The old Moose Sign was more than 10 years old and it was beat up and worn out. We decided that it was time to move the old guy into the shop, where we glued him back together and repainted him. Then we placed him on the front porch of the Lodge under the roof where the weather wasn’t so hard on him. He had served us well and we wanted to preserve him.
Besides there was going to be a big change in the Kasilof RV Park this summer.
We had decided to change from an overnight RV park to an Extended-Stay Campground where you could relax for a week, a month or the whole summer. That way we would have a chance to get to know you and you would have time to meet the other campers in the Park. We have found it was impossible to get to know people when then only stay one night, plus all the coming and going of campers was about to wear us out.
So we made the change and by golly it worked out great! We only had 43 separate campers this summer instead of the 183 in 2016. We got to know everybody, had lots of fun and actually got to eat our evening meal regularly without having to check a new camper into the park. We had several campers that came to spend a week and enjoyed themselves so much that they stayed the entire summer with us.
Getting Ready to Open
Mark and Christine decided they wanted to come up to help us open up the Park this year. They had helped us close the Park several years ago so they wanted to find out how to open it up. The picture shows them helping me put up our canopy tent where we store some of our tools and vehicles during the summer. Christine cleaned all the bathrooms and the Lodge for Jan and Mark replaced a lot of our old florescent lights with LED lights and put up a new outside night light for the Lodge bathrooms. Then he helped install our flags on the Lodge roof.
As soon as the Park was up and running, Texas John and Kim arrived for the summer. Our major improvement project for the summer was to be the addition of sewer lines to three more of our campsites.
But First We Fish
HALIBUT FISHING – Bob and Sally took Texas John, Jan and me on a Halibut trip in late May. The day was beautiful, sunny skies, no wind and a beautiful day on the Inlet. Our first stop looked good with two other commercial guide boats in the same area, but all we could catch were sharks so we left for another of Bob’s spots. Although we got trapped in the sea week once, the fishing was great and we caught or limit of two apiece although two are already on the cleaning table. Jan caught the biggest at 60#.
SEWER LINE ADDITION
Since we are reducing the number of people in the Park in the future we decided to add three of the back row campsites to the sewer system. However, campsite #14 was at a lower level than # 15 and #16. Although the specks for the original sewer system indicated that the sewer level was 8 feet below the surface, we decided to check the sewer connection at campsite #8.
John and I dug around the sewer outlet on campsites #8 and #4 to determine how deep the main line was below the surface at each campsite. Much to our disappointment, we found that the line was only buried 3 feet below the surface of the ground and the main line was only 12 inches below the surface at campsite #4 where we wanted to connect the third sewer line to campsite #14. The result was that we had to eliminate putting a sewer line into campsite #14. We realized that **IT doesn’t run uphill!
We rented a backhoe to dig a trench from campsite # 8 to campsites # 15 and #16. John had experience running a backhoe so he became the digger. Richard Pierce came over to help and we gave John a lot of suggestions and moral support (headaches) as he dug the ditch.
As John was digging, he found a layer of clay that was frozen like permafrost. It was a layer about 6 to 8 inches thick that was used to keep the upper surface of dirt and gravel from penetrating into the old glacier rock and soil beneath. He dug it all out below the area where the pipe would be laid so the permafrost would not freeze the water in the pipe early in the spring when the ground was still cold.
We then tamped down dirt in the bottom of the ditch in a gental rise such that the pipe would drain without any low spots and glued all the pipe together. Then John came back with the backhoe and pushed the dirt back down on the pipe to cover it. The Tubbs Gravel Company came in a week later and put fresh gravel over all the campsites in the park and leveled them out. We have to do that every 3 or 4 years because we get sink holes and bad spots in the campsites.
Spring is such a great time in the Park before the main crowd comes for the summer, the Park is quiet and as it begins to bud and bloom. The animals begin to show for the summer and we occasionally get to see birds that are migrating to the tundra of the north for the summer such as the swan on Johnson Lake across the road.
In the late spring, we normally get to see our momma moose with the scares on her side and she usually brings one or two little ones with her when she visits the Park. This year we saw her twice shortly after we got here and she didn’t look like she was going to have a baby this spring. Not long after she was in the park, a yearling heifer moose with an orange collar. She really looked like her mother with the same coloring and the same bushy, blond fur on the hump of her back. It’s not the first time that the calves that have been born in the Park or close by have come back to visit us often and sometimes have even had calves of their own in or near the Park. A few years ago, we had a pair of yearling twins that spent a lot of time in the Park. They used to tease us by pretending to eat our flowers and vegetables although we never saw them actually eat anything. And the next year, the female of the pair birth her own calf in the Park right under our living room window. Later in the spring we did have a momma moose bring her new calf into the park several times, but we never got a picture of the two of them until later that fall. You will see that photo later in the blog.
