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
“Well Missy, he’s not really your grandpa because he is a human and you are a moose, but we all call him grandpa Jon because he and grandma Jan are so nice to us and let us eat in their park.”
“Can I go talk to him?”
“He won’t hurt you, but you be careful on the road. The people who live up the road drive very fast and they don’t pay much attention to who else happens to be on it”
“I’ll be careful!”
“Grandpa, I’m Missy. I was born in your yard several weeks ago. Mom was laying between your house and the kitchen. The mosquitoes were terrible and it was late. She knew it was time for me to come out so she went to your place where she would be safe to have me. I don’t know if you remember her, but she and her brother stayed there two years ago when they were yearlings and she slept in your yard. Uncle Spike Jr. was so onery and he tried to eat your flowers and tomatoes. Anyway, she had me and cleaned me all up, then when I got up to eat the first time something started blowing out hot air from the side of your house. It scared me so bad that mom took me over into the other park where it was quiet. So we have just been wandering around and I’m learning to eat all the good green things along with mom’s milk.”
“Did you get to see Uncle Spike, Jr. when he came into your park this summer? He is getting so big now! His horns were just starting to come out, but he is hoping that he will have paddles this year. He said that last year he just had a couple of spikes with one fork in each of them so he didn’t look so great. Mom didn’t like him around very much and she was afraid he would hurt me, but he didn’t. He was very nice to me and I really liked him.”
“I hope you got to see my crazy cousins, Amos and Andy. They were over at your place after we had that big rain where it created big water puddles in your driveway. They started out trying to decide if they wanted to go swimming in the puddles. Amos was kind of scared to get in them, but Andy convinced him that they weren’t too deep, by sticking his foot into the upper end of it. They are so silly, the pools were only a couple of inches deep. So anyway, they finally got up enough
nerve to try going out in the middle of the puddle. Then they started stomping around and splashing just like a couple of kids!
And as usual, they started creating such a racket that they got Aunt Maddie’s attention. She had been eating the fireweed along the bank on the other side of the cleaning table and she yelled at them to quit splashing and getting themselves all muddy.
She kept yelling at them until they finally gave up and got out of the water. They came back by the cleaning table and got lost in the fireweed and raspberry bushes which were taller than they were.
Finally Aunt Maddie found them and got them out of the bushes. I am surprised she didn’t give them a bite on their rumps for being so noisy!
The last time I saw Aunt Maddie and the twins, they were over at Johnson Lake trying to decide if they wanted to go swimming again. This time they had grown a little and hopefully a little smarter. However, just as they about had themselves argued into going for the swim, a boatload of humans rowed out on the lake to fish. As typical, Amos and Andy lost their nerve and wandered back into the woods with their mom.
I will say we had a lot of fun this summer playing in the woods between the RV Park and the Johnson Lake.
“Hope to see you again next summer.”
Sockeye (Red) Fishing, Part 1.
Back to grandpa now that Missy had her say. Our Red fishing season was broken up this year by a wedding in the middle of it although it had barely gotten started when Jan and I had to head back to Kansas for the wedding of our grandson Jerod to Kristina (I will get to that between the 2 parts!).
The King season started out good on the Kasilof river although it was very slow starting on the Kenai. Our good friend Zack Lloyd who has the Glacier Run Outfitters charter business took Jan and I out one evening on the 30th of May and we fished the incoming tide. I was fortunate to hook a nice 20+ pound native King salmon and got it to the boat. However, we were not allowed to keep native Kings that early in the season. The early run on the Kasilof did improve and a good number of hatchery and native Kings came into the river. Not so on the Kenai, it was one of poorest King runs ever recorded and Fish & Game finally shut down the season completely.
The first run of the Reds in the Kasilof and the Kenai started in early June and the Russian River fishing opened on the 11th. It was a good run and the Sanctuary was opened for fishing on the 18th. We didn’t fish it because there are so many fisher-persons there, it is called ‘Combat Fishing’, and it literally is! As normal, the Red run in the Kasilof started out slowly, but kept building up in numbers as the days went by. By the 15th, many of the campers in the park were limiting out (3) each day. On the 21st F&G raised the limit to six a day per person and on the 2nd of July F&G the river had reached the minimum escapement (that is the minimum # needed to continue good Red samon numbers for the future). The set netters and drift netters were allowed to fish and longer periods and the numbers coming up the river slowed down, but they kept coming in and it turned out to be the best run ever.
Nephew Ryan arrived on the 9th of July just prior to the beginning of the 2nd run of Red salmon up the Kenai river. Ryan, Jan and I started fishing for them on the 11th of July and I caught 3. It was off and on up through the 15th, but we fished every day sometimes getting one or two apiece and sometimes as many as 8. Cary arrived early the morning of the 16th. We picked him up at the airport and headed directly to the river to fish (he had gotten his license online). The fish were there and we all caught our limit of 3. Of course, that afternoon Jan and I drove up to Anchorage to catch the airplane back to Kansas.
When Jan and I arrived in Kansas City, we were picked up by the Post boys and their mom for the trip back to our house in Lawrence. That evening we went to dinner at our local brewery and restaurant. Shown here from the left are Jerod, the bridegroom to be from Lincoln, NE, next is PFC Jake, a marine on leave from California, Jordan just arrived from Sambir, Ukraine where he teaches English in a local college with the Peace Corp. Next to him is granddaughter, Miranda Stromgren and her friend, Nicki and then daughter Debbie, mom to the three young men. The boys hadn’t been together for over 2 years so you can imagine the wild time had by all.
Now Jan and I had just spent over two months in Alaska where the daytime temperatures rarely reached 75 degrees. The airport temperature when we arrived was 96 degrees with 95 % humidity. By Friday, the temperature topped out at 106 and that night it rained! Fortunately, it didn’t rain until after the wedding rehearsal dinner was completed. The dinner was held in Todd and Karen’s backyard under a tent canopy. There were 130 people at the dinner and everyone had a great time. Here we are with Jan’s siblings, Donna, Skip, Phillip and granddaughter, Miranda with Nicky.
Their late afternoon wedding was held in the Central United Methodist Church in downtown Lawrence. It had been a rainy type of day with the temperature in the mid-80’s. It was very nice and comfortable for the wedding. The church is small and overflowing with guests and we all enjoyed the young couple getting married.
Liberty Hall used to be the Opera House in Lawrence and was built in the late 1800’s after Quantrill’s raiders destroyed most of the town before the start of the civil war. It is now a theater and a special event building often used for wedding receptions. Here is a photo of Jan’s grand kids and great granddaughter at Liberty Hall during the reception after the wedding. The bride and groom, Kristina and Jerod are in the center with Jan on their left, Miranda on her left and then best man Jordan. On their right is Nicole with our great granddaughter Elise, next is Niclole’s husband, Tyler. In the back row, from the left is Caleb, Travis, Jake, Marissa, Zack and Brandon. Kristina graduated from Kansas University and thus the choice of Lawrence for the wedding where many of her friends still are there. It is also about half way between her parents and family who live in the Dallas, TX area and the Post family who live in the Scottsbluff, NE area. Plus it is our home.
The reception was delicious, the party was fun, the wedding cake beautiful and the groom’s cake interesting. Just why is the Jayhawk tromping all over the front of the cake with Cornhusker in the background? Is there some significance to the cake? Does this imply that the rivalry is over and it’s symbolic of the two sides getting together? OR is this someone’s idea of a JOKE! Shame on you grandma!
SOCKEYE (RED) FISHING, PART 2
Just so you understand how the Red fishing works, the fish enter the river, adjust to the fresh water instead of salt water and then work their way up the rivers to the lakes where they spawn. They do not stay in one place more than a few hours while they rest out of the current. If the river does not have a lake, the Reds do not enter the river. That is why the Anchor river, the Ninilchik river, Deep Creek and Crooked Creek do not have Red salmon in them. That is not true of the King, Silvers and Pink salmon. They all spawn in the rivers and creeks, therefore they can be found in all the peninsula rivers and streams when they come back to spawn.Once the Reds acclimate to fresh water, they no longer eat until they spawn and die. Therefore, it doesn’t do any good to fish with bait or lures. The only way to catch them is by snagging them. F&G insist that to be sporting you have to use a fly and you have to snag them in the mouth to keep them. This is the only species of animal that you can wound (like ripping out the their guts by snagging them in the belly with a hook) and then are required to release the animal. ? Wouldn’t it make more sense to be forced to keep the ones that are wounded up to your limit and release the ones you hook in the mouth that aren’t damaged? Well, I’m not F&G! ——-
Unfortunately, the big run of Kenai Reds came in while we were gone. Cary and Ryan continued to catch their limits of three a day until Thursday when the river became loaded with fish. On Friday, a total of 950,000 Reds had entered the river and they were everywhere. F&G immediately raised the limit of Reds to 6 as they had reached the minimum escapement to replenish the salmon, then let all the commercial fishermen go out to catch the rest.
On Friday, they had 12 fish in about a half hour then went to pick up Cheri from the airport, took her to get her license then to the river to catch her six. Next day was the same, Ryan was busy tying hooks to keep Cheri fishing.
They both caught their limits while Cary was catching his. Six fish for the both of them is a hunk of fish. The Kenai Reds average between 8 and 12 pounds so six of the can weigh up to 50 pounds. We try to fillet them in the river before we leave as that leaves the scraps in the river to feed the smolt (young salmon), trout and other river species. Otherwise, we have to carry out the full weight, then clean them at home and return the heads, guts, bodies, etc. to the river. We are not allowed to dump the scraps into the dumpsters due to the smell plus the scraps provide food for the river fish.
Cheri in the meantime has another one on her line and is about to get it to the bank. She is good at catching the Reds and can match any of us when the fish are in the river. When she catches a fish and gets it on the bank, she has a great time dispatching the flopping fish with her pink wacker. Note also that she has a pink fly-pole and I made special hooks for her with pink yarn on them. I truly expect that she will have pink chest waders next year when she comes!!!!! GIRLS LIKE TO FISH TOO!
She can certainly hold her own when it comes to fishing as noted with the stringer of fish that she caught.
Once the fillets are back to the park, we cut the tail section off to later vacuum pack for freezing. Then we skin the front section and carefully cut out the series of bones that run along the spine. This will be later used for canning as the bones dissolve when they are pressure cooked. The rest of the meat above the bones and above the gut bones are then stripped into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Those slices are then marinated for about 24 hours in a brown sugar and salt mixture, then placed on a screened tray for smoking. The slices are sprinkled with spices depending on what favors are wanted and how much hot spices are used. They are then smoked for approximately 8 to 10 hours, turning the trays every two hours.
Jan and I arrived back in Anchorage at 10:45 pm on the 21st and waiting for us were Todd, Zack and Cody. After getting the van, GRACE out of the parking area, we waited until midnight for the arrival of Craig, Caleb and Brandon. It was a long trip back home, THANK YOU TODD FOR DRIVING!
It becomes somewhat of a problem when we have a large number of people here red fishing because we have limited spaces to fish on the Kenai. So we have to split up and fish different places to allow everyone to fish.
