Author Archives: Samara Baker

Bush plane to King Salmon

Last month, I had to make a trip to King Salmon with is across the bay from Dillingham for work. This was the first time I had ever been on a bush plane and I learned 2 things from the experience:

  1. Bush planes are cold…VERY COLD. I could see my breath for all the ride.
  2. It is REALLY scary being in a tiny, cold plane.

This is my coworker and good friend, Jessica. She was 8 months pregnant and flying in a bush plane. She’s kinda crazy like that, but I am super glad she came with me because I had a good time with her.

This is our pilot, Robert. He was nice, but I really expected him to keep his eyes looking forward instead of looking down at the water.

You might recognize me. I’m the one who wanted to pee my pants even before I got on the plane. You’ll be glad to know that I didn’t actually pee my pants. I think Jessica was thankful for that as well.

This is us taking off.

This is Dillingham as we were flying over it. It’s not very exciting, but it’s our tiny town and I think if you look closely you can see the McDonald’s sign–just kidding. We don’t have one of those.
Pretty water. It might be the Nushagak, but I can’t be certain of that.

Look at all of our pretty snow. Whee!

We had the privilege of eating at the D&D restaurant for lunch and dinner every night we were there. It was pretty good food and the only place open. And for the record, D&D is in the neighboring town of Naknek, not in King Salmon. But they are about 15-20 miles away on a 2 lane road which is mostly straight-a-way through the flats.

Even in Naknek the food is kinda pricey. I got the French dip one day and it is $17.95. WOW! One night the prime rib was the special for like $29.95 and I ordered it, but I didn’t know that the police chief of the area was going to buy dinner. I felt kinda bad, but it was a pretty good prime rib and he was a lot of fun to have at dinner. He was a real nice guy and I was glad to have the opportunity to chat with him about the area.

All in all, it was a good trip. I really enjoyed the people in King Salmon and Naknek. They had some good things going on over that and I am glad I got to have the chance to do this.

New Orleans

I recently went to New Orleans for a work related conference. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a few days down there before my conference started. I got to meet up with one of my cousins that I hadn’t seen in 15 or so years. And we had a few days to hang out and run around the French Quarter.

This is Kyrstin, my coworker, eating alligator for the first time. She told me later that she didn’t really like it. To me, it tastes kinda like chicken. I thought it would taste fishy, but it doesn’t.

This is my cousin Gina. She live up the road a way in Mississippi, but she made the trip to come for a visit. She was a lot of fun and I hope to get a chance to go down there for a visit sometime next year.

We took a carriage drive around the French Quarter at night. It was really pretty and we stopped a couple times for drinks. It was neat being able drive though and get drinks. It was also neat walking around with fruity frozen drinks in our hands.

On one of the nights, Gina came down with Aunt Lynn and we all went to Emeril’s restaurant for dinner. The wine was good. The food was great and the company was beyond compare.

The conference was good too, but who takes pictures of that? I learned a lot and it was a great experience. But the best part was visiting with Gina and walking around New Orleans.

Breaking away from Alaska for vacation–Part one

We moved to Alaska at the end of August in 2008. We finally made it out of Alaska for a visit to Kentucky in August 2009. This was the first time we were able to visit the lower 48 in over a year. This is big, at least to us it is.

We left on August 26th. We were on the 9:30pm flight out of Dillingham. When we went to check in, they told us that the flight was going to make a stop in King Salmon. In case you don’t remember King Salmon, I had a bad experience the last couple times I was forced to go to King Salmon. We then went home for a while and started walking to the airport at about 8:50. As we were getting closer to the airport, 2 airport attendants yelled towards us asking if we were on this flight. We told them we were and they asked us to hurry so the plane could leave earlier. So we boarded the plane at 9pm and we were off to Anchorage.

It wasn’t easy getting back to Kentucky. We had to fly from Dillingham to King Salmon, to Anchorage to Seattle, to Chicago, to Louisville then drive to Winchester, pick up a car and drive Lexington. It was a long trip. I will spare you the details of flying the red eye with 2 screaming children and the long lay overs.

When we landed, we were greeted in Louisville by our good friend Amanda. She was sweet enough to pick us up, take us to dinner and loan us a car for the duration of our stay. As we cruised us to Winchester to pick up Amanda’s spare car, I saw my little brother, Michael, at the stop light. I yelled towards him and we got a short visit with him before we left for Lexington where we proceeded to pass out at our house.

