”Hello, I’m Sammy Squirrel and that’s my sister Samantha on the right. Gramps told us to welcome you to the 2015 Blog this year. We got up on top of old wood bears so you could see us better , but then we spend a lot of time on the railings and the bears so we can see what is happening in the park.
We pretty much run this place summer time and keep a lookout for anything causing a problem such as that ornery old worm that is trying to eat the cabbage plant. It’s been a wonderful summer with lots of warm weather and sunshine.
Last winter was so warm, we didn’t even have to sleep much, but it sure caused a lot of fires in the forest. There is so much vegetation and new growth this year that the moose haven’t been around much. We saw several early in the spring and there have been a couple of cows with their calves occasionally in the back of the park. Those peanuts sure looked good, but I just can’t get this lid off and here comes Grandpa so I better go some place and hid for awhile. See you all!
WELCOME TO THE 2015 KRVP BLOG
Jan and I arrived early this year (5th of May) and got a great start on the park, planting the garden and the flowers. May was very warm (up to 85) and dry as had been the entire winter at the park. Unfortunately, a fire started east of Sterling and consumed much of the upper part of the forest around Skilack Lake and east to the edge of the mountains. Forest fires were bad up here this spring, but fortunately they were not close to us.
Sally and Bob got married last fall at our development clubhouse in Lawrence. So she is no longer staying in her camper in the park. She came up this year on the first of April and they are living in Bob’s house just north of Soldotna.
They took us Halibut fishing in May. It was a beautiful day on the Cook Inlet and we got some nice Halibut. Good start to the summer fishing! Sally didn’t use her camper at the park this summer other than to move most of her things into to Bob’s house. We finally decided to move it into the back storage area of the park late this summer so we could use the campsite for campers. Sally’s camper has electricity and can be used for family in the future. Sally and Bob are doing well and we got to spend lots of time with them this year.
KIRK AND RITA’S VISIT
Our first family visitors this year flew up with Ryan and his son, Kameron. It was the first time for Rita to be up here since we bought the park and Kirk hadn’t been to Alaska since coming up with the family in 2001.
We had a great time with them, lots of good food (Kirk’s Crab boil) and drinks (my famous Glacier margaritas!). Kirk and Rita were here for the start of the Red Season in the Kenai and Kirk caught his first Red
Bob also took the guys Halibut fishing in his boat. Kameron was really excited as it was his first time Halibut fishing. The went out of Deep Creek into the Cook Inlet and caught their limits most in the 20 to 30 pound range, good eating!
Kameron caught his share and he helped Bob get the Halibut from the boat to the cleaning table. Note Cheri’s waders that he is wearing in the photo above and how clean they are. They were a little baggy on him, but the shoes fit. They dumped all of the fish on the cleaning table and then filleted them. Later they all processed the fish by vacuum packing the fillets for future dinners. It was a good learning process for Kam.
We had a lot of fun with Kirk and Rita while they were here, but they were only here for a week. We sure hated to see them go back to hot Kansas.
A funny while Kirk and Rita were here. Ryan discovered a leak in the roof of his camper and got the rubberized paint to seal the leak. He climbed the ladder at the back of the camper and painted himself to the edge of the roof away from the back ladder. Kirk got him another ladder to get down, but it was a little short! We don’t know how that worked out, but we did see Ryan off the roof later that day.
We sure enjoyed having Kameron (Kam to us) up to spend the summer red season with us. Cheri couldn’t come up this year because she was just finishing her degree to become a Respiratory Therapist (and she graduated and got a job). So Ryan decided to bring Kam with him. Note the fishing pole in Kam’s hand. That kid loves to fish and he spent most of his time fishing for trout over in Johnson Lake and red fishing with his Dad on the Kenai river.
His 13th birthday was the day after they arrived (the 10th of July) and we had a big party for him with Kirk doing his Crab Boil, yum-yum.
Kam did a great job red fishing. Here he is with his first red that he caught. At first Ryan had to help him get his fish in, but soon he did it himself. One time he caught this one and his Dad told him that he jerked the fish to hard to the bank.
He actually caught 13 reds by himself and some of them were very nice. Note Kam’s waders in this photo with his big red. Of course when you are fishing 6 to 8 hours a day on a muddy riverbank or around a muddy lake, it’s hard to keep your pants clean! Kam got so muddy fishing that Ryan had to throw most of his clothes away before they went home. I would imagine that Cheri will be getting a new set of waders the next time she comes back. Ryan’s waders are not too pristine clean by the end of the season either! Actually, Ryan was a good role model for his son in the clean wader category!
