Friday, April 25, 2014


We took a drive out to Pasagshak last weekend to see if we could spot any of the gray whales that are migrating past Kodiak right now.  It was a bust.  We found a spot with an outrageously commanding view of the water though, so we'll probably head back there sometime in the next few weeks to try our luck again at whale watching.  Gray whales migrate all the way from Mexico up the west coast and into the North Pacific and Bering Sea every year at this time, so we have a few more weeks to try and catch a glimpse. 

It was so nice to get out of the house since it had rained the entire day before and we pretty much stayed holed up at home.  Never an ideal way to spend a Saturday.  Pasagshak is about an hour drive from our house, with beautiful mountain and water views all along the way. 

Point A is our house, and point B is the Pasagshak, Narrow Cape and Fossil Beach area

Once we got there, we did a little off-roading to get to an accessible cliff side on Narrow Cape.  We drove about half way to the edge, parked, and then walked through an impressively buffalo poop covered field the rest of the way.  Spectacular views:

I'm all bundled up because it was super windy up there.  It cuts right through you if you don't have the right clothes on!  Thankfully, I was all set and toasty with windproof layers.  This is the spot we're planning to head back to sometime in the next few weeks to try again.  The view is elevated over a huge expanse of the water, so it's a perfect spot for whale watching.

The poop culprits - Free range Buffalo roam all over the area

We also took a walk down on Fossil Beach, which is the beach you see way down below the cliff side in the picture above.  It was a good place to let the Pugbull off his leash so he could run around.  Of course, he had a blast.  It's incredible to watch him run at full speed.

He's a fast little mother when there aren't any fences.  Hell, he's even fast when there is a fence.  You can't really tell here, but he's tearing ass down the beach in this one:


The hubby loves, loves, loves his truck
We decided this area might be one of our first forays into camping this summer.  I bet the night skies are unbelievable out there.  No lights whatsoever to wash out the stars.  We can rent a tent from MWR (Moral, Welfare, and Recreation) on base, and we pretty much have everything else we would need for a camping overnight.

Although, based on the condition of that field, I wouldn't be surprised if we had an early morning buffalo wake up call!  Buffalo are peaceful, right?

Fossil beach is beautiful, with black sand, all sorts of beach driftwood, lots of room to roam, and pretty intense looking surf.  Add in the mountain backdrop, and it's an impressive place to explore.

I love this picture of Cheety and the hubby.  There's something about the way all of the colors and textures compliment one another. - And the "let's go!" body language & smiling expression on that Puggy-Boy's face.  Pretty good day, even though we didn't get to see any whales.

Here's to another attempt!

Ta-ta for now.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Golden Anchor

The Golden Anchor is the sports bar on Base Kodiak, and it's a cool little place to have as essentially our neighborhood pub. It's about the only bar within walking distance, so that right there makes it more appealing than taking a cab into town!  We ended up taking a walk down for happy hour a few weeks ago for a few beers.

We came on the early side, so we had the bar to ourselves

It's predictably Coast Guard-centric with the decor, and it has a little game area with the usual suspects - pool, darts, foozeball & a shuffleboard table, among others.

The Mighty Resolute
One of the unique things about the decorations are the retired Coast Guard life rings that are hung all along the walls.  I walked around to read some of them and I found The Resolute, which is the cutter hubby served on right after he got out of boot camp before he switched to aviation.  It was signed by some of the crew and was dated 1991.  Way before his time in the CG, but it was kind of cool that his old boat is represented.

And of course, they have lots of Alaskan beers on tap & in the bottle, and they feature beer from Kodiak Island Brewing Company, too.

I really like some of the beers we've discovered from Alaskan Brewing Company, which is based in Juneau.  They have a nice Belgian White, (which The Golden Anchor has on tap, yay me) and the Alaskan Amber is good too.

Single Engine Red is another Alaskan beer we've discovered up here that's also pretty tasty.  It's another one they have on tap at The Golden Anchor.  Who wins?  WE win.

It's a red ale that's from Denali Brewing Company, based out of Talkeetna, Alaska.  That's the real deal Alaskan interior.  It looks like it would be a fun little town to visit.  In a small, rugged, mountaineer-y kind of way.  Mountaineer-y is too a word.

