END OF SUMMER AT KASILOF RV PARK

Last look at Kasilof RV Park

Everything is boarded up.  The lines are all drained, tomorrow we head to Anchorage with a flight out to Denver early Monday morning.  From there we meet with Dave and Shirley who will take us back to Kansas for the winter.  It’s sad to say goodbye, but it’s been a really great summer with lots of friends visiting (we will get to that later), who helped us make a ton of improvements (more of that later too) and the weather has been spectacular!  We had a whole month with no rain (bad news for the forest fires) and temps up in the high 80’s (now that’s hot here!).  But then as usual, the reds came into the river and the rain came back too.  Rain wasn’t bad this year at all and it helped alleviate some of the fires that were up here (fortunately not close to us).

So let’s take a quick look back at what happened this summer and who was here to visit us (not counting RV’ers who we enjoyed having with us too):

 

Travis finishing the Siding on the Office

 

Travis Andregg, Karen and Todd’s oldest son came to visit us and work at the Park for a month in May and June.  One of the many, many tasks he helped us accomplish was the new Office space.  He helped me put up the walls, lay the floors and put up the interior sheet rock and ceiling.  Then while I did the electrical and the finish work on the inside, he cut and installed the wood siding to match the rest of the Lodge.

Travis first Sockeye (Red) Salmon

It wasn’t all work and no play though.  Here he is catching his first sockeye salmon at the Russian River with all the other Combat Fisher-persons.  We had a great day there with lots of fish and fisher people.

He also caught his first King salmon and Halibut when we went fishing with our favorite guide and friend, Captain Don Erwin of the Alaska Trophy Charters.  He caught lots of Halibut that day also.

 

Jacob & Friends going Clamming

 

We took Travis back to Kansas with us for his sister Nicole’s wedding in June and brought back Jacob Post, Debbie and Paul’s youngest son to help with other tasks for a few weeks.  Here he is posing with some of his eagle friends waiting for the tide to go out so he could use that clam shooter over his shoulder to pop out those elusive razor clams.

Making the Conex disappear

We had purchased a used Conex storage unit for the Park.  Jake and Jan were busy painting it Forest Green to make it blend into the spruce and cottonwood forest behind it.  They must have done a really good job painting it because I haven’t been able to find it lately (actually it’s so full of stuff I’m wondering where I can put our 4-wheeler).

Debbie arranging the Office Store

Debbie flew up a couple of weeks after Jake came with us and spent a week helping out too.  The new Office had been completed and she took over the task of arranging the gifts and things in the store portion.  She also got to do some fishing with Jake and Kevin, but it was too early for the Reds to be here and the Kings were as elusive as usual.

Jerod & Jordan traveling north

At this same time, Jerod, Jordan and Jerod’s friend, Brett were driving north with the Park’s new addition, the ‘Amazing Grace’ which is a nine passenger van to be used to haul around guests at the Park.  They were pulling a boxed in trailer with our 4-wheeler and two inflatible pontoon boats to be used on the Kasilof river and in Johnson Lake plus a bunch of other stuff that everyone thought we needed in Alaska (and we do!).

Moving Sod from the Fire Pit

They arrived a couple of days after Paul and they all quickly went to work helping build the fire pit.  Here Jerod and Paul were hauling out layers of sod to the sides.

Ryan as Mr. Cool

 

Ryan, Kevin’s oldest son arrived shortly before Paul and was soon installing windows in the rear of the Lodge for the new bedrooms that added last fall and finished this spring.

Ryan & Paul installing Lodge Windows

 

Here Ryan is inserting the window while Paul is helping as he can to provide materials and support.  Soon a window was added to each new bedroom without outside access allowing for exit in case of a fire in the Lodge.

 

New Walkway to Kitchen

Three of Ryan’s Firemen friends, Jeff, Dave and John came to visit and catch fish (duh!).  While they were here they help build a new walkway to our camp kitchen area (now does that really surprise you that four firemen would want to build a new gravel walkway so they could get to the kitchen?  DUDx2!).  Never-the-less, the new walkway was really nice and we needed it.

New Walkway to Deck from Lodge

 

It was so great that they added another from the Lodge so they could get there faster. Actually, we had a great time with them and they helped us at lot fixing up the fire pit (go back to the fire pit story for this one).  They also caught a lot of salmon and halibut even more than they could get in their fish boxes so they left some for us.  We have so much fun up here that I don’t know how anyone could stand to not come up and join us!!!!!!


Stromgren Family
Stromgren Family

They no more than left when that crazy family from Topeka came up to visit us, THE STROMGRENS, Jan’s youngest daughter’s family.  Oh what a wild and wicked time we had with them (sorry to the Jesus figure that they had with them).  They brought this small Jesus figure with them from their church with the idea what the rest of the world was like and to keep their sheep in the fold.  We took him with us everywhere and showed him what it was really like to live in the New Frontier with all it’s beautiful scenery, wonderful fishing and delightful weather.  Needless to say that there were a few characters that were encountered that might make Jesus rise to the occasion; however they prevailed and those characters were held at bay and enjoyed!

Sea Life Center

It wasn’t all fun and games as was seen in their section in the blog.  Craig and the boys helped with the building of the fire pit and several other tasks around the property while Kyra, Marissa and Miranda did maid duty in the Lodge and helped prepare food for all of us.  We visited Homer and Seward and they went on a great Halibut trip with our favorite Captain Don.  Kevin and I took them salmon fishing and eventually all the guys caught their salmon.  The girls had a little more trouble in that area, but it was largely do to lack of salmon when they were fishing.