The first thing on the agenda was to get fishing licenses and gear ready for fishing and their afternoon Halibut charter (I will cover that in the next section). Unfortunately, by the 21st F&G had released all the commercial netters to harvest as many of the remaining Reds as possible out of the Cook Inlet. That reduced the number of fish coming into the river down to about 10,00 to 15,000 a day and limited the ability to catch the limit. We still had a good time fishing.
Jan and Zack both quickly caught Reds. Note that his is sure a lot bigger than hers!
Zack immediately got the knack of fishing for Reds. He limited out the first day he went fishing. He seems to be a natural, just like his dad, Todd.
Craig, Caleb and Brandon got to go Red fishing on the second and third days they were here. The numbers of fish in the river had been reduced significantly by then so it became much more difficult to catch them plus all three weren’t used to snagging fish and it took time to become adapt to it. They were finally able to find some fish on the third day and were able to catch some to take home with them.
The fish quickly reduced in numbers after three days and it took a lot longer to legally hook and keep them. We still did manage to catch several each day. Although we were limited by the total number we caught this year due to us losing a week during the season, we were able to catch enough to provide fillets and jerky to everyone. Thanks to Cary and Ryan catching lots of fish while they were in and for keeping the smoker going and making most of the jerky for us. Cody did manage to find out how to make jerky while he was here too.
Along with catching and cleaning the Red salmon, also comes the processing it for the freezer. We have some professional vacuum machines which vacuum all the air out of the packages of fish and then seals the edges to help keep the meat fresh in the freezer.
Here Cody and Cary are preparing the packages while Zack is sealing them. Although the jerky has been smoked and dried, we still package them in small serving packages to keep them fresh too.
That however isn’t the last step. The final processing comes with the canning of the bony sections of the salmon. Since the bones dissolve during the pressure cooking process, this is the optimum way to utilize that portion of the salmon. We don’t waste any part of the meat of the salmon as you can see.
Jan took the photo of Sally and I after the cans have been packed with the salmon although she packed as many as we did.
The next step is to heat the cans to 160 degrees to prepare them for sealing with the can lids. While I am cleaning the can edges and placing on the lids, Tom Wilson (Carolina Tom) is sealing the lid to the can with the help of a hand crank. The next step in the process is the pressure cooking of the cans to cook and seal the salmon meat. We can cook 24 cans at a time in each of our pressure cookers. We cook them for 90 minutes at a minimum of 10 psi.
When cleaning buckets are lined across the porch railing it signals that the Red season is over, the cleaning and process is done and it is time to enjoy the delicious Red salmon. We probably enjoy eating the canned salmon either in salmon patties, salmon salad or salmon chowder as much at the fresh frozen salmon. We share our bounty with our entire family in the lower 48.
However, there is one final fishing trip that we all enjoy almost as much as the entire Red season. That is our annual trip to the Russian River Ferry to fish for the Reds before they spawn in the Kenai Lake. By this time, they have matured to their red and green shades that make them so beautiful, but are still as feisty and fun as when they were first in the river. By then the meat is beginning to turn to a light pink and becomes somewhat mushy. Some people also think that the meat becomes stronger flavored, but we haven’t noticed that. However, we come here to catch and release enjoying the sport of fighting these strong, swift salmon and then let them get back to what brought them all the up the Kenai river. We met with our good friends from Texas/Oregon, Randi and Ken Ferguson for a day of fishing for fun. Of course, Ken had to show us all up and catch the most fish. They had stayed with in the park this past summer for over a month and we had a great time with them. So when they left and stopped at the Russian River Campground for a few days fishing, we decided to meet them there.
Generally after the end of July when most of the Red fishing frenzy is over, the Russian River Ferry is not very crowded so you can have a lot of fun fishing.
So this ends the 2013 RED FISHING SEASON!
We had a couple of brothers that stayed with us for a few days in June that just couldn’t say enough good things about the halibut charter service that they had used twice while here. The name of the service was Key-O’s Guide Service out of Ninilchik. They had great luck fishing with them both times.
So when Craig and the boys came up, we decided to try them out.
They have what is called a ‘6 pack’ aluminum boat called ‘Hunter’. 6 pack means that they can only take 6 people to fish on each trip. Since they already had one passenger for the trip, we sent Cody and Cary with Craig and the boys for an afternoon trip on the 22nd.
That turned out to be a great choice for the halibut trip. They actually drove down to Anchor Point to launch the boat for the fishing trip and went out into the Cook Inlet toward Mt. Iliamna. It was a beautiful day, sunny and calm. The fishing was great, each of them caught their limit of two. The smallest one was over 25 pounds and most were in the 25 to 50 pound range.
Cody caught the biggest one weighing in at 114 pounds. It took him between 20 and 30 minutes to land it in the boat.
Cary caught the next biggest one weighing in at 70 pounds.
And Brandon caught the next biggest weighing in at 50 pounds. All together they had over 400 pounds of salmon to be processed plus having a wonderful halibut fishing experience in Alaska. All of them commented on how great the Captain and the Deckhand were. When they got back to the launch area, all of the halibut had been filleted and bagged ready for them to take home.
Craig, Caleb and Brandon were busy after they got back packing, vacuum and sealing the cleaned halibut for freezing. They had over 125 pounds of cleaned and packaged when they were finished.
Two days later, we were able to get Todd and Zack on a charter with the same service and they had the same Captain and Deckhand. They too had a great time and caught their limit of halibut. The weather wasn’t as good with choppy seas and windy, thus making more difficult to keep their baits on the bottom. Thus this trip wasn’t as successful at the first had been. Although everyone caught their limit of fish, the fish were smaller only weighing in the 20 to 30 pound range. Todd and Zack were happy with their catch.
AROUND THE PARK
We had a beautiful summer! Most of the days were sunny and warm which the flowers loved. Everyone has commented how beautiful the flowers have been all summer, especially the marigold baskets that Kyra and Craig sent for mother’s day. The fireweed grew the tallest and had the longest lasting flowers that I ever remembered and they were everywhere. As you drove down the road to Homer or up to Anchorage, there were fields of vibrant pink fireweed.
The garden did well also with all the sunshine and the help of the heat cables. We actually had more cucumbers that we could eat and they were wonderful. Plus our tomatoes started ripening in mid-August, so we have been able to have fresh tomatoes for the past several weeks. We do love to have a tomato, cucumber and onion salad in Ranch dressing, Um! We also had potatoes (although they didn’t produce as well as I thought they should), lettuce, herbs, dill, green onions and spinach. As usual, we grew more that we ever used.
Our guests helped us out this summer by doing some of the physical work around the park. Zack is using his huge muscles to load gravel into the wheel barrow and add gravel along the walkways that had become thin. Ryan and Todd are helping him by leveling out the gravel as he hauls it into the thin spots.
While Jan and I were in Kansas for the wedding, Ryan and Cary replaced some dry rotted wood sheeting and the roofing on the fish shack down at the far end of the park. Later after things slowed down and the fishing was done, I tacked down the edges of the roofing so the wind wouldn’t tear it off again during the winter. Evidently, we had a strong wind during the winter and it managed to blow the roofing off the east side of the roof. It even blew some of it up in the pine tree next to the shack.
At the last of July, my sister Sally decided that she wanted to move her 5th Wheel into the park rather than to leave it in the park at the river. So Richard Pierce agreed to haul it out to the park for her. He backed it into space #7 and the boys helped to block it up permanently. So now she will be a permanent member of our park family, but will still continue helping out the food bank and the church in Soldotna as well and visiting all her friends there. We appreciate her being here because she sometimes gives us a break to be away from the park for awhile.
Our evening ritual includes cocktail time where the group gets together to share the day’s events and to relax. Pictured from the left are Craig, Brandon, Cheri, Ryan, Cody (seated), Zack and Todd. The Flemings, Vickie and Bob who are campers in the park have joined us also and then Cary is added next to Cody with Cheri and Zack with me with my back to the camera.
Now there is a switch, Todd drinking a Tangueray and Tonic. He must be out of beer!
Dinner time! Following cocktail time, we all got together for our evening meal. We had fresh roasting ears of corn and fresh tomatoes that we brought back from Kansas served along side with fresh caught Red salmon grilled to perfection. Hard to beat!
After dinner, it’s out to the campfire pit for and evening fire and more conversation. Looks like the Pyle men have been hitting the sauce. Has grandma been drinking out of the wine bottle again?
Anyone for somores?
Due to the abundance of sunny, warm weather this summer, the berry season this year is awesome! Our friends and neighbors, the Morgans (he’s our plumber and she and their older daughter helped Jan clean the lodge this summer) came over to pick red raspberries. They obviously had fun and got a lot of berries. Sally saw them picking and then later picked a bunch of raspberries for us. Jan and I got the bug after we started noticing the red berries on the high bush cranberries, so we started searching and picking. We also found some crow berries (like a blueberry) and picked some of them. We have a quart of wild berries for jam next year!
Jan and I had been wanting to visit the small port town of Seldovia for several years. With Sally moving into the park, it gave us the opportunity to get away for a couple of days. Seldovia is across Kachemack Bay from the port of Homer. We decided to take a tour boat over from Homer to Seldovia partially because they gave a local tour of the bay and mainly because it was the only way to get there on the Tuesday that we had a night’s reservation!
The tour turned out to be interesting. We left Homer at 10:30 in the morning and our first stop was at a really ugly outcropping of rock covered with seagulls and their leavings (Gull Island, duh!). However, a surprise on the other side of it were several kayaks watching a beluga whale. It was a rare sight and a surprise for the boat Captain also since beluga have become an endangered species and there are not many of them in the Cook Inlet
From there, we traveled along the southern shore of the Kachemack Bay and behind the two Islands that are at the entrance to Sadie’s cove. Heading into the bay is Hole Rock which is described as the gremlin character with the big nose and two eyes at the edge of a table. The larger Island was originally homesteaded and occupied by fox farmer until the market declined for fox furs. We used to travel over to Sadie’s cove by boat to rake for steamer and butter clams.
Further out at the tip of the Island are a series of rocks with the reddish color of iron ore. The Islands were originally thrust up from the bottom of the bay by volcanic action and earthquakes. The holes in the rocks are caused by the wave action of the ocean washing out the weaker sediments between the rock.
We traveled on southwesterly along the coastline of the southern Kenai peninsula past Jakolof Bay until we reached the inlet to the Seldovia harbor at 1 pm. Seldovia was originally a busy cannery port and town for the commercial herring industry. There was a huge cannery located along the north end of the harbor for the processing of the herring. During the 1964 earthquake, the waterfront area of the town including the cannery sunk 4 to 6 feet and was subject to flooding from the tides. The cannery was shut down and most of the businesses and homes were moved up the hillside to keep them from flooding. Remember that it is not uncommon for the tide changes here to be 20 to 30 feet in height. Today, the primary industry of Seldovia is fishing and tourism. We arrived when the tide was out and the water level was low as can be seen by the steep climb up the ramp (with the blue top) from the boat docks to the street level.
After checking into our nice Sea Parrot Inn B&B for the night which was just across the street from the boarding ramp, we took a walking tour of the small town. We headed toward what was listed as the Seldovia Slough which was an extension of the salt water bay hoping to see some of the old town fishing businesses and residents. We weren’t disappointed in the residents although we were surprised when we reached the bridge overlooking the slough to see all the water gone with the exception of a small stream of fresh water. The building in the foreground above is a bookstore and curio shop. It was closed, but I found a lot of tanks of various sizes hanging along the side of the building along the walkway. I also noticed that their were a series of fish weights hanging on strings beside them. Before long I was making quite a racket of different tones by letting the weights swing against the different tanks. It was fun, but Jan was a party pooper and made me stop by saying ‘kids will be kids’.
