Fishing Craig, AK

"What a beautiful day!"

An older man dressed in head to toe Helly Hansen rain gear and xtra tuffs, the unofficial uniform for southeast Alaska, said with a smile as we passed on the dock.  It was pouring rain, and it wasn’t meant to be ironic.  I smiled.  “Sure is.”  There was no wind today, and a day without wind is a nice day when you're out on the water.

It was beautiful, sunny, flat calm, and amazing for most of our trip.  The last day it rained and blew 25 from the Southeast, stirring up whitecaps, chop and salty spray.  A good reminder of how lucky we were for most of the week, and how a rainy day can still be considered a beautiful day - if there isn’t any wind.

My Dad and I took a quick trip up to Craig, AK to go fish for our first time as non-residents.  We flew into Ketchikan;  I was born there but haven't been back in over a decade.  From there we took a three hour ferry ride to Hollis where we were picked up by my Dad's friend, and the guy he had sold his wooden troller to (the Glory) when my parents moved south to Sequim.  It's about an hour long drive across Prince of Whales Island to Craig where we’d be based for the next couple days - trying to fill our freezers with fish.

Its amazing, going back to where you are from.  Its energizing, relaxing - like a long nap on a sunny day.  Its a comforting feeling of being somewhere you already know and understand on an intimate level; an unspoken bond full of inside jokes and memories that spark slight smiles - you know it, and strangely, it somehow knows you - like an old friend, you pick up right where you left off, just like you had never been apart at all.  Its hardwired in there and going back always stirs up something that is a part of me.

The heavy greens seem to pop in the dull, cloudy light that defines Southeast Alaska.  Everything is alive there from the moss covered logs to the barnacle laden rocks. The weight of the dew always pulling low the branches of the trees and salmon berry bushes.  It gives the sound a dullness as well.  Things sound different there - muted, soft, always wet.

Every day we would wake up on the Glory at four am.  I’d make breakfast on the oil stove - something with onions and eggs and coffee, and then make sandwiches for the day while my dad would prep the boat, tying leaders and rigging up flasher / hoochie combinations.  We’d have conversation of where we were going to fish for the day.  "Back to where we caught fish yesterday, or off to a new spot today?" " When and where are we going to be for the tide change?"  "Should we load up on Coho first, or go in search of Kings?"  "Spend the day fishing for halibut instead?"  "Or, should we make a detour and catch some 'tacos',"  what we were calling rock fish by the end of the trip.  They do make excellent fish tacos…. So many options.

 

With the twin outboards whirring behind us, we’d shoot off to our destination, dodging sea otters, driftwood and big piles of bull kelp, to drop the gear and make our passes up and down the beach.  “One more pass” one last time.

The slap of whales tales and the sound of their breath always beside us, sometimes surrounding us - eagles screaming to each other from across a bay.  Life is absolutely alive there.  It truly feels like a place where nature is still king.  It doesn’t care about you or your problems.  You are insignificant - you feel no superiority to nature.  You are a part of something bigger.  You are in a world that doesn't belong to you.  It is wild.  

If you ever are feeling that the world is a small place, go to Alaska.

 

Our trip was scheduled right in the busy time of work for me and I was hesitant to commit.  It can be hard to look at a trip and not calculate in the cost of turning down work.  Strangely, its much harder to calculate the cost of not having those memories.  While it was only a week back in Alaska, it will probably always be a big part of my memory of home.  I’m not sure how many trips back to Alaska I have left in my life - and I’m very glad to have taken this one with my Dad.  The almost 300lb of fish we brought back was a nice bonus…

Nome

Recently, a long time friend of mine, Jodie, invited me on an impromptu trip up to Nome, Alaska.  It was the Iditarod, she was going up for work, and I didn't have anything on the books.  So, why not?

It was amazingly beautiful. The weather cooperated - I don't think it dropped below 0º during the day.  The sun would rise in the east just as the full moon would set in the west.  And, when the sun would set, the moon would be poking up its head over town,  It was like they were bound by an invisible pole, separated by 180º of desolate, beautiful, frozen sea.
I spent the days waking up in time to hike somewhere for sunrise - no hard feat seeing that sunrise was around 9:30, taking naps during the middle of the day, and exploring again during sunset / moonrise.

It felt so good to be back in Alaska.  Theres something recharging about where you grew up.  For me, I usually find that rejuvenation in the forest or on the rocky beaches of the northwest, but even being in the frozen landscape of Nome, AK was energizing.  The first thing that happened when I got off the jet, waiting for a taxi, was for someone offer me a ride into town.  Nobody knows street names there - it's just not a thing.  You tell them the building you are staying in. For me,  it was the "Lawyer's apartments" (no lawyers live there now, but they did at one point apparently).  

I found myself at potlucks, fresh king crab dinners, trivia, and many other adventures before Jodie even arrived into town.  The small town life was such a warm feeling.  We get so disconnected from a sense of community and connection living in the city - a million options of a million things to do can leave us paralyzed with overwhelming sense of choice.  In small town Alaska, if there is an event, you find the whole town there.

