Author Topic: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips  (Read 21687 times)

Offline Something Fishy

  • Global Moderator
  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • **********
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Posts: 7676
  • Total likes: 3237
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 44
    • View Profile
    • Kosher Horizons
  • Location: Not Brooklyn
Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #120 on: October 13, 2021, 11:42:48 AM »
I meant the ATV one, but this one has the same thing.

That's so cool! How does it work? How can you be in the image with nothing attached?

The stick is smaller than the space between the lenses so it's essentially invisible.
Check out my site for epic kosher adventures: Kosher Horizons

Offline YitzyS

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jan 2015
  • Posts: 3720
  • Total likes: 7414
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 31
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Lakewood, NJ
Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #121 on: October 13, 2021, 11:47:45 AM »
The stick is smaller than the space between the lenses so it's essentially invisible.
Cool!
Monkeys don't fly unless you put them on airplanes

Offline Something Fishy

  • Global Moderator
  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • **********
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Posts: 7676
  • Total likes: 3237
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 44
    • View Profile
    • Kosher Horizons
  • Location: Not Brooklyn
Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #122 on: October 13, 2021, 11:57:39 AM »
Trip 3, August



Part 3

Shabbos

Only managed to grab a couple of pictures of the ballroom as it was half set up for Shabbos, so the pictures don't really do it any justice at all. But it's what I've got:





For Shabbos we had many more guests joining us. Most of those were pre-booked, but a few were totally last minute. For example on Friday afternoon I ran into a newly-married couple in the hallway, who were on their honeymoon and were apparently planning on having crackers and tuna in their room. I invited them to join us for Shabbos and set up a little private table for them off to the side:



Being that Shabbos in Alaska doesn't come in until quite late, we davened at the plag and then sat down to a meal which lasted a good 5-6 hours. Incredible food and wine followed by mountains of chocolates and delicious junk food meant that pretty much everyone stayed up till who-knows-how-long, singing, schmoozing, and forging friendships.

Being that all the hotel doors were electronic, we had arranged for one of the side doors to be left open for us all Shabbos long. Apparently, the word had spread about our incredible food and the now open door, and at three in the morning a bear strolled right into the hotel, up the stairs, broke into our kitchen, and went looking for cholent. Thankfully everything was pretty well packed away, so after skulking around for a bit and turning over some empty pots, he let himself back out.

Nobody knew about this till the next morning, when the chef asked the front desk if they had seen anything. They hadn't (as the bear had come in from the side), but freaked out when they looked over the security cameras. Apparently there's a reason that doors are never left open in Alaska...

Anyways, nobody believed us in the morning until we were able to show them the footage after Shabbos. And as much as I'd like to share it here (oh and trust me I want to), the hotel refused to give me the file. After wrangling with the management for two months I gave up, although honestly I can't say I blame them.

Shabbos morning davening was followed by an enormous kiddush, at which there was so much food that there were leftover lamb chops, for heaven's sake. After the kiddush people dispersed, mostly to stroll the extensive resort grounds and hiking paths. The weather was absolutely lovely, and it was a few hours before we settled down to another giant Shabbos seuda. This was followed by more relaxation, some shiurim, and Shalosh Seudas.

Motzei Shabbos was at...... 2:02am (why don't I ever go to normal places???). We had two minyanim for Maariv - one at the plag for people who wanted to go to sleep for the night, and another at 2:02 for those who wanted to stay up and have Melava Malka. And some people chose to go to sleep early, wake up at 2, and then go on a sunrise hike after Melava Malka.

Personally I went with the first option - tomorrow was going to be a doozy and I needed to be awake.



Sunday

I needed to get about 25 guests, 3 guides, and ton of food to the middle of nowhere. There are no roads, no airports, no nothing - except for what is arguably the most beautiful lake in the country. Only option is a seaplane - and I'll need three of 'em.

There is a big outfitter in Anchorage who does this trip, but when I dared ask for some timing accommodations they literally began yelling at me and slammed down the phone. Delightful indeed. Especially since I was probably to be their biggest customer in over a year. Nu nu. I'm not dealing with people like that.

A couple more phone calls, and I chartered three planes from an outfitter in Nikiski - for less money than the geniuses in Anchorage wanted. Only problem is that Nikiski is over three hours away from our resort. Combining a 6-hour drive with a 7-hour activity is, needless to say, a terrible idea. Being that I chartered the planes however, I arranged to be picked up in Anchorage like a mentch.

