Home Alaska Turning Home 1: Arriving in Naknek, Walking to the Cannery

Turning Home 1: Arriving in Naknek, Walking to the Cannery


Cannery towns in Alaska include a three-times-a-day ritual during the summer fishing seasons–coffee time for the cannery crew and fisherman, also known as Mug Up. It serves as a time to bump into old time friends (and not-so friends too), and indulge in crap coffee and donuts.

It’s the time of year out here when the sun doesn’t actually go down so landing in Bristol Bay at 7:30 meant it was still plenty light at 9 p.m. to head to the cannery for mug up.

To fly from Anchorage to Bristol Bay I boarded a 20-seater plane that held only 10 of us. With the extra weight people are boxing up to bring to the bush as luggage they had to cut the people riding the plane. We were all weighed, along with our hand carries, and then seated according to achieving the perfect weight balance for take off and landing. People walked on with fresh potted plants, rifles, huge bags of groceries, and me with three bottles of wine–no security to enter. It was like the Alaskan plane equivalent of that bus scene in the early 80s movie Romancing the Stone, minus the porcine squeals.

Arriving at the camp house, where 12 of us are staying together, Melanie had chilled a special bottle of champagne–a Grand Cru Franck Bonville 2004 without any import label as it was brought to Alaska and shared as a gift from the wine maker himself. What a treat!

It was a lovely, delicate citrus blossom, toast, and wild flower honey nose with a palate to follow along with hints of satsuma and chalk.

There’s a great story for how Melanie was given this wine. Check out her blog post to read it here: http://fishwineski.com/2012/06/29/a-homecoming/

Following are pictures from walking to the cannery yesterday for 9 p.m. mug up.

Bristol Bay, Alaska has the largest salmon run in the world, and also hosts the largest lakes in Alaska, as well as one of the most bio-diverse eco-systems in the world, all situated within the ring of fire.

the truck I learned to drive on–a 1976 Ford F250 with no power anything. It still runs.

most of the gang walking to the cannery at 9 p.m.

a view of the cannery entrance–Alaska General Seafoods

sneaking through the back trails of the cannery grounds

a family owned and operated tender delivering fish to the cannery through a fish pumping tube

the Elaine Christine, the boat my dad got a year after I was born and named for me; now 36 years old and owned by someone else

Last night I remembered why my family invites me out here. I’m good at getting everyone to do things like play couch superman–trying to keep the back half of your body balanced on the couch with your front half balanced off the couch. It’s hard.

my three-days-from five year old Nephew, Oliver, and me, Rachel in the background

I got pictures of my sister and our good friend Cathy being superman too but Melanie says she doesn’t want me to post them here. (Shh! Don’t tell but you can see one of the pics here instead: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=487105181305321&set=a.291096817572826.89395.290999980915843&type=1&theater hee. hee hee. I’m naughty.)


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