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What Do Alaska Commercial Fishermen and Hollywood Celebs Have in Common?


It’s Bag Balm!

Although originally made for cows, Bag Balm has garnered the attention of celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Shania Twain and received mentions in The New York Times and Glamour Magazine. The dry-skin salve has been around since 1899 with the original purpose of soothing chapped cow udders, but the lanolin-rich balm-in-a-box now has found a home in parched hands and on parched faces of people.

The substance with the mild medicinal odor has evolved into a medicine chest must-have.
According to Bag Balm lore, the stuff went from barns to bedrooms when dairy farmers’ wives noticed how smooth their spouses’ fingers were after using it on cows’ udders.

If you haven’t heard of bag balm, it’s a veternary product. It’s sold for use on animals and particularly on cows. And, it says so on the side of the green can with pink flowers and lettering. “After each milking, apply thoroughly and allow coating to remain on surface . . .”

If you have a cow, and your cow has teat problems, then you go buy some Bag Balm. Cow owners have been treating dry and cracked cow udder and teats with Bag Balm for a long time… Bull owners might use Bag Balm for barbwire cuts and such, but bulls do not have teats. And I won’t even explain that one.


When you live on a farm, you often make do. It’s not unusual for farm folk to try out the animal meds. When you live on a commercial fishing boat and find out what this stuff can do for dry chapped hands that have been in rubber gloves all day, you give it a try.

Bag Balm was in the bathroom cabinet at my husbands folks along with iodine, Pepto Bismal, and Bayer aspirin. It was considered a staple item and certainly more pleasant than the iodine.

Bag Balm is pretty much like Petroleum jelly but with a mild analgesic. It helps block the pain after application and then stays on and protects the cuts on weathered hands. We use it like Neosporin and it is much cheaper than Neosporin. Another alternative was Buckly’s from Race Ave Drugs which is no longer available.

Bag Balm is not a NEWS FLASH for most rural families, but it is unusual to begin seeing Bag Balm in department stores and at the drugstore. I wondered what was up with all that. Then I read that Shania Twain mentioned that she used Bag Balm as a moisturizer on her face and hair.


I’ve used Bag Balm since I started commercial fishing 25 years ago on my chapped lips as well as wind-burned cheeks and hands. When I tell people I’ve used it all over my face especially my eyes, no one believes me. It’s true! I have tried every expensive skin care product under the sun and none compare to the anti inflammatory benefits of Bag Balm. It sorta works like Preparation H. under the eyes. I will also tell you that this makes an awesome wintertime night cream for your whole face (as long as you are not prone to breakouts…lanolin is a notorious pore-clogger). Fortunately, I am not prone to breakouts, so I use Bag Balm on my face religiously during the winter months. It smells medicinal and it’s greasy as can be…but it works! Probably because it also contains beta-hydroxy acids which is great for regenerating aging or damaged skin. If I were trapped on a deserted island, Bag Balm would be on my list of requested supplies. (Hey wait! I do live on an island!)

My husband Ole has been using Bag Balm on the boat for many years. Anytime he gets a fish cut on his finger he uses Bag Balm, it seems to reduce the healing time by half.

How to Use Bag Balm:

Things You’ll Need
Bag Balm


1. Swipe your hand across the surface of the salve. Bag Balm is stored in a small tin and has the feel of a thick petroleum jelly. Swiping your hand lightly across the surface will allow your fingers to pick up a small amount at a time.

2. Apply to areas needing healing.

3. Smooth out the ointment over your skin’s surface. Bag Balm will not absorb immediately, but blend the ointment as best you can.

Tips & Warnings
Consider applying Bag Balm at night. Some people claim that Bag Balm restores troubled skin overnight. Sleeping with Bag Balm on your face gives the product time to absorb. My tip would be, pull your hair back and put a towel on your pillow case.

Bag Balm was designed to heal chapping, abrasions and minor cuts. Many people use Bag Balm on rough areas such as hands and feet that are very dry and cracked. Don’t use this product if you have acquired a deep cut.

While my bathroom always has a small refillable jar of it on my sink and a big tin under the sink as back-up, my bag is also never without a mini-Bag Balm for all of life’s little skin-related issues. It really is one of the greatest skin remedies out there whether it be for yourself, or the udders of all those cows you have in your backyard.

If you’ve been living a Bag Balm free life, I implore you to give it a try. Your skin will thank you.
I promise. It’s also extremely cheap considering how long it lasts.

One bonus with Bag Balm is that you have a nice tin when you are done. It does take a heap of scrubbing to get the last of the balm out. Once clean, you can use it for your screws and nails or other small items.

To purchase Bag Balm

Google Bag Balm or visit www.bagbalm.com

Do you have a Bag Balm success story? I would love to hear about it.

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Viking Maid Abstract


The Ketchikan waterfront is bustling this time of year. Cruise ships coming in, float planes buzzing by, and fishing boats gearing up for the upcoming season.

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Church, Steeple and a Lot of Cruise Ship People


Everyday during the summer the cruise ships become the largest buildings in town. Occasionally, as many as five will be tied up along the waterfront in Ketchikan, Alaska. The skyline changes and sometimes they even block out the sun.

