Valentine’s Day Afloat Throwback

With Valentine’s Day upon us, I’ve found myself reminiscing about last year’s Valentine’s Day afloat. Rob was fishing out of Sitka, Alaska, last winter and I had a 3 day weekend so I flew up to spend Valentine’s Day with my valentine aboard the F/V Fool’s Gold.

The first part of the adventure was getting to Sitka. Flying into any airport in Southeast Alaska is always an experience. Usually when you see those articles about scariest airports to fly into, at least one Southeast AK airport is on there. I’ve heard that Ketchikan’s runway is the shortest it could possibly be in order to land a 747. It also has water on either end of it so there’s not a lot of room for error there. I found Sitka’s airport to be a little more unnerving though. It really feels like you’re about to just straight up land in the ocean. It’s pretty much just a runway floating on an island. For someone who already has extreme anxiety about flying, this is not ideal. Luckily Alaska Airlines pilots seem to have a good idea of what they’re doing because we did not, in fact, land in the ocean.

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It doesn’t seem like a jet should ever come this close to the ocean. Welcome to Sitka.

After surviving the flight which is always an accomplish for my nervous self, Rob and I headed to the harbor to set off on our weekend journey. Armed with a GoPro selfie stick that my mom had just given me for Christmas a few months before, mimosa fixins, and lots of bacon (always necessary for boat outings) we set out to find the Goddard Hot Springs. We chugged along in the Fool’s Gold, top speed of about 6 knots (aka very slow), to the springs and spotted plenty of humpbacks and sea otters along the way. Humpbacks are famous for their winter migration to Hawaii where they mate but there are some that don’t make the trek and stay in Alaskan waters instead. From what I’ve heard, it’s mostly young males that stick around because they’re not mating yet. I’m no scientist but it sounds legit to me.

One thing that struck me about being out on the water in Sitka was how different the ocean moves than it does here around Ketchikan. In Ketchikan, we are relatively protected from what you would consider the “open ocean.” Our island is surrounded by other islands that keep us from getting ocean swell. In Sitka, that’s not the case. There’s nothing really between Sitka and Japan and you can definitely feel it when you’re on the water. Even on calm days, the constant swell is noticeable and a bit unsettling at first.

Oh and how could I forget…Sitka also has a freakin VOLCANO that you can see for much of the drive. How neat is that?!

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Rob took this picture of Mt. Edgecumbe AKA the freakin volcano!

After a few hours of travel and doing what you do on a very slow moving boat- read, nap, snack, repeat- we made it to the Hot Springs Bay where we anchored the boat and paddled to shore in a little inflatable along with our mimosa fixins. When I heard hot springs, I guess I was imagining more of a rocky sort of natural hot tub area. But this was different. Basically there are a couple wooden shelters that each have a big steel tub with a tap. The tap flows from the actual hot springs that is maybe unground? To be honest, I have no idea where the hot water came from. Rob hiked up to try to find the source but I was perfectly content just accepting that there was magical hot water that came out of the tap. I was also in a bathing suit at this point and not so interested in figuring out where the hot water was coming from as I was in just sitting in the hot water. Apparently in the summer it’s more of a hot spot (get it? HOT spot?) But since we were there in February, we had the springs to ourself even though there were a few other boats anchored up in the bay around us. Works for me!

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A low quality photo of a high quality time. Enjoying mimosas at Goddard Hot Springs.

After getting our fill of mimosas and the springs, we headed back to the boat where we spent the rest of the weekend meandering the coastline between there and Sitka. There is just so much beautiful untouched nature here to explore and we even caught a few fishies along the way!

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Bring your Valentine to work day aboard the F/V Fool’s Gold.

We’re spending this Valentine’s Day on land but it’s only a matter of time before we’re back out there on the water doing some more adventuring!

Thanks for reading! Float on, friends

 

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Staying Afloat on Land

Friends, family, strangers, strange friends and family,

Greetings once again from beautiful Ketchikan, Alaska!

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See. I told you it was beautiful!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written about our life afloat. So long, in fact, that we’re no longer even afloat! Not to worry- we didn’t sink. We just don’t live on a boat anymore and actually haven’t for quite some time.

