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Friday, June 29, 2012

Louisianaisms (Part One)

Living in Alaska for the last few years I have had many a conversation about things we do in Louisiana  that are unique, different, or just plain weird. Whether it's eating crawfish and alligator or zydeco music, we have a distinct way of doing things...
One of the most well known things we do in Louisiana is drink. I know that sounds strange and it certainly isn't something we should be "proud" of, but it is a Louisianaism. I grew up in a state that was the last to adopt the 21 year old drinking age, meaning I drank with my friends (who were 18 at the time) in high school. Now that Louisiana is serious about the drinking age, we still have the stigma of New Orleans, Mardi Gras, and 100 other reasons to party every day of the year. One feature of Louisiana no one believes me when I describe is the mystery of the drive threw daiquiri shop. We have several in Lake Charles, La, my favorite being The Frosty Factory. We took a break from floating parched in the pool for a few icy beverages. I took the opportunity to document the process here.

I loved living here, and wish I could take so much of Louisiana back with me to my new home: Alaska.  This trip I will return with 50 lbs of frozen food in an ice chest on July 10th. Tasty treats will include: alligator, andoille sausage, smoked deer, pork, and beef sausage, and crawfish. Keep posted for cooking dates...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Birthdays Never Get Old

Well I am officially "in my thirties" and loving every second of it! I suppose one could be sad, angry, or maybe even overreact to the number, but what would be the point of that?! I am young enough to run, surf, climb, dive, have fun, and generally get into lots of trouble. I am also old enough to relax, "enjoy finer things", afford to travel, and make good decisions. Okay, enough of the philosophical mumbo-jumbo.

Talk about your colossal screw-ups... I missed my flight to Baton Rouge, LA on Sunday night, scheduled to arrive in BTR Monday afternoon. Always a silver lining, it turns out it was perfect for my sanity. I had been burning the candle from both ends for way to long. With the extra time in Anchorage I got to relax, visit more with friends and loved ones, and leisurely head to the airport on Tuesday night. 
Arriving in Baton Rouge early in the morning was really nice. Its best to ease into a hot tub, I mean Louisiana, and not dive in to the 2:00 pm sweat box. The airport looked great, especially since the last time I was there the entire building was under construction. Meeting me at the airport, my lovely mother and I share a wonderful drive home and lots of conversation until others joined us. My wonderful sister and charming young nephew arrived for dinner later and we fired up the grill. 

I am in love with life, to say the least. It has become an annual tradition for my mother to make a cake and spoil the heck out of me. I don't mind. 
(Strawberry accented, cream cheese frosted birthday cake, with a side of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla)

Of course any logical person would say I deserve it, and I won't argue, but for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I've been getting up early and jogging, working out, and doing crunches every morning since. I am working up to a 5 mile full on jog/run, but I am currently stuck in a walk, jog, run routine. We'll see how it works out. 
My nephew needs a super hero uncle to look up to, after all. I love that little guy. Speaking of which, could there be anything better than a cool pool to hop into on a sweltering Louisiana day? 
I think not.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Interesting week, to say the least…

Since the fish have been running on the Yukon I haven’t slept much. Okay, lets be honest, it’s really just since summer kept the daylight pouring through my blinds all night. 

As I recall, Sunday was a late night, fishing until 1:00am. Monday was the same, and Tuesday was a catch-up day. Wednesday was an all nighter: cleaning fish until 5:00am, vacuum sealing, cleaning house, and then heading off to work. By lunch I left to catch the plane and hit the ground in Anchorage by 2:00pm Thursday. Happy to be in the big city, but with lots of work to do, I grabbed my car from the parking lot near my home. Changing the windshield and doing a little shopping I finished up the day with sushi at my favorite restaurant downtown. Ready for bed and running on fumes, I decided to share beer, good conversation, and a warm fire instead of calling it a night. Good sleep is a treasure I will not soon again underestimate.

Repairing the car further then wrapping up the sale, I moved on to the motorcycle.  Running like a top, I forgot how wonderful it was to ride in Alaskan summers.

Always something to do, shop for, or just errands to run, living two lives, one in the city and one in the Bush, is stressful. Compound that with Master’s homework and you have a maddening start of a promising vacation. I think this weekend was definitely worth it, though. Time with friends and loved ones is always worth it. I cherish this time and value it above all else. Maximize fun, minimize unhappiness, that's what I say. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Kings Are Here!

