Thursday, August 31, 2006

Trump News

Trump fires Carolyn and replaces her with Ivanka!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Homer Recap!

Sorry it's taken...geesh, two weeks to get together a Homer recap. Homer is a fishing/art community at the end of the Kenai Peninsula, about 200 miles from Anchorage.

The first thing that happened when we got into our room at Land's End was a call from Captain Scott, kindly confirming the details of our fishing charter the next morning.

That's right -- fishing. Personally, I don't like the idea of killing things, then eating them. In fact, I've been known to be grossed out by the cracking sound of crustacean legs or anything with eyes googling up at me from a plate. In my world, fish filets come in beautifully shaped squares and my crab is imitation. So fishing has never really risen to the top of the list of things to do.

However, I do really, really, like to eat halibut, and the idea of being on a boat in the open water, like a really lame version of "Deadliest Catch", really appeals to me.

So we wound up at dock 4 at 6:00 am, with our newly acquired fishing licenses in hand, ready to catch some fish. As "safety girl" I had brought two extra pairs of hats/mittens and an extra woolly in addition to my blue rain slicker and "Van de Camp" orange fishing hat.

The water started out pretty smooth, then, well, not so smooth. In fact, it made everyone sick, including Frank. I, on the other hand, was having a lot of fun because I am motion-sickness immune. Once we stopped, though, we all had trouble negotiating the deck while handling fishing poles. Oh, and did I tell you it was raining and cold? It was.

To fish for halibut, you use a lot of poles, and the lines have weights on them to help the bait (herring) get to the sea floor where the halibut live. In our case, Captain Scott chose to go along the kelp beds where very big halibut live but also where the water was shallower (which is helpful for us rookies).

Fishing is not nonstop excitement -- there is a lot of waiting involved while you wait for something to catch the line. In our case, we waited quite a while before we caught our first halibut.

As you can see, halibut are pretty ugly fish. They are flat, and their eyes are on the right side of their heads. In some ways, it's hard to not feel sorry for them, kind of like the little bottomfeeder in your childhood aquarium. I mean, they already have so many things going wrong for them, do you really need to taunt them with a herring?

I only caught one halibut. I was fiddling with a pole (called "jigging") and all of the sudden something was on the other side of the line pulling in the opposite direction. Balancing on a boat while alternating pulling up and reeling is not as easy as it looks. I kept falling down and the reel kept sliding all over the place. However, in just a few minutes, with the help of the Captain, the halibut did find its' way onto the boat. It was very exciting!

Here's Frank demonstrating jigging:

Here's the fish:
Mine was the one furthest to the left here:

Frank and his mom can't believe how big the fish we caught were! Honestly, although we did wind up with 54.5 lbs of halibut, Homer itself really stole the show. Homer is an incredible little town, situated in one of the most beautiful bays in the world.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sunny Day!

After all these days of rain, today is a good day to be outside!

Here are a few things taht were interesting today:
1) I think what our house needs is a pirate ship playouse.
2) As predicted, the "Hairy Buffalo" of illegal airport liquids can potentially cause strange chemical reactions.
3) Chena Hot Springs in Fairbanks is moving off of diesel power which is really great.
4) Strange choice: The new season of survivor is going to split people into tribes based on ethnicity.

Have a good day!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Doing the Can-Can

In the NorthtoAK house, we are in full garden harvest mode. Because of the rain and relatively cold season, our usually monstrous garden is not so impressive this year. The raspberries barely covered 32 oz, our zucchini, usually hugely impressive, barely eeked out one little fruit. In fact, the only things that are doing really well are the lavender, mint, and currants.

Yesterday, we spent most of our day canning with bright hopes that they would wind up like our rasberry-almond jam from last year. Canning is always a bit fun because it's a grown-up chemistry experiment laced with quite a bit of danger. This year, we raised the stakes by making mint-jalapeno jelly, mint and rosemary wine jelly, and raspberry-rhubarb jam.