Friday, we did a little shopping and were suppose to meet up with our friends Scott and Kirsten to celebrate their son’s first birthday. We couldn’t find the park for the party and ended up having dinner with Ann and other Anne.

On Saturday, Aaron’s parents and sister came up for a visit. Aaron and his dad worked on Ann’s car while the girls went shopping. It was a good visit with them and Natalie got to visit with the kitties. She was more excited to see the kitties than she was with us. I can’t say I blame her. Pippin is such a sweet cat and Eve is just as naughty as ever.

A trip to Kentucky

We leave out of Dillingham tonight and we expect to arrive in Kentucky late tomorrow night. We’re looking forward to fountain drinks, shopping, going out to eat, visiting family, visiting friends and acting like huge tourists. Aaron is getting sworn in to the Kentucky Bar while we are there so he can get a job in Kentucky when we move back. I’m looking forward visiting people and I might even get to meet my new baby niece, if she is born before I leave. I can already tell that this visit is going to be too short.

Moving, vandalism and other things that have happened

First, I realize we haven’t blogged in over a month. There is a good reason for that–we’re pretty lazy and we were in the process of moving from our posh Dillingham Apartment to a cozy house by the airport. (You understood that cozy meant small, right?) Anyway, we were taking our time moving since the house needed some fixing and we are now property managers for that place and 4 other houses. Aaron fixed the moldy floor and put down new peel ‘n stick tile down.

It looks pretty good. And We painted just about every surface of the house that could possible hold paint. I think we did a pretty good job. Now the only problem I have is storage. There is almost no storage space. No closets, very few cupboards and as it turns out the washer and dryer doesn’t work.

But free rent, you can’t really do too bad with free rent.

As it turns out my coworker lives in one of the rental properties we manage. This is how the not-so-harmful vandalism started. I had extra paint from painting all the walls, so I thought it would be cute to paint some of the rocks in her flower garden.

So she painted some rocks in my driveway and around my porch.

So then I painted her bird house and the side of her porch.

And she glued magazine ads to my newly painted red door–they came off, the paint was dry and not harmed.

So then I painted clam shells and glued them around her door from. (Sorry I don’t have pictures of this.) But this has been going on since before we moved it. I am hoping that we will call a truce soon or else the houses are going to look pretty funky and not in a good way.

In other news, we made it through the summer solstice and the sun is starting to set earlier and earlier every day. I have proof that there is a moon, which I was starting to doubt for a while.

Aaron and I took a drive out to the harbor while the weather was still good and we actually got to see a sunset. It was probably close to midnight, but we hadn’t been awake to see a sunset in a few months. It’s seems wrong to stay up until 2am to watch the sun kinda set.

Beach BBQ with the cops and booze

This past Sunday was the Court house Beach BBQ out on Kanakanak beach. The court people invited everyone that helps out the court including the local cops, troopers, the district attorney, the prosecutor, the judge, the court clerks and all the families of each. (I invited Erin because Anthony is still in Fairbanks.) I have to say this is the first time that I have been to a beach bbq that when the cops came, they didn’t come to break up the fun. No, they were there for some pretty good potato salad and bbq chicken and ribs. This is also the first time that I have been to a beach bbq with booze and the cops didn’t take it away and issue tickets. (In case you were wondering, you can drink in public here.) It was a balmy 60 degrees with the wind blowing. I got some sun on my face that or wind burn. The wind was blowing that today. But the sun was shining and it was looking to be a great day.

Tonya’s husband rich manned the grill, while Aaron manned the bonfire.

Erin and I walk along the beach to watch people pull in their nets and ask stupid questions like “Does it hurt to get bitten by a salmon?” (They have teeth!) That of course leads to them asking a question, “So, where ya from?” When I say Kentucky, I know they are thinking of the Kentucky Fried Chicken commercials and wondering. Meanwhile, I am taking pictures of the ulgy, muddy salmon they are pulling out of their nets.
I am told this is a dog salmon. It doesn’t have a beak or a red stripe indicating a king salmon or a red salmon.
I have no idea what kind of fish this is. If it had whiskers, I would say catfish. See how little I know about fish!
Again, do they bite? While you can’t really tell, they are still flopping. It makes me nervous and twitchy.

