The Cooper’s arrived the day after the Stromgrens left. We drove to Seward to pick them up as they were getting off the enormous cruise boat that brought them up the Inside Passage to Alaska. They had a wonderful trip with lots of great memories. We were intent on improving on that while they were visiting. Dave is Jan’s cousin and Shirley is a friend since grade school. I actually attended grade school with both Shirley and Jan through the 4th grade.
Here we are the first evening enjoying the sunset around our new fire pit.
Shirley wasn’t acclimated to the Alaska cooler weather yet and even though we were sitting around the fire, she was wrapped up in a blanket with only her face visible. It is difficult to transfer from the Kansas heat and humidity to Alaska climate. Shirley had also hurt her knee on the cruise and wasn’t able to get around a lot so it was difficult for her to stir up the heat to keep herself warm.
It didn’t take Dave any time to go fishing. Fortunately, another big school of red salmon had entered the Kenai river the day before and there were plenty of reds to learn how to catch them. Dave caught on quickly snagging two legally in the mouth the first day. Kevin, Jan, Dave and I were fishing every day with the new school in the river so there were plenty of fish being caught by all of us. For the next three days in a row, we all limited out with three each giving us a lot of fish to process for freezing and smoking. Dave also got a lesson in cleaning and filleting salmon.
Of course he had to earn his keep by helping around the park, and work he did. He drove the truck and the 4-wheeler while I tied chains and ropes around the cottonwood saplings that had grown up all over the park. We cleared quite an area between our Park Model and the RV pad next to us.
We loaded our little utility cart with the saplings and took them down to the dump below the back of the lot. Dave had to ride on the cart to keep the saplings from falling off. It worked!
Dave also helped me level off the area in front of the kitchen for the future deck extension. Here he is cutting concrete tubes that will hold the 4×4 support posts for the deck and then we dug holes for them in the area where we were building the deck.
It wasn’t only work while Dave and Shirley were here. Todd came for a visit a few days after they arrived and we had to go on a Halibut trip with our Captain Don of Alaska Trophy Charters. Jan and I filled out the charter and we had a great time and caught a lot of fish. Here Dave is reeling in another one while Todd is looking on and grinning at Dave’s effort.
It was a good day! We caught a lot of fish and although we didn’t catch any whoppers, we did get a lot of good fillets off these beauties. Each of us caught plenty of fish including a lot of small sharks that begin to come in the Inlet to feed on the salmon scraps.
They were anxious to see the local wildlife including moose and bears. Fortunately we didn’t see any bears but we did find evidence of one and Dave got a trophy to remind him of it in the future. This momma moose was standing along the road eating and we stopped to take a picture of her. She was happy to pose for us for quite some time before moving on to other forage. Later we also saw a momma and two young calves along the beach road, but we didn’t get any photos of them.
As with all our first time guests, we had to take them down to Homer to see the mountains and the sights. Unfortunately, the trip down was foggy and we couldn’t see the mountains across the Cook Inlet. We were hoping that the fog would burn off and they would become visible on the trip back. We did stop at the tractor pull at Deep Creek and Dave being an old farm boy was fascinated with the tractors putting in the charter Halibut boats and pulling them back out of the water.
Dave collects photos and carvings of eagles and sure enough there was one sitting on top of the Salty Dawg Saloon just for his visit. It’s obvious from the photo that this is a common roost for the eagles and the gulls noting the white coating on the roof tiles.
Inside the saloon, we had to sample their drinks to make sure that they were up to our standards. It was a cool, foggy day outside and the wind was blowing off the Kachemak Bay which it often does, so we had Cocoa with a shot of Amaretto in it. It sure warmed us up!
Looking at all the dollars with previous visitor’s names on them inspired Dave and Shirley to add their on in the only bare spot that they could find. He did eventually pin the other side of the dollar so you could see the name on it.
The fog never did clear so you could see the mountains across Cook Inlet. However, while we were in sampling the fare at the Salty Dawg, the peaks of the Kenai Mountains across Kachemak Bay south of Homer began to clear enough to see the outline of them and some of the glaciers flowing down between them. The fog still hung tight over the water and it never did clear as we drove back north. We stopped at Bob and Linda Steinke’s cabin beyond Ninilchik and the fog had cleared enough there to view Mt. Redoubt and some of the northern Alaska range.
We had a great time with the Cooper’s as we always seem to do. We took them back to the airport in Anchorage on the 8th of August, nine fun filled days
There were so many great photos taken during their visit with us this summer that I can’t insert them into the narrative that Marissa wrote because there would be more photos than words so I have decided to change the format. This time I will just publish the words and then I will go through their visit with the photos and comment on them individually. This was their first visit to Alaska and we tried to jam as much as possible into the seven days that they were here. We didn’t get to see it all, but we did a good job as you will see!
Here’s Marissa’s journal that she wrote while she was here:
July 19, 2009
Numero Uno: El Journal de Stromgren Familia
Hola amigos, chicos, ninos, ninas, abuelos (grandparents), I think that just about covers all bases. Marissa here, writing to you all on our 3rd lovely and adventurous little Alaskan escapade. I’m the 3rd to take over the journal after Travis, Jacob and Jordan, so here goes…The following rendition was inspired by the 3 stooges AKA Post boys, and has been modified due in part by our Alaskan countryside: *Please sing the following to the tune of SpongeBob Marissa: Are you ready weird family? Weird Family: Aye Aye Captain Marissa: I can’t hear you…. Weird Family: Aye Aye Captain! Marissa: Ooooooo who lives in a RV up in the vast Alaskan country? Weird Family: Gram and Gramp Kasilof RV Park Keepers! Marissa: Gracious, Alaskan, and Smelly are they! Weird Family: Gram and Gramp Kasilof RV Park Keepers! Marissa: If fishing, wildlife, and sights are something you wish… Weird Family: Gram and Gramp Kasilof RV Park Keepers! Marissa: Then fly to Alaska and begin to smell like a fish! Weird Family: Gram and Gramp Kasilof RV Park Keepers! Marissa: Ready? Weird Family: Gram and Gramp Kasilof RV Park Keepers! Gram and Gramp Kasilof RV Park Keepers! Gram and Gramp Kasilof RV Park Keepers! Marissa: Gram and Gramp.…. Kasilof RV Park Keepers! Ha-ha!
Time on my hands? Yes, it is raining outside and I am in between loads of laundry (Missa moo cow wears several hats, AKA Marissa the maid and toilet paper switcher outer). Alrighty, so let’s get you all caught up on our experiences thus far. We left Thursday the 16th around 4:30 a.m. from the Stromgren household. We flew from KC, to Minneapolis, to Portland, and up onto Anchorage. Gram and Gramp Kasilof RV Park Keepers (Yes, that is in fact their new title) graciously picked us up and we drove onto the thriving metropolis of Kasilof. On the way we stopped for several Kodak moments, mainly because Mom is carrying around the little Jesus figure from the Church. Jesus is a miniature doll version the Church gives to families to take on vacations; the families are told its because Jesus likes to be adventurous, however, in reality he’s ensuring they follow the righteous path… With our Paparazzi-like skills we will have a plethora of pictures to share in the near future! We made a pit stop for pizza and beer (root beer for the minors) at the most adorable little brewery in Soldotna. Upon arriving to the Kasilof RV Park, the exhausted Stromgren familia hit the hay and visions of grizzly bears, mountain lions, and redneck campers danced in their heads.
Numero Dos: Day 2, The Failed Fishing Shenanigans
The Stromgrens awoke refreshed and anxious to catch their little fishies; almost everyone awoke rejuvenated, Kyra (the almost 48 –year-old) woke up nearly unable to walk with her bad knee. She claimed she must have sprained it while sleeping….must have been a very active nightmare… Kevin, Jon, Ryan, Craig, Marissa, Caleb, and Miranda went into town to obtain their fishing licenses (notice Kyra was not present…more info to come in a bit). The first hotspot we attempted was donned, Morgan’s Landing. Contrary to popular belief, Morgan has not and probably will never land ANYTHING. The area has a small platform to fish on, but some incompetent designer placed giant trees in the water in front of the platform, making the act of bringing a fish up to the platform nearly impossible. We had a brief run-into with a family from Texas, and when we asked how their day of fishing was we were told by the tiny Texan Tot, “I cast my line out there and ain’t catch nuffin (yes he said it like NU-FIN).” Oh how we love the smarties from Texas (Kristina aside)! *Please note Brandon was down the river a ways and stepped into a hole, or tripped, he won’t really admit, and got loaded with water in his waders (Spelling?). Frustrated and wet (only Brandon) we moved onto spot #2 (the name escapes me), only to discover there were too many fisherpeople already in place. We headed back to the Kasilof RV Park (sorry I enjoy using the full title) for some tasty eats and to rest up before attempting another fishing venture at night. While waiting Marissa, Brandon, and Miranda went on a little 4wheeler ride. With Marissa navigating, the 3 troopers cautiously navigated through local trails and construction sites (According to the two backseat drivers, Marissa drove slower than a snail on a mission). Later on after dinner the Stromgren familia, (minus Kyra) and Kevin went out to Crooked Creek with high hopes of landing some big ones. We fished for about an hour and a half, standing out in the water and battling the currents, but sadly we came up short. However, the troops did gain valuable fishing skills from guider Kevin, one of which was the act of patience. ☺ Back to the Kasilof RV Park to catch some beauty rest, and to prepare for the adventures with Cap’n Don which would await them the next morning.
Numero Tres: Deep Sea Fishing with Scallywag Cap’n Don
The Stromgren familia, geared up and multi-layered with the finest in latest fishing fashion, headed on over to Cap’n Don’s home to meet up with him for their day at sea. Not sure what exactly has been mentioned on previous trips by relatives concerning Cap’n Don, with the exception of his butt crack of course….but it must be said he is a bundle of an ‘ol Irishman, full of tales from his time spent on sea from the utmost southern Virgin Seas, to the Alaskan bays and inlands. One might say he resembles Jolly ‘ol Saint Nick, due to his rosy cheeks, and jolly personality. He also may have studied under Ghandi because of his endless patience with novice fisherpeople, such as the Stromgrens. None the less, the crew headed out to the Alaskan blue sea in his crusty but ironclad boat, and ventured about 12 miles off the coastline. The first spot the crew stopped at was not so lucky, so they moved on out a bit farther and SHAZAM the fish, they just kept on ‘acomin. A total of 12 (and by 12 I technically mean 15 but keep it on the down low) were round up and are currently being filleted and processed next door in the café Kasilof. Miranda caught 2, one of which we kept, and then poor little Boonda caught a case of the ol’ sea pukes and had to spend the rest of the day looking green and feeling blue in the co-captain seat. Caleb caught on, and by the end of the day he was a smashing young fisherman who would drop the line only to immediately catch a fish and then start the process all over again. Brandon, AKA Beeber the pro-little-fisherman was in heaven all day. Casting out, battling the reel in, and ooooing and awing over his catches. Craig, the multi-handed helper ran about all 5 lines assisting others when the battle with the fish became too much to handle. He rarely was able to work his own pole because the others kept him busy by screaming “Dad!” “Craig!” “Oh holy s*** this is a HUGE ONE!” (sorry miniature Jesus, we strayed from the path). Craig won the award this deep sea fishing trip for the Most Awkward and Unusual Catch of the Day, by reeling in a 100 something lb. Stingray. Congrats go to Craig! Marissa, (yes everyone I am not as high maintenance as you all think) caught 7 total, and was incredibly irritated because only 1 was large enough to keep. This brings us up to speed with the exception of Kyra, last but certainly not least. Before I hand it off to mi Madre so she can tell her tale of using a Fake ID in order to obtain her fishing license, I have to say my experience thus far in Alaska has proven to be not only memorable, but refreshing. The country is beautiful, from wildflowers, to snow-peaked mountains, to green wet inlands, it is nothing short of breathtaking. The people are friendly, and things just seem to take place on their own natural time. Life seems simple and relaxed for the people up here. Fishing, hunting, spending time with friends and family, these are the things they live for. Time is slowed and beauty is all around. Now that I’ve shared my poignantly spun version of our vaca so far, I must pass the torch onto another.
Kyra (who has been spending one-on-one time with little Jesus confessing her sins) now has the floor: Wow, how can I even begin to follow the wonderfully written day by day adventures of the Stromgren family in Alaska! I do really feel that having the miniature Jesus from our church with us on this trip has kept us safe from bears and getting arrested for using fake ID’s to get fishing licenses! As Marissa said, we were all loaded in Jesus’ van AKA “Grace” wearing the proper and attractive fishing gear on our way to meet Cap’n Don, when I realized that I didn’t have a fishing license or any ID in my fishing outfit! Kevin and Craig told me to use Marissa’s driver’s license and just write her name and make up a fake number on the license. The problem with that plan was soon discovered. The lady in the store was filling each license out herself! I was waiting in line sweating it out wondering how I was going to pull this one off, passing as a redheaded 22 year old! This is how I know that Jesus was with me…. I just pulled my hat down really low, hid my wrinkled hands and he took care of the rest! I passed as my daughter!!!!!!! Now, the Alaskan Fishing authorities may wonder why Marissa got 2 fishing licenses for the same day, but I’m just glad I didn’t get arrested!!!! End of this story, with more to follow soon……..
Numero Quatro and Cinco! Fish Processing Days
Hey hey again everyone! So I got some feedback from the peanut gallery in major suspense on whether or not Kyra was dragged away by the local Alaskan authorities for using Marissa’s ID……truth be told it worked like a charm. So the result of our little fishing venture with cap’n Don: we caught our full limit. GO STROMGRENS, THE NOVICE FISHERPEOPLE! So then the task of processing was a load of clean fun. By the end of two days of processing wonderfully smelling fish, we ended up with about 115lbs. of Halibut total. The 115 lb also included Brandon and Kevin’s Sunday catches with Cap’n Don, in which they each snagged a few more. I combined the 4th and 5th days because the troops did odd jobs around the house; we didn’t really travel long distances or battle mountain lions, so the details are nothing short of non-adventurous. The fire pit is coming along at quite the rapid pace due to the valiant efforts by the men in the family. I know we all can hardly wait for the end result, so we can warm our little toesies and cheeks by the fireside while singing tunes to the Post boys’ guitars. If we’re lucky maybe they can even bust out some Johnny Cash and sport the glorious mountain teeth…..we will wait and hold our breath! Sunday night Kevin, Ryan, Craig, and Caleb (under the talented guidance of the Pyle men) headed out to Ryan’s secret fishing spot with high hopes of snatching some Reds. And AHA! Believe it or not Mr. Caleb reeled in 3 right off the bat, Kevin came in short, not bringing in any, and Ryan drove in headfirst into the cold currents to save his pole when it got ripped out of his hands by a salmon. Poor Ryan learned how to water ski while being pulled down the Kenai River by a giant Red Salmon….(he already lost one pole earlier this week so the unlucky lad was determined not to lose another). Today (Tuesday) Gram and Gramp Kasilof RV Park Keepers and the Stromgren 6 headed out around 7:15 a.m. for a Fjord Cruise Ship 8 hour tour in Seward…..we drove the 2 hours to get there only to find out the tour had been canceled because of 15/20 ft. seas and rains. Apparently Alaskan Fjord Customer Service Reps. Have not received proper training in notifying customers when cancellations occur. Craig was not too happy ☹, but we came to the mutual conclusion we’d rather stay alive than to be swallowed by giant ocean waves. Alas, we made up for the mishap by visiting the Seward aquatic museum and by sharing a fantastic tasty lunch at a local hotspot eatery in Seward. And now I must leave you all because the dinner bell is a’ringing and my stomach is making incredibly awkward noises that I hope are sounds of hunger and not the result of our lunch today…..Love to you all. Chat again soon!!!
