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Re: North to the future. A promise fulfilled! Conquering the Last Frontier
Part 3: Tuesday, August 20 


Our main purpose of the trip was to visit a roe processing plant in Valdez. I booked tickets on Ravn Air for 22k UR for a RT from ANC to VDZ. We left our hotel at 6AM, and took a 15 minute Uber to the airport, figuring we would need to be there around 45 minutes before our flight. We didn't realize though that we were flying out of South terminal A, which literally does not have any security at all! Terminal A services most of the intrastate flights, and there is no TSA checkpoint at all. Our flight was called for 7AM, and it was slightly nerve-wracking that until 6:55 no one even acknowledged that our flight was even scheduled. Boarding lasted 1 whole minute. The 15 of us on that days flight walked out onto the tarmac and up to the plane. We were flying on a DeHavilland DHC-8-100 which has a max capacity of 29 passengers. The pilots graciously allowed us to take selfies, and 2 minutes later we took off. I don't think I stopped looking out of the window the entire 45 minutes. The view was breathtaking! Unlike our entry to Anchorage where we saw a flew glaciers upon landing in the dim, smoke filled atmosphere, here we were flying directly over miles of glaciers on a beautiful clear day. I was literally glued to the window for the entire flight.




















We landed right on time at 7:45AM and a representative of the caviar company was waiting there to pick us up. We drove out to the hatchery where we were taken on a small tour of the facility. The reason we went in August, is because that is when the fish spawn. The way HKB"H created this world, is that all salmon return to the place where they were born, to lay their own eggs and then they die. The spawning season is primarily at the end of August. We then went on a tour of the actual processing facility. Salmon roe is exclusive that it can be identified by its color alone and therefore the halacha is that it's kosher because it's uniquely identifiable. This enables a mashgiach to come once and watch parts of the production, as opposed to having to be a mashgiach temidi for the entire harvesting process. After the tour we officially over-certified the kashrus (with 4 mashgichim instead of the usual 1 ;) ).



Birds at the Hatchery

The company representative drove us into "town" (population ~4k and 1 traffic light:) ) where we bought 1-day fishing licenses for $20 per person here. My uncle had chartered a boat for the day with 2 local fisherman who were going to show us the ropes. We took our Dramamine and set off. We were going deep sea fishing in Prince William Sound! We traveled for around 20-30 minutes to the fishermen's favorite spots. We passed one or two cruise ships on our way out to open waters. The boat had a cabin where we sat in, and a big deck in the back. It felt surreal sitting in the back of the boat, the breeze rushing through my hair, surrounded by the most incredulous views in both sides of us of glaciers, and snow covered mountains. Ma Rabu Maasecha Hashem passed through my mind, not for the first time on this trip and definitely not the last.





Sea LIons





After reaching our destination, the super secret location where the fish bite, one of the fisherman got the gear set up. We had 5 fishing rods trawling behind us waiting for a bite. The other fisherman was inside correcting our course if need be. We had a fun time for the next several hours reeling in the fish we caught. It is very hard work fighting against 10-15 pound salmon.




















 We disembarked at around 3 and hung up our catch of the day on the prerequisite hooks at the dock.





At the end of the day we caught 10 coho (silver) salmon, averaging 12 pounds each! At the dock where you disembark there is a fish gutting station where locals gut the fish for you. The cost is $1 a fish, unless you make salmon steaks which cost $2 a fish.





someone else's catch of the day :)

We went back to the Fish Central where they vacuum packed all of our fish for us and gave us a special travel styrofoam cooler. They offer services to FedEx overnight your fish for you, but obviously it was prohibitively expensive, approximately $100 a fish. We declined the offer and went to walk around a bit because our return flight wasn't until 6. We grabbed a beer in a local bar. Apparently they're very proud of their Alaskan ale, personally though I'm not such a fan.


Our driver picked us up and dropped us off at the airport. Once again there was no TSA. The gift shop was cute and had books about how to home-grow your own marijuana. Only in Alaska!


Giftshop ::)


The airport was a small building that more resembled a warehouse than an airport. It had 1 big room without any gates, because there is only one flight!

