Category Archives: Alaska

2013: The Blogless Year

January: What to do with a new year? Apply to grad school and watch Zags basketball, obviously. Submitted my application to SIT Graduate Institute and cheered on my #1 boys.

Go Zags.

February: Back to Southeast Alaska for work and the opportunity to see friends in Sitka.

Dock. Walk. Talk.

March: Let’s play JEOPARDY! (That’s my mom.)

Final JEOPARDY: “What is Hail to the Chief?”

April: Made a documentary. Met great people, shared the story of good friends, screened it at a theater with 300 people in attendance. Folks at NW Documentary–you’re beautiful. Oh, you want to see it? Fathoming A Future

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 9.30.01 PM

May: Met this guy, Dave Matthews, you may have heard of him.

I love you, Dave. Thank you, Brittany.

June: A mess of a month, but I had the chance to spend my grandma’s final days with her in Missouri (and learned I look exactly the same as when I was three years old).

Some things don’t change.

July: Quit my job (bye JVC Northwest, it’s been good!). Trekked 93 miles around Mt. Rainier on the Wonderland Trail. Would I do it again? Yeah, I think I would. Didn’t love every moment of it, but damn that cold Rainier beer tasted good at the end. Thanks to Brian and Aunt Christy for the Trail Talk.

Hey, Mt. Rainier. Let’s take a look at you from all angles.

August: Road trip! Packed up and left it all (again). Vermont-bound, but not before a stop at the best brewfest ever. Thanks, Bend!

Up top! Farewell with Portland party peoples in Bend, Ore.

September: Turns out I decided to forfeit my income and work really hard going back to school in Vermont. Honeymoon phase of all new people in a new place. Delicious cheese. And reading assignments.

Obligatory first day of school (jumping) photo.

October: New England autumn proves worthy of its reputation. Cider. More cheese. More reading assignments.

After growing up in Seattle, I didn’t know fall days could be sunny.

November: Drew some Econ graphs, wrote some papers. Spent time with new friends who somewhat resemble lawn gnomes.

A lawn gnome and his friend, Preston.

December: Completed my first semester of grad school. Many hours spent attempting to define sustainability. And a little stop by Yale to see a man deserving of the descriptor “inspirational,” Mr. Wendell Berry, of course.

Story time with a great man.

January 2014: The sun has set on a semester of grad school. A jaunt to Barbados awaits . . .

Snowfall concludes a semester on the hill.

Happy New Year!




I’ll follow-up a year of crappy blogging with an annual tradition: the list of places I spent the night throughout the year. I may not have Facebook, but why not still offer the highlight reel of my year on the Internet like every other shameless individual? (Please, don’t answer that.) 2012 was the first year since high school that I have not changed residence at some point during the calendar year. The year was primarily spent in the Northwest, but I managed a few strategically-crafted adventures outside the cubicle. Here’s to improvement in 2013!

Bellingham, WA* 

Seattle, WA*

Portland, OR*

Camano Island, WA

Fircrest, WA

Spokane, WA*

Juneau, AK

Haines, AK

Sitka, AK

Mason Lake, WA

Lake Cavanaugh, WA

Cannon Beach, OR

Camp Adams, Mollala, OR

Driggs, ID

Gros Ventre Campground, WY

Jackson Lake Lodge, Moran, WY

Gorge Amphitheater, George, WA

Goat Rocks Wilderness, WA

Whidbey Island, WA

Camp Ghormley, Naches, WA

Culver City, CA

Columbia, MO*

Comer, GA

total different places: 23 (2 fewer than 2011)

different states visited: 8 (tied with 2011)

new states visited: 0

countries: 1

*indicates a repeat visit

Brief Rest, Great View
Mt. Shuksan, WA – April 2012
Goat Rocks Wilderness, WA – September 2012
Kids Bringing Offering to the Altar
Jubilee’s Abundance, Comer, GA – Thanksgiving 2012
The Cider Makin’ Crew, Portland, OR – November 2012
LP, gg, LC at GTNP
The Most Tourist-y Shot Possible (Had to Happen), GTNP – August 2012

Let’s Catch Up

Well, I’ve had quite a few complaints about the state of my blog. And I, of course, have no excuse except to admit that I simply have not sat down to post in far too long. When it’s sunny outside, my productivity levels regarding anything computer related drop dramatically. So let’s catch up…

Summer 2012 was an absolutely exhausting and awesome run around. For the first time in the last twenty years of my life, autumn arrives without a major transition; I’m not headed back to school, not moving, no end of season work. I’m just continuing where I’m at and, for now, that’s just right. With end-of-summer fatigue, I’m digging into the depths of my bottom drawer and lovingly putting on my fleece pants one grateful leg at a time. But before the rain returns and the monochrom days greet me with each glance out the window, here are a few summer highlights:


At the end of May/beginning of June, I made my return to the great state of Alaska, rendezvousing with Ms. Lisa Colella, JV friend from Juneau and fellow-beerfest extraordinaire. The trip was a nice jaunt around Southeast, starting and ending in Juneau, with a quick trip to Haines for the Great Alaska Craft Beer and Home Brew Festival and revisiting Baranof Island and my friends in Sitka.

