You guys have been asking me for an all-encompassing Alaska post and here it is! I, of course, had to wait until I was done with my time in Alaska to share so I could get everything in here. So, if you’re reading this, I am back in Washington and it is about 100 degrees outside. This is a huge change from the 50 degrees I have been in for the past month (I prefer the heat!). I talk about the adventures, recipes and life at a fish cannery and it is definitely worth the read. Enjoy and ask any questions you have about Alaska that I don’t address in here.
Question 1: “What are you doing in Alaska?”
- I have come to Kenai, AK (almost) every summer since I was 9 years old to commercial fish with my gramps. We fish on a 36’ fishing vessel that goes out into the Cook Inlet and catch Wild Pacific Sockeye Salmon. If you have seen Alaska Fish Wars, it’s the same thing and our boat is on that show (minus all the fake drama). The net is 900’ long and 20’ deep. We keep the fish on ice, bring them back to the cannery and then they send them down to the states or larger cities for YOU.
- Our fishing periods are 12 hours long which turns our fishing days into 17 hour days with driving, drop off, fueling, cleaning and showering. It is the best 17 hours a day could have.
Question 2: “Is there a chance I am eating the fish you catch?”
- There is a big fat chance that I or another one of our buddies are catching the fish you eat at home. If your fish says, “Wild Alaskan Salmon”, “Pacific Salmon” or “Alaska Sockeye Salmon” you might just be eating the fish I caught. While we are here, be sure that you are only eating salmon that says the above things. Any wild, Alaska, Pacific salmon (Pink, Dog, King, Red or Silver) is great. Watch out for farmed, Atlantic, colored, preserved fish because that is just a disgrace!
Question 3: “How do you stay healthy there?”
- Ah ha! I knew this would be a common question as I went from my nicely stocked and spacious kitchen at home to a small 8X10 truck camper nestled away in a cannery yard. My answer to this one is: priorities. My health is an absolute priority which means there is no situation that can turn away my focus from my health. I made adaptations, pack a small blender and food prep in a small toaster over and that’s all you need folks! We have two outlets and that means I turn off the blender while the heater runs. I have to unplug the toaster oven when the light needs to be on, etc. These are the things that help me to appreciate the conveniences in life.
- Each week I prep sweet potatoes, carrots, other veggies and smoothie kits. We have a small 2X3 fridge which means limited space. I break down packaging and minimize the space being used by putting greens in bags, veggies in bin and nut milk in smaller containers.
- I keep the fridge stocked with kale, spinach, avocadoes, salmon (duh), yogurt, nut milk, dressing, salsa, kombucha and my one splurge item: REBBL drinks.
- The drawer (pantry) is stocked with granola, applesauce, nuts, olives, lentil pasta, ghee, cinnamon, sea salt, nutritional yeast, fruit, ginger, matcha, cacao powder, olive oil, chia seeds and a few other items.
- On the boat, we have no running water, electricity or cooking gear. I bring pre-made salads, overnight oats, apples & nut butter, nuts, dried fruit, apple chips, REBBLs, fish, crackers, avocado, roasted vegetables and hummus. I also keep some Justins PB cups and Taza chocolate on hand because sometimes I get bored and need some sweetness.
- Staying hydrated is huge because we are weirdly burning a lot of calories by picking the net, running around the boat, going in and out of the fish hole, tying ropes, keeping our balance and other boat activities. I drink at least 80 oz. of mountain water per day.
A normal day for us looks like FISHING but this year proved a little bit different. They closed us down for an entire week which left us bored, frazzled and restless. For me and Gramps, we had to get the heck out of the fish yard and into nature. We did so much on those off days and I now know so much more about my beautiful home than I ever have. Here is some of what we did:
• 13-mile hike, backpack and camping trip at Cresent Lake
• Mushroom foraging (morels, coral, bolita, chaga)
• Berry hunting (blueberries, elderberries, watermelon berries – all of which aren’t ripe yet)
• Day trip to Seward where we walked around town, had fresh lunch and visited Exit glacier
• Day trip to Homer (most beautiful day of the summer in the most beautiful town)
• A day out at the homestead with a nice homemade steam bath
• Visiting the native net (a subsistence net made just for my tribe)
• Fishing for Halibut and Salmon (pole fishing, not drifting)
Sometimes we want to just snuggle up in a bed (or sleeping bag in my case) and stay nestled away until the sun comes out. This isn’t really an option here because there’s no telling when the sun will be out next. That meant that I had to get my butt out of the truck topper bed and get moving. Each morning, rain or shine, I would wake up, do a quick yoga sequence (in a 4X2 area), stretch and go for a walk. Throughout the day, I walked about 7-10 times and threw in a 10-minute run. There is a gym at the native wellness center here that I use and I stopped in for a few yoga classes at a local studio. This helped me to feel motived and energized when the weather was convincing me to do just the opposite.
Abandoned Camper Approved Recipes
PB Strawberry Smoothie
¾ c. nut milk
½ c. frozen strawberries
2 c. baby spinach
1 T. peanut butter (any nut butter)
1 t. maca powder
1 packet protein (this one)
*add in ½ banana if you need some sweetness in life
*blend all ingredients & top with granola
Alaska Salmon Chips
4 oz. fresh sockeye salmon (Alaskan)
1 t. Dijon mustard
5 – 8 sweet potato slices
1 T. hummus
*slice sweet potatoes into disks (1/8 in. thick)
*mix salmon & mustard in a small bowl
*top with hummus & salmon mixture
Simple Yogurt Parfait
½ – 1 c. full-fat pastured yogurt (plain)
1/3 – ½ c. purely Elizabeth granola
8- 10 pitted cherries
*layer up & enjoy enjoy enjoy
There is always a way to stay healthy, get outside and enjoy the situation. Whether you slow down and read a book or pack up and head out for a 13-mile hike, you have the world at your fingertips. If you want something badly enough… well… you will make it happen. I want to be healthy, feel well and treat my body with respect so, I do what I need to do to make those things happen. This means that I eat clean, sleep well, drink water and spend lots of time with God. Comment below with your favorite Alaskan adventure and/or your dream Alaska vacation!
Don’t forget to head over to Instagram @simplholistic to see more recipes, travel tips and health news.