Archive for July, 2011

The Parker Palm Springs

Thank you to all of those who read my post yesterday and for the fabulous comments.  I had a wonderful birthday and I attribute it to my lovely readers, friends and family.

So, yesterday, I mentioned how I squared away a deal with Graham a few moments into our trip that our next vacation will be to the Parker, Palm Springs.  It will be a while before we go on another vacation and I’m happy with that since our last one was so great.  However, let’s take a gander at where Graham and I will be heading sometime in the next year or so…

                                                                      (Photos by Kristin Eldridge Photography)

A deal is a deal.  And I made a sweet one!  Hee Hee.  This hotel was designed by one of my icons – Jonathan Adler.  LOVE.

Have you ever stayed here?

July 14, 2011 at 9:13 AM 3 comments

Alaska Days

Warning: This is a long entry but I promise to keep you entertained with humorous stories and pictures.  I decided to write up the journal I kept while on our fishing trip.  Since today is my birthday, I figured I can indulge myself and share my writing and travel photos with all of you.  Tomorrow we’ll be back on to decor and a much smaller chunk of words…

Our journey to Alaska was,well, let’s just call it an unusual route.  We had to fly San Francisco to CHICAGO then Chicago to Anchorage.  We flew using frequent flyer miles on American and this was the only way they would let us go.  Ugh.  After flying for four hours the wrong direction, we touched down in Chicago.  However, our spirits were high because we knew we could finally start heading west for Anchorage.

Of course, a sunny disposition can only last so long as things are destined to go wrong.  Our plane had “mechanical issues” and we had to sit on the tarmac in Chicago for two hours while they tried to fix it.  There was even threat of deplaning us and canceling the entire flight.  Thankfully, it was fixed.  But since life is never simple, just as our plane was good to go, a lightening storm came to town.  We sat on the runway for another hour waiting for it to pass.  Eventually, we were good to go and it was a wonderful feeling to be airborne.  Even though we left our apartment at 6:30 AM and we didn’t arrive to Alaska until 1:30 AM the next day, we were thrilled to be there.  I even instisted Graham take a picture of me next to the polar bears in the airport.

The next morning at 6:30 AM, we were up for another flight.  This time, we were taking a small charter flight from Anchorage to a small town called, Igiugig, to get to our remote fishing lodge: Big Ku.  Graham and I were thrilled to be getting to our final destination after such a long journey.  We took some silly pictures in the small private airport.

I then stumbled across the T-shirt they were selling in the airport terminal…

Hmmm…not exactly, the most easy feeling for getting on a tiny plane.  Luckily, I saw that they had their priorities correct with what they were filling the plane with…

Soon enough, we had boarded the tiny plane and we were ready for our adventure to begin. We had a gorgeous plane ride over to Katmai National Park.

 Two hours later, we had touched down in Igiugig, population 65 people.  This sets the scene for where our story begins.

If you were standing on the Igiugig patch of dirt, known as their runway, and if you could see past the black cloud of flesh eating “white socks” bugs swarming around my exposed skin, look beyond the newly purchased bug net draped over my face, peer under the polaroid fishing glasses, you would find a pool of tears welling up and cascading down my cheeks.  With a quivering lip, I looked at Graham and stuck out my hand and with all the fear, disappointment and adreneline I had pumping through my body, I said: “Next trip is to the Parker Palm Springs and we are going to all the estate sales and furniture stores I want and you are NOT golfing.”

Graham knew what was best.  He stuck out his hand and shook mine and made a deal as fast as any husband could.  The Inuit people of Igiugig looked on with smiles of amusement as the young yuppies from San Francisco battled out their new surroundings and succomed to a marriage treaty.  We made our way to a small wooden shack, known as the terminal where a man with calloused skin, a carheart suit, wading boots and a large bug net draped over his face lead us to a float plane.  I decided if someone this burly succomed to the bug net, we were in trouble.

Like bumbling idiots with flailing arms, we boarded the plane.  Graham did his best to make small talk with a man who lives in a town whose population is smaller than the total inhabinants of our three story apartment building.  I sat in the back of the plane and sucked in gulps of air as the tears began to subside.