Well this weekend was a busy one to say the least! Last week was full of sleepless nights as the village teens enjoyed the daylight until 2:00 am nightly, but I finally caught up on Friday. Getting a solid 8 hours was vital because Saturday was full of the good old hard work Bush living requires. No complaints here, of course, I love the life and I love the Bush. 

Rainy and chilly, this Saturday morning was spent on the river. The chop was light and the wind was moderate. We decided to head up all the way to "Old A" or Old Andreavsky. This is an old village site before there were the towns of St. Mary's and Mountain Village, and the final resting place of a friend's family. 

Tying up logs or pushing them from the current to the shore we then sawed them into manageable pieces about five feet each. Loading them in the boat we then moved on until we were full then tied off more to tow home. Unloading and transporting the the sections in a cart pulled by ATV, we then stacked them into 2 piles 5 x 10 x 5 feet.

That is  lot of wood, but it was only about 1/3 or 1/4 of the total wood we gathered since breakup.

 Getting another good night's sleep and waking up with a stiff back I happily suffered through the unforgiving benches at the local Covenant Church for a few hours. The singing was great and the sermon was led by a teacher from Kentucky. I think he said he was a coach and a high school shop teacher back home and his presentation skills showed years of group engagements. This particular work team was visiting from Colorado, Kenai, Kentucky, and Ohio I believe. Often these "missionaries" will visit our village and do work around the building, lead studies and groups, or preach on Sunday. I always enjoy meeting new people and I love to hear the first impressions of Alaska from them. It reminds me of my first tie here...

After church I pounded out some homework then took a great midday steam with a friend, which we call maqii (maq-ki). Feeling relaxed and rejuvenated I went back to homework and prepared for the evening opening of subsistence salmon fishing. We all hoped the Kings would run soon and we were not disappointed!

The legal time when fishing was to be opened for personal use was 8:00pm, so we headed out to the spot we planned to drift over around 7:30pm. When the clock struck 8 we tossed our nets and spoke a quiet prayer. By 8:30 we had a king in the boat and it was all worth while!

All together we caught 4 kings, the biggest about 55 lbs, and 2 shefish. Getting home at around 1:00am  I wrapped up my fish and froze them whole, gutted and headed of course. I can't wait to share a little piece of my life and adventures with my family. I just can't wait...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

June on the Yukon

What a busy month it has been so far! With school out I thought maybe things would slow down. I guess I was mistaken.

I cannot complain, though, I am really loving life. I could use some more sleep, but the daylight is invigorating. I have been lucky enough to get out checking nets, hunting ducks, and looking for logs. I suppose I should start with the trips out on the tundra...

 Memorial Day I had a wonderful visitor from Anchorage. I drove to St. Mary's on a warm and clear day to save the trip from St. Mary's to Mountain Village by plane and took in the stunning views for the hour and a half there and back. When we arrived in Mountain we unpacked visited and then headed out once again. A good part of the weekend was spent on the trails and outside exploring. What a great weekend! 

As I said my sad goodbyes to one visitor, another arrived on Monday. A friend of min from my former job in Anchorage is married to a missionary of sorts who wanted to come out to the village and visit rural Alaska for a week or so. Offering my home and transportation, he stayed for 6 days. The week passed slowly and my need for time alone drew me longer and longer to the great out doors. 

Afternoons were spent gathering logs from the river, tying them off to the boat and pulling them to the shore to be cut. On Saturday I had the opportunity to check the set net posted in the river a few miles up from Mountain Village. Leaving before lunch we ran out to the net and pulled in a few shefish. Big and tasty, the half dozen fish were a good warm-up for the logs to come. Cutting up 6 or 7 logs we managed to stack and clean a few months worth of winter heating. 

Throughout the week another friend and I got out and gathered, cut, or move logs in the afternoons as well. Wednesday June 6 I got to get out and blast a few ducks in a friend's boat, which is one of my favorite pastimes! I managed to get 8 birds this week, and currently have a crock pot full of birds waiting for me after work...

Hopefully I will be more proactive on posting in the weekend to come, but glad you read this!