Collecting Poop – who knew?
Now my sister, Sally had a good idea about using female moose poop, the small tubes of dried grass, twigs, leaves and other vegetation that female moose eat. She decided to collect the poop and then soak them in hot wax. Then when they dried, you could put them in the wood in the fireplace and light them, and then they would light the larger wood for the fire.
We have a lot of moose poop in the park in the spring.
We are big fans of Kansas University Basketball and try to watch all the games during the season. We have seat pads to use around the firepit from some of the universities in the Big 12 and some from other family members from other universities such as Nebraska and Purdue. We are always eager to get seat pads from other universities to hang on our wall and this summer we added a new one. John and Kim Brooks, who are regular summer residents of the Park are BIG Texas fans, so this year we gave them a special opportunity to add their seat pad to the Park Wall. She was desperately trying to put it higher that the other Big 12 pads but it wouldn’t stay that high.
4th of July
On the 4th of July we had a special Potluck dinner for the entire Park. We invited all of the Park residents to come spend the afternoon with us, asked them to bring their own favorite potluck dish and we would furnish hamburgers, brats, hot dogs and all the fixings!
Plus we had our own famous guitarist, banjo player and singer, Bill Jackson from Montrose, CO entertaining the crowd.
Although they are not immediate family, Tom Wilson and his great grandson, Braden arrived on the 3rd of July followed by Ryan and Kameron Pyle on the 6th. Kam and Braden went trout fishing over at Johnson Lake all the time. For one evening meal, Kam cooked a mess of trout wrapped in foil in the Chiminea, Ryan cooked cheese-noodles and made salad for our evening meal. Both boys were responsible for keeping wood available on the deck for our evening fires in the Chiminea.
Now how did that little car ever pull that 5th Wheel to Alaska?
Actually there is a large group of campers that have modified their trucks that used to pull 18 wheelers, to pull 5th wheels. They have left room on the back of the truck to allow them to carry their little Smart Car to use as an extra vehicle. We met two of the couples this summer and the Church’s stayed with the whole month of July.
As much fun as the party was, we still had work to do on the Park.
For the past few years raspberry vines and grass have been taken over part of our front driveway area. So one of our beautification projects this year was to eliminate the vines and grass and clean up the area. It turned out to be a lot of work. John cleaned out the big vines while I cut down all the grass and little vines with the WEED EATER FROM HELL. We use the 4-wheeler and trailer to haul all the vine and grass clippings around to the back and dump them over the bank. We had it pretty much cut down by the time Ryan and Kameron arrived the 6th of July. Ryan helped with the clearing of all the vines and grass and helped cut some of the grass along the grader ditch.
Todd arrived on the 20th and used the 4-wheeler to pull the WEED EATER FROM HELL around to the road to clear the grass along the road ditch. After about a couple of hours of that work he got almost to the cleaning table. Then the raspberry vines, cottonwood saplings, willow trees and rocks became too much for even the WEED EATER FROM HELL to handle. I guess it will be a job for next spring to cut all the vines and saplings down before the grass gets high.
Dog Sitter Business
Oh, by the way, we have a new Dog Sitter Business in our Park. It’s Kim Brook’s new profession and she gets so caught up in her job that she forgets which way she is walking! Actually several campers this past summer ask where to find dog sitters so they could take fishing trips or tours. Kim loves dogs and always has baked dog cookies just for them. This summer she dog sat for several of our campers and they gave her tips, so now she is declaring a new business for the Park, Dog Sitting. So you need to leave your dogs to take a tour or a fishing trip while you are staying in the Park, Kim is the person to see!
The King salmon made a significant come back to the Cook Inlet and both the Kasilof and the Kenai Rivers had good runs of fish. It was the first time the King run was good in the last five years.
The Sockeye (reds) season started out with the Alaska Fish & Game (F&G) claiming that it was going to be a huge run of red salmon in the Kenai, so rather than overwhelm the river, they let the commercial fishermen use their purse seines to catch 1.55 million red salmon out of the Cook Inlet. There were not many fish left to catch after that. The first time any of us from the Park caught our limit of three red salmon was the end of the last week of July. By that time most of the out-of-town fishermen had left after complaining about the high cost of fishing licenses, gear and lodging without any fish. The Sport Fishermen and the Fishing Guides on the Kenai were screaming at Fish & Game. Then F&G started claiming that there were two hundred thousand Reds waiting at the mouth of the river to enter. We don’t know where they went, but they never showed up in the river. We did see some increase in the fish and were able to catch our limits of 3 for several day into August, But they never raised the limit to 6 as they do normally when the achieve the number of fish in the river to replenish the supply for the future. They also had not reached a count of a million reds in the river until after the middle of August when the Silvers and Pinks had also come in.
