Thursday, June 05, 2008

Cool Alaskan Things We're Going to Do

Razor Clams in AlaskaWe're a family of lists. Well, actually, Andrew and I like to make lists and we just drag the kids along for the ride but regardless last month we all sat down and made a list of things we're going to do this summer.

Summers in Alaska are short so if we don't make lists and jump right in suddenly it's August and school's starting and what have we got to show for our three months of constant daylight except a lot of mosquito bites?

So here's some things we've got on the calender and a few of them we've already tackled. Just looking at them all makes me feel . . . so . . . so . . . Alaskan.

1. Dig for clams. I went clam digging once or twice as a kid and remember it being pretty fun--though I just did the digging part and left the nasty cleaning up to Mom while I played in the lake. Somehow it seemed like a fun thing to do this year so clamming was my contribution to our list. But once all the votes were counted and we'd committed to going I was a little perplexed as to the details. I know where to go but I'll have to research exactly how to get there. I know what tools we'll need but I'm a little fuzzy on technique and I know I can cook with clams--I'm visualizing a killer linguini--but haven't a clue how to clean them. They're supposed to come out of their shells before you put them in your mouth right? I've got that far in the process . . .

I guess you'll have to check back later to see if we actually pulled this one off.

2. Make a zip line. Check. Mission accomplished. I really shocked them all when I put this at the top of the list and Andrew was definitely skeptical but if you saw my post earlier this week you know it was a sound success. Now we'll just have to build a Zuper line (that's what I'd call a Super Zip line) over the cliff near the cabin for us grown-ups to enjoy. Hang onto your purses ladies.

3. Fish. We thought about going deep sea fishing for halibut down in Resurrection Bay because I've never done that before but the cost of the charter for the six of us is a little steep so we've instead settled on plain ol' silver salmon fishing in August when the cohos are in. I've actually caught a silver salmon before. Well I held the pole when the fish swam by and took the bait if you can count that. Someone else took me out to the place to fish and someone else got my pole ready and someone else put bait on the hook and handed me the pole. It hardly counts but it's the closest I'm going to get I fear if real fishing means touching raw salmon eggs.

Gold Panning in Alaska4. Visit Crow Creek Mine. This is something Lillian wanted to do for her birthday and is our next thing on the list. There's gold panning at the mine and we're all looking forward to coming back stinkin' rich. With the price of gold what it is it'll only take a flake or two to push us into the next tax bracket--and goodness knows we're a family of flakes.

5. Learn to ride a bike. Well, actually this is specific to Lillian. She wasn't quite there with the two-wheeler thing last summer and has had to wait all winter to be able to give it another go. Spring came and first thing she said is that she wanted to learn how to ride a big kid bike.

Andrew took her out a week ago and went around with her a bit and she did alright. He came back inside and the next thing we knew we looked out the big front window and there's Lillian wobbling down the street on her own.

She's still a little shaky with the whole thing--picture a baby horse standing for the first time and that would give you an idea of her balancing skills--but it looks promising. We'll take her over to the high school track where she can ride around and around and practice staying between the lines before we unleash her on an unsuspecting city. Don't worry.

6. Go bamping. Which leads me to number six: go bamping. This is a special Mitton word for going camping with your bikes. Bikes+camping=bamping. It started several years ago when Andrew took the kids for an overnight trip down on the peninsula and they took their bikes along for a ride along the trails there and it was such a smash hit (maybe "smash" hit isn't the best way to describe it) that they've gone every year since and it's developed into a full-blown family tradition. With Lillian riding her real bike this year it ought to be fun.

7. See Kung Fu Panda. Andrew is a huge Jack Black fan. I'm not sure why because though the man can be funny (Jack Black, not Andrew--though Andrew's funny too but in a skinnier, paler and less-hairy way) his flavor of humor is something I can only tolerate for so long but Andrew giggled all through School of Rock like a little girl. However, Kung Fu Panda is one we all want to see so I think we're going to make a family adventure of it by seeing it together on Independence Day. I say adventure because it's going to cost a whopping load of dough to get us all through the ticket booth--which is why we'll be forced to sneak in the popcorn. And then on holidays they don't have the cheapy hours as much as on regular days. Eesh! But on behalf of karate-chopping pandas everywhere I can say in confidence that we're looking forward to seeing it.

