Thursday, September 6, 2012

Five Things I Learned in Alaska

{Newsflash: Alaska is big. Real big.} [via]

1. Alaska is huge. I mean, sure, I knew before this trip that Alaska was ginormous, but seeing an image such as the one above really puts the state's size into perspective. And to think that just the islands at the southeastern tip of the state are gorgeous . . . I'd love to see what the rest of Alaska has to offer.

{Kristy rocked fishing on the rough seas; me, not so much}

2. For me, Dramamine had no effect when fishing on rough seas. On our second day out, I decided head out with the "rough water" fishing boat rather than go with the "calm water" crew. Having gotten slightly seasick the day before, I knew I was playing with fire, but having drugged myself up with Dramamine in plenty of time, I thought I'd be okay. (The day before I'd only taken a Dramamine tablet just before getting on the boat.) I got about three or four casts out on the second day, and then was done. In my defense, the waters were really choppy, with 3-foot waves. Luckily, lying down in the cabin was enough to quell my nauseousness, and I managed not to chum.

{Ginger gum was a lifesaver}

Having said that, I must say that ginger gum and candied ginger is awesome. It really helped to take the edge off on the first day of fishing. On the second day, I think I was too far gone in terms of seasickness, but eating some candied ginger did help to settle my stomach for a short time. The candied ginger was so delicious that I think I might need to make up a batch just to have on hand for a little sweet-spicy snack.

{Chef Patrick and Chef Dan show us how it's done.}

3. Watching two professional chefs cooking in the outdoor kitchen was an amazing experience. And even better than watching them at work was getting to eat everything that they made. And, oh my, eat we did. I can say without a doubt that I ate more seafood over the past four days than I have in my entire life. And it was all delicious. And incredibly inspiring. Also, I really need to take a knife skills class.

For those of you that live in the Boston area, you must go to The Oceanaire Seafood Room, home to Chef Dan Enos. (He's hilarious!) And for those of you who live in the Anchorage area, you should definitely head to Bridge Seafood, home to Chef Patrick Hoogerhyde. (You won't meet a nicer guy than him.)

{mountain o' crab}

4. Before this trip, I'd never eaten crab or shrimp. (A casualty of growing up in the landlocked Midwest, where "fresh off the boat" seafood either doesn't exist or comes at a high price.) Though I tried several types of shrimp and crab while in Alaska, I have to admit eating these sea creatures is a bit too interactive for my taste. I like to know where my food comes from and I don't think we should ever gloss over the fact that we are eating formerly-living creatures -- but I'm really not one for cracking open legs and claws. This is the same reason why I don't like to eat things off the bone such as ribs or turkey legs. I do have to admit that the shrimp and crab legs were quite tasty. Maybe I could just get D to crack 'em open for me while I look away? (I'm sure he'd love to see king crab on the dinner menu at home...)

{accommodations at the Talon Lodge}

5. If you're traveling to Sitka and plan to go freshwater or saltwater fishing, you should stay at the Talon Lodge, located on private Apple Island. The accommodations were cozy and comfortable, the meals were delicious, the views were stunning, and lodge owners Phil and Gwen -- along with their entire staff -- were incredibly friendly and welcoming. 

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