Wherever I have lived over the years, I am always excited when football season rolls around again. Aside from the games themselves, which are a favorite Sunday afternoon pastime, there are a few things about football season that go hand-in-hand, and one in particular stands out: grilling and tailgating.
Even though we have no NFL or NCAA football teams, Alaskans have a passion for football, and I still love to get together with friends and family for football games. And where there are people gathered to watch football, there has to be grilling. While we don’t have NFL football stadium parking lots to gather in, I’ve created an annual tradition among some of the guys from the fishing fleet and some other pals and family members come over to my house for what we’ve dubbed the “Home Tailgate.”
September is a beautiful time of year in Alaska, so we set up a projector to broadcast the game on the whole side of my garage outside. We set up tables and chairs for food, and we have a barbecue pit set to grill up delicious wild-caught fish from the Alaskan Jack’s fleet. Everyone is always looking forward to dipping some tortilla chips in my wife’s Blueberry, Strawberry and Jicama Salsa, which is a favorite of all the guests. For those less interested in the games, there’s always a game of horseshoe going, and plenty of Adirondack chairs, blankets and green grass for relaxing.
This year we gathered for the first game of the NFL season for the Seattle Seahawks, who took on the Miami Dolphins. The Seahawks are the closest team to Sitka, so many people in the area are Seahawks fans. Our time zone is an hour behind Seattle’s so the game was set to kick off at noon local time for us. Some of my friends who were most interested in actually watching the game began gathering to start cooking and hanging out as early as 10 am, and I was prepared with enough salmon, cod, and other snacks and drinks to get the party started and to keep the grill going even beyond the end of the Seahawks game, and into the late nationally televised game between the New England Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals.
Both games had exciting finishes, and people stuck around well into the evening. Once it started getting dusk, I started a fire in the fire pit and we toasted some marshmallows and swapped stories of our summer adventures and our fall and winter plans and goals. In Alaska, the fall always feels like it’s over before we know it, so it’s great for us to get out there and enjoy the sun and the warm air while it lasts.
Until the next adventure,