Anchorage is home to the busiest seaplane base in the world, Lake Hood (LHD). The location was perfect as our starting point, and the operation went as smooth as can be. Plane pulls up to the dock, we load nine people and a bunch of gear, and off it goes just as the second plane pulls up. Loaded one, two, three, and off we went:



Craziest airport ever:



This plane was.... not new:





It's been over 50 years since the last DHC-3 Otter (and its little sibling, the DHC-2 Beaver) have been manufactured, yet there are hundreds of these workhorses flying every day Alaska. They're the backbone of transport in Alaska, and are subject to ridiculously strict safety rules and undergo complete mechanical overhauls every couple of years. So while the interior of the aircraft may not have looked pretty, this particular one had just come out of heavy maintenance and was basically as good as new (better even, since they are constantly upgrading the systems).

But I digress... the views are more interesting than the technical plane details. And views they were.....

Flying over the Cook Inlet, you can clearly see the demarcation where the silty glacier-runoff meets the clear ocean water:



Stunning views as we approach and then fly over the Alaska Peninsula:







We flew right past Mt. Redoubt, an active volcano - unfortunately the clouds were blocking the steam today:



After almost an hour of flying through this crazy scenery, we got or first glimpse of our goal - Crescent Lake:



Touchdown on the lake was nice and smooth, and so we found ourselves in one of the most beautiful places imaginable. We were now in the middle of Lake Clark National Park, a place even more remote than Katmai. This is true untouched wilderness.

And in the middle of it all, you have Crescent Lake. The water is such a shade of bright turquoise that you think it must be fake, and it's surrounded by jagged peaks and active volcanos. And all along the shore, you have bears bears bears. Absolutely mind-boggling.

Plane #2 coming in for a landing:







And #3:



Down the stairs, onto the pontoon, and jump onto the beach:





We hadn't even gotten into the boats when the fun began: a mama grizzly and two cubs popped out of the woods not 30 feet from us:





I mean, just look at this place:



The experience here is completely different than Katmai. In Katmai, you are normally on a boardwalk or platform above the bears, so your experience is somewhat separated and sanitized. Of course you can come face to face with bears plenty, but either it's a tense situation (such as meeting one on the trail), or you have park rangers interceding (in camp). Here in Lake Clark, there is nothing between you and the bears. You're on a tiny fishing skiff, some six inches above the water, and the bears literally tower over you. You can go as close as you want, and the bears completely ignore you. Overall, you feel much more connected here.

Of course Katmai has something you won't find anywhere else - the bears fishing off the falls. That alone is worth the trek, but outside of the prime 3-week falls fishing season Lake Clark is definitely the place to be. And not to mention the breathtaking scenery.

A wildlife photographer's dream: getting so close to the animal that your lens can no longer focus. I actually had to back up for this shot:



Happy bear:



Sad bear:



Wet bear:



Wetter bear:



Yummy:









Mt. Redoubt's steam is still obscured:



Let's ketch some fish:





Woo hoo! Catch of the day:





Ok, this is a bit better than a stick:





Bald eagle:





Just look at the color of this water:



Ice-cold glacial water? Meh. This guy came prepared:



Cleaning the fish:





The Daf waits for no one:



All too soon it was time to leave. Waiting for the return plane:



Here she goes:







And the next one...:



First plane leaving, second plane loading up:





Scored the extra-legroom seat:



Just insane views of the lake upon takeoff:







The views continued all along the return flight. We took a slightly different route over the mountains this time, which was just spectacular:





Definitely not something you see every day - a mountain looming in front of the cockpit:



One thing I love about those small planes are the gigantic windows they have. Definitely a different experience than flying in a regular jet:







On the subject of windows, this plane had a... skylight?



Flying low over glaciers:



Stunning patterns:



Meltwater pouring out of an ice tunnel:



Crossing over the Cook Inlet outside Anchorage once again, this time at low tide:



When they say that the bush plane is Alaska's car, they mean it: this neighborhood literally has a runway in the backyard. Pull your plane out of your garage, turn onto your runway, and off you go:



There's one of our planes and our coach:



Landed back on Lake Hood, and the group said they wanted to shop for souvenirs. Sure, done deal.

We called Shani Green, the owner of the world-renown David Green Master Furrier's, and got her to not only open the store for us after hours, but to offer us a nice group discount ;D:



We had a wonderful time schmoozing with the Greens - especially considering they're some of the only frum Jews in Alaska - and the oilam went to town buying furs.

This little guy charmed the Greens out of a couple of coon hats and a tail, so he ended up with the best deal of us all:



Finally, after a long an fantastic day, it was back to the hotel and dinner.





To be continued...
Check out my site for epic kosher adventures: Kosher Horizons

Offline Moshe123

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Sep 2012
  • Posts: 5750
  • Total likes: 476
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Spring Valley
  • Programs: Lost
Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #123 on: October 13, 2021, 12:27:19 PM »
I feel like such a loser.

Offline Yehoshua

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 9867
  • Total likes: 138
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #124 on: October 13, 2021, 06:45:55 PM »
Wow, so much fun! What was the actual trip activity when you got to the lake? Was it fishing?