Kameron loves to fish! After getting up early with his Dad to go Red fishing on the Kenai, he would come back to the park, get a bite to eat, grab his trout pole and disappear to Johnson Lake across the road from the park. He had his fishing buddy that would watch him fish and bark every time he caught a trout.
Kam talked Mark into taking the pontoon boat over to the lake to fish for trout. Of course guess who got to row! Actually they both had a ball fishing and catching trout.
Beside fishing, Kam was a lot of help to Jan and me. He would haul split wood in the wheelbarrow from the well house up to the deck and stack it for use in the chiminea and he liked to build the evening fire in it. He also had mosquito elimination duty.
But as good times and early morning fishing trips come to an end, it’s time to head back home and get ready for another school year. Jan and I really enjoyed having Kameron spend most of July with us and we hope he will come back a lot in the future.
THE FAMILY ARRIVES
Christine managed to come to Alaska while Rita and Kirk were here and stayed to help Jan through the difficult two weeks when the park was overflowing with campers. She kept track of all the incoming and leaving campers each day and helped Jan keep the lodge cleaned. Jan sure appreciated her help. Mark came the following week in time to enjoy all the fishing for reds.
My boys, Cody and Cary arrived for red fishing season, the third week of July. Note that we were all enjoying my famous Glacier Margaritas!
Todd and Brandon also arrived for the red fishing during the third week so we wound up with a group of ten for the week. We all participated in preparing the evening meals and having a great time together. That is what the park is all about, having a great place for the entire family get together and have a good time.
However, as will all the good family gatherings, they eventually come to an end when we take them back to catch their airplanes home.
Jan and I started fishing for reds in the Kasilof River in the middle of June, but we weren’t very successful this year. Although Fish & Game were saying that it was a very good run of reds in the Kasilof, most people fishing on the river were having very poor luck. Last year Jan and I caught just over 50 reds in the Kasilof. This year we only caught 12! We wondered if F&G were counting bubbles in their sonar, again!
Here’s part of the crew getting ready for the daily fishing trip to the Kenai River. It was an unusual red run this year as it started off slowly with only 20 to 30 thousand reds entering the Kenai river a day. That may sound like a lot, but the Kenai River is big and long and it takes a lot of fish in the river to be able to catch them. The run built up slowly until finally on the 20th each of us were able to catch our limit of 3. We never had a big number (100,000 to 200,000) enter the river on a day like in the years past, but they kept coming into the river in the 20,000 to 50,000 until they finally reached the maximum number (750,000) Fish & Game want in the river to sustain the future population of reds. They raised the limit they last week of July to 6 per day.
THE FISHING TEAM
All told we caught 187 Reds this season and 7 Silvers and had only one accident. Fortunately although it was painful, it wasn’t serious and we didn’t throw the sucker back!
Of course the fishing doesn’t end with the catching. It is followed by the cleaning and filleting and then the processing by vacuum packing the fillets, preparing the strips for jerky and freezing the fillets.
We canned 142 cans of salmon and over 300 packages of frozen fillets. Plus we had a huge number of bags of salmon jerky in the freezer. That should be enough to feed the family for the year.
IT WAS ANOTHER GOOD SALMON SEASON!
The salmon season is over, but the salmon were still swimming up the Kenai River in August to spawn in Kenai Lake. It’s always fun to go up to the Russian River Ferry, cross over the river to fish for the big red and green male reds for fun. They are so feisty and fun to catch and play with. We always let them go because they are not very good to eat when they change to the bright red and green color.
We took our friends Kim and John Brooks with us to the Russian Ferry landing. The Brooks have spent the summer with us this year. Unfortunately, the fish were not coming through very fast like normal. I did manage to hook one in the tail and Jan hooked one for a little bit, but lost it. We finally gave up and took the ferry back across the river.
While we were having a picnic lunch at the river, someone started calling ‘Bear, Bear’. Sure enough a Brown bear had come up the river just below where we were eating and decided to have his lunch at the cleaning table at the edge of the bank below us. He picked up a few carcasses and cleaned them off and then caught a salmon. He sat down in the river and enjoyed his lunch as we took pictures of him.
Thank you Kim Brooks for the great photos at the Russian river. And thank you so much for the beautiful picture with needlepoint park symbol in the center. We have enjoyed having you and John stay the summer with us this past year and are looking forward to seeing you again next year for the summer.
TALON AIR TRIP ACROSS THE COOK INLET
Last year we told you about the trip Debbie, Scot and Skip took across the Inlet to sight see, bear watch and fish on the west side. This year Todd, Jan and I decided to do it too.
