Posted by: Michelle Mitton | June 5, 2008

Cool Alaskan Things We’re Going to Do

Razor Clams in AlaskaWe’re a family of lists. Well, actually, Andrew and I like to make lists and we just drag the kids along for the ride but regardless last month we all sat down and made a list of things we’re going to do this summer.

Summers in Alaska are short so if we don’t make lists and jump right in suddenly it’s August and school’s starting and what have we got to show for our three months of constant daylight except a lot of mosquito bites?

So here’s some things we’ve got on the calender and a few of them we’ve already tackled. Just looking at them all makes me feel . . . so . . . so . . . Alaskan.

1. Dig for clams. I went clam digging once or twice as a kid and remember it being pretty fun–though I just did the digging part and left the nasty cleaning up to Mom while I played in the lake. Somehow it seemed like a fun thing to do this year so clamming was my contribution to our list. But once all the votes were counted and we’d committed to going I was a little perplexed as to the details. I know where to go but I’ll have to research exactly how to get there. I know what tools we’ll need but I’m a little fuzzy on technique and I know I can cook with clams–I’m visualizing a killer linguini–but haven’t a clue how to clean them. They’re supposed to come out of their shells before you put them in your mouth right? I’ve got that far in the process . . .

I guess you’ll have to check back later to see if we actually pulled this one off.

2. Make a zip line. Check. Mission accomplished. I really shocked them all when I put this at the top of the list and Andrew was definitely skeptical but if you saw my post earlier this week you know it was a sound success. Now we’ll just have to build a Zuper line (that’s what I’d call a Super Zip line) over the cliff near the cabin for us grown-ups to enjoy. Hang onto your purses ladies.

3. Fish. We thought about going deep sea fishing for halibut down in Resurrection Bay because I’ve never done that before but the cost of the charter for the six of us is a little steep so we’ve instead settled on plain ol’ silver salmon fishing in August when the cohos are in. I’ve actually caught a silver salmon before. Well I held the pole when the fish swam by and took the bait if you can count that. Someone else took me out to the place to fish and someone else got my pole ready and someone else put bait on the hook and handed me the pole. It hardly counts but it’s the closest I’m going to get I fear if real fishing means touching raw salmon eggs.

Gold Panning in Alaska4. Visit Crow Creek Mine. This is something Lillian wanted to do for her birthday and is our next thing on the list. There’s gold panning at the mine and we’re all looking forward to coming back stinkin’ rich. With the price of gold what it is it’ll only take a flake or two to push us into the next tax bracket–and goodness knows we’re a family of flakes.

5. Learn to ride a bike. Well, actually this is specific to Lillian. She wasn’t quite there with the two-wheeler thing last summer and has had to wait all winter to be able to give it another go. Spring came and first thing she said is that she wanted to learn how to ride a big kid bike.

Andrew took her out a week ago and went around with her a bit and she did alright. He came back inside and the next thing we knew we looked out the big front window and there’s Lillian wobbling down the street on her own.

She’s still a little shaky with the whole thing–picture a baby horse standing for the first time and that would give you an idea of her balancing skills–but it looks promising. We’ll take her over to the high school track where she can ride around and around and practice staying between the lines before we unleash her on an unsuspecting city. Don’t worry.

6. Go bamping. Which leads me to number six: go bamping. This is a special Mitchell word for going camping with your bikes. Bikes+camping=bamping. It started several years ago when Andrew took the kids for an overnight trip down on the peninsula and they took their bikes along for a ride along the trails there and it was such a smash hit (maybe “smash” hit isn’t the best way to describe it) that they’ve gone every year since and it’s developed into a full-blown family tradition. With Lillian riding her real bike this year it ought to be fun.