Offline YitzyS

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jan 2015
  • Posts: 3720
  • Total likes: 7414
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 31
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Lakewood, NJ
Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #125 on: October 13, 2021, 06:48:00 PM »
If I sign up for the next trip, do I have to do the hiking/ATVing/flying/sightseeing? Or can I just come and eat the food?  :P
Monkeys don't fly unless you put them on airplanes

Offline ushdadude

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Apr 2013
  • Posts: 5291
  • Total likes: 330
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 5
    • View Profile
  • Location: Long Island
Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #126 on: October 13, 2021, 07:10:09 PM »
If I sign up for the next trip, do I have to do the hiking/ATVing/flying/sightseeing? Or can I just come and eat the food?  :P
+1 I hate large bottles of soda. They lose fizz and many caterers reuse them next meal
Trolls will always post stupid replies

Offline Something Fishy

  • Global Moderator
  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • **********
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Posts: 7676
  • Total likes: 3237
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 44
    • View Profile
    • Kosher Horizons
  • Location: Not Brooklyn
Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #127 on: October 13, 2021, 07:33:54 PM »
Wow, so much fun! What was the actual trip activity when you got to the lake? Was it fishing?

Bear watching. The fishing was secondary.

Check out my site for epic kosher adventures: Kosher Horizons

Offline Something Fishy

  • Global Moderator
  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • **********
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Posts: 7676
  • Total likes: 3237
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 44
    • View Profile
    • Kosher Horizons
  • Location: Not Brooklyn
Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #128 on: October 13, 2021, 07:34:42 PM »
If I sign up for the next trip, do I have to do the hiking/ATVing/flying/sightseeing? Or can I just come and eat the food?  :P

Sure, I've had people join just for the food and minyanim. We stuff em silly and then they waddle off on their own.
Check out my site for epic kosher adventures: Kosher Horizons

Offline Something Fishy

  • Global Moderator
  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • **********
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Posts: 7676
  • Total likes: 3237
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 44
    • View Profile
    • Kosher Horizons
  • Location: Not Brooklyn
Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #129 on: October 13, 2021, 07:37:35 PM »
+1 I hate large bottles of soda. They lose fizz and many caterers reuse them next meal

Indeed. I only do small bottles or cans for this very reason.

This is about a third of my haul for one of my Iceland trips this summer:



(Yes, that is non-alcohilc "beer". Didn't notice till we got back to the hotel lol.)
Check out my site for epic kosher adventures: Kosher Horizons

Offline EliJelly

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jan 2019
  • Posts: 1612
  • Total likes: 1149
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #130 on: October 13, 2021, 09:04:44 PM »




Which Costco is this? Never came across this Kirkland seltzer.

Offline Something Fishy

  • Global Moderator
  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • **********
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Posts: 7676
  • Total likes: 3237
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 44
    • View Profile
    • Kosher Horizons
  • Location: Not Brooklyn
Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #131 on: October 13, 2021, 09:07:34 PM »
Which Costco is this? Never came across this Kirkland seltzer.

Reykjavik
Check out my site for epic kosher adventures: Kosher Horizons

Offline EliJelly

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jan 2019
  • Posts: 1612
  • Total likes: 1149
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile

Offline yesitsme

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Dec 2014
  • Posts: 4091
  • Total likes: 1501
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 4
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
["-"]

Offline shulem92

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Feb 2015
  • Posts: 2982
  • Total likes: 111
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: Lakewood
Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #134 on: October 15, 2021, 03:15:48 PM »
epic! feels so cool to relive my trip through @Something Fishy 's lens! dogsledding, and bear watching

Offline Something Fishy

  • Global Moderator
  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • **********
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Posts: 7676
  • Total likes: 3237
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 44
    • View Profile
    • Kosher Horizons
  • Location: Not Brooklyn
Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #135 on: November 24, 2021, 11:41:33 AM »
Trip 3, August



Part 4

Monday

New mode of transport today, on the last day of the trip:



We're heading to Spencer Glacier today, which is only accessible by helicopter or train. The Alaska Railroad is a nice change from the typical way of getting places - it's slow, relaxing, and quite beautiful. Officially there are assigned seats but everyone basically just sat where they wanted - aka the observation car.

