Friday, August 31, 2007

Day Off - Sort Of . . . .

I went to work at 5:30 this morning as usual but found this was a cleaning day but a boat would be arriving soon - 9 AM, noon or 3 PM, depending on who you talked to on the matter. Normally I would punch in under the refrigeration department and work there but it was such a beautiful day . . . . I kept an eye on the harbor in case F/V Great Pacific showed up and caught up on chores, some reading and enrolled in college at the University of Alaska Southeast starting in January to finish my Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree. All in all, a productive day! The boat never did make it in until just now as I was returning from the galley with a big plate of prawns and scallops - too late for my shift.

Goldfish is going to a birthday party tonight so I think I'll do a hike and enjoy the day because September is right around the corner! Cheers everyone!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Peaceful Day

I just got back from the museum where I attended a presentation on squid - their role in the ecosystem, the difficulties in conducting a census, the historical bycatch numbers, and then a dissection of several specimens showing the body parts and their function. It is a calm evening, it's been calm all day. At morning break I grabbed a cup of coffee and a piece of banana bread and sat on the dock watching the seagulls reflected in the flat calm water, still except for the ocassional jumping salmon. There is a rumor that the silvers are starting to show up in the creek but I don't see how you could find them with the thousands of milling pinks. I went for a walk earlier with Chico and couldn't see any sign of silvers, either in the creek or on a stringer.

The picture above is of the Grand Aleutian hotel, taken from the Museum of the Aleutians parking lot. The guy sitting in the foreground is watching all the salmon jumping. The Grand Aleutian has a nice little giftshop, a pub with live music most nights, and the Chartroom Restarant which has an all you can eat seafood buffet every Wednesday and a fantastic brunch buffet every Sunday.

Pie and Thai

I didn't post last night as it was my night to cook, and then we watched a movie. I cooked Pad Thai with chicken and shrimp and baked a salmonberry pie. Everything came out pretty good! I'm attending a lecture at the museum tonight but will try to post when I get home - cheers!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How Are These For Fresh?

These pictures are hot off the digital camera but are not what I hoped to post . . . let me explain. I had just gotten home from work after stopping by the galley for a bowl food. I grabbed a couple slices of pork roast, some mashed potatoes and some cottage cheese and then Goldfish had brought home leftovers from an office birthday party for her boss so I had a pretty good spread going. I was looking out the window while I ate and noticed two sea lions swimming by - I didn't want to stop eating right that minute but I've been wanting some sea lion photos for the blog so after eating I headed out with the camera to walk on the beach and see if I could catch up with the sea lions.
I didn't have any luck with the sea lions so I took some shots of shore birds and F/V Nordic Star which fishes for Unisea (the competition) but was delivering to our dock tonight for some reason. It is a quiet foggy evening and Goldfish could not see the whales due to the fog when she walked Chico. I'm signing off, we're watching a movie before bed - good to talk to you tonight Trevor!

Good Morning

Unlike the photo above, it looks like it is going to be a gorgeous day, huge full moon and a sky full of stars. I'm working refrigeration today so I'm punching in a bit later, hopefully I'll be outside. I got most of the items on my grocery list to cook tommorow night - getting groceries is sometimes a bit of an Easter egg hunt out here on the island. Don't get me wrong, the Eagle and the AC are both decent sized grocery stores, it's just you never quite know if they will have an item in stock. I couldn't find fresh cilantro anywhere yesterday and will try again tonight. Cheers everyone, enjoy the day!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Spiraling Ravens and Feeding Whales

I didn't get to blog last night because Goldfish and I were out late seeing the sights. We walked on Ballyhoo and watched the humpback whales feeding - too far away for pictures still but they will be in close to shore later in the fall. We also watched the big crane loading a cargo ship; I was fascinated and need to do some research on gantry cranes, how they hook to the containers so quickly, and how the reefer units are powered when the boat is underway. After loading a row of containers the whole crane rolls on rails to the next position to load - I could sit and watch the process all day if I had the time. We were getting ready to come down off Ballyhoo and noticed an amazing raven behavior - all the ravens in the Dutch Harbor area all congregated from all points of the compass and started this upward spiral. It was like they were getting sucked in and upwards by some giant force, and they kept going up until they pierced the cloud cover and disappeared - literally maybe 200 ravens, gone. We waited a bit for them to show up again but they apparently kept going up for awhile. I guess that should be no surprise - the raven is the one bird that has been spotted on the summit of Mount Mckinley at 20,320 feet. I have to say, the eagles are still my favorites but the ravens are winning me over with their vocalizations, their stunning aerobatics and barrel rolls, and their social behaviors.

Anyways, I'm off to the grocery store to get supplies to cook Shrimp and Chicken Pad Thai tomorrow or the next day. I took the picture above of the F/V Bering Rose today as it turned the corner and started down the channel with the morning sun behind it. Sometimes its interesting to intentionally back light something and see how it turns out . . . .