One bouncy, lose your lunch, flight over and we hade made it to a small rocky beach.  Here, we were greeted by our two guides: Jordan and Shane.  They put us into a motor boat and took us to our lodge.  When getting to camp, we were relieved to find out the bugs weren’t as bad, the lodge was gorgeous and the views were out of this world.  We had electricity, flannel sheets and even Internet (although, we never did use it).

Happy I had made the Palm Springs deal at the worst part, my trembling began to slow down and I started to think I could survive this.   When talking to our guides, we found out that they worked at the Fly Shop in Redding.  This was my dad’s favorite shop and so I asked if they knew him.  One guide said he had set up fishing trips for him.  I proudly responded, “That’s my dad.”  The other guide went to highschool with my cousins up in Bend, Oregon.  Amazingly, I took a 747 plane to a small commuter plane to a float plane to a motor boat, and still found someone who knew my dad.  I couldn’t help but think this was my dad saying, “I’m looking after you, child.  Go catch some Rainbows.”  I knew I had to make him proud.

Within ten minutes of arriving, we sat down to a delicious homemade Minestrone soup.  We slurped the soup down in seconds and we were then ready to go fish.  We fished right out front the lodge and on the first cast, Graham caught a 20 inch trout.  His absolute pure joy was magic to see and the trip began to look up.

The next day, we had our first full eight hour day of fishing ahead of us.  I was apprehensive but knew I had a family of anglers back at home who would kill to be where we were.  I was not about to sissy out.   The guide suggest that we combine fishing and hiking and we were thrilled with this idea.  Over the course of the day, we made 28 river crossings and hiked a couple of miles of Alaskan tundra.  It was massive land with panoramic views.

Even though there were times when the hiking was treacherous and we had to yell, “Go Bears!”  when walking into thick brush (as not to startle a sleeping bear), I had two men looking after me (Graham and the guide, Jordan) and I was having the time of my life.  That day was a constant rotation of jokes, bouncing off of ones another’s humor, which lead to crazed giggle fits.

The next day, the guide, Shane, suggested that we fish close to the lodge, come back in for lunch and go back out again.  Having the day split in half was music to my ears because I decided to sit the morning out.  I turned on our cabin electric heater full blast, nestled into my flannel blankets next to a window with breathless views and got carried away with an engrossing novel.  Graham came back for lunch bubbling with fish stories, while I was adrift in London, England (where the story takes place); we were both in perfect spots.  After lunch, I joined Graham and Shane to document Graham’s mighty catches and to continue reading.

On the way home that evening, we saw the Sockeye Salmon had begun their run to spawn.  First Sockeye viewing of the season was a huge occasion and we were all cheering.  It was an unforgetable moment.  We made it back to camp to find the other guide had caught a Sockeye.  That night, we feasted on fresh bar-b-qued salmon.  It was the best fish of my life.

By day four, I was started to get a knack for the Big Ku life.  Don’t get me wrong, it had its challenges.  The climate is harsh.  With a wind chill, it can get down to about 40 degrees, and you’re wading in hip high freezing water.  If the wind isn’t whipping, it was about 55 degrees but the stillness brought on bugs which swarm all around you.  The bugs are a mixture of whitesock (which will literally eat your flesh, leave you swollen and in pain) and whiny blood-sucking mosquitoes.  You become conflicted between wanting wind or sun and actually find fishing in rain is best because at least it’s a bit warmer and the bugs are gone.  This ain’t no sissy country.

The fourth day, we went back out to the small stream of a million laughs that we had conquered two days before.  A light rain had begun and it was time to get my fish on.  About twenty minutes into fishing, I had a 25 inch, 6 pound Rainbow Trout on the line.  The guide, Jordan, was down by Graham and I was hooting and hollering that this prize fish was brought on all by myself.  Graham and Jordan ran over and watched as I slowly reeled the fighting fish to the rocky bank.  Photo ops and videos ensued as I beamed with pride.  When all was said and done, I turned to the guide and said, “You think I could be called an Angler now?”  He felt the title was appropriate.  As I cast back out for another fish, I thought of my new title – Kate Belchers: Decorator and Angler.  That sounded mighty fine to me.

That fourth day was the 4th of July and we’d been talking about the need for fireworks.  Our guide carries a gun for bear protection and I sheepishly asked if I could shoot it.  He felt it apropos for the 4th and since the bullet is rubber, he thought, “why not?”  He put the gun in my hand and it was time for the show to begin; wincing for a massive aftershock, I pointed the gun towards the horizon and I pulled the trigger.  To my surprise, it had the kick of an adolescents BB gun and it only let our a whimpering whistle.

