Monday, March 26

where the heck have i been!?

isn't he the bees knees? he's a year-old cub who was a great source of
entertainment all fall as his mom tried to
teach him the basics of river crossing and fishing for dinner.

holy cow, it's been a while...
i have a hard time finding the words to begin a post.

let me just do a little show & tell of what i did this summer.
such a big huge summer full of  long days in the kitchen. larger-than-life weather.
wonderful, fantastic people from all over the globe - iceland, germany, denmark, even texas!

the first thing i saw every morning...the last thing i saw every night.
God bless the coffee pot.

summer at AlpenView lodge was full of...small events like running low on eggs right before eggs benedict morning... falling short of flour...exploding cornbread (that was a fun one.) i loved being followed to work some mornings by the sweetest little doe & fox...and later in the fall being swooped on by bats...i really don't like bats.

you can't always predict what's going to happen when
sports fishing on kodiak, but you can count on this -
sourdough pancakes for breakfast on sunday mornings!

...huge events like sewing up gerry's leg after a power tool fiasco (and we did it - outside, on a deck bucket by the woodshed, with a continuous shower of bug spray, a needle, thread, and the quintessential bottle of whisky)...
we had a couple of downtime days between clients, mr. dave & the boys drilled a new well at AlpenView...and amy and myself got to make homemade tamales for "the family."
my favorite event- a surprise visit from my dear friend & hair fixer, valene, who boated down for a weekend to cut and wash that grey right out of my life. i love valene.

fresh silver salmon caviar & buckwheat blini appetizer

sizzling crab puffs never sit long enough to cool off

assistant guide connor patiently waits for the clients to head in for sushi

thanks to mr. dave's green thumb, this year i had a beautiful crop of fresh herbs, a large variety of lettuces & greens, and some stunning beets & peas to cook with. nothing's better than the aroma of just-picked cilantro in a just-caught halibut ceviche...

this year we had several wives & daughters join their fishing husbands and dads. it was really nice having ladies at the lodge, and even nicer that one of them now holds the season record for largest halibut caught!

guests always enjoy AlpenView's formal "tie night" dinner and
the traditional poker game that follows

the end of the lodge season was followed by four weeks working at the outcamp on the ayakulik river...surrounded by fishermen, bears, beautiful country, and very little else. the silvers were running great, and i finally got to see some beautiful steelhead.

see the camp? it's the group of tents just left of center of the photo, perched on the river bank.
yes, the plane lands on that twisty windy river. we have some awesome pilots on kodiak!

fresh, beautiful silvers headed for the smoker...

 i got to watch flock after flock of geese & swans migrate. so many i lost count. i could hear them coming for miles before i could spot them, and then the sky would go dark there were so many.i shared my tent with a tiny little ermine who loved hiding in the bounty paper towels and would wake me up at night scampering across my cot... (too fast for photos)

 my "room" ~ home sweet home!

assistant guide craig olsen and mr. joe from north carolina
reluctently give up fishing rights in the home pool to momma bear

there were beautiful sunny autumn afternoons of total silence with that wonderful fall smell in the air. i had the company of big fuzzy bear who joined me many afternoons for a nap in the sun behind my tent. i read out loud to her just to hear a voice...

tundra cotton

we had huge storms, with wind gusts that blew my pots & pans off the shelves and the tents back off the platforms.

we had some magnificent rainbows this fall...

honest, this is not photoshop

 i watched the thermometer drop lower and lower. some mornings i woke up to a ring of ice frozen around the "breathing hole" of my sleeping bag and my tent zipper would be frozen shut.

those mornings were very hard to get out of my sleeping bag, and frankly, around my last week mid-october, the only reason my fishermen friends got their coffee in the morning was thanks to my sorry full bladder....

that's frost he's walking was such a cold morning...

the cold didn't bother my little pal at all...

when the termination dust appeared on the mountains,  i was really ready to head home. there's a point when there simply can't be enough layers of long johns, fleece and smart wool. my hands were chapped and bleeding and i couldn't knit anymore. i never want to smell bag balm again. should "Survivor" ever want to film an episode on the ayakulik river, however, i will be ready.

at any rate, the last switchout day finally came, and i was one happy happy camper when this landed and one of the seats was for ME:

i love pilot stan...

assistant guide isaac, myself and mr. dave.

it was hard to say goodbye to these guys! they both stayed another week to break camp and do some hunting. i was very happy to not do that. i was very happy to get get to see valene again.

returning to town, and everyday life, after a few months of remote living can take the breath right out of a person. when i got off the plane back in kodiak i was overwhelmed with the noise, the smell of vehicles (and as i walked across the bridge - mcdonald's - ohh those greasy fries).
back at home i had to figure out who the person in the back room was...turns out it was my son cullan but lord how can a boy grow so much so fast...
i had to face the fact that my dear mom had really aged and could no longer live on her own.
i had to find out why my pal duffy the small white dog thought it was okay to nest on my side of the bed...

it took me awhile to get used to how warm the house was. it felt odd not having 3 pairs of socks and rubber boots on all day. i wept when i reunited with my bathroom, and hot running water, that came out of a faucet.

for weeks it was wonderful to...sleep til 8 for hours....never leave the house...drink really good coffee...see the new geico commercials... i haven't done a lot of artwork yet, and this is really the first quality time i've spent on my computer. it's just been nice simply being.

now it's time to get the lead out. i've visited my favorite blog friends and see spring is happening everywhere but kodiak. we still have several inches of snow, lots of ice, frequent flurries. but it's all good. i've got sheets hanging on the line, maybe we'll be able to smell the snow on them in july...

in ending this very long post i have one last thing to share with you. i know many of you gals out there have wonderful spouses who gift you with thoughtful things like fine jewelry or lovely dinners out for special occasions. i would urge you to not take those things for granted, because you could be the wife of gerry. see what i got for my birthday this year:

a lovely new seat for the outcamp outhouse. oh yeah.
("not just any seat," his note said to me. "it's blue foam. the Cadillac of outhouse seats.")
i have to hand it to him, it did ward off the chill.


  1. Deb, lovely to see you back in blogland. what an amazing time you had last summer and fall and the whole experience of readjusting to 'normal life'.

  2. Deb, oh Deb how I missed you! Really... I though about you a lot, out there in a camp. Brrr... that would not be something for me, but I 'traveled' along and was there for a minute or more by watching your beautiful photos. You are a hell of a lady, lady!!! And I'm glad you are back save and sound (is that how they call it?) A lot happened in my life during the time you were away, too much to tell in one comment. Good things. Marvelous things. You'll hear about it. For now, I'm glad you're back!!! I send you some of our Spring-sunshine and a big hug. Je t'embrasse dear one!

  3. Oh Deb I have missed you and your posts! I was not online for awhile myself and when I came back yours was one of the first blogs I "checked" and when I saw how long you had been gone I got worried! I was so happy to see your post this morning and read each word and relished each photo! I just feel like I took a mini vacation to Alaska and it was glorious. Someday I want to travel back and visit Alaska again and meet you in person. If you have any more photos to share I will await them anxiously...I'm glad you are back, you were missed!
    Tina xo

  4. Welcome Welcome back to blogland dear Deb...I am reading thru a newly operated on right eye (routine cataract surgery) ... so I took it slow which seemed just as your fab post should be read and savored.

    I sure have missed you and told myself more than once that happy things were keeping you from posting...
    your life is so full and rich (not everyone has a cadillac toidy seat afterall!!!)
    thank you for for making time to share some of your adventures here

    your narrative and photos are always
    BIG hugs to ya woman ... missed you BIG time!


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