YODLING

 

Nephew Kevin and his new best buddy, Brandon (because he helped him catch a red) kept us entertained each evening with glorious singing around the kitchen table.  It was very entertaining from afar since we were as far as we could get away around the camp fire or in the Lodge playing cards.

 

 

 

Salty Dawg Saloon

 

 

We just dumped them off at the airport and had to go to Seward the next day to pick up our friends from Hoxie, Dave and Shirley Cooper (Dave is actually Jan’s cousin although she won’t admit it.  That Cooper clan is that way!!)  We had a blast with them too although Shirley was slightly under the weather with her bum knee.  They had come up on a Cruise line and we toured Seward in the rain (familiar scene) then went Halibut fishing and salmon fishing, moose watching and general good times with a foggy trip to Homer.

Evening Camp Fire

Less we forget our wonderful evenings around the campfire with Shirley bundled up like a mummy and the rest of us lost in the smoke from the wet logs we were trying to burn.  Actually, we enjoyed the evenings around the campfire tremdously especially this time of year when the evenings are cool, but calm and pleasant.  The sun sets around 9pm and it is glorious!


Todd's Red, RED Salmon


But that wasn’t all of the visitors.  Along came Todd and insisted on going fishing everywhere!!!

Halibut Fishing

He insisted on going Halibut fishing with Dave and then he had to go fishing at the Russian River for Reds. The worse part of it was that he caught fish wherever he went!  We did have a good time and we caught fish too!!  But that was only part of what he did while he was here.  He helped me lay out and build the deck extension which was a huge job with a stairs down to the driveway below.  It looks great as you will see below.  Come up and enjoy it with us sometime next

SUMMER!

Finished Deck Extension

Steps from Driveway to Deck

 


 

 

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TODD’S VISIT

Todd & Dave fishing for Halibut
Todd & Dave fishing for Halibut

Todd came up to Alaska to go fishing and we did; however, I got him to help build the extension to the deck while he was here.  As you saw last time, he did a lot of the work in building the deck with me standing by helping some of the time.  His trip didn’t start off that great as he was supposed to arrive on Thursday and we had a Halibut trip planned for Saturday.  His flight from KC to Denver was sent to Pueblo because of thunder storms in Denver.  By the time he actually arrived in Denver, his flight to Anchorage had already left, s0-0-0-0 the next available flight required a flight to Phoenix (?????), then a flight to Seattle where he caught a flight to Anchorage, a day later!!!!!! What happened to the days when we could book a flight and expect to arrive at the destination at least on the same day?  You didn’t sit with your knees under your chin and the plane wasn’t stuffed with people.

Our catch
Our catch

Anyway, we were able to postpone the Halibut trip (it helps to be good friends with the Captain) and we went Halibut fishing the next day.  A beautiful day, cool, no rain, calm seas and lots of fish.  We didn’t catch anything huge, but we did catch lots and had a blast.  Jan and I went with Todd and Dave  with Captain Don and his grandson, Hunter.  We caught a lot of small sharks and enough nice Halibut to send a picture along to you to envy!  Above Dave is reeling one in and Todd is grinning at his exertions.  Next is our total catch for the day.  Lots of good Halibut fillets.

Putting up the Railings
Putting up the Railings

We  were putting on the final touches to the deck extension by screwing in the railing boards.  You saw the entire construction process in last nights blog and here we are finishing off the deck by me holding on while Todd was screwing in the board in the proper place.  At this point we still had to finish off the front steps, but we had completed most of the main deck and walkway.

Final Finish to the Deck
Final Finish to the Deck

Todd decided what the finished deck needed were a couple of sentinels to watch over who came into the kitchen deck.  So he talked us into placing the bear and the eagle at each corner to keep out the rif-raf.  Of course, then we had to put in the totem to keep the two of them company.  It turned out to be a great addition to the RV Park and one that will get a lot of use in the future.

Todd at the Russian River
Todd at the Russian River

Todd wanted to go Red fishing and we tried fishing on the Kenai, but the fish had all passed though.  We heard that they were catching Reds up on the Kenai at the confluence of the Russian River so we took a drive to the Russian River Ferry Landing to see if we could catch some too.  WE DID!  There wasn’t a crowd and the three of us had a blast catching and releasing big Red salmon.  Here you see Todd bringing in a nice Red while the Ferry is in the background taking a load of fishermen back to the campground.

Todd with Large, Mature Red Male
Todd with Large, Mature Red Male

We caught several Reds that hadn’t turned to their mature colors of Red and Green before they spawn then die.   We kept several of them for smoking.  Todd and I both caught several large Red males that had matured and were ready to mate and spawn.  Here Todd is showing off one of the big ones he caught.  It’s colors are beautiful with a bright crimson body, a dark green head, fins and tail.  We modeled the sign on our van, Grace to

Park Symbol
Park Symbol

match this.  I had heard that the flesh of the Reds after they had matured turned mushy and strong flavored.  NOT TRUE!  The flesh had lost some of it’s bright red color, but it was still firm and when we smoked it, we couldn’t tell the difference between it and any other salmon that we caught.