But shooting guns and catching fish in Alaska is a far cry from my life of high heels, delicate fabrics and glossy shelter magazines.  I felt liberated, just like our founding fathers on the 4th of July.  This is America.

                    (I was wearing about ten layers in this photo and the wind picked up my jacket, while I look about 8 months pregnant in this shot, I’m not).

Day 5, we set out for “Battle Creek” which local only refer to as “Battle.”  I was ready for a fight as Jordan and Shane warned that “Battle” was a good 5 degrees colder than everywhere else.  The water there is bitter cold and the wind whips, but the fishing is great and the views are spectacular.

That morning we woke up battered, bruised and worse for wear, after conquering the previous night with beers, cards and blue grass.  As we emerged from our cabins to duel with the great outdoors, our fuzzy brains registered something we had not seen in a while – sun.  Was nature really waving her white flag?  This wasn’t going to be a battle after all.

We took a boat 15 miles across a Lake Iliamna.  The ride was effortless as we glided across glassy flat water.  We arrived at a creek that lies at the base of massive glaciers, with barely a cloud in the sky.  It was truly as if we were standing in the middle of a National Geographic cover shoot.  Now this is Alaska.

Due to the stillness of the water from the lack of wind, the fishing was much more technical than I could manage.  Graham’s fishing had improved immensely and he embraced the challenge, taking it up a notch using his skill of Spey Rod fishing.

Hearing that the fishing was over my head was a welcome relief to me, all I really wanted to catch were some rays of sunshine.  I sat, protected at the bow of the boat and eagerly soaked in the Vitamin D.  I didn’t even have to wear my bug net as the bugs were miraculously few and far between.  This day was pure heaven.

I sat in one of the most beautiful places in the world, warm in only 4 layers of clothes, not my usual 7, and watched my husband fall more madly in love with the sport I was brought up on.  Fish live in beautiful places so I don’t mind spending the rest of our lives, traveling the globe, chasing after them.

Growing up with three older brothers and parents who embraced the great outdoors, I was raised to get on out there and get dirty.  However, years of city living had prissified the dirt loving, snake holding, dove cleaning, spitting tomboy of childhood.  Day six brought me back on home to my roots.  Just give me some good water to fish, fantastic company for entertainment and a cacophony of birds singing and I’m golden.  I’ve got to say, it felt great to be back.  Heels be damned.

With my rekindled love of the my tomboy side, I was ready to fish my heart out.  We headed back out to our favorite stream, Nanunateket, otherwise known as Little Ku.  I started off in my usual spot: Kate’s Corner (self-named) where I caught my huge fish a few days prior.  I felt the need to show him who was boss again.  Within a few casts, the reel was whizzing and I had a fish on.  The day continued on this way for Graham and I as we marched through the stream and plucked fish from one glory hole after another.  Graham was cheering by my side and I couldn’t help but feel dad laughing with pride.

Day 7 was our final day of fishing.  We woke up bright and early and I put on my seven layers of clothing with zest.  Dressing in 2 pairs of long johns, Lululemon pants, two long sleeved shirts, one t-shirt, two button down tops, 2 fleece jackets and topping it all of with waders was becoming old hat to me.

We set off this morning on a bear hunt and took a boat ride downriver.  We had a total of 16 bear sightings in a 2 hours.  That’s seeing a bear every 7.5  minutes.  I was happy to really get a clear idea of how thick the bear population is on the last day.

After gawking at all the healthy bears, we decided to park our boat mid stream and fish for salmon.  This didn’t seem like the best idea, but I went for it.  Within a few casts, Graham and I were both catching salmon and having a great time.  I, of course, wanted to try out many different poses as possible with my catch.

Thoroughly distracted by my fish photo shoot, I forgot about the bears.  Suddenly, our guide, Shane, announces in a calm voice, “Bear approaching slowly walk to the boat and get in it.”  Oh great – good thing I’ve got the equivalent of a bear hot fudge Sunday in my hands.  We got to the boat while Shane yelled at the bear to try to scare it away.  He lifted the boat off the atoll where it was parked.  The bear continued to approach but it turns out he was just wanted to be where we were parked and wanted nothing to do with us.

