to PEEL him off the boat and after we were done it was like someone with really bad allergies just sneezed all over your hands. We got 5 keepers and threw back about 13 others that weren't quite big enough and not worth the $110 fine but Frank was so nice and let us take a half a crab for each one of us!

We took back our catch and although we each only got about two hours of sleep we stayed awake long enough to watch Frank filet the fish and help to vaccum pack them, and even watch them disect the Octopus down too - * Did you know that Octopus have a beak? Like a bird, it's so cool I actually got to hold it - so crazy!*

Grandpa, Benji, Cohen, Brian, & Me (check out the octopus hanging up in the back behind Benji)

Overall it was such a great day and there is nothing better than good fishing with good people and we headed back to our friends cabin to enjoy our crab and "poor man's lobster" = Halibut cheeks + sprite + melted butter. The boys even caught a few Sockeye Salmon right on the backs of the Kenai as well and we all crashed that night after such a full day - true Alaskan Goodness!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Solstice

So I was in Talkeetna for the first day of summer and the mountain was beautiful - somehow I was so busy watching it I didn't take a picture. However I did get up the night before at 12:30am to take this beauty once the sun finally set behind the Alaska Range!

Total Tourist

Even though each week I work with a different group of Tourists - I can't help but do some of the things they do. No I don't complain about not having a "view" room every hotel when there is only a 50% chance I'll get it. No I don't pack 10 bags for a 12 day vacation. No I don't wear a fanny pack.
But I do always have my camera on me and I love to take those classic tourist pictures.

For instance we went to Talkeetna (a small town between Anchorage and Denali where all the climbers of Mt. McKinley fly out of) and of course I had to take these photo ops.

Plus who turns down the chance to go to North Pole, AK and meet Santa Claus - not me!

Who knows maybe I'll be rocking the Alaska sweatshirt with the wolf howling at the moon and the fanny pack by the end of summer. Oh well I don't feel bad!

Fun with Friends

Now I do get a few days off even though I work hard when I'm actually on the clock - and on those days we usually try to get together with friends and do something together.

These last few weeks I've really enjoyed going down to the Winner Creek trail and hiking into the hand tram across the river.

Jared, Conner, and I on the trail

Fun on the Tram across the River

Also we headed out to Bob's cabin (my cook from last year) and took a little cruise around the lake on a beautiful evening and enjoyed his wonderful cooking and oversized campfire marshmellows that made the biggest smore's I've ever eaten.

Crusin on the Dock w/ a trolley motor
The group on a nature hike

Good Times

Alaska FAM

So at the start of the season we get to do a FAM trip, which is basically a familiarization trip so that we know what properties have what layout and policies and what are different vendors offer to our guests for their optional land excursions. This year it was really fun to get to know the new tour directors while visiting parts of Alaska again and learning even more.

Sea Life Center and Iditarod Puppies at Jeff King's House

Viewing of the Alaska Pipeline

Flight up to the Artic Circle

Read the sign closely:

Please Don't Climb on the Pipeline, it is difficult to maintain your footing and you may fall - not that it's actually dangerous for the pipe!

Denali National Park - Tundra Wilderness Tour

Caribou and Moose

The Grizzly Bear and the state bird - Williow Ptarmigan

(don't pronounce the P in Ptarmigan)

Dr. Dad

I was only in Alaska less than a week before I was on a plane back home to celebrate two things. The first is that my cousin Amy got home from her mission to McAllen Texas, and the second was that my dad graduated from Gonzaga University with his PhD in Leadership Studies. Everyone came into town and it was so fun to spend time together - of course I wanted more but I had to get back up to Alaska for my first tour!
Papa with Gage

It was so good to see Amy and it seemed so completely normal right away. I'm so glad that she's been able to have this amazing experience but I'm thrilled that she's only a phone call away now and that we can still have many more adventures to come.

The graduation was a typical ceremony, although I thought both the speakers were "interesting." The first promised to be brief but droned on about nothing that really related and the student speaker seemed like he hadn't even prepared - it was rough. However we finally waited and cheered Dad on as he received his doctoral hood. Then in true Munson (my mom's side of the family) style we headed out for loads of pictures.

