Monday, April 28, 2008

Shopping and eating and SNOW?!? OH MY!

Yes, that’s right… snow. As in more than a foot of snow in Anchorage on Friday. Which we got to see first-hand as we drove around in it during our weekend away!

Jason was supposed to be playing in a hockey tournament this past weekend, which happened to coincide with my birthday. Originally, I was going to just send him on his way, and just wait to celebrate til he got back (and, of course, pout about a birthday weekend alone…shhh), but he convinced me to go with him.

Imagine how lucky I felt, um, I mean, upset, when the hockey tournament got cancelled AFTER we’d already purchased plane tickets, so we had to go with not a single hockey game to interrupt the fun! I mean, it was sad to not get to watch a single hockey game. Whatever…

We got over there on Thursday morning, and proceeded to drive around for a good portion of the day, after getting a yummy breakfast at Gwennie’s, a local favorite. Once it was late enough to check into the hotel, we took the time to strategize to ensure we hit all the highlights for the weekend! When you only get “civilization” once every few months, you definitely need to make the most of your time!

Thursday was a gorgeous day, though snow had been forecast. They repeated the forecast for Friday, but we figured they’d be wrong again. So, with a possible trip to the zoo (along with shopping!) on the agenda for Friday, imagine our surprise when we did, in fact, wake up to snow – and a lot of it – on Friday morning! We stuck to shopping, skipping the zoo, and staying indoors (with the car in the safety of a parking garage!) to avoid the worst of it. Eventually we had to venture out, though, and this is what greeted us:Unfortunately, the quality of the pictures isn’t that great because I took them out the window of our hotel room, but you get the point. Although it looked pretty downtown (oooo, snow), the parking lot picture shows what we’re talking about! Yeah, that’s about a foot of snow, and it was only 10pm, and it kept snowing all night. Saturday was worse!
What redeemed Saturday, though, at least for the time we were driving around town - you guessed it, shopping some more – was this… my new favorite place in the world:
Yes, that says “Chocolate Lounge.” As in, “Come in, lounge, have some chocolate. How about some chocolate you drink? Or, if you’d rather, chocolate you eat. Or, go crazy! Have both!” So, we had both. This place has super fancy schmancy truffles like the kind you hear about on Food Network. They put all kinds of crazy things in a truffle, which are supposed to somehow work together. Besides that, though, they have what they call “drinking chocolate,” which is a nod to Mayan tradition. You can get the silky smooth, or the Mayan, which has a spice to it (three different kinds of pepper, and it’s fabulous!). You can have it plain or in an espresso drink, which is what we had. Oh, it was so good!

We got some truffles to go, too… chocolate with lavender, or maybe a little Hawaiian sea salt, one with agave. I have no idea if any of them will taste good, but I got the least weird of the bunch, I think. We skipped the ones that had anchovy on top (I guess it’s the same theory as the sea salt), but we did branch out a bit. Plus, they look pretty!

Anyway, if I hadn’t gone anywhere else for the whole weekend, I would’ve been happy to just go there!

Of course, we didn’t stop there – and my other favorite part of the weekend was our fancy dinner at the Crow’s Nest on the 20th floor of our hotel. The sky started to clear while we were eating, so we got a bit of a view of the mountains breaking through the clouds. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring the camera (because somehow the giant backpack I generally tote it around in was not exactly the accessory I was going for with my outfit for the evening) so there are no pictures. But, take my word for it – the view was second only to the food, which was FANTASTIC! And, in a weird twist of events, Jason had the scallops and I ordered the rabbit. I’m pretty sure the earth didn’t stop spinning, but it was an odd turn of events!