Brown Bear at the Russian
Brown Bear at the Russian

Although it is difficult to see in this photo, a brown bear was visiting the area and enjoying the salmon as well.  Here Jan is fishing while up the river beyond the Ferry is a group of people that were fishing and their boat at the tip of the trees.  Just beyond the rear of the boat is a brown bear that was enjoying the catch of the people that had been in the boat.  It didn’t bother any of them other than to enjoy their fish and then wandered into the woods, later to appear on the other side of them at the edge of the water trying to catch his own salmon.

Todd's Final Job
Todd's Final Job

Which brings us to Todd’s final job while he was here with us this summer.

It seems that while Dave and Shirley were with us earlier, he really wanted to see a Brown Bear.  We never saw one.  However, after he left, Todd and Jan found the droppings of a Brown Bear on the road to the west of us.  So to satisfy Dave, Todd went down to the road and picked up the droppings of the Brown Bear and we sent it to Dave so he would have something to show other than a photo of a Brown Bear.  Wasn’t that nice of Todd ?

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CONSTRUCTION OF THE DECK EXTENSION

Clearing out deck space
Clearing out deck space

While the neighbor Harold Hansen was here with his front loader digging out the area for the fire pit, we had him dig up the roots and humps in front of the existing kitchen and deck so we could extend it.  The deck on front of the kitchen was too small and confining when we had guests, especially if it was raining.  He also flattened and moved the excess dirt between the kitchen and the Park Model so we could level it and plant it to grass seed.  We did lose some of the ground cover, the bunchberries,  cranberries, fireweed and wild roses, but it was a small price to pay for having the deck area cleared.

Fastening Joists to Posts
Fastening Joists to Posts

After laying out the size and square of the new deck, Todd and I dug holes for the concrete tubes and placed the floor joists.  The deck extension is 16 feet long and 12 feet wide.  We then stabilized the joists with 4 x 4 treated pine posts and poured concrete around the bases in the tubes.  As soon as it was set, we nailed the joists to the posts to support the deck.

Installing Deck Boards
Installing Deck Board

The photo shows Todd and I placing the deck boards and screwing them in place.  With this deck we made 1/4 inch gaps between the deck boards because the lumber we are using is kiln dried and doesn’t seem to shrink much.  The posts above the deck will be the supports for the railing around the outside of the deck.


Making Joists for Walkway
Making Joists for Walkway

From the front of the deck, we extended the deck to the driveway with a walkway.  Here Todd and I are fitting the joists to the 4 x 4 support posts to hold the walkway decking.

Finished Walkway Joists
Finished Walkway Joists

I was nailing in the last of the walkway joists when Jan took this photo.  For the walkway we laid the decking board lengthwise rather than crosswise to minimize the amount of cutting that would be required.


Setting the Stair Poles
Setting the Stair Poles

Having completed the decking on the walkway and finished the railings around the entire deck, we began to build the stairs down to the driveway level.  Here we are setting base poles for the bottom of the stairs in the concrete tubes and nailing them to the stairstep joists.  We then placed in the double 2 x 6 steps and built the railings down to the bottom.

Finished Entrance Steps
Finished Entrance Steps

The steps are finished, I placed gravel around the base of the steps out into the gravel of the driveway so we wouldn’t be dragging dirt up onto the deck.  Since the photo was taken, Jan has been picking up rocks around the yard and in the ditches along the street to fill along the dirt bank on each side of the steps.  We kept the two spruce trees on each side of the steps at the top and someday they will probably be to large although that will be many years from now.

Finished Deck
Finished Deck

The Finished Deck with an eagle and bear to guard the entrance.  Temporally the totem on the corner although it will be moved out to the other side of the fire pit next summer.  And one of the heavy picnic tables which just fits in the front corner.  We moved the flower pots up on it to give it some color.  The area to the right and below the bear has been planted with wild flowers, bunchberries and a couple of small spruce to fill in the space.  Next summer we will add a walkway between the Park Model and this deck.  But that’s for the future.

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COOPER’S VISIT

Shirley & Dave enjoying the campfire
Shirley & Dave enjoying the campfire

The Cooper’s arrived the day after the Stromgrens left.  We drove to Seward to pick them up as they were getting off the enormous cruise boat that brought them up the Inside Passage to Alaska.  They had a wonderful trip with lots of great memories.  We were intent on improving on that while they were visiting.  Dave is Jan’s cousin and Shirley is a friend since grade school.  I actually attended grade school with both Shirley and Jan through the 4th grade.

Here we are the first evening enjoying the sunset around our new fire pit.

Shirley was cold!
Shirley was cold!

Shirley wasn’t acclimated to the Alaska cooler weather yet and even though we were sitting around the fire, she was wrapped up in a blanket with only her face visible.  It is difficult to transfer from the Kansas heat and humidity to Alaska climate.  Shirley had also hurt her knee on the cruise and wasn’t able to get around a lot so it was difficult for her to stir up the heat to keep herself warm.

Dave's red catch
Dave's red catch

It didn’t take Dave any time to go fishing.  Fortunately, another big school of red salmon had entered the Kenai river the day before and there were plenty of reds to learn how to catch them.  Dave caught on quickly snagging two legally in the mouth the first day.  Kevin, Jan, Dave and I were fishing every day with the new school in the river so there were plenty of fish being caught by all of us.  For the next three days in a row,  we all limited out with three each giving us a lot of fish to process for freezing and smoking.  Dave also got a lesson in cleaning and filleting salmon.

Pulling out cottonwoods
Pulling out cottonwoods

Of course he had to earn his keep by helping around the park, and work he did.  He drove the truck and the 4-wheeler while I tied chains and ropes around the cottonwood saplings that had grown up all over the park.  We cleared quite an area between our Park Model and the RV pad next to us.

