Friday, July 30, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
Last week, Brian and I were in Wasilla working on a story when we received a call that would take us on an amazing 42-hour voyage to Iliamna. By the time we were home from the assignment in Wasilla, it was already almost four in the afternoon, and we had been informed that we'd be leaving by 10 that night, drive to Homer, board a barge, take a truck, then board another barge to Iliamna. We were detail-poor, without almost all of the specifics, but we decided to just trust that things would work out (they usually do, after all).
The drive to Homer was quiet and enjoyable and, in retrospect, very quick. It was 2am when we arrived, greeted by workers from Iliamna Development Corporation as they busily prepared tanker trucks for the barge ride to Iliamna. We photographed until 5am, and it felt good to be cold, tired and busy as the day fanned out over the horizon, though we had no idea how tired we'd be in 36 hours.
Above photo. 2010 © Ashley Skabar
We rode the barge for the next twelve hours, photographing, wandering around the boat, talking with the crew, and just enjoying the ride. Brian and I climbed through the hatch to the roof of the ship, and it was thrilling to stand up there together, caught in so much wind, without a clue as to where we were. We were at the mercy of the waters, the boat and its crew. It was a rush to feel so small.
After we pulled into Iliamna Bay and docked, things moved very quickly. We slapped on our backpacks, Brian photographed the crew as they prepared and moved the trucks while I searched among the four men on shore for Moose, our contact. I instead met Alex, the captain of the next barge we would take, first, after which Brian and I jumped in a tiny green pick-up to ride ahead of the fuel trucks as they wound their way along the treacherous pass through the hills to Pile Bay. We stopped every few miles so that Brian could document their passage, and so that we could briefly admire the lush grandeur of our surroundings--verdant life enshrouded in fog.
By the time we had loaded onto the next barge, which was infinitely more cramped and lacked luxuries such as bathrooms, it was 9pm. We had already been going for about 24 hours, and we were beat. Brian photographed as much as he could, and then we just enjoyed the ride and our conversatons with the four-man crew.
All photos 2010 © Brian Adams
We arrived in Iliamna at 2:30, to the site of two grizzlies batting at the water just 50 yards from where we docked. The following hours, again, moved very quickly--from the dock, to the car of IDC's Operations Manager, to the fuel tanks where the trucks finally transferred their fuel, to a room across from the Pebble Kitchen where Brian and I passed out for the thickest 3 hours of sleep I've had in a long time.
We awoke, ready for coffee and toast at the kitchen, then met with Lisa, IDC's CEO, for several more hours of shooting. We hadn't intended to stay that day, but we are so glad that we did--the photographs Brian was able to make and the people we had the opportunities to meet were so worth it. Lisa, for one, is incredible; ambitious and intelligent, she sincerely cares about her community and wants more than anything to support her fellow villagers by providing them with jobs, affordable fuel, and cheaper foodstuffs. And, before taking us to the airport for our final leg of traveling, she gave us some of the best homemade dry fish Brian and I have ever tasted.
As we boarded the plane, Brian and I briefly shared a look that said both, "What just happened?" and "Look where we've been!" It was an exciting 42 hours, but when we finally climbed the steps to our porch, we had to admit that it felt so good to be home.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Usually restaurants create wine and beer lists to complement their dishes, but what happens when the beer comes first?
Last week, Brian and I had the privilege of working on a review together for the Anchorage Daily News on the Midnight Sun Brewery's Loft, the restaurant that the brewery opened in its new location in Southside Anchorage after 14 years of operating solely as a brewery. I, for one, will go back for the soft pretzel sticks served with beer-infused stoneground mustard alone, especially to accompany a 6-ounce pour of Panty Peeler, my favorite Midnight Sun brew.
Read the full article here.
Photo © Brian Adams, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010
Photo © 2010 Brian Adams
Of course, Brian and I couldn't resist scrambling up to our rooftop with a couple of glasses of good champagne and a camera to watch the fireworks. We returned downstairs to find that our cat, Pearl, wasn't scared at all but was happily watching Beethoven on HBO. I love our home, our state, and our country.
Happy Fourth, everyone!
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Photos 2010 © Ash Skabar
For today, Ash and I decided to switch places. All the photos above were taken by Ash, and I am in charge of text.
Today is the Fourth of July, so Ash and I decided to take it easy, stroll around Anchorage's park strip downtown, and check out the festivals. We walked from our home straight into the heart of Anchorage's carnival scene. Ash and I enjoyed watching people fly kites, beat each other up with padded bows, jump wildly in balloon tents, slide down giant slides, dance to random big band music, eat funnel cakes, and stare in awe at the giant blue king kong in the center of it all. The vibes downtown were nothing but festive; the only hostility we encountered was a lady in a car upset about the parking situation. (We are fortunate to live downtown; parking looked terrible.)
After we walked through the carnival a couple of times, Ash and I decided to go grab a beer at our favorite pub, Darwins, where we ran into a old friend of mine and caught up in the glow of a fourth of July baseball game and the hum of good afternoon bar conversation.
All in all this was a happy fourth and we look forward to the fireworks tonight!
Saturday, July 3, 2010
2010 © ash skabar
2010 © brian adams
Today, Ash and I drove out to Hatcher's Pass. It was her first time out there, and it couldn't have been better. The weather was nice when we first started driving in Anchorage, but the closer we got to the mountain, the more it rained and soon we were surrounded by thick fog. We loved it though; we love fog, and it was the kind of weather we don't usually get to enjoy in Alaska. Every time I find myself in it I feel inspired, as does Ash; when I asked her what it was that she missed most in San Francisco, she said it was the fog.
Friday, July 2, 2010
Ask a vegan why he or she is vegan, and you'll get a handful of answers. Ask a vegan how he or she lives as a vegan in Anchorage, and you'll get a million. But one thing you'll hear from every Anchorage vegan: It's hard.
On the front page of the Dining Section in today's Anchorage Daily News is a story that is close to my heart: eating out as a vegan in a non-vegan place. Although I have not been vegan for several years now, I still enjoy eating vegan meals on a regular basis, and I'm always looking out for vegans and those with alternative diets. If everyone ate vegan meals just a couple of times a week, I believe that our citizens and our environment would be healthier. I lived as a vegan for over a decade in a supremely non-vegan place, Ohio, and so I am empathetic to those trying to fight the animal-friendly food fight in Anchorage, where Westernized dishes prepared with dairy, eggs, and meat are king and the vegetarian and vegan pickings are slim.
If you're a vegan living in Anchorage or just looking to try something different, check out my picks for the best vegan restaurants in Anchorage in the full article here.