We continued exploring the area and found the old boardwalk located behind this row of homes and fishing businesses along the slough. We walked along the boardwalk with some older and some really beautiful new homes.
One of the oldest was located just at the corner of the boardwalk cut into the side of the hill. It was a classic right down to the old worn out boat set in the yard and the aged wooden fence leading up to the house.
Not to be outdone, the old Rowing Club B&B located near the end of the boardwalk was just a picturesque.
But when the tide comes back in what a different picture. Now the red house at the bridge looks like a fishing shack. All it needs are some nets with buoys, a couple of fishing boats tied up to the pilings and you are in a movie set.
These homes are closer to that feeling with the boats out in front and the fishing nets and buoys laying across the decks.
That evening as we were enjoying sitting in the common living room and on the deck of our B&B, the sun was winding down toward the end of the day. It’s golden hue was lighting up the harbor and the local hillside resident. In the distance, a Kayak with two people aboard was just about to row around the end of the bluff. A single gull was barely noticed off the front of the bluff. Off across the bay, a lonely skiff was anchored.
A beautiful picture for the end of a beautiful day!
The next morning we were lazy and didn’t get up until we had go get down to the morning complimentary breakfast. We decided to visit the local visitor/museum center first. It was interesting as was the older (a grey hair like us) man who was taking care of it at the time. He was a retired Alaska teacher who was just filling in for the person who normally there. We started asking him questions about Seldovia spending a couple of hours talking to him and looking at their interesting old photos of the area and the displays.
Then we decided to take a hike to the end of the road where it meets the bay at the north end of town. It was a beautiful bay off by itself with lots of pretty rock structures in a variety of colors of orange, yellow and green. Also there was the obligatory seagull sitting on the rock in front of us that did not move until we decided to leave, then it flew away.
Above and behind us on the bluff above the bay, a lodge was built at the very peak. It was quite large and the only way to could get to it was with a tram elevator.
Back into town we walk down the main business area. There is a grocery store, a restaurant (we had a wonderful lunch) and a bar (they had Tangueray!). There are several curio shops around the town and a fairly large Indian facility. We had a couple of T&T’s at the bar while we were waiting to catch the 4pm boat back to Homer.
The old Russian Orthodox Church on top of the hill overlooking the Seldovia harbor is one of the three original Russian Orthodox Churches on the Kenai Peninsula. However, unlike the one in Kenai and the one in Ninilchik, this was has been neglected and let run down. It is obviously no longer used and is almost a sign of what is happening to the town of Seldovia itself. The FOR SALE signs on homes on almost every street in town.
All in all, it was a fun get away, an interesting trip and in many ways a beautiful place. Thank you Sally for giving us the time to enjoy it.
HOPE YOU ENJOYED READING ABOUT OUR SUMMER IN ALASKA AS MUCH AS WE ENJOYED DOING IT! HOPE TO SEE YOU AGAIN NEXT YEAR
Guess what? Another load of wood for our next project. Some of the wood needed for the next building project was too long to haul in the truck so we had to have it hauled out by Home Depot.
It all started last year at the end of the fishing season when Todd was sitting on the deck in front of the kitchen under the metal roof awing because it was raining. Todd said, “You know what you really need to do is build a cover over the deck so we can sit out there when it is raining!” Now, as Ryan said, “Todd is our idea man, Jon is our money man, and I am the cheap labor!”
However, it was a good idea and Jan added to it by stating, “I would really like to have a chiminea on the deck.” But if we covered the deck with a metal roof, we couldn’t have a chiminea on the deck. So we had to build an extension to the deck for the chiminea and so someone could also sit in the sunshine when it wasn’t raining. See how things get out of hand very quickly!
That’s why Todd wasn’t allowed to come up to Alaska this year, we have had enough of good ideas! Just kidding, we will let him come back!
So in this case Jon was the cheap labor and the deck extension was added to the south of the existing deck. It turned out to be a nice 10 x 16 foot addition with room for the new cast iron chiminea that Jan received for Mother’s Day. It is sitting on top of cinder blocks with a tile top (because you can’t have the chiminea on a wooden deck). In addition, the vertical supports and side beam for the new roof were added before the deck extension was completed.
ROOFING THE EXISTING DECK
Richard and Doris Pierce arrived in early June to stay with us for six weeks. They brought their grandson, Tristan. They helped build the log entrance frame by cutting down several dead spruce trees in the park and stripping the bark off them to make the vertical support posts, the main cross beam and the rafters to support the end of the metal roof. It sure helped with the construction as trimming the logs, cleaning off the bark and preparing them takes a lot of time. Richard had a lot of experience as he had built a log home earlier.
Ryan Pyle came up just after the 4th of July to provide the cheap labor for building the roof. Ryan and I started fitting the log beam and rafters together on the lawn, knowing that it would be difficult to fit things together up in the air. It worked pretty well with some minor problems of our cheap labor goofing around! Fortunately, Richard and Tristan came to help and got us straightened out.
Once the log frame was completed, we could begin to build the rafters to the original kitchen/workshop building. Notice that we wanted the roof to be a continuation of the original structure rather than an add-on. So we followed the same lines of the original plus similar structural pieces. However, the original used 4 x 12 beams, 4 x 6 rafters and 2 x 12 joists. That was just a little too pricey for our pocket books, so we used doubled 2 x 6 with 4 foot spacing. As you will see, we did order the same color metal for the roof.
The structure for the roof is finally completed. Now we have to wait for Cary to come to put on the metal roofing.
Cary arrived on the 18th of July and of course the red season was in full swing so the metal roof had to wait for a break in red fishing. WHEN THE REDS ARE IN, IT IS CATCH THEM IN THE MORNING EARLY, FILET AND CUT THEM UP FOR THE FREEZER BEFORE NOON AND VACUUM PACK THEM IN THE AFTERNOON. Then it’s time for a little relaxing before it starts all over the next day.
It’s the last week of July, we have about exhausted the red fishing so it’s time to finish the metal roof. Cary started laying out the roof with string to make sure he could keep the same bottom edge, then cut the metal panels, measured and pre-drilled the screw holes, then took them up on the roof to install. In the next photo, he was screwing the panel onto the 2 x 4 roof runners. He was working his way up both sides of the roof matching the panels as he installed them.
He was about half way down the south side in the next picture.
Once the panels were in place on both sides,he climbed up on the centerline of the roof and screwed in the top cap to cover the gap between the two sides. Although there is a slight change in the color between the old part of the building and the new deck roof, we made the structure to follow the design of the old building as much as possible. The slight color change is due to the aging of the older metal and it will overtime become similar in color.
I helped him with the last sheets on each side because he needed to slide the sheets under the end of the cap top. The sheets extended over the edges of the log rafters to help keep the moisture off the logs. Cary then covered the ends of the 2 x 4s with 1 x4 end caps then covered that with metal drip covers left over from the original buildings. We then trimmed off the ends of the rafters.
The final touches were adding the eagle to watch over the park, the Kasilof RV Park sign on the front and flower pots hanging from each of the log rafters. It turned out to be a really nice addition to the park and completed the Pavilion construction project.
Thanks Todd, Good Idea!
Thanks to Ryan, Cary, Jan and Jon for all the work!
WHO WAS HERE
This was a good year for us and probably the first that we have had that least paid the expenses of keeping the park open. Although the fuel and electricity prices have sky-rocketed since we purchased the park in 2008, our summer campers have slowly built back up to where the park is about breaking even. We had a fishing guide that spent the summer with us and plans to be back next year. The Christiansons rented a place for their camper for the entire summer and will stay again. The Pierces spent six weeks with us and will return next year and the Gonzales and Smiths both spent a month with us. We were completely full for the first three weeks of July and had a total of 190 different campers plus 19 different friends and family spend time with us. We had 98 campers from 32 states in the lower 48 plus Hawaii. 20 more campers came from Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Canada, Japan and Israel. We have been surprised how many campers have stayed a few nights with us and then came back again later for a few more. Most of the comments have been, “It’s so peaceful and quiet here and we love how beautiful it is. What a nice break from the overstuffed parking lots of most campgrounds.”
And don’t let us forget our local Alaskans who make up the rest of the campers. They are our bread and butter and without them, we would have to close the park.
As I indicated earlier, Ryan came to Alaska on the 5thof July. He came to help with the roof and to fish for reds and to have some fun. He loves to goof off as well as contribute to the many projects we have going on to build up the park. Whether he is figuring out how to put together the log frame, putting jerky on the trays for smoking, preparing for the claming trip, building the roof frame or log rafters, goofing off with Bus and Carol or resting on the log beam, he has been a great help and a lot of fun.
Ryan’s wife Cheri arrived on the 14th, just after the reds made their blast into the river to kick off the fishing season for us.
Her first job was to repair the Styrofoam moose on the entrance sign of the park (it’s the one that is shown on our website with the picture of Johnson Lake). It had been mounted on a fiberboard backing and then glued to the wooden sign. The really wet spring this year turned the fiberboard to mush and the moose fell off on the ground breaking off all the legs and damaging the horns. I had put it back together, glued to a hard plastic backboard and had it ready to be repainted. Jan just didn’t have time to get it done so Cheri offered to do it. It looked great and soon it was back up bringing back in those old horny cows to the park.
Cheri was her old self when it came to catching the reds this year. However, after her first fishing triumph with Nicole two years ago, we decided not to give her such a big club to dispatch the fish when she caught them. She was just so energetic with the club, she had Ryan scared!
She and Ryan had a great time and a very quick time catching their limit the first morning she was here. The reds had arrived and the two of them took advantage of them. I want you to notice that the big ones are on Cheri’s side and she let Ryan catch the little ones on his side. That was alright because that kept Ryan from breaking his fly pole again this year! As you can see from the fish Cheri is holding that the reds were huge this year. I’m sure that many of the big males had to be 10 to 12 pounds and boy were they feisty! Lots of FUN!
Bus and Carol Stromgren (Jan’s son-in-law Craig’s parents) came up to visit on the 15th of July and spent a week with us sight seeing and fishing. Sunday morning it was bright and clear so it was a perfect time to take a visit to Homer. It was a gorgeous day and we could see the mountains across Katchemak Bay that extends from the Cook Inlet into the Kenai Mountains. The glaciers that come down out of the Harding Ice Field were crystal white in the canyons of the Kenai Mountains and very beautiful. Of course (as you have seen in the past) no trip to Homer is complete without a visit to the Salty Dawg Saloon, a drink and a dollar left somewhere inside with your name on it.
The Stromgrens and Cheri had never been clamming before and really wanted to try it. So we got all the gear together and took the Salmon Mobile to Ninilchik and attacked the mud and sand to find the little dimples where the clams hid. As always seems to happen, one of the party manages to get stuck in the mud and has to be pulled out. This time it was Carol who almost lost her boot and in trying to free it, toppled into the mud and water. After several attempts to free herself, she just crawled through the mud to the bank.
