Saturday, June 23, 2012

Things to Do In Kodiak

Tom and I have made a list of the things that we want to do while in Kodiak. There are the basics, such as start a garden and go hiking. But, there are also a great many things that sparked our interest that are unique to Kodiak. This is our tentative list:

1)  Go to the Marine Research Center where they have a touch-tank and information about the local area marine life.

2)  Take a float plane to get a more scenic tour of the island.

3)  Go bear watching.

4)  Get trained to take out the boats offered through MWR in the Coast Guard, so we can go fishing for halibut.

5)  Go camping in a "Scamp" (a hard-shell camping trailer needed because we will be camping in bear country).

6)  Go fishing for salmon (we have found out that the red and silver salmon are what humans eat; pink salmon is for the bears; and the chum salmon is for the dogs - who knew?).

7)  Hike up the various mountains in the area (Old Woman, Pillar, etc).

8)  Go Whale Watching!

The only two things we haven't seen on this web-site are the whales and the bears (I keep hoping to see the whales and Tom keeps hoping to see the bears...yikes!)

9) Go Kayaking!!!

There really is soooo much to do here! It's like being on vacation...and, not having to go home!

The list, ofcourse, is growing and gets added to daily. This is just a preliminary list.

One of the places that is close to us and full of trails to explore is called Abercrombie State Park (which is going to be in my next post! - Tom is in the picture below, looking at the beautiful coast along the trail we took in Abercrombie State Park.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kodiak's Crab Festival 2012

After a delay in our final flight from Anchorage to Kodiak, we arrived in what was to become our new home. The weekend we finally arrived in Kodiak was the same weekend that they were having their annual Crab Festival. This festival is full of activities, arts and crafts boothes, amusement rides, and FOOD!

The Food

The first day we went, Tom and I shared two different dishes. The fist dish was a "Bruin Burger". I didn't understand, at first, what this was. But, quickly learned that it was a favorite of all the locals that frequented the Crab Festival. It was bear meat (yes, bear meat) that was surrounded by a pastry that was also filled with cheese. It was warm, tender, and probably one of the best comfort foods I've ever tried. I was glad that I ate it before I saw the picture of two very cute bears on the back of a snow-mobile, looking very human. Anthropomorphizing animals can make eating them a bit harder to do.

The next meal was much easier to eat where my conscience was concrened. But, my hands found it hard to get past the hard and overly pointy shell of the giant crab legs. Once I got past the hard exterior, the treasure inside was more than worth it. Each morsel of meat was dipped in to melted butter and delivered in to my mouth with salivating joy. The crab meat was sweet, salty, and oh-so-yummy. It made the hour long wait in an extraordinarily long line well-worth the wait.

The following day we had the Blackened Halibut Wrap...

There was the grilled, terriaki chicken on a stick...

Tom had the grilled, terriaki pork on a stick...

And, we both shared the scallops in what was supposed to be a pesto sauce, but ended up being a cream-based (sweet cream, mind you) sauce that was so rich I thought every bite was heavenly...

The Coast Guard

The Coast Guard, ofcourse, made a special appearance. They had their rescue swimmers fish a fellow coasty out of the fridged waters...

This video does a nice job of showing the rescue. What it doesn't show was how close they were getting to the dock for the rescue. The helicopter took so long to get to the swimmer that the currents brought him close to the dock. Then, the water from the blades of the helicopter brought he and the rescue swimmer even closer to the docks. The swimmer had to swim to the rescue line lowered down to him. Tom and I were standing on the bank, along with hundreds of other onlookers, and got scattered with a great deal of water as the blades whipped around on that cool contracption.

They also had a survival suit (or Gumby suit) race. Several teams of four participated. They take their life-saving knowledge seriously out here in Alaska, especially when people are fishing and recreationally on the ice-cold waters that surround Kodiak and the Alaskan Penninsula. These suits are designed to keep people warm in the ice cold waters, long enough for the Coast Guard to resuce them. My favorite team had two adults and two children. The children, once they got in their Gumby suits, jumped on to the backs of the two men who swam with them to the designated flotation device. Once they were all four inside, their time was called. Although they did not win the race, they did get the most cheers from the crowd of on-lookers.

The Art

There was also a great deal of art at the Crab Fest. Some of the high school students created a sculpture of an octopus out of the fishing scrapts they collected off of the rocky beaches in the area. It was bright, and fun.

There were murals with references to the sea...a very popular motif, go figure.

There was the Memorial Wreath, placed in front of the Harbor Master and next to the marina. It symbolizes all the lost souls who died in the sea over the years.

The Harbor Master also had the bell as a symbol for the sound that safely brings home the sailors from their travels in the sea.

There is a big competition to see who can come up with the logo that is used on all of the t-shirts and sweatshirts sold for the Crab Festival in Kodiak. This year, a youngster (I believe he was not yet a teenager) drew the picture that won the competition. So fun...

This YouTube video shows the Crab Festival from beginning to end. It has the parade (shot from the very spot that Tom and I watched it go by - incidentally, the Farmer's Insurance building you see in the video during the parade is where Tom and I now get our insurance from). You also get to see the full rescue from the Coast Guard, and just how many people come to watch in these events. Even though the video was taken in 2011 (just last year), you still get a really good idea of the fun that we had in 2012.

Such a great time to come to Kodiak!

Honeymoon in Yosemite National Valley

Our wedding ceremony took place on May 19th, 2012. After spending an amazing day with family and friends, Tom and I flew out the next day to San Francisco where we got a car and drove to Yosemite National Park for our honeymoon...

The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and it smelled like pine trees. The air was fresh and Tom and I were excited to see the extraordinary sites that awaited us.

