Sunday, June 22, 2008

relieve your bladder and grab a snack

cause this is going to be a long one. But remember, you asked for it so it's not my fault.

One month ago, M was home on his R&R. I can't believe it's been a month since he was here. It doesn't seem that long ago, but at the same time, it seems like forever ago. The thing about R&R is that it's an emotionally charged time warp and a big fat tease. You know you have to make the most of every single second and that can be hard because when things don't go as you wanted them to, you get that much more upset. Plus, you are getting a taste of what your life should be like but isn't, and just about the time that you get used to living that life again, it's time for it to come to an end and that is just plain cruel. But we survived it and had a really good time in the process.

The day after M got here, we flew to Alaska. I felt so bad for him because he had been flying for more than 35 hours to get to us, and then he had to get on another flight. So I upgraded us to First, and now we can never fly Coach again. When we got to Alaska, we met up with our best friends T&I at the airport and spent a good hour making fun of tapered pants and fanny packs and trying to get our rental car. I pissed the rental car dude off for some reason, so he made sure to be extra slow. It's not my fault he doesn't have a sense of humor. Once we finally had all of our junk and were loaded in the car, we went to dinner with T&I. That stupid 20 hours of daylight thing was seriously messing with me and I had no idea it was nearly 10pm by the time we were done eating.

After dinner, we drove to one of the nicest resorts in Alaska, which was incredible. I've always wanted to stay there, but because I'm cheap, never did because I never wanted to pay the money. We just happened to have stayed there the last day before Summer Season started, so we got the room for half the price we would have paid the next day. And, no, I did not plan our entire trip around the fact that we could stay there for a cheaper rate if we stayed there that particular day... ok, maybe I did. There's nothing wrong with that!

That next morning, it was pouring down rain and we drove down to my old stomping grounds. By the time we got there, we were beat. It was a crazy drive. I was hungry the whole time and managed to finish off a 1 pound bag of jelly beans in less than an hour, which only made me more hungry, and M was stressing out because he had gone from driving in dust storms and 105 degree heat in the shade to driving in freezing rain and snow. One of the fun things about driving through Alaska is that there's really no place to pull over to grab something to eat for miles and miles and miles and miles. And just when you think you've find somewhere to stop, you've already passed it and think there might be something up ahead, but there never is and 4 hours later, we were still driving, and I was still hungry and subsequently annoyed at everything.

The next day we were rested and fed and had coffee in us so life was good. And, we were halibut fishing. Well, M was fishing. I was "supervising". The first time I dropped my line into the water, I got a bite. I could have sworn the fish on the end was at least 675 pounds. At least. And I am NOT exaggerating. That thing was huge and there was no way I could bring it up. So M did it for me. And some time between when the fish bit the bait and the time M pulled it up, it must have switched places with a minnow because the fish M brought up was no 675 pounds, but was about 20 pounds. What a letdown. We didn't let it discourage us though. We spent the next 4 hours waiting for "the one", and it never came. Instead we brought up about 35 babies and 6 decent sized ones. It became a joke because we knew that if I could bring the fish in, we were going to be throwing it back. I couldn't bring in any that were more than 10 pounds. It was too hard and I don't do hard labor.

Before you get all up in arms about the whole "catch and release" thing and how inhumane it is, let me say that we were doing these fish a favor. Every fish we caught got a delicious meal of half a herring. Clearly, they were hungry or they wouldn't have been biting, so we were really doing something good for them. We could only keep 4 fish, and we ended up with about 29 pounds of fish meat to freeze. 29 pounds of fish that cost me over $200 to send back home. It hurt the debit card, but was worth it in the end because that fish is de. lish. ous.

That night I couldn't move my arms. I couldn't even feel my arms. They hurt so bad, which says a lot considering I was only bringing up the guppies (next purchase = free weights). And they hurt well into the next day as we were driving to our next destination. In true karmatic fashion, it was the only clear day we had while we were there. I should have known not to take the weather for granted and made M pull the car over from time to time so we could take pictures of the beautiful scenery. People who live there know the weather literally changes every 5 minutes so take advantage of what you have when you have it. I guess I'm not an Alaskan anymore. My bad.

The next day was gray, cold, and rainy. Perfect day for a boat tour, really... yeah right. It was ridiculously cold and I should have worn a jacket, but didn't because it didn't match my outfit. It's all a matter of how you look and dang it, I looked way hot, so there was no way I was going to wear a jacket. Jackets make me look fat. Plus, we were inside 98% of the time so it shouldn't have been too much of an issue. Of course, it ended up being an issue because I spent more time that I thought I would outside messing with the camera. These tours normally bring you up close and personal to lots of wildlife and sea life, but apparently the animals know better than humans and don't go out in inclement weather.

