This picture is just the preview. This is a little teensy weensy halibut. Dusty told me I had to take a picture of it to show that all the halibut I'd been catching were around this size. Then I caught this one:
and then he shut his mouth. Yeah, that's right. This is a 61-pounder! Dusty had to hold it up because my weak arms couldn't handle the massive weight of this behemoth. So, we went halibut fishing yesterday. Dusty (as I'm sure I've mentioned in an earlier blog post - he's a law enforcement officer at the refuge) was kind enough to take both me and Sam out to Anchor Point yesterday, to catch us some fish. We jetted to about 10 different spots in all (I think), and all caught our limits (2 per day). I caught about 10 halibut in all...but threw back all of them (with the exception of one: according to Dusty, you have to keep your first fish you catch - otherwise it's bad luck), until I caught this tank. After we were done fishing, Dusty filleted all of the fish, and then we drove home. I took the fillets to Peninsula Processing where they will be vacuum-sealed, and then I'll take them to the bunkhouse, freeze them and then take them on the plane with me home. Here's a better view of the monster. It was more than half my size! Should make for some good eats.
This is the 25-pounder Sam caught. What a beaut! She was so excited. I'm glad she got to go halibut fishing, and surpass her fishing license's worth. Here's one of the many seabirds we saw that were constantly following us. They smelled the herring we used as bait and were hoping to get lucky.
So, I think I mentioned something about the tracker being stuck. Yeah, those were good times. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the hilarious event, so those will just have to remain in my heart. About two weeks ago, Julia, Sam and I had a field day assigned to us, in which we had to go garbage-picking around the Swanson River Rd/Swan Lake Rd canoe area. We finished around noon, so we (okay, I did) had the great idea (and it was great, lemme tell ya) to go to the moose pens! The moose pens is a highly restricted area. It's regulated by both the refuge and the Alaska Department for Fish & Game. The moose here are held in captivity (but for the most part, it's pretty natural. The pens cover several miles. Only calves are held in smaller ones.) because they have been injured by human and/or natural causes. Its purpose is for research: they are studying the effects of copper deficiencies in moose.
Anyway, we heard about the moose pens through Annie, who is a researcher there. We met her previously and she had told us that we were welcome to come out there and check the place out (and possibly feed the calves!). So, after getting the proper gate combinations from headquarters, we went through about 8 different locked gates until we got to an area where there were a number of log cabin-ish buildings. We knocked on several doors, but got no answer. The place was completely desolate. So we decided to go through one final gate. This gate marked the transfer from gravel road to no road. We weren't sure about it, but we decided to steadfastly drive on. At the very end of this path, two gates on either side led to more non-gravel roads. We decided then that we'd gone far enough, and turned around. Not 1/4 mi on the way up, we got stuck. I forgot to mention that it had been pouring rain this entire time. So the dirt was slick. After about an hour of trying to do whatever we could to stop the wheels from spinning, Julia walked the way back in hopes of finding someone to help. Lo and behold, she found Annie! Her and Annie came back with a four-wheeler. Annie surveyed the damage, and decided that her F-250 should be able to do the job. Annie came rolling in with her truck, and you wouldn't believe it - but, that got stuck too. All this time I kept on thinking to myself, there's no way a truck like that shouldn't be able to handle this. All the same, Annie thought that adding gravel to the path may give the tires traction - so another two hours later, we started piling shovel upon shovel of gravel onto the path. Tried the truck again - but to no avail.
At this point, Annie was cursing up a storm and told us we better radio our people. Until this point, we had kept quiet. We figured we could take care of this predicament on our own, without having to notify the entire world what dumbasses we were. Unfortunately, we had to commit the deed. We radioed headquarters, much to our shamefaced embarassment, and were told that we had an "emergency team" headed our way.
Then Annie's partner researcher, a city girl from Los Angeles, had the smarts to realize, Hmm, don't you have to do something with the tires to have it in four-wheel drive? (the city girl, of all people. Come on.) Annie loudly proclaimed "Shit!" and then locked the tires. And guess what - the truck got un-stuck. So we hooked up some rope from the tracker to the truck, and within minutes, the tracker was freed.
We radioed all the necessary people again and told them that everything was under control. But the damage was already done. We came back, heads hanging and our eyes downturned, and suffered all the mockery from all angles. But we did get to pet(and feed) some moose:
This is a baby calf. She's eating fireweed.
And apparently some us even got to kiss some moose, too.
Sam, Julia, and me with the calf. You can't really see it so well, but if you look close enough, you'll see how muddy we are.
About a week ago, Sam had the brilliant idea for all of us to enjoy a sunset at Kenai Beach, while enjoying glasses of champagne and the warmth of a fire. But when we got to Kenai Beach, it was absolutely crowded with dipnetters.
Dipnetting, for those in ignorance, is a way to fish, only open to Alaskan residents. Depending on how many mouths there are to feed, one can fish up to 100+ salmon for one household. It's considered "subsistence fishing." They take a big net, put it into the water, and catch as many salmon as can fit.
So, since the beaches were so packed, we decided to go to Beluga Lookout, which overlooks the mouth of the Kenai River, where river meets Cook Inlet. Eve, Sam, Julia and I all sat on a bench, sipping champagne and realizing that this place is absolutely remarkable - and we're really gonna miss it - and eachother.
Alright, these last couple of photos are of a momma moose and her calf that like to hang around the bunkhouse and headquarters. This calf is just a yearling, so it was born this year. Anyway, feast your eyes upon the photos - I gotta run. Post later!