Long story short- my handsome boat mate Rob and I moved off the boat when he purchased a commercial fishing boat that needed to live in the spot where we lived. I wrote about our journey going to get the boat in Juneau. You can read about it here if you missed it. Basically, there was only 1 stall for 2 boats so one boat had to go. So we decided to make the move to solid ground and since then, except when Rob’s out fishing, we’ve been living the cushy, land life.

You know the one.

The one where you have a normal size fridge with plenty of room for all of your sauces. The one where you have a real bathroom and a dresser. The one where you can have bananas.

Yeah- that one.

And when I say we moved off the boat, I don’t mean, like, last weekend. I mean like nearly 3 years ago. So it appears we have some catching up to do!

After we moved off the boat, I wasn’t sure how to continue the blog so I just…didn’t.

I had always intended to transition it to something else but just…didn’t.

But I have longed to write again. So I just…did.

And for you, dear reader, I really think I can still come up with ways to twist the details of our life in Alaska to hopefully make it interesting enough to read. I’m at least going to try! If nothing else, I will be honest. And honestly (see, I’m being honest already!) that should be interesting.

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To give a little more background on why I really decided to give this whole blog thing another go, I recently started listening to a podcast called “The Minimalists” which is run by 2 thirtysomething year old guys who in their late 20s decided to try this thing called “minimalism.” In short, it’s the idea of owning fewer material possessions in order to devote more time to the things you value. Kind of like owning fewer things so fewer things own you.

A lot of the ideas behind minimalism actually align with our former life afloat. Living on a boat, you are somewhat forced to own fewer things, and it’s an aspect of boat living that Rob and I always actually liked.

I won’t go into too much detail about it but if you’re interested, here’s their website: theminimalists.com. And the podcast is free on iTunes!

Aside from their ideas about material possessions, one of the things these guys talk about in the podcast is how you choose to spend your time and how it should align with your values. So it’s made me ask myself questions like- am I spending time doing things that I value? among other heavy stuff.

Well, remember the part where I said I would try to make my life sound interesting?

This is not that part. This is the part where I drop an honesty bomb for you, reader. This is the part where I admit to you an ugly truth which is that all too often lately I have found myself spending hours on end doing something affectionately called “online window shopping.”

For those of you who are better people than me and are unfamiliar with this idea, I don’t mean shopping online for windows. No, no. Online window shopping is where one spends hours online perusing but not actually buying anything. And then after those hours, you’re like, “Well, I didn’t buy anything so there’s nothing wrong with it!” It somehow feels like an accomplishment to spend hours shopping and not actually spend money. In reality though, if I at least bought something, then it technically wouldn’t be such a huge waste of time.

What I have to say to this past time is “F@*# you, Amazon Prime!”

But no, I’m only joking- thank you Amazon Prime for shipping free to Alaska. Thank you for all you do. Please don’t ever stop.

In all seriousness though, one of the things that I’ve started to question more is how I spend my time versus how I spend my money. I’ve always justified this practice with the fact that I don’t really spend a lot of money. Therefore it’s always seemed pretty harmless. When realistically what I should be looking at is how I’m spending my time.

  • Do I have money to spend on things that I find online. Yeah, sure. To an extent.
  • Do I have time to spend on it? Well, yeah. Apparently I do because I just said I do it.
  • Should I have the time to spend on it? Nope. I definitely should not.

And that’s where the issue lies for me. I truly want to try to spend some time doing more of what I love and value including writing and art making. Don’t we all want to spend more time doing things we enjoy? But too often we (yes, probably you too, I’m assuming) get caught up in the idea that we “don’t have time” for things. I could say I don’t have time to write. I could say I don’t have time to paint. But often what we’re really saying when we “don’t have time” is that it’s not a priority. For example- I have time to wash my bed sheets more often. I just don’t want to. Because making the bed sucks. Fitted sheets are the worst. It’s just not really a priority for me.

That’s an easy example though. It’s more difficult for me to say, “I don’t write or make art more often because it’s not a priority to me.” But my actions have shown that I’m certainly not prioritizing things that I value and that’s a truth I’m trying to change.

