Back In Evergreen

I just spent the week back up in Evergreen/Genesee Colorado cat sitting for Pat, the overly generous guy who offered up his second home for Adrienne, then the two of us before we moved to Montrose. While I was back in Evergreen I was initially expecting to have a few small jobs lined up to do but they both fell through. So instead I ended up wandering around and exploring a little bit, relaxed, and visited Neil up in Fort Collins.

Here Neil is serenading me with a song about my quirky particularities with women.

Here Neil is serenading me with a song about my quirky particularities with women.

Here is a car that resembles KITT the talking car from the hit 80's TV series Knight Rider.  Oh, and the significance is that Neil loved this car, and the show.

Here is a car that resembles KITT the talking car from the hit 80’s TV series Knight Rider. Oh, and the significance is that Neil loved this car, and the show…accept this one has no doors.  I guess who needs doors though when your car can talk to you?

Here is a crazy house built up on the hill in Genesee.  It looks like something from The Jetsons.

Here is a crazy house built up on the hill in Genesee. It looks like something from The Jetsons.

One of the first days back in town I headed to the grocery store in Evergreen on the CT-90 and tried to take a new route that avoided highways—It was a blast. I wandered all through Genesee and into Genesee Park (which I didn’t know existed) on a dirt road, perfect for the CT-90, that wandered all though the woods and up and down mountain passes. Here is a view from one of the overlooks where the road parallels highway 70 down below. While trying to find where this road is supposed to meet up with a road that passes over or under the highway to link-up behind the grocery store, I stumbled upon this amazing building at the end of an unpaved cul-de-sac. So cool!

From Genesee Park Dr. overlooking I-70

From Genesee Park Dr. overlooking I-70

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Here is the outhouse.

Here is the outhouse.

While up in Fort Collins, Neil and I had some adventures, as always, and wandered around the city for the night. The following day I bought myself a really decent mountain bike at the salvation army for only $19. You can’t beat that kind of deal…accept for all the freebies that I find all the time (usually not quite this nice though). On my way back to Montrose at the end of the week, I picked up a new used Coleman air conditioning unit for the RV. Who knows how old the darn thing was, but when I plugged it in and the low pressure line got so cold that it chilled me to the bone, I knew there was nothing to haggle on and gave the man his $200 and went on my way. Here are a few photos from the drive before the sun went below the horizon.

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Adventures In Ouray Colorado

During our first week in Montrose, I finally got the CT-90 running after a lot of pushing and frustration—which should have been a quick indication that something was very off and I should take a big step back, but I was stubborn and kept pushing, convinced that I had everything right. Turns out, in my hastiness of a rebuild, I threw the fuel selector plate on 180 degrees off from where it should be and the fuel was never turning on. After getting everything set and seating the new piston rings in the freshly bored cylinder, Adrienne got home from work and we took it for a ride through town on some errands. We decided that it would be fun to take it on a short trip that afternoon and went home to get ourselves ready and proceeded to head the 36 mix-mountain-flatland miles from Montrose to the mountain town of Ouray Colorado. The drive was beautiful, the evening was perfect, and the food and beer was great. We stumbled upon the Ourayle House Brewery, a small micro brewery on a side street in Ouray. We got a gourmet pizza from a place across the street and drank some of the best beer I’ve had in a while. Adrienne was in full support when I suggested we drive up the switchback pass that overlooks the town before heading back to Montrose and it was was well worth the 15-20 mph crawl up the side of the mountain. What a spectacular night.

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Drinking some delicious beer with our dinner at the Ourayle House Brewery in Ouray Colorado.

Drinking some delicious beer with our dinner at the Ourayle House Brewery in Ouray Colorado.

 

Back In Evergreen – But Not For Long

When I finally got home from Alaska, Adrienne picked me up from the airport in Denver and we headed back to Pat’s house in Genesee. When we got there we had the night to get situated and finish staging our belongings for our move and a little bit of time to relax. We went to a concert later that night that was pretty fun and included Adrienne and I dancing like fools (something we do well) for the finale of the show. The following morning we made homemade salted caramel chocolate covered macadamia nut clusters. Here are some photos of that. They turned out amazing.

