North to Alaska

     Welcome to my page on Alaska.  I have lived year round in Valdez, AK since 1993.  It's only been in the last year that family and job concerns have brought me back down below to stay for a while.  I was back up this summer for a month to commercial fish and to visit with all the friends I left behind.  I plan on spending as much time up there as my schedule will allow.  I've already got plans to be fishing up there again next summer.  I've got a friend (also a former Alaskan) who's trying to talk me into some gold prospecting next summer.  Sounds like a real pie in the sky idea, but I may give it a whirl just because I've never done it before!

     They say that once Alaska gets in your blood, you'll always go back.  Alaska is definitely in my blood!  I love Alaska and will always return every chance I get.  Alaska is a very beautiful state with enough to keep you exploring forever.  You'll also experience a sense of freedom there that is becoming rare down below.

     Below, you will find a few links where you can learn a lot about the state and what it has to offer.  I'll keep adding to this page so keep checking back.  Check out my photo gallery which  includes many of my own photos.

Seafood Processing Jobs in Alaska

If you're looking for a job on a fishing boat, I wouldn't waste a whole lot of money on how-to-get-a-job guides.  Every fishing job I've had has been from getting to know people and being in the right place at the right time.  My first job was on a shrimp boat.  I was working at one of the local canneries when the a crewmember came down looking for another crewmember.  I jumped at that chance to get on a boat.  That was dirty, smelly work and it never paid much because the season was almost over, but I was on a boat!

The following summer I had a friend come look me up to tell me there was an opening on one of the tenders.  I went right down and talked to the skipper.  The next morning I was heading out on the water again.  As a greenhorn, I was making $100/day in 1994.  That was a lot of money for me then.  Tendering isn't all that hard, though you do keep some odd hours and sometimes spend extended periods on the water.  I had a fun summer and got to see a lot of Prince William Sound too.

I've been seining for the past three seasons.  I was wandering around town one day when up pulled a friend with his skipper.  They were trying to round up another crewmember.  Two hours later I was flying out to Port Chalmers where the boat was.  Seining can be really hard work.  I wasn't sure I was going to make it that first week.  After that things got a lot easier and I made it just fine.  Seining will usually pay you a percentage of the catch.  Most skippers take out groceries and some will even take out fuel.  An experienced crewmember will get a higher percentage than a greenhorn.  I make good money out there.  I also work for a good skipper who I keep going back to year after year.  I'll be back on board this spring.

I recently saw the movie The Perfect Storm.  Its a different kind of fishing in different waters but this movie did a wonderful job of capturing the life and attitude of a commercial fisherman.  I loved it!  Below are some books which will also give you some insight into the life of a fisherman in Alaska.

Recommended Reading

Travel Stuff

TravelAlaska Online is committed to providing those interested in visiting Alaska with the very best vacation planning information.  This site includes lots of good stuff including virtual tours, history, weather, maps, and a photo gallery.

The Alaska Internet Travel Guide is another site that is a comprehensive online travel information source.  They feature hundreds of businesses that specialize in providing travel tours, accomondations, and adventures in the Great Land.

A great way to see a lot of Alaska in a short time is by riding the Alaska Railroad.  It runs all the way from Seward up to Fairbanks.  You can also create your own tours by riding part or all of it.

Another great way to travel Alaska is on the Alaska Marine Highway System, Alaska's state ferry.  They can even bring you and your vehicle up to Alaska from Bellingham, WA.  They also run out the Aleutian as far as Dutch Harbor during the summer.

Mugsy's B&B Looking for a place to stay while you're in Anchorage?  Well look no further.  Warren and Karen run a great little bed & breakfast in a quiet suburb of Anchorage.  You'll love the owners, atmosphere, and the peace and quiet.  You never know what you might see here though.  Summer of 99 there was a mamma moose and her baby trying to help themselves to the bird feeder in the back yard!  Check out their website for all the details.

Recommended Reading

Sites With Lots of Links to a Bit of Everything

Link up Alaska
I Love Alaska
Alaska's Best

Gold Prospecting

     Here are a few excellent sites that provide a lot of information on gold prospecting.  I'll be hitting these sites a lot myself so I have some idea what I'm doing when I give it a try next summer.

