I grew up in Texas and after college (Gig ’em, Aggies!) I went to Cameroon with the Peace Corps. Great experience, and I met some of my best friends there. Traveled around for a bit after that, worked in Ireland for a spell before returning to the US. That was twenty years ago. I’ve been in Alaska ever since, almost exclusively in Unalaska. Never warm, rarely sunny, often rainy and almost always windy, it’s hard to explain why, but I love this place. I think it’s because there’s less separating us humans from Mother Nature here, and our days are dictated as much by the weather as they are by a clock. We don’t get many beautiful days but my, how we appreciate them! When I’m not working on my house or traveling overseas, I spend my time diving, hiking, fiddling with my camera and making homebrew. I’ve got some good friends, a great roommate, a sturdy and half-blind cat who’s lost at least three lives and a lame, gasping Akita for company.
In spite of the name, this site isn’t about salmon per se, I just happen to think salmon are pretty neat fish. Imagine spending all that time and energy to travel hundreds of miles across an ocean, struggle upstream for days without eating and then literally spawn oneself to death, all in the name of reproduction. Not only are they bloody amazing fish, they taste good and are a lot of fun to catch, whether with a net or a rod and reel.
Pink Salmon (aka Humpbacks) in particular are a real kick in the pants. Although the total numbers vary from year to year, we always get pretty large runs of Pinks in the local rivers. They gather in the bay before coming upstream, jumping frenetically in great bounding leaps like someone skipping opalescent stones, silver sides flashing in the sunlight if it’s a day on which we’re blessed with any. Once they’re in the river, during low tides especially, the surface of the Iliuliuk teems with writhing dorsal fins as the males jockey for position around the females, busily digging out their redds. Gulls and eagles noisily mill about on the sand bars, looking for an easy meal. Later, when the fish are spawned out, their decomposing bodies litter the banks of the river and emanate a uniquely rich and rotten odor that lasts for days. It’s all part of the cycle of life here, one of the many things I love about Unalaska.
I created this website primarily as a way to keep my family and friends up-to-date on what I’m doing in this faraway place called Unalaska, and as a way to share some of my travels with them. I hope that others may find it interesting, entertaining and enjoyable as well.