Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Evening post!

I was going through some older photos and realized I never finished sharing pictures from our trip up to Hatcher Pass. We pick it up on our drive down the Willow Creek Valley. It was extremely scenic...the pictures just don't do it justice.

I especially wanted to share these pictures. I will cherish this forever...the first time I really took the girls fishing with us. We borrowed these backpacks for the weekend to see if it was something we'd like to invest in. We did not. Even though they can handle an additional 20 pounds more than what the girls weighed, it was PAINFUL to carry them up there. BUT...it gave us some great memories.

And yes, I caught a nice sized salmon but it was in spawning mode so not very appealing. We did a quick release where we didn't really touch it...just landed it and let it flop itself off the hook and back into the creek.

And a video. I just took this video this evening. The girls (especially Alyssa) have been showing interest in potty training. Today I was changing her diaper and she asked to sit on the big potty. I did what any good Dad would do and grabbed the camera. I almost can't wait until she's a teen-ager so I can go back and show her this on youtube.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Not sure how to react. I posted earlier on Facebook that I didn't receive an interview for a position in the lower 48 that I thought I would be competitive for. First...no, we're not exactly actively looking to move out of Alaska. I applied for a position that is on my short SHORT list. It was a lead job in Portland, OR. It is somewhere we would definitely like to live but timing wasn't ideal for us.

So I didn't expect to get the job. Honestly, I didn't. It's extremely competitive and I knew some of the people who bid on it. They are fantastic people and I have a good feeling that one of them will get that job and excel.

BUT!!!! I think I am competitive...obviously or I wouldn't have applied. From day one, I have said that I just want an interview so I have a chance to get to know the MIC and for him to get to know me. It is very disheartening to learn that my references weren't even contacted. I know this is over simplifying a complex process...but to me that means that on paper, I'm not even worthy of a phone call. It is making me rethink my whole approach to my job. What do I need to do to make myself look better on paper? And that sucks because everything I do at work is because I believe in it or because I think I am helping the office or other people. It doesn't necessarily translate to the resume. Do I really want to be the kind of person that just does stuff that looks good on the resume?

Regardless, my approach is going to change. I'm going to be making some changes at work to insure that I am competitive by lower 48 standards. I am going to use this as a wake up call. I am going to re-evaluate my priorities. I am going to listen to advice from people outside my office that have a different perspective.

As you can tell, I'm a little frustrated...but motivated. This is going to sting for a while but I'll just have to use that to fuel the fire.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


A whole new world
A dazzling place I never knew
But when I'm way up here
It's crystal clear
That now I'm in a whole new world with you
Now I'm in a whole new world with you

Unbelievable sights
Indescribable feeling
Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling
Through an endless diamond sky

It's the first thing that popped in my head as I was driving home this evening wearing glasses. I can see things I've never seen before! As I was walking through the mall with my new glasses, I almost missed two stairs because I was in disbelief how well I could see far away now.

So why now? I had a few embarassing moments at my workshop in Boise where I had to ask for help to see things. It was a wake up call. My vision could be better. I decided to give it a try and since I know I can live without them, if I don't like how I look or if the improvement isn't great enough then I'll go back to my pre-HD vision. We'll see how it goes. I have 30 days to decide.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Just the two of us

I wanted to title this blog entry FISH ON but not surprisingly after the summer I had, I've already used that title. More importantly, it was a trip for me and Lisa away from the grind. I wanted to give Lisa something special...something away from the girls and out of the house. After my trip with Dad and Sam a couple weeks ago, I knew this is what she needed. Even though most people stop fishing the Kenai River in October, the second run of the silvers is going strong and there are plenty of dollies and rainbows to be had...all gorging themselves on loose eggs before the winter.

Problems leading up to today...the girls are sick. Katy has had a fever off and on for a couple days and Alyssa has been getting slowly worse. Their noses are becoming faucets and they've been pretty cranky...BUT besides that first day that Katy was sick, they haven't really been lethargic. So our awesome neighbor was fully aware of the situation but recognized how bad we wanted to get out of Dodge for half a day. She was on board.