We were all a big help laughing at her.
We took them Red fishing for the first time and were able to catch some Reds. It is difficult to learn how to hook them in the mouth when they don’t eat after entering fresh water. But after a lot of trial and errors they finally caught onto the technique and were both catching fish. Over the week that they were here, they managed to catch enough to take a box home with them plus they learned all about processing and cleaning them.
As I wrote in the Summer Project section, my younger son Cary (not so young now as he just turned 50, ugh, that makes me an old Fart!) came up to help put the metal roof on the deck extension. Since he was here at the beginning of Red season, of course he had to participate. Did he ever participate! Seems that he loved Red fishing as much as I do and he caught a lot of fish. He did real well for his first time and I know it won’t be his last. He is already planned to come again next year.
We really used up a lot of hooks this summer. I had tied a pack of 100 last winter thinking that it would get us through the fishing season. NOT. It didn’t even get us half way through the season so we were tying up another pack of 100 and we used up most of them too!
FISHING AT STERLING ON THE KENAI
Our friends from Alaska, Walt and Dale Kephart invited us to come to Sterling and fish behind his son-in-law’s father’s (whew) house which was located on the Kenai River. The group that was there including our friends from Hoxie, Mark and Sue Ann Hill who had flown up and were staying with us at the Park. Murray and Bonnie Sloan from Texas were also there. They were all part of the group that hunt Pheasants and Deer near Hoxie in the fall.
The property was beautiful with a large log home, pretty back yard that overlooked the Kenai River below a bank at the rear. It is an excellent fishing location with swift water in a trough right beyond the rock & pebble bank.
The two days that we fished with them were at the end of the major Red salmon run and thus the fish were not as plentiful as they had been earlier in the season. However, by sticking with the repetition of flipping in the line and letting it sink to the bottom through the trough, we were able to occasionally hook some salmon. Over a period of four hours most of our group were able to get several fish each day. We had a great time and enjoyed fishing with them at this beautiful spot on the river.
Ryan left on the 29th of July, followed by Cary on the 2nd of August, then Jan and I had a short rest spell.
A VISIT FROM TRAVIS AND FRIENDS
Then our grandson, Travis, his beautiful girlfriend, Adrienne Struble and good friend Scott Hird arrived on the 11th to spend eleven fun filled days with us. Again the first day they were here was beautiful and sunny so we drove to Homer to show them the sights. We stopped at the Ninilchik Russian Orthodox Church, then drove down to the beach where we normally clam (and would go later in the week), stopped at the tractor pull at Deep Creek to let them watch the tractors putting in charter boats and on to the Homer Overlook. The day was beautiful with little wind so we drove out on the spit and ate lunch at Lands End on the deck. Then the kids toured all the boardwalk shops and we ended at the Salty Dawg Saloon for a beer and the traditional dollars with names on them to help decorate the walls and ceiling.
After leaving the Spit, we drove up to the top of the hill overlooking Homer. You could see the Spit sticking out in Katchemak Bay with the Kenai Mountains in the distance. The town of Homer was spread out down below them on the side of the hill and in the valley leading to the float plane lake shown just behind them.
The next week was busy with trips up to the Russian River to go Red fishing. It was late in the Red run and those fish that had not stopped to spawn in Skilak Lake were turning bright red as they reached the Russian River on their way to spawn in Kenai Lake. We had such a good time on Monday that we went back again on Thursday. On Monday we caught 13 Reds and although the big males are beginning to get a little strong tasting and their meat is turning slightly mushy, they are still good to smoke into jerky and the kids wanted to take a lot of jerky home so we kept them to clean.
Jan and I did okay too and we had fun catching the big red males. They are still very strong and give us a great fight. As you can see in the right photo, the males have turned a bright red on their body and their heads, lower fins and tails are deep green, really very beautiful fish.
THE BEAR SAGA!
On our second trip on Thursday, two days later, we had a visitor while we were fishing. Seems that a young brown bear (not so small!!!) got separated from his mom and needed to go back to the other side of the river. He came up behind us on the top of the hill above the river and looked down at us. We were hoping that he was looking to see if he could get across, then decided he didn’t want to mess will all us humans. That was just fine by us! He continued on along the top of the hill until he found a spot to get down to the river where there were no humans around, then ran down the bank into the river and swam across. Of course there were other humans on the other side fishing from their pontoon boats. As he arrived at the other side of the river, the fishermen realized that it was best to leave that side of the river. They got back on their boats and proceeded downstream.
It is interesting that two days later, the number of Reds coming up the river had changed significantly. We fished for several hours and although we hooked many fish again, it was more difficult to hook them in the mouth and get them to the bank. It really wasn’t a problem earlier when the bear came by as we really didn’t want any tasty fish laying near the bank for him to come down and sample. As a matter of fact, I had just hooked a big male and had fought it to the bank when the bear showed up. It was the first one that day that I had hooked in the mouth, but decided it might not be a good time to have a fresh fish laying on the bank, so I let him go! We had enough fish so it wasn’t a big problem and an easy one to solve.
We did wind up with 8 more fish that added to the amount of jerky that the kids were going to smoke. They helped me fillet the reds on the river bank so we didn’t have a lot of fish scraps to get dump. It was interesting to see the meat of the reds that had turned orange color. Their meat is normally dark red when we catch them during the start of the run when they are still bright silver and green. As their skin turns red on the outside, their meat looses it’s color and becomes more orange almost as if the red die in the meat is used to color their skin. The male bodies also change becoming much taller vertically and less thick. It is interesting because the females that we caught had also changed color to a reddish color; however, their body shapes had not changed and were even thicker due to the increasing size of the egg sacks.
The boys helped me cut up the fish to produce the best amount of jerky. Because the fish were becoming stronger flavored and more mushy they didn’t want to save any of the tails for cooking. We already had plenty of frozen red salmon for them to take. They put all of the jerky strips in the refrigerator tubs with the brown sugar/salt brine and let it set for 24 hours. Then they separated out the strips on the smoking trays and added the spices that they wanted to flavor them. Travis is shown placing the smoking trays into the smoker for the next part of the process. Twelve hours later the trays were removed, the jerky scraped off into tubs and then vacuum packed in small packages for later consumption. Those were flown back to Kansas with them along with some previous processed red salmon tails for winter eating.
That was not the only fishing the our kids did while they were here. They decided that they wanted to do some trout fishing in Johnson Lake too. They put together the pontoon boat that holds three people and took it over to the lake to fish. With the help of Doug (who used to be Dan, the Dandelion Man, see last year’s blog and has turned out to be a very knowledgeable individual about the area), they gathered dragonfly nymphs under the rocks in the lake for bait. It turns out that the nymphs are the favorite food of the trout. They had a very successful fishing trip although they didn’t catch any large trout and used a lot of nymphs! Never-the-less, the lake was beautiful, the afternoon, although cloudy, was warm and calm and we got some beautiful photos of them on the lake with the forest and mountains in the background!
It wasn’t all fun and games for them although Travis and Adrienne did manage to wax us playing Mexican Train and she wiped us all out playing anagrams (Travis is going to have his hands full with her and we enjoyed her immensely!). We always ask our family visitors to help us with the park, either improving it or providing some of it’s maintenance. This year the three of them were asked to paint the finish coat of wood sealer to the outside of the kitchen/workshop complex. They did a beautiful job covering every square inch of wood on the building.
Then Adrienne also painted the outside of the planters that I was building for the south side of the building. Note that the greenhouse is now full of tomato and cucumber plants. Thanks to Chris and Mark, the electric-chord soil warmer they gave us has help keep our small greenhouse warm enough to produce over a dozen wonderful cucumbers and three vine ripened tomatoes plus some more before we leave. That was even in the coldest summer recorded on the Kenai Peninsula.
The planters are now filled with soil and potting soil plus the flowers from the summer. Few of the perennial ones may last the winter and come back up in the spring; however, it’s hard for those that are not in the ground and aren’t native to Alaska. We will raise potatoes (we had a nice crop this year from three potatoes), greens (lettuce and European), radishes and lots of dill next summer. Hopefully some of our herbs will make it through the winter too. It’s always nice to have fresh produce during the summer.
There was time for relaxing and having fun plus a few drinks in the evenings. We enjoyed the chiminea with the three of them and had a couple of nights where the campfire pit was burned and a few some-mores were consumed!
WITH KIDS LIKE THEM, WE REALIZE HOW WONDERFUL THIS PLACE REALLY IS AND HOW MUCH WE ARE GLAD THAT WE CAN MAKE IT FOR THEM!
END OF SUMMER
As the summer winds down we think back on the many wonderful times we had this summer and this blog is too small and short to remember them all, but we still get too. A few of the other moments that we will remember:
Richard helping Tristan make a bird house out of scrap building materials that looks like a boat. They hung it in the Pine tree next to their camper in the space next to where they will be next summer. Hopefully a bird will be using it then.
A handful of bog flowers with a few star flowers that I picked up for my beautiful wife when we were walking around the lake last spring.
Walt fishing on the Kenai River at Sterling. What a relaxing way to catch Red Salmon.
The Russian River Ferry crossing the Kenai River with a group of fishermen. Note the Red Salmon laying in the water at the bottom of the photo.
The finished end of the deck as you walk up the steps from the front driveway.
On a drive back from Kenai one evening, the sun was shinning through the clouds showing Mt. Redoubt off in all it’s snowy glory. We stopped at one of the pull-outs overlooking the Kenai Flats. You can see all the canneries just beyond the Kenai River. Many times the local caribou herd can be seen grazing on these flats, but not this evening.
This evening the show was all about Mt. Redoubt.
What a Surprise!
Guest who showed up at the park to wish us goodbye this year? Yes, it was Spike, Jr. with a new set of horns and all grown up. We know it was him because he had to show off his new horns for us and he would turn to look at us when we talked to him. He also was very tame allowing the few campers that were in the park admire him as long as they didn’t get too close.
Welcome back to the Kasilof RV Park blog! Sorry that I haven’t kept it up to date this summer, but as usual we have been very busy and it is hard to find time to update it as the summer progresses. Now that it is winding down and the visitors are leaving, I can begin to spend time on the blog.
I guess you will have to put up with me this year as the narrator. The squirrel didn’t show up except for a few days when he tried to get into our house. We wouldn’t let him in and I guess he didn’t want to stick around to narrate the blog. We do have a new Spike (see him in Our Summer Friends), but he didn’t turn out to be a big talker like the last one. He sure did like the plants though!
First, it is my sad duty to tell you that we lost our best buddy and nephew,Kevin this past winter. He fought a battle with a brain tumor that was inoperable for the past three years and in January lost the battle. He was so much a part of building the Kasilof RV Park that he will always be remembered. Without his help, the Park would not be the jewel it is today.
His ashes were buried next to his Dad in the Reading, Kansas cemetery although some were brought to Alaska by his son, Ryan. Kevin always said he wanted to be part of the Kenai River where he and his Dad, David had such great times fishing for Red Salmon. Ryan, his wife Cheri, Cary Pyle, Aunt Sally Curry, Aunt Jan and I all wished him well as we placed part of his ashes in the Kenai River from the Soldotna River Bridge. We know that he and his Dad are together again fishing on the Kenai. We just hope that they leave some of the Reds for us to catch when we get there. Goodbye Kevin, you are gone from us for now, but will never be forgotten.
