Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ah, civilization!

Seattle, to be exact!

I got an all-expense-paid trip to Seattle this week, courtesy of some new developments in fisheries management. By day, I attended a conference at NOAA's Alaska Fisheries Science Center (In Seattle? What?), and by night, I hit Seattle for some fun and food! Oh, the food... uh, I mean, the, uh... probably no one cares about that as much as I do. So I'll move on.

Tuesday was a long day in the conference, so there wasn't a lot of time for getting out to see things, so I just spent some time shopping and eating some fabulous risotto at an actual risotteria (a place that specializes in it! Wait, how'd I get back to the food??). Wednesday, though, we were done a little earlier, so I got to do some real sight-seeing.
Armed with my trusty camera, I headed out for a nice walk through town (it was GORGEOUS yesterday down there) and over to the Space Needle. Deciding to forego the $12.50 military rate to go UP in the Needle (nevermind the fear of heights), I snapped some pictures from the ground, and then spent my $12.00 at the Experience Music Project instead. I wandered around in there for close to two hours... I totally couldn't get enough of the Guitar Gallery, and they have a temporary Jimi Hendrix exhibition that was hard to walk away from.

Oh, and how cool is this? It's a cyclone made out of guitars (mostly) and a few other random instruments. This greets you as you walk into the EMP. So cool!
Admission included access to the Science Fiction Museum, too, but I passed that up since time was getting away from me, and I really wanted to check out Pike's Place before the vendors starting closing up shop for the night.

I don't even know what to say about Pike's Place, other than we need one in Kodiak. Holy sensory overload! Fruits, vegetables, street muscians, smells of delicious baked things, the famous fish throwers, the FLOWERS! Oh my gosh! The flowers! Honestly, though, after becoming acclimated to my little world here in Kodiak, Pike's was a little hard to handle. I wandered around for a while, and then headed back up to the shopping, of course. Before I left, though, I made sure to get a shot of my favorite fish:
Ok, it's not really my favorite fish - I mean, look at it. BUT, the lowly monkfish definitely kept me entertained when on boardings off the east coast. Just in case you wondered - even if mostly dead, a monkfish on the deck of a fishing boat WILL clamp down on your boot if you put it in its mouth. Just sayin'....
Eventually, I headed back to the hotel, picked up the car, and found my way to the nearest Kohl's. Mom, you'd be so proud of me - I swear, I have Kohl's radar! Oh, and, lucky for me, there was a Red Robin in the same place. Shopping and yummy burgers - how can you go wrong!!!

After almost missing my flight this morning due to a gate change and change-back debacle, I made it back to a gorgeous day in Kodiak - only to find that the fridge konked out at some point in time (recently because some stuff was still cold) during my trip. Thankfully I have a wonderful neighbor in Christina, and she rescued the stuff from the fridge (the freezer was a loss, completely...), and she rescued me from having to cook dinner, taking me in for the evening!
Hopefully tomorrow will bring a call from the repairman - luckily, it appears as though the fridge (if it's the compressor like I think it is) is still covered under the original warranty - with a wopping 6 days until it expires! YAY!
I thoroughly enjoyed the trip back into the real world, but was just as happy to get back home today. I would've been happier if I had a working refrigerator, but it's still good to be back in little ol' Kodiak.
Next up: The next visitors - Mom, Dad, and Heather! Looking forward to their arrival - hopefully we have a working fridge by then!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Our latest houseguests!

Ok, so maybe they were a little more than houseguests... ;)

Maryanne and Jim (aka Mom and Jim) made their way up here to Kodiak almost two weeks ago now, and enjoyed the Kodiak fun for about a week. They came in on the early jet on a Saturday morning, and left on the early jet the following Sunday. By the way, for those planning their big trips to the bustling metropolis of Kodiak, we say the "early jet" because there are only two jets per day - one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. We have other flights during the day, too, but those are little turboprop planes - the jets are actual 737's. Oh, and also, if you're meeting with your travel agent, and they ask you which one you want to take - you want the afternoon one. Want to know why? Because it's rude to make your hosts get up that early to pick you up at 7am. ;) (Just kidding! Mostly...)

