Friday, April 24, 2015

Narrow Cape Whale Watching

It's that time of year again!  That would be the annual gray whale migration.  We went whale watching around this time last year too, but we didn't have any luck.  This year was a whole different story.

Our whale watching perch at Narrow Cape on the cliffs above Fossil Beach

The sheer distance that the gray whales travel is unfathomable.  It's a pretty amazing feat to think that every year they swim over 10,000 miles round-trip between Mexico's nursery lagoons and feeding grounds in the Bering Sea.

In their travels, they pass by Narrow Cape every April.  - We can easily drive to Narrow Cape and hope to catch a glimpse of them as they swim by.  And this year was rock star!

One of the dozens of spouts we saw throughout the day

We saw over a dozen whales off the cliffs above Fossil Beach when we took a drive out there a few weeks ago.  I saw my first whale breach in person that day - it was fabulous.  We were still down on the beach and hadn't hiked up to the cliffs yet when I saw an enormous dark mass heave itself out of the water and crash back down into a massive splash.  It was far from the shore, but not so far away that you didn't know what it was.  Very cool.

As we hiked along we saw dozens of spouts all along the shoreline, and at one point were treated to a tail flipping up out of the water.  But mostly it was spouts and the occasional long, sleek back popping up.

Not easy to capture pictures of, I tell ya!  This was about the best one I managed to eek out of the day.  Not exactly compelling, but what can you do? 

Hooray whales!

As always, the scenery above Fossil Beach was gorgeous.  I've said it before, but I'll say it again.  Kodiak is absolutely stunning - when the sun shines. The latter part of that sentence is the critical part.

Because as I've also mentioned many times before, it rains a lot in Kodiak.  And if it's not raining, it's more than likely overcast.  We're talking about a place that has approximately 130 sunny days per year.  So that means over 200 days of rain or clouds.  Doesn't that sound just peachy?

I admit, I might be a tad bit sun deprived.  And slightly bitter about it.  Which is why these seemingly few and far between sunny days are fantabulastic.  Yes.  Made up word good.

We lucked out with our sunny Sunday, and it truly was an unforgettable day.  The unadulterated appreciation for sunshine is just inevitable living here.  Zip-a-dee-doo-da type of appreciation!

The WWII pillbox made for a good observation deck

We weren't the only ones enjoying the sunshine.  The Pugbull went crazy dog on the beach and took every opportunity he could to roll in buffalo poop.  Good times.


Narrow Cape is even prettier in the summer, when everything is vibrantly green, but even with the brown grasses of winter/spring, it's still pretty spectacular.

Fossil Beach is one of my favorite places in Kodiak.  There's nothing quite like experiencing that captivating combination of crisp, bright air paired with magnificent mountain views.  Add in the sunshine & whale watching and it ain't a bad way to spend a Sunday.  Even if they don't like to have their pictures taken.

Ta-ta for now.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Why My Husband Isn't My Best Friend

We've all seen them.  You know the social media posts.  They say something along the lines of, "On this day - fill in the blank - years ago I married my best friend and soul mate...blah blah, I wuuuf youuuuuu..."

Gawd.  Call me cynical, but I loathe those posts.  My husband isn't my best friend.  And really?  Soul mate is pushing it, too.

Yes.  I said it.

Don't get me wrong. We have a happy, solid marriage and an exceptional life together.  We share love, companionship, passion, adventure, and a spoiled Pugbull.  And I wouldn't trade any of it.

But, he's still not my best friend.

Albany, NY - 2013

I met my best friend when I was 4 years old.  We live thousands of miles apart these days and don't get to see each other as often as we would like, but she's one of those special people who I can affectionately include in countless memories - from childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, right on up to now.

Memories like snuggling up in her parent's comfy, queen-sized bed on Saturdays so we could read together.  For hours!

Massapequa Park, NY - 1979
And walking around the living room peering into a mirror held under our chins so we could "walk on the ceiling."

And then there was the late elementary school period of time where we became obsessed with playing basketball on the illegally installed basketball hoop on the telephone pole outside our houses.

We'd be out there in the way-too-early morning for a quick session of shooting hoops before the school bus came to shuttle us off to good ole Birch Lane.

And can't forget roller skating around on the smooth, brown tiled floors in my mother's basement while listening to the Grease soundtrack.  On a record player.  Damn, we're old. 

The hubby? He's my companion in life.  The one I want by my side for all the nonsense, good & bad.  He's the one I know will be right there with me for whatever the day-to-day may bring.  The one I can fondly say falls asleep exactly 30 seconds after deciding it's time for bed.

Kodiak, AK - 2014

The one who I know will harass me about going 20 plus years believing the 1973 song "Radar Love" by Golden Earring was called "Red Hot Love."

Or believing that the lyrics to "How Deep is Your Love?" by the Bee Gees had the line "...And you come to me in a submarine..."  Yeah.  That would be on a summer breeze.  Not in a submarine.  Doesn't even make sense.

I have dozens of examples of my creative song titles and lyrics. - And I know I can always count on the hubby's good-natured and totally necessary ridicule.  Who else can I rely on to call me out?  Especially when I think "The Zephyr Song" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers actually has lyrics that say "fly away on my cell phone..."  It even has zephyr in the title, but somehow it became cell phone to me.  I can't explain it.

He's one of my favorite people.  I wouldn't want to reminisce and tell the same stories over and over with anyone else.  And he makes me laugh almost everyday.  Not at him.  With him.  Most of the time. 

But no, my husband isn't my best friend. That position was filled a long time ago. By someone who expertly spotted me while I confidently mastered the minor gymnastic feat known as the "penny-drop."

And schooled me in the art of collections like Strawberry Shortcake Dolls and Garbage Pail Kid cards.