Sunday was an exciting day of ordering deck supplies from Lowe’s to be BushMailed, along with just wishing we could head home! It was a great weekend, but we were ready to get home. You can really only do so much shopping and eating! Besides, when I got home (after a very sporty landing!), there were birthday serenades on the answering machine, and a hefty piece of chocolate cake waiting to be eaten! Oh, and Jason wanted to try out the new game for the Wii - yes, that's him playing Super Mario Kart at 11pm! Crazy kid!
So that’s all the latest from Alaska… I know I shouldn’t be surprised that it snowed over my birthday weekend, but, I guess a small part of me is. I mean, seriously – the end of April?!?! *Sigh* The weekend away was wonderful, though, and just what I need to get me through the last of the winter! (At least it better be the last of it!)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

By request... what KMXT passed on.

Well, Ishmael, this is for you...

Since I had a request to see what pictures I had given to the radio station to try to get into the 2009 calendar, I figured I might as well publish them somewhere - even if it is just my own blog. And, since I haven't updated in a while, this is what you get.

For family and friends that check this to see what's going on around here - lots of hiking these days! Up until yesterday, we'd had 9 days in a row of sunshine, so we were taking full advantage of it! Yesterday it rained, got sunny, rained again, and then eventually snowed. Yes, snowed. Not much, but enough to turn the lawn white. It's back to brown again today, though, so all is well. We also had wicked winds today - 50-60 mph gusts, I think. We were joking that in some parts of the world, they call that a hurricane. Here, we just go clean up the yard of the mess when it's all done!

Anyway, here are the 6 pictures I submitted to KMXT. I think they're good, but I guess I'll just have to survive with a smaller audience!
This is a view of the town of Kodiak from on top of Pillar Mountain on a gorgeous summer day last year. I can't remember if I zoomed or cropped or anything on this one, but I think I did. This is the original image, though.

This one is the front of the Kodiak Winery out in Chiniak. Sadly, we recently read in the paper that the winery won't be opening this year. We're pretty bummed about it, because it was always a good excuse to head out to the end of the road!

This is one of my favorite pictures - I was determined last summer to get flowers with snow in the background. So, here we have some Lupine and Wild Geranium, and the view back towards town from somewhere on the road on the way back from Chiniak.

A view of one of the local boat harbors. Because I'm still bad at Kodiak geography, I don't know the name, but it's on Near Island.

This guy is one of the local residents of Pasagshak. Yes, there is a herd of buffalo on Kodiak. Who knew!

And, finally, these guys have already been on the blog before, but they're worth another look. More local residents, hanging out and scoping out the harbor on a January day.

So, those were my contributions. I think they capture a good look at Kodiak. And, they're some of my favorite shots over the past 10 months (has it been that long!?) of living here.

Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Take this, KMXT!

Ok, that's a little harsh for a post title, I guess. I was going to go with "I love it when the camera's ready," but I guess I'm feeling a little more bitter than I thought! I'll get to that in a minute, though...

Usually, when something good happens that would be an amazing picture, the camera is either at home, or in the car, or the battery is dead, or I have the wrong lens on, or whatever. That's changing, though, because I'm starting to just grab the bag (ginormous as it is) almost every time I head out the door. And, then, of course, I'm also bringing it on purpose every once in a while, too, as was the case on Friday afternoon.

Our priest, Father Paul, who had been here in Kodiak for nearly 15 years, resigned from our parish right after Christmas, effective the week after Easter. So his last service with us was last Sunday (a Celtic Service - very neat!), and then he was on the ferry out of here on Friday. Though we've only been at St. James for a short time, we really like Fr. Paul, and he was a big part of the reason I got over my sobbing tears the first week (missing our old church!), and went back for the second week. We're sad to see him go, but happy that he's taking this time for himself to figure out what's best for him, which in turn helps the church figure it out a little, too! But, I digress...

Since Fr. Paul was on the ferry on Friday, we headed down to the "terminal" (that's giving it a little more credit than it's due, I think) to see him off. Sadly, we were late (I actually had to work on a Friday afternoon!!), so we went down to the gazebo in the harbor to at least wave to him from there. We had some time to kill while we waited for the ferry to make its way by for it's u-turn, so we hopped out of the car, hoods up against the light rain, to let Fred wander and to let ourselves get ready so we wouldn't miss him. Of course, for this occasion, I was armed with the camera on purpose, but caught some amazing shots sort of by accident.