The jam looks pretty good -- maybe not totally solid but certainly jam-ish. However, the mint jellies are liquid, which is a bummer. We might have to do some mint jelly troubleshooting later on today. Otherwise, we will just rename them "sauces" and be done with it.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Back to Katmai

Katmai National Park is an incredible place. Even if you have never heard of it, you've seen the pictures of bears catching salmon at a set of falls. That scene is why most people come to Katmai.

It's a spectacular place that, like a lot of Alaska, you can't get to by road. We took a plane from Anchorage to King Salmon on Pen Air, then onto Katmai by floatplane.

Honestly, the flights are incredible. I'm always stunned by how colorful Alaska can be -- from the Caribbean blue of a volcanic-fed lake to the vivid green of the muskeg. On this flight, you get to see both of those as well as fly over some of the most dramatic mountain ranges you will ever see in your life.

We eventually landed on a misty beach in Katmai National Park, gateway to the "Land of 10,000 Smokes". The first thing that we all needed to do was to listen to a bear orientation video. It was pretty basic -- don't feed the bears, don't get close to the bears, don't run away from the bears, etc.

I'll tell you, though, I'm very glad we had that orientation, because we saw a LOT of bears, up close!

Some of my favorite parts of the trip:
1) Imagine walking out of the bathroom like Frank's mom and seeing a bear walking across your path about 10 feet away!
2) Watching the bears for the first time at the falls. A mom (pictured above) was teaching her younger cub how to fish.

3) The Land of 10,000 Smokes Tour was incredible! If you don't know, the land of 10,000 Smokes is named after an botanist viewed the aftermath of the Novarupta eruption. Just a huge amount of ash has built a strange "Grand Canyon"-like scene in this unlikely place:

It's Normal

ADN and the Weather Service says 9 days of straight rain in the forecast for Anchorage in August is normal. The problem is that we didn't have a hot summer like the last few summers so we are all feeling a little bummed.

Did you get the Memo?

I couldn't resist. At the Fred Meyer checkout line the other day, I spied something I could not live without. My guilty secret -- I LOVE the movie Office Space, from Mike Judge, creator of Beavis and Butthead.

Have you ever watched "Office Space"? It came out the year I started working in the IT industry, and it has been dear to my heart ever since.

The beauty of the movie is that it has something that resonates for everyone that has ever worked in an office. From Milton, the creepy, unappealing coke-bottle glassed dweeb in the office to "printer rage", it reminds everyone of the pieces of flair that the demoralizing post-boom corporate culture forced us to deal with in the late 90s.

Sigh. I wonder whether they will make a movie ever about the virtual teams of today? If so, I demand to be played by Nicole Kidman. I'll keep a hold of my Red Swingline Stapler, too, just in case :)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Here comes the rain again...

Jeepers! Will it ever stop raining in this place? You'd think we were in the midwest if it wasn't for the mountains and the lack of thunderstorms. It reminds me of the great flood of August '04. I've even pulled out my "Happy Lamp" prematurely and am secretly hoping for snow.

The only good thing about the weather change is that it's the perfect time to go see
Snakes on a Plane. It's got Samuel L. Jackson in it so it should be good right?

I'll try to catch up on the blogging too this weekend. Have a good weekend!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Bear with me.. I get all my pictures up from Katmai NP.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

More Explosives and the art of proper ventilation

Last year about this time, there was a guy who brought a cannonball into Anchorage. This year, we have another "explosive story" about a kid who found a howitzer projectile in Girdwood and brought it home. Hmm...

As for the NorthtoAK clan, this is a busy time! We flew back to town on Sunday, and are getting ready for Frank's parents to come in tomorrow. Yikes! This means we are doing a lot of cleaning and running around.

As I was drooling while cleaning our bathroom with some crazy chemical, I thought that I would remind you all to use proper ventilation when doing heavy chemical cleaning. Heck, maybe not using heavy chemicals might even be a good thing in the long run :).

In other news...we have THREE BIRTHDAYS to celebrate!
Mandy's birthday was on Sunday...

Dad's birthday is today...

Frank's birthday is tomorrow...