Thursday, May 26, 2016

Colin's Last Day

Man! Time flies when you're having fun... Our week of adventures with Colin was coming to an end. It is always fun to have company, but sad to see them leave. We spent his last Friday prepping ice packs for fish/game shipping, doing laundry, sharing pictures and stories, and enjoying the amazing sunny day.

Eventually, it was time for dinner. Colin had spotted a little Japanese restaurant near our church the past weekend and was dying to check it out. We piled in the car, grabbed some cash (no credit cards are accepted!), and headed downtown.

The restaurant- Yamaya

Walking through the door of this family-run place was like setting foot inside another country. The inside was cozy and decorated with Japanese knickknacks, posters, and photos. We were greeted by the matriarch, had a seat at the bar, and prepared to be impressed :)

The only menus were on the wall (in loosely-translated Japanese)

Starter salad

I opted for the mixed sashimi- a good choice!

We finished our dinners, thanked our hosts, and headed back home for a few rounds of cards before it was time to head to the airport and say our goodbyes. It had been a great week, and I'm already looking forward to his next visit :)

Boat Trip 2.0

We woke up early Thursday morning to a cloudless blue sky (YAY!), grabbed our gear, and headed over to Mike's house. A short drive later and we were at the boat launch in Whittier.

The water was perfect!

Mike's "Trophy" at the dock- ready to go

Our former Coastie enjoying the ride

Captain Vince driving the boat ;)

Colin readying the fishing gear- I let the boys have
most of the fun and just enjoyed the company and the weather :)

One of the fishing stops 

One of two pods of killer whales we saw that day- too cool!

One of the waterfalls in the bay

Back to the harbor

The temperature reached a record 70 degrees! We made it back to town just in time to make the next tunnel out of town and headed back towards Anchorage- but not without a stop for dinner at Girdwood's Double Musky- yum!

Colin and Mike discussing the finer points of cooking steak

Our happy group at The Musky

Now it was really time to head back ;) We got back to Mike's house, unloaded the boat, and headed home with full bellies and big smiles all around :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Back At Home

After a few days on the road and a late night following our fishing trip, the three of us were ready to sleep in and relax. We had a nice (late) breakfast, ran a few errands, caught up on laundry, and finalized some plans to meet our friend Mike the next morning for a boat trip out of Whittier. With our chores all done, it was time to make dinner: homemade pasta with almond pesto and pan seared (self-harvested!) halibut cheeks.

I made the dough...

...and the boys helped roll and cut the pasta

Nothing quite like cooking with family! Although I didn't get a picture of the finished product, dinner was awesome. We cleaned up the kitchen, played a few hands of cards, and got some sleep before our next early morning!

Time To Fish

Tuesday morning came early, but the weather conditions were promising (I love it when poor weather forecasts are wrong)! We pounded some coffee, gathered our essentials, and headed to the harbor to meet our captain.

Colin & Vince waiting on the dock

We reviewed the boat's safety equipment and rules, stowed our goods inside, and set off for our fishing spot. The water was perfect- smooth and glassy- the rain from the past few days had stopped, and things were looking good. The trip out from Resurrection Bay was gorgeous and the wildlife was out and about. We saw otters, sea lions, whales, and mountain goats (a total bonus in addition to the fishing)!


It didn't take long before the excitement began! Vince caught the first fish of the day, but we all followed suit in short order...

Vince getting some tips from our captain

The fight was on!

Seeing color...

Nice one!!!

My turn ;)

...and Colin showing a fish who was boss!

We enjoyed a full day out on the boat before heading back to town. All of us caught our limit of fish and had a blast in the meantime. We couldn't have asked for a better day.

From left: (me), Vince, our captain Keoni, and Colin was close, but I got the biggest fish by 3 pounds- WOOHOO!

Back on land, our appetites started kicking in, so we decided to go celebrate with dinner while we waited for our fish to be filleted. I chose The Cookery- a newer restaurant in Seward owned by a former culinary instructor for the Alaska Culinary Academy :)

The daily special looked promising (and good cooking inspiration)

Our "Wild & Tame Mushroom Toast" appetizer- YUM

I ordered the special and it didn't disappoint :P

Vince opted for the Smoked Brisket "Steak" au Jus...

...and we topped it off with the chocolate "charcuterie" board for dessert- very cool!

Ah. Satisfied and happy with our trip, we picked up our fillets and headed back to Anchorage with a cooler full of fish and lots of great memories.

On To Seward

Monday morning brought in the typical May weather (cloudy skies and rain), but that was fine; we had a day of mostly driving ahead and we were ready for the elements!

We headed across the parking lot for breakfast, got our fill of food and
coffee, and set out to hit a few places in Soldotna before heading off to Seward

Trustworthy Hardware is always a must; you never know
what kind of good deals and gems you might find!

Next on the "required stops" list was Echo Lake Lockers so Colin could
stock up on their "world famous" jalepeno cheese spread, landjaeger,
and other meaty treats; we left with a pretty hefty assortment :p

Time to hit the road. We made one last pit stop and headed off to Seward- we wanted to make it there in time to visit the Alaska Sealife Center before it closed for the day! Luckily, we made it there just in time to enjoy a non-crowded final hour and snag some goods from the gift shop.

One of the seals playing around

Puffins- closest I've ever been!

We left the SeaLife Center with a smile, checked into our hotel, and headed to the harbor for dinner and some last-minute gear shopping...

Our experience with Chinook's has been mediocre
in the past, so we settled on Ray's Waterfront for dinner

I had the cioppino

...and Vince had the fresh catch of the day- yum!

From there, we bought some lunch and snack items for our fishing trip the next day, set out our fishing gear, and decided to check out Seward Brewing Company before calling it a night ;)

One stop turned into two...

...and then three! We had a decent little pub crawl hehe

NOW we were tired! We walked back to our hotel,
set our alarms (early!), and drifted off to sleep

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Soldotna Days

After a good night's sleep, Vince, Colin, and I were ready to hit the road. We packed our bags and fishing gear and set out for Soldotna. While Vince and I usually make it there once a year, it had been around 8 years since Colin had been there, so he was looking forward to seeing how things had changed since we grew up.

One stop we had to make along the way: The Wildlife Conservation Center
along Turnagain Arm; here's one of the bears munching on some blueberries :)

Our first stop in Soldotna was our old neighbor's house. We spent a few hours catching up, telling stories, and sharing pictures, then headed our cousin's house for a visit before heading to St. Elias for some pizza.

Bellies full, it was time to check into our hotel and get ready for our next adventures...

Fun With Family- Colin Comes To Town

After spending the past several months inside, Vince and I were looking forward to summer and raring to get outside! May had another perk as well: a visit from my brother Colin. He has been going to college since his departure from the Coast Guard, but he had a week off between semesters this year, so I got him a ticket to fly up for some fun :)

The first place we took him was Humpy's for
Anchorage's best halibut fish & chips

From there, we set out to meet some friends at The Blue Fox
for Karaoke Night (something a little out of the ordinary). Before the
night was over, we'd had some fun, I sang a song (really!) and we
made some boating plans for the next week.

The next day was gorgeous, so hiking Flattop was a "must."
We enjoyed a leisurely morning, laced up our hiking boots, and
set out for the trail. It was awesome getting out in the fresh air-
and amusing to watch Colin trying to haul his butt up the hills!

After our hike, we ran a few errands, got cleaned up for church, and made it there just in time for the Saturday evening mass. We had a day of traveling ahead, so Saturday church would save us time in the morning ;) I made dinner after church, we spent some time hanging out, and then went to bed looking forward to the days ahead.