Deadliest-er Catch

A year ago my silly "Living VANcariously" title should have been retired when the van was adopted by a fellow road warrior... but the heart is still here, I'm still exploring and wanting to share the experiences with you, only now just renting a room and traveling in different vehicles.

Over the time that has passed since settling in to Truckee, I've had a few different jobs, one of which was full-time in a stressful office that really got me dreaming of getting out and going on another big adventure. Didn't have much of a travel itch though since this winter was really great in the Tahoe region, with some resorts getting over 700" of snow. Shredding the powdery slopes kept me happy, but still longed to see some new sights.

For a decade one of my longtime friends, Paul Laca, has been going to Alaska each summer for salmon fishing. He's always told me stories about the majestic Chugach Mountains, showing me amazing photos like it was a National Geographic magazine. Somehow over my snowboarding career I had never been to AK, so over time it became something of a fairytale destination. Well, a few years ago after all of his experience he started his own small commercial fishing boat operation, and would always put out an invite for me to come be a deckhand so I could finally check out this land, and water. He told me there was an opportunity that would pay for all my expenses plus a little extra, which before even understanding what it was, assuming it was like some Deadliest Catch tv show, I was booking a plane ticket!

 Great little town, home to Alyeska ski resort. ...there are more resorts just around Lake Tahoe than all of AK, but the terrain here looks way more radical. 

Great little town, home to Alyeska ski resort. ...there are more resorts just around Lake Tahoe than all of AK, but the terrain here looks way more radical. 

 Paul's a Rad Dad to Bodie.

Paul's a Rad Dad to Bodie.

 My Alaska fam.

My Alaska fam.

I got in a couple days early to explore and packed in some adventures right away: biked for miles on a dirt road with a far too heavy camera bag, hiked through mud and snow in bear and moose territory, enjoyed only Alaskan beer, ate lots of nachos, built tree forts with Bodie, and even did a popup pizza party!

 They set me up in their guest apt, a vintage Airstream Land Yacht!

They set me up in their guest apt, a vintage Airstream Land Yacht!

 If you're ever in Girdwood, stay here via  Airbnb .

If you're ever in Girdwood, stay here via Airbnb.

 These tracks were twice the size of my hand...

These tracks were twice the size of my hand...

 Does a bear $ h !t in the woods?? 

Does a bear $h!t in the woods?? 

After I was done playing around, we finally got to work getting the boat prepped for the trip, and also got a full explanation of what we were here for. (I didn't care what it was, just stoked to be in Alaska finally) 

So 30 years ago there was the biggest ecological disaster ever in the Prince William Sound in the Gulf of Alaska, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, when an oil tanker crashed and leaked 11 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean. It killed countless numbers of birds, fish, etc, and actually now there are reports of the volunteer cleanup worker who are now showing cancer... even today there are still areas you can turn over a rock on the shoreline and find oil. It's ridiculous there were no engineering precautions taken to avoid such an event or even ideas on how to minimize the damage to the environment. WELL NOW, there are state mandated oil industry funded emergency plans, and this is where my trip funding came from.

The routes of these oil tankers are the same areas commercial fisherman catch salmon during the summer, and if there was, hopefully not, the fisherman would already be there as first responders to the scene. Because of that once a year there is a multi-day workshop with education and training for the fishing crews, for using equipment to collect the oil before it can touch the shorelines. It's basically a bunch of skimmers that attach between boats and you drag them around the ocean to collect the floating oil, then use machines to suck it up and pump into barges. There's more, but monotonous info on procedures that I hope to never put into action. 

Sorry, no reality tv shows this time.

 On the way to launch his boat, the Farside.

On the way to launch his boat, the Farside.

 Getting to the harbor in Whittier you have to travel through maybe the longest tunnel, 2.5 miles, that is also one way so you have to wait your turn every hour. Dicey too, the gate is closed every night so if you're late you're stuck on the other side.

Getting to the harbor in Whittier you have to travel through maybe the longest tunnel, 2.5 miles, that is also one way so you have to wait your turn every hour. Dicey too, the gate is closed every night so if you're late you're stuck on the other side.

 Things you see in Whittier.

Things you see in Whittier.

 This is art, please appreciate it.

This is art, please appreciate it.

 And now a word from our sponsors... It rained a lot, though my  686 GLCR jacket  kept me completely dry, my  Coal Headwear beanie  was warm, and these  Ridgemont boots  were great.

And now a word from our sponsors... It rained a lot, though my 686 GLCR jacket kept me completely dry, my Coal Headwear beanie was warm, and these Ridgemont boots were great.

 Once upon a time this place use to house everybody in the entire town and had all the stores, school, hospital, and everything, basically to make it a "city under one roof" since the weather gets so bad here. After the great Alaska Earthquake, they built a new one and let this place become a zombie den.

Once upon a time this place use to house everybody in the entire town and had all the stores, school, hospital, and everything, basically to make it a "city under one roof" since the weather gets so bad here. After the great Alaska Earthquake, they built a new one and let this place become a zombie den.

 Nothing but meth addict bears down there...

Nothing but meth addict bears down there...

 Even though I've done a lot of  exploring abandoned places , this place was still super sketchy.

Even though I've done a lot of exploring abandoned places, this place was still super sketchy.

 Our apartment for the week, the Farside!

Our apartment for the week, the Farside!

 Home is where you float it. #BoatLife 

Home is where you float it. #BoatLife 

 It's a 6 hour trek to Cordova in good weather.

It's a 6 hour trek to Cordova in good weather.

 A jillion birds, a waterfall into the ocean, some snowy mountains. Maybe the coolest photo I've ever made.

A jillion birds, a waterfall into the ocean, some snowy mountains. Maybe the coolest photo I've ever made.

 No you can't sit with us.

No you can't sit with us.

 Cordova. There are no roads to drive in or out of here, either have to boat or fly in to a tiny airport.

Cordova. There are no roads to drive in or out of here, either have to boat or fly in to a tiny airport.

 This badass wanted to get all 'Murica on me.

This badass wanted to get all 'Murica on me.

 NO ROAD. 

NO ROAD. 

 WHY WAIT!?

WHY WAIT!?

 Old WWII submarine chaser.

Old WWII submarine chaser.

 I want to heliski out there...

I want to heliski out there...

 Because fishing season didn't start for another couple weeks we took the ferry back.

Because fishing season didn't start for another couple weeks we took the ferry back.

 Unfortunately I didn't get to see the Northern Lights, but this sunset was amazing aways. 

Unfortunately I didn't get to see the Northern Lights, but this sunset was amazing aways. 

 Alaska, the last frontier.

Alaska, the last frontier.

The original Living VANcariously adventure touched all 48 contiguous states, and now having explored Alaska, I just have one state left to see...

H A W A I I  ! ! !

The only time I've seen the Hawaiian islands is on a postcard, so somehow we need to turn this dream into a reality. I'd love to work with a brand to collaborate on an advertising project, create marketing assets for a campaign, promote some new products, develop content, and make some memories. Please pass along my info to anybody you may think could help. Robbie@robbiesell.com 

Thanks for checking out my adventure, and hope you get inspired to get out there too!!!