Thursday, September 25, 2014

Blueberry and Mussel Picking Homer 20

Wow I have not posted much since I came back from my Euro trip. It's been interesting being back since then. I have not felt the same and I can't really explain it.

I am constantly reminded how beautiful AK is and how awesome the people are; there's so much fun to be had and explore, but I miss swimming and warm sun. I wish  could combine AK and Gozo :)

It was rainy for weeks here and then I was sick. I then hosted a good friend from PDX and we had some mini adventures across the bay kayaking, hiking, blueberry and mushroom pickin.

I feel that this blog has come to and end. Started it in winter 2011 and was not sure where I would end up. It's my 3rd winter in AK and they say that is the true test if one can handle winters here. Will see what happens.

AK adventures are endless and I can hardly keep up with it. I will post when I travel travel. Below are some latest pix of AK. Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed the journey.

Kayak pix

pix of blueberry picking, home veggie gardens.

Mussels pickin and Beach Eagle Fun 

Burning Basket

Friday, August 15, 2014

Swiss: Zurich, Lucerne, Hergswil & Rhine Falls August 2014

After visiting Gozo/Malta, I had to take a flight to somewhere in Europe to then fly back to Anchorage. So I choose Zurich, Switzerland. I've been to Berne and Interlaken many years and Swizz is just beautiful. Last minute, I decided to take a train one hour to Lucerne and spent two nights in a small town nearby. Then spent two more nights in Zurich. A bit of techno dancing, which I am afraid will be my last as Alaska just does not have many music options.

Yes, Swiss is expensive, many people asked why did I come. But I managed well without eating out and staying with couchsurfers, which is not just about saving money. It was nice to have someone to talk t and even go out with at night or a day trip. I was looking forward to traveling solo as I had an awesome time doing that in Alaska. But what I realized was solo traveling works well when you are properly backpacking. I was just stopping by cities for a few nights, which is not backpacking.

I learned that in Swiss every male has to do service with their army. Usually a few weeks a year for many many years. One guy decided to just get it over with and is doing it a year straight. This puzzled me because Swiss is neutral, so why is their any army? Well, they really do more like community service work, body guarding/patrolling major events, which there are many in Swiss.

In Zurich, I met up with many expats from different countries and it was so neat we were all speaking English very well. I even met a German chick whose name is Sonia and middle name is RoseMary. My first name is MaryRose and middle is Sonia. Too funny...

I've been in Alaska 5 days now. Took me a few nights to get my sleep schedule back on track. Its high 5os, cloudy and rainy all week. Why did I leave Gozo? Been thinking a  lot about my future down the road and its fun to see what will happen next. I love Alaska still, not only is it beauitful but the people are amazing. Right away I got greens and squash from a friend's garden and muscles a friend harvested. I went berry picking and tried to fish a bit but no luck. Its so alive here and free space to breathe and think and enjoy.

So I organized my pix in a few albums:
Cute Lucerne, click here pix of walls/towers, small streets and lakes.

Cute small country town I stayed near Lucerne, click here for pix of green view and glass maze.

A day in Zurich, click here  . 

Rhine water falls near Zurich pix, click here.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Gozo & Malta Part 2: 7-14

Malta has been in the EU for about 10 years and with that there's been many changes that I am sure they did no expect. One friend told me he noticed changes in just one year...

Some changes include being a refuge area and now living with non-Catholics. There was even a mosque! There's also a lot more policing even during the day, I seem them patrolling. EU has funded to improve the bus, parks, historical sites, and roads. I saw a lot of solar panels on roof tops.

And, I was told that a ton of teenage foreigners come to Malta to learn English but they just end up partying way hard and getting in to major trouble. It's insane that Malta has become so full with foreigners and changing too quickly.

The cars have a terrible exhaust and does not seem regulated. When you drive with the window down, there's either that lovely smell, the animals in the field smell and/or the dust. I always cough when I am here. Its amazing the air is not like LA...

We have such beautiful beaches and now with garbage cans, but yet I still see so much waste on the beach and in the water. I started picking up the plastic caps, bottles, snack bags, etc. It really upset me after a few days of seeing this everywhere. And so many people smoke in Europe and just toss the butts right on the beach. It blew my mind. They have no idea what harm they are causing. The beaches are way overcrowded, but I guess that is everywhere since we have too many people on this planet....

Visiting home is not just sun and beach for us even though that is most of my pix. There's a ton of family to try to see and it is difficult to catch up or even communicate after not seeing them for 5 years and not knowing some as well as others.