SAME SONG, 2017TH VERSE!
Anyway we had a good season. We had ten fisherpersons fishing at various times from the second week in July through the third week in August. As I wrote earlier, Ryan and Kam came on the 6th of July, Cary on the 12th, Cary’s friend Neal on the 17th, Todd on the 20th.
And Kyra on the 22nd as a surprise for Jan.
OLD FISHING HOLE
PIERCE’S NEW FISHING HOLE
You can always till whether Jan and Kyra were with you as then you got plenty of photos. Otherwise the rest of us are too busy fishing to take pictures. Unfortunately we didn’t get any photos of Ryan, Cary or Neal fishing (although they all caught fish).
Anyway, altogether we caught 123 reds, three silvers and a bunch of pinks (although it was not a Pink year). Texas John also caught 4 Kings and released a bunch, a bunch of reds and silvers. We wound up with a lot of frozen fillets, a lot of canned salmon and a lot of smoked salmon jerky.
Cody arrived on the17th of August. We got to go fishing and we still caught a few reds.
IT WAS ANOTHER GOOD YEAR FISHING!
We celebrated the end of the fishing season with all the kids at St. Elias Brewery and Pizza Parlor in Soldotna prior to their leaving at the end of July.
So it was the last of August, the red fishing was over and it was time to can the salmon.
Kim cleaned the cans and then she and Jan filled them. They filled 183 16-ounce cans of red salmon and 48 8-ounce cans of smoked salmon.
We waited for Cody to arrive because it is always good to have strong arm available to help with the can sealer. We boxed 72 cans in each of our fish boxes to carry home on the airplane and sent prepaid USPS boxes to each of the kids, John and Kim and us. Our entire family was well supplied with another years Alaska Salmon.
It was Sally’s husband, Bob’s Birthday and we all had a big party for him at the Soldotna Elk’s Club. His daughter bought him a birthday cake and we had a grand time celebrating his 79th birthday.
The last week of August was the last Farmer’s Market in Kenai. Jan had put an order in for the wooden Christmas ornaments that she paints every year for all the grand kids. One of the local wood carvers does a great job making ornaments. We have 24 grand children (including wife’s and husband’s) and 5 great-grands, but she only bought 21 cutouts of a moose between two Pine trees. So we need to make up different ones for the rest. It’s not a big problem because the new twins get Rocking Horses ornaments for their first Christmas and when the couples buy their first new house they get a wooden ornament of their first new house. Although we have to cut those out separately and there is sanding, painting, and mailing. Lots of time before Christmas, but we better get busy!!!
And look who came to see us before we left for the winter.
We think this is the same momma that came last year with her twins. She had been bringing her calf up to the Park during this past summer knowing that they would be safe in the Park. We got quite a few videos of the two of them stripping off the leaves of the willows in the yard. This quite often what happens, a female that is born in the Park or near the Park will come back year after year knowing it is a safe place to raise their babies. It’s rare to have a male return because they normally spend most of their summers in the mountains. Although we did have one male called ‘Spike’ that came back for three years.
It’s Labor Day week end and the only ones left in the Park were John and Kim and Cheryl and Bill, so we decided to have an end of the season Pot Luck. It was a great way to spend Labor Day and celebrate the end of the summer.
So we closed the front gate, hung up the Closed Winter sign, turned the water off, winterized the Park and said –
Sorry this is so slow in being posted! I had prepared it last fall and thought I had installed it, but it never installed. Hope it happens this time!
Say Hello to Mr. Prickly! He was supposed to be our spokesman for this year’s blog, but he crawled under the deck and wouldn’t come out again. So I guess I will have to be the spokesman for 2016.
IT WAS AN UNUSUAL YEAR!
It was really warm in Alaska the winter of 2015-16. It was the 2nd year in a row with no snow and high temperatures (generally higher than Kansas). The summer was warm in the seventies and got up to 85 locally and up to a 100 in the Mat Su Valley! No squirrels, very few moose and calves, but we got a porcupine! The glacier rivers never stopped dumping water. On top of that the fishing was WEIRD! The rivers were full because of the extra glacier water and the river water was warmer than normal because of the higher outside temperatures. The salmon came into the Cook Inlet early, but then seemed to be confused by the higher river water temperature and didn’t enter the rivers. So we had lots of salmon in the Inlet but few in the rivers. THE COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN LOVED IT! But we bank fishermen did not! Thus we had a very poor early run into the Kasilof river and Kenai runs through to the Russian river. We started catching red salmon in the Kenai the 10th of July. The fish were smaller and there were not as many of them (I think it was part of the Russian river run of fish). By the third week of July, the water in the Kenai was running over the banks (the highest I have seen it in 24 years) and the first salmon run was over! Finally, the 31st of July the second run of red salmon enter the Kenai and they were huge. However, the high water made it very difficult to fish from the river banks. Normally we step off the banks to fish in the water. The edges of the river are gravel and rock. This year the water was above our knees (almost to our waists) and the fish were often behind us against the banks. We had to fish from the top of the banks and through the tall grass that grows along the shores. We caught fish into the second week of August.