Yosemite was full of incrediblly beautiful views and a sense of splendor that is hard to describe. When we got down in to the Yosemite Valley the sheer rock faces that surrounded us made my jaw drop. It was simply awe-inspiring. We drove by El Capitan, parked to take pictures of the waterfalls at Yosemite Falls, and were thrilled to find out that our canvas tent was pitched close to Half-Dome.

Even with people everywhere you looked, it was easy to find a quiet spot or simply look up and see the grandeur of the what surrounded us.

The canvas tents we stayed in were part of an actual camp called Camp Curry. In this camp nearly 600 canvas tents were build on top of wood frames under the canopy of the tall pine trees. No vehicles were allowed in where the tents were, so we had to park and move all of our luggage in to the camp area, dragging them over beds of pine needles. It was the recommendation that nothing be left in the cars because the bears could smell lotions and other items that would tempt them to break in to a vehicle, leaving behind a great deal of damage.

After checking in to Camp Curry, settling in to our tent, and getting changed in to hiking gear, we had to go exploring.

We first begin our exploration by hiking Yosemite Falls. Even though there were people everywhere it was breathtaking to see the double-falls and to hear the roar of the water as it crashed down on to the well-worn rocks.

The first day we only explored the valley, ending with dinner at the camp store. Southwestern style chicken salad (pre-packaged, ofcourse) for me and a roast beef sandwich for Tom. We were exhausted after this and went to bed quickly.

The next day we ended up hiking to Vernal Falls. This had over 800 rock steps that had been created by the Rangers in the park to help the hikers get up to the top of the trail. It is also called Misty Falls because as the waterfall comes down, it covers the valley we hiked with mist. This caused a beautiful series of rainbows to appear.

The beauty of the falls was exceptional.

That night we had dinner in the camps cafeteria, where they had an amazing buffet of such selections as cooked trout, lasagna, a not-so-bad salad bar, plenty of deserts, coffee and other assorted drinks. Tom and I were full when we left that night.

Everywhere we went there were views that put a smile on my face.

We would ride a bus from place to place, going from camp to hike, from hiking to bike riding...

There were several stores to go inside to check out the fun options, from food to clothing and suveniers. We even decided to have some fun and try on a few of our favorite things to do.

Tom looked like a regular park ranger in his hat. I...well, I looked cute...

The native people of Yosemite had made huge baskets that were on display in the museum.

The native people had also worn decorative wear that was used in their ceremonies. An example was shown in the museum.

Tom stood infront of the cut of a tree that was over 800 years old. It had been there loooooong before Columbus had ever even begun to think about traveling the world.

All-in-all, I couldn't have asked for a better honeymoon. I enjoyed myself thoroughly!

The Wedding in Kansas

Our Wedding Day

It was a windy day when the ceremony took place in Kansas. That morning a storm had blown through. As I heard the thunderous booms in the background and listened to the rain as it hit the cabin's roof, I got a text from a good friend, "Storms are good luck on a wedding day." I couldn't help but laugh. I knew she was trying to cheer me up. I texted her back with, "I like that interpretation!"

Soon enough, the clouds cleared away and the sun came out. It was indeed beautiful. Everything was green and full of life. It smelled fresh after the shower that had blessed us earlier that day. And, the blue in the skies felt like a blanket of joy gently enfolding us. The temperature had been predicted to be about 89 degrees that day. We had hoped for some wind, but didn't know what we had asked for. We had chosen a site for the ceremony that was called "Overlook Park" at Clinton Lake, just South West of Lawrence, Kansas, home of the Jayhawks at the University of Kansas.

Usually there's wind in Kansas after a storm but, when the storm passes through normally that same wind calms down. Just our luck, it did not calm down that day. It blew so badly that we could barely hear the words the minister was saying. My hair was swirling around my head so badly that at one point I thought it was going to fly away. Every time I looked at Tom I had to suppress a giggle. I was sure I looked hysterical with my wild hair swishing and swirling every which way. Every one looked on as the ceremony commensed, and it wasn't long before the rings were on our fingers and the minister was saying to the audience, "I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Davis."

Friends and family joined us on that glorious day. My family got pictures right after the wedding, infront of the view of Clinton Lake. Thank you Mom, Dad, Claudia, Jonathan, Amy, Joy, Shen, Uncle John, Aunt Gwen, Gene and Sara! You mean the world to me! Love you very much!

We got Tom's family in on the picture action when we were all at the site for the reception. What a fun group! It was a thrill to have Tom's two brothers, their wives, and his Uncle and Nephew join in the festivities!

We laughed, hugged, ate and enjoyed the joy of the event. Tom and I had wanted to keep the ceremony small, yet special. The cake was hand-made by my step-mother (carrot cake with cream-cheese frosting! Yummy! Yummy! Yummy!). She had done an amazing job of making the cake healthy, rich, and layered! We had all suggested that she go in to business making baked goods and selling them at a nice profit.

We had hand-made invitations to go out to about 50 people. The invitation title was "Our Seriously Simple Wedding". Inside the envelope, the person being invited was told that it would be a pot-luck wedding, and to bring a dish with them to share with about 40 other people. Tom and I had made each and every invitation by hand. We used scrapbooking paper to come up with the beautiful background designs and different colored ribbon to match the colors being used, each invitation unique.

We had glorious friends and amazing times at the wedding! Thank you everyone for joining us in such a beautiful (but windy) day in Kansas!!!

Diana gave us an beautiful quilt for our wedding day...thank you, Diana!!!

The ceremony took place on May 19th, 2012. After spending an amazing day with family and friends, Tom and I flew out the next day to San Francisco where we got a car and drove to Yosemite National Park for our honeymoon...