It’s been a very cool, rainy summer. The weather people have said it was the coolest summer in recorded history. When we heard of the blistering heat throughout the lower 48 this past summer, we were happy to be in cool Alaska! Our average temperature on cloudy, rainy days was in the mid-50’s and in the high 60’s to low 70’s when it was sunny. It’s hard to beat that when it is 100+ degrees in Kansas!
We had a good summer with a lot of wonderful campers from all over the US including Hawaii, plus Europe and Japan. We also had a great time with our family visitors as you will see in the section, Who Was Here. We had one major project this year with the addition of a roof over the deck area and a small extension of the deck itself. You will see that later in a separate section (The Summer Project).
The King fishing season turned out to be a big flop to the dismay of many of our campers (more about that later); however, the Red season was a huge success with almost 2 million reds swimming up the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers. Boy were they big this year and BOY, did we enjoy catching them!!!! We will sure enjoy eating them through the winter also.
BACK TO ALASKA
Anchorage had a record snowfall year, 11 feet 2 inches. It was mostly melted when we arrived although there were still mounds of snow piled in every vacant space. The Kenai mountains on the way to Kasilof were beautiful with the huge snowfall. The sky was clear, the sun shining and it was a wonderful trip to our summer home.
We arrived the 24th of April a little earlier than usual since Jan had to go to Zack’s graduation the third weekend in May. It takes awhile to clean up the park for the summer and this year was no exception. Although most of the 11 feet of snow we got in the park was melted, there were still some areas in the trees that were covered and there were banks of snow still standing under the roof lines.
We had one minor accident this past winter, a tree broke off in unusually high winds last fall. It fell right across the roof of the kitchen. It didn’t look like it caused any damage except a bent overhang. Later we found that one of it’s limb punctured a hole in the roof. I managed to repair the hole with some left over metal sheeting from our storage area by the well house.
While I cut up the tree on the roof, the dead brush around the RV pads and dead rose branches in the bushes, Jan was busy cleaning up the winter trash. All of the green areas around the buildings and between the RV pads have dead grass, limbs, leaves and other debris that has to be cleaned for the summer. We generally burn off the grasses although we have to wait for windless days. Much of the other debris has to be cleared by raking. We had purchased our summer flowers shortly after we got here and had them in the Men’s restroom where it was warm. We finally got them into the planters by the 15th of May. It was too early this year as we had a bad frost on the night of the 17th which nipped a lot of the plants and killed several. We found out that it’s not a good idea to purchase them too early because when the ground is still cold and the nights are near 32 degrees, the plants don’t recover well. It takes them much longer to start growing when they get a cold start. We do purchase a lot of flowers for the park and they grow wonderful during the long sunny days of summer.
Jan walked by and said, “Laying down on the job, huh?”
“Nope, looking for gold, but all I found was a leak!”
OUR SUMMER FRIENDS
The spring migration of birds started arriving in late May after the ice melted off Johnson Lake. The loons arrived first shortly after the ice melted.
Soon the swans arrived to spend several days resting before heading up to the tundra to their nesting areas.
For the past two years there have been three of them. We don’t know if one of the pairs lost a mate or whether the third is an offspring of the pair.
The Sand Cranes followed quickly and spent time feeding in the tundra area next to the lake.
June is calving time for the moose. As soon as the grass starts to green, the young yearlings come out to feed because the cows chase them away to give birth to the new calves. This year we were delighted to have a pair of twins from last year greet us early. Meet Spike Jr. and his sister, Little White Stockings, named because she has white hair up the back legs above her back knees. Because they were raised near or in the Park last summer, they are very tame and will wander around us without being a bit afraid.
Spike Jr. got his name because he is ornery and a show-off like his uncle two years ago. Jan and I were standing on the deck taking pictures of him when he decided to smell the flowers in the planters. I told him that he wasn’t supposed to eat those and he turned his head and looked at me. I could almost swear he grinned, but Jan said it was my imagination. He didn’t eat the flowers though. Next day he was in the back yard. I had the greenhouse doors open because the sun was heating it up too hot. He stuck his head through the crack in the door to smell the plants and I yelled at him to get his head out of there. He backed up a couple of steps and looked at me. I know that he grinned at me that time! It didn’t keep him from sticking his head inside again, but he didn’t eat anything.
Little White Stockings isn’t a bit shy! She came right over to Jan when Jan was taking her picture. It is almost like they are aware we won’t hurt them and are as curious about us as we are about them. We do notice that when strangers come around, they tend to get away from them, but around us they are like part of the family.
She had been down on her knees eating the new green grass just coming up on the lawn, but decided that she wanted to come over and tell Jan Hi! We watched her eating the new grass on her knees for some time and when she cleaned one area, she would move over to another still on her knees.
And there is Mom (note the light color of the hair on the back legs) making sure that her offspring aren’t causing a lot of trouble to us. She has been a part of the Park since we bought it four years ago and probably longer than that. She has raised several sets of twins and several singles in the Park over the years and we have enjoyed them and her immensely. We hope she will have some more this spring.
As the summer continued, we saw less and less of them. By mid-summer, Spike had grown a set of horns although still just spikes with a ball at the end. He would appear in the park in the late evenings and at night, but we rarely saw him during the day. Little White Stockings soon wasn’t little. She would still come around at times and appeared for Bus and Carol Stromgren when they arrived for a visit in mid-July, but we haven’t seen her since. All the moose become very shy when the park is full. There are usually several dogs in the park and lots of people. Hopefully we will begin to see them again before we leave this fall.
It is new baby time with another mother that we know. These little ones were born to Old Scarside, a cow that has been around the Park a lot also. She must have gotten too close to a bear in the past as she has two claw marks down her left side. She sure makes cute babies though.
Keep looking for the next installment of the SUMMER 2012 Blog. It will be coming in a couple of days (if it keeps raining)!
Hi, I’m Sammy Squirrel! I am kind-a taking over for Spike this year as he hasn’t been around to do the talkin. I saw him early this spring and he told me that he made it through the hunting season OK since he broke off both his spikes. He said the hunters thought he was a girl. I thought to myself that he was really smart to break off his spikes, but I expect that he was really clumsy. Anyway, he headed up into the hills at the base of the Kenai Mountains where most of the other bulls hang out for the summer months.
My old lady and I took up residence in the bird house in the cottonwood tree next to grandma and grandpa’s house. It gives me good access to the goodies on the deck in front of the camp kitchen. Gramps puts out the best sunflower seeds with the bird seed. I just love those things! Although I sure have a lot of trouble getting to them. I had to chew up two of the plastic bird feeders to get to them. Gramps called me a ‘fluffy-tailed rat’ for doing it. That was the first time he threatened with the pellet gun. All the visitors thought I was really cute and would throw out peanuts for me to eat and then take pictures while I was eating them, but I got into trouble by chewing up the deck boards trying to get to peanuts that fell in the cracks.
It was the Bird Seed Bucket that was really my downfall though. I knew that was where gramps kept all those delicious sunflower seeds and I just had to get to them. I was frantically chewing my way into the lid when I heard gramps coming so I got on top of the bucket.
“Have you been chewing on the bucket again?” Gramps asked.
“Who, me?” I replied.
“Yes you with the plastic chip on your nose! I going to get my pellet gun!” he says.
Well I decided it was time that I make myself scarce so I guess that gramps will have to do the commentary from here on out. Hopefully, I will see you next year!
Well I guess that put the fear into him and it will end him chewing on things. We have noticed that he doesn’t spend as much time on the deck anymore.
The moose have been scarce this year, but it’s probably because we became so used to having Spike around all the time. Momma moose spent some time eating the new greens before she had her yearly calf. She has been a regular here in the park for years. We think three years ago she was the mother of Spike and his sister, who came into the park with her twins later (photo later).
Momma moose wandered back into the park eating the new grass and leaves. One of the campers was busy taking photos of her in the space next to his. He had his video recorder busy, but notice that he was behind his auto. Momma moose noticed this too and came over to investigate what he was doing.
We enjoyed this sight, but I could not blame him for hiding behind the camper. Momma moose was as big as his car! Moose are very curious so soon she started eating the leaves off the bushes and completely forgot about the camper.
Several weeks later, Brindle brought her calf into the park. Brindle was Momma moose’s daughter the summer of 2007. We named her Brindle because her face and mane are very blond for a moose. She also has very blond eyebrows. For the past four summers, she has been a regular visitor to the park and for the past three has shared her calves with us to our delight. In early May when we first got here, I was trimming cottonwood saplings in the south end of the park. I saw her walk through the other end of the park very heavy with her calf. When she saw me working at the other end, she wandered down and watched me work for several minutes, then wandered off into the woods. It was nice to be greeted by one of our other residents!
This summer she and her new calf spent several days eating the young bushes and leaves plus new grass in the park and across the road in the State Park. She is so used to people in the park that she hangs around posing for photos for all the campers in the park. This day she and her calf were very photogenic!
Sorry that this photo isn’t better, but we were limited by time and space. We were eating breakfast one morning when Jan noticed Spike’s sister chewing on the willow leaves out behind the shop (we think it is his sister because she has the same long, narrow dewlap that he has). We quickly went out on the deck to take pictures. You can barely see the second calf behind the little red trailer peeking out behind the front calf. We were hoping that they would come out behind the blue spruce to the willow beside the shop so we could get better photos. However, the camper in space 16 came out with his camera to get a closer picture of them. It was a little too close for the momma so she took her calves down the back road to the woods again. Hopefully we will see them again before we leave for the winter although we have noticed hoof prints in the roads where they have been browsing during the night.
SUMMER VISITORS (the human kind)
We had a great summer with lots of campers and family visitors. The family started on the 11th of July with the arrival of Kevin’s son, Ryan Pyle.
A day later, Dave Cooper (Jan’s cousin) and Ron Miller (Dave’s brother-in-law) arrived followed two days later with Ryan’s firemen buddies, Dave Hunter and John Maddox.
On the 20th, Debbie, Paul, Jerod, Jordan & Jacob Post arrived for a Red Salmon fishing frenzy. Two days later, Kyra Stromgren arrived for the Red Salmon season also (plus maybe to be with the Posts too). Not to out done, Todd Andregg arrived on the 24th for the Red Fishing plus to complete the togetherness of all of Jan’s kids.
We had a great time with all Jan’s family, Ryan and his friends and our friends, Dave and Ronnie. The Red Salmon fishing (more later) was great with one of the best years that we have had. It started off with a bang! 237 thousand red salmon entered the Kenai river on the 16th of July, the highest one day entrance of reds ever recorded. On Monday and Tuesday, the 18th & 19th, 26o,000 more came in the river. It seemed that they were almost jumping out on the banks, there were so many of them, BUT OH WAS IT FUN!!!!!
That was who was here to help us harvest all of these wonderful, tasty red salmon, but first let’s go back and review our friends and families visits with all the other things that Alaska has to offer.