As we stood there, a sea lion swam by. This is not that unheard of, and I've gotten a few pictures of them before, but I pulled the camera out anyway, hoping to get a better shot (meaning, in focus, not too far away, and with identifiable features above the water... all things I've been lacking before!) Imagine my excitement when my new friend started thrashing around in the water, showing off a little for us! He wasn't actually showing off, he was playing with his food, but still... holy cow! So, here's what I saw!

Yeah, I'm going to leave it with just the pictures. That probably ranks up at the top of the list of "coolest things I've seen in Kodiak."

Back to the title of the post... Our local public radio station put an ad in the paper, looking for photos of Kodiak scenery to put in their 2009 calendar. I diligently and carefully combed through my hundreds (probably close to 1000!) of pictures of Kodiak scenery from the past 9 months, and selected six that I thought would look great hanging on a wall or refridgerator. I packaged them up, complete with explanation of what each was, and hand-delivered them to the radio station's offices. The day after dropping them off, I came across the 2008 calendar, and, flipping through it, thought, "Hey, I might have a shot of getting one of my pictures in there!" It's now a week past the deadline, and one of the pilots Jason works with got a call asking for his picture in a digital format, and I've heard nothing. It appears as though KMXT has passed me over this year, which is kind of bothering me. I think I've done a pretty good job of capturing Kodiak, so I'm a little let-down on not making it to the calendar.

Sigh... I guess I'll console myself by looking at the absolutely incredible shots of a sea lion playing with a skate....

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What I've seen in Kodiak for the past few weeks...

Once again, I've been a little derelict in updating the blog. I really do mean to update it once a week, but sometimes there's just not much going on. So, since my trusty camera goes with me everywhere, I can at least show off what I've been seeing through the lens for the past couple weeks. This will obviously be a very picture heavy post. Hope you enjoy the view(s)!

Starting off with March 14th (I'm trying to think if this date is right... it seems too early, but I'll go with it!), on a walk out at Spruce Cape... we'd had a pretty good storm, and it resulted in a new crop of driftwood.

Now this one is from the day before Easter. We ended up getting a couple inches of snow, making it look a little more like Christmas than Easter! But then, Easter morning, the sky broke and the sun came out, and it was beautiful! This was the day before!

The next two are from yet another walk out at Spruce Cape. This was on the 25th, with snow still on the ground. Even with the snow, though, the first picture is a promising sign of spring! It's coming! The second pic needs no explanation!

And, finally, I grabbed my camera on the way out the door the other morning (the 27th), on the second day in a row of clear skies in the morning. I rushed out to the scenic overlook on the way out to the base, hoping that the sun wouldn't be up quite enough yet to make the moon fade. I had seen it the day before, but didn't have my camera, so I just hoped, all the way there, that I'd get the chance to get the shot I wanted. I wasn't disappointed! I think this picture captures part of why I find Kodiak so beautiful. I just can't imagine being able to see this outside Alaska!
This picture was taken at about 7:50am. It looks dark, but that was me messing with the settings to try to capture the moon better. And, it's a little off-kilter, but that's a function of fighting with the wind! It was about 27 degrees out that morning, and I was trying to take the pictures as fast as I could! Because I know Dad will ask - sunrise is just before 8am these days, and it's staying light out until about 9pm. We're trying to adjust to the late light in the evening - it's easy to lose track of time - and we're looking forward to the earlier sunrises. It makes it tough to get up when it's still more dark than light!

So those are the views of Kodiak over the past couple weeks! I took a ton of pictures at Gabriel's 1st birthday party on Sunday, so that was also a part of our view lately, but I'll let Beth share those on her blog! (First I have to get her copies!) I also took some pictures of two of my other favorite neighborhood kids, but, again, I'll let Mary share those on her blog (again, when I get them to her)! And, I'll be nice, Beth, and leave that fabulous picture of you off the net all together!

That's all from here! Until next time....