The views were spectacular, even just leaving the station near our hotel:







Heading into the mountains:





Pulled up to the Spencer whistle stop, and switched to an ancient school bus that had been shipped in by train years ago:



The ride was all of five minutes before we arrived at the shore of Spencer Lake. Across the lake we could see the mighty Spencer Glacier, which was breaking off giant icebergs into the lake:



Good thing I'm a fantastic swimmer, because this thing ain't keeping me afloat for too long:



And we're off:



The guides did all the paddling, so we just sat back and enjoyed the sights:







Incredible ice formations:

















Once we had explored the lake for a while, we turned toward the lake's outlet - the Placer River. It was mostly calm, with a few areas of light rapids:









The weather was very Alaskan - cloudy, chilly, and even some rain. But between the insane views, relaxing river, and good company everyone was having a pretty spectacular time:







A waterfall pouring out of a hole in the mountain:





Beaver's work:



My raft got to shore first, so after hauling out we had a good view of the others coming in:





The train returning to pick us up:





Last raft coming in, just in time:





.......and then it was back to the hotel for a final mincha and goodbyes:





While the trip had B"H been a massive success, there was one glaring omission: MOOSE!

I had been to Alaska numerous times before and had never gone more than a few hours into a trip before seeing a moose, and here we were some eight days in and there were just none to be had. I knew that the group really wanted to see one, but alas some things just cannot be arranged ahead of time.

So it was as we left for the airport that I kept my eyes peeled on spots that I knew were good moose habitat, in a desperate last ditch effort. We weren't on the road two minutes before I shouted for the driver to stop.

Moose! Meesen!









And now we can finally go home.

View of the Mt. Iliamna volcano from the Seward Highway:



And that was the end of that.

...for most people. I still had to stay at the hotel another night to wrap up a bunch of things, so it was the following afternoon that I left for home.



Tuesday

So if you remember from my first 2020 trip, we had a total bust flying home on the Alaska Hopper:

So there are two ways of getting back home: the normal way, and the Something Fishy way. Why fly something like Fairbanks-Seattle-New York when you can fly Fairbanks-Anchorage-Juneau-Petersburg-Wrangell-Ketchikan-Seattle-New York?

This of course is the famous Alaska Milk Run hopper, and is how these tiny remote communities get their stuff. It's an incredibly scenic trip, and the 31-mile hop from Petersburg to Wrangell is considered one of the most beautiful in the country.

So we settled in for the long haul, expediting spectacular views all along. Takeoff from Anchorage did not disappoint:

[snip]

......and that was the last we saw of anything. Nasty weather moved in and would stick around for the rest of the day. All we saw from here on out was gray, gray, and more gray, with a quick glimpse of a runway as we landed every now and then. In short, it was a total bust - which means we'd just have to do it again one day!

Now that I'm flying home by myself, I figured let's give it another shot. Last time we did the southern half (Anchorage-Juneau-Petersburg-Wrangell-Ketchikan-Seattle), so this time I went for the northern half - Anchorage-Cordova-Yakutat-Juneau-Seattle.

(My camera was packed away at this point, so all the following pictures are from my phone.)

Heading to the airport - can't get any more Alaskan than this weather:



The flight started out cloudy, but the views were lovely as we dropped beneath the ceiling on approach into Cordova:







This is how full the plane was:



Next stop:



Once out of Yakutat the skies cleared up and I was finally treated to the spectacular views this route is so famous for.

Flying over Wrangell-St. Elias National Park:







Gotta remember to come back here next Rosh Hashana:





















Approaching Juneau:





Connected in Seattle, followed by an uneventful flight to New York, and thus Alaska trip #3 of the year was in the bag.
Check out my site for epic kosher adventures: Kosher Horizons

Offline Yehoshua

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 9867
  • Total likes: 138
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #136 on: November 24, 2021, 12:11:49 PM »
Thank you for finishing the report. That looked like a cool trip to the glacier, but it seems like a waste of a train to just have 2 cars.

Offline yelped

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Mar 2015
  • Posts: 6985
  • Total likes: 1452
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 26
    • View Profile
Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #137 on: November 24, 2021, 12:13:29 PM »
Thank you for finishing the report. That looked like a cool trip to the glacier, but it seems like a waste of a train to just have 2 cars.
Bigger waste to have 6 empty cars.

Offline Something Fishy

  • Global Moderator
  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • **********
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Posts: 7676
  • Total likes: 3237
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 44
    • View Profile
    • Kosher Horizons
  • Location: Not Brooklyn
Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #138 on: November 24, 2021, 12:13:49 PM »
Thank you for finishing the report. That looked like a cool trip to the glacier, but it seems like a waste of a train to just have 2 cars.

Still one more trip to go for this TR.

The train on this route is just for tourism, not actual transport. They add and remove cars as demand requires. I was back 2 weeks later and the train config was completely different.

Bigger waste to have 6 empty cars.

Exactly.
Check out my site for epic kosher adventures: Kosher Horizons

Offline Yehoshua

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 9867
  • Total likes: 138
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #139 on: November 24, 2021, 12:15:08 PM »
Still one more trip to go for this TR.

The train on this route is just for tourism, not actual transport. They add and remove cars as demand requires. I was back 2 weeks later and the train config was completely different.

Exactly.
Cool, I guess it's still more efficient/cheaper/environmentally friendly to have that setup than a road.