Just practicing a little wood chopping in preparation for the sauna with Meg. Obviously a total success.
With mountains that size, Haines is an easy town to fall in love with immediately.

A fabulous return visit to Southeast kicked off summer in the most appropriate fashion!


Back in the Northwest and able to spend some time with family and friends, I did what any Northwest native would do at low-tide in the month of July: geoduck hunting.

Family friend, Justice Wiggins, and I tactfully dug our hole around our geoduck victim.
Observing is an important aspect of supporting the geoduck diggers.
This guy was quite tasty. Oh yeah, we eat them after a nice quick boil.

With low tide on the third of July, geoduck hunting was quickly followed up with patriotic celebrations for the fourth of July at my good friend’s, Ms. Kelly Noland, cabin on the Olympic Peninsula.

Please note the proper celebratory components of sunshine, a boat ride, a patriotic halo and, let’s be honest, the beginning of a severe sunburn.

July also brought celebrations of the return of Mr. Scott Hippe to the U.S. and of his acceptance to med school with some rather quality GU folks at the Hippe cabin on Lake Cavanaugh. Those pictures are all over Facebook, which, of course, means that I haven’t seen them at all.

And no summer could be complete without a marathon of visitors coming through Portland, beginning with none other than Mr. Lucas Sharma, who, as of the end of August, has entered the novitiate to become a Jesuit priest.

Mr. Lucas Sharma (showing his Jesuit education pride) and me in Hood River, OR

August: On the eve of orientation for 140 new Jesuit Volunteers for work, our busiest time of year, I left work promptly on my birthday, August 2nd, after a month of secret phone calls and texts, to surprise my best friend, Brittany at her family beach house in Cannon Beach, OR to celebrate her engagement!

Congrats to Brittany and Abby, a wonderful excuse to be back with the original beach girls, Tab and Tif!
Abby honored the fact that she was sharing her carefully planned engagement day with my birthday by providing me with a lovely celebratory tiara–which I wore proudly.

Mr. Ian Roeber also arrived in Portland to work for JVC Northwest as the recruiter this year and found a happy little home in the basement of my house in Portland for the few weeks he is at our office, not on the road. After engagement celebrations and a full week of camp at JVC Northwest orientation, Ian and I had the brilliant idea of starting a hike in the gorge at 1p.m. on a 95 degree day.

Hot and sweaty. Trying to show enthusiasm at the top of Dog Mountain.

And since hiking the gorge is good, but not quite magical, why not take my comp days for work from our time at orientation and make a quick trip to Grand Teton National Park? I called upon my trusty travel companion, Lisa, and we hopped in the car for a wondrous long weekend in the Tetons.

Lisa and I managed to visit Ms. Gina Graziano, my roommate from Sitka, during her first week at the Teton Science School. We even found ourselves in my old stomping grounds pictured here at Jackson Lake Lodge.
Buffalo out my window. Just another day in Jackson Hole.
A rather perfect morning on Jackson Lake. What’s up Mt. Moran?
And I managed to see my former hiking buddy (and boss) from my summers in Grand Teton, Mr. Brian Bultema. With one full day on our short trip dedicated to hiking, I picked one of my favorite trails, and Brian and I found ourselves burning some serious calories on the way up to Lake of the Crags.
This picture doesn’t even begin to capture the greatness of Lake of the Crags. Topping out around 10,000 feet, my sea-level lungs were burning. And it felt amazing.
A rather perfect post-lunch, mid-hike snooze never felt so good.

After wrapping up our final day in Jackson with a trip to Snake River Brewery and attending an Andrew Bird concert that evening, Lisa and I (insanely) hopped in the car at 11p.m. and drove out of Wyoming, through Montana in the middle of the night, took a quick nap in a parking lot in Missoula, and cruised through Idaho and eastern Washington to arrive in Olympia, Washington the next afternoon where we surprised Lucas at his going away party.

I suppose the 15 non-stop hours and driving through the night wondering if we were going to hit a deer was worth it. I am severely sleep-deprived in this photo, but how could I pass up a gathering with these beautiful people?


Finally, I rolled into September, running on fumes, ready to reclaim my summer finale tradition after a couple missed years: a trip to the Gorge Amphitheater to see Dave Matthews Band over Labor Day weekend.

Standard scene during the day at the Gorge Campground.
Standard scene in the evening inside the Gorge Amphitheater.