So now I will just show the photos with some explanation of WHAT’S HAPPENING!
It was the afternoon of the 16th of July, we had just let Paul, Jerod, Jordan and Brett off at the airport earlier and now were waiting for the arrival of our next family members. Welcome to Craig and Kyra, their daughters Marissa and Miranda and sons, Caleb and Brandon. Oh, and less I forget, their Jesus figure that travels with members of their church to new places to experience new things and keep their members on the straight and narrow. He had a major challenge on this trip! We picked them up in the ‘Amazing Grace’ and headed south to the Kenai Peninsula and all it’s wonderful scenes and adventures.
The ride from Anchorage to Kasilof is listed in the top 25 most scenic highways in the U.S. and we had to stop many places along the road for Kodak moments as the kids like to call them. Here we were at a pull-out along the beautiful Turnagain Arm. The tide was in and the water was rushing along to fill the inlet with salt water. The silvers and pinks were coming in, but we didn’t get to see and beluga whales.
We had to stop in Soldotna at Jon’s favorite pizza/brewery for dinner. The pizza is great as is the beer. As Marissa wrote, ‘It’s the most adorable little brewery in Soldotna!’
We finally made it to our home in Alaska, the Kasilof RV Park and thus required a photos of Jesus communicating with our mascot. Thus ended a long and tiring day for the Stromgrens leaving Kansas City early in the morning and arriving in Kasilof Alaska almost 20 hours later. Needless to say everyone was quick to get some sleep to prepare for all the exciting things that were happening the next day.
Now rather that take you through a day-by-day of what was happening, I am again going to deviate and show the events that occurred during their seven day visit.
Salmon – Late July is the prime time for catching Sockeye (Red) Salmon. Of course all of the kids were eager to catch some salmon. The first attempts were less than successful with snarled reels and boots full of water. However, after several attempts Kevin and Ryan managed to show Caleb and Craig how to catch them, Caleb showing all of them up catching his limit of three. Brandon had been unable to go with them that night so Kevin took him fishing the next night and Brandon was thrilled to catch his own red salmon.
Caleb showed them how again the next day reeling in a red at the River Terrace where the family was visiting Tom and Sally Curry. River Terrace is one of the premier red fishing spots on the peninsula and my sister Sally and her husband, Tom have their 5th wheel there.
Brandon was satisfied catching reds so he also had to test out fishing for trout in Johnson lake across from the campground. The lake freezes every year so the Fish and Game stock it with Rainbows each spring. This year the lake froze solid and most of the previous year’s fish died. Therefore, the trout are rather small. Brandon caught one of the monsters, but I don’t think he really planned to eat it. We were feeding him good!
Halibut fishing – It was the day for the Stromgren’s trip with Captain Don Halibut fishing. Craig is all ready and waiting for the boat to be launched into the Cook Inlet anxious to catch his share of the big fish.
Brandon caught his first one and it wasn’t a monster, but was a good eating twenty-five pounder. This was just first of many that he pulled up to the boat.
Kyra not to outdone pulled in a big one for herself. She was mighty pleased with her catch and the days trip. The seas were fairly calm although the sky was cloudy and there was haze and clouds covering the beautiful mountains of the Alaska range on the west side of the Cook Inlet. The mountains were visible although they were just dark silhoulettes against a backdrop of clouds.
Marissa also had good luck and caught several although she had a hard time catching one big enough to keep. She finally caught one big enough to land in the fish well for later eating. Although there weren’t any pictures of Caleb catching his Halibut (?), rumor has it that he more than caught his share, but managed to avoid the camera all day until the final Halibut were hoisted on the rack at Captain Don’s.
Then there was Miranda who started off the trip the night before getting all dolled up in her latest rain suit fashion. The next morning she was ready to go and was really excited when she caught her first Halibut. But then the Green Goblens got her and she had to talk to Ralph over the side of the boat a lot. They say you really don’t turn green when you get sea sick. Do you want to bet?
All in all, they had a GOOD day with lots of fish, good weather and a fun Captain. By the way, Craig did also catch Halibut including helping reel in many for the rest of the family. He also got honors for the most unusual fish of the day with a very large skate.
FUN TIME –
We just got our new 4-wheeler when the Post boys brought Grace and the trailer up from Kansas and Nebraska. The kids had a good time driving it around the park and around the neighborhood on the side roads. The kids complained that Marissa drove too slow, but we didn’t think so!
A big part of our fun can be found around the dinner table. This time was not lacking in the amount of time in that pursuit either. We had some great rousing dinners with fabulous food and sometimes too much wine for a whole week.
All the kids who visit have to take the rafts out on Johnson Lake either to fish or to just row around. The Stromgrens were no exception and like the others, they all get stuck in the lily pads which form a large area at the edge of the lake. Caleb pulled the large raft over to an area where the lilies were not as thick, but the girls still had to row their way through them to open water.
Caleb and Craig are ready to dig the elusive razor clams. The normal gear is boots, waterproof pants and coat, heavy gloves, a clam shooter, shovel and buckets.
Next comes the search for the tell-tail dimple in the sand which indicates a clam below, then the digging begins. Those with shooters cover the dimple and push the round barrel in to the sand. Then holding their finger over the hole in the handle to create a suction, pulls the sand and hopefully the clam out of the hole.
Brandon got one although it was hardly worth the effort it took to pull all that sand and water out of the hole.
Caleb got a better one after some effort. It will be a tasty treat after some cleaning and cooking.
Kyra got a nice big one, but somehow the clam got a little busted up during the process of digging it out of the sand. That’s alright because after some serious cleaning of the sand out of the broken shell, we will still get some good eating out of it. We didn’t stay that long as they just wanted the experience of clamming and we were going to Homer that afternoon. So after about a dozen of them, we gave the clams to my sister and nephew, Nelson who stayed and got a batch to eat for dinner.
One of the things we ask the family members when they visit us is to help us with the multitude of jobs that we need to do to make the RV Park a better place. The park is intended to be a family place where they can all come to visit and eventually will own a share of it. There were a lot of jobs needed to be done this year as there were a lot of improvement projects going on at the park. As you saw on the ‘Construction of the Fire Pit’, Craig, Caleb and Brandon had a big part in helping to develop and build it. The layout of the blocks was primarily Craig and the boys helped me fill and finish off the concrete blocks with concrete. Then they hauled gravel to fill in the fire pit floor. Here they are helping by adding gravel to the side of the Kitchen/Shop to keep the rain from splattering the side of the building. It was their idea to add the bigger rocks along the edge of the matting. Good idea and we have added it to other areas as well.
Who is that holding a broom? Is it the maid? No, it’s Kyra doing her share of household duties to help us out. As Marissa said in her narrative, each of the girls helped clean the Lodge, the bathrooms and the laundry. Plus they helped the dinners by making deserts and doing dishes.
Miranda also collected the quarters out of the washers and dryers in the laundry, then she and the boys counted them and rolled them to be sold to the guests for doing their laundry. All of the family helped collect the trash each day and hauled it to the dumpsters over by the river.
TRIP TO HOMER –
One of the required sightseeing tours that we take all the relatives is the trip down to the end of the highway in Homer, ‘Lands End’. The Stromgrens were no exception and they spent the afternoon driving down to Homer, ‘The Halibut Fishing Capital of the World!’. The afternoon was partially cloudy so not all of the beautiful mountains on the other side of the Cook Inlet nor the Kenai Mountains across Kachemak Bay were clearly visible. However, they were able to see the mountains and the glaciers. They were at the Homer Overlook on the bluff above the town of Homer and the Homer Spit.
They ate at the Mexican seafood restaurant then walked the boardwalk along the harbor. They had to look at all the shops across the road and look through all the gift shops. They stopped at the Spit Snagging Hole where people can fish for salmon. Unfortunately there was a lot of fishing going on, but no catching.
No trip to Homer is complete without a photo in front of the Salty Dawg Saloon, the old time watering hole for the fishermen. They did get a chance to walk through the saloon and saw all the dollar bills tacked to the walls and the ceiling; however, they weren’t allowed to stay because the kids were not of legal age. They had a fun afternoon touring the city of Homer, known as ‘A small drinking town with a fishing problem!’
We had reservations for a boat tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park a day before they left. We got up to a rainy sky and in rained all the way to Seward. As we got closer, the wind also came up stronger and was blowing hard by the time I dropped them off at the tour building. The tour had been cancelled because of wind and high waves (10 to 15 feet). We obviously would not have wanted to participate in that so we opted to tour the city of Seward and spend some time at the Alaska Sea Life Center, an aquarium and sea life rehabilitation facility. It was used extensively during the EXXON Valdez disaster to clean the oil off of the sea animals and birds. The state later used funds from the lawsuit to build the aquarium and research center.
Even the Jesus figure got in the act by sitting on the seals head in the main section of the aquarium.
The rain never let up that day and we stopped for a great seafood lunch on the wharf, then started back to Kasilof. We considered stopping at Exit Glacier so the kids could see a glacier up close, but it was raining so hard and the glacier is a long walk from the parking area so we decided to head back to the RV Park.
With the long drive back to Anchorage the next day, we ended the Stromgren visit to Alaska. We had a great time with them as we know they did too. I am including some more of the many photos that were taken during their trip without words to go along with them.
Due to the trees and vegetation between all the parking pads on the park, the local fire department was reluctant to let us have campfires at each of the RV sites unless we cleared large areas of the vegetation. We didn’t want to do that because the vegetation provides a park-like atmosphere to the campground. Thus we decided to have a campground fire pit, a place where guests could get together to meet and share stories.
At the end of the season last year, the Post family helped us clear off the area behind the Lodge for a future fire pit. They cut off the Alder trees that had grown all over the space and then hauled all the scrap limbs down to the tree dump by the well house. We then pulled the stumps out with the 4-wheel drive truck. After setting a year, we were finally ready to start the campground fire pit.
Kevin and I began the process by laying out the fire pit with sticks. We wanted an 18 to 20 foot circle with access to the road behind for firewood and to the gravel walkway in front directly behind the Lodge. After much discussion, broken sticks, removed sticks and replaced sticks we finally came to an agreement on it’s location. The white box next to me holds the future red concrete block which will form the circle for the fire pit (actually it held part of them as typical with my planning, I was about half short!).
Next came the clearing of the excess dirt out of the space down to road and walkway level. I thought it would be fairly easy digging it out with a shovel and wheel barrow, but Kevin convinced me that it would be a lot easier getting a front-loader and clearing the dirt out with it. A neighbor down the road had one and he brought it down and dug it out for us. About 500 wheel barrow loads and 2 huge tree stumps later, I thought it was a pretty good idea! There was one hitch in the process though! About the third load in from the road, the front-loader discovered an under-ground electric cable feeding the electricity to the back row of RV pads (the one that was supposed to be approximately 25 feet south of there). Unfortunately, the under-ground cable wasn’t very far under ground and thus our whole beautiful 18 foot circle outline for the fire pit took a hard move to the north and was reduced to a 14 foot squashed circle. Never fear, all plans are fluid and able to change! Also fortunately, the front-loader didn’t cut the cable and electrocute the neighbor.
Finally about an hour later the fire pit was dug out, well most of the dirt was removed into a ten foot high mound in the RV pad behind the fire pit. We had to reduce the size of the main fire circle, squash it slightly to make it fit between the slightly buried electric cable and the existing pathway between the next mound behind the Lodge. The basic area was defined and the depth was approximate although we found it would take a lot of digging and leveling to get it the way we needed it.
By this time, Ryan’s firemen buddies (John, Dave & Jeff) were here to fish and help with the development of the fire pit. So while Ryan and John started cutting the sides to fit and beginning to level the floor, Paul and Jerod were laying out the rose colored retaining wall blocks to determine how many we needed.
We had to go back to Lowe’s for more concrete and rose blocks to complete the fire pit (50 was just a good start!). Here Paul and Jerod are unloading the blocks as I was busy looking busy doing something in the cab of the truck (no dummy me). By the way, the truck is called ‘Brownie’, Kevin’s favorite wheels when he is here. Brownie is a 4×4 Ford F250 rust bucket. Unfortunately Brownie decided it didn’t like hauling pallets of blocks from Kenai after a couple of loads and wouldn’t start anymore. He had us buffaloed for awhile until Todd determined that he needed a new ignition module and Kevin will be happy to know he’s now back in business.
Once we had the sides cut to the right dimensions and the floor leveled, we laid a fiberglass barrier pad on the floor. The pad keeps vegetation from growing through the gravel, but lets rain drain through it. It also forms a base to lay the blocks to keep them from sinking into the soil.
The Stromgren boys, Brandon and Caleb helped me start laying the concrete blocks to the walkway behind the Lodge. Here they are putting gravel into the back block before we added concrete to set them in place.
Next we added concrete mix in the holes and stirred up the mixture to let it set. We left a space at the top so I could come back and put in a cement topping to finish off the surface of the blocks.
In the mean-time, Craig was bringing in gravel and setting the rose block base. He used the gravel to level out the block around the circle. He continued adding blocks until he had three layers on the right (north) side and two layers on the left.
The initial layer is done and most of the floor is covered with gravel. John and Jeff began hauling in dirt to back fill the first level of blocks so we could then place the next level. In the meantime, Dave, Ryan and I were preparing to lay the concrete blocks at the back of the fire pit which would connect to the road in the back. These blocks would eventually be the sides for the firewood that we would use in the fire pit.
The fire pit blocks have been laid and the gravel floor completed. More dirt fill would be required to finish filling behind the blocks, but Craig, Jan and I were discussing where to place the pit itself such that we would receive the most benefit from the heat around the fire circle.
Kevin ordered the fire ring from Cabelas. We wanted to have moose and bears, but Cabelas didn’t have those. They did have elk so we have a very cool fire ring showing female and male elk with spruce trees surrounding our fire. Jeff dug the fire pit and placed the ring filling it part way with sand. He then readied the wood for the initial fire.
Meanwhile, Ryan and I were busy finishing off the tops of the concrete blocks by the road. While we were doing this the remaining firemen, Dave, John and Jeff were busy behind us cutting up dead spruce trees and splitting it for our fire wood.
It was completed and to celebrate we took photos of those who helped build it enjoying the fire. Here are Dave, Jeff, Ryan and John setting on the north blocks. Unfortunately, the Stromgrens (Craig, Caleb and Brandon) and the Posts (Paul, Jerod, Debbie, Jordan and Jacob) who had also done so much to help build it were not there to enjoy the inaugural fire.
Here is the Pyle clan, Jon, Jan, Ryan and Kevin. We sure did enjoy that initial fire (and the celebration Chardonnay) ; however, we found that for a long cool evening the rose blocks are cold and HARD! Therefore, Jan and I have decided to purchase for ourselves two Jayhawk stadium seat bottoms. You know the kind that are foam covered with a sturdy plastic cover with a picture of a KU Jayhawk on it. So we think that those of you from the Big 12 that would like to have your butts warmed with your own stadium seat bottoms, there are plenty of rose blocks and a fire each evening when it isn’t raining!