Playhouse in the Back8. Have a movie night in the playhouse. We have a large shed in the backyard that we turned into a playhouse way back when. We put in windows, threw in carpeting on the floor and made a loft area. Over the years any old furniture we wanted to discard but were too cheap to haul to the dump we threw into the playhouse until it became quite the cozy little cottage in the back. Andrew jokes that someday we'll run a gerbil tube out to it so his mother will have a place to live. Not that his mother's a gerbil, gosh that wasn't what I was implying . . . open mouth, insert foot.

Anyway, in the summer we'll run extension cords out to the playhouse and show movies out there for fun. It's not as if a movie is a novelty but watching a movie outside--now that's a thrill. It's the closest we can get to a drive-in theater I suppose.

9. Build a soapbox racer. This was another idea that got me some weird looks from the rest of the room when I suggested it but years ago I found some plans for building a racer and the boys are finally big enough to tackle it themselves. We made the trip to the hardware store yesterday for all the parts and we're going to build us a roadster. No, make that "we're going to build us a COOL roadster." Really cool. This one will definitely require a post. When we've finished I'll share the pictures and I think we've talked some friends into building one too so we can race them. Oh it's going to be fun.

Arctic Thunder Elmendorf AFB June 28-2910. Attend the air show. Every year Elmendorf Air Force Base opens up for visitors where you can tour the aircraft and see a top notch air show. In the past years they've had to cancel because of the costs associated with the war in Iraq but they're back this year with another installation of Arctic Thunder and the Thunderbirds (and if that doesn't just reek of cool I don't know what does--just try to tell me you can see those guys go by without hearing Top Gun music in your brain). I like going, I'm hoping they have one of the new F-22A Raptors on display. Oh, and I've had it confirmed that if you email them ahead of time you can get a special invitation to attend the practice for the air show on June 27 for people who may not be comfortable in the huge crowds that the regular show draws. Elderly, people with special needs, etc. Nice of them isn't it?

11. Hike Point Hope. There's a place a cross the inlet from Anchorage that Andrew has wanted to hike for years. YEARS. Every year he brings up the possibility of hiking Point Hope and every year it seems we shoot him down. Maybe this year will be his chance and we can give it a try. He's so happy about it he went out and got a dehydrator so he can prepare his own dehydrated meals specifically for his hiking pleasure. He's dehydrating everything now--chicken, bowls of cold cereal, Skittles, socks, toilet paper . . . I'd better watch out or he'll be dehydrating the kids for greater portability.

12. Camps. Each of the kids have a week of camp going this summer which normally I really look forward to. Nothing like having some respite half way through the summer where the Boy Scouts of America say, "Here, pay us an enormous fee and we'll take your testosterone-laden son off your hands for a week and will teach him to be even manlier." But this year as luck would have it Spencer and David have Boy Scout and cub scout camp on the same week. And, as luck would have it further that week happens to be the week I'll be at BlogHer in San Francsico. Dang! All that money for scout camp and I don't even get to enjoy the benefits of it! It's like a wasted week or something. Oh well, at least the boys will have a blazing good time.

13. Dip net for salmon. Have you ever gone dip netting? It's just what it sounds like, you get your nets, head down to the river and you dip in to fill up with salmon. If you like salmon then this just might be the ultimate fishing experience for you because--depending on the fishing limit that year--you can collect scores of fish. Make that scads. MILLIONS of fish. Well, maybe not millions but a lot. Enough to fill your freezer for the winter and it's quite the experience. We've wanted to go try it for a couple years now and I think this may be the year we get up off the couch and go slaughter some fish.

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46 comments:

Robin said...

I love air shows. My grandfather flew biplanes in the Air Corps way back when. We took him once to an old-time air show and he walked around saying "I flew that one, and that one, and that one really stunk, that one over there was a real beauty..." What a day it was for all of us.

Sounds like you guys are all set for a great summer!

Nature Nut said...

Sounds like a good old time this summer in Alaska! My brother and his family live outside Anchorage (just moved back after 10 yrs in St. Croix). I haven't been to Alaska since 1991, but looking forward to returning next year with my family for a visit. What a beautiful and awe-inspiring place :)

Darla said...

Sounds like a busy, exciting, and fun summer! I hope you get to do everything on your list!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Our main summer activity here is how not to die of the heat and the humidity. Maybe I should get more creative.

Poli said...

