The Crab Feast and a Bear

We were in  a restaurant, the rules were; crack the legs of the crab, take out the meat, eat crab as fast as you can; with the exoskeleton parts make a mountain in the plate that is in the center of the round table you are seated at. Repeat. There were several choices for beverages, we choose a glass of white wine each, nor water, beer or soda. Our round table was set for 6 persons. We were only two. The other five round tables were full filled with adventurers from a cruise parked at 45 min drive in the island port. The diners were people larger than us meaning it looked that their stomachs were bigger than ours. Two waitresses gave us the first round of crab legs, this went on and on until my whole body was tingling and I had an aroma of fresh seawater crab. I think I should have sweated  crab scent!   We were in a contest; by measuring the height of the crab shells mountain at each table; the tallest, the winner. At the end of this one dish in a hurry dinner, you were promised to have the mystery prize for the ones who built the highest crab shell mountain. You could make your leftover crab mountain as taller as you could; after the first round we were second place; by the end, the winners put the plate with the mountain on top of four glasses of beer, one on top of the other, needless to say our mountain wasn’t the tallest but our bellies and ego were. For two persons and for several rounds, we were first or second place! After the sting maneuver of  the beer glasses we were very proud of our score and just laugh, we couldn’t put one glass of wine on top of the other, and then the plate with the crab mountain, there was no way it was going to hold for measurement. The ultimate price was to learn a catchy jingle with some dancing steps and perform in front of the diners. It was really simple and delightfully funny. We were in Alaska!

Ketchikan, Alaska was our first stop during the Summer of 2017. We meet the most interesting people, from Alaska and from other states. We, americans love Alaska the beautiful. We are in awe just looking at the vast, immense forest, the ocean full of living creatures, and the fantastic specimens on land. The glaciers are just breathtaking. The pristine waters of the lakes. The song of the eagle, the funniest croak of the frogs, the lovely sea lions, the elegant black tail deer, the daring goats of the cliffs, the dancing waterfalls, the magnificent whales, the funny halibut, the fantastic salmon, the roaring of the ice floes falling from the walls of the glaciers, the itty-bitty constant drizzle, or the pouring rain, the trilling creeks surrounded by tall trees, moss, ferns and luscious plants. This is not a complete description of the scenery we found, but that’s something of what we lived, more or less what I can described, named, and compiled in this written personal experience. Oh!  and yes, we have outside the preservation areas, three close encounters with bears. After dinner we were going to have the first one with a black bear;  but before, I just couldn’t pass telling you the following.

After our delicious crab contest, we were regaled with a cheesecake slice topped with berry sauce. Since little, I have loved cheesecake, the best ones I tried were homemade, or from restaurants on the East Coast. Something happened to this delicacy during the last decade. The cheesecake I have eaten lately didn’t taste really good, the slices of cheesecake had a weird aftertaste, or the consistency and texture were not right, or the ingredients were not mixed correct, or were replaced for something similar, or the amounts of this and that were wrong. There was something out-of-place in all those cheesecakes I tried. I was giving up about ponder the cheesecake as one of my favorite desserts. Then after our crab feast, the waitresses gave us cheesecake to celebrate our enthusiastic contest. I didn’t want to take away the taste of wine with crab, specially because my latest experiences with the various cheesecakes, you know now, I have tried; then, very hesitant I  tried a tiny bit, then a little more; later another bite with the berry sauce. Unbelievable! I was celebrating! In front of me and in my mouth I had the  exact memories about my favourite dessert. My brain came with tender loving memories about the most delicious cheesecake I have had, it was a total redemption. Ah! What a perfect finale. Voilà there was the real authentic and unique flavor I had before, of course I asked for the recipe, the cook. All went to an anonymous local cook that made cheesecakes from scratch and the making was considered just a local homemade cheesecake recipe for the restaurant, a tiny restaurant in the middle of the forest at the edge of the ocean in awesome Alaska. 

After our spectacularly unusual dinner we went to see the bears, salmon, and eagle site. Under a highway bridge there is the mouth of a river creating an unbelievable beautiful  estuary called Eagle Creek, fortune was on our side, there was a lonely young black bear fishing in pristine waters full of salmon.  I can replayed this scenery again and again in the video I  took in those precious moments. Eagles, eat the leftovers of salmon that the bear does not finish. Bears, do not curb their paws; so, it is a real developed skill to catch a salmon, if you don’t have human hands. The bear goes to the edge of the river, a rocky beach in this case,  or jump to a rock, or to other solid surface to have a good view of the current of salmon, there were an endless happily swimming school of salmon in the river. After careful contemplation the bear slaps the salmon to bring it up above the surface; then, with the other paw sandwich the salmon and start eating, a long process if the salmon is swimming too fast, or the rock, or the surface where the bear stands  has not the comfortable height to reach the salmon. If you are a bear, it is a fine art  to catch your meal.

At the ocean, after passing the bridge, there were several fishermen in plastic orange modern kayaks waiting with their nets to catch this never-ending flow of salmon. At the same time the eagles songs were really beautiful, the eagles  were flying in circles or patiently standing at one side of  the beach waiting for the bear’s catch. The Alaskan crow inhabits, in many cases, neighbouring the eagles territory and you know that because the noise they made is the opposite of the melodic sound of the eagle. When the eagles sing the crows go quiet. Good, eagles were with us. We observed  the bear for quite sometime, people started coming above the bridge and along the wired fence following the riverbed settled at a prudent distance from the little beach formed at either sides of the river, lots of tourist, with all kind of devices to capture the moment, I could heard more than 3 languages buzzing around; then, a tourist guide  with his group got out from a bus, making a bigger crowd. The bear started to look at the crowd instead of its dinner. The tourist guide started to shout to the bear to catch salmon. The bear just had enough, crossed the river, and ran towards the Tonga Forest. There is an old Aleutian saying and teaches us that “if you respect the bear, the bear will respect you”. I think this tourist guide needed more training. We went back to our cabin. We have had a one of a kind wonderful afternoon.

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