We walk back down to the bonfire where Lori and the new cop in town are chit-chatting about the differences between living in a big city and living here in Dillingham. You’ll notice that since he is in uniform, he is only drinking sodas. (I wanted to point that out.) Other people were having a nice beer with their ribs, but not Dillingham’s finest.

Rich finally has all the ribs and chicken cooked so he sits down and enjoys the fruits of his labor by the fire. He did a really great job. Also note that a lot of people are wearing hoodies. It was cold and windy.

I forgot to mention that this was the same beach and the same nets that not 2 weeks ago a beluga whale got caught in the nets. I know this may upset some readers, but that whale did not go to waste. Since the whale couldn’t be saved, it was distributed to memebers in the community. We were hoping to see the whale, but by the time we got to the beach, there wasn’t much left of it. I won’t post any pictures of the close ups, but let me assure you, there was little left of it.

We also saw a bald eagle. At least Aaron thinks it is. I thought it looked like a vulture. You can decide.

Our 6th Anniversary

Yesterday was our 6th anniversary. We celebrated by taking a long lunch at the local hot spot known as the Muddy Rudder. Aaron ordered the halibut sandwich and I got the patty melt. We then went home and played internet and watched tv before we had to head back work. I then stayed late at work due to a all staff meeting. When I finally managed my way back to the house, we had company. And then we went to go look at some new and different rental property. We then drove to the local grocery store for slushies. All and all, it was a pretty good day.

There was this one year, we were pretty poor. I think it was about 3 years ago when Aaron and I both were in school and for our anniversary dinner we went to Long John’s Silver. It was super cheesey, but it didn’t matter. We were in it together and I knew that we weren’t going to be poor and in school forever. Now, we’re out of school and not as poor, but still poor and very happy.

Set net lines and mud in the bay

Ginger, my boss asked me what Aaron and I were doing on Friday. I mentioned that I didn’t think we were doing anything so she wanted to know if we would go out to help her and her husband set their lines for their subsistence nets. I said that we would and we might be able to recruit Erin and Anthony to help.

This whole week it has been raining on and off, which means that not only is everything wet and muddy, but it is also a bit chilly out. We head from Ginger’s house in caravan-style down to the beach to Ginger’s claim at about 8:30pm. (It looked more like midday than late evening.) In fact, we had four vehicles: Terry in his truck, Ginger and her daughter Aurora in her truck, me and Aaron and Ayla (Ginger’s foster daughter’s younger sister) in our Canyonero, and Erin and Anthony in their SUV.

We drove down onto the beach, and then along the shore for about a mile until we got to the place where Ginger and Terry had staked their claim. Each family has a sign out at the shore that has their last name or family name on it so people will know where their plot of beach is. There’s no real legal claim to any area of beach, but people fish the same spot every year, so if you steal their spot, they get really upset. (Aaron says there have even been court cases about it.)

Ginger had warned me that it was going to be muddy because they have to look for the ring that they tie the line to out in the bay at low tide, beyond the usual shore line. As it turns out, after the sandy/rocky beach, there is nothing but muck and I don’t have a pair of rainboots so I was wearing my snowboots with the lining out of them. Aaron figured they were water proof so they will work in a pinch. Bad idea.

The boys get started right away with Terry, Ginger’s husband, looking for the ring thing out past the shoreline. Aaron says what they were looking for was an anchor that was buried deep in the beach, with a ring on top to feed the line through. It took a little while of walking up and down the muddy beach, staring at rocks before they spotted it.

Erin, Ginger and I hang out on the beach. I think we were going to start a bonfire, but all the wood was so wet. Erin and I started wondering around on the beach and playing in the creek that fed in to the bay.

Ayla and Aurora went hiking up the grassy clifts with us. Ayla is the short, cute one.

(See, she is just so cute!)

This is Erin and Aurora on top of the grassy cliffs. Erin is one acting a fool.

Meanwhile the boys were hard at work, hammering in the stakes and bringing out the lines to the ring. Two stakes are crossed and pounded into the sand at the top of the beach. Then another two are crossed and sunk in about 50 feet away at the top of the beach. A line runs from one set of stakes down the beach to the ring at the anchor in the muck, then back up the beach to the other set of stakes. Later on, they’ll tie their net to the ropes out in the area where the tide comes in. Then the fish will swim by, get caught in the net, and they can use the pulley system to drag the net up onto the beach.

