Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Halibut Charter -Homer, Alaska

My First Pacific Halibut
            This summer the husband and I took a halibut charter in Homer, Alaska.  The drive wasn’t horrible, only about 3 ½ hours and through just a few construction zones. We arrived in Homer with nearly clear skies, and even though it was the middle of the week it was quite the hopping place. The Homer spit has several restaurants and shops to browse about while waiting for our charter to leave.  The Homer Spit is a piece of land about 4 ½ miles long located along the Kenai Peninsula that juts out into Kachemak Bay and boasts the longest road into ocean waters in the world. 

Still not tired of seeing mountains
This place was the bomb
            We decided on a charter that would allow us to get our double limit. Two fish per day for each of us, a total of 8 fish. We boarded our charter and boated out about 2 ½ hours into the Alaskan waters. The boat ride out was great not even a sprinkle of rain.  We arrived in our fishing spot, or drift, and got in line to drop our lines.  We drop our lines as the boat drifts along the shelf and once we reach the end of the drift, we pull up our poles and prepare to move to set up another drift. Halibut are bottom feeders and can grow into several hundred pound monsters, although we didn’t bring anything over 50 pounds home. After we had both caught our two fish we retired to our sleeping bunks ready to get up in a few hours and catch our limit the next day.  The next morning we got up around 4, and headed out to catch our last fishes.  


Now, reeling in a fish is an exciting experience, reeling in a fish with a 3 pound weight from a depth of 300-600 feet can be quite tiring.  The beginning when the fish snags your line gives a nice adrenaline rush, but after five minutes that wears off and you’re in for a marathon of reeling.  I swear my right arm is permanently affected and a size larger after all that reeling. Did I mention the reeling?
Poles in
The boats fish haul, getting ready to fillet 

While we were out in the ocean, we saw several Humpback whales and hundreds of sea birds.  The sea birds hang around both the whales and the boat for an easy meal.  The fishing was a lot of fun, as you can see below I decided to filet my own halibut.  Now, my fillet was a little choppy, but by the time I was done I had half of the charter watching me… no pressure!  I appreciate the crewmember that taught me how to fillet my first Pacific Halibut and for loaning me his awesome cut proof glove.  Can you imagine filleting a fish on a rocking boat without a cut glove on?  Overall, it was a good charter experience, and a fun crew.  Looking forward to next season already!

Generous crew member who taught me how to fillet a halibut! 

Sunday, July 7, 2013


   So, I’ve been promising this post for a while to a few family members and it is long overdue I know!  This post is all about building things.  Growing up around parents who were, for much of my childhood, building a house gave me the chance to learn a few skills and I’m thankful because I use them everyday!  Now, that being said, ANYBODY can build things.  I wasn’t always such a DIY’er, ok maybe I was, but on a smaller scale.  Then one day out of the blue when I needed a piece of furniture I realized something, furniture including tables, chairs, benches, and etc are very expensive and I found that for how they were made I questioned whether they were really worth what stores wanted you to pay for them.  Then began my quest. 
Pallet coffee table with wheels
Night stand

   My first REAL project was a coffee table made completely of pallet boards.  It had been a while since I had touched any power tools so I was a bit rusty and there was more than one day where I cursed myself in frustration when the drill bit broke or the boards wouldn’t do what I wanted them to do.  I got better through the project and when all was said and done it was the piece of furniture that I was most proud of to show off.  I BUILT that, I didn’t buy it, but made it from my own imagination (with hel  So from there I realized hey why can’t I make everything?  When Adam and I bought our home with space that is when I really went tool crazy!  FINALLY space for a table saw, nail gun and more drill bits.  I’ve slowly accumulated many tools, like routers, and saws, and sanders, all of which I have needed at one time or another for projects.  I've tackled several projects to help me get organized including the can holder and spice rack below.  The can holder was a little tricky, but with a little help from my router it turned out great, making my pantry just that much more usable.
p from Pinterest) and my own two hands.

Rotating can holder
Spice Rack Holder
   Would you believe it, I got better and more precise at making cuts and always always pre-drill holes.  The old adage of measure twice cut once is a constant whisper that I never ignore, because when boards are as expensive as they are in Alaska you tend to not want to buy them twice.  As I’ve honed my building skills I’ve gotten bolder too, not afraid to take on bigger projects.  You can see my larger project, the farmhouse bed is made from solid wood and aged.  Now, I don’t think of most of these projects off the top of my head.  One of my favorite builders is Ana White, an Alaskan who builds everything.  If she can’t inspire you to build something I don’t know who can.  She publishes plans for FREE on her site that are very easy for anyone to follow.  I built the farmhouse bed and the nightstands both with plans from her site, with a few slight modifications.  I’ve also started to learn how to stray from the plans, to use scrap wood for projects and how they will look put together. 

I refinished this built in that came with our home into a very useful kitchen island
   As a side note, I’ve also started to put my sewing machine to good use.  While I have sewn in the past it has been quite some time and I think I probably put it off as long as I could.  It’s true, I couldn’t remember how to thread a bobbin, but thanks to YouTube I do now!  In a quest to be frugal and smart about money I decided to sew my own water resistant dog bed.  All the dog beds are, you guessed it, expensive and if you’ve ever priced them out you know what I’m talking about!  It looks good overall and serves its purpose, just don’t look at the stitching too closely as it is nowhere near perfect or straight. 
Pinned and ready to be sewn
Finally sewn, turning right side out

Complete! Water resistant dog bed
   A certain pride comes with building your own things that you can’t get through buying simply buying them.  With homemade comes a quality you are satisfied with, and built with materials that you know the sources of.  So if you are wondering when to start your own projects, now is the time.  It doesn’t matter if the project is “easy”, because your first one probably never is.  It’s not about being easy though, it’s about having fun. 

