Monday, July 28, 2014

The Husband Writes a Post!

For a long time, a real long time, my wife Stacey (the author of all but this post) has asked me to contribute to her Blog.

Sticking to my guns, for no good reason except maybe laziness, I've resisted all attempts. Until now...

So why the change of heart? Why have I decided to change my steadfast refusal to participate? It's simple really. I've been beaten into submission. Like so many other things in life, it's just a matter of time before you give up. My own personal battle of Shiloh! After being pressed and backed into a corner, finally, exhausted both body and mind, with no new excuses formed, I have given in.

Ok, that's not actually the case.

The truth is that I've found something that I want to write about. Catching fish!

First thing to note is that I didn't say 'fishing'.

Because what is fishing after all? It's the act of attempting to catch fish without the actual implication of success. Place your line in the water, baited or not, and see what happens.

Fishing can kind of suck. Sorry for my crude language but let's face it. Fishing without success is good for wasting time and getting away from your spouse (trust me she doesn't want to sit on, beside or in water while shooing mosquitos away). One day I will retire and then and only then will I take up fishing. For now, I'm into catching!

Catching fish is the act of getting that fish in the net, pulled up on shore or even scooping it out by hand. Regardless of how you catch the fish, until it's landed, then it's fishing. Lucky for me, I am in Alaska and I am a quick learner.

Coming to Alaska I will admit that I didn't know much about fishing for salmon. My experience at the time centered around what I thought was normal. This most often included a boat on a lake with some form of bait either jigging, trolling, casting and let's not forget praying to the fish gods. Ok, don't take that to heart. I wouldn't actually pray to any pagan god of fish. I'm still a catholic, albeit flawed (but aren't we all?) so maybe my prayers were to God to make those stinking fish bite my line!

Anyway, fishing here as I quickly learned (first time I got skunked) is in fact very different.

As I write this, I am now realizing that I am far too verbose! The accusations I have suffered for a long time may in fact have merit. In light of that, I am going to break this into several blogs perhaps (hopefully not months in between). For today, let's stick to the first catch.

Yes I remember it like it was yesterday... The day I first landed that big, beautiful, tasty beast! YES I AM STILL TALKING ABOUT A FISH! If you're still actually tuned in and reading this, keep your heads out of the gutter.

So... there I was (all good fish stories start like this), on the side of the river wearing chest waders, fishing in salt water at the mouth of the Resurrection river in Seward Alaska. Using what can only be described as a hook that has absolutely no chance of attracting any fish at all, that is where I caught my first Sockeye salmon!

First things first. Watch what the locals were doing. They seemed to be hooking into fish so who better to study from? Ok... now my turn and after only a few casts, Bang! FISH ON! How many anglers have used that cheesy yet perfectly descriptive two word sentence that has brought heart racing joy and adrenaline to so many people?

Say it out loud to yourself. Do it for real! Do it now...... Oh boy... just writing this is making me want to ditch work tomorrow and head out to Ship Creek and catch some fish.

FISH ON!!!!

It's the signal for all others to watch out! Get your stinking lines out of the way! Someone, anyone GRAB THE NET and be ready! I'm the man, I've got a fish on my line, this beast is mine and I am the master that will bring this prized trophy ashore!

If this doesn't give you a shiver or at least a respectful up and down nod of the head, then you've likely clicked this blog by accident. Sorry, this is not Stacey's blog today, we are talking about a big fish on a line in a river in Alaska and this beast is not wanting to be conquered!

Before I tell you how it ends, let's discuss in more detail what fishing in Resurrection river entails.

Fishing as I mentioned earlier is usually about casting a baited hook in hopes to attract a fish. Well, much to my surprise, this IS NOT like that at all. In fact, I was out salt water snagging. Sinful right? To those that fish regularly in Canada and most of US, I'm sure the mere idea of snagging and keeping fish is just plain wrong. Illegal in fact! All that I could hear in my mind when I heard about this was "Fish and game will cease everything I own, even my soul perhaps, if I keep a fish that I have foul hooked". Right? You know what I mean. This is a fishing cardinal sin.

As it turns out, it's actually not. Not if you are in Seward, casting in salt water for sockeye salmon.