Wow, your summer will be so full of adventures! I wish mine will be too but I'm not so sure..

Amber M. said...

14. Eat lunch with Amber...:-)

We love the Thunderbirds, too.

Stephanie said...

Lydia is on the bike learning adventure too. She is a little scared of the whole process, but really wants to learn....we'll see.

Dip netting sounds like my kind of fishing. little skill, little time and lots of fish! Just up my alley! :)

Did You Know? said...

wahaha. this is my favorite food

tjhirst said...

We love BAMPING but didn't know there was a word for it. We are in the process of making our list, too, and now we can name it right.

Jen said...

That is a very awesome list! My list goes something like this:

1) Finish spring classes that you didn't get on time.
2) Start summer classes that you aren't starting on time.
3) Run a lot of experiments on little kids.
4) Watch my kids.
5) Go to library story hour and Indian Creek Nature Center's preschool nature hour.
6) Get married.
7) Have a reception.
8) Try not to lose your mind.

Maybe next year I'll have a more interesting one!

Janet said...

Ooh, can we come on the hike with you? Most of the other stuff would need to wait until kidlets are a bit older. And know how to swim and ride bikes and such.

Shannon said...

Great list!

My husband and son will be attending a week long air show in Oshkosh WI this summer, along with my husbands father. Grandpa used to fly a small plane himself and I guess this Oshkosh thing was a father/son tradition for my husband growing up. I'm glad they'll have this opportunity together.

I should get busy making my own list. . . the kids will be out of school next week ( :

imadramamama said...

That actually sounds like a lot of fun! I hope you are able to fit it all in!!

Annie said...

I didn't know you could go dip net fishing. When I lived in Juneau I used to go "snagging" quite a lot...it sounds bad, but the fish really were on their last leg anyway. It was a lot of fun and quite a workout. I remember catching a 50lb salmon (at the time a little less than half my weight). Fishing is what I miss the most. It is just not the same down here in the rivers and streams. Everything is just so big up there, especially the fish.
Hey are you going to the Mountain Man marathon in Seward this year...if so, you guys should check out the aquarium down there...if you haven't already...it is awesome!

Roo said...

A friend of mine in Western NY is doing STAYCATIONS this summer. She is the mother of 7 kids and with the cost fuel what it is they decided they can't afford to travel. She put out a request on her blog yesterday for the readers to post a blog about the neat things about their home. She will check them out late next week and use them to learn about our homes. I sent her a link to your posting today. I thought it fit in well.

Andria Sommers said...

If you need some pointers on claming I bet my dad would be the one to ask. And if you have any questions about fishing he could help you out I am sure. Brian Smith, he is in the anchorage south stake presidency. YOu can tell him I sent you. :)

Karen said...

Oh, stop. You are making me SO homesick! :)

When I first got married, my husband and I took our mountain bikes on Ressurection pass...I think I died somewhere along the way, because it was torture. Bike a few yards, walk the rest of the way...lol.

And the clamming! Oh, how I miss the extreme low tides and going to Anchor Point and digging for some clams. I don't eat clams, I just love digging for them. The razor clams are hard buggers to catch. They're fast! good luck and have a fun summer!

Fawn said...

Oh my goodness, a playhouse! That is too, too awesome. (Can you get to the slide from the loft area? Because that would be just too over the top!)

The best thing for me when I was learning to ride a bike was coasting down a gentle hill in the schoolyard at the corner of our street. It was a safe place to practice and coasting down the hill gave me a chance to really get the hang of the balancing thing without having to also deal with the forward momentum thing.

What a fabulous list!

Motherhood for Dummies said...

we will take you guys clamming. I have been before and know the technique! We love it and want to go here soon anyways :)

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

I am pretty much game when ever the activity has the word slaughter in it.

The Estrogen Files said...

Hmmm. You guys are having way more fun this summer than we are! We're staying home, going to the library weekly, having a baby, and doing nothing.

Enjoy your summer!

TONYA said...

Now that is an impressive list.

Mine will be trying not to lose my freaking mind as the kids destroy the house and my older one whines about being bored every 2.3 seconds of every day.

Going to come up with a better list now.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I would love to join you for a few of those -- especially the bamping and the air show. We used to attend the air show every year at the Navy base near us; it was always a fantastic (if deafening) event.

AlaneM said...