There's a lot of memories and history too from when we tried to move here when I was 12, which was a difficult transition for me. We shipped all of our toys and stuff so they still remain here. I love looking through the old photos and reading old letters, like from my dad 23 years ago. God, I am getting old if I can say that many years ago :)

For my parents visiting is really not all fun and games because they have the old house to deal with. Repairing the washer, the backyard roof, redoing electrical work and taking care of leaks and mice. Also our old car have them a lot of trouble and was only repaired the last few days of their stay, so they could not do too many errands.

More Gozo beach pix and food shots, click here.
Pictures of the main island, Malta, click here

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Gozo Beaches and Comino 7-14

I really enjoy coming to Malta as an adult. I learn and come to understand more about our culture. The way people act, talk, live. Like when you visit someone's house and they offer u a drink, you have to say "yes". You can say "no" forever and you will end up with a drink still. It doesn't have to be booze, but you have to have something.

And the same goes with food.  People come by to the house with food, bread, fruits, tomatoes; a whole bag of them. "Eat, eat" my aunt yells. She is not really yelling, but that is what it sounds like. People speak very loud with a lot of energy and passion. That is why I did not want to speak Maltese, b/c I was too American sounding and I was embarrassed. Mom is loud and so am I.
The women are always running around the house. They can;t sit still. Cleaning, cooking, feeding, they are on the go. I am the same way. I can chill to have dinner and watch a movie, but I have a hard time sitting around relaxing.

When people speak they repeat. They say "ok" so many times to each other, but the Maltese ok, which is ewija. Or "I am leaving I am leaving" and then they still talk and are not leaving, I am surprised how much I am understanding. I have not been here in 5 years and before that was 10 years. I regret not learning the language even though most of my family speaks English, it would have been nice to know.

I can't really speak it though. My brain has a hard time trying to translate and pronounce; listening is much easier. The language is interesting and difficult with so many phrases that are symbolic and don't have a translation in English. I get the idea, but I can't translate exactly the words in English.  Sometimes if you do a literal translation it makes no sense.

It's been intense here, so many people so  much talking. It takes at least 30 mins to an hours to sat good bye. And so much food (I am mean it is ridiclous how much food we are offered); I ask, "who is getting married". It's all great, but coming from a small family in NYC, it's hard to adjust to this place even though we use to come here every summer all summer as kids.

I have been having a terrible time sleeping. No matter what time I go to bed, I only sleep 5 hours. It's been like this since I left Alaska. I walk up after 2-3 hours of sleeping. And I hear so many voices in Maltese b/c at night we get together as a huge group. My brain is trying to process it all. Then 2 hours later I sleep for another hour or so.Chickens are usually up by 7:30 so that's my alarm now.

Day 1: Pix of boat trip to Comino Island with Aussie fam.

Day 2: Pix album of a few beautiful beaches.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Walking Berlin 7-14

Bikes rule the roads and sidewalks here. When walking be sure not to be on their path and always look before turning and crossing. And pedestrians seem to really obey the lights when crossing the streets.

Women have sleeve tats, party on is the theme everywhere and then trash the parks. Lots of huge boats on the river blasting tencho music in midday packed with drinkers. I like it when you go to the supermarket to buy a beer and they ask if you want it opened. Berlin is one huge beer garden :) 
Rather than recycling, many people leave the bottles on the grounds so others will pick it up to take it in for cash. It pains me to see fellow human beings be so careless, disrespectful and unappreciative of the living being, "Earth" that allows us to live.

After WWII Turkish immigrated to Berlin. More Turkish shops that German. Kind of ironic that they now dominate an area that was once all about the white race. The clothing here for Germans seem to be 80s still and colorful, women wearing nice dresses and sandals during the day; but at least there's no hipsters.

Berlin airport is confusing, lot of small shops mixed with the airlines. You find your airline, drop off your bag, go to the gate and immediately there is a security check. So each gate has their own security point makeing it way more efficient time wise.

Click here for Berlin pix and here for here for Baltic sea trip pix.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Bear Viewing Katmai NP 6-14

Using facebook for quick updates and pix and winding down from blogging. Will use this for bigger trips since everyday seems to be an adventure in AK and it's hard to keep up with it all.

Last weekend I got to go bear viewing in Katmai National Park. They actually had a visiting center and cabins to rent. There' were bridges, and platforms to walk about a mile to get to the bears that were catching fish by the stream.

