I’m a graphic designer by trade, and I love to read, write, cook, paint, walk, and most of all…travel. I’d like to combine two of my passions and start writing about my travels, and share my escapades with you.
I won’t be posting in chronological order, but in the order that the experience motivates me.
I’ll share some photos as well as some of my illustrations, and will do my best to entertain you at least once a month.
Please feel free to let me know what you think!
FOR THE HALIBUT
The seas are so choppy, I have to hold on to the rail with one hand, as I clutch my fishing pole with the other. The small boat dips so low that all we see is a giant wall of water, then we rise so high that it feels like we’re on a mountain. The rain is pounding us, coming in horizontally and soaking through all layers of Gore-Tex and thermal.
As we crest one of the monstrous swells, the skipper points and says, “See that boat? That’s the ‘Deadliest Catch’ crew, and they’re filming today.”
My first Alaskan fishing adventure, and I’m out on a day that’s rough enough to qualify for filming the ‘Deadliest Catch.’”
One of the primary reasons I booked the Alaskan cruise, was so that I could sample different salmon fishing locations, and decide which one I liked best for my return trip to Alaska. Salmon fishing has been on my bucket list, before I even knew what a bucket list was.
I booked the cruise for late in the season, knowing the catch wouldn’t be as bountiful, but hoping to experience another bucket item, the Aurora Borealis. Two birds with one stone, or two buckets with one cruise.
Unfortunately, a late season fishing trip meant a gamble with the weather, so my first salmon trip was cancelled due to high seas.
“Not a problem for US,” said the halibut team… they’d take us out. So I rebooked on a halibut boat, knowing that my sturdy constitution could handle the high seas.
Heading out to sea on the small fishing vessel, I am not only the single female, I am the single American. We have an Aussie, a Kiwi, a Canuck, a Brit and a Mexican (he didn’t offer up a nickname). All five men are glaring at me through squinty eyes as we bounce along, and I feel they are judging me as the weak link in the very robust chain of fishermen.
Looking at me, the Aussie says, “My wife would be over the rails by now.” The other guys laugh, agreeing that their wives, too, couldn’t handle the storm. I laugh along, sipping my coffee, as the Canadian nudges me and says I’m welcome to ask him any questions about the art of fishing. He says he, “Has my back.”
When it becomes clear that I’m in for the long haul, the guys start including me in the conversation, and we bond as the little boat dips and tips along the thrashing sea.
Once the skipper secures his chosen location, we all belly up to our poles and drop our lines…immediately getting pummeled by the rain. Five minutes later the Brit pulls up an octopus, which he releases. Moments later, I yell, “FISH ON!” and am the first to reel in a halibut…albeit a little 14-pounder, to murmurs of, “um, how long have you been fishing?”
“I live in a little fishing village, and although I haven’t been out in years, I used to fish all the time. And this is my first halibut! YAAAAY!”
I release my little guy, too, certain that I will get a bigger specimen, and it is still quite early in the day. There is a one-fish per person limit, and I want to stock my freezer with today’s bounty.
As the day wears on, we are only catching the 12-16 pounders, and all of us are throwing them back. I realize that at this rate I’m going to be going home with nothing, so I start asking the guys to hang onto their little ones, so I can take them home (I’m allowed to take their limit if they don’t).
We’ve already discussed the shipping situation, and they all know they aren’t going to ship anything to their home countries, but that I am. I end up with three halibut to take home, each averaging 13 pounds.
Chilled to the bone, I make arrangements to have the fish cleaned, flash frozen and shipped to me in Morro Bay.
I call my sister to tell her and she says, “YAY!…or…maybe…EW?”
I assure her that they put dry ice on it and seal it tightly in styrofoam, then overnight it FedEx.
While it was a turbulent day in Icy Strait Point, Alaska, I’m thrilled that I went halibut fishing…as my next salmon excursion is cancelled as well. This does not sit well in my adventurous little heart, and I literally cry when, on our last port-of-call in Ketchikan, the excursion desk calls to say that my third salmon trip is cancelled also.
“But it’s on my BUCKET LIST,” I wail in my little cabin, with only the walls to comfort me.
Shortly after my return, I get a call from Icy Strait Point saying that my fish filleted down to eleven pounds, that it is in the freezer at the dock and that I will receive it the following morning. I need to be home and ready to transport it to my freezer immediately.
In the morning, instead of a fish delivery, I receive a call from FedEx, saying that my “package” missed a flight, and I’ll get it the next day.
“BUT IT’S FROZEN FISH!” I say, “and they told me to put it back in the freezer as soon as possible this morning!”
A flurry of phone calls later, Icy Strait says that hopefully FedEx has put it on ice, and regardless, I’m to freeze it upon arrival, then defrost one packet slowly, in the fridge, all day to test it. She assured me I’d know instantly if it had gone bad, and that if it had, she would replace it.
It arrives the next day, completely defrosted and limp…and upon the freeze/defrost exercise I detect a very distinct, and quite unpleasant odor.
Icy Strait doesn’t answer my next four calls, each one getting whinier. I explain that I fully realize they weren’t shipping a heart…or a lung…and that a life wasn’t depending on this silly FISH, but that it means a lot to me.
That I’d gone to Alaska with dreams of needing to buy a deep-freeze to hold all of the salmon I’d be catching, so this halibut is now even more valuable. I explain on their voice-mail how I have a dinner party planned to celebrate Alaska and my fishing trip…and my limp, smelly fish isn’t too appetizing.
As the days go by without a return call, I get frustrated and depressed.
A week later, she calls to say that she has packaged up some replacement halibut, and she has thrown in some salmon for me too. This shipment is on the dock, should be in Morro Bay in the morning, and instead of my original eleven pounds, this shipment is 22!!!!
WOOOO HOOOOOOO! Fish party!!!!
I stay glued to my door the next day, with no visitors.
I follow the tracking number for a week, and see that the fish is still on the loading dock in Ancorage.
I call Icy Strait….no answer. I leave numerous messages that I am absolutely fine with the delay…as long as it is in a freezer. Could they reassure me???
Finally FedEx calls to say their plane has broken down (they only have one?), and it should be fixed by tomorrow, so expect the fish the following day.
Icy Strait calls, asking if FedEx has gotten a hold of me…”it’s THEIR fault.”
“And yes, it’s been in the freezer all along.”
The halibut and salmon fillets arrive, frozen solid as bricks, and there’s enough for a grand ole party.
But first, I defrost one of the packets and bake up some of the most decadent halibut I’ve ever had, and sit down with it in front of the TV.
There’s a show starting that I’ve never seen…Deadliest Catch.