Dip netting sounds like a blast. I love salmon but can't afford it most of the time.
I've always wanted to go clam digging too - yum, yum!

AlaneM said...

Dip netting sounds like a blast. I love salmon but can't afford it most of the time.
I've always wanted to go clam digging too - yum, yum!

MiaKatia said...

That sounds like an amazing list. I am afraid that if we lived in Alaska we would squander all of these amazing outdoor opportunities. Makes me want to find out what is available here... I went clam digging with my mom once up in WA. It was kind of fun but I would not eat a clam to save my life back then. Ummm yeah I still wont eat a clam ;)

mommy2twinkies-Deb said...

Wow, sounds like you've got a busy summer ahead of you!

Damselfly said...

I love "bamping"!

Michelle said...

That's a great list;-) especially the movie in the playhouse...oh and the bamping sounds like a great summer at the scribbit's..thanks for the blog visit.

Angela Fehr said...

I so want to build a zipline on our yard - we have just finished landscaping and have a perfect place for one!
And you've motivated me to make a list of things we want to do here in northern BC this summer. I just wish my kids were a little bigger - no biking for us yet!

Beck said...

That list is GREAT. We're planning on building a zip line this summer, too!

2KoP said...

Though we live thousands of miles away, just outside of Chicago, our list of summer plans does not seem that different than yours. (We won't make an actual list though — too much pressure; see my post on this very topic.) I have one learning to ride a bike; we've got two weekends pegged for camping; we have just penciled in a hike at Volo Bog; I have three going to cool summer camps; and my husband and three boys go to the Chicago Air and Water Show every year (too loud for my daughter and me. You should post your summer movie plans on the blog called Shedworking. Our shed is just a shed, but our summer is shaping up nicely.

Katherine said...

Sounds like a wonderful summer. We should make a summer list...

Last summer my boys went to Boy Scout and Cub Scout camp the same week and I loved the peace and quiet at home. This year they go on successive weeks - I thought I would rather they go together, but now I'm deciding that 2 weeks of little or no fighting is even better!

Heffalump said...

You can find clam cleaning instructions at http://westportwa.com/activities/razorclams/cleaning.html

Knitty Geek said...

Your list, she is amazing! As I continue learning from you, we will be making a list this weekend when we have our first Family Council. Maybe that will help my teenagers get into the whole idea of a family meeting.

Jennifer said...

There is nothing better than the satisfied feeling of a perfect list:)

All your ideas sound so fun. I am storing all the Alaska ideas up for when my hubby and I fulfill our secret wish to live in Alaska someday:)

Chief Family Officer said...

OMG, I've never heard of dip netting before but it sounds heavenly. I hate fishing, never caught a darn thing when we went fishing when I was growing up, but I think I could dip net. And I loooove salmon, especially raw. As in sashimi. And sushi. (And the roe, I can't believe it grosses you out, Michelle!) I love Just Bento's salmon furikake recipe, by the way, and highly recommend it.

Cuddle Cottage said...

Sounds like you're headed for a summer of fun, fun, fun!

Phyllis Sommer said...

sign me up for Camp Scribbit!

Jeanne said...

What an awesome idea - making a list. I think when you commit something to print you're more likely to do it :-)

My list would start with: sleep in every day as late as the kids will let me, now that morning Kindergarten is finished!! LOL

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

WOW - that is some ambitious list! I am tired just reading it. LOVE the Bamping. :) Good luck building those soapbox racers - very cool! (and very blogable!)

Can't wait to meet you at BlogHer!

Char said...

Hey I started a new blog www.Starboo.Wordpress.com I'm new to blogging but please check it out. Great summer to do list! If you don't have a contact person on the peninsula, feel free to email me with road conditions, etc. :-)

sandy said...

what wonderful life experiences

planetnomad said...

I've had many friends from Alaska, and have heard some great salmon fishing stories--like the ones where you can walk across the surface of a river because the salmon are so thick! Our stocks in Oregon are dwindling sadly, so I will think of you enjoying lots of salmon this summer and live vicariously through you :)

Meggan said...

Dipnetting is our family vacation this year. I can't wait. We're doing Kasilof, not Kenai. it's open 24 hours. And were going clamming this weekend for the first time.

maslakon said...

I am interested in salmon fishing activities. I've never done it because in my country there are no salmon. he said the sensation of the salmon strike was very great.