Jan and I arrived back at the Kasilof RV Park on the 5th of May. We were surprised at the greenery. The trees were all leaved out, the horsetails and fireweed were twelve inches high and the grass needed to be mowed already. Our first job after getting the water on and place opened is to plant flowers and the garden. This year the flowers in the nurseries were all picked over because the planting season had started in April, but we managed to get enough to make the place pretty again. A few days later, Richard and Doris Pierce arrived to open up their camper that is here year around to stay the summer. That weekend the Pettit’s came to spend the weekend in their camper that they store with us over the winter and enjoy on the weekends during the summer. The Christensen’s brought their new camper down from Wasilla to also spend the summer. And our Texas friends, John and Kim Brooks arrived in early June. Within a couple of weeks, the place was hoping again. Early in June, Jan’s daughter Debbie arrived to spend a week with us to start the season. The photo was taken at the Kenai Airport where the Alaskan Scene was painted on the outside of the building.
The weather was beautiful and warm and the flowers were just begging to start blooming.
Later that week we just had to make a fishing trip to the Kasilof River to catch that first red salmon of the year. Unfortunately, it was raining and a little cool, but we braved the walk down to the river and tried our luck. It was still a little early and we didn’t have much luck although I did manage to catch a nice one.
Yes we did use the old Salmon Mobile and Debbie found out how to stop the problem of running out of gas. She bought us a gallon can of gas to carry with us. Now why didn’t we think of that!
Ryan and Kameron arrived on the 7th of July and they were ready to catch fish. Of course Kam didn’t wait until to test out the trout in Johnson Lake and sure enough they were still there to his joy
Fortunately, Uncle Bob came to Kam and Ryan’s rescue and took them Halibut fishing out of Deep Creek. Kam managed to catch the biggest Halibut of the group. Although it was still early for the Kenai salmon run to start we waited until Sunday, the 10th to try. Sure enough Kam caught the first one that day and the catch in the Kenai continued through the rest of the week.
Now unfortunately Jan’s iPhone camera lens cover was damaged about the time that all of the other groups got to the Park. As she is the one that takes most of the photos, many of the photos of family were too dark or dull to show in the blog. We did get some from the rest of the group that I can use.
Cary arrived on the 14th, Cheri on the 15th and Chris on the 16th. Lots of trips to the Kenai Airport, but we love to share the park with our kids. On Tuesday, the 19th Jan and I drove to Anchorage to pick up Jordan, his girlfriend Heather, Jake and their friend Paul.
Mark arrived on the 21st which completed the first group to come. At one time or another we were able to take them all fishing in the Kenai. The water was getting so high that in most places we had to fish from the back or wade too far out in the river. In some cases, the fish were swimming behind us close to the bank.
Our fishing in the Kenai was not all peaches and roses though, we had a terrible time with our boat. The engine kept giving us trouble not running with any power and finally quit while we were trying to get back to the dock. Jordan and I had to pull it back to the ramp in the water.
Jordan’s group were a big help to us also as they chopped up a large amount of the saplings and trash limbs that we collected from the park this summer.
As July came to an end and the fishing had dwindled to just a few a day and of course that was the time when Fish & Game decided they had enough fish in the river to spawn so they raised the limit from 3 to 6. Although there were not enough fish in the river to catch 3, let alone 6. By the end of July, most of our group had left.
But Cody and his friend, Scott came to spend a week with us on the 27th and were disappointed that there were no more fish available. But they kept fishing and then the second run of salmon finally entered the river.
We had a great time then each catching our limit of 6 a day. It kept Jan and I busy cleaning the fish that we caught.
The second week of August, Todd and Karen came to visit. It was Karen’s first trip to Alaska. Todd talked her into fishing with us and she caught her first fish, a nice bright Silver salmon. Then she proceeded to catch two more, a Pink and a Red.
Todd and Karen went hiking at the Exit Glacier just outside of Seward.
Then we all went down to Homer for a day and we had to stop at the Greek Church above old town, Nilnilchik first. Of course we couldn’t pass up a Kalua Coffee at the Shady Dog Saloon.