Salmon just came in so it's not busy yet. But we got a few good shots. And a mama and her cub stuck around by our platform. Apparently mama's need to watch out for their cubs as male bears could attack and eat them if they wish. She had 3 cubs and it's not common for all of them to make it. Its also hard for her to fish while there's so many others out there.

I could not believe they also allow people to fly fish in the river by the bears. That is crazy....Anyway, here are some shots. A few are really awesome and it was a clear day for 1.5 hrs trip out there which was great to see the beautiful mountains! click here

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Kaying, Paddle Board, Eagles in Meat Homer & Green Kodiak

Summer is here and I can;t keep up. Roads are full of cars now :( Before it got to crazy, I managed to go across the bay to kayak and visit Rick & Dorle. I needed the break after a crazy April work month.

 I slept in till 9:30 and did not think of woke as soon as I woke up! Before I was waking up at 5ish am but now I am more adjusted to our long daylight days. Still going to bed around midnight. Just too much to do.....

I also went paddle boarding in a new spot before Jim's worked picked up. I do enjoy it more than kayaking as it is more open and closer to nature. I even looked at prices but where the heck am I going to store that thing.

We had such a warm month and also a huge wildfires nearby going on 10 days now. 650 firefighters working on it and it's destroying a Wildlife Refuge Reserve. Click here if you wish to know more.

Memorial weekend I went to the King Crab Festival in beautiful Kodiak. Known for brown bears, fish and rain. Hope to go back in the fall via ferry!

Paddle board and eagles eating mystery meat on the beach pix click here.

Kayaking in Tutka Bay and barnacles eating underwater video clip, click here.

Emerald Green City of Alaska - Kodiak. Click here for crab festival and stunning new AK views. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

April Homer & Kenai 2014

April has come and gone. Sun sets at 10pm and rises before 7am. Sleeping schedule is messed up and with the awesome spring, there's just too much fun to be had out there.

But its also my super busy time at work with a huge on-air fundraiser on May 2, a wine tasting fundrasier event and then our annual 2 day music festival in July

 I joke to people that I can't wait till winter when things slow down. Even winter is busy but now it's just super nuts with more cars on the road, more events, more sun and I just don't know how to do it all.

I was in Kenai (2 hrs North) for our sister station's (KDLL) on-air drive. It's way different vibe up there, more red-necky, if you will. But I made the most of it and visited there two breweries.

Then I was in Anchorage for a few nights got an Alaska public radio development conference. It's nice to see friends and explore outside of Homer but it is also nice to be back home.

Click here for April Homer shots (moose, beach sun sets, tons of otters) 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Easter Paddle Boarding Fun & White King Fishing April 2014

On Easter, I went paddle boarding with Jim who got me into this new activity. It's only my second time but now its my new fav sport, more so than kayaking.

I feel more free and connected with the water even though I am so terrified of falling in to the beautiful cold ocean. You can see more since you are standing and really see in the water.

It's easier to get around and though maintaining a stable stance is a lil tough, it nice to be able to get down and rest when needed. I wish the board was not so expensive. Not like I have space for that.

And then other night  I caught another king, this time a white king, which is said to be the best of the best salmon you can get and not an every day experience. YAY.

Click here for sweet paddle board pix and here for a cool hiking trails by Anchorage and epic fishing pix.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Beach Weather and Slush Cup in Girdwood

Been walking more than skiing these days. Ski season is done and it was lame. But luckily there's an awesome beach here and lots of events. Went on an epic long beach walk, almost got stuck with the tides and found a bunch of crazy random crap to "surf" on :)

Sunsets about 9:15 now and rises around. Amazing how much we have gained in a month, and some days its 6 mins. Summer is just around the corner, you can already see more cars on the streets and boats in the water.

I also went up to Girdwood, cute like ski town, 4 hrs up. Its a nice scenic route that takes you up to Anchorage an beyond.  Last summer was my last drive up as I prefer to fly the 40 mins. Drive is beautiful just need the time and winter can be scary.

Girdwood hosted its 27th Slush Cup, wear people dress up and try to jump over a pool of water. Most people fail and sink, usually skis pop right off. There were some cute customs like Cave Woman and super heros.

Click here for some more beach and odd shots
And here for Slush Cup Girdwood.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

AK in Texas!

My mom is turning 60 this May and wanted to go somewhere. I was headed to TX in March for AFP's fundraising conference so i told her to meet me there and I will take off a few days earlier.