Once we were safely out of the bears reach, I could breathe a sigh of relief.  But the encounter left me much more bearanoid and yearning for city life again.

Luckily, city life is exactly where we were headed.  The next day, it was time to leave Little Ku and to head back to Anchorage for a rehearsal dinner and wedding the following day.  The same burly man from day one came to get us in his float plane and take us back to the small town of Igiugig for our chartered flight.  This time the gruff pilot didn’t intimidate me, there was something very appealing to his lifestyle.

While sitting in the tiny airport of Igiugig, we watched a family get off of the chartered plane we were about to board to get back to Anchorage.  There were three women and two men that were headed to our lodge.  The women’s hair was freshly coiffed and their make-up was recently applied.  Their brand new North Face attire had only seen shopping malls prior to this.  The men were well groomed and one man was even in a sport coat.  Their bug net hats were nowhere to be seen.  They trepidatiously deplaned, intimidated by their wild surroundings.  Graham and I looked at each other, chuckled and declared them “Yuppies.”

July 13, 2011 at 5:47 AM 9 comments

Inspiration Files: Paint It Black

I’m baaack!!  Alaska was everything I hoped it would be and more.  I’ve now got piles of laundry to face and a gazillion e-mails so excuse me with the short post today.  I’m prepping tomorrow’s post that will be a recap on Alaska – it’s going to be a wordy one but it’s my birthday tomorrow so I figure I can post as long as a post as I want to. 🙂

Today let’s do some pinterest inspirational looks, shall we?

                                           Via Rooms that Inspire

                                                     Via Lofty Living

                                                                       Summer Thorton’s Kitchen via House Beautiful

Looks like I’m currently inspired by painting certain elements of a room black.  I love the drama and sophistication that it brings.  Would you paint your kitchen cabinets black?

July 12, 2011 at 9:35 AM 4 comments

Austin’s Nursery Sneak Peak

Today, I’m making my way back home from our trip so this is my last pre-scheduled post.  I thought I’d finish it off with the most fab nursery.  My little nephew is as cute as they come and so is his nursery…

This is the third boy for my sister in law and so she already had a lot of the baby pieces of furniture.  This time round though, she wanted to soften things up and go with a more neutral color palette.  She reupholstered the chair from a blue to a softer palate and added in the cream pouf.  She put light colored fabric balls above the crib and changed out the crib bedding from blues to creams.  She switched blue drapes for a softer, natural look. She also added in the wall of framed nursery animals; I believe they were also in her room as a child.  Finally, she changed out the dressing table pulls to the cute trucks and hung some sweet baby clothing up.  I absolutely love the look – not only is Lucy a loving mother, she does a fabulous job at decorating!!

July 11, 2011 at 5:15 AM 2 comments

Happy Friday!!

Happy Friday, indeed!!  Today is an incredibly happy day as all of my closest college friends are together to celebrate Gretchen and DJ’s wedding.  And we’re not just together anywhere, we’re in Anchorage, AK – hands down one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

I can’t wait to watch this beautiful girl, Gretchen, walk down the aisle to her handsome man.

I have loved to watch their relationship grow through the years and they are truly an inspiring couple that shows what love is all about.  Gretchen is one of my closest friends since sharing a home and thousands of memories in college; it warms my heart to see her so happy.

The perfect ending to an amazing trip!

July 8, 2011 at 5:48 AM 1 comment

A Life Lived…

(Quote from A Flair For Vintage)

The day I left for Alaska, panicked packing overtook me and a bomb went off in my bedroom.  The clothing and accessory debris are a little something something I’ve got waiting for me on my return.  But, at least I’m living life to the fullest.

 I thought this was also a great quote for those looking at a messy house after a fabulous 4th of July soiree…I’m sure the party was worth it!!

July 5, 2011 at 6:30 AM 1 comment

Happy 4th of July!!

Happy happy 4th of July!!  I hope you are enjoying the sunshine and sporting your red white and blue!!

Thinking of you while I’m away!  Hope you have a chance to chomp down a sweet, juicy slice of watermelon and to sing the Star Spangled Banner at the absolute top of your lungs!

July 4, 2011 at 5:14 AM Leave a comment

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