In the next few weeks and months, I hope to not only take on some more creative endeavors but also to catch you up to where we are now in life and some past adventures that you’ve missed. This includes exciting things like a brief stint abroad, Rob fishing on his commercial fishing boat, and a new fishing boat in the works. There might be even more not so exciting things like living out of suitcases and coming back from your brief stint abroad to find mold in your car.

So here’s to more boats, more writing, honesty bombs, and just trying to stay afloat.

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Life Adrift

Friends, you may or may not have noticed that I’ve been absent from my blog for quite some time. Don’t worry- I’m still afloat. I’ve had a series of adventures on land (I went to visit my family in Indiana!) and sea that haven’t left me with much time to write, but alas, I’m here to tell you about my mot recent adventure afloat.

The adventure technically began in February when my handsome boatmate made an exciting purchase…a fishing boat! He’s going to live his dream of being a commercial fisherman!

My handsome boatmate's new boat, Fool's Gold, and our home for the journey from Juneau.

The new boat, Fool’s Gold. Rob’s new toy and our home for the journey from Juneau.

When he bought the boat, it was in Juneau, Alaska, so this recent adventure afloat involved flying there and bringing it home. The trip was amazing. It was my first time in Juneau and my first glacier encounter. By the way, taking an Australian person who has never really been around a lot of ice to a glacier is a pretty comedic experience. I always thought he was fearless- then I saw him standing by a giant mass of solid ice and I now know otherwise.

If you ever get a chance to hike to the ice caves under the Mendenhall Glacier, you will not regret it. Unless you are Australian in which case you might be very scared of all the ice.

If you ever get a chance to hike to the ice caves under the Mendenhall Glacier, I promise you will not regret it….even if you’re Australian and scared of ice.

My time in Juneau confirmed that there is, in fact, no good Mexican food in Alaska. This is difficult for me to accept, but I think I have to give up trying Alaskan Mexican food after all. Listening the radio in Juneau also confirmed what I suspected to be true from listening to the radio in Ketchikan…if you are literally the most socially awkward person ever, you can get a job as a radio DJ in Alaska. I also had my first northern lights sighting, my first iceberg sighting, and my first time being adrift in the ocean.

Oh, that last one? Yeah, that was no big deal. There was just a slight little incident with the boat that left us adrift for a couple hours in the dark. But after a little panic and a quick chat on the radio with the Coast Guard, a friendly fishing boat in the area came and towed us to Petersburg, AK, which was the nearest town. Some amazing things came of this little mishap though because Petersburg ended up being the coolest little town i.e. this is where I saw the northern lights! And icebergs! Plus there were huge sea lions all over the harbor.

Iceberg! Dead ahead! errr...a little ways off to the left actually.

Iceberg! Dead ahead! Errr…a little ways out to the left actually.

 

Huge sea lion

Huge sea lion in Petersburg

 

Signs all over the harbor warning about not feeding the sea lions

There were signs all over the harbor warning about not feeding the sea lions.

See? No big deal at all. I could go into more detail about the mechanics of it, but I promise it’s not that exciting. All you need to know is that my handsome boatmate is super handy and fixed the problem all by himself once he figured out what was wrong. And voila! We were back on track and out on the water for our amazing adventure.

The journey really was unforgettable. The scenery was breathtaking. We got unbelievably lucky with the beautiful weather and of course I couldn’t have asked for better company.

Oh you thought I was talking about my handsome boatmate, didn’t you? I see him all the time. But the WHALES. The whales were everywhere. Whale city. It seemed like every time you looked outside, which was most of the time, because it’s a boat,  there was another spout. Whales on whales on whales. I couldn’t even complain about having to pee into a bucket since I could whale watch while peeing into a bucket. Oh yeah, did I mention that the new boat doesn’t have a toilet?

Best toilet ever.

Most scenic/least comfortable toilet ever.

Disclaimer: this video was not taken while sitting on the bucket. This is merely an example of what sitting on the bucket could entail on any given day.

And that was just one video of many. That whale in particular kept getting closer and closer to the boat and showing off its tail. It was amazing. Ok enough about whales…don’t want to make anyone too jealous! (looking at my sister on that one…she is still bitter about not seeing any whales when she came to visit me.)