We do enjoy it! Our friends Dave and Shirley (she’s the one wrapped up like a mummy in a blanket) enjoyed a beautiful sunset one evening warmed by the fire. They were here for nine days the first week of August and we spent almost evening by the fire then retired to the Lodge for resounding games of Mexican Train. (Note that we had to resort to crummy plastic chairs because we haven’t had time to get our seat warmers)
A follow-up note. While Ryan’s firemen friends were here, they also built two gravel walkways to our kitchen and deck (sorry no photos). It has sure made things a lot easier for us and has kept a lot of dirt and grass out of the kitchen. Thanks a lot guys!
Next is a narrative by our granddaughter, Marissa Stromgren about their trip to visit us at the Kasilof RV Park. It will accompanied by photos that were taken by all of us during their visit. It will take a few days for this one to get posted because there are a ton of photos to go through and modify for the blog. You will be informed when it is posted (if you are getting the notifications from the publisher).
As another aside, our Princess Marissa is now in Czech Republic in the small town of Olomouc for the next 10 months to teach conversational English to students in a school for languages. It’s her first trip abroad and she just graduated from KU last spring. It will be quite an experience for her and fun for us home bodies to hear what all is going on in that part of the world. Till the next post!
Note: Jan and I asked Grandson Jerod to drive our Jesus van (large passenger van implying a church van which is named ‘Amazing Grace’,
a story far to long to go into here) to Alaska from Kansas where it was purchased by our son, Todd. From Kansas it was driven to Nebraska in June. Grace would be pulling a boxed in trailer with two pontoon boats, a 4-wheeler and every other thing we could think of to pack inside it (i.e. spare tires, tools, clothes, electrical supplies, fish boxes, etc., etc., etc.). Jerod asked his brother Jordan and buddy, Brett to take the trip from their home in Scottsbluff, Nebraska to Kasilof, AK approximately 3000 miles. The following is a narrative written by Jerod’s brother, Jordan of their trip and a few accompanying photos. I will add more at the end of their fun times with their Dad, Paul when they reached Alaska.
Voyage to the Last Frontier -Day One, July 8th-
Friends, Nobles, Countrymen, here we are again. Nebraska to Alaska, July 2009. For those of you that don’t know, the writer’s torch has been passed to yours truly, Jordan Post. I am the son of Paul and Debbie Post. My relative’s previous writings took place in and dealt with their individual observations/exploits in Alaska for the most part.
My writings will be concerning our exodus from the holy land of Nebraska to the 50th state of this fine union. My companions are none other than my brother Jerod Post and his chum Brett Keller. So here we are. Riddled with excitement and shackled with road anxiety and some questions. Will we blow a tire? (we have a spare for the van and two spares for trailer) What if we get lost?(We have approximately 13.5647 maps and a Garmin). What if the Canadian border patrol strip us of everything aside from our dignity?(…Lets just hope not). We started a little later than expected due to the fact that Mr. Brett Keller is apparently a very important man, but alas we are on the road. So far in the trip we have been mocked by the fine citizens of Mitchell, NE, drove through 20 miles of construction at a blistering 30 miles an hour and figured out the difference between Norm and Max A/C. So needless to say, it has been incredibly eventful thus far. We are excited and ready for this journey but I know for at least for me the actual distance we are driving hasn’t sunk in yet. I feel like we are driving today and maybe sometime tomorrow and then we’ll stumble across the Alaskan border sometime in the near future. Gentle readers, I know this isn’t the case, but the truth has yet to infiltrate my thick candy shell of a skull. Hopefully, this will happen soon. We continued on and the Wyoming/Montana scenery treated us very well, it was quite scenic and very beautiful. We ended up stopping in Billings, Montana at a gracious Holiday Inn Express.. I was driving on this leg of the journey and I missed a small, minor turn to our hotel (due to the lack of lady Garmin) and was immediately tortured by my savage companions degrading insults. We were further plagued by hunger and so we attempted to make it to a tasty Hu-Hot grill but we never even managed to see this mirage of a Hu-Hot let alone fill our gullets there. So we scuttled on to the friendly neighborhood Applebees eatery, where Jerod “Mathematician” Post decided to add our bill $52.72 with a $7.28 tip and somehow came up with $53.00..….We chided him softly, strapped his protective helmet back on and quietly exited the establishment to return to our hotel. Anyway, we hope the trip will continue without further ado. And now, I will leave you with a little rhyme and reason to sooth your souls.
The trailer is packed, we are ready to go Headed to the land of ice and snow The van is loaded and our spirits are high Our wings are locked, we’re ready to fly. We the three stooges or the three musketeers On the open road without qualms or fears Through big sky country and rolling grass hills We are ready for adventures, ready for thrills.
Loaded with food and supplied with drink We’re driving to the end, nearly the brink Through towns and cities, big and small The crew is passing through, wave to us all. We have shoved off, the ship has sailed So far we’re good, nothing has failed Finish this trip, its an absolute must Succeed we will, its Alaska or Bust!!!
Voyage to the Last Fronier -Day two, July
We woke up around 8:30, dined at our hotel breakfast continent and got gased up and on the road by ten. The Montana landscape was very beautiful and we were soon surrounded by mountains, rivers and picturesque valleys. Upon topping a hill and seeing mountains, nay, I will realistically say foothills, my two noble companions whipped out their cameras and started snapping photos through the bug smeared windshield with the enthusiasm of Japanese tourists like they had never seen a mountain (foothill). I had several things to say about this but my words were received with a repercussion of insults and stinging jests, so I returned to my music and book. We drove onwards until we reached the city of Bozeman and dined at Famous Dave’s Barbecue. It was a comfort to see that there was some strains of civilization this far up in the savage land. We dined without any mathematical mishap this time and continued on our way. Brett was driving this shift and somewhere around this time he was acquainted with our other travel companion, Sway. Now gentle readers, Sway is a fictional companion that consists of our block of wood trailer swaying back and forth as many trailers do. The exception being, our dear trailer has the aerodynamic capabilities of a certain Mount Rushmore. So the movement back and forth can be quite a handful at specific times. Jerod and I have already been acquainted with Sway and know her as a darling friend who is helpful and even reassuring at times. To Brett, she was known as a demon banshee who besieged his driving shift and haunted his dreams. Now Sway aside, the big part of this trip was crossing the Canadian border. We were thinking we would at least have to open the trailer and reveal the hallowed contents inside but much to our surprise all we had to do is hand over our passports, list of contents and answer some questions. He asked about firearms, license plates, alcohol, tobacco, designation, reason, origin, length of stay, profession, line of study, the square root of E=MC squared, the average weight of the spotted Mongolian jungle rat and the radius of the sun. We passed all of questions with flying colors, especially the last three.
We continued on with glee and ended up holing up in Lithridge, Alberta with some Quiznos and some local spirits. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next installment. I shall now once again regale you folks with some the time (11:17 pm) and rhyme. Through Montana and Canada we pass our way Without problems or qualms we are here to stay The mountains are beautiful, the rivers are blue I will try my best, a few more stanzas for you.
With blurry pictures and maps we shall soon prove Our miles and hours, we are making the move With bbq in our bellies and jests on our lips We’ve told the story to folks, the tale of our trips
Charging up north, a traveling we go Through rain and sleet, whether friend or foe Us three youths, to drive we are hired I’d write you more but I’m too damn tired!!!
**Disclaimer** This section contains heavy sarcasm and Sahara desert dry wit. For those with a weak heart or stomach do leave the room to prevent further discomfort. Please do not attempt this at home.
Voyage to the Last Frontier – Day three July, 10th-
Hello again friends and family and first of all, thank you for bearing with me thus far and my half-witted stabs at humor and monologues. Secondly, looking back on my first two days I realized I made some typos. On day two I left out the “t” on the word “Frontier” which left it saying “Fronier.” I don’t rightly know what a fronier is but I will try and figure that out and get back to you. I didn’t even attempt to list the date as well on that title. I also misspelled the town we spent the night in last night, it is actually spelled “Lethbridge.” For these grave mistakes, I sincerely apologize for any temporary paralysis or indigestion they may have caused you. Now that my conscious is cleared we can continue onto the narrative. We awoke at around the same time in our Best Western hotel, packed up and got on the road.. Due to lack of sleep or road daze I was feeling somewhat off kilter. After tossing down a highly nourishing breakfast of gummy worms and warm Nalgene water I was much relieved. We continued cruising down (technically up) the road and my thoughts began to wonder. At times like this, one might wish for alternate routes or methods of travel such as teleportation or time travel. Wouldn’t it be nice if we got in the van in Nebraska, punched a couple buttons on the dash and land in Kasilof RV Park complete with Loon serenades and frequent Moose visits. We would be able to completely step outside of time and reality, and completely surpass distance and days alike. As illustrious as this fantasy might sound, facts soon override. Today I started Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and later finished it this evening so I will use his words to best counteract my disillusions. “As an Earthling, I had to believe whatever clocks said-and calendars.” These words in mind I have accepted our terribly out-of-date means of transportation. We stopped to refill our tank and stomachs in Calgary, Alberta. We ate at a buffet (pronounced BuH-FaY for those of you that might not know) attached to the Flying-J gas station where we filled up. Needless to say there are some very interesting characters in Canada but for the most part have been very friendly. Now at this humble buffet (see pronunciation above) a very grave mistake occurred that might interfere with my abilities to continue to write or even have healthy children later on in life. Our server breezed up to our table and asked what we would like to drink. I had a hankering for a frosty Dr. Pepper but they did not have that on tap. I guess the Canucks don’t believe in 23 flavors of sheer ecstasy. Now, I happened to be approximately 3.2 metres (Canadian spelling) away from the table browsing the goods on display. When she asked for my second choice I shouted over in a clear, lofty voice, “iced tea please.” The waitress mumbled something about the iced tea being brewed in the restaurant and I replied, “that is fine.” Frankly, I didn’t really know where else it would be brewed now that I look back. Anyway, we filled our plates, sat down and began to tuck in. She promptly returned with our drinks in tow and lovingly placed them on the table. I reached for my beverage and took a large sip, expecting greatness. I instead winced, recoiled and doubled over in intense pain……..the tea was sweet……..I was instantly offended, shocked and engulfed with rage. In the name of everything holy, we were this far north, half a continent away from the Mason-Dixie line and I was just served sweet tea. With much difficulty I managed to regain my composure and continue on with my meal after ordering a PLAIN water. That horrific incident aside, I can continue. When we started this morning we had planned to make it all the way to Dawson Creek to be able to start on mile zero of the Alaskan highway in the morning. I will skip ahead and just say that we pulled into Dawson Creek tonight around 11:35 pm. We didn’t manage to catch sight of Katie Holmes or James Vanderbeek. In between our dining experiences at Flying-J’s and now we did a few things. We tried to check out the Calgary Stampede, a version of the OT or Camp Clark Days except multiplied by many large numbers. I’ll check with Jerod on the math but don’t necessarily trust those numbers. Anyway this event is broadcasted to be “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” but due to lack of parking, rush hour in downtown Calgary, outrageous prices and our dear trailer we abandoned the idea and cruised on. Somewhere before cruising through Valley View something happened that caused quite a sight and certainly some fright, as well as some light. By this time the thick tree landscapes that we had been waiting for had finally arrived. Thick aspens lined each side of the road. We were driving along, just driving along and driving along, and it began to rain. It started lightly, and then continued to increase in rate and amount. We heard a couple thunder claps and continued on to carefully push forward. When out of nowhere a thunder clap boomed above our head so close we not only heard the clamor but we could feel it. Immediately after this, lightning ripped out of the sky and struck the trees along the right side of the road a mere fifty yards in front of our eyes. It came screaming down in a rush of light and power, struck one tree and jumped to another directly to the right of us about thirty yards away.. We all looked at each other with astonished eyes in silence and then started yelling.. “OH MY GOD DID YOU SEE THAT, HOLY COW THAT WAS LIGHNING, WE JUST SAW THAT STRIKE!!” We certainly yelled other things to each other in the aftermath of excitement and adrenaline but they don’t bear repeating. The rain eventually let up and we drove on knowing that we probably just saw a once in a lifetime event unfold before our eyeballs. The rest of the trip consisted of stopping at Sammy’s restaurant for some Canadian burgers, french fries and gravy. This turned out to be delicious and well worth the stop. Outside of this establishment we were posing for a picture when we unintentionally mingled with a local, complete with “oh yas? and ehs?” who had a little two much to drink. We were snapping photos when he wandered up and asked us about the van, trailer ect. We replied the usual gab, chatted it up and got back in our rig after saying goodbye about eight times. Brett was talking with us at first and then disengaged and went and sat in the van until he left. His reason being if he stood within a five foot radius of this man any longer he would become intoxicated strictly from the fumes radiating off of this stranger. We continued on without any more mishaps and pulled in to Dawson Creek as mentioned ready for rest and ready for tomorrow. Farewell audience, until we meet again.
The trip continues, we are on day three We are enjoying this much, believe you me As time goes on there are hours to be bored We shall inch along under the guidance of our Lord
We speak of love, loss and life ahead And dream of where I will lay my head The music will carry us on down the path And hope for the rain to not unfurl its wrath
Much of the landscape stays the same Cows and grass like lands of another name Until trees and rocks we have finally seen Alaska drivers we have not yet been
Through lightning, drunks and fries we drive The number remains just three friends not five These other rude drivers can eat our dust Tomorrow we repeat, its Alaska or Bust!!
Voyage to the Last Frontier -Day four, July 11th
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome once again to my words. I have to start things off once again with an apology for a grim misspelling that I have rendered to your trusting eyes. We are now and have been traveling on the Alcan highway, not the “Elcan” highway as I have previously spelled it. I am sincerely apologetic for this momentous mistake and I can only hope I do not have to begin a journal entry with this kind of preamble again. I also need to say thus far today, as I am writing this at 6:49 pm Pacific time, we have not experienced any lightning or sweet tea catastrophes so this day may not be as exciting, I once again find myself apologizing.. We awoke about eight this morning and ate a more healthy breakfast at our continental services. We did our fluid, air, and gas checks and were on the go at around 9:30. Before we actually got on the highway we stopped at the historic mile zero marker in downtown Dawson Creek. This large marker represents the first actual mile of the Alcan highway, which we learned stands for the Alaskan/Canadian highway, thus the spelling. I drove from Dawson City all the way to Fort Nelson where we stopped to eat lunch at a Boston Pizza bar and grill which was in the possession of very tasty eats and drinks.. I forgot to mention we passed a town yesterday called Demmit. Now, for those of you out there that are having trouble trying to quite swearing we have figured out this town is a perfect replacement for a certain D word that some folks use. For example, one could say when speaking on the phone to a certain customer representative, “I ordered my Michael Jackson memorial figurine three weeks ago and it still hasn’t came Gol Demmit!!” See there? Same sound, same emotional tone and nobody gets hurt. You weren’t swearing, you were merely shouting the name of a remote town in Alberta. Whether you might end up using this or not, I shall now digress Demmit…Replacement swearing aside, these past few days we have made some observations about Canada and the people that inhibit this land. Number 1. The road signs. Since crossing the border we have seen a strange assortment and variety of signs. We have seen signs that are yellow that are checkered in black with nothing else on it. Their version of a school bus crossing is a picture of a school bus with a child on either side that are supposed to be walking away except the children are posed in such a way to look like they are dancing. We do not think this is intentional but it is maybe an effect of our road fatigue kicking in. But there are lights twinkling on this bus that pose as strobe lights so it is a regular party. There is yet another sign that is a yellow backdrop and then if you three black diamonds and put them together on the yellow sign, there you have it. What is that supposed to mean? I don’t know, don’t ask me please. And the cream of the crop, we have seen many signs that have black plastic bags draped over them. Did they not want the signs to get cold and soggy in the rain? Maybe the signs are sensitive to the sun and it’s the job of some poor sap to drive along the highway every night at dusk and unsheathe these signs from there dark shroud then put them back on before the sun rises. That’s it, vampire signs.