While they were doing all the stake-pounding and searching for the anchor, I was busy getting stuck in the mud with my snow boots. I fell in to about my knee at one point. Erin had to help pull me out which made the boot, fall down to my ankle. This allowed water to pour in to my boot. So now, I am muddy, I have wet feet and I am stuck between the shore and the water. I decide to head back to shore and take off the cold wet socks. And that is where I stayed until the boys finished up.

(This is when I first sunk in to the mud. It only got worse from there.)

(This is the soaking wet wool sock I was wearing. You might not be able to tell, but the sock was filled with water and it is dripping out which is why it is just hanging off my foot.)

Aaron says the hardest part of the whole procedure was running the lines. He kept getting stuck in the mud. At one point, he had the drag a really long rope through the mud, pulling it through the ring they use as a pulley. Apparently when they have nets attached, they use a truck to pull the ropes, since they’re so heavy. But for setting out the lines without the net, they just sink their feet into the mud and pull.

Overall, it was an interesting experience. We got to learn how the natives and local folks subsistence fish for salmon, and we realized that it definitely isn’t easy work. Ginger has invited us to help them subsistence fish this summer. Sounds like we’ll get to learn how to pull the nets in, clean and gut fish, and hang them to dry. All that and salmon isn’t even one of my favorite fish. Terry may also take Aaron along with him moose hunting this fall. I think Anthony may go too. They certainly proved to Terry that they aren’t afraid to do a little work. If they go moose hunting, they probably won’t be doing the shooting, but Terry wants help carrying the meat out of the woods after he shoots it.

I guess we’re learning how to be locals.

Anchorage again

Ah, Anchorage.

I had my last and final training for positive behavioral support last week. I am very thankful the training is over, but I will miss the monthly trips to Anchorage. This time I spent an extra day there with nothing to do, but go shopping and drive around. It was sunny and about 70 degrees while I was there. I was even wearing sandals the whole time. The snow was completely gone. Actually, the snow was gone last month and this time everything was green. There was green grass and leaves on the trees and the snow was slowly fading from the mountain tops.

As it turns out, I really like Anchorage. It’s not a bad town. It’s easy to drive in. And it has all the wildlife and outdoorsy stuff that Alaska is known for while still having a mall and a large grocery store. If we decide to stay in Alaska, I think I would want to move to Anchorage.

After my stay in Anchorage, I returned home to Dillingham. It was so cold when I stepped off the plane, I could see my breath. I was wearing flip flops and just a tank top with a cardigan over it. It was cold, rainy and brown. It’s hard to tell that spring is here other than the snow is gone. It was just so hard to leave the beautiful weather to come back to the mud and all the brown in Dillingham.

I am very lucky that my job allows me to go outside Dillingham for trainings. For instance, I will be leaving on Sunday for Fairbanks. And since Aaron isn’t as lucky as I am about training, I talked him in to shelling out the money for him a ticket so he could go with me. YAY! So this trip will be the first time Aaron has left Dillingham since we arrived back in August. He’s pretty excited about going out to eat, fountain sodas, movies and shopping. Plus we have about 3 extra days of nothing to do but sight-see around Fairbanks. We are planning to take a trip to Denali National Park and do other touristy things… but there will be more on that later this week.

pictures from the airplane going to King Salmon

This is Mt. Redoubt. See the steam and smoke. Ooooo. Aaaaaaa. Neat-o.

This is Mt Redoubt again. I have heard that the top might actually blow in the next month or two as the ice and snow cap collapse on itself. Which might make travel to and from Anchorage a bit harder.
This is the King Salmon Visitor Center. I was stuck there for too long. You can’t tell because it looks like I was smiling, but I was actually pretty angry that I was stuck there. That was the second time that day I had been to King Salmon. Also in this picture is Thresa, she is new to Dillingham and isn’t used to this kind of stuff either.
I did buy some post cards inside. I haven’t sent them out yet. But I will.

This is the mountains between Anchorage and Dillingham.

WOW! So that was my adventures in King Salmon.