In fact, when you use this psychotic hook with no bait, the intention is to literally snag the fish. Doesn't matter where, as long as you hook it, reel it in, bring it up on shore or in a net, it's good to go! Hook in the mouth, cool! Hook in the belly, cool! Hook in the tail, hey that works too! Salt water snagging is where it's at as long as you are in salt water (beyond the posted sign) and there is no emergency order preventing you from doing so. Why snag them instead of making them bite? That's another story for another time...

So let's go back to the catch... there I was... line in water, flipping a crazy weighted treble hook along the bottom and bang FISH ON!

The one thing that I can't really describe is the fight. I'm not actually good at this writing thing so I can only hope to express some of the craziness that ensues as you hook into one. So, it's not like you don't know you got a fish. This is not the subtle tug of a walleye slowly tasting your bait to see if it's interested. This is a small truck or medium size SUV hitting your line with absolutely no intention of cooperating. The fish has one intention and that is to snap your rod, take your line, and to be truthful, spawn. See this is the odd thing I didn't know about salmon. They are going up river to lay or fertilize eggs and then die. This is a one way trip. They want to get to their spawning grounds, spawn and then they turn into what we call zombies (that is again another story so stay tuned) and then they simply die. Regardless of all that, they are champion fighters. Fierce gladiators in fact! Hooking into an 8lb sockeye salmon in a river that's knee deep is about as fierce a fishing battle as you can imagine. These fish will go upstream, downstream, jump, leap and perform acrobatic death defying stunts in order to get free. Your rod had better be sturdy, your line strong, your knot true and your determination razor sharp! Keep your tip up, let your drag work for you and be ready to run up or down the side of the river if you want to land this badass.

So there I was... fighting the beast. It fought like Rocky (the original thru Rocky 4. After that did anyone watch or care???) Anyway, my heart was racing and my line was being stressed. After what seemed like an eternity, mostly because of the terrifying fear the fish would come off (you know what I mean if you've ever fished) I conquered the beast! I got the monster up on the shore. In a final pull of the line, with the fish struggling to go up stream, I steered her straight up onto the sandbar. I outsmarted the creature and used her energy to finally land her. I did say she was like Rocky so maybe it didn't take too much brains to outsmart this foe? Regardless, it was mine! The fish was caught! One of many to come but at the time, the thrill, that first catch... The feeling was ... well I simply can't describe it but I will say that hours later, laying in my bed, arms tired, adrenaline rush gone and subsequent exhausted lull firmly in command, I was still unable to let go and let sleep takeover. I day dreamed of the fish that got away, the one's I landed and more importantly than all of that, I plotted. I analyzed my mistakes, planned, prepared mentally for my next adventure. What could I do differently? How I could have kept my line just a little tighter at times, how my rod tip could have been up just a little higher or leaned a little more left or right depending on the way they were running. It ended up a great day with several fish landed, success by any definition but now it was like a drug and the only way to seek refuge was to come to grips with the idea that I will go back out again and fish on!


You can catch salmon many different ways using many different techniques. Rods, reels, roe, lures, spin, fly, bait caster, high tide, low tide and the list goes on and on... This truly is an art and for the last few weeks I have been a student. Instead of posting a hundred pictures now, I will keep this post as is and only give you a couple snapshots of what has truly become a passion here in Alaska.

People sometimes wonder why we chose to take this posting to Alaska. For anyone that loves fishing, this is the Mecca. Although the truth is that there were many reasons why we came here, if you fish (or catch like me), you really don't need any more explanation do you?


  


 



Friday, July 25, 2014

Mighty Mini

I love passing on cool things when I find them.....so for anyone who has a toddler or buys a toddler treats I came across these mini popsicles in the ice cream section.  They are crazy tiny like maybe 3 inches big but the perfect size for little hands and they are super slow melt.....which means still a little mess but way way less then with a regular popsicle and he get's to feel like one of the big kids with his own.  Going to look up on pinterest now for slow melt popsicles we can make at home...if anyone knows one please pass it on :)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

First 4th of July

I know this is late.....9 days late in fact but just getting to it.  This year was the first time we lived in the United States and got to celebrate Independence Day.  A great celebration for sure but I'm very confident that THIS 4th of July celebration is drastically different compared to the lower 48 (yes I have adapted to using the term lower 48 like the rest of the Alaskan's lol).  This year we attended the local festivities and went to the parade in downtown Anchorage.

I know all of you have attended festivals before so I won't bore you with the details.... that being said, let me point out a few things that gave us a no kidding double take! Maybe you will find this funny too.