The homemade caramel mixed with the macadamia nuts.  Forming the clusters.

The homemade caramel mixed with the macadamia nuts. Forming the clusters.

The clusters after covering with chocolate.

The clusters after covering with chocolate.

Then we packed up all our belongings and got he truck and RV ready to move to our new home in Montrose for Adrienne’s new job as Habitat of Montrose’s new construction manager. And off we went! 12:30 am we arrived in our new driveway dumbfounded at our fortune and beautiful new home. Here are some photos of the new house.

All packed up getting ready to say goodbye to Evergreen.

All packed up getting ready to say goodbye to Evergreen.

Adrienne in our new kitchen.  It's hard to believe we've only been here 2 days from the photos.  2 days in and we had it fully furnished.

Adrienne in our new kitchen. It’s hard to believe we’ve only been here 2 days from the photos. 2 days in and we had it fully furnished.

Our living room, a slight work in progress but never-the-less comfortable.

Our living room, a slight work in progress but never-the-less comfortable.

 

 

A Final Day In The Last Frontier

My last day in Alaska was bitter sweet and you will shortly find out why. I spent the entire morning wandering around Anchorage and at about noon I got a text from Adrienne asking for my flight information. When I finally stopped and took a close look at the information I realized that my flight had already taken off at 12:05 am the previous morning. Well DANG, I really dropped the ball on that one. I spent the next 2 hours on the phone bouncing between Orbitz agents, American Airlines agents, and Alaska Air agents who finally adjusted my ticket and got me a new flight for the next day. In the end I spent an additional $250 + the initial $114 to change this flight + the $190 to change the flight from King Salmon. What a nightmare.

After all that was over with I decided to get over being depressed about missing my flight and thinking about the fact that I should have been home already by going out for a long bike ride trying to find Earthquake Park. As it turns out I rode clear past the park and got caught up talking to a homeless guy riding a bike who talked to me nonstop for the next 4 miles and maybe 30 min straight about the 30 years of life experiences in quirky Alaska.

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In the end I turned around and rode back down the 10 miles I had ridden along the coastal trail and back into down town Anchorage. On my way I came across a moose just hanging out having a snack on the side of the coastal trail. Wow, even after 4 years in Maine and all the road trips I’ve taken, this was my first live moose.

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When I got back to Anchorage I met up with Jason’s friend Sioned who was free for the evening. Earlier that afternoon Adrienne had set me up with the option to meet up with a friend of hers she met from working with Habitat for Humanity. Sioned and I went to get some of the best sushi I’ve ever had before heading to Girdwood to meet Adrienne’s friend Allison for some live music. We took our time on the drive because it was so darn beautiful we had to take some pictures and we got to the bar after the band was done for the night and just in time for last call. We got one beer and headed with Allison to another nearby bar for a few more drinks. Allison was super nice and a wonderful person to meet so far from home. We finally parted ways and headed back to Anchorage for a short 30 min rest at Sioned’s before she dropped me off at the airport at 3:30 am for my 5:00 flight. What a way to bring an end to this seemingly endless adventure.

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A view of Mount Rainier from just outside Seattle's Sea Tac airport.

A view of Mount Rainier from just outside Seattle’s Sea Tac airport.

Alasaka – The Last Few Days

Here is an account of my last few days in Alaska.

At Funny River, Jason’s bandmates ate all of the lunch meat and cheese that Randy and I bought for making sandwiches.  We went home after only one night at the festival due to Jason’s Sh**ty situation.  When we got home I set out to buy some more lunch meat and cheese.  It was really late and only one grocery store in the area was open–although their deli was not. I ran into a worker that just happened to be behind the deli doing something else and so I asked him about pre-packaged meats and cheeses. He showed me some random bags of meat and cheese and told me that he could only sell me bags that had price tags on them already. After much deliberation, I settled on a few items. One of the packages he showed me was a huge stick of salami that probably weighed 3 lbs. The salami had a price tag on it but something told us that it was not accurate. Maybe it was the fact that the tag indicated that it weighed only 0.33 lbs which was grossly inaccurate. He gave it to me anyway and said here, you can try to check out with it but I don’t think it will work. Well guess what—it did! I got maybe $15 worth of salami for $2.88