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Berries Everywhere

I have to confess, I haven't been berry picking out here yet - Goldfish has a friend Keri that she goes picking with on a regular basis and our freezer is about 25% full of berries from her efforts. I have, however, done lots of berry grazing, berry sampling and berry eating and I love the salmonberries out here. Almost anywhere you hike there are berries to pick, there must be something perfect about the climate out here. There are blueberries as well but those are harder to find. Goldfish just got back from her walk with Chico and Keri on Ballyhoo and told me you can hear the humpback whales. Can't see them because of the rain and fog today but you can hear them. Pretty cool music to walk to . . . . . . . .

Friday, August 24, 2007

World War II Museum

The World War II Museum is nicely done, from the exterior to the neatly and well written displays. It is only open 4 days a week for 5 hours so I was wondering if I would ever get there but yesterday's day off was the perfect opportunity. The museum is right next to the airport and I was able to watch a Coast Guard C-130 do touch-and-gos on the short runway.

Today it felt good to be back at work, working hard and feeling healthy. The pollock were huge and there was just enough bycatch, primarily herring, to make the day go by quickly. Early to bed for me, those huge fish kicked my butt!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Day At The Beach

I split my day off between the WWII Museum and Morris Cove with Chico. The salmon are pairing off and building redds to lay eggs in the upper reaches of the creek that empties into Summers Bay; one female had beached herself and Chico delicately picked her up by the tail and dropped her in deeper water. Of course he may have had darker motivations I was unaware of but the result was good . . . .

Lots of new pictures that I'll get posted in the days ahead. There are several boats coming in tonight and tommorow so lots of work for awhile. Cod season starts in a week and we are flying in additional workers to help with the extra load; the season is almost half over so this has been a nice midpoint break.

Day Off!

I came home for lunch a couple days ago and glanced across at the creek as I opened my door and noticed this eagle enjoying a bit of lunch as well, no doubt a salmon. I decided to not work refrigeration today so I can go to the WWII Museum and do some beachcombing. It's nice to have a break, almost halfway through the season, to get a real rest and take care of some errands that can't be done on days I work because tommorow morning F/V Seawolf will be here followed by all the others and September 1 is the start of cod season as well . . . but today I am content to watch a raven's antics from my living room window while I sip a cup of tea. Cheers everyone!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Views From The Neighborhood

I took these a couple days ago by our place. The church is three or four buildings down the street and it is one of my favorite buildings to photograph as it changes depending on the view, the weather and the season. The other is of the creek directly across the street from our bedroom showing 70 or 80 salmon moving upstream - hopefully they will show up when the picture posts. They are always merrily jumping away, I go to sleep to the sounds of their splashing.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rumor Has It . . .

. . . that we might have a day or two without fish and I'll be working refrigeration. If that's the case I want to hike Mt. Ballyhoo tommorow evening to take advantage of the lighter work day.

I took these pictures Sunday night on the way back from Summer's Bay. I've come to the conclusion - and mentioned it to my Dad on the phone a couple hours ago - that it is really hard to take a bad picture with bald eagles in it. I think that eagles are the "new moose" for me, since there are no moose out here to photograph . . . .

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Blown Away

We went out to our bonfire spot and it was windy so we just stayed for awhile and watched the eagles fishing and the ravens doing barrel rolls and then adjourned to the local restaurant for a "Plan B" 2 month celebration. This is an inmature bald eagle perched on the entrance to an old WWII bunker.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Almost Two Months

This would be a fairly cool picture of a spot on the beach if I hadn't managed to plant my foot right in the lower left - we're going back to this beach tommorow night and have a bonfire to celebrate two months on the island. In some ways the time has gone by so quickly because I have only had one day off, and in other ways I feel like I have been here a long time. I felt right at home almost instantly and have bonded with the land and the people. In the off season I hope to continue to become integrated in the community and maybe find some volunteer opportunities. As for now, a good book and a night's sleep are calling - cheers everyone!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Another Night At The Museum

Tonight was the slide show of the best of 30 year's worth of underwater photography covering invertebrates in Alaskan waters. I can't remember the guy's name but his photography and understanding of the subject matter was excellent! Afterwards we adjourned to the nearby Grand Aleutian for some calamari and crab dip and called it a night.