We spent a few days Austin. Heard it is similar to Portland and it was with the hipsters and  slogans: "Keep Portland weird",  "Keep Austin weird". I thought why didn't I move here to a warmer portlandia? But I did not know about Austin in 2006. There were more bars on one block than in my town.
People everywhere drinkin in the day time, lots of happy hours (no happy hours in Alaska-it's against the law to promote drinking), live music blasting outside. Streets closed on weekends so people can walk on the street from bar to bar. Not even NYC is like this. But it was downtown and felt it was very touristy. Austin also had so much outdoor seating and awesome huge tree. So not use to the humidity and I got sun burnt on the first and only sunny day!

Then headed to San Antonio, no more sun and even got a bit of rain. Texas has been in a drought for years!  I only had one free night there to explore before the conference started. Then mom went back to NYC.

The fundraising conference had 3,000 people vs my town of 5,000. I was overwhelmed with nice people from the nonprofit sector and amazing workshops. So intense! I still need to process this information. At times, I was frustrated because I can only do much with my time in my department of one. Possibilities are endless if I had more help. Wanna never be bored? Work for a nonprofit :)

I saw the work (and meet the people connected to) so many amazing causes and feel proud to be a part of so much positivity in this world. Not everyone chooses to work for a nonprofit, but if you are passionate about a cause, I encoruage you to volunteer (even petitioning or sharing info on facebook etc. helps) or donate to that cause.
And yes, some of that money goes to pay the overworked/underpaid staff that are needed to make things happen and keep the lights on in the office to get the work done. Investigate orgs that align with your passion. Be part of something positive with an impact. We might not all have the luxury of time (I sure don't and I don't have kids), but when you prioritize your finances, you realize you probably can financially contribute.

 I am actually going to leave my savings and IRA to a few nonprofits. I am super excited about this since I don't have kiddos. I will become a major donor when I pass on and then get invited to all the major events hehe...

Ok enough on that, you get the picture. Click here for fun Austin pix. and here for nice San Antonio pix.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Winter Fishing and Boating

My friend, Jim, has a boat and is a water taxi guy. Actually met last year on my bday when he was my taxi driver to the yurt solo getaway weekend. He wanted to make a trip across the bay to a Seldovia to network as not many taxis go out there.

 The water got choppy so we did not make it to town, but we went to a more protected area to try fishing via trolling. My first time winter fishing. Two hours went by, the warm sun drained me through the window as I watched the rods to see it go down when we get a bite. I think i passed out for a few mins. it was so warm and cozy.

Jim yells "Fish on". We jumped up and ran out. What do we do now, I screamed. Grab the rod and jerk it to release it..... from the rigger. Did it and then the fish swam like nuts. Keep the pole up, line tight. let out some line if the fish starts to pull.

Oops, fish went under the boat. Oops he got tangled with the other line in the water. He was hooked on well so we did not loose him but we did not know that yet. Jim grabbed the net and i brought in the king salmon.

Boy what a rush. so exciting and so much involved before, during and after. we went back home and Jim filleted it on the boat in the harbor and we split our winnings. Everyone says king is the best and fresh king is divine. So lucky i am.

Weekend next, we made it to Seldovia in the snow. Had some beers at the one bar, talked to some locals which was actually good for me for my work as we reach out there. Tried fishing but was not pleasant with the cold and waves.

Click here for pix.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Film Jam & African Drummin

I went to my first film jam event and was not sure what to expect. Yes, lots of old school film clips. 3 running at the same time. Sometimes in their own space on the wall and sometimes bringing them together and overlapping.

Lots of clips: from a 70s school bus safety one to bears fighting, to seeing a fish hatch in a fish hatchery which seems they are always in a form of prison. that was hard to watch. no blood, but seeing their life in captitvity and crammed. very unnatural but that is how we are able to sustain the billions of mouths on this planet...

there was also yoga in art. An awesome yogi here mediated before us while sounds and color covered her. it was very trippy and cool. sounded a bit new age but still new cool to be in the room and see this first hand. I have pix and a video but its not the same.

There was also of course Kammi doing her LED hooping to West African live drumming. There's been an artist in residence here for 3 weeks offering free drumming workshops 3 nights a week that I have been able to attend. This was all thanks to our lovely art gallery one block away from my place!

Awe so much going on here and it's still "winter" time. I worry how crazy summer will get, work is already in full busy mode. Click here for pix and clips of the drumming and film jam