Sunday, October 5, 2014

mailbox

There has been a Washington hike on my bucket list for awhile now. It's called mailbox peak and it's the hardest hike in the Snoqualmie area (or so I like to believe).  If you travel via the old trail (which we did), you hike 3 miles to the top, straight up, gaining 4,000 feet in elevation. It's hard. Really really hard. In fact, it's so steep that it's considered vertical and it is unrelenting. However, when you reach the summit you are rewarded with not only a 360 degree view of beautiful scenery, but you also get to see the famous mailbox that was installed a long time ago. Turns out, a former letter carrier hiked to the top and installed the mailbox, giving the peak its name. It makes the climb totally worth it! Just recently, the Washington Trails Associated created a new trail to the top, which is less steep and much safer. However, it is 5 miles long, adding 2 extra miles to your journey. We ended up doing the new trail down, and we think it was safe move although the pain in my knees, quads, ankles and toes told me it felt no different. 

If you are ever up for an adventure (and some serious exercise), check it out!

 (it's all fun and games in the first mile!)

We added our stamp with a Pike Place Fish sticker and a Blink sticker (my work)

 Victory.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

alaska, part II

In addition to fishing the Kenai River in Soldotna, we also visited Seward, Homer and Girdwood all located in the Kenai Peninsula. They had a very different vibe than the north as they are all located on the water and had a marine climate. Unfortunately, we encountered a lot of cloudy skies and some rain, but I think it made for some moody pictures.


 An unplanned and quick stop in Whittier, a crazy little fishing village that was mostly shut down for the season.

 Earlier morning fishermen in Seward trying to catch silver salmon

 We visited the Sea Life Center in Seward, which is Alaska's only public aquarium and ocean wildlife rescue center. They focus on research, rehabilitation, education and exhibits. Since puffins in the wild had already flown to the middle of the ocean for the winter (that's where they spend it!), this was our only chance to see them.

 We saw this crazy crab there too.

 We attempted to hike to exit glacier, but it was pouring so hard that by the time we made it half a mile we were soaked to the bone. We decided this was close enough.

SOAKED!

 We took a boat tour out into the Kenai fjords. Highly recommended!

 On the boat tour, we saw sea lions!

 ...and glaciers!

 I could watch sea otters all day long. This little guy was in the Seward harbor munching on mussels and clams under the dock. I wanted to bring him home.

 The Kenai has moose too.

 Visiting the very divey Salty Dawg saloon on the Homer spit.

 One more impressive glacier in Homer.

 That's the Homer spit! There are lots of shops and restaurants on the spit, but they were mostly closed down for the season.

 We saw so many bald eagles in Alaska. Fun fact: they have never been endangered in Alaska.

 The Time Bandit (from the Deadliest Catch) was docked at the marina on the Homer spit. They are gearing up for crabbing season.

 Hiding from bears.

 Looking for wildlife...from a safe spot.

 Another moose! I can't get enough.

And my favorite creatures of the whole trip were the bears we saw at the Wildlife Conservation Center in Girdwood, AK. Like the Sealife center, they focus on rehabilitating animals and releasing them back into the wild. 

Some of our favorite from the Kenai:

Alaska Sealife Center and Wildlife Conservation Center - two great places to see Alaska wildlife 

Double Musky - hands down the best restaurant in Alaska. Funny enough, it's New Orleans themed (just trust us)

Thorn's Showcase - Located in Seward. Order the bucket of but!

Salty Dawg Saloon - a Homer spit dive bar staple

AJ's Oldtown Steakhouse - Homer. Delicious.

Two Sisters Bakery - Homer. Get the ham and cheese savory. I'm still thinking about it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

fishing the kenai

One of the coolest things we did in Alaska was fish the Kenai river. It was silver salmon season and the river did not disappoint! After a slow start catching only pinks (pink salmon were also abundant in the river, but most of them were spawned out and they aren't as good), we finally found a pocket of silvers and pulled them out slowly but surely. I'm not sure exactly how many fish we ended up with  (9?), but I do know that we ended up with 44lbs of fish. And while it might seem a little weird that we paid to have all of our fish sent home to Seattle when Anders works in a fish market, there really isn't anything better than eating fish you caught yourself.

I have more pictures to share from our time in the Kenai (we also went to Seward and Homer), but I thought fishing deserved it's own post as there were just too many pictures!