I took this photo of Chico when we were out at Summer's Bay, knowing he was back lit too much but wanting that effect. I think this captures his essence very well, he is the quintessential island dog!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Killer Whale Research

We went to a lecture tonight at the museum given by a pHD candidate from University of Alaska Fairbanks on killer whale research around the Pribilof Islands. She was in town because Greenpeace is back, in the form of the Esperanza parked in my "front yard", and they are going to help her place some more acoustic devices. The presentation was great and there are several more good ones scheduled for the coming weeks. The one tommorow night is a slide show of the best of 30 years underwater photography around Unalaska - especially interesting because I'm going to get my scuba certification next year and start diving as well.
The pictures above I took two nights ago when we went out past Summer's Bay. The top one shows the view up the coast and the other three show the salmon migrating in from the ocean to the shallow creek, fighting every step of the way. There were hundreds and hundreds of salmon in the creek with more coming in all the time - fascinating to watch. Goldfish wanted me to move one log in particular that was giving the salmon the most trouble but I figured I should let nature take it's course. Cheers everyone!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Random Thoughts

It's another pretty day in Unalaska, it cleared up about mid-morning and has been nice ever since. I'm having a hard time concentrating on writing anything because the clouds are doing that wind tunnel thing on the mountain that I love to watch and the salmon are jumping in the harbor. I'm pretty tired due to little sleep last night and much work today.

I took the picture above a few days ago when I didn't have to work until 9 so I sat on the beach in front of the house and watched the start of the day. I have a ton of pictures to post from the Summer's Bay outing and will start posting those tommorow. Cheers and good night everyone!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Such A Great Day

Today was one of those days where everything fell into place - work was hard, but not impossible; the day was sunny but not too hot; Goldfish made supper at home, and it was excellent; and we ventured out past Summer's Bay and had a fantastic walk along the shoreline after we ate. There was a small shallow creek packed with salmon moving in from the ocean, splashing and struggling. There was a seal bobbing in the surf feasting on returning salmon. There were tidepools, shells, and crashing waves. We found a great spot to have our bonfire in a few days when we celebrate two months on the island. Everything was perfect except I wish there were more hours in the days - if I log off now I can get maybe five hours sleep before I get up for work - cheers and goodnight!

The picture is one I took this evening and shows a piece of old rope buried in the sand with bird tracks around it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Isaalux Bridge

This is the cute little bridge that goes over the stream beside the house. I actually took these photos back in June when I first got here - everything is a lot greener these days. The top photo looks to the left and shows the post office, the second photo looks to the right back towards the apartment and shows Haystack Hill.

We had a contrast in weather the last three days - first it was almost 80 degrees on Saturday, an amazing temperature for out here. Then yesterday the winds howled in with a light rain and I fell asleep last night to great storm sounds outside. Then today Dutch Harbor was flat calm, reflecting everything like a mill pond, and you could see a salmon jump a half mile away. Three days, three totally different personalities.

Goldfish has been berry picking with great success lately, I need to join her and Keri next time and contribute to the growing hoard of salmon berries in the freezer. Salmon berries are sort of like raspberries in appearance with a different taste - I've been the quality control to this point making sure they were up to standard before they were frozen (consequently a pint or so didn't stay around long enough to be frozen - yum!)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

My Favorite Trawler

I took this picture out my living room window as F/V Defender passed by. I get into trouble all the time because I love the Defender - how it looks but especially how it sounds, all business. You can hear it practically all the way out to Priest Rock as it leaves Dutch Harbor. The problem is that, well, it is not one of our boats. "Our" F/V Destination is similar in appearance but it just doesn't do it for me . . . . sorry Goldfish.

According to this site the Defender used to be an off shore supply vessel that has been reconfigured for factory trawler duty. Whatever the case may be, I always stop what I'm doing and watch her pass by the house, she's a beauty . . . .

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Bombs Away

One of the cool things I found out at the museum yesterday was that the building I live in was hit by a bomb when the Japaneese attacked Unalaska on June 3 and 4, 1942. Goldfish claims she told me this already (and she's right, I can kind of remember) but the map of all the bomb strikes at the museum drove it home for me. Sorry the photos are poor and hard to see, it is the bomb strike at lower left of the map - my building was formerly a Bureau of Indian Affairs Hospital.

Anyways, that's my fun fact for the day. I only worked eight hours again today so I sat on the beach in front of my place and watched the sunrise after breakfast - I feel wonderfully rested and got lots done this evening!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Lazy Day

Today I only worked 8 hours so I took advantage of all the free time by going to the Museum of the Aleutians, picking up a fishing license at the AC, buying contact lenses on-line, and driving up Ballyhoo and hiking around. I found a good map of the island at the museum and took some good pictures - it was sunny and maybe 65 degrees, the warmest it has been. Everyone was in a good mood with the short day and we get to sleep in tommorow as well! Cheers everyone!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Clouds From The South

While I was sitting here looking out the window, wondering what to name this post I noticed the clouds moving in from the south, as usual, hence the title - original, huh? The picture above I took yesterday when I was parked on the spit. The tide was right at high slack and that bowpicker was coming in and heading for Captain's Bay.