Riding the cart
Riding the cart

We loaded our little utility cart with the saplings and took them down to the dump below the back of the lot.  Dave had to ride on the cart to keep the saplings from falling off.  It worked!

Cutting concrete tubes
Cutting concrete tubes

Dave also helped me level off the area in front of the kitchen for the future deck extension.  Here he is cutting concrete tubes that will hold the 4×4 support posts for the deck and then we dug holes for them in the area where we were building the deck.

Fishing for Halibut
Fishing for Halibut

It wasn’t only work while Dave and Shirley were here.  Todd came for a visit a few days after they arrived and we had to go on a Halibut trip with our Captain Don of Alaska Trophy Charters.  Jan and I filled out the charter and we had a great time and caught a lot of fish.  Here Dave is reeling in another one while Todd is looking on and grinning at Dave’s effort.

Our Halibut catch
Our Halibut catch

It was a good day!   We caught a lot of fish and although we didn’t catch any whoppers, we did get a lot of good fillets off these beauties.  Each of us caught plenty of fish including a lot of small sharks that begin to come in the Inlet to feed on the salmon scraps.

Momma moose
Momma moose

They were anxious to see the local wildlife including moose and bears.  Fortunately we didn’t see any bears but we did find evidence of one and Dave got a trophy to remind him of it in the future.  This momma moose was standing along the road eating and we stopped to take a picture of her.  She was happy to pose for us for quite some time before moving on to other forage.  Later we also saw a momma and two young calves along the beach road, but we didn’t get any photos of them.

Homer's Salty Dawg Saloon
Homer's Salty Dawg Saloon

As with all our first time guests, we had to take them down to Homer to see the mountains and the sights.  Unfortunately, the trip down was foggy and we couldn’t see the mountains across the Cook Inlet.  We were hoping that the fog would burn off and they would become visible on the trip back.  We did stop at the tractor pull at Deep Creek and Dave being an old farm boy was fascinated with the tractors putting in the charter Halibut boats and pulling them back out of the water.

Eagle on top of Salty Dawg Saloon
Eagle on top of Salty Dawg Saloon

Dave collects photos and carvings of eagles and sure enough there was one sitting on top of the Salty Dawg Saloon just for his visit.   It’s obvious from the photo that this is a common roost for the eagles and the gulls noting the white coating on the roof tiles.

Inside the Salty Dawg Saloon
Inside the Salty Dawg Saloon

Inside the saloon, we had to sample their drinks to make sure that they were up to our standards.  It was a cool, foggy day outside and the wind was blowing off the Kachemak Bay which it often does, so we had Cocoa with a shot of  Amaretto in it.  It sure warmed us up!

The Cooper dollar
The Cooper dollar

Looking at all the dollars with previous visitor’s names on them inspired Dave and Shirley to add their on in the only bare spot that they could find.  He did eventually pin the other side of the dollar so you could see the name on it.

Kenai Moutains across from Homer Spit
Kenai Moutains across from Homer Spit

The fog never did clear so you could see the mountains across Cook Inlet.  However, while we were in sampling the fare at the Salty Dawg, the peaks of the Kenai Mountains across Kachemak Bay south of Homer began to clear enough to see the outline of them and some of the glaciers flowing down between them.  The fog still hung tight over the water and it never did clear as we  drove back north.  We stopped at Bob and Linda Steinke’s cabin beyond Ninilchik and the fog had cleared enough there to view Mt. Redoubt and some of the northern Alaska range.

We had a great time with the Cooper’s as we always seem to do.  We took them back to the airport in Anchorage on the 8th of August, nine fun filled days

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STROMGREN’S VISIT

There were so many great photos taken during their visit with us this summer that I can’t insert them into the narrative that Marissa wrote because there would be more photos than words so I have decided to change the format.  This time I will just publish the words and then I will go through their visit with the photos and comment on them individually.  This was their first visit to Alaska and we tried to jam as much as possible into the seven days that they were here.  We didn’t get to see it all, but we did a good job as you will see!

Here’s Marissa’s journal that she wrote while she was here:

July 19, 2009

Numero Uno: El Journal de Stromgren Familia

Hola amigos, chicos, ninos, ninas, abuelos (grandparents), I think that just about covers all bases.  Marissa here, writing to you all on our 3rd lovely and adventurous little Alaskan escapade. I’m the 3rd  to take over the journal after Travis, Jacob and Jordan, so here goes…The following rendition was inspired by the 3 stooges AKA Post boys, and has been modified due in part by our Alaskan countryside:
*Please sing the following to the tune of SpongeBob
Marissa: Are you ready weird family?
Weird Family: Aye Aye Captain
Marissa: I can’t hear you….
Weird Family: Aye Aye Captain!
Marissa: Ooooooo who lives in a RV up in the vast Alaskan country?
Weird Family: Gram and Gramp Kasilof RV Park Keepers!
Marissa: Gracious, Alaskan, and Smelly are they!
Weird Family: Gram and Gramp Kasilof RV Park Keepers!
Marissa: If fishing, wildlife, and sights are something you wish…
Weird Family: Gram and Gramp Kasilof RV Park Keepers!
Marissa: Then fly to Alaska and begin to smell like a fish!
Weird Family: Gram and Gramp Kasilof RV Park Keepers!
Marissa: Ready?
Weird Family: Gram and Gramp Kasilof RV Park Keepers! Gram and Gramp Kasilof RV Park Keepers! Gram and Gramp Kasilof RV Park Keepers!
Marissa: Gram and Gramp.…. Kasilof RV Park Keepers! Ha-ha!