Fireworks occurred on July 4 at 12:05 am....yes you go to the fireworks on the night of July 3rd .......this happens because it does not get dark here almost ever during the summer.....daylight is forever. Even after midnight, it's only twilight really but whatever.

At the fair, there was no bull riding....instead here they ride a mechanical salmon.



There is a reindeer who walks in the 4th of July parade....yes a real live reindeer who walks the entire route on a leash!

Our family really enjoyed partaking in a new celebration together.  Happy (belated) 4th, as they say, to everyone back home as well :)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Well.....

We are now 14 weeks pregnant with another set of twins.  That's right....I was probably as shocked as everyone else when we found out.  For a few months we had been debating whether or not to have one more.  The older twins have each other and are closer then you could imagine. We thought one more close in age to Joshua would be a great idea.  While we vacationed in Hawaii, we realized that Jason and I together could totally handle one more to travel with.  We went in to our first appointment with the doctor and they performed a routine ultrasound......it was the nurse practitioner performing the ultrasound.....she was super chatty before the test started but as soon as the ultrasound began, she was dead silent.  I was really worried and asked "Is everything alright?"  She replied "Ummm.....yes" in a not so convincing tone....silence again.....seemed like 20 minutes (probably 1 minute in reality)....so I asked "Is there one?".....she replied "ummm.....I don't think so".  At that moment I think I had a heart attack.  Jason was as cool as a cucumber this time around and meanwhile I panicked as she checked how many babies there actually were!  After another eternity she finally said "well it looks like another set of twins".  To my shock Jason answered "Twins....oh we can do twins no problem" while I was too shocked to even speak.  So I guess little Josh is going to become the epitamy of a middle child....a little singleton sandwiched between two sets of twins!  The new set of twins are actually due on Joshua's second birthday.  I'm sure they won't arrive on the due date as twins usually arrive early (our first set 3 weeks early), but it would be pretty cool to have 5 kids with only 2 birthdays!  So the thought of twins again has settled in and we have gotten used to the idea but I must admit that three kids under two is incredibly daunting! Ugghhh three kids in diapers hahahaha!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The little things

Sometimes, when you least expect it, a little kind gesture from a neighbor has a way of brightening your day.  We live next to an older couple.  The lady is confined to the house for health reasons and we see the man often when outside but don't have a chance to talk for long as we are usually coming or going etc.  This past weekend Jason was outside getting some water toys set up with the boys and the neighbor came around the fence to give the boys some flowers he had cut from his garden to give to their mom.  The boys were so happy and we put them in a glass on the counter to enjoy.  Every time I see them I think how a little act of kindness brightens our family's life each day when we see the flowers.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The ice cream truck

Yesterday evening, right before dinner, Jason and I were sitting in the living room when we heard the familiar music of an ice cream truck!  The ice cream truck has not been by our house since we lived here so Jason rushed for his wallet and the twins and I ran down the road in our bare feet to catch up with it!  Who cares that it came at dinner time....we just pushed dinner later by an hour.....and the boys thought it was the coolest thing that we actually caught him.  Jason claims he hasn't saw me move that fast in a long time hahahaha. 

As the boys and I sat out on the back deck enjoying our ice treats, I couldn't help but remember living in Germany when the boys were little and we would meet the local ice cream man almost daily.  He  made home made ice cream and sold us a cone for 50 euro cents.....I know crazy, it only cost 50 cents and was delicious.  This ice cream truck was definitely not that quality but we had a great time and we sure hope he makes a trip by our house again soon!

Ahh love when the boys just get to enjoy the little things that make childhood so great!



Monday, June 23, 2014

Fettuccine ...oh my!

This past weekend Jason's step-dad and I decided to try and make homemade pasta.  Since neither one of us had ever done it before it was quite funny to watch.  Learning the technique to getting square sheets as you put it through the press took a little bit of time.  We were not sure what consistency the dough should be so it took a little while and experimenting with adding flour to find the right dough make up that would flatten the best.  There are only a few ingredients and it turned out to be easier then we expected.  The pasta was fantastic......everyone gobbled it up.  It's definitely something I foresee myself making often in the future.....especially with the cookbook that gives so many recipes for different types of pasta. 



The Christmas gift of pasta press and fettuccine cutter turned out to a lot of laughs and makes great pasta!