Until Next time,

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Las Vegas Trip (Better Late Than Never)

    So, it has been a while since I've last updated with a new post. This post will be a backlog all the way from January when the husband and I took a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. I promise to keep this thing updated more often. Keep tuned in for the next post about the furniture I've been building. If you've ever been to Vegas you know that it is an animal of its' own, not unlike Alaska.
    Vegas is a city that practically runs on the permanent influx of tourists from everywhere across the globe, over 30 million a year as reported by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The city is centered around luxurious hotels with a combined room number of over 100,000!   Las Vegas boasts and impressive list of traveling concerts and shows, as well as some permanent companies such as Cirque Du Soleil. The acrobats are second to none, and will leave you in awe of their performances as well as the stage decor. If you have a trip planned to vegas I definitely recommend catching one of their shows.

World's Largest Chocolate Fountain!

    Decadent decor and food are plentiful throughout Vegas, and leave you with more choices than you know what to do with. The casinos often have several restaurants inside for patrons, with easy access and close proximity to the slot machines and card tables. Shops filled with luxurious products are not hard to find, just don't touch the glass, you may set off the alarm. The Bellagio Fountains are a well known attraction and worth the walk to see them put on their impressive display. The trip to Vegas was overall a great trip, although, by the end, I was ready to be home. The big city life is a normal day for some but I do like my peace and quiet at the end of the day. You will likely do a lot of walking while you are out in Vegas so bring comfortable shoes and don't forget the blister bandages for those special occasion shoes.  

One of many casino sculptures

    We also visited the Las Vegas Springs Nature Preserve, another top recommendation from me to you.  The Las Vegas Springs Nature Preserve is a great place to be right in the middle of Vegas, just a few minutes from the downtown hustle and bustle. The sun was out and the weather was great. The preserve has lessons on sustainability, water preservation, Las Vegas history, and even a library with books to check out.

    Towards the end of our trip we took a drive outside the city to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, saw a horseback riding outfit, and decided to stop in. I was on halfling and enjoyed the ride. It was a nice way to decompress from being surrounded by the neon lights of Vegas for a week. The ride was smooth and the scenery was awesome!
Stopping for a snapshot

Red Rock Canyon on a Beautiful Day

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Winter in Alaska

     If you're from the Midwest like I am, going through a winter in somewhere as extreme as Alaska is a big change.  This winter has been several inches under the normal snow level because of the sheer cold.  Before moving to Alaska, I never thought it would ever be too cold to snow; but with temperatures dropping to the negatives it kept the snow at bay.  It was simply too cold to snow, that's a thought for you to linger on.  While it has been cold, we did recently pass our winter solstice with a final shortest day having less than six hours of daylight and boy, am I glad to see the sun.  If you haven't felt the bite of negative temperatures let me try to explain it in a little detail.  Any exposed areas on the skin burns in less than 30 minutes, and the evaporation from your eyes is enough to create ice formation on your eyelids, not to mention the mucous inside your nose freezing almost as you step out of the door.  This is when i'm reminded that the Alaska isn't playing around, it means business.  You could easily get hypothermia and frostbite, or worse, die, if you aren't prepared.  The temperature fluctuations as you drive through valleys and up hills differ by large degrees sometimes, and depend whether the sun even hits that side of the mountain in the winter.

 Despite it being ridiculously cold, the mountains are still just as beautiful.  When it does warm enough for snow to fall it is quite the scene, it softens the hard edges of the mountains and passes leaving a blanket of white.  Life slows down for Alaskan creatures in the winter.  The squirrels disappear as do the songbirds, until the temperature gets above the negatives, the bears have long gone to hibernation... they are the smart ones.  Moose scavenge for what they can, with the grass covered in snow they often resort to stripping bark in order to sustain themselves.  The cold does its very best to suck the life out of every living creature and plant that it touches, or so it seems.  Boy, what it must be like to be an evergreen tree in an Alaskan winter.  Despite the cold, people generally stay very active.  Skiing, Sledding, Tubing, Snowboarding, Dogmushing, and various other outdoor activities keep people outside in the little sun we get in the winter.  Happy lights are commonplace here in the winter, they really do help compensate for the darkness that envelops the mountains.  After four layers of clothes, hats, and mittens I am finally warm and ready to embark on whatever adventure Alaska will bring me that day.

 The Polar Plunge, a fundraiser for the Special Olympics, took place on the 15th of December 2012.  I didn't sleep the night before, as I was a participant, and jumping in a frozen lake when it is less than five degrees outside can make a person nervous.  The theme for our team was "runners," ironically I own running clothes, although if you know me i'm only running if something is chasing me.  The jump was a time of fear that I was ready to be done with.  Running up to the water voided of ice was when the adrenaline kicked in and my body prepared for the shock it was about to absorb.  The moment I hit the water and felt my toes touch the silty lake bottom I was ready to be out.  As my head breached the water I had a brief moment of confusion and blurry vision.  I set my eyes for the outstretched hands of the firefighters who had volunteered and the ladders that led to freedom from the depths of the frozen lake.  At that moment all I wanted was out, not many pictures of me exist around this minute or so because I made a mad dash for the safety of the warm up pool in the tent.  Once it was over and I had clean dry clothes on, then I was able to smile and say I proudly took the plunge for the special olympics with over 1,000 other people.

Our group in the plunge
for Polar Plunge

Ready to jump
Firefighters chilling in the ice pool
Other plungers 
Other plungers