Monday, August 27, 2012

Alaska Finale

After our exciting day of fishing on the river we figured we try our luck on the not-so-high seas.  The weather had been pretty bad and the seas pretty rough most of the week.  When we were fishing we saw the sun for all of 30 seconds:
but by Thursday we had hoped things were calm.  We drove out to check the conditions, though Catherine mostly liked just checking us out.  Don and John each drive a truck, so the kids were pretty thrilled to sit up front in their carseats:
 We headed down to the dock and Matthew was pretty jazzed.  Here he is in front of the Merlin:

 And me and the kids on the back of the boat:
 Catherine in her new monkey hat from Teta Sharon:
 We headed out to catch some halibut.  A little ways out I managed to get Catherine down for a much needed nap and Matthew was playing cars at the table.  We also saw some of the same whales we had been keeping an eye on all week.  As I went to grab my camera (with the telephoto lens dad had loaned me specifically for whales) I realized the battery was still at the house.  Womp womp.  I requested that if we were going to see a whale I'd need it to jump over the boat to get a good picture, though with the fog visibility was pretty low, so a telephoto may not have helped much anyway.

All at once I looked over from the whales and puffins (which are impossible to photograph with a phone) and Matthew was real green.  We headed to the back of the boat and rustled around for the Dramamine.  In the meantime Catherine woke up from her nap to get seasick so we decided to head to calmer seas.  Unfortunately, calmer seas were not where the fish were :(  Matthew at least had fun driving the boat (in a manner that almost made us adults sick!)
 And Catherine as well:
 We also headed over to check out the sea lions on the dock and Matthew got to go to the top of the boat to see them.
Back on solid footing:
If we weren't going to catch any fish, we at least headed home and picked salmonberries.  I reached down and came face-to-face with this guy (my phone doesn't take the best macro shots but its not terrible):

Catherine enjoyed the fruits (ha!) of our labor:

The next day we headed down to the tidepools.  This wasn't quite the wildlife we were expecting:
Matthew was uncertain about the tidepools in the beginning:
 But soon he and Don were roaming around, collecting shells, finding anemones:
Matthew eventually grew to touch them himself:
 And then he was a shell collecting machine.  As I asked Matthew to show me his shells (and internally shuddered about having to haul back these fishy-smelling finds) Matthew threw them into the air.  With a giant crab coffee table in the house it's going to be pretty hard to convince Matthew we can't bring back shells in the future so I was glad to skip a collection this trip.  I enjoyed the light/dark sand "braiding":
 And Catherine hung out with Daddy:
And just as we were about to leave, Matthew found the one item he did want to keep:
 Luckily he was willing to leave it when the temptation of a shoulder ride came up:
Once we packed we headed down to the beach one last time to fish and fill every possible crevice of our children and their clothes with sand before boarding the ferry:
The clouds lifted, and by the time the ferry got over to Ouzinkie, the island where I used to teach (which didn't have ferry service back in the day) it was a gorgeous day:
 The ferry we took from Kodiak back to Homer was much smaller and definitely less luxurious than the first ferry.  However, we left on this ferry at 5pm and got into Homer at 7am, so the name of the game was really "how in the world do we get our entire family to sleep at the same time in these tiny bunks in one tiny room."  We ended up letting Matthew stay up a bit late watching a movie with Daddy while I put Catherine down in one of the bunks.  Though the bunks had roll bars in case of rough seas, the bars were so large Catherine could have squirmed right through one so I slept with her.  I don't know if she sleeps like this all the time, but that night Catherine slept like a fish out of water, though miraculously we all somehow were still asleep at 6:30am when they announced we were approaching our port.  On the return trip we decided to detour through Seward to check out the sea life center.

Matthew had fun crab fishing:

 But the highlight was definitely watching the baby walrus play:
 We also saw some other great wildlife:

When we got back to Anchorage, we had yet another wonderful dinner with family.  The next day we hung out, wrote some postcards and headed back to the airport and said goodbye:

We were very, very lucky that on both flights there were extra seats available so instead of the Catherine-in-lap-Matthew-in-carseat plan, Catherine got the carseat and Matthew got the big boy seat.  2 napless flights later for Matthew and only 1 nap for Catherine, we were back at home.  We've spent the week recovering, hanging out with friends and enjoying what's left of our hot, dry, smoky summer.   James headed out on his own adventure on Tuesday and we just picked him up.  From the looks of it he had a great time and I'm quite jealous!  

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