Todd didn’t go away empty handed. He managed to catch the largest Halibut of the day on another trip with Brother-in-Law Bob
By then it was mid-August and was time to start getting things done for the summer. Kim Brooks helped Jan with preparing the salmon for canning and John Brooks helped Jon with the sealing of the cans. Altogether we canned 146 cans and 13 jars of salmon.
John and Kim Brooks were summer campers with us for the past two years and this summer they bought sister Sally’s older King of the Road 5th Wheel for permanent placement in campsite #7 for the future.
They also helped us put up the long gate at the main entrance to the park when we closed for the winter.
Just before we left for the winter, we got to celebrate Brother-in-Law Bob’s 78th birthday with a fun party at Bistro Flats.
Coming Up in 2017
KASILOF RV PARK EXTENDED-STAY CAMPGROUND 21377 Crooked Creek Road Kasilof, Alaska www.kasilofrvpark.com 907 262-3704
Yes, we have finally decided to make the Park an Extended-Stay Campground which means that we will no longer be willing to accept overnight campers. By eliminating the short term campers, Jan and I will have more time to spend with those who are visiting us. Plus we won’t have the hustle and bustle of people coming and going so often. We really enjoy getting to know the people who visit the park and the best way to do that is to have them stay long enough to get to know them. So starting in 2017, we will only take 7 day reservations in June and August, 30 day reservations and seasonal reservations (Memorial Day to Labor Day). Hopefully, this will be something that we can all enjoy together.
”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.
“Hi! My name is Spike Jr., Jr., Jr., Jr. Grandpa Jon just calls me #4. He says too many Jr.’s is too complicated. Mom and I came over this evening to munch on some of the delicious willows that Grandpa and Grandma raise for us and Aunt Debbie and all of the Super Aunts are here watching us eat. So I thought I would just show off for them a little bit. You can watch me battling the willow bush later in the Blog. It was pretty sticky and poky. Grandpa wanted me to narrate this summer’s blog, but I would rather eat willows. So I will just let him do it for me. Be sure and watch me battle the willow.”
2014 ALASKA SUMMER
Well, I thought we had a new narrator, but he would rather eat than talk!
This has to be one of the more unusual summers that we have had since we opened the park. First of all it was one of the warmest winters that they have had. It created a lot of unusual events such as a very strong storm in November that blew down five of our tall white spruce trees. Richard Pierce sure helped me clean up around the park. Plus he cut up all the trees that had been knocked down by the wind. Then he and Doris cut and stacked the logs under the electric lines. One of them fell on the front corner of the well house and put a good dent in the roof and corner of the building. Fortunately, it didn’t knock the building down! We also had three broken water pipes this year when we turned on the water. Probably the most unusual was the fishing season. Huge numbers of red salmon came up most of the Alaska Rivers this year, very early except for the large numbers in the Kenai River, but that was the fault of the Alaska Fish and Game. More about that later, but we had a good year anyway!
The start wasn’t great and actually pretty scary. The day we arrived in Anchorage, someone started a brush fire just off the Funny River Road, southeast of Soldotna. As I said, it had been a very warm winter and also a very dry one. The fire quickly spread in the huge Kenai Wildlife Refuge toward the Sterling highway on the west and the Kasilof river on the south. The refuge covers a large part of the area east of Soldotna all the way to the Tustumena Lake on the south and into the Kenai mountains on the east. It is almost 1.9 million acres in size and most of it undeveloped. In two days, above is the sight that we saw from our deck looking to the north. The fire had traveled 15 miles to the Lake and along the Kasilof river pushed by strong northern, dry winds. Fortunately it was still east of the homes along the highway, but was getting uncomfortably close. At this point the fire was only about 5 miles from the park and we were getting ash from the sky. We were ready to vacate, but there was no way to move all the equipment and vehicles. A day later the weather broke. The wind changed and started blowing northeasterly and brought moisture from the ocean and inlet. This stopped the southwest movement of the fire and pushed off toward the north and east. We were saved! The fire went on to burn for the rest of the summer in the refuge. The last we heard it had burned more that 200,000 acres almost all of it wilderness. There was only one barn and one cabin burned.
Summer Projects – This year was the first year that we haven’t been building or modifying some of our facilities; however, there is always plenty to be done. Of course we did have to repair the well house, but I waited until Ryan and Todd were here to do that. Todd hauled all the cut logs down to the well house for splitting. Mark came up later and reworked our WiFi system. He added a new system and better antennas in the tree by the kitchen to cover the whole park with WiFi. Christine had come up during the red salmon season to help us with all the people coming and going in the park, then Mark came up the second week.
