Friday, April 8, 2011

Red Rock Reminders

So far my blog has mainly featured Justin and Skagway. One may ask..."Did life exist for Gretchen before Justin and Skagway?" I am here to say that yes, yes it did. Some parts I'm more inclined to forget and some parts I miss down to the very depths of my soul. I don't miss being single. Not one bit. I feel like 28 years is plenty of time to enjoy the adventure and irresponsibility that the single life affords. I miss my family, but they will always be my family. I guess the one big thing that my heart really aches for, the one place that my soul will not find rest until it returns to is:


If you asked me in my early to mid twenties how much I love the south west I would have told you that if you cut me red sand would start pouring from my veins. If I went for more than a year without at least seeing the Grand Canyon I became heart sick and depressed and severely deficient of the red rock nutrition that kept my heart pumping. Now it has been more than three years since my last visit and the winds from the south are calling me back with such intensity that merely going to see the Grand Canyon won't be enough. I need to hike it rim to rim to satiate my south west wanderlust.

The very best times of the year to hike the G.C. are early spring and late fall. It so happens that my birthday lands in October. This is exactly what I want for my birthday. My parents have volunteered to drop us off at the North Rim and pick us up on the South Rim. Jen and Liz (two sisters that I miss very much) have said they would come with me. Heidi (my sister that I haven't seen in two and a half years!!!!) has yet to be convinced that this is a good idea. It's not that she's not physically able (she would kick our butts in an exercising contest). It's not that she lives too far away (she lives in Arizona for crying out loud!). She, understandably, has a problem with heights. So I'm dedicating the rest of this post to making my invitation irresistible.

For those of you who don't know...this is Heidi! She is the one with the cute hat on.

Heidi, the first thing that I want you to know is that you have three sisters that love you! We would do everything to make sure that your feet stay solid on the trail.

See? That's us saying "Be at 'peace', have no fear!" One of us will always be in front of you and one of us will always be behind you!

If a donkey can do it, you can do it better!

This is what the beginning of the trail looks like. See? It's not so bad.

Just keep your eyes on the trail! Stay close to the wall side. The path is wide!

This is what the trail looks like when you get to the bottom. This is what it will be like the majority of the time.

This is exactly how I remember it near Phantom Ranch on October 26th, 2004. Pretty, right?

How can you pass up the opportunity to experience such beauty as this??

We would stop for a rest and eat lunch here! And buy a t-shirt! And send a post card from here that has to be carried out by mule! It's so fun!!!

I promise we will not do anything like this!

And we'll be smarter than this guy.

All I'm saying is that I really really really really want you to come! We would have so much fun and Mom and Dad have already said that they would help take care of the kids if needed!

So, Heidi...I'm hoping that I've at least helped you to really seriously consider coming on this adventure with us. I love you and I miss you!

The title of this post is brought to you by Melinda Rich, who, in the hour of my deepest Grand Canyon heartache sent me these two pictures in a text titled, "Red Rock Reminders."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wagon Wheel - Old Crow Medicine Show

No matter where I'm at, this song will always yank me back to Skagway.

The Tallest Man on Earth - "Love Is All" (Official Music Video)

I didn't have a problem listening to this one ten times in a row. Justin did though.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What to do? What to do?

In about a month from now Justin will be leaving go to watch his younger brother graduate from high school! Yeah Austin! This trip will serve three purposes: 1. Obvious: to go to Austin's graduation. 2. To pack what's left in our storage. 3. To bring our storage unit stuff and the rest of his family out here to Skagway! Unfortunately it will not be a permanent move for my in-laws, but we will have them here for a week and a half! We are SOOOOO excited, we've been planning for a couple of months of what we want to do when they get here. Here are a few ideas:

Ride one of these to the Laughton Glacier trail head.

Hike to this cabin and set up camp

Then we'll keep hiking so we can look at this!

After that we will hike back to the cabin and spend the night and then ride the train back home.

Another idea that we have is:

Ride one of these...

...and land on something similar to this!

We'll probably try to do both! Of course we plan on eating lots o' halibut and salmon, beholding the majesty of the landscape and no getting eaten by bears!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Life in Skagway...part one

First things first. When you are in Alaska or the Yukon (most people that come to Skagway end up traveling to the Yukon Territory since it is our neighbor) it is very important to have some type of camera with you at all times. Amazing landscape photo opportunities occur at such an overwhelming rate that it can be frustrating at times when you are without a camera. It is common to come across scenes such as these:

Which way is up and which way is down?

Yakutania Point. A great place to watch for seals and whales.

Flying from Juneau to Skagway.

Road trip to Anchorage

Skagway isn't what you would call a fishing village. We cater mostly to the cruise ship companies. However, some of the families here do fish for a living and when you live here and you are in the loop of when the next fishing boat will make a special stop in's quite the event:

The boat finally arrives.

We've all been waiting was too gorgeous of a day to be impatient!

Getting ready to start selling!

The big one!

Our fish! 31 lb beauty!

We paid this guy on the dock 50 cents per lb to fillet our fish for us. Not a bad deal since we didn't know how!

The best cut! Halibut cheeks are usually eaten right away. The rest is vacuum packed and put in the freezer.

Local fishing licenses are cheap and many people, especially in the winter, will buy crab pots and shrimp pots and tether them to the dock railing. There's nothing better than fresh sea food! Here is my friend Brooke pulling out her shrimp pot:

Dumping shrimp into the bucket.

"I am NOT a shrimp! I am a KING PRAWN!" Ha ha!

It's easiest to pop their heads off right away.

Justin's favorite is to make shrimp etouffee. He fell in love with Cajun cooking while living in Texas for two years. Have I mentioned that he is a great cook?? Well, he is!

Skagway brings out the outdoor enthusiast. I got into the habit of taking a walk every morning before work. This is what I often saw walking across the Skagway river bridge in early spring:

While enjoying the outdoors you always have to be on the look out for these:

Don't try to pet them. They're not nice.

If you do try to pet them and they suddenly see you as food or baby bear assassin, don't run! Use this:

No, this doesn't work like mosquito repellent. It works like pepper spray...because that's what it is. This particular model has the ability to hit a target 30 ft away!

Lunch break on a slow ship day. If you were to look at this street mid week it would be literally flooded with people.

That's all for now! There's more to come!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Arctic Bell Heather and Blueberry Blossoms

Another hike to Laughten Glacier. This time I thought I would post some of the beautiful vegetation growing along side the trail. It's a sparse representation, but this is what I had on my memory card and wanted to share them!


Blueberry blossoms!

Arctic Bell Heather

More blueberry blossoms! In late August/ early September these will be ready to eat!


Monday, March 7, 2011

Home of the north wind

I never heard of Skagway until Justin and I met. He told me he was going to be a tour bus driver in Skagway, AK for the summer. I had been to Alaska once on a family trip. We flew into Anchorage and rented an RV and drove to such towns and areas as: Talkeetna (We ate the best sourdough pancakes there), Seward (Incredible landscape! We took a day cruise there and saw the most amazing wild life!), Homer (went out to the spit and watched as they brought in the day's halibut catch), Denali (beautiful country and more amazing wildlife!). It was an amazing trip and I thought that nothing could be as beautiful as Alaska. Skagway didn't let me down.

The view looking south from downtown.

Is that the star of Bethlehem, you wonder? No, it's the full moon over Skagway.
Only us winter folk get to see it. It never gets this dark in the summer!

The view looking north from our back porch.

I loved Skagway so much when I first came and Justin and I got engaged that I had to come back. We figured it would be a good idea to come for two summers and pay off some debt then go back home. This summer will be number three.