We left Mackay Lake north of Soldotna around noon on unfortunately a very cloudy, rainy day (have to have reservations to go). So we didn’t get to fly over the glacier and do the sight seeing of the Mount Redoubt mountain range, but we did land on the lake below the glacier to go fishing and watch the bears.
They picked us up in a boat and took us around the lake and to a rockslide area where a creek came down from another small lake above. The red salmon were schooling up at the bottom of the creek to climb up to the upper lake.
When we arrived at the spot, there were four boats ahead of us and they were all trying to snag the red salmon from the boats. I told Jan that it was ‘Combat Fishing from a Boat’. All the boat guides had a system where the front boat could only stay at the front of the line for 30 minutes and then had to move. So in an hour and a half, we were at the front of the group and among the bears.
The brown bears were having a great time trying to catch the salmon and actually got close to the boat. Todd was sitting with his legs hanging over the side of the boat. He had to quickly pulled his legs up from the side away from the bear when it came close although it was not in the least interested in him.
We got lots of bear pictures and watched them trying to catch a salmon out of a big school of fish that were swimming around on the bottom of the pool. The water was clear enough that we could see them swimming below us. Occasionally we would snag a fish with our hooks and try to fight it back to the boat, but you had to be very careful not to do it when a bear was close or it might be in the boat with you. It was lots of fun to be up close to them and to get such great photos.
After our 30 minutes was up, the guide took us around the lake to another falls area although there weren’t any reds in this location. We did anchor not too far from this location to fish for Silver salmon and we did finally catch 6 Silvers and 1 Red. It was a great trip and a beautiful area on the other side of the Cook Inlet.
We were sorry that we were not able to see the glaciers and the area around Mt. Redoubt, but we will just have to save that for another trip.
I mentioned that the summer was warm and beautiful with just enough rain to make the flowers grow. It was also great for the garden.
This was an early photo with the potatoes at the far end, the greenhouse with the tomatoes, basil and cucumbers which did very well. We got lots of cukes, about 25 tomatoes and a batch of basil. The middle garden box had dill, onions and cilantro. We picked the dill twice and dried it, got three nice gallon bags of dried dill. Cilantro was used in Ryan’s Pad Thai and we have a few onions and lots of potatoes to take home.
I thought I had purchased a sixpack of cabbage plants, but they turned out to be Brussel Sprouts. They took over the garden box by the kitchen blocking out the light to the radishes and beets. We laughed about the tiny little sprouts along the stalks all summer long, but when it came time to pick them there a bunch of sprouts. 3 nice batches for us and they were yummy fried with bacon and onions.
See, we are not the only ones that show off the KU flags! The Pittmans, Lee and Ellen spent 17 nights in the park with us. They were from south Kansas City, near Nicole and Tyler’s. Ellen graduated from KU and was obviously proud of it!
Piet and Dottie Knetsch came to tour Alaska and to take the cruise down the Inside Passage from Seward. Piet and Dottie are both substitute Pastors of our Methodist Church in Lawrence. We were absolutely delighted to get to meet them in Seward and go for lunch at Ray’s famous seafood restaurant on the pier. Then we took them on a tour of the town. Behind them in the photo on the right is the Holland America cruise ship that took them to Vancouver. It was a fun day for us!
I had to include this photo of the three individuals that were responsible for a lot of the improvements to the park. They are Todd – the idea man. He would sit on the 8 foot porch of the kitchen and say, “It would sure be nice to have a deck on the front of this building“. Then Jon, the money-man, would provide the funds to build the deck. Then Ryan, the ‘M________’ – (labor)-man, would build it. Sounds funny, but actually the entire family has provided the time and labor to make so many improvements to the park that makes it so wonderful. Jan and I really appreciate it and we hope you enjoy it.
As part of our improvements, Jan and I have purchased a new toy that hopefully will solve part of our problem of finding places to fish on the Kenai River for all of us. As all of you know, the river is very busy during the red season and people from all over the world and most from Alaska come to the Kenai to fish for the big reds. It is hard to find a place to fish that is not combat fishing, ‘elbow-to-elbow’. Hopefully, this boat will help us solve that problem for the family.
Jan finally talked me into taking her over to Johnson lake to take pictures of the swans. The swans have been on the lake most of the summer and we found them in the lily pads. Although they didn’t like us getting too close to them, Jan did get some great pictures of them. Rowing that boat is hard work!
We will leave you this year with a couple of neat photos that Richard Pierce’s son, Chris took (3 am) of the Aurora Borealis looking northeast from the park. The photo on the left is the early start of the northern lights and the photo on the right is later when the lights were at their peak. Note the change in intensity and the beginning of reddish tints in the later photo.