The Prospecting Page
Gold Prospectors Association Of America
Tom Ashworth's Prospectors Cache

Alaska Newspapers Online

Alaska Star  Eagle River weekly
Anchorage Daily News
The Anchorage Press  weekly, the best of the alternative news.  A good read.
The Bush Blade  Anchor Point monthly
Business News Alaska  monthly
Capital City Weekly  Juneau
Eagle Eye Journal  Haines weekly
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
The Frontiersman  Wasilla-Palmer weekly
Juneau Daily News Online
Juneau Empire  daily
Kanoe  Ketchikan daily
Ketchikan Daily News
Kodiak Daily Mirror
The Nome Nugget  weekly
The Seldovia Herald

Photo Gallery

Welcome to my photo gallery.  Other than one postcard, these are all photos I've taken myself.  Most are taken on or around Prince William Sound and Valdez where I lived and fished.  I've chosen to use a straight text format for this gallery because most people (myself included) still use a slow dialup connection.  This way you only have to wait on the photos you want to view.

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Ester1  View from a hilltop on Ester Island.  Fishing boat leaving in the distance.
Ester2  Another view from Ester Island.
Ester3  Looking down over Ester Island Hatchery.
Ester Waterfall  A beautiful waterfall we came across while hiking on Ester Island.
Rainbow  Saw this rare doublesided rainbow while we were heading home from fishing one day.
Almost Home  The moon rising over the Valdez Narrows behind us.
Oil Terminal  Valdez Marine Terminal.  This is where the Trans-Alaska Pipeline ends and the oil is loaded onto tankers for the rest of the trip south.
Ice Falls  A frozen waterfall in Keystone Canyon about 12 miles from Valdez.  If you look close, you'll see an ice climber about one-third of the way up.  Ice climbing is a popular sport in the winter.
Bridal Veil Falls  This is a magnificent falls in Keystone Canyon about 15 miles from Valdez.
Winter Sunset  A January sunset somewhere in the interior.
Fall Day  A beautiful fall day on Thompson Pass.
Mountain Stream  A mountain stream high above Keystone Canyon.  Possibly even the same stream that feeds Bridal Veil Falls.
Lowe River  A view of Lowe River from high above Keystone Canyon.  The road you see is actually the pipeline service road which I am also on in this picture.  The pipeline is buried along side it.
Valdez Harbor  A view of some of the fishing boats in Valdez Harbor.
Glacier Island  Fishing off of Glacier Island.
On The Water  On the waters of Prince William Sound.
Fishing1  Me standing almost kneedeep in fish.  This was a good day of fishing out at Ester Island (Sept 2000).  That's our skiffman David behind me in the skiff.
Fishing2  Me (with the corks) and the other deckhand stacking seine.
Fishing3  Another view of stacking seine.
Fishing4  Pulling a bag aboard.
Fishing5  A large bag along side the boat.  This one will have to be brailed out.  See next picture.
Fishing6  Brailing fish aboard is done when the bag is too large to roll over the side.  That's my skipper, Tom Lopez, with the brailer.  Good Work, Tommy!
Fishing7  Skiffman, Pete (1998), ready for another set.
Fishing8  Fishing fleet on the water.
Fishing9  Fishing boat pulling in seine.
Fishing10  Fishing boats delivering to tenders.  Fish tenders then take the fish to the canneries for processing.
Rolling A Bag  This is actually a postcard, but it was such a good picture I had to include it.  They're attempting to roll aboard a good sized bag of pink salmon in Valdez Arm.
Misty Morning1  Sometimes the mists in the morning give everything a surreal effect.
Misty Morning2  Another misty morning shot.
Sunset  Sunsets like this one just leave you awestruck!  This one is out on Prince William Sound.
Icebergs  Icebergs calved off the Columbia Glacier.  If you look close you can see Columbia Glacier in the background (left side of picture).
Ice Shape  Icebergs frequently melt into some very interesting shapes.
Sealions1  Stellar Sea Lions on Glacier Island.  Stellar Sea Lions are a protected species.
Sealions2  Another shot of the sealions.
Mushing1  A little bit of dog mushing fun in Valdez.
Mushing2  Hi, Clarissa!
Mushing3  More mushing fun.  I included this photo mainly so you can see the volume of snow we're accustomed to in Valdez.
Fresh Tracks  Fresh tracks in new snow.
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