We had a fantastic visit, with a flurry of outdoor activities to keep us busy. Luckily, the weather cooperated for almost the whole week - I just hope that doesn't mean we've used up all the good weather for the summer! So far, we haven't had much of a summer, and I'm just hoping it doesn't rain the whole time Mom, Dad and Heather are here!

I'm going to keep the commentary to a minimum, and just get to the pictures. Sadly, Jason took the small camera with him to Cordova, so I don't have any of our halibut fishing pictures. I'll just say that I am now just as "hooked" (HA! Get it?) on halibut fishing as I am on salmon fishing. We had a blast!! And, no, I did not toss my cookies while we were out on the boat. Just know that I'm very proud of that.

Moving on.....

Day one, once everyone got all cleaned up from the 24 hours of traveling, we headed over to the base to show the place off, and partake in the brats the Chief's Association were cookin' up. First stop, of course, was Jason's side of the base - let's face it, helo's are way more exciting than an office! Here are the boys posing for a quick shot next to one of the helo's!

We took other pics, but that's enough for now. Later that day, we headed out to Ft. Abercrombie for a quick walk with Fred, and a tour of the Military History Museum. Lucky for me, I was carrying my gorillapod, so I was able to get a shot of all four of us! It's not even that bad!

As the week went on, we picked a favorite place to hike every day. On this day, we went over to Near Island (connected to Kodiak by a bridge), and enjoyed a stroll on the beach. Jason enjoyed taking us on about a two mile detour because he thought he knew a different way back. Yeah, thanks Jason.

Before the detour, though, Jim and Maryanne enjoyed climbing up a pretty substantial breakwall and getting a view of the harbor on the other side. By the way, guys, you could see the same things from the top of the hill....

Not satisfied with what the Commissary and Safeway had to offer, Jim decided to check out the offerings for the bears while we were at the National Wildlife Refuge Visitor's Center. Hey, Jim, they say the bears can eat the pushki - wanna try it??

Thursday (was it Thursday???) found us "out the road" in Pasagshak. We promised Maryanne some buffalo, and thankfully, we didn't disappoint. It was touch and go for a while there when we didn't see them on the way out, but after our picnic lunch, we hiked up the cliff and found these guys. I was determined to get a good picture of them, and hiked half way across this open field to get closer. I quickly turned around when the big guy in the front actually noticed me. YIKES! (Photo courtesy of Jim!)

While we were still down on the beach, finishing up lunch, Jason took Maryanne over to the cliffs to look for fossils - the reason it's called Fossil Beach. I think Jason was a smidge disappointed to learn that Maryanne couldn't have cared less about the fossils - she's a "live animal" kind of girl! We didn't disappoint while in Pasagshak - when we hiked up the cliffs, we had a view of buffalo to the left, and whales playing in the inlet to the right! Where else can you find that?!?!?

On the last day of their trip, we were once again treated to some gorgeous weather! Following an hour or so of crafting at my friend Jana's house (by me and Maryanne), we headed out to Old Woman for a nice, long hike. Long hike = Fred carrying his own stuff.... yeah, he looks like he likes that, huh?

Referencing my comment about summer apparently skipping Kodiak this summer, I bring you exhibit A. Yes, that's snow. Ok, to be fair, it's at the top of a mountain. However, there was a lot more snow up there than about this time last year. How do I know that? Because the last time I was on Old Woman was about this time last year...
Incidentally, Maryanne, as I tried to look up Old Woman for another handy-dandy link, I found someone else's blog about hiking it. That guy said that it's called Old Woman because the old women used to hike up it to die. So we were off a little... And I don't know if he's right. It still might be because you feel like an Old Woman when you're done. Not sure.

Here's a view from the top... wait! How'd those people get in there? Oh, yeah, I actually tried to take some pictures of people this time around! So, here's everyone but me right before I decided to try to beat them all to the top of the next ridge. I don't think I was capable of taking pictures after that. I'm out of shape... that's what I learned that day.

And, finally, so people don't think I never step out from behind the camera - a little shot of the FlyingFish. Oh, and if you look closely, you'll see the tell-tale facial hair that indicates Jason had been on leave for a week! (Picture courtesy of Maryanne, I think... Maybe Jim)

So much for limiting the commentary. You all should know I can't shut up, so I'm sure you didn't expect anything less!
That was our week with the latest family visitors - we're now counting down til Mom, Dad and Heather get here! Luckily, I have a trip to Seattle for work to make the time pass more quickly (YAY! Civilization!!), since I'm really looking forward to the next round of guests!