However, despite having GA tickets for the shows, I only viewed the stage from this distance on Friday night. On Saturday, I had the most epic live music experience of my life, when I made it (not by following all of the rules) to the pit standing area on the floor about seven standing rows from the stage. I could see Dave’s sweat stains. And he played a glorious set with many of my favorites. It was magical (apologies to Patrick Noland for ditching, which I know I will never live down).

He was so close.

So just when I thought summer was really over…

I headed up the familiar route of I-5 to Seattle this past weekend, where I officially wrapped up my summer with a trip to the Mariner’s game. Because what summer could be complete without a trip to the ballpark? Thanks to Mr. Brian Hensley and his very entertaining family for a trip to Safeco Field!

Watching the game was a top priority.
Letting out our inner-Mariner Moose after a 6-3 victory against the Texas Rangers.

Ok, so that’s why I haven’t been posting on my blog. I was also working 40-hours a week (most weeks) amidst the run around. But bring on the rain and the chai tea and the wool leggings, because I am ready! Thanks to all who contributed to my fabulous (exhausting and awesome–see?) summer and, thanks Meghan for still reading my blog and not unsubscribing!

Cheers to Summer 2012!


Time for the annual review of where I’ve spent the last year. Despite living on an island in the north Pacific for eight months of 2011, I managed to fit in some roamings and spend the night in a few fabulous places:

Sitka, AK*
Anchorage, AK*
The Shrine of St. Therese, Auke Bay, AK
Douglas, AK*
Salmon Lake, Tongass National Forest, AK
Bethel, AK
Samsing Cove, Tongass National Forest, AK
Juneau, AK
Fairbanks, AK
Denali Park, AK
M/V Kennicott, Alaska Marine Highway, Juneau, AK to Bellingham, WA
Seattle, WA*
Camano Island, WA*
The Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA
Columbia, MO*
Chicago, IL
Bowling Green, KY
Comer, GA
St. Louis, MO
Spokane, WA
Lynn, MA
Groton Long Point, CT
Vancouver, WA
Portland, OR*
Bellingham, WA

25 different places (tied with 2010)

8 different states (Alaska is a big one, ok?)

new states visited: 0

1 country (or does sailing through Canadian waters count?)

*indicates repeat visit

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA
Wedding Day
Most Beautiful Farm in the World: Jubilee, Comer, GA
Salmon Lake in the Afternoon
Salmon Lake, Tongass National Forest, AK
Whale Tail, Square in New London
Whale Park, New London, CT


Sarah’s Alaska Tour, Part I

Note: This is the most political my blog will ever be.
Sarah hasn’t been in the news as much since other political figures have been gracing the headlines of newspapers and nightly news broadcasts recently. But she certainly hasn’t been forgotten. In fact, just last month, I ran into a man in New London, Connecticut who shared his passion for Sarah on the street corner during a sunny autumn afternoon.
My buddy, Brandon, with a Hopeful and Expectant Sarah Fan

I’m not sure about “Sarah’s World Tour,” but I was able to catch up with Sarah this past summer as she explored some of her home turf around the great state of Alaska, “the Last Frontier.”

If Sarah did go on a world tour, as this man anticipates (he’s even drawn her tour bus on the sign), I suspect she would probably want to represent her deep connection to Denali National Park by taking a bus that drives the park road regularly to Kantishna Roadhouse.

Sarah by the Kantishna Roadhouse Bus
Sarah by the Kantishna Roadhouse Bus
Sarah by the Kantishna Roadhouse Bus
I think it suits her!

And who knows, she might even consider an alternative form of transportation like she did this summer on the Alaska Railroad!

Sarah Riding the Rails
Sarah Ridin' the Rails

Sarah hopped off the train at Alaska’s most popular national park–she is quite the environmentalist, ya know!

Sarah in Moose Coat, Sunglasses AT DNP
Looking Classy in Denali NP--She's definitely ready for an outdoor adventure in that outfit!
Sarah by the Nenana River
Sarah Strolled Along the Nenana River, Enjoying Nature
Sarah Visits Denali River Cabins
And she even "roughed it," finding a place to rest her head at Denali River Cabins.

After her appearance at Denali NP and the surrounding area, she headed to another region of Alaska, Southeast, where she showed support for the troops and embraced the local fishing lifestyle. Stay tuned…

Farewell Sitka: Best of, Worst of a Year on an Island in the North Pacific

I packed my bags to the point of bursting seams and said goodbyes to the point of exhaustion. I shed a few tears as I said farewell to my co-workers from the last year and flew over Sitka one last time before the low-lying clouds obstructed my aerial view of town.

What a year.

