This is as dark as it gets mid June in Interior Alaska. The sun just starts to set and then before you know it, it's rising again.
What we are doing driving along on a two lane road without another vehicle in sight, just curious moose and fearless porcupines keeping us company, as we wind through the mountains of the Alaska Range, is beyond me.
You see, today I am boarding an airplane, headed about as far as I can get without a passport from my home, and here we are, winding around corners discussing the best order of efficiency to get it all done and be on that jetway in time.
I'll be at Haven this week, spending time with fellow DIY bloggers and hosting a carpentry workshop. And today, there is just so much to do to prepare. A weeks worth of posts to write. Two weeks worth of laundry piled up. Cocktail dresses and cordless drills to pack up. Chickens to feed.
But these are the most minor of our concerns.
You see, instead of spending the last couple of days preparing for our trip to Atlanta, we instead created more work for ourselves. We are packing with us a weeks worth of slimy, messy work, worth more in pounds than I've ever made per hour. Slimy, messy work that needs to be done before we board our airplane later today.
Did I mention the airport is another 100 miles ... past our house?
We are foolish.
We are crazy.
But we cannot help ourselves. The rough road seems to be the only one we know how to take.
It's June and our freezers are running low. Our supply of canned salmon is out, and we are in desperate need of fresh fish.
Up here in Alaska where the sun leaves us for months and months, the native Alaskans kept their Vitamin D levels up by eating lots of fresh fish. And that's how I keep my family's Vitamin D levels up.
Salmon is like garlic, onions, rice and moose meat in our house. It's what grew up eating, and it's what we feed our own children. It is a necessity.
And we are out.
And rumor is the fish are running.
So we head south, forgetting our mile long to do list, driving several hours through the Alaska Range and beyond
Until the road starts dropping and you feel your ears popping
My daughter, eagerly perched behind my seat, knows what's on the other side of that hill. And she's only five years old. We are here.
The hill goes down, winding around the mountain side, following the Copper River. That is the river that we dipnet each year for wild Alaska salmon.
It's a tiny town of 169, swelling to thousands in the summer when the fish run, called Chitina.
photo by Northwest Haidaan
Passing by a few primitive building, wishing a stoplight could give me a longer chance to admire the historic buildings,
We pass through the town way too fast, and it starts to rain. Weather is rarely on your side in Chitina.
But this does not stop many Alaskans from filling up their freezers, despite high wind, blowing silt and rain.
Despite a rushing silty river so cold and dangerous, even the most daring become careful
Despite a sun that never sets, demanding nets to never rest. Despite long hours of holding a long long net, scraping the bottom of a dark river.
You just keep hanging on to your net, hoping for a bump.
Sometimes it's just a rock
And sometimes, it's dinner for a week.
And sometimes, its dinner for a month.
For everyone we know.
Then the real work begins. We've brought with us our sawhorses
But this abandoned table, made from a pallet, is what I want to bring home. Isn't it beautiful?
The eagles soar overhead demanding their share
But we've got ours.
If I show up to Haven looking a little tired and smelling like smoked salmon ... please don't judge me.
The fish were running.
I had started to think that the Momplex posts were my favourites, but no, I love your salmon fishing tales more than any other post.
Go to a braves game for me while you're in Atlanta
Love reading about your adventures in Alaska:-) Have I mentioned lately how sad I am that you are going to be in my state and I can't get a ticket to Haven?? Don't you need someone to help you tote tools around? Videotape the workshop? Take photos? LOL
I so love all the Alaska pictures you post, they make me smile. Can't wait to eat some fresh smoked salmon, there's nothing like it!
A woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do! Feeding the family is definitely more important than packing cocktail dresses!
Love this post Ana! So fun reading little snippets about your life!
I was up at Copper River last weekend and we _just_ missed the run by a few days. I'm glad somebody got some action. We'll have to try again soon. Hopefully, we don't miss the harvest bounty.
PS I love this site. I'm a DIY zealot. I had been reading it for months before I realized you were a fellow Alaskan! There must be something in the water up here...
Thank you for the kind comments! Made my day!
We did NOT get the salmon processed before boarding plane, had to freeze and will be diy-ing a smokehouse now! We were very blessed to get our fish - it certainly wasn't easy this year!
@jim sorry we missed you in chitina!
I am so sad to be away from Alaska on the longest day of the year but it's for a good cause - teaching a carpentry class to other DIY bloggers - so glad to be at Haven.
Thank you for supporting all the things we do. You are a true friend!
@misty looking forward to seeing you up here. Gotta start running so I can do the pipeline run with you!
Ana - I just love your blog! I love the DIY projects. I love the momplex posts. I love it all - but I think I'm starting to love the life-in-Alaska posts best!
I remember learning about the loooooooong days in Alaska way back (and I do mean WAY back) in elementary school, but it just comes alive to see you living it!
So amazing! Thank you for sharing your personal moments as well as your great how-to projects.
Have fun at Haven!
I just love the photos that capture your salmon fishing adventure...maybe one day I'll travel there with my family.
Truly captivating beauty.
Thanks for sharing these adventures with us. I love following the Momplex and your blog. Have fun at Haven.
I'm a die-hard follower of your blog, Ana, and what a pleasant surprise it was to see the photos of your trip to Chitina! I've lived in the Copper Basin for 15 years and have loved working for the school district here all that time. In fact, you drove right past our farm on your way down to the Copper. Shoulda stopped by to see some of the projects we have built from your plans! Keep up the AMAZING work with the blog. You have certainly inspired me to be brave and go crazy with power tools! :)
Another fellow Alaskan and dedicated dipnetter. In fact I'm eating salmon we smoked last week while I'm reading your blog! I really love your website. I have an electric smoker and a real smokehouse is on the to do list, so I look forward to your instructions. I'm also writing for plans for the UHMW sled I saw another post on. That is on my to do list before the snow falls.
Thanks again for the great site!
loved this blog post and LOVED the pictures!! :) wish we had a tradition like that in Massachusetts! someday I'll make it to Alaska... I visit Sweden frequently and oh how I love the long daylight hours in May/June/July. I'm sure you Alaskans relish in the long daylight in the summer as well.
I have wondered... after spending 2 days looking at your website, what kind of camera you use. I don't know how you do it. The pictures are such an incredible addition to all you bring to your site. I think you are just awesome and wonder if you ever in your wildest dreams imagined this is what your life would be. I wish you all the best and continued success. Hopefully you will continue to provide us much more.
PS. I just love your daughter, she is so beautiful and what a wonderful life she gets to have.
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