Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Alaska Adventure Recap - The Exciting Conclusion!

Day 4
Today we left Valdez and headed to Seward. I had my first wildlife encounters today. As we were driving,we saw a moose on the side of the road. P. is fearless, and got some nice photos of the creature. They are really big. I guess they are used to having tourists (most of them in RVs - I swear I have never seen so many of those things in one place in my entire life!)pulling over and taking photos of them - kinda like Paris Hilton and the paparazzi (or something.)

Anyway, our second encounter occured at a nature preserve. You could drive from animal to animal (we dubbed it the "lazy zoo"). We saw more moose, elk, deer, foxes, owls, an eagle, and, at last, bears (yay, bears!) Of course, I took a million pictures, so if you'd like a million pictures of bears, email me!

Seward is a lovely town. The marina area is filled with quaint shops and restaurants (as well as the obligatory glacier tour companies and fishing charters.) We stayed at an adorable cabin that one of P.'s friends owns - definitely the best accommodations we had on the trip. We had more yummy seafood - including a superb crab bisque - for dinner (good thing I'm not 100% vegetarian anymore, huh?) and hit the hay.

Day 5
Today we went out fishing for salmon and halibut (with Crackerjack Charters - had to give them a plug!) This trip also marks the first time my seasickness (which I only get occassionally) made me take a nice long look overboard (if you know what I mean!)As they say in the Gilligan's Island theme song, "The weather started getting rough..." It was cloudy, cold and windy out there. We had been blessed with some beautiful weather the first few days, so this wasn't unexpected. We were out wityh a bunch of execs from Red Bull, which was cool (again, I was the only lass on board). For me, fishing was tough (for P., not so much!) I caught a few Red Bull execs, which frustrated me to the point that I had to take a break. After the weather calmed down, I managed to hook a salmon, a halibut and a few dogfish (small sharks). P. managed to collect about 30 lbs of halibut for our freezer (yum!) Wewent out to dinner that night with Andy (the charter captain) and his wife Nici (who owns the cabin) - very nice people (Fun Fact: Andy looks like Tom Wopat from "The Dukes of Hazzard"!) The next day was our early day, so off to bed...

Day 6
Today we went fishing for sockeye salmon on the Kenai River. We were up before 5, and it took us an hour to get to the lodge. From there it was another 45 minutes to the boat launch. I got to wear waders for the first time (not a good look for me, I'm afraid!) and use a fly rod (I felt very "A River Runs Through It"!) I did ok - I actually landed a fish (no surprise, P. landed quite a few - the guy behind him in the photo that looks homicidal is actually our guide). All in all, another 15 lbs of fish are headed back to Florida!
Day 7
Today we made our way back to Anchorage. We were supposed to go fishing, but the weather was pretty grim. Besides, something captured my attention the minute we rolled into Seward, and I couldn't stop thinking of it the whole time we were there. There is a training facility for one of the Iditarod teams in Seward that's open to the public. So, you know what this means - SLED DOGS!! They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, so here's your "awww moment of the day"...

Oh, alright, here's another one...

I got to dress up like an Iditarod racer, see one of the dogs from that movie "Eight Below" and go on a sled ride (oh, and, of course I took a million pictures. If you'd like a million sled dog photos, email me!) On our ride (we used a summer sled - with wheels on it that they use to train the dogs in the off-season) I leraned that not all sled dogs are Huskies or Malamutes - they are a bunch of different breeds (and a lot of mixed breeds) that are put together as a team based on their unique attributes (some dogs are faster, some stronger, some have more endurance, etc.) Here's the team we went out with:

After we got back to Anchorage (our hotel had a walk-in freezer for fish - only in Alaska!) We headed (once again) to the Sea Galley for the "Last Supper" (more crab!) and then ventured into downtown for a little fun with P.'s new friend, who just happened to be in town that day. Ryan is a Blue Angel, and he and his fellow Angels were in town for an air show. So I got to party with the Blue Angels - pretty cool, huh? Here's a photo from one of the local watering holes - you will only "get" this if you saw "Bubble Boy"...

We went to a few bars (one of which was called Platinum Jaxx - which sounded like a nudie bar, but wasn't) and P. intorduced the boys to his world-famous Backdraft shot. Here's a photo of one of the guys in the process of enjoying this fine libation...

What a way to end a great vacation, huh? The next day, we took the long, uncomfortable flight back to Florida. Next up - California!

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