Sunday, November 4, 2007

Back from the Frozen Tundra

OK, so where I was it wasn't exactly frozen, but it was tundra. I guess - I honestly don't know what tundra is. OK, fine, yes, I was in Alaska for a week.


I was up on business, on a trip that had been delayed for six weeks due to my stupid stress-fractured foot (which is now out of the cast...thankfully).

Dutch Harbor is enjoying recent fame as the home-base for the ridiculously tough crab fishermen on the show, "Deadliest Catch." I thought it would be neat if I could meet some of the tough guys from the show, but some of the folks in my office that have been to Dutch Harbor before started spooking me out about the flight. I was literally shaking in my shoes, not wanting to have to fly. I heard all kinds of horror stories about how sometimes the planes can't get in, so they turn around and go back to Anchorage, how the flights are seriously bumpy and they needed the barf bag the whole trip, to sometimes you get stuck in Dutch Harbor because no flights get out, etc., etc. The six-week delay helped me get over it, and I'm glad! On the small Saab plane that got me to Dutch from Anchorage, I actually even slept - a rarity for me. Bumpy, yes, but not the harrowing experience I was expecting by any means.



Once on the ground, I found out that it's king crab season, so the "Deadliest Catch" ships are out in the Bering Sea, so it would be unlikely for me to run into any of the "cowboy" fisherman. In spite of that small disappointment, I have to say I was able to enjoy fresh-out-of-the-Bering-Sea king crab legs on a brunch buffet at the Grand Aleutian Hotel. The Grand Aleutian is a nice hotel, but being so remote, it's not as luxurious as the name might indicate. But if you're going to be in Dutch Harbor, there's really not another alternative. The Chart Room restuarant is really quite good, with very interesting seafood selections and a nice wine list.

One of the things that impressed me most was the presence of Bald Eagles. Yes, our National symbol. These majestic birds hang out in Dutch Harbor like blue jays or grackels hang out in Dallas, TX. One of my hosts was driving me around on a tour of the island, and we saw this one hillside that had 14-16 Bald Eagles just sitting there. Hanging out. No big deal. For someone who has only seen Bald Eagles in the zoo - this was just amazing. We also saw some sea otters and sea lions - again, animals that land-locked southerners like me only get to see in zoos.

I enjoyed my visit in Dutch Harbor, but unlike many places I've visited, I don't think I could live there, at least not for very long. It is very remote, and there aren't a lot of options. The Wild Thing said, "well, can't you just go outside and meditate?" Well, of course, but someone as City-fied as this Rockin' Chick needs to have options. I absolutely love the option of just going and meditating, but I need to be able to go to a loud concert or Denny's at 2:00am, too. :)

But, I definitely recommend that everyone that has the chance to visit Dutch Harbor if you have the chance - especially if you're a city person. It's completely different, with breathtaking scenery, and it's a chance to do something that not just everyone gets to do.

Oh, and I did get a glimpse of the Maverick from "Deadliest Catch" out the window of our port office, through binoculars, as she was on her way to transload a shipful of king crab to an air freighter for some lucky diners to enjoy!

Coming soon - the rest of my visit to Alaska - the glittering city of Anchorage.

2 comments:

Food Czar said...

Aren't bald eagles impressive? You can definitely see why they were chosen for our national symbol, especially when you see one in the wild. America Rocks!!!

40-ish Rockin' Chick said...

Well...most of the eagles we saw were hanging out at the dump...