Number 2. Construction There has been enough construction we have driven through to reach to the moon and back since we have been in Canada.. On many of the sites it seems they are not actually working on anything but have just deposited many tools, vehicles and manpower for the display of it. Oh yes, and the signs, don’t forget the helpful signs. At these sites they don’t actually ever do construction, they just stand around looking at each other and ponder the difference between burnt sienna and maroon as a crayola color. Once this is accomplished they pack up and go home to get ready to do it all again tomorrow.. On the sites where it appears they are actually doing work another thing struck us as odd. The majority of the workers appear to be very, very young. We are not sure if child labor laws here are different or if there some under the table kind of operations occurring before our eyes. No matter what it is, if we have a young worker approach our window and ask us for a push-pop and if he can stay up past 8:30 tonight, we are going to tell him no on both accounts and try and get in contact with some child services. All tom foolery aside now, ever since driving out of Fort Nelson the scenery has been absolutely beautiful.. We are paralleling and crossing the northern most part of the Rocky Mountains complete with thick forests, cool mountain air and crystal blue water. The wildlife has also been quite abundant. In the last three hours we have seen one black bear, one male moose in velvet, one female moose, about eight bighorn sheep along the side of the road, males, babies and females, and four or five caribou. It has been very exciting and refreshing to see wildlife to help keep us interested as well as having effects against insanity due to seeing nothing but trees and road. In the next few hours after writing everything you have already read we ended up seeing a total of 10 black bears, 6 moose, two of them male, 8 caribou, and the same number of bighorn sheep. Somewhere around this time we faced and overcame a difficult group decision.. With careful consultation to our trusty atlas we realized we simply would not be making Whitehorse as we had planned to late that night.
The roads were steep and winding, and once again we were confronted with a ridiculous amount of construction.. If we were to stop in Watson Lake for the night to stay we would not make it to Soldotna on Sunday as planned but it would be Monday, which was simply right out of the question. We conferred and the decision was made to push on through the night. I need to state at this point that Day four and Day Five are blended together since that’s how it happened.
We stopped briefly in Watson Lake to look for an open gas station which was apparently an impossibility for we never found one at the early hour of 11:43. We instead amused ourselves by viewing and collecting snapshots of the famed signpost forest in Watson Lake. This famous collection is home to more than 61, 398 signs that was started by a homesick soldier working on the Alcan construction on 1942. This was quite a sight and a nice chance to stretch our limbs. We drove on, wanting to find a 24 hour gas station for obvious purposes. We struck figurative gold in Nugget City, a RV park/lodge stop open 24 hours complete with gas, a gift shop and an all night deli.. We were very grateful for there services even if the people there were a little odd and continued on our way.
Day four is upon us we are on the run We have time to work, time to have fun We have reached the mountains, peaks at last The curving roads keep our speeds from fast
We are up in altitude this I know For if I look closely at the top I see snow Looking around me, my heart is sold Laying down at night, my pillow is cold
Opening my ears, eyes, nose and mind I am at peace up here, one of a kind The sight of a moose, the sun still at nine The rush of the rapids, the smell of the pine
At times I grow restless, to be out there I wish To hike, to climb, to shout, to fish But our mission is to drive, to finish our quest We will accomplish, we will pass the test
And for this opportunity, we are forever grateful To this idea, my grandparents were faithful I speak for all of us, when I write and say We will never forget this, for all of our days
Brett took the red eye shift from about 12:30 to 5:00 with myself as his copilot. Jerod was lodged in the back seat catching up on some needed z’s. I conked out for about two hours but the rest of the time was awake with Brett talking into the wee hours of the morning. It was actually very calming and a scenic drive through the shadow laden mountains. Something that both of thought was very interesting was the fact that it never actually got completely dark throughout the entire night. Some areas of the sky were darker than others but nonetheless, it was never reached the level of inky blackness normal folks are accustomed to. We pulled into Whitehorse a little after 5 am this morning and again searched out a fueling opportunity. Either places weren’t open yet or the places that said 24 hours were only accepting credit cards that were issued in Canada.. So we ate breakfast at a little place that was operated by a gang of small Asians who gave us choppy directions to another 24 hour place nearby. We threw down our biscuits, juice and coffee and went to this other gas station. No luck, same rules applied. So we resorted to our own methods of finding fuel which consisted of driving around and looking for one. We found one that actually was open and accepted cards from other nations. But it turns out the card that had been issued to us from the grandparents had a hold put on it because at the rate we were crossing borders and consuming fuel it looked like the card had been high jacked. Later on in the day we got in touch with the boss and they got it sorted out with the bank so we were able to keep regain our usage of the card. Since leaving Watson Lake last night until right now which is in fact 6:03 pm on Day five of this escapade, we have been surrounded by mountains virtually on every side at almost all times.. This has contributed to the scenery once again and helps keep us from madness. I drove from Whitehorse to Beaver Creek which was about fifteen minutes away from the border. I had been up since a ways before Whitehorse I felt the need to switch drivers here with Jerod and crawl into the backseat. I figured I would stay awake for the 15 minutes or so until the border just to stay awake for the proceedings that awaited us there. That didn’t happen. I drifted away into the arms of sleep and bolted awake when we reached the border. We figured they would be a bit more severe coming back into Alaska from Canada but in fact they were very friendly. This young man we dealt with was very friendly and looked very young, early twenties. But he issued about the same questions, even some jokes about our passport photos not matching any of our faces. This I can understand because on Brett’s, he is wearing glasses which he doesn’t anymore. In Jerod’s, it is his senior picture and he now resembles Grizzly Adams, the run-away ex-Marine. In mine, the photo was taken a few days after my state swimming meet Senior year so I have a bald head and I didn’t smile in the photo, so I more or less resemble a convict. All passport jokes aside we continued on without any trouble and a resounding cheer of glee for being back on US soil, complete with sensible road signs and miles per hour. I then continued on checking the back of my eyelids. This day was destined to be the last day, that is why we pulled the all night operation. No matter what the circumstances we faced we were bound and determined to make it all the way. This day is somewhat of a blur for me, because in between sleep and endless time of being on the road it was all starting the crash down in my mind. As mentioned on Day three I finished Slaughterhouse Five, and I also finished Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World on this trip so between those two my head was spinning with parallel universes and time travel anyway without any regards to our trip. I finally got caught up on sleep and Jerod had been driving this whole time so we were always on the go.. We stopped in Toke, Alaska for some reindeer hot dogs and burgers at a little espresso place. Both turned out to be very tasty and provided the energy we were seeking. As you might imagine we got back on the road. We drove and drove, drove and drove some more. We eventually pulled into Anchorage at around 7:30 pm or so.. We refueled, snagged some Dairy Queen and Brett switched over to driving. The drive from Anchorage to Soldotna is supposed to take about 3-3.5 hours and it ended up taking us about five. We only stopped once for a great picture opportunity but guess what help us up? If you guessed highway robbers I’m sorry, you are incorrect. It was our dear friend, construction. Brett and I figured throughout the entire trip, starting with the first construction in Mitchell to Soldotna, we probably lost four to five hours of time either stopping, slowing down or conforming to single lane traffic or loose gravel situations. We were somewhat steamed at this point being so close, and yet so far. The tide was in on the Cook Inlet and this provided the best scenery yet with the majestic waters either rippling with tides or smooth as glass set against a backdrop of snow capped mountains and green forests. Brett and I once again resorted to conversation as the best means of keeping each other going this last few hours. Now I am going to say something that I don’t believe I have ever said in my entire life.. I’m not sure if I want to listen to music the next day or two. We have all gone through our Ipods every time we would switch drivers. Whether it was play lists, random songs or albums I could see my Ipod panting every time I removed it from the connecter. But since I’m writing this now on day six, from The Kasilof RV park lodge, I can say my Ipod has rested and I once again love music.. So ladies and gents, we made it. We pulled in to the lodge at about 12:30 thanks to the flashlight guidance of Grammy and we are finally here. After five days of road food, driving, hotels, freakish sleep patterns, driving, maps, music, conversation, driving, pictures, construction, mountains, trees and driving, we have made it. Thanks so much for reading and I hope no of you faithful souls have lost brain cells due to my scribing. I will continue to send updates of our time here in Alaska, they won’t be as lengthy as these because I’ll be to busy being in Alaska. I will send the last section of the ongoing poem tonight because if I tap into my creative juices anymore I will resemble a walking skeleton, for they are nearly dry. Thanks again to the faithful and we will be in contact soon.
Voyage to the Last Frontier -Day six, July 13- Hello once again all you down south there in the “lower 48” as they say. Its me, up here in the wilderness as your one and only Alaskan correspondent. I am sitting here more happy than a vampire in a blood bank. If you’ve kept up with your reading then you should know that we made it to our final destination last night. There is a story that merits telling that occurred prior to one o’clock last night. After traveling for five days and living out of a van for the last two the one thing I wanted was a nice hot shower and sleep. I guess that is two things. Anyway, there are perfectly good showering facilities in the lodge where we are holing up for our time here. Previous to showering my dear Gram cracker (slang for Grandma) informed that the electricity was out and we didn’t have lights but didn’t have unlimited running water as well. But, they have a back up reserve tank for occasion such as this. “The water shouldn’t run out at all, you guys should be fine if you each take a shower” chirped my grandmother. Reassuring words for our tired selves. There are three separate showers but I had to wait for Jerod to be done to wait for the shampoo and the soap. Brett had his own. Eventually Jerod finished his shower and handed over the supplies so I hopped in and commenced my cleansing process. I was enjoying my shower and began to shampoo my hair which slightly resembled four drowned rats holding hands previous to showering. I was fully shampooed and ready to rinse when my shower head slightly faltered and then completely stopped. I turned it on and off a time or two. Nothing. Great I thought, what now? I threw on a towel and went into the bathroom and tried the sink. Nothing. Even better I thought. At this point the shampoo started to avalanche down my peaked head and stream into my eyes. So here I am, at one in the morning blindly stumbling around the lodge at one in the morning back to the shower to try again. Nothing. Just then I had a great idea. A light bulb even lit up above my head, except it didn’t light up because we didn’t have electricity. I scuttled back to my room in search of my nalgene. I had about a third full nalgene water receptacle in there.. I rummaged around slinging water and shampoo all over everything and finally found Jerod’s, which I combined with mine making about a half full nalgene. I staggered back to the shower and poured the cold water over my head mostly rinsing the blasted shampoo out of my hair. With that pleasant experience out of the way, I dried off, made it back to my bunk and fell into a deep hibernation. Today I slept in until about ten and had some fruit and coffee for breakfast. Jerod, Brett and I went into town with Ryan, which is Kevin’s son. We took care of such things such as lunch at Sal’s, a great local eatery, knife shopping, a trip to the local brewery and the DMV for Ryan. We came back and bummed around for awhile unloading things and sampling the local brewery’s finest. We had delicious ribs, beans and potato salad for dinner. We then geared up and went fishing at the Kasilof River down the road a ways. We were trying to snag Red Salmon, which don’t really start running until the 15th or so. We all had waders and commenced to wade out there and give it a shot. None of us caught any thing but nonetheless it was a beautiful evening and a beautiful time in the river. I know I promised the last part of the poem but I am too tired tonight and I have already used up my juice for today. Tomorrow I will have a short summary but a long finish to the poem, guaranteed. Thanks and goodnight.
Voyage to the Last Frontier -Last Day, July 15, 2009
Ladies and Gentlemen, here we are once again and for the final time I’m afraid. I am deeply sorry I did not send out my correspondence last night as promised, things just got in the way and sleep called to me with a voice that was both loud and clear. I will give you a short rundown of the last two days and then finish with a final poem. I wish I could keep this up for the rest of the summer but alas, I am spread too thin. And the moment I leave Alaskan soil all of you faithful readers shall return to the interests of your own lives I’m sure because the rest of my activities this summer will fail in comparison to this past week. With that being said I shall dive into the wonderful world of words to finish out this adventure.. On Tuesday we woke and help my dad take apart the trailer that we tugged up here. We basically took the big wooden box off of the flat bed where it was screwed down on the way up to Alaska.
That being done, Jerod, Brett and I set to assembling two pontoon boats that consisted of metal frames with inflatable sides. This at first proved daunting but due to the previous efforts of out dear Uncle Todd, they came together without to much trouble. After this was accomplished Brett and I took a nice jaunt into the nearby woods surrounding Johnson Lake. This was a somewhat bittersweet hike because we had to try really hard to try and find woods where we couldn’t see roads and houses or hear a dog in the distance. We found a bit of untamed wilderness but we sure had to try at it.
Later on in the afternoon we decided to see if our pontoon boats were seaworthy and indeed they were out on Johnson Lake. A few small lake trout later we returned. After dinner we went out and tried the mighty Kenai river this time for some Red Salmon snagging. Again the water and surrounding area was absolutely gorgeous in the late summer light but again we managed no salmon. Brett turned the head of a nice one but the savage snapped the line. So aside from Jerod deciding to take a seat in the river and fill up his waders we had no action. We got back pretty late and hit the hay for Halibut were on the agenda the next morning. We were up before six and at our outfitters within a half an hour. We set out on the Cook Inlet with a nice young captain named Garret. He was the oldest son of the fellow that owned “Reel Em In” Charters. We gunned out about 20 miles from shore and began to fish. Mount Redoubt and surrounding peaks were in the distance on the horizon for a nice backdrop.
We got into the halibut pretty quick and Brett was the first one to land one. We were with another guy named Scott and between all of us we probably caught around 30-40 creatures. We were only allowed two Halibut person so we came back with ten Halibut when the day was done. Now above there I said creatures because we caught more than just halibut.
My dad laid into a fairly large manta ray which took him quite a while to reel in. And Jerod hooked something that took the combined powers of mostly himself, my dad, our skipper and myself. After about an hour of fighting the son of a gun we pulled up what was called a Sleeper Shark. This wasn’t your ordinary shark folks.
This beast measured around 13 feet long and was an estimated 1,000 pounds. At his widest, he was about as bid around as a 55 gallon drum. It was quite a sight and very exciting.. We turned him back because the meat is no good and I’m not sure if we could have got him in the boat if we would have wanted to if it was. I ended up with the catch of the day with a 65 pound halibut and he put a up a solid fight as well. All in all it was a great time out there, a beautiful day and a great batch of fish in the end. After hanging them up for pictures, our good captain filleted our fish against our protests to help. After we returned to our campgrounds we went to the processing mode. We had such a good assembly line going Henry Ford himself would have been downright tickled to see it in motion. Brett and myself cut the skin off the halibut and resized the fillets by way of knife. My dad was rapidly creating our own size plastic sealing bags with rolls of special plastic and a cutting device. Jerod and Kevin were vacuum sealing them as fast as we kept the fillets and bags coming. Grampy John was firing up the grill and Grammy was manning the rinsing water refills as well as the Tanguray and Tonic refills as she does so well. After a fine dinner of fresh halibut and grilled steak and veggies Jerod and I retired to the porch for our last look at Alaska with a lit Cuban cigar clutched in our hands. And now friends and family, my last attempt at my poetry to sum up this land we call Alaska. Thank you all for reading, you are the reason I am typing out these letters right this instant. I always know what happening in my head (well, most of the time) so I am spilling this out for all of you out there. I hope you have enjoyed these correspondences and I also hop they haven’t caused you to much anguish. Thanks again, and I hope to see you all in the near future. If not, may these words and rhymes serve as a fitting replacement for my absence.
