Friday, July 27, 2012

ALASKA! (or Alan Peterson, eat your heart out :-)

So I have a dear friend, Alan Peterson, an aspiring movie producer/artiste and part time politician. As you might expect with those vocations, he pleads poverty on a regular basis. he continually tortures me by finding "shoots" or "gigs" or some such thing for remote Alaskan fishing lodges where he just has to fish for a few days before going to "work." Naturally, when I heard my company had moved its yacht to Sitka, Alaska for the summer, and that there was the opportunity for a "business development" trip July 10-15, I jumped at the chance to go.

After flying into Sitka, we headed north along the straights bounding Baranof island and leading to Chichagof island. The spot above is where we anchored the first night. Lord of the Rings, anyone? This is what it looks like on a sunny day:

The little white spots in the water are buoys marking crab traps, including a few of our own.  Let me introduce you to Senor Dungeness, who joined us (along with 10 of his closest friends) for dinner one evening . . .

He is in the capable hands of our cook "Cappy," who along with our captain, Travis, (fishing off the bow of the boat below)

and their friend and fellow crewmate Tiffany, were just fantastic, and made the trip very fun. Here is a photo of the three of them at our anchor spot on the last night:

Cappy (in the fashionable yellow coveralls) is an amazing cook. The Tattoos up and down his arm are all about food -- an elbow macaroni on his elbow, a crab with candles on top (crab cakes) and others telling the story of many meals prepared and in his words "way too much time on my hands."  If you ask him he'll tell you he learned to cook in prison, but it was actually at a very good culinary institute (he is funny, and loves teasing Utah accounting types).  He also loves food and cooking it for others. His stated goal was to turn us into "400 pound sumo wrestlers" (some of us had more of a head start than others . . . ), and he dang near succeeded.

Here he is with Darren, one of our guests, celebrating Darren's first catch, undoubtedly the heaviest of the trip, which they both worked very hard to bring in . . .

Darren: "no wonder it felt heavy as a rock".  He actually did catch fish, alternatively referred to as "yellow eye" and "red snapper."

We caught a lot of those, along with the ubiquitous "rock fish."If the goal of evolution was big ugly, those babies would be nature's masterpiece. Rockfish make this snapper look positively beautiful -- don't take my word for it, here they are:

Those spikey fins will nail you if you are not careful, and it is pretty certain that "good looking" and those fish have never even graced the same ocean. They are quite tasty though -- perhaps a little natural lesson in not judging a book by its  cover. We did catch bigger fish however -- see for yourself:

Cappy caught the first, weighing in at about 100 pounds, and Rocky, one of my Big West co-workers, caught the second, a little smaller but tastes just as good. Not to be outdone . . .

Travis, our captain, helped me catch the one on the right, and Ben (above), the epitomy of persistence on this trip, caught one completely unassisted (except for the whole gaff-and-club thing at the end). Fred, the president of Big West and a good friend, also caught one, though I must note it was the SMALLEST of the lot :-) (he fancies himself a fisherman, so how can I resist that?). Irrespective of size, they all taste fantastic. Here is Travis, cutting up the fillets:

The greatest thing about Travis, though, was his ability to find, and willingness to chase after, all kinds of wildlife.  We saw so many amazing animals:

Bald Eagles (everywhere)



Leopard Seals  (if you don't think those were hard to spot, you would be mistaken . . . )

Whales up close and personal

More Bears (almost every morning and night)

Oh, and did I mention WHALES?

Yes, it was just spectacular. A really special place in the world. And Alan, in case you are a purist, we did manage to:

Do some fly-fishing (Fred makes it look easy)

And catch a few.

(Our Friend John, who was like a kid in a candy store)

They were Dolly Varden, which are really quite tasty. (Sacrilege to keep them I know, but you can only eat so many rock fish and crab before you need a change of pace.)

Over all though, the best part is just that the place is so beautiful. A few more photos to cap this off:

There, now I feel better. AP, you may have perfected the art of playboy extraordinaire, but I at least got to try it for a few days. Huge thanks to Crystal and Fred for the opportunity, and of course to my sweet, intelligent, hot, and pretty much perfect wife :-) for letting me go play. Hopefully I can take her and the kids there one day soon.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Peaceful Moment


Tonight we sat on our front lawn to read "the streak" (our daily reading of the scriptures as a family, now going on two plus years without interruption), as well as a talk from the last general conference of the Church (Mountains to Climb, by President Henry B. Eyring). The sun was setting, a fiery red, as we talked about choosing the right to build faith, and the vital need for faith in trials that always come -- such as the very fires that made our sunset so red and amazing, yet devastated so many people.

How grateful I am for these little moments.  I have long-learned that every single material thing around us is so temporary, and was reminded of that again by the sooty sunset tonight.  But never do we feel so connected and permanent, so much like a family, as we do when we read the scriptures together. There is just a timelessness to it that seems to stretch beyond almost anything else we do.  In these small moments I really feel there is something more; my testimony of the gospel grows, and I feel some peace in my life.  Very grateful to my kids for being willing to endure it, and my sweet wife who got it all started. It is not without challenges (e.g. the nightly "are we done yet?" mantra), but so worth it.

There may be one or two of you out there asking -- why now? Why start this blogging thing up again so suddenly after all this time?  The answer is I don't know, except it feels wrong to abandon this blog.  So we  begin one more time. Wish me luck.