Everything else is going well up here. We've both been busy with work (in order to be able to take the time off for visitors!), and have been taking advantage of every ounce of sunshine to get outside. I'm still waiting to put short-sleeves on - I was so sure I'd get there this year! - but other than chilly temps, we've had some decent days to enjoy the good part of Kodiak - the summer!

More summertime activity pictures to come in the next few weeks. At the least, I'll share the visit with my side of the family!

Monday, July 7, 2008

A day for the birds!

As my friend Rich would always say about a rainy day in North Carolina - "Nice day for a duck!" That's definitely what we've been experiencing for the last three or four days. UGH!

We were rained out for the 4th, though that didn't stop my pyro of a husband from playing with the fireworks he purchased from the local vendor, though! I'll save you all from those pictures, though, since they were the cheesiest fireworks ever, and the pictures were all taken from inside the garage because it was pouring and Jason was the only one excited enough to be out in the rain! Even with the rain, we hosted a cook-out (cook-in??) with a bunch of friends, including a few new arrivals to Kodiak. If you want to see who we partied with, check out Abbie and Jesse's blog, and Brad and Christina's blog. Brad and Christina are our new neighbors - bringing some life back to Coho circle after the house has been empty for a couple months now (we miss you Holloways!!!).
I digress, though, since this was supposed to be a blog about the birds. Even though we finally had a break in the rain today (I'm even looking out a BLUE skies right now!), it was still a fine day for a duck - or a bunch of 'em! We got out to Ft. Abercrombie for a walk, and Fred was not disappointed in his duck hunting. As we made the turn back up the hill from Lake Gertrude, a small (or big) family of ducks came into view. Jason had fun holding Fred back while I snapped a few pics.
At first, Mama was in the water. But she quickly hopped up on the log when she saw us coming. She was definitely very quick to protect her ducklings!

The funniest part about seeing these guys on the log was that the log was moving... there's just something funny about ducks balancing on a log!

As we got even closer, Mama got a bit more nervous, and headed back into the water. She must've signaled to her kids on the way, though, because they all joined her in the water shortly after.

And, yes, ducklings jumping off a log is almost as good as them balancing on it!

Finally, the little family swam off into the lillies, taking comfort, I'm sure, in the protection and camouflage the lillies offered.
Did I mention that, this whole time, Fred was laying down on the path, but at full alert, just waiting for Jason to ease up on the leash the tiniest bit? Yeah, he was ready. I'm not sure what he would ever do if he actually caught one!

Better than ducks, though, was the more regal variety of bird that was hanging out behind my building this afternoon. This guy caught my eye as I was packing up to leave the office. It's not unusual to see an eagle or two outside my window, but this one caught my eye because he was laying down like a chicken! Unfortunately, I couldn't get any closer than this before he moved. But you can definitely tell he's laying like a chicken. Guess he was tired!
As I said, I tried to get in closer, and he moved. So I just kept creeping toward him and snapping pics. I'll just share a couple of what I think were the best.

I don't care what people say about losing your awe for these guys once you see them at the dump. Dumpster divers or not, I'll never get used to this!

This was taken right after he stood up - he had to fluff!

I started to get the feeling he wasn't very happy with me interrupting his rest. He spent a lot of time swiveling his head around about 180 degrees, with every click of the camera. In my defense, a morale boat came into the basin to tie up, too, so he spent some time checking that out, too.

I think I got within about 10 or 15 yards of him, but kept snapping with my 300mm zoom. I need a bigger lense.....

Finally, I wasn't the only show in town.... my eagle friend seems to be wondering what's going on with that other bird!
So, even though the sun came out for a while today, it was still a day for the birds! Hope you enjoyed the view!
Quick edit here - so as to not leave them out, our party also included the Koehlers (their blog is linked over there on the right), and our friends Jerrod and Kate. Jerrod brought along his brother James, who just recently transferred to Kodiak, too!
Are you happy now, Beth!?! :) Love ya, chickie!