Have you ever been on a cruise?

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Commercial Fishing Lifestyle


There is no need to convince the thousands of Alaskans and avid outdoor men and women, who get excited by reeling in a 30-pound King Salmon or seeing a beautiful Coho rise to a brightly colored lure, why they need to start making plans to head outside.
But for some reason, after the long winter off I need a little convincing. As the 2012 salmon season approaches, I try to remember all the reason why I love to fish, because surely it’s not the sleepless nights, the isolation and all the aches and pains it causes.

As I try to remember, I’ve compiled a list of 10 good reasons that might just offer you an excuse to call in sick for the summer and go commercial fishing.


1- Freedom: Ask most Commercial Fishermen why they enjoy spending time on the water and you’re likely to hear the word “freedom.” Spending a summer fishing for salmon helps to release us from our highly stressful, everyday environment. Nothing brings on the sense of being alive and aware to help rebuild our personal reserves like a day spent interacting with nature. You are aware of each minute, what is happening right now, and what is ahead. Your free in that you’ve just done something all day long and then you’re done…When you wake up you’re on the water and in one of the most beautiful places on earth.


2- Not Ruled by the Clock: Having a bad day of fishing still beats a day in the office or tending to house chores. When fishing for salmon, your day is ruled by the tide. Watching the kelp with the tide is pretty neat. You’re not on a clock, your run by the wind, waves, and the tide. In this way you develop confidence in yourself and in your ability to handle unexpected situations.


3- The Thrill: Fishing has a way of fulfilling an age-old need of pursuing and catching. The thrill lies in the challenges, such as finding where the fish are and keeping your boat afloat. But there are many who will be quick to profess that it’s not the catching of fish that’s important, but the immeasurable life lessons that you will experience along the way. This gives me joy because my entire spirit is elevated and this makes me happy.


4- Health Benefits: More than fifty percent of Americans are overweight. Being outside and being active helps to make you feel better and encourages a healthier way of life. Driving to your local grocery store and fast food restaurant might be convenient, but fishing can also help you burn those unwanted calories, increase the quality of your lifestyle, and add years to your life.

5- Physical and Mental Strength: Mental strength sometimes can be more important than physical strength. The summers give you the opportunity to sharpen both. But no doubt, fishing is exercise. Every muscle works on a boat. Even when you are just sitting at anchor your body is working as the boat rocks and rolls, you’re getting lots of fresh air and plenty of sunshine. Fishing really comes down to mental toughness and being physically strong to make it to the end.


6- Fishing for Food: Wild fish are low in fat and cholesterol and high in protein. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends a regular diet of fish. Besides it’s a lot more challenging to catch that plate of fresh fish than to stroll endlessly down a supermarket aisle. We dine on fresh fish seven days a week loving every minute of it. Eating this much fresh fish is the perfect opportunity to lighten up my diet and loose a few extra pounds.


7- Boost to the Economy: The fishing industry is Alaska’s largest private employer and employs over 65,000 people for the summer, seasonal and year round employment. The states fisheries average over $11.2 billion in revenue per year and account for 38% of the dollar value of fish landed in the United States. This gives an economic boost that any state government would be pleased with. I love being a part of this.


8- Self Fulfillment: Fishing offers you the chance to improve your self-esteem through respect for the environment, mastering outdoor skills and achieving personal goals. There is never a day when I do not learn something new or sharpen a skill such as, tying knots, piloting the boat, chart reading, how to anchor and how to read the wind and the weather.


9- Empowerment: There is nothing better than coming back to town after the season, knowing you have just pushed yourself to the limits way beyond what most people could only imagine, and you had an experience of a lifetime.


10-Lifestyle: The industry, the people, the lifestyle. It’s all a part of who I am and I love it. At the end of every season I walk away with a better understanding of who I am and tons of great stories to tell for years to come. After all, fishing in Alaska is an adventure of a lifetime. I love the lifestyle it provides. We fish 15 weeks a year and get to do what we want to for the winter which is traveling, taking pictures and writing cookbooks.

After writing this and reviewing all my pictures, HOW COULD I NOT WANT TO GET BACK ON THE BOAT AND GO FISHING! After all, my bunk does come complete with a feather bed and an electric blanket. 🙂

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Dandelions in Alaska


I know, I know a dandelion is only a weed… but the joy that they bring to our lives should never be taken for granted.

I am pretty sure Ketchikan has the award on the biggest and brightest dandelions anywhere!

I remember the first time I was presented with a huge bouquet of dandelions and and the joy I felt. I dried a few, pressed a few and made a dandelion necklace.

Once I learned how to make a chain, I would sit for hours with friends making them in a field of dandelions.

They are bright and cheerful and remind us that summer is on the way!

Have you ever made a dandelion necklace?


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Hole in the Wall, Ketchikan Alaska


Alaska style Billboard.


Just a short walk down the ramp.


Ketchikan’s cutest little harbor!