My friends and family we are here again To recount tales and stories of fish and fin Of hikes and drives, the wild and tame The adventures in a land with no other name
Alaska we call it, the wild frontier There’s gold and mountains, without any fear We have hiked, fished, worked and ate We’ve woke up early and stayed up late
There’s been fun, laughter, friends and jokes There’s been stories, seriousness, drinks and smokes Don’t forget land, sea, trees and air Or moose, caribou and many a bear
We caught many halibut, we didn’t get skunked We went on oceans and lakes without getting dunked We tried for salmon, and none for a reason The blasted things just really aren’t in season!
And now the truth is, we are truly thrilled We stayed here for free, without being billed For the drive, the stay, the food and fun We owe our elders, a thanks never done
Now I mean my parents, and my mom’s too Without you kind souls I don’t know we’d do This trip has been fantastic, great and a blast As you all know, good times go too fast
Now I’m afraid the end is drawing at hand Come tomorrow night, will be ’ole Nebraska land I would write you more, a story I suppose But here and right now this is poetry not prose!
Thanks again to all that head have read Now stop straining your eyes, go rest your dear head I’ll retire from this business without a fight Now to some goodbye and to all goodnight!!
A few more photos of the time that the boys and Paul were with us this summer. They help a lot as the next few photos will show. Here Paul is giving Ryan moral support as he installs window in each of the new rooms in the Lodge.
Jerod had to get into the act also and was the inside guy.
Paul and Jerod were great help with the building of the firepit (see the future blog on the construction of the firepit for more photos).
It was an exciting week of wild travels, big fishing, hard work and lots of fun. The guys were worn out and spent the trip back to Anchorage sound asleep.
So ends the Post Boys narrative and next on the agenda is the Saga of the Firepit construction. See you then!
As I promised last night, tonight follows another visit by one of our Grandson’s for a short two week work tour on the Kasilof RV Park. Jacob is Debbie’s and Paul’s youngest son, is a Junior in Scottsbluff, Nebraska high school.
Jan and I went back to Kansas City on the 18th of June for our Granddaughter, Nicole’s wedding. We took Travis back with us (he was ready to get back home and to his summer job at the Clinton Lake). Nephew Kevin Pyle and Jacob came back with us. I will let him tell you about his visit with us and I have added some photos to emphasize some of his comments.
6-26-09: 1st Day
Greetings to all, this is Jake Post, Debbie’s youngest boy. I am the new replacement laborer and diary writer person thing for Travis. We flew out of Denver at 3 and flew over to Salt Lake City, (watch out for the Mormons) Utah. Which to me that don’t make a lick of sense; but no one listens to little ol’ Jakey. Anyways, we flew out of Salty Lake around 9:00, to the Final Frontier, The Icy Lands, The Woodlands, the 11th wonder of the World, The Fishing State, and I’m am running out of names, SO we will just call it Alaska for short. The flight seemed to take several decades, but in reality it was only 5 and a half hours. We landed in AK around 12:00 A.M. and hooked up with Kevin and our luggage. We then took a charter bus back to the Airport parking lot and got into our truck. It’s a Chevy……. ☹. Dodge is better and so is Ford, but it has four wheels and moves. We then drove to the Missiruh Crick Side Worshe Lodge (making fun of Grandma’s Kansas slur). I actually don’t know the real name because that is what I called it. I’m getting sidetracked again, which I do easily; you’ll have to bear with me. ANYWAYS, we checked in and promptly inspected the back of our eyelids for scrapes and holes A.K.A. sleep. We woke up around 7:30 and went ate a fantastic breakfast at the Peanut Farm. Then we spent the rest of the day running here and there: Sam’s Club, Sportsmen’s, which is where I got my new Smith & Wesson S.W.A.T. edition knife. The Moose is Loose (I like long john’s) and many other various places for various supplies. On the way we saw a Mamma moose with a baby right off the freeway and then, half a mile away from J&J’s, we saw another Mamma and baby. Then we drove back to the J&J Kasilof Kampground as I lovingly named it and started to unload. The caretakers (Sally, Tom, and Nelson) stuck around for a while, helped us unload and then departed to return to their own homeport. Then we scraped a delicious dinner together of grilled chicken, beans, bread with butter, a salad, cottage cheese, overall: AWESOME. Then we just chatted about anything and everything. Grandad showed me, my duties as a laborer,which mostly included cutting down trees. Then we all just kind of separated and did our own stuff until it was nighty nighttime. That’s all for now, If the women don’t find you handsome, they’ll at least find you handy. Over and Out.
6-26-09: 2nd Day
Salutations everybody, I woke up around 7:10 and went to meet the crew for breakfast in the ‘Road kill Café’. We had sausage, hash browns, and eggs. It was quite delicious and then Jon and Kevin went into town for Jon’s doctor appointment and to get the old fishing boat. So there I was, Jake Bunyan; with my hedge clippers and a mean attitude. My blue ox was grazing nearby. I cut down the thick and vast forest of J&J’s so people could see through the forest and say, “that looks like a great spot to camp.” I worked hard and long until I made best friends with the mosquitoes. I then had to dowse myself with Skeeter spray and then went back to work until Grandma ordered me to take a break. I obliged.
Grandma was doing paperwork and pulling weeds. When Grandpops and Kevin got back, Jon went to work on the new office and Kevin worked on the electrical in the Ludicrous Lodge. I am making a name for every building. The Lodge is ludicrous because that’s where I am staying.
When I cut down a segment of trees, I stacked them in a pile and threw em’ in the back of the truck and took em’ down to our tree pile and dumped them. We then had lunch, which was sandwiches, tater chips, cold salmon chunks (amazing), fruit salad, cottage cheese, and leftover chicken. Once that mouth-watering feast was over, we all went back to work. We had three customers come by. The 1st was an older couple, which just couldn’t make up their minds = they didn’t rent a spot. The 2nd couple was a friendly middle-aged couple that rented a spot for Monday. The 3rd was a Mom and three girls that thought the place closed down and so they toured around and will probably rent a spot. Then it started to rain heavy, so I came indoors and took a break for a while because I couldn’t feel my back. But then I forged a solid wooden spear and ventured into the Johnson Lake woods. Then around 4:30, I came back to J&J’s to get ready to go to the Elk’s Club to meet Nelson, Sally, Tom, Brenda, and Tom. Brenda and Tom are from The South. So it’s very interesting listening to them talk. When it was time to leave, Kevin, Grandma, and Grandpa and I went back J&J’s and did our own thing until we went to our Sleep Huts and retired for the night. So, I’m pullin’ for ya, we’re all in this together.
6-27-09: 3rd Day
Hello everybody. I woke up around 7:10. I am going to try to do the same everyday. Then I moseyed up to the Road kill Café and had bacon and eggs, with grits. I ain’t never had no grits before, but it was plum good eatin. I finished up cutting down the rest of the trees I missed and some new ones. Then Tom and Nelson came out to J&J’s and Jon, Kevin, Tom, Nelson, and I went clamming. Grandma decided to stay home and pull weeds. We arrived a bit early, so the tide wasn’t quite going out yet.
So we walked around and there were bald eagles fighting with pretty big seagulls. Soon enough the tide went out and we went to clamming. Now for those of you who haven’t down this process before, it’s quite simple. Y’all are going to have to follow me on this, you have what looks like a fire extinguisher and the inside was hollow with its base chopped off and without the hose. Then attached to the top was a T handle and on the underside of the handle was a little hole.
When I saw a little dimples in the sand or a hole bubbling; you put the “fire extinguisher” on it and shove it deep into the ground. Then you put your finger over the hole and gravity sucks a bunch of dirt and if you’re lucky, a clam out of the ground. Now I do that once and then real quick like stuck my hand in the hole and grabbed the clam. We did this for about four and half hours and all together caught around 65 and 3/4 clams.
Then we came back to J&J’s and did the cleaning process which consisted of: removing of the shells, cleaning out all the dirt, removing the head, intestine, the No-No special place (private areas) and all that. Then we divided them up to Tom: clam fritters, Jon: clam strips, Nelson: clam chowder and me: any type of clam eater. Then I sat down and resharpened my knife. I made it so sharp; I could circumcise a knat. Then for supper we had salmon and halibut, and then we just chilled and chatted until 8ish and retired to our respected spots. Keep your stick on the ice. Over and out.
6-28-09: 4th Day
Hey how are ya? Today was a busy day. I woke up around 7:11 (mind the pun) and ate apple pancakes and jimmy dean sausage. Mmmmmm. That was good eatin. Then we went to work on our jobs for awhile: Jon, on the new office, Kevin, the ludicrous lodge’s electricity, Nelson, moving gravel from here to there, Grandmamma, cleaning up the kitchen and myself being Jake Bunyan so more.
Then around 11:30, we went down to Kasilof River, where my family and I fished last year and fished for King. Now for me, this was a fishing day from hell. We got there and got all rigged up and ready for some serious fishing and we all spread out from everyone and I cast my line and SPLUNK! It went about 2 and half feet from me and splashed right back up in my face. The line inside the reel was more twisted than your face gets when you eat a lemon. So once I got that all untangled I reeled back in and ALL my eggs were gone. So I trudged back to the bank and slapped some more on there and trudged back out there and cast my line out and waited. Nothing was doin, so I reeled back in and all my eggs were gone. So, I went back to bank and put some more eggs on there and went back out. I cast out and SPLUNK! My line was twisted up worse than the 1st time. So I got that all straightened out and castled again and waited. That was about time when Grandpa caught the biggest fish I have ever seen (a whopping four inches long). So I started to reel back in and my pole was almost jerked out of my hand and I thought, GREAT A FISH!!! Nope my line was snagged on an underwater log. So I spent about 10 minutes getting that undone and when I reeled back in, yep you guessed it, no eggs. So I went and got some and casted out and waited. Then all of a sudden I felt this EXTREMELY cold liquid running in through the backside of my waiter. That’s when I called it a day and went and sat down on the back and observed. Gramps, Grams, and I went back to J&J’s, Nelson and Kevin stayed there a little while longer. When we got back we had lunch and after that I meandered over to Johnson Lake and paddled around in the useless inflatable raft for about 30 minutes. Then I came back to J&J’s found out that Nelson and Kevin didn’t catch anything either. Everybody was doing his or her job so I became my alter ego again, Jake Bunyan. It was so nice and warm I was workin shirtless!! We had a couple rent a spot for two days come by around 6. Then around 6:45, it was suppertime. Now Travis when I see you again, promise not to kill me. Promise? Ok, good. Grandmamma made Beef and Noodles, now for those of you who don’t know what that means, it’s pretty much like The Good Lord came down and made them Himself. They are THAT good. We also had mashed taters, green beans, and bread. Then everybody retreated to their quarters and me and Nelson took a shower (separately of course) and chilled out and then I researched some information about 17 different types of sharks because I am thinking about being a Marine Biologist and specializing in sharks. I watched a few episodes of Band of Brothers and went to a very important meeting of checking out the back of my eyelids, as did everybody else. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” General Dwight D. Eisenhower
6-29-09: 5th Day
Hello everybody. Today was a hard workin day. I woke up around 7:17 and went to the Road kill Café. It was kind of a late morning because; Grandma wasn’t feeling to good so she was sleeping in and so did Grandad for a while. But then Kevin, Nelson, Gramps, and I had eggs, Italian sausage, and bacon. It was absolutely delicious. Then I went to cutting wood for the smoker with a cute little electric chainsaw. I had to cut about a mountain of alder and in the bottom of alder mountain I found some battered old spears made from some lethal warriors (my brothers and I made some last year), I set them aside. I wouldn’t dare cutting them up. Then Grandma woke up and was going to go to town to get groceries and take Nelson back. Grandad was workin on the office, Kevin was pretty much done on the ludicrous lodge’s electricity. I finished up the alder mountain and Grandad and I had a late lunch, Kevin didn’t really eat anything. Grandma came back and we helped her unload groceries and then I assumed my secret identity of Jake Bunyan again. I cut down at least 30 cottonwoods and made two HUGE piles, I will get that tomorrow morning. Then we all kind of relaxed for awhile, Kevin and made a trash run then came back and ate a delicious feast which was ribs, beans with bacon, cottage cheese and tomatoes. Then we ha a couple late customers come by and then we all chatted for a while and retired to our respected nightly reservations. “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” Mark Twain. Over and Out.
6-30-09: 6th Day
Hola Seniors y Senoras Y senoritas. Today was a busy day. I woke up around 7:18. I strolled on over to the Road kill Café and we had the true Cowboy’s favorite meal, biscuits and gravy. Then everybody went to their separate jobs, I had to hack the dead branches off of trees we cut down yesterday, Gramps and Grams were workin of the new office and Kevin was in the lodge, setting up the cable. After I was down hackin off limbs (of the trees obviously) I became Jake Bunyan, Paul Bunyan’s long lost son and finished off most of the cottonwoods that I had to (for now). Then I helped Grandpa in the office setting up little railings for a dropped ceiling. Then we had lunch of awesome leftovers: beef and noodles, mashed taters, and lemonade. After that we all went into town and had to return and get more supplies. We had to return some railings, cord, and doorknobs. We got paint and paintbrushes for guess who (me) to paint the connex (train car used for storage). So that’s what I get to do tomorrow. Then we went to a great pizza place/brewery (where my family and I went last year). I got constant crap because I was bragging that pepperoni was the best and Kevin got brew house pizza, mostly veggies, chicken, and pepperoni, and J&J got Mediterranean. Then we went to get gas and several people almost ran into us. But thank goodness, for my speed of a cat, reflexes of a mongoose, eyes of an eagle, hearing like bat, and smelling power of a dog, I noticed all of the soon-to-be-accidents and changed them to no accidents. On the way home we got stuck behind an elderly lady, who would absolutely stomp on the gas and then eventually what we called “fell asleep” which was just severely slowing down. She repeated this process several times. Once home, Kevin and I went fishing on the Kasilof for Reds, which are basically salmon. This fishing trip went much better than my 1st one fortunately, but we didn’t catch anything. We came back and bid everyone goodnight and retired for the evening. “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt. Over and Out.
7-1-09: 7th Day
Hey there, today we spent the whole day at J&J’s, which is pretty amazing. I woke up around 7:15 and we had bacon, eggs, and grits. Then Grandpa and I put up a new sign that is more visible to the public for Kasilof RV Park. Personally, i think J&J’s Kasilof Kamp N’ Ground is much better, but no one listens to me. Then Grandma and i had to scrape off all the stickers on the Big C (connex) so the paint would go on. While that was in process Grandma chose to stand on a bucket on very unstable ground and all off a sudden i heard a crash and just saw little grandma feeties kicking in the air. Of course, being the loving grandson i am; i IMMEDIATELY stopped working and helped my dear Grandmother up and told to take it easy.
After that i assembled a pressure “worsher” to worsh off the connex so Grandma and i could paint it and that took me awhile because it hadn’t even been taken out of the box yet. After it was all washed, it was time for lunch and we had leftover ribs and halibut.