Upon arriving in the airport we were told that our return flight was delayed. Checking the status of our plane we saw that it didn't even take off from Anchorage yet... Apparently this was a very common occurrence. The way the "airport" is set up, it is against the cliffside of a mountain, and wind gusts are very common there. We were very fortunate that we even made our flight out to Valdez, because apparently we were the first flight in 3 days!! After catching a few winks in the departure hall/arrival hall/lounge/gift shop, we finally boarded our flight at 9PM. The return flight was as stunning as the inbound flight.

We got back to our hotel at 10:15 and proceeded to search for a nice park where we would be able to grill our freshly caught salmon. We ended up in Valley of the Moon Park which was perfect as it had a gazebo with lights. The park was a bit sketchy as a few cars kept coming and going presumably dealing drugs, but we minded our own business and they minded theirs. The salmon was incredible! Literally the best fish I've ever had in my life. Seasoned with salt, pepper, and some lemon juice. That slight fishy taste that you sometimes have in salmon was nonexistent. On full stomachs we returned to our hotel, put the rest of the fish in the freezers, and called it a night.




May 31, 2020, 11:01:53 PM
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Re: North to the future. A promise fulfilled! Conquering the Last Frontier
Part 5: Thursday, August 22


Our last day in Alaska :( . This was the only day that we didn't have to wake up very early, because our activity for the day was "local" (only an hour away). We packed up our belongings from the hotel, packed our frozen salmon into coolers, and hit the road. Once again we were treated to a gorgeous scenic drive down Seward Highway. Our destination was an hour's drive to Alpine air Alaska, which is situated at Girdwood Airport (AQY), which consists of a public airstrip, and that's it. They gave us snow gear from head to toe, and we climbed into a Robinson R44 helicopter for a 10 minute flight to Punchbowl Glacier. After 2 shifts we all made it there, as the helicopter can only hold 3 passengers. Being as it was my first time in a helicopter, I called shotgun. The view flying over the treetops, mountains, and glaciers was incredible. It feels like you're in a flying glass bubble, with the panoramic windows offering a 270 degree view.











We landed on the glacier to be greeted by twenty Alaskan huskies barking their heads off, raring to go. We were going mushing! The guide set us up on sleds, 2 people sitting on the front sled, and one standing, manning the brakes in the back. The guide was standing in the front with 6 dogs. We did one lap for around 10-15 minutes. It was exhilarating! The cold breeze running across your face as you hold on to the sled for dear life. It helped me appreciate the 20 minutes drasha we got from the guy about his experiences in the Iditarod. I was able to feel why he was so enthusiastic about it.















































We took a 20 minute break inside the heated tent and got to play with the newborn pups.


KVATTER!! ;D   

The other group went around while we were waiting inside. They do a second lap afterwards, so you can really experience it. The first time around everyone was busy taking pictures, but the second time we really enjoyed it thoroughly. I love the cold, so I loved the fact that I was dog-sledding on snow in middle of the summer :) . After an hour we flew back out to the Girdwood airport, waving goodbye to the snow and the glaciers :( . Our pilot explained to us that we were lucky we got in when we did, as it was getting too warm and they would probably close for the season the next day! Once the snow melts, the dogs can't run, because the permafrost is too cold for them.




They had some cool postcards in the office and kindly offered to mail them for us back home to our families. They also gave us some cute helicopter pens which were great gifts for the really young kids. On our way into town we noticed a craft brewery across the street so we stopped in to Girdwood Brewery. They had some cool flavors on tap, and some of them were pretty good.


Girdwood Brewery

We left around 1 PM and drove back to Anchorage. We stopped by Natural Pantry and were surprised by how many kosher products they actually had. From bread with regular O-U on it, to MealMart hamburgers. It reminded me of Trader Joe's in the sense that you can find random products that are kosher. We bought a few things that we needed and started looking for a good spot to have a BBQ. After a few false leads, we got directions to a local park, and guess what, it was the park we had grilled in 2 days before ::)  . We sat down and set up a massive BBQ. Everyone knows that the last day of vacation you have to finish all the food, because you don't wanna shlep anything back. So we had sous vide oyster steak, london broil, sausages, salads, and even grilled pineapple with ice cream! It was a great end to the trip.








We drove around a bit, stopped in a few gift shops, and shopped around a bit. We had to make the requisite stop in a dispensary just to check it out :) .