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The next morning Jason, Tara, Randy and I went to see Portage Glacier. It was a wonderful trip which I was able to appreciate even more once I got back to Colorado and talked to someone that was also recently in Alaska and went on a glacier cruise only to find that they didn’t see any real glaciers, only areas where the glaciers once where. He was very disappointed—we were not. Here are a few photos from our trip to Portage.

Randy, Tara, Jason and I

Randy, Tara, Jason and I

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Two days prior, one of Jason’s bandmates had given him an old beat up Saturn station wagon that had been in the family for years and now was just sitting neglected in the driveway. Jason and I found a set of good tires on craigslist, went and picked them up in downtown Anchorage from some guy about our age, then took the car around the corner and had them installed. What do you know, 2 days after getting the car, he wants it back because his sister just blew up the engine in her Honda for the 3rd time and needs another set of wheels. To our dismay we returned the car the following day…but only after finding a new car for Jason in craigslist. Many adventures ensued. Here she is, a beautiful 1991 Ford Tempo re-named “Tempura”.

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Later that day, Tara and I took the car on a 35 mile trek north to look at a vehicle for her and just barely made it to the guys house. We coasted into the parking lot of the auto parts store right in front of the guys house. We left the car for some later TLC and walked to the guys house to look at the Nissan truck for Tara. Turns out the Nissan had a broken back window, lots of rust, and it wouldn’t start…so we gave up pretty quickly on that. The man showed us another vehicle he was selling for the same price, $888, that was a 90’s era Chevy blazer with a V6. It started pretty well and seemed to run well, everything looked pretty clean so we took it for a test drive. It ran well for the drive so we were getting pretty serious and close to committing to buy it from the guy when it started to run rough all of the sudden and stalled. Then I started it back up and it started running rough and stalled again, and again. Then I couldn’t get it to start. We looked at each other and said the heck with this, we can only deal with one POS at a time, we will already be lucky if we get home with the Ford Tempo. So Tara and I went to the auto parts store and purchased all the supplies to do a full tune up on the Tempo. We performed the work in the parking lot and proceeded home. The car seemed to run a lot better to start but then it began running like utter crap for the last 75% of the drive. The next day Jason and I lost the makeshift muffler while going up a slight incline into the auto parts store parking lot for a fuel pressure test kit. This adventure just keeps getting better and better. For stories like this alone, I recommend everyone go on craigslist and buy a car for $600. Oh, and I have failed to mention that the Tempo has a screw driver for an ignition, the entire ignition assembly was missing.

That night Tara and I lit up the BBQ grill and made an enormous platter of food. 3 pork chops, 6 ears of corn and a huge artichoke. We ate all but maybe 2 ears of corn, what a night.

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Funny River Bluegrass Festival

When my fishing buddy’s parents dropped me off at a road side pull off to meet back up with Jason and the crew, we headed to the Funny River Bluegrass Festival. The first bit of business was to to catch me up on what I had missed while in Seward fishing. Apparently the night before Jason had Sh**his pants 3 times and after the 2nd he had fashioned himself a diaper out of a trash bag. We all had an insanely good laugh but were, now, a bit shell shocked about spending the upcoming weekend with him in a tent. When we got to the festival, Jason began setting up his tent, which he described as a 5 person tent. As we rolled the tent out on the ground it became very clear that Jason’s perception of size and space is very off. This, so-called 5 person tent, was really a 2 or maybe 3 person tent—not big enough for sh**ty pants Jason, his girl friend, myself, and Randy. Randy and I decided to sleep in the car and leave the tent to Jason and his girl friend. Which was a good idea—I’ll explain later.