Then Grandma took to painting the Big C and we painted the entire right side and the front a forest green. It looks pretty good if i don’t say so myself (which i do). That took us all afternoon, then we just relaxed and chatted. For supper, we made Germany proud. We had bratwerst, sour kraut, potatoes, corn, and bread. Then we relxed and chatted for awhile then retired for the evening. “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” Edgar Allen Poe. Over and Out.
7-2-09: 8th day
Hello everyone. Today was a busy day as far as customers go, but we will cover that later. I woke up around 7:15 and we had delicious breakfast burritos, with TONS of the best seasoning in the world, Tobasco Sauce.
Then after that, Grandma and I finished painting the Big C. We concluded that Grandma and I made the most elite painting force, because we painted that thing in two days; when we weren’t falling off buckets and wat not. Then we ate some lunch and finished off the Big C. Then throughout the day, we had the largest rush of customers ever, we had at one time 5 people (but they were all related). But we had at least 12 people come by. I installed two new door knobs in the ludicrious lodge. The knobs were for the cash register/storage room and the other was for the back door. Then i spread some gravel along the side of the Roadkill Cafe and made it look nice and purty. Then I made a HUGE, MASSIVE, and QUITE LARGE trash run and went to the post office, my office. Haha just kidding, the mailing place to drop some mail and pick up whatever mail was in the P.O. Box. Then i came back and we just relaxed until supper was ready, but in the meantime, we were sitting there and Gramps starting making fun of my pretzels; and doesn’t fly because pretzels are the best thing ever. So without hesitation I took a pretzel and lobbed it at him. LOBBED: a hard throw. It struck him in the shoulder and then without hesitation he took his a peanut and chucked one at me. CHUCKED: a quick and hard throw. But thanks to my speed of a cat and reflexes of a mongoose i blocked it. But then he took a handful of pretzels and launched em at me. The force of the combined extra salty pretzels knocked me over, because i was trying to block them all and i was on a white plastic lawn chair so i fell backwards, so I ended up on my but. But then the war was over and supper was ready and we had, sweet potatoes, Kevin and I had regular potatoes. We also had porkchops, ribs, salad, and lemonade. Then I helped Gramps with all the paperwork of all the customers and all the numbers to make sure it all added up to the right amount of $. Then everyone bid each other G’night and I directed a few people to the showers, then I watched an episode of Lonesome Dove and hit the sack. “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.” Abraham Lincoln. Over and out.
7-3-09: 9th day
Greetings and salutations, today was a busy day also. I woke up around 7:15. Kevin went fishin’ early this morning and left a note entailed, “Gone fishin’ instead of justa wishin”. So everybody kind of made their own breakfast, I had honey bunches of oats. We haven’t seen any moose for at least five days because our campground is full. Once everyone leaves, they will come around again .Then we started the old ford (our work truck). It’s new name Sergeant Brown, or Sarge for short. We put some shelves in it and put them in the soon to be office to hang merchandise off of. Then i went to picking up/chopping off dead limbs of the trees we cut down and throwing them down into the tree pile. I’ve increased the pile by at least 8000% since, I’ve been Jake Bunyan mostly every day. Then after that it was around lunch time and we had DELICIOUS salmon salad. Then Kevin went to lay down, and Grandpa was workin’ on the office and I was staining the wood outside the office. Then around 5 o’clock we went to the Elk’s Club to meet Tom, Sally, Nelson, and Carolina Tom and Brenda. Then we went to the Kenai airport and picked up my mom and went the Kasilof inlet to look at all the Dip Netters which means people have oversized fishing nets and they wade out into the ocean and get a net full and drag i it back out. Then we came back to J&J’s and we just chilled and talked, Kevin did a MASSIVE load of laundry. Then i took a good 12 minute run and then everyone retired for the evening and now I am sharing the luducrious lodge with my dear mother. I am learning all sorts of stuff. “Experience is the teacher of all things.” Julius Caeser. Over and Out.
7-4-09: 10th Day
Happy Fourth everybody! Well since I had my mom in the lodge I woke her up in the morning and then went to the Roadkill Cafe and I learned how to make french toast and I fried some bacon.
Then my mom and I went to finishing staining the front back side of the office and it’s little porch. Then we started painting the side of the office and then it started to get so hot, I took my shirt off again. Then the trash was getting really full, so my mom and I made a trash run and went to the My Office (post office) and to get some ice. Well along the way to the post office, my mom spotted a pair of moose that were almost yearlings and she started screaming and jumping around hysterically,”LOOK!!!! THERE’S A MOOSE, THERE’S TWO MOOSE!! Oh Jake can you stop?” Meanwhile, it’s rush hour times 175 on the highway we are on and she wants me to stop, YA RIGHT. So I turned around and parked on a side road and she walked down to about where they were and got some pictures. She was extremely happy. Then I helped Grandma urathanyn some boards going inside the office. Then it was about lunch time and we had salmon salad on bread again. It was amazingly delicious. Then we went back to work staining, working on the office, and urathayning. Then I became Jake Bunyan, with the help of Mom Bunyan and Grandma Bunyan and we cleared some more cottonwoods and pine trees. Then around 1:30, Tom and Sally came out for the Clam feast, then Big Tom, Brenda, and Nelson came also. This was the best dinner I’ve had in a long time. We had clam strips, clam chowder, clam fritters, potato salad, corn on the cob (courtesy of Big Tom and Brenda, because when they mentioned it and i jumped right up, I LOVE CORN!!!) So, they brought about 15 cobs, I had five of them. Then we all sat down and chatted about all different kind of subjects and Brenda and I determined that I am going down to North Carolina for awhile. So then when everyone left, I took a good 17:30 run and then everyone retired to their spots. “Patriotism is easy to understand in America. It means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country.” Calvin Coolidge. Over and Out.
7-5-09: 11th day
Hey everybody, This morning Kevin, my mom, and I went fishing on the kasilof river for Reds. Unfortunately we didn’t catch any, but we saw an eagle and of course, it’s Alaska so the scenery was amazing.
Today was a very productive day for my mother. She organized the office/gift shop and it looks very good. So Grandad worked on cutting boards for the window frames, which I helped cut. Then i got the pressure worsher and washed up the truck and the van, they were absolutely FILTHY!! That took me about all day, besides my mom and I made another trash run and she was watching very hard for moose, but she didn’t see any (thank goodness). So when we came back it was lunch time and we had clam leftovers and corn and all sorts of goodies. Then I helped Kevin unhook a signal amplifier for the antenna on the roof for TV channels, but we still didn’t get any signals. Then i helped hold up a couple heavy shelves. About 4:55 on the dot Grandma and Grandpa both agreed it was TNT time (tangeray and tonic, a J&J classic and favorite). Then we just relaxed until the most delicious supper was made. We had steak (medium rare, I now prefer rare, but that’s just fine), grilled veggies, shrimp and bread. Then i took a 20:00 run and eventually everyone went to their sleeping quarters. “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the true value of life.” Charles Darwin. Over and out.
7-6-09: 12th and final day 🙁
Hello to everyone, today was a slow day, because it was my last day in the Great Wilderness unfortunately. But I had to go back to the real world. You see I have a job and I have to take care of my wife and three kids, pay the bills and all that. But today I woke up later around 7:30 and we went and had biscuts and gravy again, and I ain’t complain’. Then Kevin, Grandad and I went into town to get supplies and I got a kershaw knife that was on sale and it’s kind of like a switch blade, it’s all black and way cool. Then we had to refill the pigs because they were empty (mini kegs shaped liked pigs) and that was an emergency. Then we came back and unloaded all the stuff and it was lunch time, we had salmon salad again, which was delicious. Then my mom and I went out onto Johnson lake and paddled around for awhile. Then my mom and I went on ANOTHER trash run and we didn’t see any moose (thank the Good Lord), get ice, and check the fish count in the Kasilof River. They have a radar and they post daily how many fish have came in. Then i helped Grandad put up some shelves in the new office/gift shop and then I fertilized all of Grandma’s plants. “TNT Time!!” Gramps shouted and so ended the work day. We sat around and chatted and then we had a great supper of smoked ham, beans, and corn. It was so good. Then Kevin and my mom went fishing, I stayed because I had to pack desperately and then they came back around 10:05, she caught a a fish about four inches long, and saw another moose, good for her; and then everyone retired to their sleeping huts. It’s been a pleasure filling you all in during my stay and I hope you enjoyed reading it. I’m not quite sure who will complete the Saga, but you will soon find out. Since this is my last journal entry I’ll leave you with three quotes. “Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.” General George S. Patton. “Civilization is the limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.” Mark Twain. “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” C.S. Lewis. Over and Out.
Hope you enjoyed this as much as we did! Jake and Debbie left on the 6th and Paul arrived on the 11th of July. Grand Nephew Ryan came the 12th and the rest of the Post boys, Jerod and Jordan plus friend, Britt arrived late the night of the 12th driving the Amazing Grace and pulling a trailer full of Goodies ( but that’s another story for later).
Sorry that it has taken me so long to update this, but as you will see in the next few weeks, this has been a very, very busy summer! I also appologize to those who have made comments that I haven’t returned; however, I have had very little time this summer to sit behind the computer and it was used answering e-mail requests for reservations and recording bills.
My last posting was photos of our Grandson Travis Andregg’s visit. I want to start off with a diary that Travis wrote while he was here. I think you will enjoy this as much as we did when we read it. I have added a few photos to the words that he wrote where they fit. He also put in a few photos in the later sections although I don’t have access to them.
The Great White Northern Exposure
Day 1 Left kci late because they had to do “unscheduled” maintenance on the plane. Then about a two hour flight to Denver, only had to wait for half an hour to board onto our flight to Anchorage. That five hour flight had a cute baby in front of me, a creepy lady next to me (not grandma), a dog behind me, and I had a dead lap top. We got into Alaska at 11 pm and it was still light out side. We then had a cab come get us and they took us to the Days Inn. Hit the sheets and passed out quick. There were not many sky scrapers in the city, maybe only five or so buildings over 20 stories. An observation that I made was that the buildings were either hotels or petro owned (bp and Conoco Phillips, there was even a highway ‘adopted’ by Chevron, ¿irony?).
Day 2 Woke up at 6 am, self willing, it felt like 10 or 11. After we got the truck from storage we noticed that it had a lot of ash on it, all from the resent volcano eruptions. We left the inn and ate breakfast at a rude Country Kitchen. Off to run errands at various places, mostly to figure out that most places don’t open till 10. Best Buy, Sports Outfitters, Wal-Mart and Costco are all on the list to stop at. I realized that Cosco is a mecca of reduced prices and price saving peoples, I saw a 300 dollar bottle of wine and a complete liquor store inside this Alaskan store. A lot of people in Alaska have tattoos and many also wear shirts that support the state of Alaska (just an observation that I made, its kinda crazy).
The three and a half hour trip south west to Kasilof from Anchorage was the most beautiful, scenic drive I have ever been on. Mountains on one side and the Cook Inlet on the other. The inlet was a muddy, sandy mess the tide fluctuates every 6 hours. The roads from Anchorage to Kasilof went in intervals of bad and good (or old and new). The roads do not last very long at all because people are allowed to use studded tires and chains until May 1st. The metal on the tires chews up the road and wollers out the road
where the tires ride. These divots fill up with water and people hydroplane on it, in the winter the water sometimes freezes and you get two rows of ice in each lane. For dinner we ate at a brewery called St. Elias. They had great pizza and it was a sweet building. The décor on the inside was really cool, they had old stained glass windows hanging from the ceiling. We got to the lodge around 7 and went to sleep early.
I have no sense of time at all, I woke up at 6 again today for no reason. We started working early on the water lines. All of them were winterized (filled up with anti freeze) so we had to pump them clean. That took most of the day. They put in 64 gallons in last winter but we were only able to save 22 gallons after we pumped it all out. We now have electricity everywhere and the water is clean, for the most part. Hopefully will have all of our utilities by tomorrow. We also finished unloading the truck today and put everything in its place.
Dad’s camper is pretty sweet and has got a lot of potential. I found a sweet belt buckle and there is a really nice face plate in it. I hope I can clean it up good so I can move out to it soon.
I saw a moose and followed it for a while getting a lot of good pictures and also getting my feet very wet. I am seeing a lot of wildlife but haven’t been able to explore much yet.
Dinner was delicious. If some one dropped me off here and told me that I was in Colorado I would totally believe them. They have very similar scenery.
I am not tired at all and they just went to sleep (it’s 9), what to do?
Day 4 Thursday May 21, 2009 Woke up round 8, ate breakfast and started laboring. We have people coming out here to stay for Memorial Day weekend. Five tents are camping out and they all belong to one wedding party. Because we have a lot of people coming to rent out slots we have to clean the place up. The previous owners had not done much up-keep in the last two to three years so much of the park is getting over grown with cottonwood trees, wild rose bushes, fire weed, alder trees, and such. So we spent today cleaning up some of the camping spots that will be use this weekend. We worked till about 2 and then headed into Soldotna, which is the closest town (about 25 min away). In town we took care of some business, went to Fred Meyer’s to get some more grub, hit up the post office, and we also visited Jon’s sister, Sally, and her husband Tom. There is a halibut fishing trip planned for June 1st.
The weather today was nice today and has been about the same every day so far. It is low 40’s in the morning and at night, the high usually gets to mid to high 50’s. It sprinkled for about 10 min tonight after dinner but it wasn’t even too cloudy. It was really weird saying goodnight tonight because it is still bright as day out.
There are a lot of people that we are expecting to come in today so we are again cleaning up the park today. Cutting down more trees and picking up around the lodge, organizing everything so it looks presentable. Every day at 6 pm it is going to be my job to get all of the trash together, put it in the truck and take it up to the Solid Waste Station which is about five minutes away. It is just four giant dumpsters that the whole city puts their garbage in. I have to do this wonderful job to keep the bears away, they are attracted to the trash, and we don’t want them to be here. There is a sign at the station that says to honk your horn loudly if you see any bears around.
There is an unfinished portion of the lodge that we are going to complete while I am here. We installed three doors today, mostly just to keep people out of our junk. I also put together a brand new grill, hopefully it will get a lot of use this summer. The weather was about the same today. There are tons of misquotes here.
Delicious biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Then all morning I took elder trees, that were already cut down, and chain-sawed them into four to six inch pieces. Small enough to fit into the smoker because I guess that they have a good taste. I hung up two flags out side on the posts, the American flag and the Alaskan flag (which is pretty dumb, it’s only the big dipper on a flag). After I got tired of doing that I started to cut down more cottonwoods around the front entrance. I also got the work truck running. It is a ’83 F-250 lariat, a pretty sweet looking truck. There are five groups that are stating here tonight. The people that are supposed to fix the internet told us they were going to be here on Thursday, but it is Saturday night and we still got nothing. That means we won’t have anything till maybe Tuesday because of the holiday weekend. Oh yeah, every night before I go to sleep I lock the back door to the lodge that leads into the bathrooms and the showers that the campers use. That happens at 10 pm, on this lovely night there was a guy that came in to use the bathroom at 9:50ish, this guy was sitting on the can until 11:45! So I started talking to him while he was in there, and he told me that he had diarrhea cyphicalacus (I don’t know the exact pronunciation because I was laughing to loud) so that’s why he was there so long. You think his legs would fall asleep and die from sitting like that for almost two stinkin hours (pun intended).