Second problem...the river is extremely high. If I'm reading the River Forecast Center's website right, today's level was the 19th highest on record going back to 1970 and the highest it's been since 2004. All that meant there was lots of debris being picked up and moved downriver and fish wouldn't be in their normal hideouts. It was going to make for an interesting day of fishing. Yesterday, I called a couple of other guides to get their impression before I got ahold of Mike (our guide)who said he'd been out fishing and there were plenty of fish to be caught. So...we went for it.

Sorry, enough background. Time for some fish tales. We left our house at 6am, drove through the dark and arrived at 7:35. The river was impressive and a little intimidating. We both weren't sure what to think but Mike assured us we were good. He paddled hard to get us across the river to a good holding spot where he could give us a few tips. After Lisa threw in her line a couple of times, I grabbed my rod and gave it a go...not really expecting anything. Remember last time I was the last to catch a fish and it was probably an hour and a half into the float before I finally did. Not today. On the second cast, my bobber disappeared and I yanked skyward and immediately felt that incredible tug at the end. Oh, how I LOVE that feeling. So 5 minutes into our float, I landed my first fish...a BEAUTIFUL dolly!

Because it was still pretty dark, we didn't realize for a while that the auto focus wasn't on so our first several pictures weren't very good.

So we moved on. Not too much later I was able to land an average size rainbow. It was a beautiful fish but it was so early on, we did a quick release and didn't take a picture.

But today wasn't going to be about the dollies and rainbows. Today was all about Lisa and her silver salmon. Maybe 30 minutes later we stopped at our first hole to switch to casting rods and try our luck at the silvers. The water was so high and cloudy that we couldn't see them like before but Mike knew they were there. He told us how it would feel when they hit but it's just not something you can explain, you need to experience it. Luckily Lisa was paying attention and knew when she had her first hit. She yanked back hard and set the hook and the fight was on!! I couldn't believe it. Just like Dad, she pulled in this BEAUTIFUL silver salmon. But unlike our first trip, these salmon were fresh from the ocean. They were still bright and fresh. Lisa fought it into the net and the high fives started flying!! I think all 3 of us were grinning from ear to ear. Even Mike, who does this every day, was giddy with excitemet for Lisa. It is why I came back to him for this trip. He is genuinely excited for us when we catch fish. So he asks if Lisa wanted to hold it...I don't know if he was surprised when she said "YEAH!" but it made me a proud husband.

We didn't get anything else out of that hole so we moved on downstream. We found another hole that I wouldnt' have thought would have been very active but the salmon were in there THICK! It didn't take but a few minutes and Lisa hooked up with another. BUT this time she didn't set the hook and it shook off before we could get it in the net. A cast or two later and FISH ON! But AGAIN, the hook wasn't quite set and the fish got away. Now it was getting kinda funny. Mike joked that she needed to set the hook like it owed her money. It couldn't have been one or two casts later and she hooked ANOTHER!!! This time there wasn't any way this fish was getting away. Besides, it owed her money!

Alright, now it was just getting rediculous. At this point I had landed two average fish, a dolly and a rainbow. But Lisa had landed two silvers and hooked 2 more! About this time we were wondering if her green spinner was the way to go but I wasn't going to give up on my orange one yet and good thing. In the exact same spot, I finally hooked my first silver of the day. She was a beauty.

I think Mike was still stringing that third fish when Lisa hooked ANOTHER ONE!! But, unfortunately this one got away from her again. Now it was my turn! There was definitely a hot spot of where the silvers were lined up so I cast just past it and focused on the retrieve when WHAM!!!...actually it felt like a bump but whatever (I'm telling the tale)...FISH ON AGAIN!!! I could immediately tell this one was bigger and when it gave us it's first jump, all three of us shouted out. We had only seen hens (females) so far and this was a big buck. It was definitely the fight of the day. It took a while...going back and forth from one side of the boat to the other and diving deep but we were finally able to get it in the net.

What a freaking monster!! We all know the guides trick of pushing the fish out a little bit toward the camera...evenso, that is a big fish!

Since we were having so much fun and the fishing was so great, we actually decided to let the big guy go and continue fishing. A few casts later and Lisa hooks a big buck too!!

