Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I feel my language and vernacular expanding and shifting the more I am here.”They’re seeing Silvers in the Kenai.” “The Eklutna Tailrace had some rollovers last night, but they are looking pretty blush.” In Chicago (and Madison for that matter) I never knew what a minus tide was. I guess I had an idea – it’s when the tide is out – but I never knew what it really meant, how to read a tide table, and how to plan my day around it. On July 4th there was a -5 tide, which is about as great as it gets for razor clamming at Clam Gulch (I know, stunning name. It’s right up there next to Forest Park in St Louis – beautiful park for sure along with a great art museum). The -5 tide was at 11:30 am, which is the apex of the tide if you will, so we planned on getting there around 10. We left Chugiak around 6:45 and zoomed down to Kenai. It was about 60 degrees out and fairly clear. You never know what it will be like when you actually get down to the coast on the peninsula, but in this case it stayed beautiful. The beach was filled with people for as far as the eye could see in each direction, pock marked sand everywhere between them. We had 2 buckets, a small shovel, and a clam tube. Becky’s brother told us to just look for a small dimple and then dig there. Easy. After about 10 minutes of digging at supposed dimples we still were coming up empty. People around us seemed to be tossing something into their buckets every few minutes, so they were having luck. It was starting to sink in that our trip may be a total waste. Once 11:30 comes the clock starts ticking and soon there is very little beach left to dig. Hmmm. I see what looks like a very pronounced dimple, arrogantly force the tube over it, and push down very hard. I placed my index finger over the air hole and slowly draw up the tube of sand, shaking it out onto the beach to find a beautiful razor clam. Such a relief. Soon we were getting a clam every 5-10 minutes, now that our eyes had focused in on what exactly a correct dimple looks like. Pulling up a full tube of sand is no easy task. The suction alone is a beast to wrestle. The muscles involved and the posture make it literally a deadlift – dig your heels in, look up, and pull. It felt about as difficult as a 250lb deadlift at its worst moment, which is just before it starts to break loose from its deepest point. Great workout. We ended up with about 30 razor clams by 1pm and the tide had almost fully come in. Maybe enough for clam chowder? We transferred them into a fresh bucket of saltwater (they’ll sit there for the night as they belch out all of their sand), hiked up in the new 60 degree drizzle to the truck, headed into Soldotna to use the bathroom at the Fred Meyer, and then finally ate our sandwiches in the truck marveling at how amazingly delicious leftover, cold fajita wraps can be when you are dirty, tired, and starving. A perfect 4th. By the time we returned to Chugiak it was sunny and clear and one of the warmest days of the year – 70 degrees. I’d like to go clamming again, but I’ll try next time to be there 3+ hours before the maximum minus tide. Maybe I can get 100+ clams. I ended up cleaning them the next morning and having about 1 cup of meat, which I sautéed in olive oil, and then threw in some pasta with alfredo a few days later. Delicious and extremely fresh.

Housesitting in Chugiak is now done. I liked the space, but I am very happy to be back to a much shorter commute and the lack of full time responsibility for 2 dogs. I love dogs but being the full time herder can wear a little thin, especially with 2 high energy animals. Give me 2 English Setters any day.

I’m legit now. There are Alaska plates on my truck.

Saturday the 19th was a truly beautiful day – mid 60’s and sunny. We accomplished something that was on the list for a long time – dinner at the Double Musky. We tried to go last November, but they were closed for a few weeks – their vacation I understand. I have always heard rumblings that it’s the greatest place to eat in the state, I should expect to wait a while, and I should expect to pay plenty. The middle one is a variable that was only 30 minutes for us, but the others were certainly true. It was an astounding meal – easily one of the top 5 of my meager little life – and it was a little pricey, though completely worth it. Since Becky went for the Filet Mignon I decided to steer towards seafood, which brought me to Shrimp Ettoufee. It was probably the best filet I’ve ever tasted and the shrimp was perfect. The gumbo was tremendous and all I could think about was trying to make it myself. I’m guessing we’ll be back about twice a year, but only for special occasions. It would be the perfect place for visitors to have an evening. All the more appetizers to share.

Playing HeroQuest with 2 people is fun, but not as fun as playing Warhammer Quest with 2 people. Warhammer Quest is a much better system when it comes to randomly generating the scenario, but that game is buried in my storage space for the time being. HeroQuest is a very easy and smooth system, but one that really needs a game master. Digging on the internet I was able to find some solo rules and we gave them a try a few weeks ago. This one was the best. You lose some of the building storyline that a GM will give you, but you still do pretty well. I haven’t tried it literally playing solo, but rather with 2 people that don’t want to switch off being the GM. I could see this being a very easy game for people to get an appetite for Warhammer Quest. No complaints, but I’ll probably not be hunting down game packs on ebay anytime soon.

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