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While getting situated by the car/camp site, an RV similar to mine and Adrienne’s pulled up next to us. I was making crude comments about Philly when a voice from inside said, “Is someone talking trash on Philly?” I walked up and introduced myself and the fact that I just moved from the Philly suburbs and the woman inside riddled off a list of places she had recently lived—Allentown, New Hope, Doylestown…all places very near where I grew up. As the night went on, we talked quite a bit and became pretty close. Tyla (Tee-la) and her girlfriend hung out with me most of the night. Here is a photo of the two of them.

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The kids at the Blues Festival were priceless—throwing handfuls of dirt at each other all evening. The most memorable incident was when a little boy walked up to the cutest little black girl and asked her if she wanted a shower. She emphatically said YES and proceeded to stand perfectly still with the most enormous grin as he “showered” her with two fist-fulls of dirt. What a perfect youthful oxymoron.

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Then there was the most precious little boy pretending to walk this dog.

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The entire property was full of character. From the truck-bed full of cans destine for recycling, to the old Ford station wagon being taken back by mother nature, this property was a really exciting place to have a festival. There were flame throwers and fire dancers to light up the night.

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Fishing After Fishing

My buddy Jeff, the other deckhand on our commercial fishing boat, asked me if I wanted to go fishing with him and his father shortly after we got done with the season and back to Anchorage.  The timing was perfect for it and we were able to make a solid plan, so I went for it.  Jeff’s parents were some of the most nice and accommodating people I’ve ever met and it made the entire trip to Alaska worth every penny and minute of my time.  They picked me up in Anchorage and drove us down to their summer home in Seward, Alaska.  It was a gorgeous drive and we had a wonderful non-stop conversation the entire ride–which also included Jeff’s mom offering me salted caramel chocolate covered macadamia nut clusters during the entire ride.

The next day we got a nice start to the day and Jeff’s mom made use each 2 sandwiches to take on the boat with us.  We got the boat hitched up to the truck and drove down to the boat ramp in Seward.  The drive out to the fishing spot was amazingly beautiful and we spotted a sleeping humpback whale.  We started fishing around 11:30 and by 5:00 we had caught our limit of 18 fish.  Jeff and his dad were gracious enough to give me virtually all the fish we caught to take home with me–just when I thought I was going home empty handed.  Now, I have 23 lbs. of fresh Salmon to take home with me.

The sleeping humpback whale we saw on our way out to the fishing spot.

The sleeping humpback whale we saw on our way out to the fishing spot.

The rods out and down riggers set - what a sight here in Alaska.

The rods out and down riggers set – what a sight here in Alaska.

Here I am with one of the Salmon I caught - what an amazing fish.

Here I am with one of the Salmon I caught – what an amazing fish.

On our way in we spotted a school of killer whales and got some real neat photos of them porpoising.  When we got back to the dock, I removed all the scales from the fish and Jeff and his dad did all the fine fillet work.  We then took the fillet’s to a place in town to have them vacuum packed and frozen for transportation back to Evergreen with me on the plane.  What an awesome day!

Our cooler full of the days catch!

Our cooler full of the days catch!

Here is one of the killer whales we saw on the way in flapping its tail up into the air.

Here is one of the killer whales we saw on the way in flapping its tail up into the air.

 

Commercial Salmon Fishing – Bristol Bay Alaska

 Here is a somewhat detailed synopsis of my experience commercial salmon fishing in Alaska’s Bristol Bay.  I will be adding to this as time allows, but for now here is something to start with.  Keep in mind this is just my account on one boat, by no means is this intended to be a 100% factual depiction of what this industry is like, it is just one mans observations and it’s primarily intended to entertain – then inform.  So, please, enjoy!

A beautiful view from the mouth of the Ugashik river where we fished.

A beautiful view from the mouth of the Ugashik river where we fished.

Another beautiful view from the mouth of the Ugashik river at sunrise.

Another beautiful view from the mouth of the Ugashik river at sunrise.

The entire back of the boat full of fresh Salmon after a good pick of fish from the nets.

The entire back of the boat full of fresh Salmon after a good pick of fish from the nets.