Time on my hands? Yes, it is raining outside and I am in between loads of laundry (Missa moo cow wears several hats, AKA Marissa the maid and toilet paper switcher outer). Alrighty, so let’s get you all caught up on our experiences thus far. We left Thursday the 16th around 4:30 a.m. from the Stromgren household. We flew from KC, to Minneapolis, to Portland, and up onto Anchorage. Gram and Gramp Kasilof RV Park Keepers (Yes, that is in fact their new title) graciously picked us up and we drove onto the thriving metropolis of Kasilof.
On the way we stopped for several Kodak moments, mainly because Mom is carrying around the little Jesus figure from the Church. Jesus is a miniature doll version the Church gives to families to take on vacations; the families are told its because Jesus likes to be adventurous, however, in reality he’s ensuring they follow the righteous path… With our Paparazzi-like skills we will have a plethora of pictures to share in the near future! We made a pit stop for pizza and beer (root beer for the minors) at the most adorable little brewery in Soldotna. Upon arriving to the Kasilof RV Park, the exhausted Stromgren familia hit the hay and visions of grizzly bears, mountain lions, and redneck campers danced in their heads.

Numero Dos: Day 2, The Failed Fishing Shenanigans

The Stromgrens awoke refreshed and anxious to catch their little fishies; almost everyone awoke rejuvenated, Kyra (the almost 48 –year-old) woke up nearly unable to walk with her bad knee. She claimed she must have sprained it while sleeping….must have been a very active nightmare… Kevin, Jon, Ryan, Craig, Marissa, Caleb, and Miranda went into town to obtain their fishing licenses (notice Kyra was not present…more info to come in a bit).  The first hotspot we attempted was donned, Morgan’s Landing. Contrary to popular belief, Morgan has not and probably will never land ANYTHING. The area has a small platform to fish on, but some incompetent designer placed giant trees in the water in front of the platform, making the act of bringing a fish up to the platform nearly impossible. We had a brief run-into with a family from Texas, and when we asked how their day of fishing was we were told by the tiny Texan Tot, “I cast my line out there and ain’t catch nuffin (yes he said it like NU-FIN).” Oh how we love the smarties from Texas (Kristina aside)! *Please note Brandon was down the river a ways and stepped into a hole, or tripped, he won’t really admit, and got loaded with water in his waders (Spelling?). Frustrated and wet (only Brandon) we moved onto spot #2 (the name escapes me), only to discover there were too many fisherpeople already in place. We headed back to the Kasilof RV Park (sorry I enjoy using the full title) for some tasty eats and to rest up before attempting another fishing venture at night. While waiting Marissa, Brandon, and Miranda went on a little 4wheeler ride. With Marissa navigating, the 3 troopers cautiously navigated through local trails and construction sites (According to the two backseat drivers, Marissa drove slower than a snail on a mission).  Later on after dinner the Stromgren familia, (minus Kyra)  and Kevin went out to Crooked Creek with high hopes of landing some big ones.  We fished for about an hour and a half, standing out in the water and battling the currents, but sadly we came up short. However, the troops did gain valuable fishing skills from guider Kevin, one of which was the act of patience. ☺
Back to the Kasilof RV Park to catch some beauty rest, and to prepare for the adventures with Cap’n Don which would await them the next morning.

Numero Tres: Deep Sea Fishing with Scallywag Cap’n Don

The Stromgren familia, geared up and multi-layered with the finest in latest fishing fashion, headed on over to Cap’n Don’s home to meet up with him for their day at sea. Not sure what exactly has been mentioned on previous trips by relatives concerning Cap’n Don, with the exception of his butt crack of course….but it must be said he is a bundle of an ‘ol Irishman, full of tales from his time spent on sea from the utmost southern Virgin Seas, to the Alaskan bays and inlands. One might say he resembles Jolly ‘ol Saint Nick, due to his rosy cheeks, and jolly personality. He also may have studied under Ghandi because of his endless patience with novice fisherpeople, such as the Stromgrens. None the less, the crew headed out to the Alaskan blue sea  in his crusty but ironclad boat, and ventured about 12 miles off the coastline. The first spot the crew stopped at was not so lucky, so they moved on out a bit farther and SHAZAM the fish, they just kept on ‘acomin. A total of 12 (and by 12 I technically mean 15 but keep it on the down low) were round up and are currently being filleted and processed next door in the café Kasilof. Miranda caught 2, one of which we kept, and then poor little Boonda caught a case of the ol’ sea pukes and had to spend the rest of the day looking green and feeling blue in the co-captain seat. Caleb caught on, and by the end of the day he was a smashing young fisherman who would drop the line only to immediately catch a fish and then start the process all over again. Brandon, AKA Beeber the pro-little-fisherman was in heaven all day. Casting out, battling the reel in, and ooooing and awing over his catches. Craig, the multi-handed helper ran about all 5 lines assisting others when the battle with the fish became too much to handle. He rarely was able to work his own pole because the others kept him busy by screaming “Dad!” “Craig!” “Oh holy s*** this is a HUGE ONE!” (sorry  miniature Jesus, we strayed from the path). Craig won the award this deep sea fishing trip for the Most Awkward and Unusual Catch of the Day, by reeling in a 100 something lb. Stingray. Congrats go to Craig! Marissa, (yes everyone I am not as high maintenance as you all think) caught 7 total, and was incredibly irritated because only 1 was large enough to keep.  This brings us up to speed with the exception of Kyra, last but certainly not least. Before I hand it off to mi Madre so she can tell her tale of using a Fake ID in order to obtain her fishing license, I have to say my experience thus far in Alaska has proven to be not only memorable, but refreshing. The country is beautiful, from wildflowers, to snow-peaked mountains, to green wet inlands, it is nothing short of breathtaking. The people are friendly, and things just seem to take place on their own natural time. Life seems simple and relaxed for the people up here. Fishing, hunting, spending time with friends and family, these are the things they live for. Time is slowed and beauty is all around. Now that I’ve shared my poignantly spun version of our vaca so far, I must pass the torch onto another.

