Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Tribute to a Beloved Friend

For all the amazing adventure that Alaska has shown me and continues to promise more, I have had one bad thing occur here. My beloved dog had to be put to sleep. He loved being here with me and I wanted to post some pictures of him. If anyone has pictures of him, feel free to email them to me! When he first got here, he found that running out on the frozen Sound was his favorite thing to do daily! Glad that he didn't have to see it thaw. It would have taken away his favorite place in town.
When we went for our first walk on the Sound, it became apparent that Jake needed boots. He kept stopping to dig snow or bits of ice out of his paws. When I first bought the boots, he hated them! Every time I put them on, he would act like I was just the meanest person in the world. It probably didn't help that he walked like a cat with tape on his paws at first, and I couldn't help laughing! That put me right on the mean person list. He actually refused to stand up the first time I put them on him. He just gave me this look, " What kind of person are you?"Jake and I had countless adventures together including Jake being the mascot for my paramedic class, a Colorado 14ner, summers where both of us were more often covered in mud and dirt than clean, Arctic walks and countless snuggle times. When I went to find a puppy, Jake picked me, not the other way around. I am a better person for him choosing to spend his life with me.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


My travels have now led me to Nome. You really can't travel this far north and NOT visit the legendary Nome. I have a friend who has started working there so I had prime opportunity to visit. Nome is different than any of the "villages" I have been to so far in the fact that it was established as a non-native mining town. All of the villages I have been to so far are native established.
Nome has a few lovely things that I have missed sorely in my part of the world. They have bars and restaurants. sigh. Though it is still not quite civilized in the fact that you can't get your haircut in town. Oh, for a haircut!
Nome had their harbor break up before ours did. The middle picture is what is left of their ice and it was taken on one of the few "nights" left in this part of the world. I think was taken around 0200 in the morning.
Really didn't get to see much of Nome, but took these pictures to share. I liked Nome, but it is certainly a place to visit only.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Ice Fishing

I finally got to go fishing on our frozen Sound. Everyone kept telling me how easy it was, but I was complete taken off guard with HOW easy it really was. I have seen folks in Colorado out in the middle of frozen lakes with their little chairs and heated shelters, spending hours and hours trying to catching fish. I envisioned a similar experience here, without the shelter 'cause we do things the tough way up here! One of my neighbors called me up one morning last week at 0700 and asked if I still wanted to go fishing. My first thought was that I didn't think I wanted to spend all of my very precious one day off, out in the middle of the Sound, trying to catch fish. I had been asking to go and so my adventurous little spirit kicked in and I said, "Sure! Just give me 15 minutes to get my cold weather stuff on." He said that he was thinking more around noon and we could spend about an hour before he had to go to work. An hour? I was sure that it would be a good learning experience in the fact that I would figure out where to go and what to use, but there was no way I could ever catch anything in an hour!
So we meet at noon and off we go on his 4 wheeler. We zipped along the "beach" for 5 minutes and then we went out on the Sound about 100 yards. My guide used his GPS to find his favorite hole. When we got to the right area, there were about 5 holes that had been cut. We each picked a hole and broke the thin layer of ice that had formed on them. I scooped out the ice bits and drop my fishing line in. My fishing pole is a piece of molding with tuna line attached to it with a silver lure on the end. I find the edge of the ice, which is about 2 feet down, and drop my line about another foot below that. I am not really sure what to do so I look to my guide. He tells me," Just kind of jig it." Jig it? It is kind of like playing with a pencil when you are nervous, just lazier and slower. I had my line in the water for about 3 minutes when I felt something hit my line. It is just kind of this dull, not so impressive hit. There is no way I believe this can be a fish, so I don't try to set the hook. Then my piece of molding is being pulled from my hands! So I take a better hold and try pulling the line up just by using a hand-over-hand kind of action. This fish shows up in the hole and I just kind of stare at him for a minute.
I am not always the quickest fisherman! He really doesn't put up any kind of fight. Of course, how could he? He had two options for places to go, up or down. The ice really limits his options! After I got him onto the ice, I am instructed on the multiple uses of the molding. I am supposed to "thump" him on the head with it. So, I thump and he opens his mouth. Handy, now I can get the lure unhooked. It took about 20 minutes to have 4 more fish go through the same routine. I let one go because I thought I only needed 4.
There was a certain amount of awe at how easy this was! I never used bait and really had no idea what I was doing. My friend and I cleaned and filleted the fish where we were. All in all, I took about 25-30 pounds of fresh Shee fish back to my apartment. Shee fish are the largest white fish, and I would have to say the sweetest. The meat is probably a cross between crab and halibut, at least to me. The problem with Shee fish is that they have 2 sets of rib bones. If you go fishing for these things, go with someone who knows how to get around the first set of rib bones when you are filleting them.
Fishing in the Arctic Circle has its definite advantages! I think the fish are eating in their hibernating state. The water makes them slow and stupid, but oh so tasty!