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Tonight we put up our Christmas tree, the first Ravella/Gilbert tree. Actually we have two trees. One is artificial. It is perfect. It has p...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Alaska Pictures

Well we (Anthony and I) made it back for Alaska today. Nic and Kate are staying for another week. What an amazing trip we had. God blessed us with great fishing but I found out one week is not enough time to fish and visit friends like I had hoped. Maybe next year.

Anyway we fished for halibut and caught our limit of 10 fish, then we fished for Sockeye Salmon (Reds) on the Russian River. It is my favorite place to be in Alaska. God gave us great weather, sunny and 68 and He blessed us with a river full of fish. We fished the Sunday night for 2 hours and caught 3. Monday afternoon we fished for about 4 hours and caught 8, then Tuesday we fished for 1 1/2 hours and caught our limit of 12 and caught and released another 15 at least. Tuesday was a gift from God. We arrived at the river around 2:30...okay we slept in a little. Which is no small feat as the sun comes up at 2am. When we arrived there we a few people at our favorite spot and with in 45 minutes the river was all ours and the fish were 10-15 fish wide just pouring up the river. I had only seen it that good one other time with that few people on the river in my 6 years of fishing the Russian. After we had all caught out limit we did a little catch and release just because there was so many fish. After about 30 minutes of not catching any fish with literally hundreds of fish within 3 feet of him, Nic stormed out of the river while biting his line and letting us all know that it was impossible to catch anything with a pink and purple fly. Then as were were about to leave Kate looked down in the water and pulled out this pink and purple fly and said, "Hey look what I found, one of our hooks in the river." and she pulled out a pink and purple fly with Nic's green fishing line still attached. Kate then noticed that the hook had broken off and all that remained was the straight shank. It turned out Nic had found the only way to not catch a fish that day...fish without a hook!

When we quit fishing there was no one else in sight and we all walked out into the river and just watched the fish swim at our feet. It is an amazing sight to see. Not that anyone was counting who caught the most salmon but...

Jim 8
Nic 7
Kate 4
Anthony 4

Then came the work. cleaning, vacuum sealing, smoking freezing and packing all that fish for the trip home. We ended up with 4 coolers full of fish which was about 175lbs of fish! We had to stop fishing because we could not check any more bags on the flight home. Not only that I had to call Ginger on Thursday and tell her to go by a freezer for all this fish. I had forgotten the small detail that we had no place to put 175lbs of fish.

More importantly we were able to visit, albeit far to short, with some of our good friends. We got to see Monica and LB Bowers, who opened their home to us the night we arrived and the night we left. We saw Steve and Cynthia Hatter and their kids who Nic and Anthony went to school with and lived down the street from us on base. We then stopped by and visited with Shelby and her family. Shelby was our next door neighbor for about 7 months in Anchorage. She is 11 now and her and Andrea were best friends. Shelby is a special girl who had a very special relationship with Andrea. It was so good to she her and her family again. We also got to spend some time with Lori and Corky Lucia and their kids Rachel and Justin. Corky took us halibut fishing and let us stay in their cabin on the Kenai peninsula where we did all our fishing.

You all are a blessing in my life and I can't thank you enough for all you did for us. It was great to see you all again. Next time we will stay a little longer.

As Promised here are some pictures from the trip and a few pictures from the past.

Every where we lived Andrea would pick a spot to take our pictures. When we lived in Eagle River Ak it was on this rock. We went back and Kate took our picture on the same rock.

This is Andrea on the some rock in July 2003, one month before she found the lump in her breast

A picture of the beautiful scenery in Alaska

Andrea and Shelby in Aug 2007

Andrea and Rachel Lucia around 2007

Nic and Corky at the cabin running the packing assembly line for the halibut and Reds

Anthony's new love

Kate Fighting the big one
Fish On...actually you can see the fish out of the water

Our first day's catch
Our limit...12 Reds
The bounty

Living the dream

Nic netting Kate's fish. Nic is by far the best netter in the group, a critical job as it does not count until the fish is in the net.

Showing his skill once again

Andrea and Anthony at the same spot on the Russian. It was Andrea's last time on the Russian and taken exactly 4 yrs earlier to the day we were fishing

Andrea and I on our last trip to the Russian in 2004

Andrea's first and last Red she caught. Like I said she just liked being their with us but on our last trip the river was full of fish just like it was this time and I talked her into fishing. She was a natural! Directly behind where Andrea is standing is where we were fishing this trip.

All smiles after the perfect day

Just to let you know we did leave a few fish for others to catch

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Alaska Memories

We are on vacation (Nic, Kate and Anthony and I) in Alaska. It was a trip we planned shortly after Andrea's funeral. Alaska holds many great memories for us as a family, and many difficult memories of Andrea's battle with cancer. We went by the houses we lived in and the hospital where Andrea was told she had cancer, my old squadron, and ate at our favorite places. We have also visited some of our good friends here and it is always a little hard to visit friends and be alone. It just seems out of balance as there is always a feeling that Andrea is missing. In fact we stayed with our good friends the Bowers. I still remember the day I walked into LB's office and sat down in the chair to the right of his desk and said, "Andrea has cancer." LB was the first person I ever told; the first time I said those words. Life changed that day, in that office in this town. This is the last place I have PC (Pre cancer) memories of Andrea. Places I can go and see her walking fast, with long hair, her youthfulness, going hiking and fishing. It just seemed for so long our life was put on hold and cancer is all I remember. How it took it toll on Andrea and how it dictated so much of our life. Here I can remember when life was ours. Yesterday we went fishing in our favorite spot, and I can still see Andrea sitting on the bank while the boys and I fished. She loved to read while we fished, and then when we had a fish she was the best netter and fish cleaner there was.

It is hard going back to places where Andrea and I lived. I called Ginger who happens to be in Colorado Springs taking the boys to summer camp. C Springs was were Ginger and Troy once lived and where Boston was born. So we were both facing our past alone this week. I told Ginger it is hard when I go to places we lived because I can still see Andrea there, or I remember a picture we took at that very spot. I feel so close to her I can almost see her, yet at the same time it reminds me how far apart we really are. It is frustrating, and very sad.

I just remembered I dreamed about Andrea last night, we were at church and I was on the stage and I looked back and saw Andrea sitting in a pew. She had all her hair and was smiling so big. I noticed she had on this set of jewelry I had bought her in Turkey and she was drenched in lights that were hitting it and making brilliant sparkles. Andrea held up the ring and was smiling at me. That was it. It was nice to see her again, especially with all her hair and a big smile on her face. I'm sure it is nothing like her crown she wears now and the light that she walks in. Anyway I digress. We are having a great time fishing and the Lord has blessed us with a lot of fish so far. We went Halibut fishing on Sat and caught our limit of 10 fish. One 60lb, 1 50lb, 1 40lb and the rest around 15-20lbs. I think we have about 130lbs of halibut to bring home. So far we have fished Reds for a day and caught 11. Which gives us about 35lbs of reds to bring back. We are going back today and tomorrow morning in hopes to catch 10 or so more. Right now we are trying to figure out how we will keep it all frozen and get it back to Texas. The weather has been great so far and we are on a crazy sleep schedule with all this sunshine. We are going to bed at 1:30 am (430am Texas time) and getting up at 10:30 am (1:30pm Texas time) I think it will take a day to adjust when I get home!

I have some pictures to post but the internet is very slow out here at the cabin. I will try later this week maybe when we get to Anchorage. Anyway just want to post an update since I realize it has been a while.