DAVE COOPER & RONNIE MILLER
On the 15th the reds weren’t in the river yet, so Dave, Ronnie, Jan, Gary & Betty Buchanan and I went clamming. In this photo, Betty was taking the photo while I was parking the vehicle and bringing the 4-wheeler back to the beach. Dave & Ronnie had never been clamming. Gary & Betty were from Michigan and wanted to try it. ? So off we went to Ninilchik Beach on a -3.5 foot low tide to try our luck.
Across Cook Inlet is 11,000 foot Mt. Redoubt, the group is heading out to the open sand bars where the famous Alaskan razor clams are found. Notice all the people already there and the many rocks and muddy streams between them and their destination. But being the hardy souls that they are, they will persevere and claim their prizes (Note that none of them have clam shovels or clam shooters with them).
I guess that they think the clams will just jump in their buckets. Whoops, no buckets! But along comes the Hero, Jon on the 4-wheeler loaded with clam shooters, shovels and buckets to save the day!
And there it is! The clams just waiting under the surface for us to come along and pick them up. Notice the beautiful setting with Mt. Ilimana (over 11,000 feet) in the background. How could this not be the perfect place to collect all the wonderful razor clams that one could want?
Well it is, but as Ronnie found out the clams don’t jump in the bucket! After forcing the clam shooter down through the sand and mud then pulling it out (with a great deal of effort), NO CLAM!
So notices Gary who is busting his back pulling out a shooter full of empty sand! “Hey, this is work! How do I know if this dimple is really a clam or just a rock?”
Wait a minute, where’s Dave? There he is, looking for dimples? What is he going to do if he finds one? He doesn’t have a shooter or shovel.
“Here they are! It just takes a lot of effort to get these little guys out. Keep at it guys!”
Finally the clams were dug and we loaded everything for the trip home. It was a good day with almost a hundred
nice clams, not too many of them damaged! Now comes the cleaning process which takes a lot of time. Everybody pitches in and soon it is done.
Left are the slices of the foot for yummy clam strips and the necks and cleaned bodies for chowder. We look back on the work and it was FUN! But the best part was ‘THE CLAM STRIPS FOR DINNER“!
START OF RED SEASON
Red season begins with a bang! So many fish in the river. Dave hung a nice one with his first cast. It’s a fighter and he’s having fun fighting it to the shore. The river is low and the fish are able to use the fast current to make the catching exciting.
It’s a good one! Hooked in the mouth and on the bank. It was the first of many. Dave managed to get his limit of three in just 20 minutes, then watched as the others limited out.
Almost at the same time Dave was bringing in his fish, Ronnie had one on and was fighting it. They are hard to handle trying to get away in a swift river.
After several minutes having fun, Ronnie got his into the bank. Another nice red salmon! It was also the first of many that Ronnie would catch.
The work isn’t down until the fish are cleaned. Dave and I are busy at the cleaning table cutting the fillets into pieces for packaging and freezing. The tail section without bones are cut off, the rib section cleaned and cut, then the top fillet is removed just leaving the strip of bones with their meat.
The skin is removed from the piece and the remaining cubed for the freezer. The bags full of cubed bone pieces will be later thawed and canned. The separated pieces of the salmon are then taken to the shop where they are packaged in plastic and vacuumed sealed before freezing.
Ryan is a master at catching red salmon. If there are any fish in the river, he is going to at least hook them. However, he seems to have an affinity for hooking them everywhere but in the mouth which the F&G insist is the only way you can keep them. They call it sporting: however, it is the only hunting and fishing where you are supposed to let a wounded animal loose. ?? We follow the rules: however, we do question when we see salmon trying to swim up the river with their bellies gashed open and the eggs hanging out. Maybe F & G should consider rethinking this rule. Why not keep the wounded ones and release the ones hooked in the mouth, they haven’t been damaged and will spawn without a problem.
He does seem to have a problem when he does catch one legally. He tends to get himself as bloody as the fish! And he gets scary looking!
I wound up without any photos of the firemen, Dave and John fishing. They were always fishing with Ryan at a different place from the rest of us. Therefore, all we heard were stories of how well they did. Some of them were surely fishermen tales, but they did have several boxes of fish to take home with them.
THE POST FAMILY
Debbie, Paul, Jerod, Jordan, and Jacob arrived the morning of the 20th ready for red salmon fishing. We stopped along the Cook Inlet to view the beautiful Alaska Range of mountains across the inlet.
It didn’t take long for them boys to get ready to go fishing. Ryan took them down to the river for their first trip and it was a good one with each of them catching their limit of three.
After lunch we took Paul and Debbie down to the river for their first trip Red Salmon fishing. It wasn’t too long before Paul had his first red on the line and was fighting to get it to the bank.
Soon he had his first red on the bank and was a happy camper! From then on, you couldn’t stop him. He managed to catch his limit while the rest of us were getting ready to fish. He had a blast fishing for reds!
It took Debbie a little longer to figure out how to hook them, but when she finally figured out what she was doing wrong, she had no trouble catching her limit too.
Debbie and Jan both had good luck and caught their limits.
Back at the park, it was time to clean our catch. I was cleaning and trimming the fillets while Paul was cutting up the separate pieces for vacuum packaging.
The fish then went to the shop to be vacuumed packed. The Post boys had that job while Debbie and Jan were fixing dinner for the rest of the crew. Everybody got into the act on this trip.
The next day the Posts we ready for more Red fishing! I took them up to Moose Meadows where the state had installed several fishing platforms along the river. However, everyone else in the Soldotna area had also gotten the fishing bug and there was no place to fish along the three different platforms and along the banks.
So I took them to the Kasilof river near our park. It’s a beautiful spot east of the Kasilof bridge and there wasn’t anyone there. Neither were the fish! We did get a lot of practice perfecting our salmon catching techniques though?
That evening the Post family went back to Moose Meadows hoping that the crowd had left so they could fish. The crowd had as least slimmed down so they could find a place. Soon Jerod had one on and Jordan netted it for him, then took a bath in the river due to the very slippery rocks. He didn’t loose Jerod’s fish though.
The result of their late evening efforts was another great catch of 12 between the five of them. By the time they got back to the park and cleaned their fish for the next day, it was midnight. See it actually does get dark up here after midnight!
This wasn’t the last of their fishing trips while they were here although they did have other things to do. They took the Seward Glacier cruise, a trip to Homer and a Rafting Trip down the Kasilof. But those are other stories and we haven’t finished the Red fishing with the rest of the family.
KYRA & TODD
Kyra’s husband, Craig decided that she needed some time with her siblings this summer before she started nursing at school this fall so for a special surprise he bought her a ticket to Alaska. She arrived in Anchorage the evening that Dave and Ronnie were heading back to Kansas and had a drink with them at the airport. We picked her up in Kenai that evening.
It was nice to have her with us for a week and she got to have her first experience catching reds. She arrived just in time to take the Seward Glacier tour with the Post family (see it later) and the trip to Homer.
Now Ky isn’t a fisherlady, but even though it took her awhile to get the knack of hooking Reds when she finally got it, she got it!
SHE DEFINITELY GOT IT!
So, a few days later Todd comes up. Now Todd is a fisherman and he loves catching Reds. He limited out his first morning (note that the limit was raised from 3 to 6 very early in the run). Obviously he quickly got back into the swing of hooking the Reds.
Then it comes time to take care of all those fish that you catch. Todd and Ryan were busy at the old cleaning table in the park when the idea was generated that there could be some improvements in the cleaning table (but that is a later story in the blog!).
But fishing wasn’t the only activity at the park. Remember the Somores Queen Nicole from last year? Well, Ky and Todd had to pay tribute to her becoming Dr. Nicole this past spring (note the charcoal marshmallow that Ky is hold and the one still in the sticking out of the firepit in front of the chair. Congratulations Dr. Nicole (Somores) McWilliams!
Oh yeah, two other photos which had us wondering? Now why would Ky be standing on the porch with one foot in a bucket of water? Was she practicing standing in the river? Or did she just happen to stumble into when walking on the porch? (Not that she tends to be clumsy or anything!) And what about these two guy with those silly grins on their faces? If you could see the label on Melissa’s hat and shirt, you would realize that it is the Kenai River Brewery labels. ?????? What have they been doing? Did they have a hard day fishing on the river? Doesn’t she look a little pale? I wonder if they smelled kind-of fishy? We won’t show the other picture of Ryan laying in the park driveway! �
WE DO HAVE FUN AT THE KASILOF RV PARK!
KENAI FJORDS GLACIER CRUISE
The Post family and Kyra drove to Seward the day after Kyra arrived to tour the glaciers of the Kenai Fjords National Park. The Park is known for it’s many tidewater glaciers (those flowing directly out of the Harding Ice Field into the ocean) and it’s abundant sea life. It was a beautiful day with clear skies, lots of sunshine and calm seas. It promised to be an exciting trip.
The tourists on the ship were all lined up watching the Muirs (a type of seagull) lined up on the rocks of the shore. They look something like a penguin with their white fronts and black backs. We wondered ‘Who is watching Who’?
The scenery was beautiful with the lush vegetation on the lower cliffs, and shear, snow capped mountains falling into the water. Plus the hint of the glaciers and ice field between the mountain peaks.
They passed rookeries of seals and sea lions laying out on the rocks sunning themselves. The birds were thick with many puffins diving and occasionally they would spots groups gulls gathered at a spot where whales were feeding on small schools of fish. Humpback whales would appear off in the distance with a spout of water from their nostril.
They arrived at Holgate Glacier and watched the ice calve off it’s face leaving small icebergs in the water. Some of the larger bergs had small harbor seals sunning on them. The Captain turned off the ship’s engines so they could hear the glacier popping and snapping as the ice pushed down from the Harding Ice Field above until is broke off the face into the ocean.
The ship assistants collected some of the small chunks of ice from the water and gave them to the passengers to hold and exam. Jake must have been hungry!
Debbie and Kyra chose to enjoy a bottle of good Alaskan beer rather than the ice on their way back home. While the boys decided that they had seen enough and crashed.
TRIP TO HOMER
Homer, Alaska is located at the western end of the longest continuous highway in North America. It is at the southern tip of the main Kenai Peninsula although the Kenai mountain range and the Kenai Fjords National Park are south of it across Kachemak Bay. It’s know as a ‘small drinking village with a fishing problem’.
Actually, it is a small town located on the side of a bluff overlooking the Kachemak Bay and the glaciers coming out of the Harding Ice Field in the mountains across the Bay plus the great Alaska Range of mountain across the Cook Inlet to the west. It is one of the many beautiful areas in Alaska. Plus the Halibut Fishing is Great!
The action is out on the spit, a long stretch of sand and rock that sticks out into Kachemak Bay. The spit was originally created by a Tsunami back in the 1800’s and then fortified with stone keep it from disappearing back into the ocean.
It is a tourist attraction and as such has many gift shops, eateries and Halibut charters. Highlight among them is the Old Salty Dawg Saloon which was orginally the lighthouse and log cabin base for the caretaker. It has been turned into a saloon with very low ceilings. The walls and ceilings are covered with sea paraphernalia, some ladies’ unmentionables and thousands of dollar bills with names and addresses on them. The benches and table are carved with initials and names all varnished into the surface after many, many years. It was a watering hole for sailors and fisherman since it became a saloon and remains that way today, although the day time patrons are mostly tourists.