And let me borrow her faded black stretchy jeans whenever I wanted to.

And watched me cross the street from her house to mine each night "just in case."  Which was always, always followed by a sing-song chant serenaded in unison across the span of glowing street lights and blacktop from our respective front doors:  "See ya tomorrow at the bus stop..."
And I miss her always. 

Ta-ta for now.

"There's never any substitute for those friendships of childhood that survive into adult years. Those are the ones in which we are bound to one another with hoops of steel.”
- Alexander McCall Smith

Key West, FL - 2009

Monday, April 13, 2015

Termination Point

That was a long walk!  We decided to hike the entire Termination Point trail last weekend, which we've talked about doing since we first settled in here almost two years ago.  When all was said and done we hiked for six hours and clocked 10 miles.  It was a long day, and I'm pretty sure I hiked off more than a few bottles of wine in our travels!

Our hiking buddy, Bobby.

It was around 11:30AM when we arrived at the trail head, and we climbed back in the car with our wiped out, sore bodies at 5:30PM.  Like I said, it was a long walk!

This is more or less the route we hiked. I marked our approximate, round about way on the map with the dotted red lines. We started at the bottom left where it says parking lot, and hiked north on the route on the left side of the map.

There was some meandering around before we finally made it out to the point because the trail gets a little squirrely at certain points.

By squirrely, I mean that we'd be hiking along on a firmly established trail, and then suddenly it would just peter out and disappear on us.

So then we'd be wandering around through the moss and trees heading in the general direction we were supposed to be going in, but not actually on any trail to speak of.  Hubby was completely confident the entire time, meanwhile I was convinced we were wandering lost in the woods every time we would lose the trail.

All we had to rely on - other than the hubby's hiking app - were these inconsistent trail markers along our way:

Just as quickly as the markers & trail would disappear, boom we'd be back on it again.  That happened several times throughout the day, so there was some roaming around that added more time to the hike.  But it was so beautiful!

One of our many moments where the trail disappeared!

One of the memorable experiences from the day was coming upon a working beaver pond.  The beavers were hiding out once we came on the scene, but it was incredible to see the freshly gnawed trees they were nibbling away on just a few minutes before.  What razor-y little teeth they have!

We got to see their damn and beaver den while we poked around, too.  Can't say I've ever seen anything like it in person before.  We've had so many experiences here that are straight out of National freaking Geographic, and this one easily falls in that category!

They were busy little guys gnawing the trees to build their den and dam.  The den is on the bottom right. 

And of course there was no shortage of over the top nature to gawk at throughout the day.  How about these huge mushrooms and beautiful Harlequin Ducks?

How can you not imagine little gnomes living in those mushrooms?

Once we finally made it to Termination Point, the view was worth it!  It would have been truly spectacular if we had a clear sunny day, but even overcast was pretty impressive.

Somebody may have tried to hurl himself off the cliff side while attempting to catch a bird.  The hubby really likes birds.  Just kidding.  It was Cheety, the unsuccessful bird ninja.  Nearly gave me a heart attack. He was promptly leashed up after his unintentional attempt at suicide.

Cheety's a great little trail dog.  He loves getting out with us and rampaging around off his leash in the wilderness. He only gets into mischief with a lowercase m. You know, rolling in gross things and eating bunny poop, which he predictably throws up later.  Mini-mischief!  He's adapted really well to Alaskan life from his drastically different beginnings down in Key West.

This was a terrific kick off to this year's hiking season.  I think I'm going to join the hubby when he tackles the Seven Summits Challenge again this year.  I've got at least 3 mountains I need to knock off my "gotta hike" list.

And the Puggy Boy needs to knock a few rolls off his neck while we're at it. - Let's just say the pup added some winter weight during his many leisurely days napping on the couch this winter!  Hiking off a bottle of wine or two a weekend works for me, too.  Cheers to the 2015 hiking season!

Ta-ta for now.

Love my mossy trees

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Old-Timey Cocktails: Part IV

I feel the same way about this next old-timey cocktail's name as I do about the Gimlet.  It's perfectly vintage.  It's a quintessential classic cocktail, and from what I've gathered in my historical sleuthing, was invented around the end of WWI.

What could this perfectly vintage cocktail I'm going on about be?  Why it's the Sidecar, my friends.  Talk about an old-timey one! 

I had to add a few more bottles to my bar stash to make this one - which has been built up pretty nicely during this cocktail series. The Sidecar follows suit with simplicity in the recipe like all the other cocktails I've experimented with so far.

Just to re-cap, I've tackled the Manhattan, the Tom Collins, & the Gimlet since starting the series.  I haven't decided if I'm going to wrap it up here with the 4th installment, or go one more and call it done at 5 cocktails.  I'll see if any other recipes inspire me to keep buying booze!

The Sidecar calls for cognac, Cointreau and freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Yet another summer time drink!  Maybe my inclinations toward the summer-type cocktails is directly linked to my geographic location.  Escapism! What better way to shift focus from crappy, gray, rainy, cold weather than citrus cocktails?  Works for me.

So we're looking at 1 1/2 oz. of cognac, 1 oz. of Cointreau, and a 1/2 oz. of fresh lemon juice.  I'm pretty sure you can substitute Grand Marnier for the Cointreau since they're both orange liqueurs, but I went for the Cointreau.

It's not a bad cocktail, but I don't think it's one I'd make again or make a habit of ordering.  It tastes good, but it's just a little outside my realm of preferences.  I think it just falls into that alcohol-y category that doesn't appeal to me as much. Really, it just comes back around to the fact that I'm a beer and wine type of gal.

Don't let that stop you from experimenting yourself, though!  With a name like the Sidecar, you've got to be a tiny bit intrigued, right?  Happy cocktailing!

Ta-ta for now.