Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fishing trip for the ages

...and the aged!

I treated my dad to a very unique experience today...floating down the Kenai River in the fall while all the trout are gorging themselves for the upcoming winter. What that translates into is great fishing! I thought about just going down and fishing form the shore but I took some good advice from an even better friend and decided to splurge and just go for it. It was WELL worth it.

We drove down and met our guide Mike at 8:30 and were in the water by 9. Unfortunately, the only day we could go was a very wet day. It was also only about 40 degrees so it made for a cold adventure. We were relatively prepared so our clothes held up and we stayed pretty dry. And as Mike said, "The fish don't care. They're already wet!"

After a few first lessons, we were drifting downriver and Sam was the first to catch a dolly varden. It was on the small side but still very beautiful! I think Sam caught the next fish too but we didn't get a picture of it.

Then it was Dad's turn to get in on the act. BUT this time was VERY special. We stopped and anchored at this nice hole where Mike saw a few silver salmon...a bit early for the second run the season. We traded in our fly rods and started casting toward the shore for 15 minutes or so but with no luck. At one point Mike told us just one more cast and we'll move on. About 5 casts later, he yelled at Dad to set the hook and when Dad yanked up, he had hooked a VERY nice size silver salmon. The fight was on and it was a dandy. The salmon (a blushed buck) was happy to give us a show and jumped out of the water several times trying to shake the hook loose. Dad kept the line tight and before long, Mike was able to net this beauty...

I like this one Sam took of Mike holding Dad's silver. We estimated that it was probably close to 15 pounds.

Well at this point, I was happy to call it a day because Dad was as giddy as a schoolgirl and Sam had caught his fish. ....buuuuttttt....I kinda wanted to catch a fish too and the thought had crept into my mind ...."what if you don't catch a fish?" Certainly Mike wouldn't let that happen, right?

Well, not much longer we pulled up to a GREAT spot again and were working it hard for any trout or dollies. I got the strangest hit on my fly and I tried to set the hook and the only way I could describe it was it was like I had snagged a fish in the tail. It just didn't feel right or fight ...initially. THEN the fight was on. I knew it was a big fish. It only gave me a few small jumps but before long, we got it in the net and Mike looked at it for a while and finally said "it's a SILVER!!!"

Well, now I felt like I found my groove. It wasn't long after that that I had my next big hit and the best fight of the day (for me at least). I landed a BEAUTIFUL dolly varden! This first picture is Mike doing the typical guide photo-op...holding the fish way out in front, close to the camera to make it look as big as possible. Be sure to click on one of these pictures. It really is a beautiful fish. You can also see that it's had a hard life by the obvious scars on its back.

Well now I was just showing off. Again, I was the next to land a fish with a rainbow! It was a not the huge beast I was hoping for but by this point, I was MORE than happy with what I had already been blessed with. I happily reeled in this nice fish and posed for a few pics.

Not to be outdone, Dad quickly landed another rainbow.

an the end, we each had caught 3. I caught one of each; a silver, dolly, and a bow. Dad caught the biggest silver, 2 rainbows including the biggest bow of the day. And Sam caught 2 bows and one a couple more quick releases. ;)

We decided to take our salmon home for dinner for the ladies. Lisa was EXTREMELY jealous that she didn't get to go. I am going to try and get her out on the Kenai sometime this month. It is DEFINITELY worth the money.

The salmon was a very pleasant and delicious surprise (so I was told). Sam came over and helped us prepare and grill my salmon. Dad is going to take his home to share (and show off) for his friends. We had a fun night of grilling and laughter...a perfect ending to a perfect day.

Monday, September 28, 2009

2 weeks!

That's a long time to go without posting! This isn't much of a post either, just to let you know that I've been away the last week. I went to Boise, ID for a week long workshop. It was an AMAZING week and I met some AMAZING people.

My parents are visiting now so we're keeping them busy this week. Today we went to the zoo and tomorrow we're heading over to a museum. I'm looking forward to Wednesday though...I'm taking my dad down to the Kenai and we're going to do some trophy trout fishing. More pics and videos later. Just wanted to share that we are alive and will be getting back into our normal routine soon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Check this kid out!!!

It's my NEPHEW!!! Austin finished 5th in a field of 66 and earned himself a spot at the National Championship IronKids in Tucson!! The dude is all business! Check out these pics..

Check out his blog and follow as he trains for the national championship. You can also sponsor him.