Not only on the inside, but the outside of the Salty Dawg has it’s own paraphernalia and oddities, not including the two sitting on the rocks smiling.
Located behind the Salty Dawg is another gift shop with a Halibut cleaning area called ‘Buttwhackers’. Many of the Captains from the Halibut Charters bring their catch into this area where the tourists can watch them fillet the fish. Often there are a group of young women that do the filleting much to the pleasure of the guys watching. Note that Todd is not watching the girls fillet the fish. Ha!
Take your pick! Need I say more?
KASILOF RIVER TRIP
The Posts wanted to take a rafting trip down the Kasilof from Tustemena Lake to the river bridge just a mile away from the park. The river is not considered dangerous but it is swift and very remote. There are very few houses located on it and those are just a few miles from the end of the trip. It takes about three hours from the Lake to the boat ramp just before the bridge. We loaded up the big three person pontoon boat, the two person raft and the one person pontoon boat and took them up to the lake where they would start their trip.
Paul is rowing the big boat with the girls in the front taking pictures. The raft was tied to the boat so it wouldn’t get away if it got loose (not a good idea!). Jake and Jordan were in the raft and Jerod was on the single pontoon.
The Tustemena Lake is behind them around a couple of bends and here the current is slow prior to the river narrowing down and becoming more shallow. Tustemena Lake is quite large and very shallow causing it to be very dangerous in strong winds. It often can get waves 6 to 10 feet high is a very short period when the wind comes up. Fortunately today was cool and rainy with no wind.
The river becomes more narrow and much swifter the further downstream they went. The boys were wanting to try rowing the different boats for the fun of it. Jake had just gotten his turn and was still trying to get the one person pontoon boat to do what he wanted it to do when a fallen tree in the river got in his road. Whoops! I guess Grandsons like to test the water to see how cold it is. Like Travis last year , Jake took a bath when the tree caught the boat and flipped it. Fortunately, no one was hurt, nothing was damaged, nothing was lost, only Jake had a very cold trip down the rest of the river.
A couple of hours later after a wild ride downstream, everyone was hugging as the trip was over. I picked them up at the bridge, we loaded the boats back on the trailer and headed home where they would warm back up.
NEW CLEANING TABLE
After standing out in the rain or frying in the sun cleaning fish, Todd and I decided that we needed to improve the cleaning table as our building project this year. We had a problem though. We couldn’t dismantle the old one until the new one was ready as people were still cleaning fish on the old one. Therefore, we decided to build the frame for the new cleaning table on the trailer, then haul it out to the area and replace the old one.
It worked pretty good except we found we needed a couple of gorillas to move the water soaked old one out of the road and replace it with the new frame. We got Jan to help!
We finally got it in place and are putting on the plastic roofing. The metal table was added with a new splash backing. An additional cleaning station to allow three to work at the same time and three individual hoses were added for each cleaning station. The water is now strained to keep all the fish scraps from going down the drain and the drain lets the cleaning water off into the ditch area along the road. It turned out to be a good addition to the park.
There was only one problem with this!
Todd was left with time to think about what to do next year!!!!!!!!
Tune in next year to see what he came up with!
CHRISTINE AND MARK’S VISIT
They will arrive on the 3rd of September for a weeks visit. I will add that after we arrive back in Kansas. We will close up the park and fly back to Kansas City on the 14th, then after a short visit will head back to Hoxie for the winter. See you later.
Sorry that Grandpa took so long to post this blog. Seems like he and Grandma have been goofing off ever since they left here. I mean why would you want to spend time tasting grape juice (although the leaves and vines might be okay). Then they go to a desert to look at red rocks??? Well anyway, they are finally getting around to post my blog.
Hey, I’m back! Well I seemed to have a bit of a problem this summer, but it worked out well in the long run. Here’s the story:
Seems that I was frolicking around in the forest in July. Since cute little Colie left, I was kind of lonely and I met this cute little female that was born the year before with me in the woods across from the park. Her mom had taken her up to the big lake during the winter so I hadn’t seen her lately. She came back down this summer when her mom had new twins. Anyway, I was kind-of showing off for her, prancing around and jumping across the ditches in the woods. Darned if I didn’t stumble over the top of Billie Brown Bear where he was sleeping. Now Billie is really ornery when he is awakened from a deep sleep. He was really mad and was chasing be through the trees in the woods. I’m a lot faster than he is, but he was staying pretty close to me. I looked back to see how far behind he was and ran smack into big birch tree. I hit it so hard that it knocked both of my spikes off and gave me a really bad headache! Billie started laughing so hard at me stumbling around that he sat down in a patch of Devil’s Claw. That didn’t help his disposition any, but he was so engrossed at getting the thorns out of his rear that he forgot about me.
That’s my story and I’m sticking with it!
The good part of this story is that since I don’t have any spikes anymore, the hunters can’t shoot me this fall. They will think I am a female – hee-hee! You see, young male moose with spikes are legal to hunt in the fall. Then once they have horns with paddles, they are no longer legal to hunt until their horns are 54 inches across. By next year, I will have horns with paddles – Yeah! Unfortunately the pretty little female now thinks I’m a clutz and ignores me. Oh well, next year!
All the fishermen and women left at the end of July. Most of the campers left when the Red season was over although a few kept coming into August. Grandma and Grandpa started cleaning up the park concentrating on chopping all the cottonwood saplings and pine tree clippings down by the well house. They had a fire in the pit burning all the scraps. Soon the space was cleared.
In early August, the state started paving the gravel road in front of my park. There were sure some big trucks running up and down the road dumping all kinds of rocks and sand on it. Now it used to be hard enough getting across the road from the woods with the automobiles bouncing their way 60 miles an hour down to the corner with all the potholes and wash-board. But now with the road paved, the automobiles with be going 80 miles an hour.
You know what is really fun. You stand down in the ditch by the side of the road in full view and as soon as a car comes screaming down the road, you step up on the side of it as if you were going to cross. As soon as the car starts squealing it’s tires on the payment, you run back in the woods. I told Grandpa to buy a tire shop as we could really have a good business.
Donna and Skip (her name is really Shirley, but she used to skip around a lot when she was a little girl, so they call her Skip. I don’t understand humans too much, but then they called me Spike. I wonder what they call me now?) are Grandma’s sisters (she told me that they were her older sisters. I don’t know why that was important!). I think they came up to clean up the Lodge. Anyway they also brought Donna’s granddaughter, Rachel and she took pictures of everything (I hid while they were here because I didn’t want more pictures taken of me without horns!). The Gramps really had a good time with them while the were here.
Skip and Jan went Halibut fishing with Uncle Don. He’s a crusty old Captain that made Aunt Skip pay attention to the end of her pole because she was busy watching the mountains instead of fishing (I call him Uncle because he and Uncle Kevin are great friends. Both are crusty old farts!). Anyway they came back with a lot of good Halibut (actually the green bushes in the background look better to me, but the Gramps think that Halibut is great!).
The Gramps took the girls down to Homer for the annual scenic trip (everyone has to go to Homer, the end of the road). The Spit extends out into Kachemack Bay providing a shipping and Ferry port plus lots of tourist shops and seafood restaurants. Then they took them on a rafting trip on Johnson Lake. Grandpa had both sisters on the pontoon boat with the trolling motor pulling Rachel and Grandma in the raft. They thought it was fun, but I had a heck of a time following them around the lake.
If that wasn’t enough, they took the sisters and Rachel over to Seward so Donna and Rachel could go on the Sealife boat tour. I didn’t go with them, but Grandpa told me all about it. The Gramps put them on the boat for the trip out in Resurrection Bay and Grandma and Skip visited the Seward Sealife Center. Grandpa drove out along the bay and took photos of the Otters playing.
Obviously, Grandpa and Grandma had a great summer! I sure enjoyed it with them and I hope they will let me come back next year; however, I just might find some young little female that catches my eye and I might just start a family with her. So we will wait and see what happens next year. I understand that Grandpa is itching to tell all about their trip down the Inside Passage on the cruise ship, their wine tasting weekend and their trips to several National Parks. So goodbye for now, but I hope to tell what is going on next summer. SPIKELESS
Grandma and Grandpa (I call them that since I feel that I am related) finally arrived up here on the 5th of May. Man, I thought they would never arrive, but here they came with the big old van loaded with goodies for the summer. I decided to wander over and see what was going on. Turned out they were very happy to be back and to see me. They took lots of photos of me which really pleased me (I am very handsome after all).
Turns out that they had a lot of company (mostly my cousins and their kids) visiting this summer. It wasn’t more than a couple of weeks before this really good looking gal named Debbie and
this crusty geezer named Kevin arrived. Debbie started planting those really tasty bright colored plants in all the boxes which will provide me lots of munchies this summer. However, that was short lived when Grandpa really yelled at me when I tasted those bright red ones at the end of the steps. Then we got in a big propane tank with a transfer pump on the front to fill propane tanks and RVs.
Kevin got busy and built a platform in front for the tanks.
Then shortly after they arrive, a real cute little girl named Nicole (I call her Colie) came to stay part of the summer with us. She was doing something called a Physical Therapy rotation, whatever that means. Turns out that she was gone most of the days, but would show up in the evenings.
BOY, she was really cute so I spent a lot of time in the park in the evenings. I had to show off my better half a little for her and got down on my knees to eat some of those tasty little greens called Horse Tails.
Debbie and Colie wanted to go clamming, but Grandpa wouldn’t let me go so I stayed home. I took care of the RV park while the others were goofing off. When they got back, they had to clean all those nasty little shellfish (what a waste of time when they could eat tasty leaves and grass). Then I heard a lot of screaming when cute Colie thought one of the clam parts moved when she was cleaning it (I’d squirm too if someone poked me with a knife).
If that wasn’t enough, all the women took off to visit Homer. I just don’t understand what is so great about ‘Homer,it’s just a small drinking village with a fishing problem’. It would seem that they would have had more fun staying home and taking photos of me. I guess that cousin Debbie got mad because I was paying so much attention to cute Colie because she went back to someplace called Nebr-aska. I don’t know where that is, but it must be close to Al-aska.
Then all of a sudden this tall dork with long hair and a scattering of hair on his chin (doesn’t he know that it is supposed to be below your chin?) shows up. (Note that I was hanging around in the background to make sure he didn’t get too familiar with my Colie)
(Oh Man, I thought that it was her husband. Then he gives me the evil eye , but I found out that it was her brother, one of my cousins) Turns out he is pretty cool although he managed to do some dorkie things like trying to swim in the river with his chest waders on (oh well, kids!).
Grandpa rowed the big pontoon boat down the Kasilof river from Tustumena Lake with Colie and Grandma on the front seats. Travis was in the small pontoon boat behind them (I was running down the side of the river watching them). Then I find out that he doesn’t know which is the front and the back of the pontoon boat. No wonder that he ran into the tree hanging over the river (Boy did I heh-hah when he upset the boat).
My opinion of him didn’t improve when I saw him riding this log down the hillside later in the week, but it turns out he was tying a chain around it so he and Grandpa could pull it up the hill with the truck winch so it could be used for firewood. He managed to clear a lot of beetle killed trees off the hill for firewood. Turned out he was a pretty hard worker and got lots of firewood up for the summer campfires.
