Leaving Sitka on the Misty Fjord

This is the second of the “Week-Long Alaskan Dream” post series.

“It looked bigger on the website,”  I laughed as we unloaded from the Alaskan Dream Cruises courtesy van and walked down the ramp to where Ben, one of the Misty Fjord’s crew, was waiting to greet us. No gangway or long check-in lines; instead we simply stepped off the dock and onto the boat.

Alaska 2019-05-25 (42)

After introductions to the captain, first mate, and chef, as well as the naturalist who initially greeted us, the cruise’s eight passengers were oriented and launched seemingly within minutes.

Alaska 2019-05-25 (45)

My husband and I checked out our quarters for the week, and decided it was best only one of us unpack and get organized at a time, due to the “cozy” accommodations!

But unpacking could wait, as the shoreline receded and we made our way through Sitka’s classic bays and boat harbor. Cracking open a cold beer, we toasted the beginning of a week escaping the pressures of life and work ….

Alaska 2019-05-25 (68)

Before Sitka had even disappeared from view, a commotion in the water caught our eye. A sea lion had caught its dinner — fresh salmon — while a bald eagle soared overhead, viewing the transaction as a treat to be shared. The eagle dive-bombed and tried to snatch the salmon from the sea lion, with the sea lion angrily barking in return, managing to protect its meal as the eagle decided the effort was not worth the return. The victorious sea lion finished its meal preparations by slapping the salmon several times on the water’s surface, ripping open a feast of pink flesh.

Alaska 2019-05-25 (44)

Signs of development fading in the distance gave way to alternating snow-capped mountains and evergreen-covered inclines.

Alaska 2019-05-25 (66)

Fishing boats would periodically cross paths with our boat, until we found ourselves alone in the pristine passages.

Alaska 2019-05-25 (67)

The bow of the Misty Fjord yielded unrestricted views of the waters in front of us. We scanned the surface and shorelines, while soaking in the beauty of the surrounding panoramas.

Alaska 2019-05-25 (62)

In the distance, the telltale signal of a whale was spotted … a water spout spraying above the water!

Alaska 2019-05-25 (50)

Every few minutes, there was a hint of spray …

Alaska 2019-05-25 (51)

or a fin here or there ….

Alaska 2019-05-25 (52)

… until finally, that classic slow slip of the tail ….

Alaska 2019-05-25 (53)

… as the flukes silently slipped below the surface. Iconic images to welcome us our first day on the water.

Before dinner, we all gathered with Captain Lucas and crew in the wheelhouse, and the crew shared their knowledge of the area along with some of the tentative itinerary plans for the week. The Misty Fjord is nimble and able to adapt its itinerary somewhat to accommodate interests of its passengers and the unique conditions that may present themselves.

IMG_9026

Chef Bo grilled fresh salmon for dinner, topped off by peach cobbler for dessert, and wine all around.

IMG_9013

Eight strangers were eight friends by the time the first evening on board drew to a close and folks settled in for the night.

Alaska 2019-05-25 (49)

The Misty Fjord anchored in a quiet bay as the sunlight faded, with the prolonged Alaskan twilight enveloping us in a blue-purple glow. New adventures were waiting for us in the morning ….

~ Kat

Next post: Destination Baranof Warm Springs

Previous posts in the series: 

A Week-Long Alaskan Dream: Mosquito Cove Trail

This is the first of the “Week-Long Alaskan Dream” post series.

We gathered in the hospitality room for Alaskan Dream Cruises in Sitka, Alaska, four couples from Michigan, New York City, Minnesota, and Australia. Introductions were made and we sized up our shipmates for the upcoming week. While the Misty Fjord finished its preparations for the Inside Passage cruise departure that afternoon, we were invited to join Alaskan Dream staff on a morning hike in the nearby Tongass National Forest.

The day before had been rainy and gray, so it seemed a good omen that the skies cleared and sun shone as we loaded into the van to hike the Mosquito Cove loop together. Making small talk and taking turns to point out interesting observations, we climbed timbered steps in the temperate rain forest, stepping carefully past piles of bear scat, while large slugs slowly made their way across the trail.

Alaska 2019-05-25 (3)Alaska 2019-05-25 (13)Mosquito Cove Trail ~ Sitka, AK

We learned that only in the cleanest of atmospheres can a certain moss grow — usnea or “Old Man’s Beard” — a gossamer-like thread dancing in the slightest of breeze on the spruce and hemlock branches.  Old Man’s Beard reminded one of the delicate balance within Nature, and John Muir’s quote, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

Alaska 2019-05-25 (25)

We emerged from the deeply-shaded forest to a cove at low tide, greeted by a world that is revealed periodically as the water recedes: broken shells left behind by ravens and other creatures seeking morsels from within; tiny crabs scurrying under rocks; slow-moving snails carrying smaller travelers on their backs. A person could miss the sub-plots as the allure of the main landscape story drew the eye to the larger vistas across the bay.

Alaska 2019-05-25 (10)Alaska 2019-05-25 (7)Alaska 2019-05-25 (12)Alaska 2019-05-25 (6)Alaska 2019-05-25 (11)

Mosquito Cove, Sitka, AK

Looping back to the trailhead, the clear blue skies yielded unobstructed views of the dormant volcano, Mt. Edgecumbe.

Mt. Edgecumbe, Sitka, AK

We walked the remaining trail back to the van, to return to Sitka before embarking on our cruise adventure later that afternoon.