Finally we all went home and called Ryan on his mission and just had a great time. Amy spoke in church the next day and after lunch everyone kind of headed their own way and I went straight to the airport for the land of the North. I also pretty much said goodbye to the house because a new family will probably be there before I get back. At least we had one more great weekend together all at home!

Break Downs and Black Bear - Oh my!

So right after Mexico I left to drive up to Alaska for this summer season. We had a great start until just after the Canadian Border when we broke down in Lethbridge. After a nice gentleman stopped to help we asked if we could find a phone book to call a Bishop from our church - once he found out we were mormon he called up his "mormon friend" they gave us some numbers but they lived closest to the mechanic so we asked and they were so nice to let us stay with them Monday night.

Well Monday night turned into Tuesday for the evaluation, Wednesday to fix the car, Thursday to finish it and have the highway close north of us for a freak white-out snow storm and we finally left Friday.

This family was so nice they not only housed us but also gave us food, took us on multiple tours of the town, insisted we go to the town auction, watched american idol with us, and introduced us to some boys from their home ward. And come to find out the Dad is SANTA CLAUS - seriously in the winter he dresses up like Santa for the local mall- complete with Reindeer and he had some great stories. He also invented a brand of Cheetos that they only sell in Canada too - so crazy.

Yeah he invented these, and we tried on the Reindeer Bells too!

Now we didn't just take and take, we were able to clean and polish their cabinents after we insisted on doing something, also got grease off the ceiling and wiped off the blinds. And Hana was able to call her sisters in for help too - their daughter was living in Texas and needed a ride for her board examinations for dental hygine school and Hana's sisters lived on either side of her so one picked her up and took her to the other's house for the weekend and got her to her test on time too. Now up here in Alaska we were able to pick up their niece from the airport to get them on a bus up to Denali for their summer jobs and swing by and say hello as well. The connections have just been crazy but we were so appreciative of the help.

The rest of the trip ran smoothly, driving up the Alcan and into Alaska - we saw lots of animals and did pretty well on gas and although we were a little stressed we all made it in time for work.

Feliz Cumpleanos Leo!

More catch up like usual - but anyway here goes. Right before Alaska I headed to Mexico for a Kaiizen trip which was nice and small with a group of people that are great. I loved everything from the traditional drive, seeing the kids, staying at the beach house for my first time, and just being back in Mexico.

Some of the highlights:

1) Josh buying the new Double Chicken Sandwich or something from KFC, which is like cheese and bacon between two huge pieces of chicken (gross) AND then making everyone try at least one bite to get back into the car!

2) Getting to the beach house and Josh "surpervising" the rest of us weed his personal house! (J/K he helped a little bit himself and it went pretty fast for the "forrest we found).

3) Tacos, tacos, and more tacos at our favorite stands!

The RV behind me makes great tacos!

4) Having the kids do a fund run and meeting two of the newest kids like "cousin amigo" - (we have a volunteer bring down her 5 yr. old son who watches Dora the Explorer so that's what he calls Iban!)

Cousin Amigo - Iban and the Group photo

5) The kids "surprising" by having us fill drained eggs shells with confetti and flour and having an all out war - some of these left welts (and I'm pretty sure Josh instigated a huddle before and said "I don't care if they're kids, take no mercy!")

The Calm and The Storm

Sarah takes no mercy!

Calling finish (he got hit right in the face 3 sec later)

Oh yeah we got to clean up everything too - surprise!

6) Just being silly with the kids

7) Leo's birthday party where we had great food - fun games (the Americans vs. the Mexicans and we won the first one so we got to paint their faces with charcol)

Leo making his way to the surprise (I'm pretty sure the boys just hit him in the nuts right before this picture - happy birthday to you!)

We love it when we win!

The hugging game - group of 3 (down to the finals)

It was such a great trip and it's always so nice to have a weekend surrounded by great people.