We initially were going to keep this one because it's color was a little better than mine but we noticed he had already been through a pretty tough patch. Check out the battle wound in the second picture. Mike thinks it was a seal that did that to him in the ocean before he made the run up the river. Pretty amazing stuff.

So finally, it was time to move on. All of that happened in 30 minutes or so. The adrenaline was PUMPING!! It was one of the most exciting fishing experiences I've had.

Things slowed down after that. We each had several more hits on the fly rod while we were floating down river but were having a hard time setting the hook. I was able to land one more GORGEOUS fish. After several near misses, I was able to set the hook quickly on this guy. As much as I loved landing those silvers, this was a special catch. I am such a huge fan of rainbows. They are gorgeous fish and this one took the cake. It's a shame we couldn't get his colors on film. I wish everyone could see a fish like this in person. Mike was certain it was an old fish...probably pushing 20 years old. You could tell by how heavily spotted and dark he was. The contrasting color down his side was amazing. This picture doesn't do his size or color justice at all. You'll have to take my word...it was a beautiful fish.

I took this picture at one point just to try and capture our settings. Such a cool experience.

We hit several more holes on the way down the river but just couldn't get any more fish on. That was fine...we had more than our share of fish (and fun) at this point. We landed at our final destination about 5 hours after we started (a whole hour more than what I fished with Dad and Sam) and posed for a few pics with our 3 keepers. Let me tell you how much I LOVE this picture. I'm pretty sure I'm going to enlarge it and frame it. Just so freaking cool! What a day!

I thought this was great too. Mike cleans and filets our fish for us right there.

This time we had a cooler ready to go. I called Sam when I got home and he came over and he helped me grill a half of one filet for Lisa and vacuum seal the rest for the freezer. We have SO much fish now. We gave some of the fresh salmon to our neighbor as a thank you for watching the girls. I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to be able to go catch this fresh salmon and give it away!

So what a trip!! I didn't even mention this but we saw probably 20 bald eagles (not exaggerating at all), an angry beaver that tail slapped the water near the boat, and then a few dall sheep on the drive home. It was truly an amazing day to live in Alaska.

quick post...well almost

It's getting late and I have to be up at 5am...4 hours and 40 minutes from now. I've been wanting to post about our night at the March of Dimes event, "Fund the Mission". We were completely overwhelmed with how many people were involved and how many of Anchorage elitists showed up. We didn't get to see many of the different items that were up for auction but one that got my attention was 2 roundtrip tickets donated by Continental to Houston where you would watch either 2 or 3 Astros games of your choice from the box suites. Also included was an autographed bat and jersey from the team. I'm probably wrong about this but I think Sam said that went for over $9000 (I'm doubting myself, that might have been another item). There were LOTS of amazing trips and items up for auction not to mention I believe the cost per person just to get in the door was $150. We made a rough estimate that there was over 600 people in attendance!! That's a lot of money.

Here is a picture to give you an idea of the setup. On the stage were the best chefs from Anchorage. One of them came up and talked to us before our portion of the evening. He was very thankful and very nice to us. We felt honored.

So we arrived at about 8:00 knowing that our short part of the evening wasn't until almost 9:00. That was our big dilemma in whether or not we were going to attend, how late it was and what that meant for the girls. Certainly, it got rougher as the night wore on but they were troopers.

We made our entrance and were announced along with 2 other families (one more couldn't make it because of a sick baby). Immediately, we could feel ALL eyes on us. The girls are just so darn cute...it was obvious all 600 people were watching every move they made. We could hear the constant "oooooo's" and "aaawwwwweeee's". What was great was we asked Sam to come with us and take some pictures. He did a phenomenal job but as a bonus, the girls are in love with Sam. So when we got to the stage, we told them to look for Sam in the back of the room and blow him kisses and wave.

I don't know if they ever saw him way back there but they were blowing kisses and waving like they meant it! The crowd ate it up.

We stood off to the side with the other families while one of the local doctors told everyone about each family and what we went through. As loud as the crowd had been minutes leading up to this and during the auction...you could hear a pin drop. It was amazing. It brought tears to my eyes to see our family and even moreso, Lisa and the girls, at the center of attention. It made me so proud to think of how far we've come and inspired by the thought that we might have helped raise a little more money that night.