Moose in the Park – This was kind-of a mixed season in the park for moose. I think the fire had a lot to do with that. The fire caused a lot of moose, bear and other animals to flee it and many new ones came into the area sometimes pushing the other animals out. In this case our normal momma moose that raise their young in and around the park were pushed further south. Of course the one’s that hadn’t been around people much didn’t show themselves much. We didn’t have any trouble with the bears and never saw any sign of them. We did hear stories of them being around the area though. One of our local momma’s did come around early and as you can tell by her big tummy, she was carrying twins.Then she disappeared for almost a month. She did bring her babies back in the middle of July and they were growing pretty fast.
It was late summer while Jan’s sisters, cousin Marg, nephew Scott and daughter, Debbie were here that we had our next visitation from the moose. This time, one of our previous year’s calves who has now become a momma moose (wow has she grown!) and her baby who we have named #4 (for the previous Spikes). You saw them at the beginning, but you really need to take the time to watch this video. It is really cute and shows how playful the moose calves are. Thanks for the videos, Debbie. And thanks Christine and Mark for modifying them so they can be used in the blog.
And while they were here, Scott and Debbie took the pontoon boat out on Johnson Lake just to look around and have a boat trip. As usual, when you are out on the lake in a boat, the loons come around to pester you. If you catch a fish, they might just swipe it from you. The next video is the pesky loon. The first part is of the loon call which we hear almost every early morning (when we manage to get up) and every evening at dusk. The second part is of the loon calling to his mate and if you listen closely you can hear her answer him.
There are some more animal photos that I will show you later when you read about Skip, Debbie and Scott’s bear watching trip on Talon Air and our trip to Denali National Park.
Company – We had a wonderful time with all of our family and friends this summer. Having our family and friends come stay with us for a while is what makes the Kasilof RV Park so wonderful.
Sally was the first of our family to arrive on the 1st of July although since she has a 5th Wheel in the park, she is a regular. However, since I am slow in writing this, there is some news to share. Summer of 2013 Sally was introduced to Bob Bakkedahl at the Elks and they started enjoying each other’s company. This summer they spent a lot of time together and on the 18th of October they were married in Lawrence. Bob has a house in Soldotna so I guess Sally will no longer be a regular member of the park, but we will get to see her and Bob a lot every summer.
Ryan came just in time to start catching Reds and Cheri came a couple of weeks later. With the kids and her new job, she couldn’t get so much time off. Ryan is such a big help around the park when he is here and Cheri is such a delight to us all. Todd got to spend a couple weeks with us and also did a lot of work around the park and caught lots of fish too.
Christine came up during the heart of the fishing season and helped Jan with all the hassle of a full park of campers during the last two weeks of July. Mark joined her with us for the last week, got to do some fishing and upgraded our WiFi system. They even got to goof around on the pontoon boat in the lake.
I have an old friend (I have known him for 45 years from working with him at NASA) that has been wanting to bring his sons up to go fishing for several years. He and his wife, Penny had visited us in the fall of ’07. You may have remember the photos and the blog that year. Well he finally was able to make the trip with the boys this year. They flew into Anchorage and rented a camper, then drove down to the park and stayed a week with us. They were avid fishermen and did each manage to catch Reds plus they got to go Halibut fishing too.
Todd helped Charley, Bill and Aaron cook dinner on the fire grill for all of us that night. We certainly enjoyed all of that good food on the deck that evening.
Then after dinner, we all got to sit around the campfire and relax. Of course, the desert had to be So-Mores!
Our final family visitors were Jan’s sisters, cousin, nephew and daughter. They arrived on the 6th of August and I took Debbie, Scott and Marj fishing the next day. Their photos are in the fishing section. Jan took all of them to Homer to visit the sights and Sally went with them. Jan is on the left next to Debbie, then Donna, Sally, Skip across the table, Marj and Scott on the end.
Sister Sally makes the best pie crusts from a recipe she got from her mother-in-law so she had to give a lesson to all the girls. Debbie found a whole bag of berries, cranberries, raspberries and crow berries (AK blueberries) that we had picked last year around the park, so Marj, Debbie and Jan had to make berry jam. It is tasty too!
Then of course at the end of fishing season, we have to can the salmon strips with bones from the year’s catch. A salmon has a strip of bones on each side of the backbone just above the gut area. We always cut out this strip and cut them into small chunks, then freeze them. At the end of the summer, we can all of those chunks for our winter supply of salmon. This year we canned 192 1 pound cans and 48 pint jars of salmon. The above photo is just part of the bounty! Thanks for the help girls.
Just before Debbie and Scott left to go back to their homes, the two of them and Scott’s mom, Skip went on a float plane trip with Talon Air to view the bears and fish for Silver salmon (Cohos). The floatplane took them on a tour of the mountains and glacier across the Cook Inlet, then landed on a large lake below the glacier. There they got into a fishing boat and toured the lake watching the brown and black bears catching and eating the salmon.