Kyra (who has been spending one-on-one time with little Jesus confessing her sins) now has the floor:
Wow, how can I even begin to follow the wonderfully written day by day adventures of the Stromgren family in Alaska!
I do really feel that having the miniature  Jesus from our church with us on this trip has kept us safe from bears and getting arrested for  using fake ID’s to get fishing licenses!
As Marissa said, we were all loaded in Jesus’ van AKA  “Grace”  wearing the proper and attractive fishing gear on our way to meet Cap’n Don, when I realized that I didn’t have a fishing license or any ID in my fishing outfit!  Kevin  and Craig told me to use Marissa’s driver’s license and just write her name and make up a fake number on the license. The problem with that plan was soon discovered. The lady in the store was filling each license out herself! I was waiting in line sweating it out wondering how I was going to pull this one off, passing as a redheaded 22 year old!  This is how I know that Jesus was with me…. I just pulled my hat down really low, hid my wrinkled hands and he took care of the rest! I passed as my daughter!!!!!!! Now, the Alaskan Fishing authorities may wonder why Marissa got 2 fishing licenses for the same day, but I’m just glad I didn’t get arrested!!!!  End of this story, with more to follow soon……..

Numero Quatro and Cinco! Fish Processing Days

Hey hey again everyone! So I got some feedback from the peanut gallery in major suspense on whether or not Kyra was dragged away by the local Alaskan authorities for using Marissa’s ID……truth be told it worked like a charm. So the result of our little fishing venture with cap’n Don: we caught our full limit. GO STROMGRENS, THE NOVICE FISHERPEOPLE! So then the task of processing was a load of clean fun. By the end of two days of processing wonderfully smelling fish, we ended up with about 115lbs. of Halibut total. The 115 lb also included Brandon and Kevin’s Sunday catches with Cap’n Don, in which they each snagged a few more. I combined the 4th and 5th days because the troops did odd jobs around the house; we didn’t really travel long distances or battle mountain lions, so the details are nothing short of non-adventurous. The fire pit is coming along at quite the rapid pace due to the valiant efforts by the men in the family. I know we all can hardly wait for the end result, so we can warm our little toesies and cheeks by the fireside while singing tunes to the Post boys’ guitars. If we’re lucky maybe they can even bust out some Johnny Cash and sport the glorious mountain teeth…..we will wait and hold our breath! Sunday night Kevin, Ryan, Craig, and Caleb (under the talented guidance of the Pyle men) headed out to Ryan’s secret fishing spot with high hopes of snatching some Reds. And AHA! Believe it or not Mr. Caleb  reeled in 3 right off the bat, Kevin came in short, not bringing in any, and Ryan drove in headfirst into the cold currents to save his pole when it got ripped out of his hands by a salmon. Poor Ryan learned how to water ski while being pulled down the Kenai River by a giant Red Salmon….(he already lost one pole earlier this week so the unlucky lad was determined not to lose another). Today (Tuesday) Gram and Gramp Kasilof RV Park Keepers and the Stromgren 6 headed out around 7:15 a.m. for a Fjord Cruise Ship 8 hour tour in Seward…..we drove the 2 hours to get there only to find out the tour had been canceled because of 15/20 ft. seas and rains. Apparently Alaskan Fjord Customer Service Reps. Have not received proper training in notifying customers when cancellations occur. Craig was not too happy ☹, but we came to the mutual conclusion we’d rather stay alive than to be swallowed by giant ocean waves. Alas, we made up for the mishap by visiting the Seward aquatic museum and by sharing a fantastic tasty lunch at a local hotspot eatery in Seward. And now I must leave you all because the dinner bell is a’ringing and my stomach is making incredibly awkward noises that I hope are sounds of hunger and not the result of our lunch today…..Love to you all. Chat again soon!!!

Missa-

So now I will just show the photos with some explanation of WHAT’S HAPPENING!

Stromgren's arrive in Achorage
Stromgren's arrive in Achorage

It was the afternoon of the 16th of July, we had just let Paul, Jerod, Jordan and Brett off at the airport earlier and now were waiting for the arrival of our next family members.   Welcome to Craig and Kyra, their daughters Marissa and Miranda and sons, Caleb and Brandon. Oh, and less I forget, their Jesus figure that travels with members of their church to new places to experience new things and keep their members on the straight and narrow.  He had a major challenge on this trip!  We picked them up in the ‘Amazing Grace’ and headed south to the Kenai Peninsula and all it’s wonderful scenes and adventures.