We only ended up seeing 2 bears, a few goats and a bunch of birds. And by "seeing", I mean we think we spotted the outline of some of these animals from 6000 yards away. We should have just gone to the zoo. At least they would have been life size instead of half an inch tall and we might have been able to see their faces. Or maybe I should invest in a zoom attachment for the camera.

While we were inside we were sitting next to a couple from South Africa and got into a fun discussion about politics and what is wrong with both of our respective countries. Somewhere in the discussion the guy mentioned he was a vegetarian, which threw me into a fit of giggles. I'm really not an intolerant jerk who likes to torture fish and thinks vegetarians are hilarious, I promise you. You have to understand, this guy was 6 foot 5 and about 400 pounds of solid mass. And as I was laughing I saw M start to freak out and give me that "Shut the heck up before this dude jumps me" look. The guy looked at me and asked me what was so funny and I told him I thought he was making a joke because I had never seen a vegetarian as big as him... and then I realized that I was potentially pissing off a 6 foot 5, 400 pound wall of muscle. And I got nervous. But, he was just messing around (much to M's relief) and we ended up talking for the rest of the ride. It's always interesting to talk to other people and I learned a lot from them. That alone was worth the price of the tour, and was much more interesting, I hate to say.

After we docked and got rid of our sea legs, we drove up to another hotel and well, lets just say I don't remember much about that night because that was the night I remembered just how much I love vodka and how much I had missed it over the past 2 years. Forget Cosmos, Caramel Martinis are the way to go! Thank goodness I am a lightweight because I was done after 2 and at $9 a pop, that was certainly a good thing for the debit card.

We got to the hotel late, around 8, and went to the bar area right away to get some dinner. It was pretty crowded when we got there and we got the last table in the place. M and I were talking, well, it was mostly me talking about how much I wanted my fries already, and in our own little world. And then suddenly, it was quiet and when we looked around, the entire place had cleared out. It was like a ghost town in there in a matter of seconds. M couldn't figure out what was going on, but because I had worked in the tourism industry before, I knew exactly what had happened. It was 9pm. Bedtime for the older generation. And because M and I were the youngest people there, and anywhere we went for that matter, we had the place to ourselves, which meant we had impeccable service. Our waiter was one lucky dude because he got a very large tip.

We shut the place down at 11-- late night, right? And the next morning was hilarious. Tourists make me laugh so hard and they are truly the best in the morning. I don't know why that is, but it's consistently true. I think it's because they have more energy in the morning and are just rearing to go, but I'm not sure. There should be a study done on them. They are certainly a breed of their own...

More about the crazy tourists soon, I promise.

Note: if you can't see the pictures, let me know. I've been having trouble with my browser and can't see them in firefox. That could just be my computer though, it likes to do phantom things sometimes.


Leah said...

Jo, it sounds like a wonderful trip. I love your stories. I can't wait to hear about the tourists.

Andrea said...

Very well spoken about R&R, its all true. I'm so jealous you were in Alaska! I get so homesick this time of year. Lucky us Dh's leave got approved and we should be up there in Sept. I can't wait! Thanks for all the beautiful pictures.

Stefanie said...

Thanks for the pictures. Although it makes me homesick. Sounds like you had a great time though. What did your family think of AK? Was this the first time you've taken the whole clan up there?

Sarah said...

Sounds like a great trip and the pics are beautiful. Can't wait to hear more stories!

Anonymous said...

oh sheesh, you know the whole catch and release thing, *roll eyes*. The catch and release issue is big for people who never live anywhere where people actually hunt and fish as part of life.
I live in the mountains in southern Oregon and right now we (our small town) is up in arms about some inane bill the "river guides" are trying to get passed. AS IT IS, it's a very strict limit of time that one can catch ONE fish..Fly fishermen come from all over the world to fish our rivers..we figure the guides just want more fish for them to catch so they can make more bucks!
Not releasing a fish does much less damage then say the the power co. which now has to remove it's FIVE DAMS, since it not only stopped the salmon from running, but endangered the "suckerfish" a sacred fish for the Tribe here, and this fish is ONLY in this area. It's not the greatest eating fish anyhow..

okay I'm just saying ..well i wish you the best! your kids and just the whole family are one of those fabulously photogenic beyond beautiful families, you should be in magazines ! lol

your friend's work is fab, i have a few blogs that show some of the things i make, jewelery and native/mountain man type stuff..i'll share the link with you sometime. half the time i forget my password lol.
many well wishes to your family!

it's called MelissaBleuz, or at least one is hahha