7. See Kung Fu Panda. Andrew is a huge Jack Black fan. I’m not sure why because though the man can be funny (Jack Black, not Andrew–though Andrew’s funny too but in a skinnier, paler and less-hairy way) his flavor of humor is something I can only tolerate for so long but Andrew giggled all through School of Rock like a little girl. However, Kung Fu Panda is one we all want to see so I think we’re going to make a family adventure of it by seeing it together on Independence Day. I say adventure because it’s going to cost a whopping load of dough to get us all through the ticket booth–which is why we’ll be forced to sneak in the popcorn. And then on holidays they don’t have the cheapy hours as much as on regular days. Eesh! But on behalf of karate-chopping pandas everywhere I can say in confidence that we’re looking forward to seeing it.

Playhouse in the Back8. Have a movie night in the playhouse. We have a large shed in the backyard that we turned into a playhouse way back when. We put in windows, threw in carpeting on the floor and made a loft area. Over the years any old furniture we wanted to discard but were too cheap to haul to the dump we threw into the playhouse until it became quite the cozy little cottage in the back. Andrew jokes that someday we’ll run a gerbil tube out to it so his mother will have a place to live. Not that his mother’s a gerbil, gosh that wasn’t what I was implying . . . open mouth, insert foot.

Anyway, in the summer we’ll run extension cords out to the playhouse and show movies out there for fun. It’s not as if a movie is a novelty but watching a movie outside–now that’s a thrill. It’s the closest we can get to a drive-in theater I suppose.

9. Build a soapbox racer. This was another idea that got me some weird looks from the rest of the room when I suggested it but years ago I found some plans for building a racer and the boys are finally big enough to tackle it themselves. We made the trip to the hardware store yesterday for all the parts and we’re going to build us a roadster. No, make that “we’re going to build us a COOL roadster.” Really cool. This one will definitely require a post. When we’ve finished I’ll share the pictures and I think we’ve talked some friends into building one too so we can race them. Oh it’s going to be fun.

Arctic Thunder Elmendorf AFB June 28-2910. Attend the air show. Every year Elmendorf Air Force Base opens up for visitors where you can tour the aircraft and see a top notch air show. In the past years they’ve had to cancel because of the costs associated with the war in Iraq but they’re back this year with another installation of Arctic Thunder and the Thunderbirds (and if that doesn’t just reek of cool I don’t know what does–just try to tell me you can see those guys go by without hearing Top Gun music in your brain). I like going, I’m hoping they have one of the new F-22A Raptors on display. Oh, and I’ve had it confirmed that if you email them ahead of time you can get a special invitation to attend the practice for the air show on June 27 for people who may not be comfortable in the huge crowds that the regular show draws. Elderly, people with special needs, etc. Nice of them isn’t it?

11. Hike Point Hope. There’s a place a cross the inlet from Anchorage that Andrew has wanted to hike for years. YEARS. Every year he brings up the possibility of hiking Point Hope and every year it seems we shoot him down. Maybe this year will be his chance and we can give it a try. He’s so happy about it he went out and got a dehydrator so he can prepare his own dehydrated meals specifically for his hiking pleasure. He’s dehydrating everything now–chicken, bowls of cold cereal, Skittles, socks, toilet paper . . . I’d better watch out or he’ll be dehydrating the kids for greater portability.

12. Camps. Each of the kids have a week of camp going this summer which normally I really look forward to. Nothing like having some respite half way through the summer where the Boy Scouts of America say, “Here, pay us an enormous fee and we’ll take your testosterone-laden son off your hands for a week and will teach him to be even manlier.” But this year as luck would have it Spencer and David have Boy Scout and cub scout camp on the same week. And, as luck would have it further that week happens to be the week I’ll be at BlogHer in San Francsico. Dang! All that money for scout camp and I don’t even get to enjoy the benefits of it! It’s like a wasted week or something. Oh well, at least the boys will have a blazing good time.

13. Dip net for salmon. Have you ever gone dip netting? It’s just what it sounds like, you get your nets, head down to the river and you dip in to fill up with salmon. If you like salmon then this just might be the ultimate fishing experience for you because–depending on the fishing limit that year–you can collect scores of fish. Make that scads. MILLIONS of fish. Well, maybe not millions but a lot. Enough to fill your freezer for the winter and it’s quite the experience. We’ve wanted to go try it for a couple years now and I think this may be the year we get up off the couch and go slaughter some fish.

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