So, I’m in my home in Seattle, where I grew up, sun shining without a cloud in the sky, and the thought of taking on a crowd of several thousand at Bumbershoot or Dave Matthews at the Gorge  over this Labor Day weekend is overwhelming. I guess I’ll stick a bit closer to home and present my “Best of, Worst of a year in Sitka” list! Though there were several other adventures throughout Alaska this year, I tried to keep the list mostly related to Sitka, with a couple of exceptions, naturally!

Best Holiday: Alaska Day, October 18

U.S.A. and Alaska
Alaska Day flag raising ceremony on Castle Hill

Best Catch (2-way tie): 20lb. King Salmon, June 6; 50+lb. Halibut (thanks, Tyler), July 17

Me and My Fishy
Me and my King Salmon

Worst Flight: November 1, trying to return to Sitka from Seattle, plane struck by lightning outside of Ketchikan, turned around to Seattle after being unable to land in Ketchikan, Juneau, or Sitka due to weather.

Best Beer: Redoubt Red, Baranof Island Brewing Co. Honorable Mention: Sockeye Red IPA, Midnight Sun Brewing

Best Party: Top Gun, May 28 with Juneau JVs and DJ Bone (thanks, Chris!)

Best Camping Trip: Salmon Lake Cabin, May 6-8

Salmon Lake Cabin
Salmon Lake Cabin

Best Concert: The Wicked Tinkers, May 21 Honorable Mention: Red Molly October 8

Best Sitka Community Event: Alpine Adventure Race, July 23 Honorable Mention: Girls on the Run 5k, May 14

Girls on the Run 5k Prep
Preparation for the Girls on the Run 5k

Best Weekly Ritual: Beer on the porch of the Larkspur Wed at 5p.m., post-staff meeting, pre-community night.

Best Community Night (2-way tie): making pretzels in honor of Lent, photo-scavenger hunt.

Most Random Run-in: Matt and Anderson from Alta, Utah at the Larkspur, September, Honorable Mention: Steve Demmert outside Crescent Harbor, in town for Herring fishery, late March!

Captain Steve Demmert at work during a herring opener.

Best Housesitting: The Cunningham’s

Best Lunch at SAFV (2-way tie): Sushi Day December 23 thanks to Chris, Taco Truck Day, June, thanks to Vic!

Best Reality TV Show (2-way tie): Watching The Sing-Off with Nick (and sometimes Brandon), ABDC (America’s Best Dance Crew), Thursday nights with Chris and Brandon (“You always cease to amaze me!” -Lil’ Mama)

Best Bar Game: Shuffleboard at the Bayview

Chris and his Sing-alongs
Chris singing at the shuffleboard table.

Best/Worst/Only trip to the ER: July 2, after epic fall when an unknown curb suddenly jumped in my way while running.

Best Milkshake: Harry Race Soda Fountain, Medium Chocolate Shake

Best Failed Hike: Coastal Trail in Seward with Braden, January 15

Along the Icy, Snowy, Impassable Trail We Go!
Braden along the Icy, Snowy, Impassable Trail

Favorite Trail: Beaver Lake/Herring Cove

Best View: Top of Verstovia on a sunny day.

View from the top of Verstovia, looking toward Silver Bay

Best Coffee Shop: The Backdoor

Best “Grind:” the Fiddle Grind, February.

Best Zags Basketball Viewing: the Westmark at the bar with Nick.

Best Burger: The Wade Brevick, Bayview Restaurant

Best Sushi: The Titanic Roll, Little Tokyo

Best End of Year Exploring: Walking all the public docks in Sitka with Brandon.

Best Night at the P-Bar: post-Coast Guard Christmas Party with Chris and C.G. friends.

Best Month of Weather: May, Honorable Mention: September, 12 straight days of no rainfall, new record!

15 Ways You Know You’ve Lived in Southeast

My First Catch

You know you’ve lived Southeast for a while if . . .

1- you’re sweating when it’s 60 degrees outside.

2- you pull your rain pants out of your bag half way through a walk home and put them on in the middle of the sidewalk.

3- you’ve lived and worked in a building in which mold was recently discovered.

4- you’re embarrassed to be wearing hiking boots instead of XtraTufs.

5- you bought something at the White E (thrift shop), wore it a couple of times, re-donated it to the White E, and saw it back on the rack during your next shopping trip.

6- you’ve walked to the airport to catch a flight, even if it’s at 5 a.m.

7- you talk about sunny days like long-lost friends.

8- you’ve been given time off work to watch the herring fishery.

9- you feel guilty sleeping past 8 a.m. on a sunny Saturday or Sunday.

10- a ten minute car ride feels long.

11- a trip to the grocery store feels strange when you don’t run into someone you know.

12- you start seeing fishing vessels named after women you know in town and wonder if their husband is the captain.

13- you know where the best puddles in town are.

14- your tastes are way too sophisticated to eat pink salmon.

15- you’ve accidently picked up the wrong car waiting for you at the airport.