When I first started this blog, I though one of the regularily covered subjects would be life in Alaska. It's different enough from the lower 48 that I still find things remarkable here after 5 years. Endless blog fodder I thought.
I think this is my second or third posting that mentions life here. Oh well.
I have extended invitations to all my friends to come up and go fishing. Between time and money, raising kids, nursing starting businesses along, no one has made it.
There are 3 brothers I grew up with, the youngest is in Iraq. When he comes back, the plan is for all of them to come up here and go fishing. Just one more US Troop I pray for every day, the only difference is I know his name.
Now he warrants a posting himself. It turned out that he married a wicked unfaithful bitch and after a bitter divorce he reupped for the Navy (Naval Reserves?) I suspect that he went someplace where he knew there were people he could trust and rely on while his wound healed. If that doesn't speak volumes about the quality of people in our military I don't know what does.
A vet may understand this better than me.
He's old enough that most would wonder what he's doing there and I have to laugh at the cosmic humor of his position there. He comes from a Navy family that upholds the finest Naval tradition of hating all things Gyrene and Leatherneck. So what's he doing? He's a combat medic travelling with Marine convoys.
Yea, he's travelling on moving targets with men he 'hates' so he can save their lives.
I look forward to the day that he, his brothers, and I all get to romp about the state in the bush and on boats hauling in obscene amounts of fish.
Back to the original topic...
About 3 months ago, a buddy from Michigan who lives to fish e-mailed me and said "I have half off airfare to anywhere in North America and though this is the time to go fishing in Alaska. I'll never go otherwise." I told him to come on up and we'd go fishing.
A few calls to some charters and he had a week of fishing laid out. Two of the days I was supposed to go with him. It was all planned.
Some work and life pass by and soon he's walking out of the secure area at Ted Steven's Interational Airport at about 5pm sporting a big old grin and looking better than he did when I last saw him 5 years ago.
Between getting the rental car, driving him around Lake Hood, the worlds largest/busiest float plane airport (just to set the mood), buying fishing licenses and Salmon stamps and eating at the only sushi place open past 10pm (and the best sushi either of us had ever eaten) I had him out till after midnight, 4am his time.
He spent a month in Japan for work and was impressed with Sushi Ya. I need to take my wife there on a date when we get the time alone and the money!!!
One of his floatplane fishing charters had trouble with the plane so they put him on what must have been Plan "B". They offered a ride on a Otter
out to Kodiak Island. He took it an got to ride in the copilot's seat on the way out. When he told me about it he sounded like a kid, not a 50 year old guy. That's Alaska.
The next two days I was supposed to go with him, but I got hit by the flu, hard. I had a day of heaving and puking, the violent heaving where you can taste the bitterness of the bile from past the stomach, not just the sour stomach contents. Every muscle that attached to a rib was left sore. That was followed by two days of diarrhea.
And I know it wasn't food poisoning since I got it two days after my wife and our son had it as well as our two foster kids, all starting on separate days. A Roman vomitorium had nothing on us. Our babysitter even caught it and she assured us that she was immune since she already had the flu.
I missed out on the King Salmon fishing on the Kenai River and the Hallibut fishing out of Seward.
My buddy ended up mailing 57 pounds of frozen King Salmon back to his dad's house and has more Halibut than he can check on the plane. His total take was 2 Kings on Kodiak, 1 King on the Kenai, and 2 Halibut at 30 and 70 pounds.
He's giving me the extra Halibut and I want to show him how to cook it up so I suggested to my wife we have a Halibut Smorgasboard for him Friday night which led to the following conversation:
ME: We should have Rich over for a Halibut Smorgasboard Friday night and show him your 3 favorite recipies.
HER: [baleful glare]
ME: Otherwise he won't really know how to cook it.
HER: [baleful glare] And the three are?
ME: Halibut Olympia, the butter-potato chip one, and your fancy one.
HER: [baleful glare] And who's going to do all the cooking?
ME: Well, the Halibut Olympia is just mayo, cheese, bacon and Halibut mixed up and baked. That's easy, isn't it?
HER: [head nodding] yea...
ME: and the butter potato-chip one is even easier...
HER: [smiling] yea...
ME: and your fancy one is so good, how can we not make that?
HER: ...and I can buy some premade pesto for that one....
My buddy will get back to Michigan, start cooking his fish for friends he has over so he can share his Alaskan experience and find that it is all gone sooner than expected. And this will make no sense to him. He'll leave Alaska with over 100 pounds of fish, even with the airline restrictions, which by MIchigan standards is a lot of fish and eat it like an Alaskan (it's that good!). It'll be gone before he knows it.
Now the guy who thought he'd never make it to Alaska, except for some half priced airfare, is telling me he'll be back. I think his time here exceeded anything he could have imagined. Well, that's Alaska.
Lastly, he thinks he's dropped some weight. Up here, he'll eat a light breakfast, have lunch and be on the go till he's bushed. A light dinner and he's catching 4-6 hours sleep till the next day starts. All in all, just a great trip for him.
The sun was dangling up in the sky at 12:30am and he asked me "Andy, when do you sleep?"
"In the winter" was my answer.
I got an understanding laugh. "The sun does give you energy." He got it. He gets Alaska. He'll be back.