This trip also made our humble 120 something square feet feel like Buckingham Palace. Keep in mind that it’s a fishing boat and purely meant for functionality but not at all made to live on for more than a few days at a time. Hence the no toilet situation.

Just when you thought we couldn't possibly coexist in a smaller space...

Just when you thought we couldn’t possibly coexist in a smaller space. I slept on the “bed” and Rob slept on the floor underneath.

 

Bucket peeing and all, the journey was a dream come true. I doubt I’ve ever actually dreamed of peeing in a bucket, but regardless, this place I now call home is truly an amazing one. Now that we’re back in Ketchikan, Rob gets to try out this whole fishing thing and I couldn’t be more excited for him. Meanwhile, I’m back to work at this crazy place I told you about called Snorkel Alaska where I get paid to go swimming everyday. Paid to go fishing and paid to go swimming…I guess you could say life is good.

Until next time, float (or drift) on friends.

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Springtime, sunshine, snorkeling, & scallops. Seriously.

So I went snorkeling last weekend. “Oh, you must have gone to a tropical destination where people snorkel,” you might be thinking. But you’d be wrong. I snorkeled in Alaska. In March.

You know, I never really thought I would some day move to Alaska, but then I did. Once I moved to Alaska, I never thought I would get a summer job guiding snorkeling tours. Then I did. Once I moved to Alaska and got a summer job guiding snorkeling tours, I never thought I would get into the water in Alaska once the summer was over. Then March 23, 2014 happened, and I did.

A little background for you here- Once upon a time last summer, fate brought me to the doorstep of Snorkel Alaska searching for a job. The summer cruise ship season had a little over two months left when I completed the drive from Indiana to Ketchikan in late July of 2013. I wanted to find a full time guiding job, but at that point in the season, I thought my chances were slim. Then my handsome boatmate, Rob (boatmate is like roommate but I just put boat instead of room…see what I did there?) mentioned that he knew the guy who owned Snorkel Alaska and that he was looking for another guide. Snorkeling in Alaska? “That sounds weird” I thought. I had gone swimming in Alaska before, but by swimming I mean I jumped in the water then swam to the dock really fast to get out. I’m a certified diver but my diving experience was limited to the warm Caribbean. Doing it in Alaska, though? Again, sounds weird. But it did sound pretty cool and definitely adventurous and I like cool and adventurous so I decided to give it a go! I spent nearly everyday of the next two months in the water and as it turns out, it WAS cool and adventurous. In fact, I liked it so much that I plan on doing it all over again this summer!

Back to the story…Fred, the guy who owns Snorkel Alaska, invited Rob and I to go out snorkeling for scallops last weekend. The stars must have aligned or something because Rob actually had the day off AND it was gorgeous outside so we said, “Heck yeah!” We ventured out in Fred’s boat to our chosen site and hopped in. Both the air temperature and water temperature were in the lower 40s. On a side note- in my time here, I’ve gathered that most things people do for fun in Alaska involve harvesting food, even if it means going to crazy lengths (i.e. getting into 40 degree water) to do so. All in all, we ended up with 11 scallops thanks to Fred and Rob. Admittedly, I didn’t find any but it was an awesome day nonetheless and totally worth it just to be out in the sunshine!

Polar vortex? Not in Alaska!

Polar vortex? Not in Alaska!

Though I didn’t actually find any of the scallops myself, I DID help to eat them. Once Rob and I got home, we decided on the simplicity of sautéing them in butter and lemon juice then topped them with a dash of wasabi. And they were DELICIOUS. Rob said it was the best thing he’d eaten in a long time which is saying a lot. Or it could just be saying that he hates my cooking since that is mostly what he had previously eaten for a long time. Hmm…

If you’ve never seen a scallop, here’s what a cooler full of them looks like.

Catch of the day!

Catch of the day!

Here’s what an artsy picture of a scallop looks like.

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Once your pry them open and take out most of the orange goop, you’re left with the edible part!

Spoiler alert! It's a scallop.

Out of the shell and ready to be cooked!

Out of the shell and ready to be cooked!

Thanks to Fred for the awesome day! Can’t wait to do it again!

Stay tuned for GoPro footage of last weekend and future dives. I’m trying to reteach myself how to use iMovie. This could be a while.

Until next time, float on friends