Family at the Turnagain Arm
Family at the Turnagain Arm

The ride from Anchorage to Kasilof is listed in the top 25 most scenic highways in the U.S. and we had to stop many places along the road for Kodak moments as the kids like to call them.  Here we were at a pull-out along the beautiful Turnagain Arm.  The tide was in and the water was rushing along to fill the inlet with salt water.  The silvers and pinks were coming in, but we didn’t get to see and beluga whales.

Dinner at St. Elias
Dinner at St. Elias

We had to stop in Soldotna at Jon’s favorite pizza/brewery for dinner.  The pizza is great as is the beer.  As Marissa wrote, ‘It’s the most adorable little brewery in Soldotna!’

Jesus communicating with local animals
Jesus communicating with local animals

We finally made it to our home in Alaska, the Kasilof RV Park and thus required a photos of Jesus communicating with our mascot.  Thus ended a long and tiring day for the Stromgrens leaving Kansas City early in the morning and arriving  in Kasilof Alaska almost 20 hours later.  Needless to say everyone was quick to get some sleep to prepare for all the exciting things that were happening the next day.


Now rather that take you through a day-by-day of what was happening, I am again going to deviate and show the events that occurred during their seven day visit.

Fishing

Kevin & Brandon's reds catch
Kevin & Brandon's reds catch

Salmon –  Late July is the prime time for catching Sockeye (Red) Salmon.   Of course all of the kids were eager to catch some salmon.  The first attempts were less than successful with snarled reels and boots full of water.  However, after several attempts Kevin and Ryan managed to show Caleb and Craig how to catch them, Caleb showing all of them up catching his limit of three.  Brandon had been unable to go with them that night so Kevin took him fishing the next night and Brandon was thrilled to catch his own red salmon.

Caleb reeling in a Red
Caleb reeling in a Red

Caleb showed them how again the next day reeling in a red at the River Terrace where the family was visiting Tom and Sally Curry.  River Terrace is one of the premier red fishing spots on the peninsula and my sister Sally and her husband, Tom have their 5th wheel there.

Brandon trout fishing
Brandon trout fishing

Brandon was satisfied catching reds so he also had to test out fishing for trout in Johnson lake across from the campground.  The lake freezes every year so the Fish and Game stock it with Rainbows each spring.  This year the lake froze solid and most of the previous year’s fish died.  Therefore, the trout are rather small.  Brandon caught one of the monsters, but I don’t think he really planned to eat it.  We were feeding him good!

Craig on the Halibut boat
Craig on the Halibut boat

Halibut fishing – It was the day for the Stromgren’s trip with Captain Don Halibut fishing.  Craig is all ready and waiting for the boat to be launched into the Cook Inlet anxious to catch his share of the big fish.

Brandon's first Halibut
Brandon's first Halibut

Brandon caught his first one and it wasn’t a monster, but was a good eating twenty-five pounder.  This was just first of many that he pulled up to the boat.

Kyra's Halibut
Kyra's Halibut

Kyra not to outdone pulled in a big one for herself. She was mighty pleased with her catch and the days trip.  The seas were fairly calm although the sky was cloudy and there was haze and clouds covering the beautiful mountains of the Alaska range on the west side of the Cook Inlet.  The mountains were visible although they were just dark silhoulettes against a backdrop of clouds.

Marissa holding her own
Marissa holding her own

Marissa also had good luck and caught several although she had a hard time catching one big enough to keep.  She finally caught one big enough to land in the fish well for later eating.  Although there weren’t any pictures of Caleb catching his Halibut (?), rumor has it that he more than caught his share, but managed to avoid the camera all day until the final Halibut were hoisted on the rack at Captain Don’s.

Miranda modeling rainsuits
Miranda modeling rain suits

Miranda's catch
Miranda's catch
Sea sick
Sea sick

Then there was Miranda who started off the trip the night before getting all dolled up in her latest rain suit fashion. The next morning she was ready to go and was really excited when she caught her first Halibut.  But then the Green Goblens got her and she had to talk to Ralph over the side of the boat a lot.  They say you really don’t turn green when you get sea sick.  Do you want to bet?

Stromgren Family Halibut catch
Stromgren Family Halibut catch

All in all, they had a GOOD day with lots of fish, good weather and a fun Captain.  By the way, Craig did also catch Halibut including helping reel in many for the rest of the family.  He also got honors for the most unusual fish of the day with a very large skate.

FUN TIME –

Riding the 4-wheeler
Riding the 4-wheeler
Caleb driving the 4-wheeler
Caleb driving the 4-wheeler

We just got our new 4-wheeler when the Post boys brought Grace and the trailer up from Kansas and Nebraska.  The kids had a good time driving it around the park and around the neighborhood on the side roads.  The kids complained that Marissa drove too slow, but we didn’t think so!


Meeting in the camp kitchen
Meeting in the camp kitchen
Family around the table
Family around the table

A big part of our fun can be found around the dinner table.  This time was not lacking in the amount of time in that pursuit either.  We had some great rousing dinners with fabulous food and sometimes too much wine for a whole week.

Caleb pulling out big raft
Caleb pulling out big raft
Girls stuck in lily pads
Girls stuck in lily pads

All the kids who visit have to take the rafts out on Johnson Lake either to fish or to just row around.  The Stromgrens were no exception and like the others, they all get stuck in the lily pads which form a large area at the edge of the lake.  Caleb pulled the large raft over to an area where the lilies were not as thick, but the girls still had to row their way through them to open water.