Fair Isle Brewing

A while back I helped my buddy, and fellow photographer, Andrew, with some images for marketing an upcoming brewery project he has in the works.  We spent the day out on the olympic peninsula playing in the waves and drinking beer.  A special thanks to Rosie Bowker for coming along, being awesome, and doing gorilla styling and basically being our AD.

2017-0124 - Fair Isle Brewing_0742.jpg

Bivalves and Beer

Another road trip for Edible Seattle - this time to Olympia to cover Oysters and Beer.  If you have the chance to check out Chelsea Farms in Olympia, do it.  Delicious oysters and a nice space.  Chef Austin was passionate and accommodating.  Look forward to getting back down there for more delicious bivalves.

Nepal

I can't believe it's been a year already since Drew and I were in Nepal.  As memories often do, it feels like it was in another lifetime, but also, not so long ago.  It's amazing how just one week of time can have such a large impact on your memory.  I think back to this trip on a regular basis.
One day we would find ourselves haggling over scarves in Thamel and the next day we would find ourselves in the belly of the UN building conducting interviews on Nepal's slow reconstruction after the earthquake one year earlier.  What a complicated subject. What a complicated place.

I got super sick on this trip.  Not the normal 'ate the wrong thing' sick, but some sort of virus.  Weak, no energy, in a foggy haze, (I'd end up losing 20lb) I sat int the courtyard of a lovely hotel we stayed at.  I'd drink ginger / turmeric tea by day and wine by night and watch people come and go.  I spent a whole day at one point just sitting in the courtyard having conversations and observing travelers and locals go about their daily business.  I can't remember the last time I just sat and watched the world do it's thing.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
— Mark Twain, Rouging It

I can not wait to go back.  We had such a limited time, and a tight schedule. We never had the opportunity to truly leave the city. Some of the most beautiful mountain ranges and hiking in the world, and I hardly saw the peaks through the smog of the city.  The city though, was amazing - and the people, so wonderful.

I truly believe that traveling makes you a better person... and so did mark twain, so I leave you with this quote that I often paraphrase into "travel is the enemy of bigotry"...

Edible Seattle - Crab Fishing

Recently, writer Megan Hill and I took a road trip down to Long Beach, Washington.  We met with Carol, David and Phill and went on a crab catching adventure for Edible Seattle.  It was a great time of sitting in the sun, having some drinks, and at the end of the day, feasting on the days catch of Dungeness Crab.  
Before this trip, I had no idea that casting for crabs was even a thing.  Thanks for the education, and the good times!

 

Pike Market Food Bank

I recently had the pleasure of shooting another story for Edible Seattle: From Farm to Food Bank: a look inside the Pike Market Food Bank.
I had a blast going down and talking to Peter and Brian and the rest of the small crew that works out of Pike Place.  We'd head out to pick up extra goods from the vendors of the market nice and early in the AM.  Peaches, pastries, bread, carrots, La Panier baguettes, all piled high on the cart.  Its an amazingly efficient, and small, team that serves 746 households and 600 walk ins each week.
It's worth a read and you can pick it up on news stands now.  Before I shot the story, I had absolutely no idea there was a food bank tucked away in the area... also a secret little garden.  I'm sure the market has a ton of secret spots hidden away.

Here are a couple outtakes from my rainy days down at the market:

 

PikeMarketFoodBank 0038.jpg

Knives

During my parents move down from Alaska to Sequim, my mom dropped off three knives made by an old neighbor of ours, Red Campbell.  Apparently Red was quite the hunter and outdoorsman.  The horn is undoubtedly from a deer or elk he hunted, and the blades are from something he had around the shop - probably an old chainsaw.
I remember these knives floating around in different kitchen drawers when I was a kid but would have never given them a second thought if my mom hadn't asked me if I wanted them.

They are a fun reminder of my of my childhood in Alaska.

Ryan's Bachelor Party

It's not always work.  I grabbed a couple of my closest friends, some canoes, and a bunch of snacks and we headed to Diablo Lake for a multi day bachelor party / canoe trip.  Despite the howling winds, whitecaps, and pouring rain, we had a fun-filled couple days.  Ultimately, the weather would let up on the last day and we'd have a sunny end to our trip.

Farmers Market Flowers

Summer is finally here.  Excited for the warm weather, fun adventures and all the outside time the sun invites you to enjoy.  
Hope everyone is having a great summer! 

Here are some beautiful flowers I picked up the other day at the Phinny Ridge farmers market.

Spain / France

 

 

Spain... Spain was amazing.  Strangely, one of the highlights was a city.  Usually I enjoy a large city for a day or two but am soon ready to break away and get out into the country.  Barcelona was different.  I couldn't really put a finger on it - why I felt so at peace there - but when it came time to leave, I wanted to stay.