Talkeetna is known as the base town for expeditions up Denali, and the name Single Engine Red is a play on the air taxis that flew mountain climbers to the base of Denali.

Kind of a neat little back story to the name.  Lots of new beer experimentation up in the great white north...It's beer!  Hoooor-aaay, beer!  Ten points if you know the reference there, fellow beer lovers.  (I know, not exactly challenging)

The menu at The Golden Anchor is typical for a sports bar.  I was digging their fried pickles, and hubby can never say no to tater tots if they're available.  Not the healthiest fare, but you could certainly do worse!

I picked up a pool cue for the first time in a very long time, and I was impressively bad!

When I was younger, my brother had a pool table in the basement, so we used to play all the time.

After all that practice over my teenage years, I got to a point where I could hold my own at the pool table.  Yeah...those days are over.  It was a sad state of affairs.

Minnesota Fats, we're not!

Another nice thing about our little base bar is the view.  It's on the second floor and it's right on the water, so it's a pretty commanding view of Women's Bay and the mountains.  Not too shabby for our neighborhood joint.

All in all, the Golden Anchor is a a worthwhile spot to relax that's close to home.

I'm sure we'll go more often during the spring and summer since the walk down won't be so frigid!  And maybe after some practice, I'll get my pool game back.

Ta-ta for now.

I can't help noticing that my skin is the color of my sweater.  I'm back to being translucent again. Pale is the new tan!
Why yes, there IS a giant golden anchor outside

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hippie Soap

Fair Trade.  Vegan-friendly.  Cruelty free, recyclable packaging, hand-crafted, essential oils, organic ingredients, all-natural...I could go on.   That's the M.O. on these fancy, hippie soaps I found at Kodiak Bath & Body.  It's not an actual store, but it's made here in Kodiak by an RN/herbalist, who apparently has a penchant for ecological adjectives.

I gotta tell you, I'm really digging these soaps.  Not only are they beautiful looking, but they're so earthy and smooth on your skin.  They smell so fresh, I can't wait to try all the different types I ordered.  What's appealing about her business is that she uses local ingredients, so the varieties of soap she'll have for sale depends on what time of year it is and what botanicals are in season.

I started off with an assortment of soaps from her collection, but I had to stop myself from going overboard.  So many to choose from!

I ended up going with Kodiak Evergreen, Kodiak Sea Kelp, Goat Milk Calendula, Kodiak Salmonberry, Kodiak Fireweed, Black Currant, Coconut Milk, & Peppermint.  Alright, maybe I did go a little overboard.

I tend to shy away from the ones that are more food oriented, like the carrot and blueberry.  It just seems weird to wash yourself with food.  I guess in my mind the goat's milks doesn't count as food since Calendula is in it too and that's a type of flower.  Then again, I did get the salmonberry soap and people eat that in jellies, pies and cookies.  Come to think of it, Black Currant is a berry that's in jams and desserts, too.  And duh - Coconut Milk, Peppermint...half of the scents I got are edible.  I guess I'm a hypocrite.  Oh well.

This is what some of the Kodiak ingredients she uses look like in the wild:

Left:  Fireweed  Right:  Salmonberry      
Photo Credits:  Tom Comish, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], and Apv at en.wikipedia, both via Wikimedia Commons

Sea kelp washed on shore at Surfer's Beach.  Creepy!
During the summer, we see salmonberries and fireweed growing everywhere. - They're two Kodiak staples that we come across on hikes all the time. They're both very pretty.  - But the sea kelp in its natural state...not so much.  It's the opposite of fragrant and appealing.  

I remember the first time I saw sea kelp on a beach in Kodiak, I thought it was kind of creepy and phallic.  Doesn't usually smell very good, either.  But hey, I guess it makes for good natural ingredients for soap.  You know, vitamins and minerals and what-not.  Once she gets all her natural ingredients, essential oils, and shea butter combined together into a bar of soap, the end product really is unique looking. 

From left to right is the Evergreen, Salmonberry, Black Currant, & Fireweed
I love how the bars come out all marbled and colorful. You can tell she makes long rectangles and then just hacks off individual bars because the ends of each bar are all rustic and uneven. 

She really should set up a postcard display at Kodiak Island Brewing Company.  Talk about a target audience.