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Ward Lake Nature Walk in Ketchikan Alaska


A walk around Ward Lake is very refreshing. The one mile long nature trail was developed by the Forest Service. It is the area’s easiest hike on mostly level ground. There are signs along the trail identifying trees species and information on animals in the area. Ward Lake is on the Ward Lake Road, which starts on North Tongass Highway about 5 miles north of the city limits.

Just past the Ward Lake parking area, in a smaller parking area you will find the Perseverance Lake Trail head. Perseverance Trail is a three mile long trail that is mostly board walk, built and maintained by the Forest Service. It winds through muskeg and forest to a small lake nestled at the base of mountains.

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Salmon and Wine are Simply Meant to Be Together


Salmon are perhaps the most visually striking of the world’s fish. Sleek and silvery, they are aquatic vertebrates of grace and beauty with buttery and succulent flesh. It’s no wonder that foodies have long considered salmon as one of the ocean’s great natural delicacies.

As its name implies, it’s neither red-fleshed nor white, making it an exceptionally accommodating wine companion. Depending on the preparation, salmon dishes can be paired with a spectrum of wines, including Champagne, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

I have been cooking salmon for 25 years and I must have 100 plus recipes for it in my head. While there are several factors that can affect what wine goes best with salmon, you can’t go wrong if you choose a bottle that stands up to the strong flavor of the fish without overpowering it.

Salmon, unlike most foods, has the uncanny ability to be matched to wine by texture — either complementary or in counterpoint — as well as by its saucing.

Salmon also lends itself to assertive adornments. Bright, acidic sauces – those made with lemon, capers, tomatoes and fruit – work well because they cut through some of the fish’s inherent richness. Salmon’s luxuriant qualities can be heightened with marinades and sauces that include brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, hot peppers and sesame oil that enhances salmon without overwhelming its intrinsic flavor. Cooking methods broaden its range – it can be served smoked, poached, grilled, steamed or baked, the list of possibilities for salmon is quite long.


Personal Preference
Wine pairings are also a matter of personal preference. While a certain white wine may be best suited to your meal, you may prefer to drink red wines. Your taste preferences are just as important as any other factor.

If you like your everyday red or white wine, don’t worry about trying to match the food you are eating with that particular wine. What matters most is that you like how your wine tastes. Not every meal requires the perfect match with a wine. With a little research, you can find a wine you love that is perfect for your meal.

Wine Recommendations for Salmon
Depending on the flavors of your meal, one of these wines could be an excellent choice:

Chardonnay Pair this richer white wine with buttered salmon. Chardonnay is a full-bodied wine that is full of flavor. A plain white fish would be completely overshadowed by this powerful white wine, but when served with buttered salmon, the Chardonnay only further complements the creamy flavor of the fish, making it one of the best wine pairings for salmon.

Riesling ths crisp, acidic wine pairs best with the richer flavor of salmon. A good Riesling will also give off a citrus lime flavor that complements salmon. It also pairs well with spicier cuisine, so if you want to try cooking up a more exotic-flavored salmon recipe you might want to pair the concoction with a glass of Riesling.

Pinot Grigio is wonderful with most seafood, including salmon. This light white wine is best with salmon that doesn’t have a strong sauce, and it is excellent with lemon-based sauces. This white wine carries a more succulent flavor like the Riesling with hints of pear and peach. Pinot Grigio is a full-bodied wine that could overpower white fish or shellfish but pairs very well with salmon, particularly smoked salmon. It also goes well with various side dishes.

Sauvignon Blanc is also a great white wine for lighter salmon dishes. It’s important to choose a bottle that is not too fruity. This wine goes well with a number of different entrees, since it is light, refreshing and a bit acidic. The combined aromas of Sauvignon Blanc can bring out the taste of lemon-flavored salmon quite well. It also pairs well with sushi.

Pinot Noir is a great choice if you love red wine. It’s especially excellent with salmon prepared on the grill, and it can hold up to the strong flavor of this fish. This is one of the lighter red wines, so it pairs extremely well with foods like salmon. It is often too heavy for white fish and too light for red meat, but salmon finds the perfect balance when paired with this wine. A Pinot Noir served with herb-grilled salmon will taste especially flavorful.

Zinfandel is very good with blackened or grilled salmon. Look for a bottle that is somewhat fruity and not too dry. This medium-bodied wine displays classic varietal character with a fresh berry aroma and a hint of black pepper. The flavors are bright and juicy, with a zesty spiciness. Pairs beautifully with salmon.

Too often wine can intimidate us. Part of this is due to the tremendous number of choices that exist and part of it is due to the tendency to make wine too precious.

Wine is meant to be enjoyed with food.

Hopefully the above will be useful to you as a guide. It comes down your own choice and preferences. Drink what you like, it’s part of the joy of pairing food and wine!



What type of wine do you serve with Alaskan salmon?

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Calm After the Storm


Calm after the storm. Photo looking north up Tongass Narrows, Ketchikan Alaska.

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Charlie in the Sky


This is our awesome welder Charlie Ratzat way up on top our mast. He is welding us a higher red light.

Just a few minutes before he climbed up there it was pouring buckets of rain. Hard to believe with the beautiful blue sky and those puffy clouds… that’s Ketchikan! 🙂

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