Alaska 2019-05-25 (22)Alaska 2019-05-25 (18)Alaska 2019-05-25 (21)Alaska 2019-05-25 (23)Alaska 2019-05-25 (19)

Alaska 2019-05-25 (24)

Conversation already flowed more freely, and a casual, comfortable vibe was established among our new travel companions after sharing the meditative beauty of the forest together.

~ Kat

Next post: Leaving Sitka on the Misty Fjord

Zen on the Trail 

As Corbin departed his aging 13.5 year old body last week, this post seems appropriate to share again in his memory. It captures so much that was special about a dog that left a paw-shaped hole in my heart.
~ Kat

Travel. Garden. Eat.

It has been a long week. The candle was burning at both ends most days; I sacrificed some needed sleep to find those extra hours in the day. So when the end of the work day rolled around on Friday, it was tempting to just pour a glass of wine and tell myself I could postpone a run until the weekend.  Finding great camaraderie and motivation through the “Another Mother Runner” podcasts that often keep me company on the road, I signed up for a 5-week training program through the “Train Like a Mother Club” to jump-start the fitness machine after taking a break following the more intense training earlier this year for my June marathon.  Nothing like a  virtual community of training partners to provide some accountability … in addition to my faithful companion.

Today’s training schedule called for a “Zen Run” – leave the GPS watch behind, pull out the…

View original post 549 more words

Dipping My Toes

While the sub-zero wind chill didn’t dampen the beauty of the sunset’s soft glow on Lake Superior, I did not dip my toes in the frigid waters while taking a break mid-run to soak in the scene. But I have resolved to dip my toes back into blogging this year, after extended breaks the last couple years.

As I ran and took in the cold air that cleared my head, pausing as the moon rose above the “Belt of Venus”, it struck me that Mother Earth was sending up a beacon of hope and light. May this year be filled with more of those themes.

Look forward to interacting with you all in the blogosphere on a more regular basis in 2019!

Cheers!

Moonrise during Sunset on Lake Superior

~ Kat

Making the Most of the Minnesota State Fair

It is once again time for the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Twelve days of an almost-overwhelming array of food, art, music, gardens, animals, shopping, and people. What you need are Minnesota State Fair Tips (#MSFTips) to help you create a plan of attack to maximize the fun!

P9010015.JPG

  1. Let Someone Else Do the Driving.

With so many options for transportation to the fairgrounds, why hassle with driving yourself and hoping there is an open parking spot nearby?! Free Park & Ride, Express Bus service, Lyft … there are plenty of options for enjoying the ride and guaranteeing a short walk to one of the entrance gates.

Link to MN State Fair transit options, here.

P9010025.JPG

2. It’s All About the Food

Go hungry.   With 27 new foods for 2018 alone, and a growing list of favorites from prior years, planning to share is a great way to optimize the number of foods you have the chance to sample throughout the day.  The State Fair Food Finder will help you satisfy your craving! I will even give you a sneak preview of our food list to get you started (remember, pacing is important!):

New Foods to Try?

  • Earth Wings (deep-fried cauliflower with sesame BBQ sauce) from French Meadow Bakery
  • Firecracker Stuffed Shrimp Avocado from the Hideaway Speakeasy
  • Mangonada Shave Ice (from Minnesnowii Shave Ice) is on my son’s list, while Honey Cream Soda Float (from Minnesota Honey Producers) is on mine
  • Nordic Waffles (the Slammin’ Salmon-on-a-Stick variety, perhaps?)
  • Smoked Soft Serve Ice Cream (cold press coffee flavor) from Blue Moon Dine-In Theater
  • Wood-Grilled Elote from Tejas Express (my son added this one, while I will stick with the classic Roasted Corn instead — see “Old Favorites” below)

Old Favorites on the “Must Eat” List?

  • Fruit and whipped crème crepe from the French Creperie
  • Roasted Corn from the Corn Roast (because sitting on the curb next to dozens of your Minnesota friends chewing on a cob of corn before tossing it into the communal compost bin is a classic Fair experience)
  • Blue Barn’s Blue Cheese & Corn Fritters with Chimichurri Sauce and their Blueberry Basil Lemonade
  • Pronto Pup – I can’t leave the Fair without having the flour-battered, deep-fried hot dog on a stick, generously brushed with ketchup and mustard.
  • Chocolate-dipped frozen bananas (my boys always make sure to find space for one)
  • Mediterranean Lemonade at Holy Land Deli (in the Int’l  Bazaar) — when you are ready to melt from heat, humidity, and crowds …
  • Wine Slushie – another perfect refreshment for a hot day (at the French Creperie).
  • Cheese Curds from the Mouth Trap (in the Food Building)

While I love Sweet Martha’s cookies, they are best when fresh, so if you buy that overflowing bucket o’ cookies take a tip from the cookie veterans who bring a gallon-sized ziplock bag and put the cookies that don’t fit in the bucket into the bag, so they can put the lid on the bucket for the ride home!

And don’t forget to pick up a Blue Ribbon Bargain Book and help support the Minnesota State Fair Foundation with your $5.00 purchase.

3. See a Show, Watch the Animals, Learn Something New

Grab the daily schedule from one of the information booths after you arrive on the fairgrounds for the day, or scouting out the day’s events ahead of time, either on the website or through the mobile app.

14994499385_0182f88ba4_h

4. Remember: The Agriculture-Horticulture Building is more than Farms and Plants!

One of our favorite stops of the day is the crop art competition and display. Creativity, political themes, cultural icons … it’s all in the Ag-Hort Building!

Check out my Minnesota State Fair posts from prior years for additional photos, tips and links:

~ Kat