Monday, April 25, 2016

Inaugural Cricket Camping Trip

Finally!  We've been wanting to bust out our fancy new Cricket for a camping trip since we got it in December, and the crotchety Kodiak cold & rainy weather finally cooperated. It's not easy to plan for a sunny outing around here.  Much less one that falls on a weekend!

Our fun new Cricket camper!

Worth the wait!

We set up camp on the cliff side above Fossil Beach, a local favorite, and our companions were free range bison.  Huge mothers!  They didn't get too close, but they ambled about and grazed near enough to our camp that I was just waiting for the Pugbull to start unhinging.

Surprisingly, the boy never even had the bison on his dogly radar. Well, other than sitting at attention and sniffing the wind in their general direction.

We set up our camp in a field the bison like to frequent, evident by how chock full of poop the whole area was.  CHOCK full.  I won't go into how Cheety found the bouquet irresistible and had a few nibbles and rolls here and there.  He can be a gross pup.

Bison poop aside, the views were spectacular.

This time of year is when gray whales annually migrate past Kodiak, so we saw a few spouts while we camped - which is always a unique & memorable experience.

The sun streaks through the clouds were so pretty

Looking out our little window while we were eating dinner to this magnificent view wasn't too shabby:

Cheety seemed to appreciate the scenery, too.  But, I may be giving him too much credit. Ha.

We kept things simple for meals and stuck with the tried and true Mountain House camp meals.  Chili mac for dinner and a skillet scramble for breakfast. Next time we'll plan to do some real cooking, but the freeze dried meals were surprisingly pretty good!

Dinner time

Breakfast & coffee with the boy

It's such a cool little camper - very cozy inside and it's so well built.  My favorite part is that it's designed to function completely off the grid.

We charged up the batteries at home - basically the equivalent of two car batteries - and then used the solar panels to charge them while we were out camping.  Not that we needed to.  Fully charged, the batteries are meant to last for 3 days with standard, regular use.

It has a little fridge/freezer, a stove top, sink, toilet, and even a shower hook up.  It was a little too cold to be using the shower this time of year though, especially in Alaska.  The Cricket is like rustic, tiny house living.  I kind of dig it.

We hiked around a little bit during sunset and it was such beautiful country.  Chilly in the wind being up on the cliff side, but it's hard not to appreciate that crisp, clear air.  I know I'll miss it.

Beautiful sunset, and one of my favorite pictures from our weekend

Our inaugural camping trip was a nice dry run for all the overnights we'll be doing on the road trip back down to the lower 48 this summer.  Although, I don't know if we'll have the privilege of gazing out at such beautiful landscapes.

Then again, maybe we will.  Stay tuned!

Ta-ta for now.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Oops. And...Ouch.

USCG Senior Chief Petty
Officer collar device
"Attention on deck!"  Everyone pops up out of their seats, straight backed with fists clenched, all chins up and stiff as the Captain strides up to the stage.

Well, except for me.  Sure, I stand with the rest, but no where near close to the body language of the throng of blue I'm surrounded by in the chilly auditorium.

It's the pinning on ceremony for the hubby's advancement to Senior Chief, and I'm probably more nervous than he is.

For those who might not know, a pinning on ceremony is when the person advancing in rank is formally acknowledged by the command in front of their peers.

Usually someone close to the person advancing (normally the spouse, children or a close colleague) pins the appropriate device on their collar after a short description of what they're being acknowledged for accomplishing.

Leave it to me to add a little flair to the proceedings.

Now, it wasn't my first rodeo with pinning on.  But you wouldn't know that by the way it played out this time!

We practiced the night before.  Because as some of you may not know, those uniform collars are stiff.  There's actually a bit of plastic inside the collar to keep them straight and rigid.

So, if you don't get the pin aligned with the hole, it's a little tough to get it through.  As I was soon about to be reminded.

The hubby was the first to be announced, so we trotted up to the stage to appear "front and center," as requested by the Captain.  As we're walking up on stage, I couldn't help but whisper to him, "Are you sure I'm supposed to be up here with you?"  It just felt weird for a second.

Not to worry.  I was supposed to be there.

After the formal reading of the advancement certificate, it was time to get those bad boys pinned on properly.  I did one collar, and one of his colleagues did the other.

Ohhhhh, the struggle!

And I couldn't get the damn pin through the holes.  The little bastard would not fit where it was supposed to go.

As luck would have it, this advancement ceremony was also the kickoff to an air station all-hands training.  So, a couple hundred people in the audience. Oh, happy day!

I had the pleasure of hopefully not too obviously wrestling with that stubborn little muther of an anchor pin while a large part Air Station Kodiak personnel looked on.  Wheeeee!

Now I realize this was all of 30 seconds in reality.  But, it felt like I was struggling front and center for at least a full minute or two.

I managed not to curse as I wiggled and then downright shoved it through, when the little shit finally cooperated.  And in my single-minded focus on getting the blasted pin onto the collar, I promptly pricked my finger on the razor freaking sharp pointed end.

You know what happened next, right?  Cue the blood!  I didn't even realize what I had done until we got back to our seats.

As I happily sunk back into my seat, glad to be done with being on stage, I gazed over to my left and my horror - that not only did I bleed all over my hand, but I shared the love and left more than a few crimson drops on the collar and back of the hubby's fancy dress uniform.  It stood out nicely against the light blue.

Oh, and I unknowingly wiped my face with said bloody finger for a lovely smeared effect across my forehead.  Awesome, right?  Again - so glad we were back in our seats already and I wasn't freaking Carrie on stage with my bloody face and dripping hand!  Lovely pictures they would have made for posterity, right?

What am I new here, or what??  Nothing quite adds to an advancement ceremony like bodily fluids.

So of course, after I cleaned myself up, I had to whisper to the hubby, "See?  I bleed for you."  Oh, the sacrifice.  Ha.

Congrats, my love.  I mean Senior Chief.  I'll do my best not to bleed on you at the next one. 

Ta-ta for now.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Pizza Nachos

Alright, listen up.  This is important.  Ready? 



Super easy to make, customizable to whatever floats your boat toppings-wise, and oh-so-delicious!

I made a batch over the weekend for some post-hike Saturday snacking and I can tell you right now it won't be the last time I make them.

I did make a few tweaks to the recipe I used. - Just because something calls for heavy cream doesn't mean you have to use it.  I'm just saying. 

Some of the ingredients

In the garlic cream sauce portion of the program, I replaced the heavy cream with whole milk, added a little corn starch to thicken it, and upped the crushed red pepper factor.

Next time, I'll add jalapenos and fresh diced tomatoes to the toppings, plus I'll add colby jack shredded cheese along with the parmesan cheese in the garlic sauce.  More cheese?  Duh.

I think the garlic sauce is what puts the nachos over the edge.  But, I didn't add as much garlic as what it called for because I have a tendency to over-garlic on a regular basis.

I'm working on it.  How about this bubbly garlic sauce love?

Once you've finished the sauce, it's as simple as piling in the tortilla chips, pouring on the sauce and layering the toppings.

I love how it looks in the cast iron skillet.  Legit!  This is just before going into the oven for about 7-10 minutes:

And here's the Pizza Nachos all happy and bubbly.  Can you hear them?  They're saying, "Get in mah belly!"

I'm not sure why I'm looking up in this next picture.  And I'm also not sure why I look like a bobble head doll.  Either way...mmm Pizza Nachos!

Happy snacking!

Ta-ta for now.