Sunday, October 4

hello, i'm finally back home!


after almost 2 months, i'm home with the family. when i left, i had no idea it would be for so long, but what an adventure.

it's a bit hard getting back into the swing of things, it's taken me a couple of days to even be able to turn on the computer. i feel like i've been fast-forwarded back into civilization, and i'm most definately on overload. the grocery store almost did me in...

the first week at ugak i spent with my family at our cabin, in beautiful sunny weather, it was wonderful.

then for the next few weeks i moved over to our neighbor's working lodge, Alpenview, where i cooked for clients and staff. check out their website, it is pretty incredible, especially if any of you fish or have fishing husbands. what a fantastic time.

owners/guides dave jones and shawn finn have been fishing guides on kodiak for many years, and they sure know what they are doing. i had the pleasure of meeting and cooking for clients from all over the states and many countries.
alpenview has an incredible top-notch commercial kitchen for being out in a remote area, what a treat for me to create meals in. combined with the freshest fish and seafood ever, i was in heaven. i never thought i could be so happy getting up at 5:30 every morning, but it was so much fun watching folks from ohio, arizona, colorado, germany or spain get up at the crack of dawn and be thrilled about pulling on rain gear to go fishing....even when it was raining sideways from the wind. amazing, these fishing people.

before i left i packed up my baby sewing machine and some other supplies, thinking between meals i would have some great time to do my art, but that never happened...i did nothing but create food from sun up to sundown, and often much later. however, i have a head full of inspiration for this winter.
i did find a creative outlet while making meals - i began a "food as art" campaign. i have a long way to go before i reach julia child status, but the clients seemed to enjoy everything. we pulled the crab pots every week for a huge fresh crab dinner. i also made sushi every week, and made bread every day. so much different from cooking for my family - no blue box mac & cheese! and the wonderful clients were so gracious. (of course, it helps when the folks eating your food have been standing on their feet in water and rain all day catching fish, they are usually cold, tired and starving.) having an unlimited supply of fresh halibut, salmon, rockfish and crab to work with was wonderful.

at any rate, the days at the lodge were great. it was hard every saturday, the client switch out day, to say goodbye to our "family" of the week, but also fun to meet our new guests. now there are so many places i want to visit...after hearing folks talk about their homes, i'm pretty sure i need to see north carolina, spain, portugal, germany, and ohio...

as well as running guided fishing stays at alpenview lodge (where there is the wonderful kitchen, hot running water, showers, windows and floors...) dave and shawn also operate an outcamp on the ayakulik river, located on the southern end of the island, miles and miles away from...anything. the outcamp is definately camping, with a main tent for the kitchen/eating area, a tent for the banya (an native kodiak island steam bath, like a suana) and 5 sleeping tents. and the outhouse. all this is enclosed in a solar powered electric fence because the outcamp is located in the middle of kodiak grizzly bear home.

i've enjoyed photos of the outcamp, but never ever had any longings to visit it. the clients who stay at the outcamp are hard core fly fishermen, usually there for king salmon, silver salmon, and what i believe is the holy grail of fly fishing - steelhead.

during the course of my stay at alpenview, i was gently convinced i wanted to experience cooking at the outcamp. and so, for the last 2 weeks, that is where i have been. i never took my longjohns off once the entire time, except for 2 quick banyas. i slept in my longjohns, wool socks and a hat and mittens.

my best friends were sweetpea, the bear, a little ermine, and several fox. and the heater in the kitchen tent.

i thought that ugak bay was peaceful, but the calm peace at the ayakulik was amazing. the outcamp is in a huge valley, the mountains are quite a ways off, so the sky is huge, bigger than i've ever seen. at night it is so pitch black the stars are overwhelming, it is like being in a 3D movie. there are always shooting stars flying by and once we even saw jupiter. the quiet was incredible. so quiet i could hear the bears swimming down the river. i loved it. then it froze. one morning we woke up to 18 degree weather. a very cold trip to the outhouse. a lot of water hauling. the clients were all so great, so happy to be there. it was fun seeing it all through their eyes, especially when they were from new york city & such. one mom bear we call susie mocha, and her three 3 yr old cubs we call the chocolate drops, were frequent visitors and fun to watch as she gave them lessons on fishing in the home pool by the kitchen tent. the cubs loved to visit in the mornings and caused many clients to cut their outhouse visit all, it was a great experience. i'm glad i went. i made some great friends, learned how to fly fish, sort of, and created meals on a 3 burner camp stove instead of a viking range...i learned i'm not too old to haul water from a stream outside of the bear fence. also learned how incredible total silence can be for your soul. and i hummed the national geographic explorer song a lot. especially when trying to cook on the smoker outside in pelting cold rain with bears watching me.

anyhow, it's good to be home with the boys. and the toilet that flushes. and my flannel pj's. i won't be wearing rubber boots again for a while.

i remembered how to drive my car, and i survived my first trip to the grocery store in 5 weeks without too much culture shock. it is a bit hard to get used to the noise and bustle of life...and i admit, i miss conversing with sweetpea in the mornings, and dodging fox poop on the boardwalks.

i wish i could post all the photos i took while down there, but i have to say getting photos on this blogger thing sends me minute they are there, then they are gone, or even more fun, jump to somewhere else in the post... but i did want to share my bear friends with you all, and some of the fellows i had the pleasure of meeting and watch fish. i am throwing in one of myself, which i usually don't like to do, but i am quite proud of my beautiful dolly varden i caught after shawn patiently taught me how to cast out the line and all the other motions of fly fishing. my fish was happy to be put back in the river and swim away from my bumbling efforts.

i have a lot of catching up to do here in blogland i can tell, and i can't wait. i have a huge pile of mail to go through also, i'm waiting for everyone in the house to go away so i can have a good cup of coffee and open up all the packets... fall has definately arrived here, even though it's not as cold yet as at the outcamp, the colours are changing. i will be glad to get back at the sewing machine and get busy with all the projects i've been carrying around in my head.

i would also like to say thank you to all of you who have visited & left me comments! it's so exciting to hear from all of you, everywhere! even if i never get off this little island, it's so awesome to be able to converse with folks out in "the real world" - so thank you for taking the time to share a few words with me!


  1. I am in awe of your fabulous adventures Deb = WOWEE!
    I used to know how to make sushi, inspiring to see yours ... you must be a wiz after preparing it for so many guests!
    I can almost see the stars twinkling after your great description, I've only been under that kind of sky twice and I will never forget the magic ... as if you could reach up and touch the stars!
    Welcome home and back to the land of blog :)
    ~*~ Patty

  2. Oh wow, what an incredible experience! I can't get over all those bears - Kodiak bears (aren't they they biggest bears there are?) - all around you. I have a huge fear of bears and it's just amazing to me to see them just hanging around all friendly like that. Wow! And all that seafood. YUM!! Big time!


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