Now unfortunately, they got a few facts wrong. Lisa delivered 9 weeks early, not 7. And somehow, they reversed their names!!

After everyone's stories were told, one of the mothers got up and went into specifics about her boy's tough entry into the world. It was very emotional and powerful. As designed, they used the emotions and went straight into some of the big ticket auctions. We slid away to the back of the room where we started to gather our things to head home. A camera man came up to me and asked if I would hold the girls for a picture. I thought he meant a "still" photo. Not exactly. He was running the video camera so he put me and the girls up on the big screen while the auctions were going on. Brilliant strategy but I saw a flaw...it was after 9 by now and the girls were READY TO GO!!!

Solution? I found Sam who happened to be on the other side of the camera man. The girls found him too and resumed blowing kisses and waving. To the audience, it looked like they were blowing kisses and waving to everyone so again we could hear people laughing and awe'ing. I have to admit, it was pretty sweet.

That lasted for a few minutes and it was go time. Since the auction was still going on and it was obvious the cameraman liked using us, we let the girls play around while the guy filmed them for everyone to see. That was tough because...well, everything the girls did and we did was on display for a very large group of people to see. I never knew when I was on camera and when I wasn't so it made for a weird 10 or 15 minutes. Anyway, by 9:30 or so the girls were DONE.

We made our way downstairs and fought with them to get their coats on and in the car. All things considered, they did GREAT! It made us feel great to help this worthy cause, even if they were just using us for our cute babies!

Thanks to Sam for getting all dressed up and attending with us and being our official photographer. Without him, we'd have none of these great pictures to share. Plus he took several videos that I need to edit down so they will fit on youtube. Hopefully I can finish that soon.

Alarm goes off in 4 hours now. Lisa and I are going fishing...the same trip that I took my dad on a couple weeks ago. The weather is going to be perfect so it should be a BLAST!!

Friday, October 09, 2009

can't resist posting what's going on right now

I thought about doing this on Facebook...but thought I would post here instead. I've been posting a lot on Facebook lately, starting to wonder if people are getting sick of me.

We had some DELICIOUS grilled chicken this evening. We did a half and half of some KC BBQ sauce; one was Arthur Bryant's Sweet Heat and the other was Fiorella's Jack Stack BBQ original sauce. Both of them were SOOOO good. I would have taken a picture of the chicken to make you jealous but we ate it too fast.

But afterwards, Sam was entertaining the girls with some Mana Mana. I got a couple quick good pictures...

No words...just random cuteness.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

I couldn't wait

I was going to wait until later to share some of the pictures and videos from this morning but just couldn't. They are SO freaking cute. Both of them are becoming more independent which is met with mixed emotions from me and Lisa on the sideline.

There was more of us sitting on the side than ever and the girls occasionally running over to make sure we were watching and give us a hug. Lisa eventually went out and helped which is always HILARIOUS! I believe there are some pictures (and maybe videos) of me doing just that last week when Lisa couldn't make it to class. I'll have to dig those up....maybe.

There were also more girls than I've seen before so it was hard for Teresa to give everyone attention.

This was hilarious. Teresa told everybody to lay down. Amazingly, all the girls did this on their own...except our girls who needed some help from Lisa. Teresa was astonished when she turned around and saw everybody already laying in a perfect semi-circle.

My little soldier baby girls waiting patiently for their turn.

Now for a couple videos.

They both used to just stand there and watch. Look how much Alyssa is participating. Makes us so proud!

late night post

I am currently sitting on my favorite recliner watching Top Chef with my buddy Sam. It is now 12:55am and there may or may not have been a few beers involved tonight. Regardless, Sam and I are having a good time and no doubt, I will be tired tomorrow.

So what better time than to share a couple quick photos?! I don't think I've posted these before. It is scary how old my babies girls are looking! They really look like little ladies. What am I going to do?!

Sorry for the nudity but they are just so darn cute! These were taken while my parents were here last week.

How bout some cute pony tail pics?

I have a few more I wanted to share tonight but it's laaaate.

Tomorrow night, we are going to a fund raiser for March for Dimes. We are going to be out late with the girls...I believe they will be talking about us just before 9:00. We also have dance class in the morning so it should be a full day.