One of the days we were there we rented cheap, orange, fixed gear beach cruisers and peddled through the city.  It's one of my favorite travel memories.  Something about how that city moves; you just hop into the flow and ride it out.  We cruised the tiny alleys past every variety of small store.  Smells of cheese and fresh bread and coffee would wander by in the rushing air.  All the small stores passing in a flurry, no time to stop and see them all.  We wove in and out of tourists and locals and instantly felt like we were part of it all.  We were part of the city without a care in the world.

Maybe it was all the people out at 10am drinking beer or a glass of wine, or the siesta we took every afternoon, or the fact that we had a wine buzz just about the entire time we were there, but Barcelona is one of my favorite cities.  I could live there.

 

 

The rest of the trip, from Barcelona through the basque country and up to the northern coast, was amazing as well.  Castle after castle atop distant hills beckoned - wanting to be explored... but again, there were too many, and not enough time.  We would return to Barcelona on the north side of the Pyrenees through France.  I loved France.

Where we were, close to the mountains, everything changed from the rustic country style of Spain, to a darker, gothic, almost sinister aesthetic.  The cone shaped black slate roofs of the churches and the dark grays of the rock buildings all helped provoke the feeling that this could be the setting for a small town horror mystery.  Everything was black, and gray, and the metal gates were made of spiraled iron with pointy ends.  Even the forests we hiked through seemed somewhat sinister with the trees leaning over the trails, perhaps ready to snatch you up if you wandered too far off the path.
It was beautiful though and not nearly as spooky as I am probably making it out to be... but there was always that thought in the back of your mind - if werewolves did exist, they'd live here.


_MG_7856.jpg

For more info on the trip and all the photos, head over to the Traveling Fork.  Becky has also included some recipes inspired by the different places we went such as Artichoke, Sausage and Pine nut Sauté!

Edible Seattle

Excited to see a story I shot for Edible Seattle show up in the mail.  I recently took a road trip down to the Hood Canal to shoot Alderbrook Resort and Chef Josh Delgado.  It was dumping rain the entire time but Josh was a champ and humored me in the elements.
Pick up a copy at your local grocery.  

Here are a couple more shots from the trip.  Still thinking about those delicious oysters at 10am.  Oysters for breakfast should happen more often...

New Year in Sequim

New Year in Sequim

Fireworks never get old... I mean, I've been lighting sparklers off since about as early as I can remember. Somehow though, still fun. This year we spent New Years Eve shooting sparks off into the sky behind my parents place in Sequim. The flashy lights and big bangs bringing Ohhhs and Ahhhs from the crowd of four...

Read More

Traveling Fork

Becky and I have been working away on a joint project we have titled Traveling Fork.  Becky, recently getting her masters in nutrition and having a general love of all things made in the kitchen, and I, lover of photography, decided to pool our skills and make an online collection of recipes and stories.  Traveling Fork was born.  Go check it out!

Here's a little video we recently made for promotion.

An Old Man And A Girl

An Old Man And A Girl

Hooch's first stop after Richie and Cassie adopted him was my dinky studio atop a garage in Santa Barbara.  He was tiny - couldn't make it up the stairs, onto the couch, off the couch, or very far in any direction.  I was in charge of his first hours in his new family.  We sat and ate tuna out of the can in my unfurnished kitchen.  Since he was a pup, he's attacked every back door doorknob in every house Richie and Cassy have lived - eaten through several doors, destroyed more than one car interior, pulled the blinds off of any window near the couch, and pretty much destroyed any world he's lived in... but he's always done it with such a sweet temperament.  He was one of the most gentle dog's I've ever met.

Read More

Oaxaca

Oaxaca

"The flight is very full, so please check any carry ons you don't need" the ticket agent kept announcing over the loudspeaker. Flying standby is stressful.  There is only one flight from LA to Mexico City on AK air every day, and its at 12:10am. We stood near a trash can in the middle of the boarding area watching the standby list grow and the paying passengers board, oblivious to the stress of an uncertain future.  Fortunately, fortune would smile on us and we gleefully take up the last two seats on the plane. 

After our flight to Mexico City, the cabbie wound his way through the insane city traffic to the bus stop and we started the next leg of our trip, a six hour bus ride to Oaxaca.  I will admit, after a flight from LA to Mexico City, a six hour (probably more like seven) bus ride was just a wee bit too long.  I would recommend flying to Oaxaca if you can swing the extra dinero and find a good connection.  However, you might miss out on watching Labor Day in Spanish on your bus ride.  Oh man, how confusing was that?

Read More

The Enchantments

The Enchantments

Tom and I got up to the enchantments before the season opened this year.  There was still plenty of snow on our three day hike.  Unfortunately we couldn't see the lakes as they were buried in snow and ice.  I can see why its such a popular destination.  Beautiful.  Will be going back again someday, Im sure.

Read More

Iceland

Iceland

Perhaps the best part of this trip, and the real destination, was Landmannalaugar.  Accessible only by 4x4 - or the giant tour busses that take people out there in droves - Landmannalaugar is riddled with hiking trails that sprout out from a camp site, caretakers cabin, and amazing hot springs.

Read More