So, I'm a fan of Kodiak Bath & Body.  Hook, line, and sinker.  I don't mind paying a little bit more because the old adage you get what you pay for is usually true.  It is in this case, anyway!

I'd also always rather support a local small business instead of Amazon.  Which I find myself doing more and more while we're here because you just can't get everything you might need or want on the island.

So when I can get something local, I usually do.  It feels good to contribute to a local entrepreneur, & it doesn't hurt that her products are excellent!

It's funny, I stored the soaps in the closet, and every time I open the door it smells like a damn Grateful Dead show in there.  It's like an earthy, patchouli-esque explosion every time I have to put away a towel.

I'm looking forward to experimenting with some more of what she has to offer.  But I'll pass on the ones with pumpkin, chocolate and cranberry.  I'll save those ingredients for pies.

Ta-ta for now.

P.S. - Aww, sad update.  In the fall of 2014, I learned that my soap lady moved off the island.  So her website no longer exists and I've had to find a new hippie soap lady.  Which I have & I love her products too!  Maybe I'll blog about new hippie lady soaps sometime soon.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Living on a Coast Guard Base

I've talked about this a little bit before, but this is my (and hubby's) first time living on a military base.  I had my reservations before we moved in, but now that we're more settled, it's time to broadcast on the interwebs my two cents about what it's like.

The Andy Griffiths Show  
Photo Credit:  CBS Television [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
To be honest, it's a little Mayberry-like.  Mayberry - as I'm sure the vast majority of you already know, but I feel the need to clarify for the young-un readers that may be out there - is a fictional community from a 1960's black and white sitcom set sometime in the 40's or 50's called The Andy Griffiths Show.  My point being, base living is kind of innocent.

Now I know you're asking yourselves what makes it innocent, so here goes.  We have the local po-dunk paper, The Kodiak Daily Mirror, delivered to the house daily.  No joke, it's delivered by a very clean-cut adolescent boy on a bicycle, and he carries the papers in a canvas satchel that's slung over his shoulder.  And he actually puts it in the mailbox.  Now, wearing safety gear when you're biking is mandatory on any military base, but his helmet is the icing on the cake.  I bet if I listened, he'd be whistling and saying things like, "Awww, shucks."

Just to contrast, in Key West we also had our paper delivered.  Only it was by a crusty old dude in a dilapidated pick-up who wouldn't get out of his car.  His method of choice was to fling the paper in the general direction of the house, which inevitably missed the porch and usually resulted in the paper fetcher having to take a mini-trek into the hibiscus bushes in front of the porch to try and excavate said paper from under the house.  Good times.  Pretty big difference from the squeaky clean teenager with a canvas satchel, right?  But I will acknowledge that Key West isn't exactly an even playing field as far as comparison goes.  We're talking about an island that's taken fetish to a completely new level.

Entrance to USCG Base Kodiak

And of course, it's not just the paper boy.  (I still chuckle at the fact that we even have a paper boy - who actually is a boy) Base Kodiak is one of the largest U.S. Coast Guard bases, so along with housing, it has amenities like the commissary (grocery store), the Exchange (a combo of a 7-11/Target/department store), a pizza place, movie theater, gym, bowling alley, pub, etc.  It's nowhere close to the size and scope of most Air Force bases I've visited, but it has a lot going on for a Coast Guard base.  The Mayberry-factor comes in the price of a movie ticket.  Ready?  It's five dollars. FIVE DOLLARS.  It's like being transported back in time.  And it's not like they're showing Rocky IV or The Karate Kid. - The movies are current, usually released in the last month or so.  So let's hear it for saving a few bucks at the movies.

This is our little corner of base housing
Another thing that's on the "of times gone by" side is seeing kids walking and biking to school in the morning.  Kind of sad to say, but it seems like that's not as common now as it was when I was little.  Add in the regular patrols throughout the neighborhood by USCG police and it's downright vintage around here. 

Living on base still wouldn't be my first choice if it wasn't required, but it hasn't been a bad experience so far.  Cookie-cutter and over run with kids, sure.  But it certainly could be worse.  Can't be too upset, especially when this is what's in the backyard:

Barometer Mountain - July, 2013

Mayberry or not, base Kodiak is a decent enough place to live.  Opie paper boys, Barney Fifes and all.

Ta-ta for now.