Way to go, Austin! We are so proud of you!!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Day 2 of the excursion

So the girls did pretty good that night. We all slept in the same room but unlike our Seward trip, we managed to keep them in their cribs (pack and plays). There were shenanigans but no screaming like last time. This time we just let them talk and play in their cribs while we lay there and listened. The frustrating part was when they started unzipping their pjs and trying to strip down naked. What can we say, we're raising nudists! About the third time I got up to zip Katy's pjs back up in the dark, the zipper caught her skin around her neck and she CRIED!! I felt terrible and held her until she calmed down. That was pretty much it. When I put her back down she stayed quiet. Alyssa, with nobody to talk to, fell asleep a few minutes later.

We didn't have a clock in the room but we guessed it was around midnight...maybe a little later. We slowly woke up to a wonderful view and two happy, and somewhat rested kiddos.

Unfortunately, the lodge was not open for breakfast so we took our time in the cabin and tried to burn off some energy. Lisa brought enough food for the girls but we were hurting so we drove back into town to the first convenience store / gas station / laundry mat / showers...all in about 300 square feet. I love Alaska.

Anyway, we returned for a quick lunch of $9 turkey sandwich and $6 grilled cheese...of which the girls barely touched. And then we were on our way to the summit and the long road back home.

Summit. I think it was even called Summit Lake.

Great pics of the girls before we took a little hike around the lake.

I was kinda taken back by the fact that we were at the headwaters of a pretty big creek. This is one of two branches of what becomes Willow Creek...the same creek that we fished at it's confluence with the big Susitna River back in May.

Looking down the valley where we were going to be driving the next couple of hours on a BUMPY road.

If you didn't, be sure to click on some of these pictures. After looking through the tiny versions, you HAVE to click to get the full size.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Independence Mine

Weekend getaway continued. Part 2 of our two day adventure takes place on the evening of our arrival. After dinner, we headed a quarter mile up to the end of the road to see the Independence Mine State Historical Park. Since it was already almost 8pm, nobody was around. We had the place to ourselves but unfortunately that meant the visitor center wasn't open. So we didn't get to find out much about the place but from what I've read on the signs around and at their website, it was a gold mining community set up in the early 1900s before finally being shut down in 1951. I still don't know how it got to be in the shape it is today. The weather is pretty extreme up there so maybe it was all weather that destroyed the structures...whatever it was, it's magnificant to see.

We hiked to the top of the hill with the girls. It's definitely the longest and most difficult trail the girls have done. That doesn't say much because I don't think we've taken them on many hikes. But they were anxious and adventuresome so most of the time we had to hold them back a bit.

Like I said before, we were embarrassed that we've never been up here before and even worse...that we've never taken any of our out of town family and friends up here.

At the top of our climb. We started in the parking lot near the buildings in this picture. It was a loooong hike up but the girls did AWESOME! We had to carry them for part of the way because it was just too steep or the drop-off was too close to the trail but otherwise, they scurried all the way up themselves.

My first attempt at an artistic photo. Not bad for not having the tripod with me.

This is the first time I've caught a ptarmigan (pronounced tarm-again) on film. We have a great video of one when we went to Brooks Falls several years ago but this is the first picture. You'll have to click on it to really see it. What was great is that it changes colors during the seasons. It was in the middle of transitioning from the camouglage tan to all white for the winter. It looked like it had big white hairy boots on its legs. It was pretty funny to see.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

another weekend getaway!

I have so many pictures to go through but I wanted to share a few from the first night of our weekend getaway. The weather has been unbelievable this last week but I was working 6 night shifts in a row. Knowing that the weather was going to be going downhill fast during my break, we decided to take off and check out somewhere that we'd never been to before. We found our way up to Hatcher Pass. AMAZING!! The thing we kept saying was that we were embarrassed that we've been in Anchorage for 4 years and we've never been there before. It was only 2 hours (or maybe less) away from our home and it was just stunning. Lisa posted on facebook that we joked that it ended up being a Denali Park Junior. You'll see why when I get to those pictures next time. First, our drive up and a few shots at Independence Mine.

This is the valley where we stayed. The cabins are in the bottom right of the picture.

If you've seen the Mythbusters episode filmed in Alaska when they were testing cabin fever, this was the spot. No kidding. It's a surreal place to stay. A little bit rustic for our taste (especially with the girls) but BEAUTIFUL nonetheless.

The girls just wanted to RUN! Especially Katy. If we turned away for one moment, this is what would happen.

Dinner and a view. I'll have to dig out another picture that I took last week but it's becoming a theme with Katy. It looks like she's ordering another round.

Our cabin for the night.

I'll have to save Independence Mine for tomorrow.