CLAMMING –

Ready to go
Ready to go

Caleb and Craig are ready to dig the elusive razor clams.  The normal gear is boots, waterproof pants and coat, heavy gloves, a clam shooter, shovel and buckets.

Digging for clams
Digging for clams

Next comes the search for the tell-tail dimple in the sand which indicates a clam below, then the digging begins.  Those with shooters cover the dimple and push the round barrel in to the sand.  Then holding their finger over the hole in the handle to create a suction, pulls the sand and hopefully the clam out of the hole.

Sometimes it's not worth the effort
Sometimes it's not worth the effort

Brandon got one although it was hardly worth the effort it took to pull all that sand and water out of the hole.

Caleb's clam
Caleb's clam

Caleb got a better one after some effort.  It will be a tasty treat after some cleaning and cooking.

Kyra's clam
Kyra's clam

Kyra got a nice big one, but somehow the clam got a little busted up during the process of digging it out of the sand.  That’s alright because after some serious cleaning of the sand out of the broken shell, we will still get some good eating out of it.  We didn’t stay that long as they just wanted the experience of clamming and we were going to Homer that afternoon.  So after about a dozen of them, we gave the clams to my sister and nephew, Nelson who stayed and got a batch to eat for dinner.

JOBS –

Filling gravel along the kitchen
Filling gravel along the kitchen

One of the things we ask the family members when they visit us is to help us with the multitude of jobs that we need to do to make the RV Park a better place.  The park is intended to be a family place where they can all come to visit and eventually will own a share of it.   There were a lot of jobs needed to be done this year as there were a lot of improvement projects going on at the park.  As you saw on the ‘Construction of the Fire Pit’, Craig, Caleb and Brandon had a big part in helping to develop and build it.  The layout of the blocks was primarily Craig and the boys helped me fill and finish off the concrete blocks with concrete.  Then they hauled gravel to fill in the fire pit floor.  Here they are helping by adding gravel to the side of the Kitchen/Shop to keep the rain from splattering the side of the building.  It was their idea to add the bigger rocks along the edge of the matting.  Good idea and we have added it to other areas as well.

Kyra sweeping the laundry
Kyra sweeping the laundry

Who is that holding a broom?  Is it the maid? No, it’s Kyra doing her share of household duties to help us out.  As Marissa said in her narrative, each of the girls helped clean the Lodge, the bathrooms and the laundry.  Plus they helped the dinners by making deserts and doing dishes.

Collecting quarters
Collecting quarters

Miranda also collected the quarters out of the washers and dryers in the laundry, then she and the boys counted them and rolled them to be sold to the guests for doing their laundry.  All of the family helped collect the trash each day and hauled it to the dumpsters over by the river.




TRIP TO HOMER –

Stromgren family at the Homer Overlook
Stromgren family at the Homer Overlook

One of the required sightseeing tours that we take all the relatives is the trip down to the end of the highway in Homer, ‘Lands End’.  The Stromgrens were no exception and they spent the afternoon driving down to Homer, ‘The Halibut Fishing Capital of the World!’.  The afternoon was partially cloudy so not all of the beautiful mountains on the other side of the Cook Inlet nor the Kenai Mountains across Kachemak Bay were clearly visible.  However, they were able to see the mountains and the glaciers.  They were at the Homer Overlook on the bluff above the town of Homer and the Homer Spit.

Homer harbor & kids
Homer harbor & kids

They ate at the Mexican seafood restaurant then walked the boardwalk along the harbor.  They had to look at all the shops across the road and look through all the gift shops.  They stopped at the Spit Snagging Hole where people can fish for salmon.  Unfortunately there was a lot of fishing going on, but no catching.

The Salty Dawg Saloon
The Salty Dawg Saloon

No trip to Homer is complete without a photo in front of the Salty Dawg Saloon, the old time watering hole for the fishermen.  They did get a chance to walk through the saloon and saw all the dollar bills tacked to the walls and the ceiling; however, they weren’t allowed to stay because the kids were not of legal age.  They had a fun afternoon touring the city of Homer, known as ‘A small drinking town with a fishing problem!’



SEWARD –

Stromgrens at the Sea Life Center
Stromgrens at the Sea Life Center

We had reservations for a boat tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park a day before they left.   We got up to a rainy sky and in rained all the way to Seward.  As we got closer, the wind also came up stronger and was blowing hard by the time I dropped them off at the tour building.  The tour had been cancelled because of wind and high waves (10 to 15 feet).  We obviously would not have wanted to participate in that so we opted to tour the city of Seward and spend some time at the Alaska Sea Life Center, an aquarium and sea life rehabilitation facility.  It was used extensively during the EXXON Valdez disaster to clean the oil off of the sea animals and birds.  The state later used funds from the lawsuit to build the aquarium and research center.

Jesus on a seal
Jesus on a seal

Even the Jesus figure got in the act by sitting on the seals head in the main section of the aquarium.

The rain never let up that day and we stopped for a great seafood lunch on the wharf, then started back to Kasilof.  We considered stopping at Exit Glacier so the kids could see a glacier up close, but it was raining so hard and the glacier is a long walk from the parking area so we decided to head back to the RV Park.

With the long drive back to Anchorage the next day, we ended the Stromgren visit to Alaska.  We had a great time with them as we know they did too.  I am including some more of the many photos that were taken during their trip without words to go along with them.

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You figure out what they are singing!
You figure out what they are singing!

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