We headed back to the airport, dropped off the rental car and checked in for our flights. They have special regulations about shipping coolers, because so many people are flying with coolers of fish. The Alaskan lounge wasn't letting us in with priority pass (and I see that now they have dropped all pretenses and just left the PP network totally), so only 3 of us were let in as companions of my uncle and his Admirals club membership. It was a good way to wind down before the flight. We departed on UA1748 at 7:30 PM and landed in Newark at 7 AM. Uncle D. who was headed to CLE on a different flight got diverted to Denver because of a medical emergency, and B"H managed to make it home before Shabbos. We grabbed a rental car and headed up to the Catskills. After adding up all the travel times, out of the 96 hours of the trip, we were traveling (whether by car, boat, or plane,) for 33 hours, and including all the time spent in airports and the like, we had spent a total of 56 hours traveling! It's no wonder that I slept for the next 36 hours, basically straight until after Shabbos ;D .

Hope you enjoyed, because I definitely did!

The end!

May 31, 2020, 11:03:35 PM
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Re: North to the future. A promise fulfilled! Conquering the Last Frontier
QUICK SUMMARY   


       Monday 8/19 


Left Lakewood - 1 PM

Arrived at EWR - 2 PM

Flight UA1747 left gate 3:45 PM

Took off 4:19 PM

Arrived ANC 7:36 PM

Arrived at Extended Stay America 9:15 PM

Walmart


       Tuesday 8/20


Departed hotel 6 AM

Arrived ANC 6:15 AM

RVF800 departed 7:05 AM

Arrived VDZ 7:42 AM

Arrived at Valdez Fishery 8:15 AM

Kashrus tour until 9 AM

Boat charter 10 AM

Return 3 PM

Return flight RVF807 scheduled 6:05 PM

Actually Departed VDZ 9:02 PM

Arrived ANC 9:40 PM

Arrived at hotel 10:15

Grill at Valley moon park 10:30-11:45


      Wednesday 8/21 


Departed hotel 7:30 AM

Arrived at Talon air services 1 PM

Departed 2:30 PM

Landed on crescent lake 3 PM

Boat 3-8 PM

Departed 8 PM

Arrived 8:30 PM

Arrived at hotel 12:05 AM


        Thursday 8/22   


Departed hotel 8:45 AM

Arrived at AQY (Girdwood) 9:30 AM

Departed on a Robinson R44 II helicopter at 10:15 AM

Arrived at Punchbowl Glacier 10:23 AM

Dog-sledding

Departed at 12 PM

Arrived 12:07 PM

Departed ANC on US1748 8:38 PM

Arrived EWR 7:08 AM

Departed EWR 8 AM

Arrived at Catskills Mountains 10 AM

May 31, 2020, 11:06:26 PM
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Re: North to the future. A promise fulfilled! Conquering the Last Frontier
Amazing TR!! Show us photos of the caviar factories.
There's not much, as it is pretty straightforward without any processing. they harvest the caviar at the hatchery, and then soak it in a salt solution. we got to watch them sorting it by hand, as it is a delicacy :)






June 03, 2020, 10:47:36 PM
1
Re: Marriott Certs Sale platinum account
2 x 50k certs $225 OBO
4 x 35k certs $125 OBO
all in one account
expiration ranges from 8/1/21-12/31/21
please PM

January 17, 2021, 10:55:17 PM
1
Re: Marriott Certs Sale platinum account
2 x 50k certs $225
4 x 35k certs $125
all in one account
expiration ranges from 8/1/21-12/31/21
please PM

2 x 35k certs from a gold account $110

January 25, 2021, 02:37:33 PM
1
Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
This may be interesting for you, I wonder if you witnessed this yourself. On a full stomach the bears go only for the tasty part for קינוח סעודה.
there is actually 1 week in august where the salmon are so plentiful that the bears take one bite out of the the head just to get the brain and throw away the rest of the fish. i saw it live
This footage of a Kamchatka brown bear enjoying salmon caviar, from BBC's newly released Prefect Planet, has piqued my curiosity whether salmon caviar is an available kosher dish, and of course you can find just about anything on DDF :)
See my TR specifically Part 3.
The point of the trip was to certify kashrus for caviar.

@Something Fishy i am eagerly awaiting part 3 of your trip because I also went in August, and i see some familiar pictures and places in the intro already...

February 12, 2021, 11:12:35 AM
1