Here is a boat off-loading its catch at the end of the day to the Trident Seafoods tender vessel "Time Bandit" which was featured on the Discovery TV series "Deadliest Catch".

Here is a boat off-loading its catch at the end of the day to the Trident Seafoods tender vessel “Time Bandit” which was featured on the Discovery TV series “Deadliest Catch”.

A typical set-netter fishing boat headed out on an errand.  These boats and crews set a net at a specific location rather than drift with the net like the larger boats do.

A typical set-netter fishing boat headed out on an errand. These boats and crews set a net at a specific location rather than drift with the net like the larger boats do.

After spending 25 days living with two other men on a boat, on land and at sea, in one of the most remote areas of the world, Bristol Bay in Alaska, plenty of human and natural dynamics come into effect and help create many unique experiences. And after being out-of-touch with modern forms of communication for the last 15 days, I’ll try to fill in the gaps and paint an interesting and accurate picture of what it could be like and what it is like up in these remote waters, doing what I’m doing—commissioning a commercial fishing boat, living with strange people in close quarters, and commercially catching Sockeye Salmon for the rest of the world to eat.

Here I am posing with, of course, the smallest sockeye salmon we caught all season...we ate it for lunch that day.

Here I am posing with, of course, the smallest sockeye salmon we caught all season…we ate it for lunch that day.

The commercial salmon fishery here in Bristol Bay Alaska runs a little something like this: People from all over Alaska and some from other nearby areas of the US such as Bellingham, Washington and a few stragglers from other random cities across the US, purchase one of the limited commercial salmon fishing licenses from a previous owner, buy a boat known as a “Bristol Bay Gill Netter” and put a crew together of 2-3 people to help with the fishing. The whole process typically begins in April and really gains momentum early May when most boat owners arrive in at the King Salmon Airport in Alaska and drive up to the town of Naknek to begin work commissioning their fishing vessel for the season. It’s not uncommon for boat owner’s to work 20 hour days getting their boats ready. The sun hardly hits the horizon in this far northern region of the world before it rises again. Owners and crew become delirious with what day it is, what time of day or night it is, and sleep and eat whenever nature calls on them to do so. It’s a very new take on life and work. It becomes apparent pretty quick that it’s almost a race to get your boat ready first and get in the water as soon as possible to start fishing. The first week of the season is known as “Free Week” where fisherman can fish as much as they want, whenever they want. Since it’s still early in the season, the catch is not typically very good but it all adds up in the end.

All the vehicles in King Salmon and Naknek are forgotten relics from decades past. It’s a little like going back in time except the name of the game is to keep it running for 3 weeks and that’s all that anyone seems to care about. When you go to the small grocery store in town or one of the canneries and look at the parking lot you would think you are looking at a junk yard only chances are all of the vehicles you are looking at run and are actively being used. People are driving vehicles with cracked cylinder heads, non-working alternators, bad batteries, tires with cracks so deep they resemble the earth in the driest regions of Death Valley, California. Some of the quick fixes for these issues include owning more than one battery for the vehicle so that you can charge one while you’re using the other, carrying a lot of water with you when you drive anywhere, and jumper cables are a must-have. Most vehicles sound like a great grandfather that smoked for 80 years and is dying a slow and painful death of emphysema while trying to run a marathon in a smog inundated city. The scariest part of this whole equation is that we haven’t started talking about the boats yet…and a lot of the boats aren’t much better.

Here is a typical vehicle found on the road in Naknek, Alaska.  As you can see, the bed is, well, not structurally sound anymore.

Here is a typical vehicle found on the road in Naknek, Alaska. As you can see, the bed is, well, not structurally sound anymore.

Here is the other crew member Jeff posing next to another style of typical vehicle found on the road in Naknek, Alaska.  Wild.

Here is the other crew member Jeff posing next to another style of typical vehicle found on the road in Naknek, Alaska. Wild.