Today is Sunday so I didn’t have to work on any thing for very long. After breakfast I tried to install the internet, again. And again had no success, so they are going to fix it all on Tuesday. Grandma and Jon went into town for a couple of hours after lunch so I decided to go fishing. I got my fishing license yesterday and a 14 day out of state license was 80 bones, that is ridiculous considering a year license in KS is only 20ish. In Kansas I also catch fish. For the two hours I was fishing at the lake across the road I caught zero fish, many bites but reeled in none. A little girl (maybe 4) started fishing next to me and within five minutes she caught her first fish ever, this is when I left.
Dad wanted a RV the last time he was up but didn’t have one. So he had grandma search for one so he would have one the next time he came up. He hasn’t seen it but it is pretty nice, it just needs a little TLC before its livable. I started cleaning it today so I can move out of the lodge and into “the toga” (I just named it dad). It still needs a propane hook up, the anti-freeze drained and the fresh water tank filled. The guy with the diarrhea handicap headed to the bathroom at 9pm today but thankfully it only took him 20min today. I still have no sense of time because going to sleep it was still bright out and 50 degrees.
I kind of woke up upset this morning because I realized that I haven’t meet any hot Eskimo chicks yet, not even seen any yet. Although I don’t know if they will be too attracted to me with my grizzly beard I have got growing.
After breakfast we gathered all of our gear together to go clamming. We drove about 45 minutes to Ninilchik Beach were the clams were waiting for us. When we got to the place it was packed with hundreds of people, the tide is the lowest it is going to be in the next month and this is the best time to go.Clamming was pretty fun, I had never done it before but it was worth it. You look around on the beach for a little dimple in the sand, grab your clam gun and start diggin; about a foot down there is (usually) a clam. After we got back from the beach we started cleaning all of the clams, 37 total. We cut up all the meat and bagged it, we are going to have clam chowder one night and fried clam strips another night for dinner.
On the way back home from clamming we stopped at Jon’s cousin’s house and visited with her and her husband.
They had a nice house that had a beautiful view. About 50 foot from their back door was a cliff, at the bottom of that there was a beach, then the Cook Inlet and after that was Mt. Redoubt. That mountain is an active volcano that has only been steaming while I have been here, but was erupting last month.
Today was SO exciting, ha. For the last couple of days we have been making lists of things we need to do in town(s). Being in this rural setting there are series of small towns everywhere, so when it is time to run errands you have to go from town to town to hit up different stores in each town. We started out on the road at 9 o’clock and didn’t get back home until 6; it was a full work day of shopping. It was torture. We went to the hardware store, state farm, the bank, the license plate place, the fire station (to get a burn license that we can’t even use because it’s to dry out), ACS (the Internet place to get all that resolved, but it’s still not working), a good pizza place for lunch, Jon’s previous property, the grocery store, Lowes, Homedepot, the place were we bought the tent we tried to set up yesterday to get the parts they didn’t give us, and we ended the wonderful day looking at thousands of flowers at a nursery. For most of the morning Grandma and Jon were taking care of things that had to do with their business, so I was sitting in the car for most of the day. We finally got home and then tried to set up the internet with our new supplies, and again failed. Mortality is high.
This morning we worked on the internet, again, for two hours and customer support on the phone this time. We got no where because it still not working, but we finally got them to say they are sending a technician out here in the next 48 hours. I doubt it though, so we will see what happens with that. It was pretty cold today, only high of 45ish, it was overcast and rained all day. Since we didn’t want to work outside in the rain I organized and cleaned up the workshop all day. We stopped working early and I watched TV for the first time in a while, we only get one channel though (CBS). Pork chops for dinner!
It rained all day today since yesterday afternoon, so again we worked inside all day. I basically stayed in side the office all day and organized like crazy. Every thing that was out in the open was shoved into the office when we first got here. When the old owners sold the place they pretty much left everything here that they had. They were not the most organized people, and they were also pack rats so anything that you can think of was crammed into the office. I had to clear it all out because we are changing it into a guest bedroom. We are then building a new office on the existing front porch, which is pretty big. Some water-head from ACS (Alaskan Communication Systems, aka our internet) came out to our place and told us nothing that we already know. He worked on it for about two hours and then told us that he didn’t know what was wrong and that he is getting another tech to come out later today or tomorrow, ha. We did have some clam chowder and homemade dill bread for dinner and it was scrumptious.
Day 12 Friday May 29th, 2009
I had a breakfast that I never had before, but it was awesome. We ate cheesy grits with eggs in it and spicy sausage, it was kind of wired but tasted great. We then measured out were we are going to build in the new office on the porch. And then we started to tare off the existing siding (a 16 foot section). After that was over grandma forced me to help her plant the new flowers. At 2:30 we headed in to Soldotna to go to the Home depot. We are getting a big truckload of supplies for additions that are going to happen around here. So today we are just picking up all of the small items on the three paged list. Jon and I spent two and a half hours walking up and down the isles. He set up a business account and when you do that you get a free $200 tool, so he is getting a sweet pressure washer. After our Home depot shopping spree we meet Sally and Tom at the local Elks Club. We had a great prime rib dinner but the best part was that they had TV and Internet! I actually got to watch a playoff game, the Lakers beat Denver to win that series. I am missing all of the playoff games being here but if the finals make it to game seven I’ll be able to watch it the night I get back. When we got back home we noticed that no one had came to fix the Internet while we were gone!
Day 13 Sat. May 30th, 2009
Working this morning I did one of my favorite things ever, played with fire! Lately it has been raining so the burning ban has been lifted. I was using a big blow torch attached to a 20 lb tank. It was awesome. We went from patch to patch torching it all. One person followed me with a water hose and the other with the rake; we did switch off from time to time. Jon almost caught a whole tree on fire but luckily I was on hose duty (I said duty). After lunch it started raining again, but we continued to burn until the grass started to get too wet. When we were done with that I continued to clean the work shop until dinner. For dinner Jon and I used some peanut oil and made some fried clam strips. We also had some home made dill bread. The fruits of our labor were scrumptious. Driving on the roads around here I have noticed that there are ATV tracks on both tides of the road. They are on just about every road that I have seen and the tracks usually last for miles. When I first saw it I though it was the most bizarre thing ever. They ride next to the roads because it is the only clear paths that they have, the forests up here are way too dense for anyone to maneuver through. I have been seeing a lot of wildlife everyday, mostly moose and thousands of mosquitoes.
Day 14 Sunday
It rained again all night and most of the morning so we worked inside again, in the lodge this time. Grandma potted more flowers on the porch while Jon and I started to work on some cabinets. We took an existing cabinet and dismantled it then flipped it around cut out new holes and put it all back together. It was kinda difficult because the previous builder used liquid nail, and we were trying to save the peaces so I couldn’t do any major destruction to it taking it apart. We put in a sink and a fridge into the cabinets, but didn’t have the right plumbing to hook up the sink so we will have to finish it later. Our second project of the day was painting. Last summer new walls were put up (making two more bedrooms) and spackling was put on in the lodge but it was never painted. We were going to take a paint gun and just spray the wall but with our luck the gun didn’t work. So we took out the rollers and brushes and got to work. We finished the walls in the main room with two coats of paint (white, boring). There are still the bedroom walls and the lights to put up. We also hung up some decorations like snow shoes and a caribou hide. I got to go to sleep early tonight because my alarm is set for 5:50 am.
Monday June 1, 2009 Ahhh, what a great month June is. We woke up so early this morning because there are fish to be had. The three of us, Bob, and Tom went with Capitan Don (a family friend, with a boat) halibut fishing. We got to the marina around 8, but it was no marina I have ever seen. Because the tide up here varies so much there are no docks, so there are giant tractors. After you pull up at the beach you unhook the trailer and go park your truck, you get everything inside the boat and radio in a tractor; they hook up to you and push you in the ocean. It was a cool set up, and being in salt water the tractors were giant rust buckets.
After we got in the water we first started to fish for King Salmon. We did that for a couple of hours and I was the only one to catch one. It put up a good fight, but I won, it was 15 to 20lb. I miss Clinton from just being on that boat.
So we then headed out to sea about eight miles more, switched rods, and started to fish for halibut. We were there till about 3 o’clock and it was a blast. We probably caught around 50 fish out there, but the law is only two halibut per person. There were six people so we came back with 12 halibut. We also caught a star flounder, two cod, and grandma reeled in an (estimated) 180lb stingray.
We cut the sting ray loose but it was giant, about a five foot wing span, and a crazy design on its back. I saw lots of wild life while we were out there including two different types of whales, eagles galore, an otter with a baby sitting on its belly, moose, puffin penguins and Bob’s butt crack. On our way back we just called in that we were close to land and they meet you at the beach with your trailer. We got back to Capitan Don’s house and cut up the fish, there were 120 pounds of halibut fillets that we got. So the three of us went home with 60 lb of fish. It was a great trip. On the way back home we stopped and ate at Jersey Subs were you can get “10 to 20 inches of pure satisfaction”. It is a small chain of sub shops around here that have great sandwiches. We went to the original one that is made out of an old bus and the other part is a shack that is conjoined together. I guess it is a popular place around here, but it was pretty cool.
There was a guy who came and worked on the internet while we were gone fishing, but it still doesn’t work. Today was a good day.
Day 16 June 2 Travismas Happy Birthday to me! Today I woke up 20. Had a good breakfast and then started to work. We didn’t work too much though, just took care of all the fish. We had a smooth assembly line going to package the fish. They have a food saver that vacuum seals food into freezer bags so we used that a lot. Jon would clean and cut the filets into smaller pieces, I would bag the pieces and then grandma would vacuum seal them. We started around 10 o’clock and didn’t stop till 3, then Capitan Don and his wife came over to chat for a bit so we never really ate lunch. Right after they left a guy from ACS came over; WE NOW HAVE INTERNET, about time though.
I then showered up and we headed into town for an early b-day dinner. We ran some errands first then went to Buckets Sports Bar to grub on some dinner. I had prime rib bites in spicy blueberry sauce, it was great. On the way into town we saw a moose and also on the way back home we saw one with a baby calf.
Day 17 June 3, 2009
Biscuits and gravy for breakfast today. We started working in the lodge this morning. We just cleaned up all of the plastic, tape and everything from painting in the big room from a couple of days ago. Then we prepped two of the other bedrooms so they are ready to be painted. The old office room is now a bedroom and we got that all painted today.
Grandma and I went into town to get the mail and to take the trash to the dump. It was a pretty clear day so you could see Mt. Rebout (the volcano) well. Jon told us about a road to check out that leads to the beach across the inlet from the volcano. We went down to the sandy beach and it was a beautiful, clear view of the mountain. There was a cool looking old house that was by the beach. It was pretty much run down and nobody was living in it but it was built in 1890. We think that the siding was made out of old flattened out tin cans. After we got pictures of that we left, with no problem.
Day 18 June 4, 2008 After breakfast Grandma and I loaded up the truck and headed into town to run some errands. We unloaded a couch and a box of stuff at Sally’s friend’s house. They are having a garage sale in a couple of days, so we figured that it was good place to get rid of some things that were in our way at the lodge. We then went to the propane shop to fill up a one hundred pound tank and three twenty pounders. Then after that we went to Napa to get a new battery for the ford pick-up. The last stop was at the bank so when grandma went in I just sat in the truck and eventually fell asleep, because it took for ever! I have been noticing that many cars up here have nice rims, with no regard to the condition of the car. A lot of cars also have additional (aftermarket) headlights; I am guessing it is for the winter when there is only five hours of light per day. We got back home and I got the battery in the truck and then ate lunch.
After we ate the Homedepot delivery man came so we started to help him. We unstrapped the cargo and he got a three wheeled fork lift down, it was the coolest fork lift I have ever seen, the forks could move in eight different positions. I didn’t really do any work unloading the truck; we just watch watched the guy do all the work, so that was nice. It was raining throughout most of the afternoon, so we did not feel like putting all the wood away after the truck driver left. I then went out to The Toga (rv) and started to clean it up. Wiped everything down on the inside because it was pretty dusty on the inside. I vacuumed up the carpet which could almost be considered shag (just a little short of shag). I also connected the propane tank and tried to get the heater running but it was giving me some trouble so Jon will have to help me with it tomorrow.
Day 19 Friday June 5th For breakfast we had scrambled eggs with clams, it was different but was still tasty. We checked out the heater in the rv and are pretty sure that it is broke or something. So some camper genie is coming to check it out and make it work. Today we are getting a delivery of a empty shipping container (a conex). It is coming down from Anchorage and will be here around lunch time. So Jon and I had two get two ten foot 6×6 and get them square and level in the ground for the container to set on.
After lunch (soup and homemade bread) the conex driver got here. It was a pretty sweet rig that he had. The back tiers on his trailer were on a giant piston that moved them in and out. The fifth wheel also pivoted up and down so he put the back end of the trailer down and then brought the back wheels in to dump the box. It was slick. After the driver left we decided that we wanted to scoot the front, north corner over about three feet. So we took the ford 4×4, hooked a chain between and pulled. I was surprised that it moved so easily, considering that it is 8,000 pounds. After all that we took down some more cottonwood trees on the back row of parking spots. We then got ready to go into town. We stopped at Lowes, at the bank again (no nap this time), and the grocery store. And because it is Friday we went to the Elks Club for a prime rib dinner. It was once again, delicious. When I was introduced to some one there I told them I was from Kansas and it was inevitable but they made a reference to Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. For some reason I get that a lot when I am traveling, even once in Canada when someone said ‘hey, where’s Todo’ ha ha not funny. I don’t even like that movie.
Day 20 Sat. June 7th, 2009 This morning after breakfast grandma and I painted another room so we now only have one room left. It is the room I am staying in and we don’t want to paint it till I move out to the rv. After we cleaned up from that I started to help Jon on the front porch. We put down two layers of plastic and then stapled them down. Then cut pieces of plywood and put them down so now we will be ready to lay a frame.
We then ate salad salmon sandwiches for lunch then got ready to go fishing. Locked up the doors, left a ‘gone fishing’ sign and headed down to the Kasilof River. We went to the river were Crooked Creek meets the Kasilof. Crooked Creek runs behind their property here and it is kind of a brown color due to the mud. The Kasilof is light blueish green with a grey tent due to the fine gravel up on the mountains. It is very pretty when the two rivers join because the river is two different colors. Too bad there were no fish in the river though. We spent about three hours there with hundreds of other idiots who also caught nothing. We saw one guy with a fish and that was it, even the boats that were passing us got nothing. My right hip-high boot started to leak immediately and my left one started to fill up with water shortly after. So standing for three hours, with both feet wet, and no fish was unfortunate but was worth it (mostly because I didn’t have to work). There has been quite a bit of people staying here the last couple of nights. We have had five groups here the last two nights and four here tonight, including one group from Australia. It was a beautiful day today, the high was 67 and it was clear skies the whole day.
Day 21 We ate breakfast then jumped into the car and headed to the river again to go fishing. There were not nearly as many people as there were yesterday, so we were only a few of the idiots there today. Yesterday I had two bites, today I had none. I got a snag just about every time I cast the line. I’ll have to try my luck back at the lake. After we returned, around 12, we ate lunch and then started to work. I started by belt sanding a whole bunch of door frames that grandma then varnished. Then we moved the smoker over beside the conex and fired it up. Some salmon jerky that has been marinating for a couple of days was then put into that, and will be smoked for 24 hours. The elder wood chunks that I cut up are what we will use to smoke. I was going to weed-eat for a while but I broke it when I was pull-starting it. I pulled the string out, just don’t tell Jon I did it on purpose (ha ha) because I hate weed-eating. It’s even worse than vacuuming.
