End of Summer Camp
I never went to camp as a kid. Did you? I always wanted to though! When I heard that The Boardroom, an awesome coworking space in downtown Anchorage, was hosting an End of Summer Camp for grownups – especially entrepreneurs – I knew I wanted to go. Of course I was more than a tad nervous of going away for a weekend with people I had never met. Plus, I chose not to drive and jump on one of the vans – so if it sucked, I couldn’t leave. Yep, nervous.
We all piled into the super comfy van where we had Steve with Great Land Adventures leading the way. I was happy to start the trip to Homer with Alaskan Brewery Freeride IPA (felt quite appropriate!). We made a quick stop in Girdwood, cracked open a Kenai Rivers Brewing‘s PBR, and we were back on the road to Homer!
I’m not going to mention names, (cough, Jeff, cough) had the bladder of a small child so we ended up stopping about every 45 minutes. Good thing though we stopped at Grizzly Ridge in Coopers Landing. The bathroom. OMG. It is the cleanest, nicest bathroom I have seen in all of Alaska – and I have definitely used my fair share traveling around this state. You can see Steve looking through his binoculars showing us the Mama Black Bear and her babies up in the trees and the herd of Dall Sheep on the ridge – that was awesome! Epic pitstop, for sure!
The trip down to Homer was pretty stellar. Lots of conversations going on, meeting new people, and trying to relax after a pretty big week for me. We rolled into camp just shy of 7pm and I was hungry, tired, and ready to relax. After we got settled into our yurts, which mind you, were outfitted with a couple bottles of wine, comfy linens, and cozy candles everywhere… if this is how camp was as a kid, I definitely missed out!
For me, you know the whole food issue is stressful. I met Chef Robert and David from FORK Catering and they assured me that making me soy-free meals was no problem and they were up for the challenge. It was nice to hear! Then David looked at me and said – I bet you couldn’t eat lunch then since it was covered in soy sauce. Nope, I couldn’t. Chef Robert took that cue and asked if I liked sausage and next thing I knew had one yummy ass dinner.
I have to really say Thank You to FORK Catering before I can go any further. Those of you that suffer from a life-threatening food allergy know just how stressful it is to trust someone to cook for you. Each meal over this weekend, these guys went above and beyond anything I could ever have hoped for. Poached eggs over tomatoes for breakfast for one. For a snack Chef David had whipped up these raspberry brownies that I looked longingly at. I mentioned that I had brought some Theo Chocolate with me (one of only 2 brands that are soy-free) and I handed it over. He gave me a back a plate of fresh strawberries and blackberries covered in this chocolate Heaven. Yep, FORK Catering – THANK YOU – you certainly knocked my socks off. But why did you have to look so serious in my pic? :)-
After dinner, I introduced myself to Josh Martinez who was the photographer for the weekend. I had signed up for his class in the morning and was pretty stoked to really learn how to use my camera, the Canon T3i. I know I take great shots, but I am by no means a photographer… yet. I want to be though. I think my pictures enhance my writing – both creatively and visually. I was standing around this campfire and I saw Josh taking photos. I mentioned that I did not know how to take night photos. He had me go grab my camera and next thing I knew we were having an impromptu photography session. Here is my first night photo – I LOVE IT!
I went to bed that night happy and exhausted. I went to the dance party, but didn’t dance. I’m still pretty shy in some social situations (shocker, I know). I also knew I needed a few minutes to meditate and relax my mind from all of the day’s craziness. I slept quite well.
Then it happened. One of the girls woke up and said the words I had been waiting for – It’s Snowing! I was excited, just like a little kid. I know at the end of this Winter I might not be as excited, but I was this morning in Homer! I put on my Timberland boots, my Gaiam yoga pants and hoodie plus that new L.L. Bean jacket and headed out for a day at camp First up was morning yoga – which was the first time I had done yoga in 2 years… I have really missed it and need to make it part of my life again. I kept thinking while on that yoga mat as I looked out at the trees with the mountains in the distance, of just how incredibly beautiful it was there, and that I was truly blessed in that moment in time.
I’m not typically a vodka nor Bloody Mary girl, but when in Rome, right? I mean, I had to try one for prosperity sakes. 🙂 Delicious… local Truuli Peak Vodka which is made from glacier-fed water, local barley and Alaskan wildflower honey. Yummmmm. Don’t you wish you could taste it through that screen there? That’s Steve with Great Land Adventures pouring up another one of his awesome cocktails.
One of the best parts of the weekend for me was taking the photography class by Professional Photographer, Josh Martinez. I learned so much and realized that I want to learn so much more! Here are a few shots I took during the class. I probably took close to 300 in an hour and analyzed each one to see how it could be better. One of the best things though, was learning what my Canon could really do. Thank you Josh for answering all of my bajillion questions – I really appreciated it.
Here is a photo that Josh Martinez took of our photography class.
On the bus ride down to Homer, I sat in front of Zach Hall, who is a US World Cup Biathlete. I had no idea what a Biathlon was. Skiing + Shooting = Biathlon. Who knew? Apparently, everyone in Alaska! I never would have thought one of the sessions was a infrared laser biathlon competition – I mean, how cool is that??? Zach also works with AK Biathlon, which is a nonprofit where they go into the remote bush communities and teach kids how to ski. This winter I am hoping to learn to cross country ski and not be such a newbie when it comes to Winter sports, because this looked way cool!
At the same time as the Biathlon class was the Pasta Making Class led by Chef Robert Kineen of FORK Catering. We learned how to make Ravioli Nudi (read my friend Natasha’s post on how to make it) and tortellini. I have only made pasta a couple times… but boy, do I want to make more now. I love gnochi and nudi was similar it was just made with cheese instead of potato. I’m a sucker for cheese. I see I might need to put a pasta maker on my wish list now!
After a day filled with learning, I was planning on going back to my yurt for a little nap and maybe a walk around the camp. That didn’t happen. When Natasha and I walked into the yurt there was a full-fledge carpet party happening with local wine from Bear Creak Winery, and well, Fireball whiskey. I drank the wine and left the cinnamon whiskey to the rest of the girls and Jeff. We seriously had the best people in our yurt – Jen, Riza, Laurel, Natasha, and our honorary yurtmate – Jeff.
This is one of my favorite photos from the whole weekend – we were headed to dinner and then for dance party shenanigans. This was such a great moment!
We had to have a photographer change…
Saturday night was full of laughter, crazy shenanigans, and even a little dancing. Thanks DJ Spencer Lee for the kickass beats that got me out there!! I might need that playlist! 🙂
I was one of the story tellers at the camp that night and told the story of how I tore my Achilles last year and came back from it. I was a bit nervous… needless to say, I am a much better writer!
The next morning was the last day of camp. I was sad to see it come to an end. Check out this video that Orzel Productions did… you can see my back quite a few times. And boy these winter clothes are none to flattering 🙂
On the way back to Anchorage, we stopped to see Belugas along Turnagain Arm (so damn cool!!). I think this photo though was even better than seeing one of my favorite animals. These guys made this weekend quite memorable for me. So much laughter, warm souls, and just the perfect way to say goodbye to my Alaskan summer. End of Summer Camp – you did good!!