When it comes to commissioning the boats, the concept of fixing something takes on a whole new definition—at least from all of the detailed training I’ve had over the last 20 years. Fixing something on one of these boats means to make or just try to make it work, not to ensure that it will work in the future. Fixing something on one of these boats means to directly wire everything to anything, to twist wires together and wrap electrical tape around the poor weather exposed joint, to epoxy bolts in place that can’t be tightened or loosened and provide no additional stability or benefit, to use a piece of old chewed up car tire and a bolt as a “drain plug” to seal a drain hole in the keel of the boat and then to fiberglass over the bottom of it at the start of every season, or to use a separate switch to excite an alternator instead of just wiring it into the ignition switch. Everything on one of these boats causes stray disruptive radio frequencies and not many things work consistently or reliably. Thankfully most of them are outfitted with trusty 2-stroke diesel engines that are robust and resilient to this kind of ineffective maintenance.

It’s a pretty strange world in the Bristol Bay fisheries. Some boats are fast, most boats are not – barely able to get out of their own way in heavy seas. They perform a little like a tug boat – low speed, large propeller, lots of pulling power, big and fat like a bathtub.

Here is a typical Bristol Bay Gill-netter -- the style of boat used in this salmon drift net fishery.

Here is a typical Bristol Bay Gill-netter — the style of boat used in this salmon drift net fishery.

As a crew living aboard one of these vessels you are much at the whim of the captain. Many captains have strange quirks which add up to create many comical dynamics if you are not the one subject to them. With the excessive masculinity and lack of check by the opposite sex, men are peeing in empty peanut butter jars and pooping in buckets, eating fresh salmon from the same unwashed pan for 25 days straight, eating nothing but starch for 25 days with an exception for the fresh fish, not showering for 25 days, and eating 8,000 calories a day.

Here is Jeff's lunch, two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a can of chef boyardee.

Here is Jeff’s lunch, two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a can of chef boyardee.

At typical lunch and dinner on a fishing day or the day after a fishing day--fresh pan fried salmon.  Mmm

At typical lunch and dinner on a fishing day or the day after a fishing day–fresh pan fried salmon. Mmm

Here is an example of a more elaborate meal that I made: hand made veggie burgers made from black beans, canned corn, a piece of bread, instant mashed potatoes, and some soul seasoning. (probably why I was deemed the "chef of the boat")

Here is an example of a more elaborate meal that I made: hand made veggie burgers made from black beans, canned corn, a piece of bread, instant mashed potatoes, and some soul seasoning. (probably why I was deemed the “chef of the boat”)

Getting ready to fish

So I’m up here in Naknek, Alaska working on the boat the Exodus getting ready to launch for the Salmon fishing season in Bristol Bay.  It’s only been a hand full of days so far but as you can imagine, a ton has happened.  Here are some photos that paint a brief picture of what’s going up her before we launch the boat in the next two days or so.  I’ll add more detail later when I have more time.  It’s a miracle I have any access to internet up here.

 

Here is only a fraction of the view from the plane flight from Anchorage to King Salmon.

Here is only a fraction of the view from the plane flight from Anchorage to King Salmon.

Here is the view as I hitch hiked in the back of an old beat up Ford pick up truck from the little airport in King Salmon to the boat yard in Naknek.

Here is the view as I hitch hiked in the back of an old beat up Ford pick up truck from the little airport in King Salmon to the boat yard in Naknek.

Here is the truck that gave me a ride.

Here is the truck that gave me a ride.

This is the boat the Exodus that I will be fishing on this season.  A nice salty old fiberglass boat amidst yards and yards full of 1/4 - 1/2 a million dollar aluminum boats.

This is the boat the Exodus that I will be fishing on this season. A nice salty old fiberglass boat amidst yards and yards full of 1/4 – 1/2 a million dollar aluminum boats.

Here is the kind of stuff people do up here for fun.  The local population is only around 500 and thousands of people flock here to work in the canneries for a few months each summer.  The rest are the fishermen of the 1900 boats that make up the fleet I'll be fishing with.

Here is the kind of stuff people do up here for fun. The local population is only around 500 and thousands of people flock here to work in the canneries for a few months each summer. The rest are the fishermen of the 1900 boats that make up the fleet I’ll be fishing with.