Then Debbie and Scott got to fish for Silver salmon and caught their limit of three each. It was a wonderful trip and one we will want to repeat in the future.Part of that catch was cut into strips and smoked to make the best salmon jerky you could ever taste.
Denali Trip – After Debbie and Scott left, we planned a trip up to the Denali National Park. We loaded all five of us into Grace, our big old van and headed north.
Just as you cross the Nenana River just past the entrance to the park, the Grande Denali Park sit’s on the top of a mountain. It is just off the side of the highway at the entrance to the small town of Denali. It is truly a beautiful resort and the views from it are spectacular! The next morning, we took the bus ride tour into Denali National Park.
It was rainy and the skies were cloudy so we were unable to see Denali Mountain (Mt. McKinley), but we saw a lot of bears, caribou and Dahl Sheep. Unfortunately the caribou were too far away to get good photos of them.
The bus tour was almost 8 hours long and we went back into the park 94 miles. We had a wonderful time even with the cloudy and wet weather. On our way back home, we stopped at Talkeetna to look at the town and found a wonderful bakery with great food for lunch. We arrived back at the park that evening, tired, but happy with the great time we had together.
Fishing season – I will have to say that fishing was mixed this year. If you are interested in fishing for Kings (Chinook) salmon, it was not a good year. The King fishing is in a slump and the reasons are questionable. Many feel that it is due to the commercial fishery taking too many of the Kings before they can reach the rivers to spawn. Others, inlcuding me think that it is just the normal cycle of many species of fish. This past year was definitely a minimum number returning to the rivers to spawn and I think it will continue for a few more years so don’t plan on catching a lot of big Kings in 2015.
It was a banner year for Red fishing in Alaska. The warm waters in the ocean pushed the Reds in a couple of weeks early and there were a lot of them. The Copper River had a huge run two weeks early and the fish were thick in the river. The Kasilof River started the first week in June with large numbers going up river. There were so many fish in the Cook Inlet that Alaska Fish and Game (F&G) released all of the commercial fishermen, set-netters, drift-netters and purse netters to catch as many fish as they could. Unfortunately, they did catch almost all of them. That left the personal use dip netters and sport fishermen with very few Reds in the river to catch for their winter supply. It also kept the Fish and Game from meeting their goal of 750,000 to replenish the salmon stock for the future. The final score was commercial fishermen 40.7 million Reds and F&G with 550,000 up the river to spawn plus a bunch of pinks. All in all, the resident and sport fishermen were really upset with F&G!
Halibut was another problem and will be in the future. F&G changed the regulations for Charter boats with rod & reel fishermen to one outing a day. That really hurt the Charter boat people causing them to raise their day trip prices to $300-350 plus each fisherman can only keep one fish any size and the other has to be under 29 inches long (under 10 pounds). That makes Halibut very expense!
It was the first year Jan and I have had any success fishing for Reds in the Kasilof River. Jan took this picture of me and Richard, Doris (the 2 on the left) and others on a foggy morning just as the sun came up over the tops of the trees across the river. We would get up early and take Richard and Doris Pierce with us and find the good spots on the river before everyone got there. Jan and I caught 50 Reds in the Kasilof between June 16th and July 4th. They are smaller fish weighing 4 to 8 pounds whereas the second run Kenai Reds weigh 8 to 12 pounds.
The second run of the Kenai started on the 7th of July (also a couple of weeks early) with about 25,000 fish entering the river. Ryan arrived on the 9th and the next morning we decided to see if the fish were in the river yet. We caught our limit that day. From then on it was slow, but there were still enough fish in the river to catch your limit of 3 per day if you worked at it and we did. The run also lasted a long time and we caught fish up until the 29th of July. Plus we had a great time when Jan’s sisters, cousin, nephew and daughter came in early August.
Altogether, all of us caught 268 Reds, 9 Silvers and 58 Pinks. A banner year! So here are all the pictures.
We were persistent and everyone had a lot of fun!
Then everybody left except Sally and an occasional camper guest. We closed down the park a couple of days early (no Labor Day reservations) and rented a log splitter to make firewood out of all those trees that were blown down last winter. It was hard work, but in 2 ½ days, Jan and I have enough firewood to last for several years. Sally and Bob closed down her winterized it and then she left on the 3rd of September. Jan and I winterized the park after that and finished off the season on the 9th.
It was another wonderful summer in Alaska with lots and lots of good memories. Hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as we enjoyed living it. We would love to have you all come and enjoy it with us.