Short post as tonight is movie night so I'm going to jump in the shower and get ready. Cheers everyone!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Gorgeous Summer Day

I got off work a bit early today (and went in a bit late, but that's a different story) so I tried to make it to the Museum of the Aleutians before it closed with no luck. It was too nice to just go home so I drove out to the spit and watched the boats and enjoyed the sunshine. There are hundreds and hundreds of crab pots stored on the spit awaiting the arrival of the crab fleet and apparently this eagle found just the right one to perch and keep an eye on things. As I'm typing this I'm watching the fog steal into Dutch Harbor from the south, the frosting on a perfect day . . .

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Season Over 25% Done

The current pollock season is known as the "B" season, and I was warned it was long and dragged on forever. When it started, four months of more or less continuous work did seem a bit intimidating, but now that over a month has passed I've seen there is an ebb and flow to the work that makes it fine. I still have had only one day off since I got here six weeks ago but the work changes from the plant to refrigeration, and there are changes in the target species as well - starting September 1 there will be cod deliveries in addition to pollock, and not long after that some crab as well.

This is a picture of one of our boats, the Sea Wolf taken from Strawberry Hill. We had company for supper tonight and it was fun although a bit subdued. Chico had someone to romp with in the living room while we ate, and Goldfish's pot roast turned out great!

Monday, August 6, 2007

So Much Sleep

I only worked 9 hours today instead of the usual twelve and a half and the extra sleep was amazing! I was almost giddy with energy and I could feel my body recovering and I'm ready to be back into the heat of things tommorow. The coolest thing I saw today was a heavily loaded tandem ocean kayak arriving in Dutch Harbor this evening - it looked like they were heading to the small boat harbor. I almost jumped in the truck and headed down there to ask them for their story as it looked like they had been on the water for awhile - did they circumnavigate the island? Or just go camping for a week or two? I knew the harbor was perfectly safe for a kayak and want to get one someday but this was the first one I have seen arriving from the open ocean. It was especially interesting because I had just finished Birth Place Of The Winds about 4 guys that explored some of the Aleutian Islands by kayaks.

The top picture is of a huge yacht that stayed in the harbor for a few days a couple weeks ago. The picture doesn't really show how impressive this vessel was - and the rumor was it was a charter boat that rents for a cool $110,000 a week. Somebody must have really wanted to visit Dutch Harbor! The bottom picture is important for two reasons - first, it is the only picture on this blog so far that I did not personally take since I arrived on the island, and secondly, this is my grand daughter Aubrey who turns one year old tommorow! Happy birthday sweetie, I love you!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

No Fish Tommorow

We went out to 3 Amigos tonight for supper after strolling to the library. As a bonus Goldfish and I fixed their electronic cash register while we were there so the owner comped our dessert, a nice touch. The river is just teeming with pink salmon right now and I think I'm going to have to break down a catch a few for the freezer - I was going to wait for silvers but I think I've waited long enough. On Tuesday night we're having our first company over for supper, that will be fun. As I've been typing this I watched the Alaska Rose pull away from the dock and head out to sea so the night shift must have finished unloading her. With no ship due until tommorow night I'll be working tommorow with the refrigeration guy, probably insulating pipe. Most of the day today was gorgeous and sunny and I think we might have hit 60 degrees for a bit there!

The picture is taken at the entrance to the Russian Orthodox Church graveyard. I couldn't quite get the freighter framed like I wanted but I still like the effect.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Venturi Effect

Yesterday at work we had finished unloading the Progress and I was watching with interest the Great Pacific move into place along the dock using their deck crane since they were working on their main engine and didn't want to start it yet. The wind was blowing out of the southeast and I saw the coolest sight as the clouds were blown across the top 500 feet of the nearby mountains - it looked just like the smoke in the wind tunnel you see in car commercials all the time as the clouds speed up in the area around and alongside the peaks, a perfect demonstration of the venturi effect.

These photos have nothing to do with that but you can see there are no more boxes to unpack, that the place is pretty squared away and comfortable. In the middle picture you can see the computer desk where I sit and blog and look out the window. Life is good, and the company furniture is actually pretty good stuff. Cheers everyone, and good night!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Friday Already

When you work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for over 6 weeks now (I did have one day off in there somewhere where I climbed Bunker Hill but I'd have to check my journal to see exactly when that was) you can lose track of what day it is, and certainly what the date is, except for one clue - the galley menu. Thank goodness things stay on a schedule there if fo no other reason than to mark the passage of time! I have three favorite meals - seafood night on Fridays, steak night on Saturdays, and then Mexican night is good as well. Not only do I look forward to these meals more than the others, it helps me keep track of the day of the week.

These two pictures were both taken on Ballyhoo with the bottom picture showing the webcams that take the pictures on the FAA website I linked to yesterday. I had a nice evening today talking to a son in North Dakota and a sister in Idaho and taking care of some stuff around the house. Hope everyone is doing well and thanks for all your comments - nite!