Then of all things, I wander down by the well house. Grandpa throws all the cottonwood saplings that he clears out of the green spaces between the RV pads there and what do I find, two masked bandits stealing the saplings. Well darned if it isn’t cousin Trav and the cute little Colie burning those saplings up. I wondered if they were playing with fire and didn’t want Grandpa or Grandma to know they were doing it. Did they really think the masks would keep them from being recognized? (Kids!)
In the evenings around the campfire, Grandma and Colie liked to roast marshmellows and put them on graham crackers with chocolate to make s’mores. (It really doesn’t sound too good to me. I’d rather eat those bright red flowers in the front of the deck steps.) Anyway, they gave cute Colie the name: The S’MORES QUEEN. (They must be okay if she likes them!)
They must have been pretty good though because she had to go take a snooze on the ATV behind the workshop (that doesn’t look too comfortable to me, but then I prefer and nice grassy area).
Travis decided to go back home and work at the Marina where he could watch all the young chicks in bikinis that came to swim and ski (I couldn’t figure out how you could put a bikini on a chicken, but then I wasn’t sure what a bikini was either. Evidently Travis liked it because he didn’t want to stay here with me anymore).So we bid him goodbye until hopefully next year.
The Hill family from Hoxie came for a visit with us. They are from Grandma & Grandpa’s winter home in Kansas. They have two good looking young daughters (I drooled a lot while they were here and I think Colie got mad at me). Anyway, Mark, the dad walked out of the restrooms in the back of the lodge the next morning and came face to face with my Mom. She had come over to hunt for me and decided to munch on some goodies around the campfire pit. Before long Sueanne and Carmen joined Mark to watch Mom show off. Kelsey in the mean time was parading around in the lodge in a towel, much to Kevin’s delight (darn, I’m never in the right place at the right time!).
Grandpa was busy building a roof over the conex and a workshop, smoker on the side of it. Colie and Grandma painted the rafters and front although I don’t know how Colie could paint upside down! (It made me dizzy watching)
The workshop is big enough that he can put the ATV in it in the evenings. The fish smoker is in the box on the left at the far end of the shop area. It can hold 6 trays of fish. The smoke barrel is just outside the shop with storage for the alder wood across from it. They finished it just in time for the red salmon season to start.
Wow, things had just started to settle down when Grandpa’s oldest son, Cody and his family came to visit. They were at the overlook down at Homer for this photo.
It didn’t take long for the boys to start having fun on the ATV in the park (Now why didn’t they ask me for a ride. I’m as big as a horse. I had to be careful not to walk out of the trees and get run over). Nelson would take Jim around the park, then Jim would take Cody then Margaret around the park. They manage to put a few miles on the ATV while they were here.
While Travis was here, he took the back off of the ATV trailer box and made a fort for Jim and Nelson. It was really cool as it was set part way down the bluff behind the park and overlooked Crooked Creek below. It had a door on the back and a window that opened in the front with a steering wheel (I have no clue where they were going to drive it!). I watched as Jim and Nelson painted the fort green so it would disappear into the trees. They even painted a helicopter landing area on the top of it (I’m not sure what a helicopter is, but it would have to be pretty small to get through the trees and land on the fort).
It wasn’t all fun and games while they were here as they had to help around the park. Both boys were splitting the logs that Cody had cut with the chain saw and then they had to stack the split firewood in the firepit area for the evenings. Jim had taken lessons in fire starting this year when he was a Cub Scout and was responsible for building and starting the campfires every evening.
What is it with this ATV? It sure doesn’t look like a bed and yet every one wants to sleep on it. Surely he didn’t think he could drive it like that. He must have been tired from all that work!
Now I wasn’t able to go on the next trips with the family as I won’t go out on a boat even if it was an ARK. Since they don’t take ARKs halibut fishing or sight seeing out of Seward, I decided to stay home and watch the park. I really hated to miss the Seward trip because sweet little Colie was going on that one!
So I’m going to let Grandpa tell you about the Halibut trip and the trip out of Seward to visit the Kenai Fjords National Park and the Holgate Glacier. Spike signing off until they get back to the park.
Each of the boys managed to catch their own halibut. Jim caught the biggest one of the day 44#, but we all had good success and came back with a limit each. The day started out with swells of 2 to 3 feet and Captian Don was worried that it might get worse. However, as the day wore on, the seas began to calm and we had a beautiful day with lots of fishing.
KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK
Cody, Margaret and the boys, Nicole and Jan and Jon took the Coastal Explorer on a tour of the Kenai Fjords NP on the 4th of July. We had a early morning drive to Seward with an 8 am trip scheduled. The boat wasn’t crowed although Seward was over-flowing with people due to the annual Mountain Marathon. The seas were calm and although cloudy most of the day, the sealife was very active.
We were barely into Resurrection Bay when this feisty little sea otter came to the surface to show off for the observers on the boat. Otters are plentiful in the bay and tend to be very curious. On out further along the bay we saw a rare sight of a mountain goat with her kid. They were probably 150 feet above the water on the shear edge of the mountain.
We saw lots of seals and sea lions such as this one watching us as the boat passed by. The rocks along the shore in this area was covered with both harbor seals and sea lions. Next was the bird rookeries with large number and variety of sea birds including several groups of puffins in the rocks.
We also saw several groups of humpback whales including this one female with a young calf. She actually came out of the water (breached) once, unfortunately I didn’t have my camera ready for the photo.
Our ultimate destination on the tour was the Holgate Glacier. The boat pulled up very close to the front of the glacier and stopped the engines so we could hear the glacier cracking and popping and watch it occasionally shed ice into the ocean (they call it calving). The boys were fascinated with the huge size of the glacier and it’s blue color.
The boat crew was nice to net samples of the ice that had broken off the glacier and hand them out to the people on board the boat. Cody is holding the ice while Colie and Jan are posing for the photo (I had to take the photo quick because the ice was cold!). Margaret was with us on the trip although the motion of the boat made her queasy so she wasn’t running around the boat like the rest of us were. We had a good trip, saw a lot of sealife and was a nice calm day even though it was cloudy. The Captain indicated that the overcast was good because the sealife viewing was better then.
THIS IS SPIKE AGAIN – There, I thought Grandpa did a good job describing the trips that I couldn’t do. I let him talk occasionally although it’s more fun to tell you what has happened this summer.
Here it is early July and this is when things really start popping around here. The Red Salmon season is about to start and we have more guests coming and lots of campers.
First to arrive are Ainsley Pyle and her daddy, Ryan. Ainsley had to show off her baby to Colie and tell her all about their trip to Alaska (she sure is a cutey and really smart for a girl. I didn’t understand the baby bit though since it sure didn’t do much except lay around when Ainsley wasn’t holding it. It got left out in the rain one night too! I didn’t hear it cry once.).
Ainsley helped around the park too. She liked to water the flowers (which I appreciated because they sure are tasty. Fortunately it was raining a lot because she had a little problem figuring out where to put the water other than her shoes). Ryan’s mother, Pam came up for a couple of days to visit and then to take Ainsley back to Kansas with her. Ryan took them to Anchorage to the airplane and then picked up his girl friend, Cheri to stay for the Red Season.
Doug Hinzman and his friend, Beasley Tarver arrived on the 16th of July. Beasley is the grandson of the Budweiser distributor in Sebastian, Florida. Doug brought him up to Alaska to give him the experience of fishing in Alaska. Their first fishing trip was with Captain Don of Alaska Trophy Charters for Halibut. They had a great time catching their limit.
I wandered over one evening after Doug and Beasley arrived to see what was going on at the park. There was this masked man with a shovel in his hand moving a bunch of red, white and green things around on the big metal grate above the firepit. The red and green things looked appetizing, but they sure didn’t smell very good. There were also some slabs of something that didn’t look appetizing at all. When the masked man saw me, he called me Spike. I’ll be darned if it wasn’t Grandpa! I asked about the mask and he said he didn’t like the smoke either.
Then they all went into the kitchen and ate all the stuff that was on the metal grate. Sure didn’t look good to me, but they seemed to enjoy it. Sitting right up front was Cheri with Ryan on her right, then Grandma and Grandpa with Beasley on the end. The Crusty Geezer next beside my cute little Colie and her dad, Todd next to her. Doug was taking the photo.
Todd, Jan’s son had arrived on the 19th to spend a few days with Colie and be here for the Red run which had already started.
Back to Grandpa’s commentary –
We started fishing for red salmon on the Kenai/Russian River ferry landing in late June although we didn’t have any success. There were very few salmon being caught there this year partially due to the Fish and Game netting over four thousand before they could come up the river (according to the Peninsula newspaper). We tried several times on the Kasilof River close to the park in early July when the red salmon run was starting; however, we had very little success there also. The Kasilof is shallow and very swift, therefore it is difficult to determine where and when the fish are running. We were beginning to wonder if this year’s red season was going to be a bust.
When the second run of the red started up the Kenai river, we went to Ryan’s fireman friend’s home to try our luck. Fortunately, the reds were plentiful in the Kenai. Colie caught her first red the first night we were there and although she was a little queasy about holding it, she was definitely hooked on red fishing. Cheri too quickly started catching the reds and the two of them limited out each time we went.
The limit continued at three each until the minimum number went up the river to assure futures stocks. The photo on the right was a catch on the 23rd with the six of us limiting out (Cheri wasn’t available for the photo). On the 25th the limit increased to six each, but by that time we had enough fish for our winter stock. The last day we fished, five of us caught 30 reds, one pink and one dolly varden, a fitting end to a wonderful red season.
Catching fish didn’t end the fun! We still had to clean and fillet the salmon, then package and freeze it for the winter. Of course the strips were put in our marinating mixture for a couple of days before they were cured in the smoker. And then the pieces with bones were frozen until later in the summer when they can be thawed and then canned.
Several families of Japanese were staying the park for a few days and some were dip netting salmon. We were rather curious how they manage to clean the fish with the entire family at the cleaning table. (vailey inter-es-ting!)
Since red season was over, we decided to complete a couple of projects that we wanted to accomplish this summer. And since Todd and Ryan were still here, we started to build the walkway between the park model and the camp kitchen. We set the posts in cement, then put cross beams to hold the decking boards. It has one set of stairs just outside the park model so we have access to the rear area and then a step down to the grass and gravel path beside the camp kitchen.
You can’t believe how many steps it saves Jan and I each day by having the walkway . I still have to put the lattis under the front to match the deck on the park model plus I want to build some planters to put on along the top railings for flowers.
Todd had the brilliant idea to increase the amount of storage in the camp kitchen by adding storage shelves in place of the screened window. Jan sure needed more storage space so we took out the 8 foot section of the window and enclosed it with a framed box. Then put plywood on the inside to enclose it and siding on the outside match the exterior of the building.
The wooden cabinet that was on the floor just fit inside the storage area. We finished putting shelves in to hold the microwave and other items on the turn-table. We then moved the two stoves up along the wall to the front. The result is much more open space without a lot of stuff setting around. Some new carpet and thus a much handier kitchen. Thanks, Todd
Stay tuned to the end of the summer blog and further commentary by Spike.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!).
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, 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.
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.
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.
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!!!!!!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
But that wasn’t all of the visitors. Along came Todd and insisted on going fishing everywhere!!!
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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 ?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.