We arrived in Anchorage early Wednesday morning (1 am) and went to the motel for a very short night. Early Wednesday (combining our trip to Europe with the following trip to Alaska, our body clocks are really messed up) we got a taxi to go pick up the van for the trip back to Kasilof. On the way there was a heavy layer of white clouds, fog or smog laying on the mountains over Anchorage. Jan said “is that smog?” I said “it must be fog!” Nope the taxi driver said, “it’s smoke from the forest fire on the Kenai.”
WELCOME BACK TO ALASKA!!!!!!
At breakfast we got the newspaper and found that a fire had been started along Funny River Road east of Soldotna on Monday afternoon In an unpopulated wildlife area called the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. We went to Costco for our yearly purchase of supplies for the park and then headed down the Turnagain Arm through thick smoky clouds until we got into the Kenai Mountains.
As we arrived in Soldotna we could see the smoke clouds above the town and they were growing darker and darker as the fire built up.
The fire had grown by Wednesday afternoon to 22000 acres and stretched from the Funny River Road south of Sterling to Tustumena Lake (see map). It was getting close to us just about 10 miles east and slightly north (the park is located just about where the r is in the Sterling Highway on the map.
By Friday evening the fire had grown to the east and the west and was now about 4 miles to the east of the Sterling Highway just opposite of the town of Kasilof on the map. It was still on the north side of the Kasilof River and wasn’t a real danger to us yet, but could be if the wind changed to the northeast.
This was the photo Jan took as we were heading to the Elks for dinner Friday evening. This is about 4 miles north of Kasilof looking to the east of the Sterling Highway. This bank of smoke extended south as far as we could see and as far north as 10 miles.
Things were not looking good for us if the wind came out of the north on Saturday and the fire jumped the Kasilof River. We had decided to gather our essential things and if we got word to evacuate, we would just get out of the area.
Saturday morning dawned sunny, cool and DRY again. However, the wind was very calm and the smoke from the fire had calmed down during the night. The morning paper indicated that the fire had now consumed more than 70000 acres and had inched slowly further toward Kasilof, but hadn’t got any closer to the Kasilof River. Good news to us, so we went back to Soldotna shopping.
As we started home, the wind picked up again, but this time it was out of the southwest very strong. Bad news for the homes in Funny River, but great news for us as it drove the main part of the fire away from the Kasilof River and us! The photos on the right are the clouds caused by the increased buildup of the fire driven by the strong winds out of the southwest. They look like the huge thunderheads of a Kansa summer rain storm.
We are setting here in the park hoping that the fire continues to move away from us. We are ready to leave if things change for the worse. The Flagstaff trailer can be quickly connected to the black Chevy pickup. We can load the essentials quickly and get on the road away from the fire. We would probably head to the Soldotna Elks and stay in their parking lot if necessary.
The winter this year wasn’t very good to the park. We were lucky and managed to get the van started in Anchorage without any trouble and then got to the park with the threat of the fire. Things went downhill after that. There were 5 trees knocked down by the high winds last fall, four along the back of the lot and one dropped on the edge of the well house knocking a hole in the roof. Another next to Ryan and Cheri’s trailer took a nose dive off the front of it. Fortunately, it missed it by about 2 feet and the only damage was 2 scratches and the lost of both yellow running light covers on the top front.
When we arrived at the park, the batteries for the drill to removed the screws from the front gate were all dead (including the one I took from home??) and the key wouldn’t unlock the paddle lock on the gate. Some friendly persuasion from the van’s front bumper manage to convince the gate to let us in!
The KIA’s battery was dead so we had to jump it and then after getting it out of the front of the Conex, it died and wouldn’t start again. A long clean up job and charging finally got it started. The battery in the 4 wheeler was also dead and it is still in the Conex (part of the reason for the trip to Soldotna today, new battery). Finally we got to the water system and blew the antifreeze out of the front row water lines for the RV pads. That went ok, but when we started to clear the water system to Park Model and the front area leading to the front row water lines, the pipe was broken at the cleaning table. After digging out the pipe and replacing it, the Pierce’s arrived with their camper for the summer so we spent the evening getting them set up.
Next morning we turned the water on to find another gusher coming out of the ground beside the dump station. Richard helped me dig down and replace the pipes to get the system running again. Finally on Friday afternoon we had water all along the front including the Lodge without any more leaks!
SO NOW IF THE FOREST FIRE WILL STAY AWAY FROM US, MAYBE WE CAN GET THIS SUMMER STARTED!
We have lots (4550) photos from our trip to Europe and when I have time to reduce them to something reasonable I will add another blog of our trip. Hopefully, I can get it down to the best 15 or 20. We had a great time there, but 27 days on the road is way too much for us old blue hairs. Maybe now that we are in Alaska, we can relax! HA