Weekend warrior

I went to my father in law’s memorial service in Anchorage Wednesday and Thursday. The outdoors memorial service at Fort Richardson was very nice on a beautiful day. The reception that followed was nice, too, with good food and lots of memories shared of my father in law.  He was a great guy – I think he started the Anchorage Nordic Ski Club and the Moutaineering Club.  He wrote a couple books on cross country skiing in Anchorage. Attempted an ascent of Mt. McKinley.  And he was a lucky charm out fishing.   I whale watched all day on Friday.  Whales were bubble netting and so that’s about as easy as it gets.  Watch them bubble net.   Drive by the marker with the sea lions on it on the way back.  Take a photo of the glacier if it’s now covered by clouds.  Drop off one group, pick up another and repeat.  Everybody’s happy. The berry crop is still coming on strong.  I grabbed the empty 2+ quart clear plastic jars with lids that Costco cashew mix comes in after the Anchorage reception and threw those in my bag.  Those were the ticket for berry picking.   I picked about 15 lbs of salmon berries on Saturday morning.  I came home, vac packed the berries, and went back and got 20+ lbs more in the afternoon.  I figure that’s about 100 lbs in the freezer now.   On Sunday, Jeff and Teri invited everyone over for dinner.  I would make desserts and try to catch up on some things for Sara.  Jeff and I fished at 4 am till about 830 am for king salmon.  As usual, we watched everyone around us catch one but we did not.   After a nap, lawnmower repair was next.  The carb came in to fix the lawnmower.  It was an easy job to change out.  Of course, then the kill switch cable was broken so I had to order that and hopefully when it gets in the mower will be back up and running.  Other chores like fixing the wheel jack on the boat trailer, replacing the house siding where I repaired rot and building a new deck for Sara in the back yard will have to wait. I made 2 pies and a crumble to try out salmon berry desserts.  1 pie I’d leave for Sara when she got home from Anchorage.   I dropped one pie on the floor as I was heading out.  Pie plate fell off the counter after doing a perfect 180 and splat.  All over the floor. So I was down to 1 pie and 1 crumble.  Sara was SOL.  I used little sugar in the dishes and everyone seemed to like them that way.  Luckily there was some pie left for Sara to try.  The obsession to get more berries is about as bad as the hooters calling earlier in the spring.  I even heard a lone hooter up the hill as I picked on Saturday and it made me smile.

Berry Time

Went back to the hotspot and picked over 20 lbs of berries in about 2.5 hours. My friend Kurt is harassing me because when he asked me to go fishing – we haven’t caught a fish in for. Ever. He said I can buy Smuckers at the store. I told him Jerry’s meats has nice king salmon all the time. One thing for sure is this berry patch will be a sure thing for I hope another week at least. I’ve got my system down now, too. I carry a coffee can which I stuff in the top of my overalls, which are heavy duty and the salmon berry (and devils club) thorns can’t penetrate. I can use both hands to pick this way. When the can is full, I put the berries into a gallon zip lock, which just fills it up. I put the bag of berries in my pack and continue. I think I picked 6 coffee cans full tonight. When I get home, the newest berries are mostly whole with little juice. The bags on the bottom of the pack have squashed berries and lots of juice. I dump each bag into a small colander that sits in a bowl. I pick out the leaves and sticks as I pour. Any juice goes into the bowl, and I then dump the cleaned berries into a vac pack bag. By the end of the 6 coffee cans worth of berries, I had over a quart of juice, which will make nice jelly. I’ll make mostly jam from the berries. I then vac pack the berries and freeze them. The first few tries yesterday left me with a vac packer full of juice until I adjusted the vacuum time and drained what juice I could before hand and now it all went smoothly today with no leaks. I’ll get another day of picking in tomorrow, then up to Anchorage to join Sara for her Dad’s memorial service on Wednesday. I thought today as I drove with both truck windows down how few times the weather calls for that here. It was 70 degrees today with a light breeze. What more could I want for a summer day.

Good to be home

Spent the last 2 weeks in Northern Virginia and Hilton Head, SC.   Hardly a speck of rain and 80’s and 90’s every day. I’m not a big fan of hot.  Used to be people down south would ask you what you thought about Sarah Palin.  Now they ask about any number of Alaska reality shows.  We don’t have cable television, so I don’t know the shows they are talking about, but it seems Alaska has become one big reality show.  Jeff took me fishing my first day back on Saturday, and we caught a king salmon.  Kurt caught one with friends yesterday.  Kurt, Jeff and I caught one this morning before work.  It’s good to be home in the rain and 55 degrees.  –

Spring fun

I left work early yesterday after hearing the hooter on the hill behind the house again. I had an appointment with Laura to pick nettles at 530, and left at 230 thinking 3 hours was plenty of time. I picked devils club buds on the way up the hill, then got up to and around the cliff this time. Spent an hour or two circling the trees the bird was in. Could not see him. Came back empty handed again. I am not 0 for 4 for getting a hooter from this tree over the past 3 years. The devils club buds I found taste like carrots and at least I got a bag of those. Samuel, the 7 year old Sierra Leoneon, joined us to pick greens. We went up to our ski area. It was about a 20 minute walk to the picking area where I had luck just a few days before picking nettles in the small creek beds that came down the mountainside snow chutes. For the first half hour, we could not find nettle 1. Up one creek bed and then another. I couldn’t figure it out. Finally, in an open area near a patch of alders, we found all we would pick for the day in the one spot. I picked a bag of nettles and big bag of fiddle heads. We then went back to Laura’s, where she and Bob cooked us salmon burritos and to top it off- banana splits. Samuel enjoyed himself, and I’m sure was not reluctant to go to bed on a school night when I dropped him off at 930.

Fiddleheads and Hooters

I hunted for 2 hours at lunch near the boat ramp. I heard a hooter directly above the ramp when I came back from the cabin after a quick trip with the Conteh’s to check the crab pot. I heard hooters from the road, but the one I heard no Sunday was not there. I climbed up to the knob above the ramp and the only hooters were too far away, so this hunt was just for exercise. When I got home a little after 6 pm, I grabbed a bag to pick some fiddleheads. As I was looking in the woods behind my house, something caught my ear. And there he was. A hoot from the spot above the house where birds had evaded me the past 2 years. And there were not many fiddleheads yet. I learned from the bird at the boat ramp I better go now and not wait till tomorrow. I grabbed my pack and headed up the hill. After perhaps 20 minutes, I reached the group of trees. I recognized the spot, too. The bird was hooting from a group of trees that sat on top of a cliff face. If the bird was in the lower trees of the cliff face, I could probably see him from below. If he was in the upper trees, I’d have to go back down the hill and skirt the cliff to get above it. The bird was in the upper trees. Daylight was fading. I thought I could get up there and probably find and shoot the bird and get back before dark. But if the bird fell to where I was standing now, at the base of the cliff, then that would add time to get back down here and get him. I decided to pass and hope he was hooting again before the season closed on May 15 on a day when I had more daylight. When I got home, Sara had sauteed the fiddleheads with some kale, and we had Prince William Sound pink salmon and Kenai River sockeye salmon patties for dinner.