Here is the galley on the boat.  This is where all our meals will be made, fresh salmon everyday whether you like it or not.

Here is the galley on the boat. This is where all our meals will be made, fresh salmon everyday whether you like it or not.

 

Here is my bunk.  It pretty much sucks.  It has two stiff hydraulic hoses that protrude down into my sleeping area that run the anchor winch.  Luckily I scored a real thick REI sleeping pad at a boat sale for $2 the other day that makes my back a lot happier.

Here is my bunk. It pretty much sucks. It has two stiff hydraulic hoses that protrude down into my sleeping area that run the anchor winch. Luckily I scored a real thick REI sleeping pad at a boat sale for $2 the other day that makes my back a lot happier.

 

 

 

 

Off to Anchorage Alaska

Adrienne and I spent the entire day preparing for my departure to Alaska today and despite having an abundance of time and working pretty hard all day at getting everything done, we finally got off to the airport at around 9:00 for a 10:20 flight – the drive to the airport is a good hour alone.  Needless to say, in typical Jake Harr fashion, I arrived at the ticket counter at 10:00 and the woman said, “I’m not sure I can get you on this flight Mr. Harr.”  She said, “you have maybe 10 minutes to get through security and board the plane.”  So off I ran, through the entire airport, security – where I got stopped because I had a laptop in my backpack – had to go back through security.  Meanwhile, a man on the shuttle train between terminals appeared to be masturbating and a woman saw him and asked another man, “is that man doing what I think he’s doing?”  Then off to the gate  – which was 15 gates away from where I started.  I arrived at the gate, which was desolate, to two employees saying, you must be Mr. Harr? at which time I threw my hands, full of bags, up to the sides like wings and said, in a panting voice, “I made it, Alaska here I come!”  The rest of the flight was long, sweaty, and uncomfortably confining, smashed between two grown men.

Beautiful sunset over the mountains on our way to the airport.

Beautiful sunset over the mountains on our way to the airport.

When I arrived in Anchorage, the airport was quiet and empty, the time was 1:30 Am and I was hungry but nothing was open.  I ended up getting in touch with my dear friend Jason from high school and he came and picked me up 10 min later.  I was a bit delirious and confused and had him drop me back off at the airport 2 hours before I really needed to be back.  During which time 6:00 finally rolled around and they delayed the flight till 7:00, then at 7 till 8:0, then at 8 till, 9:00 and finally at 9 they said they had canceled the flight and rescheduled it for 5:00 in the afternoon.

The view as you fly into Anchorage, just outside the city,  Immense snow capped peaks...but 68 degrees and sunny in the city.  Beautiful!

The view as you fly into Anchorage, just outside the city, Immense snow capped peaks…but 68 degrees and sunny in the city. Beautiful!

Needless to say, I did not stick around in the airport all day, I hopped on the bus for $2 and headed downtown.  I hung out in a nice local cafe for the morning and tried to come up with a plan.  I headed next door and struck up a great conversation with the worker at a graphic art shop that made beautiful hand silk screened tee shirts, clothing, and accessories.  After sharing a truncated version of each of our life stories, she recommended renting a bicycle and riding the coastal trail.  After I paid for the bike, Jason called me back and decided to meet me on his bike and we proceeded to cycle around Anchorage all afternoon, eventually landing ourselves at Taco King for a well needed meal.  Here are some photos of these adventures.IMG_3098 copy

 

Jason and I at Taco King  before I devoured this fried ice cream.

Jason and I at Taco King before I devoured this fried ice cream.

Now, I’m back at the airport for my 5:00 flight, which has had it’s final delay posted with a confirmed departure time of 6:15.  While sitting here, everyone is agitated due to the situation and cracking jokes about PenAir, the airline we are all flying.  A man next to me said, “PenAir, in typical Alaskan fashion, just sit around and do nothing.”  And his friend said, “you’re not supposed to hibernate in the summer though.”  Meanwhile I just received this text message from Jason that says, “I went to Alaska and all I got was this lousy suntan.”  What a trip.