I then went for a short hike. I went down the hill on the back side of the property and walked down to Crooked Creek. On the hill side it was very wooded, mostly pine trees, and there were many trees that had fallen on the ground. Once down off the hill there were few trees and it was mostly marshy till the creek, which is more like a stream. I then followed it up stream, north, for a while before I headed back up the hill to the house.
I took the trash to the dump then we cleaned up from the days work and headed into the house to chow. Jon had some shrimp on the barbie and they were delicious. Crash time.
Day 22 Monday June 8, 2009 This morning we started to work more on the office and did so all day. Jon and I got the whole frame done. Got a window in and I cut out, and pieced together foam board on the outer frame. It wouldn’t seem like it would but that took most of the day. Before lunch I took the jerky out of the smoker, it is very done. A little black and crispy but I’ll still eat it. After lunch I did all of my laundry because my room was starting to smell. That was boring. Yesterday while I was driving I saw a busted old snowmobile in the ditch that I hadn’t seen there before. I am thinking ‘how did that get there?’ It is kinda out of place, being a snowmobile usually needs snow to be mobile. A fellow came to fix the heater but instead he said we needed a new one, which would run us $600 to $900. So I don’t have a heater. The exhaust was broke and instead of going outside it would of leaked inside. Good thing I didn’t move out there yet eh?
Day 23 This morning grandma and I cut and put up the door frame boards that we stained the other day. We framed three doors inside the lodge and they look very nice, professional. I also cut and hung some ceiling boards for outside of the office. After lunch I showered up, which I haven’t been doing much lately, then Jon and I headed into town. We went to Radio Shack, Three Bear, he got a hair cut (didn’t take long), then Homedepot. We spent the most at Homedepot and I bet I made five laps around that place just looking for Jon. We then went to eat at Buckets sports grille, mostly because Game 3 of the playoffs is on at 5. We ate dinner, a great chicken sandwich, and then left at half time. Jon has a meeting at The Elks Lodge, so I followed him there to watch the rest of the game.
After I ate breakfast we started working on the office again. Today Jon finished up all of the electrical work in the office, while grandma finished up the inside painting, and I started the siding on front of the office. The boards that we took of the front of the lodge before we started the office is what we used. I had to measure, cut and trim each board and then hang it. I got the front done and started the south side, but that took up most of the day.
The weather was pretty crummy today, about the opposite of yesterday. It was cold and overcast all day.
Day 26 Friday June 12, 2009 After breakfast we once again started working on the office. I finished the siding on the south side and then Jon and I started to put up drywall on the inside of the office. We didn’t get much done on it though. We only worked till lunch time then cleaned all of our mess up. I headed in to take a shower and then we left for town. We went to Home depot to pick up some insulation, then to the lumber yard to pick up some 14 footers, and then we went to the Elks Club for dinner. But this time we didn’t just eat there Jon kindly volunteered us to help with the food. I just stood around for the longest time, but then I started running plates out to the tables. Grandma and Jon fixed up the plates as the cooks got done with the food. No prime rib for me tonight. We ate at the end of the night when almost every one was gone, but I still got stake. I saw the first cop car I have seen the whole time I have been up here, except for the drive down here from Anchorage. It was an ugly cop car too, an Intrepid. I made a life goal today, sometime I want to buy an old light house. Fix it up and live in it for a long time. Preferably it would be on a coast somewhere, not in Kansas.
Day 27 After breakfast we started working on . . . the office. I took the two 16 foot boards and ripped both of them into seven smaller pieces. I then hung them two finish all of the outer frames on the office. We still have the siding left to do on the north side of the office. Jon did most of the work but I helped a little and we got the dry wall done on the inside. The weather was pretty nice today, about mid sixties and clear. We stopped working around 4 because some company came over. It was aunt Sally, uncle Tom and their son Nelson whom I hadn’t meet before. We chatted for a while then chowed. Dinner was pretty good, burgers and brats on the grill with potato salad and what not. They are going to be watching over the RV park while we are gone until Grandma and Jon return from Kansas.
We have been seeing tons of moose lately. There was one that walked right by us when we were at the dinner table. I just looked up and it was standing about four foot from the window. And another time today we were grilling in the outside kitchen and a moose ran right by us.
Day 28 Sunday June 14th Today we finished working on the office, or at least as much as we are going to while I am here. We got to a good stopping point so we decided that it was enough for now. All of the inner dry wall is done and so is the outside siding. To finish it all that needs to happen is the walls need putty and paint and the floor needs carpet and tile. The desk that was in the old old office is nice but it was to big for the feng shui of the new office to it got cut up. The desk was chopped in half to accommodate the smaller office space. After the real work was done we took all of the tools and put them in the work shop, put the big things in the conex, swept and cleaned the porch so the office now actually looks like it belongs there! Jon told me something crazy the other day. Because moose are like gods up here people do not like when they die. Dogs are considered a threat to moose and mostly the calf, so by law dogs should be on a leash at all times. It is legal and encouraged to shoot and kill a dog if they are seen running loose because they attack moose. Bizzare huh? Dinner was awesome tonight. We had grilled veggies and crab legs. I have only have had crab a couple of time before but this was by far the best.
Day 29 Monday June 15th I slept horrible last night, don’t know why though woke up like six different times. Oh well, we had waffles and eggs for breakfast. After we ate, I am proud to say that we didn’t work on the office. The office is done, for now. So we just did little odds and ends around the place. We rolled up the side curtains on the screened-in kitchen. We fixed some pullies and ropes to the bottoms of the curtains so now they are easier to roll up. After that I just took down some big cottonwood trees next to the park model. Around 3 o’clock we left to go on a hour and a half drive up the Keni river to fish for some Russian red salmon. It was a beautiful drive, at least the part that I saw because I fell asleep for most of it. There was light rain for the first half hour we were there, and I didn’t bring any rain gear, but oh well we were fishing.
This was was no ordinary fishing though it was combat fishing. When we pulled up to the parking lot I was amazed by how many people we there. People side by side about five foot apart as far as I could see up and down the river. I guess the best fishing is on the opposite side of the river (were there are no roads) so you have to load all of our stuff onto a ferry that takes you across the river. The ferry has no engine, it has a steering wheel and it’s connected to cable that ran from beach to beach. The boat ran with the current of the river. Once on the ‘good’ side of the river we walked until we could find a spot to squeeze into. You walk out with waiters on and throw your line out, not even cast, you pull in and repeat until you get a fish. We got the end of the first run of reds this season. Jon and I both caught our limit of three, but reeled in many more. The law is that you only can keep the fish that you hook in the mouth, the fish that you snag need to be returned to the river. You also have to gut the fish there and the guts also go back into the river. You stand so close to other people that it is a wonder that I didn’t hook any one, I did get tangles in other peoples lines about six times or so. There was thousands of fish that were in the river in front of us so there were many that jumped out of the water. At one point there was a old guy to the left of me that was also trying to fish. We saw a fish start jumping about twenty feet out and started heading our way then bamm it jumped out and hit this old guy rite in the stomach knocking him back, it was hilarious. Another time a girl was reeling a fish in and when she had it close it jumped up, slapped her in the face and then spit the hook.
Our backs were facing the forest and across the river is the parking lot and highway. Anyway we saw a bear, a couple of different times coming out of the woods to eat some fish. When the bear would come out everyone would yell ‘bear’ and people in that area would drop all of their stuff and get out of the way until the bear would leave. The bear caught its own fish but once it took a fish off of some guys stringer. When you catch a fish you have to set the hook and yell ‘fish on’ so people around you know to get out of the way. You set the hook then start backing up toward land so you can beach the fish before they spit the hook or the hook rips out of their mouth.So another old guy that was next to me had a fish on and was backing up, he didn’t look were he was walking and fell over in some deep water and was covered in water. No one that he was with came over to help him up so I walked over to help him but he was more concerned about his fish so he handed me his pole. I still had my pole in my hand though, but I somehow managed to get the fish in and still be holding both poles. This old man must have been freezing although he wasn’t showing it. It was already cold out, with no sun and it was windy plus he was soaking wet from the cold river water. We started fishing around five o’clock and didn’t quit until a bit before 10 pm. It was a lot of fishing. We stopped at a burger joint on our way home for dinner. We got to the lodge, put the fish on ice and then passed out quick.
Day Thirty Tuesday June 16th This morning after breakfast Jon and I headed out to the fish table. We had both caught our limit so there was six fish to cut up. We cleaned them and then cut them into smaller portions. After we cleaned the table off we took the pieces into the kitchen and took the vacuum packer out. Grandma and I packed all of it and we got 13 bags of red salmon. We threw that into the deep freeze to get it ready for tomorrow. When we were done with the fish we got in the salmon mobile and headed to Homer. It was about an hour and a half drive south, it was a pretty drive but I fell asleep for most of it.
Homer is a rely cool town, it has a wonderful setting for a town. It is built into a mountain side and the lower valley, that overlooks an inlet and across from is another mountain range. We just went to the tourist part of they city and that is all out on peninsula, which is human made. There are small shacks, buildings, and big factories at the end of the peninsula. The shacks were all tourist attractions, the buildings were restaurants, and the factories were fish processing plants. There was also a huge harbor that had hundreds of boats. We ate a late lunch at a nice Mexican place that had a sweet view of the harbor. I had a crab enchilada and it was delicious. After we ate we walked around the shops for a while and then headed back home. There is a highway that we drove on to get there that is said to be the longest continuous road in North America. It stretches from the end of the peninsula in Homer and goes to Key West, Fl. It is called Lands End. When we got back to the cabin we loaded up all of the laundry machines. All of my clothes were dirty so I figured that it would be a lot easier if my clothes were clean when I got home. We ate a small dinner around ten because we were still full from our huge lunch. After we ate I went to sleep.
Day 31 June 17th, 2009
When I woke up I went over to the park model to eat some breakfast. Then headed back to my rv and folded all of my clothes from yesterday. I cleaned up in there and packed up everything into my suitcases. That took a while. I got a Styrofoam box and we loaded it up with all of our giant fish. Halibut, red and king salmon. We cleaned up around the place, making sure we had everything that we brought. I got done packing earlier than I expected so while I was waiting I took some pictures. I walked around the park and then over across the road to the lake. I took about a roll of film from dads 35 mm. After grandma and Jon were ready we ate lunch and then hit the road. We left around 2 o’clock and took the same scenic road back to anchorage. Instead of being sunny and clear for this drive it was pretty cloudy. They looked like angry clouds too. It never really rained on us though. The mountains look really cool with the dark, gloomy clouds covering their peaks. A little bit longer and we arrived to Anchorage, then we only had six hours until our flight left. So we went to a couple of outdoor shops to look for a inflatable boat, we drove through downtown, then Bestbuy to return the Internet router that never worked, and dinner at the Outback Steakhouse. I had never ate there but it was good, even their bloomin onion. After we killed a couple of hours at dinner we left for the airport. Before we got to the airport we had to take the truck to the storage parking, and then got a shuttle to the air port. We then managed to break through the security gates and lines started to wait again. I then managed to get kicked out of an Alaskan airport bar for ordering water. So I went down to our terminal while grandma and Jon remained at the bar. As I started to wait for our 11 o’clock departure the guy next to me had fallen asleep and was loudly snoring. I hope I don’t have to sit next to him on the flight. We finally got on the plane and my plan was to fall asleep until we got to Denver. But I have learned that the best plans go astray because I didn’t get a wink of sleep the whole flight.
Day 32 June 18th Some time during mid fight we exited Alaska and entered Canadian air. The planes had TV screens in the head rests and had regular TV channels on it. Unfortunately there was no reception over Canada. I tried to fall asleep many times but it seemed that every five minutes someone would walk down the isle and bump into me or the food cart would roll over my foot. Sleep never came but eventually we showed up in Denver and only had a 45 min layover until our flight left at 7 am. I didn’t remember much from the flight to KC due to some much needed sleep that I finally got. I woke up about 15 min outside of KC. We unloaded off the plane and walked down to the luggage carousel, about half an hour later only one suit case had come up. They then told us that the carousel was broke and they started to bring all of the luggage up an elevator. It took a while to get our belongings. Dad and Zachary showed up during our wait, it was good to see them. Still wearing my cloths fit for Alaskan weather I stepped out side of the air port and started sweating immediately in the 90 degree Kansas weather. It felt great to be back in the lower 48. I had a blast every day when I was up there, I learned so much, experienced so many new things, ate great food and hope I can visit many times to come. So a special thanks goes to Grandma and Grandpa Pyle, without you none of this would have happened.
Hope you enjoyed this as much as we did. It sparked the idea with our other grandchildren that visited this summer. I will add those in the next few weeks along with the many projects that we accomplished this summer. Until the next time which won’t be long.
I can’t believe it has taken me so long to update the blog, but we have been so bussy since returning to Alaska that I haven’t had time. It’s been up by 6:30 or 7 to open up the Lodge for our guests and to bed at 9:30 or 10 exhausted. I have gone to sleep twice trying to get this insert on the web. We did the last items on the inside of the new office today, put in the tile floor and the floor mouldings. Jan and Debbie got the store items displayed yesterday, the only thing left is to set up the computer, phone, credit card machine and office papers. I will show a photo of the inside in the next update.
Now I will try to catch you up on what has been happening up here in beautiful and sunny Alaska!
5/19/09 We finally got back to Alaska on the 19th of May. We brought our grandson, Travis Andregg with us for a month to help clean up the park and build a new office. It was his first trip to Alaska and we planned to show him the sights and maybe catch a few fish. We stopped on Turnagain Arm for a quick photo of his first visit.
5/20/09 We had to drain all of the RV antifreeze out of the plumbing system for the park before we could turn on the water for the summer. We had put in 64 gallons in the water system last fall after draining the water. We only got a return of 28 gallons??? I have no idea where the rest went although some of it we couldn’t get back and had to wash out of the lines with the fresh water. Obviously we had to run it quite awhile. Good thing we have our own well!
5/23/09 Travis was sitting in his Dad’s camper one evening talking to his Dad on the cell phone when this moose walked by the camper and headed over to Johnson lake for a refreshing swim. Of course Travis was excited, this being his first moose. He ran got our camera and chased the moose over to the lake as the moose was going in for it’s evening bath. He ran around the lake snapping pictures as the moose swam across and saw it climb out of the lake and disappear into the forest.
5/25/09 We were in need of storage for the park and the frame with the plastic blue tarp was just not going to work this year. We bought a new carport tent from the local discount store and Jan, Travis and Jon spent an afternoon putting up the tent which was guaranteed to be installed in 30 minutes (obviously after you have put up a thousand of them and had all the pieces). We were missing a critical arm of the upper frame, but made due until we were able to get a replacement.
6/1/09 As a special birthday present for Travis, we took him on a Halibut trip with our favorite Halibut Captain, Don Erwin. We entered the Cook Inlet via a tractor pull at Deep Creek. The tractors hook up to the boat trailer and back the trailer onto the beach and into the ocean where the boat floats off the trailer and departs. On the return, the tractor hitches to the trailer again, backs it into the ocean and the boat drives back on the trailer where it is pulled back up to the road for the trip home.
We had a good day! Travis caught his first King salmon trolling along the beach south of Deep Creek. Here he and Don Erwin are showing off his salmon to the rest of us in the boat. Then we went Halibut fishing with a great deal of success also. We caught twelve Halibut, two cod and a flounder between the six of us.
6/2/09 It was Travis’ birthday and he was greeted with streamers at the door of our Park Model at breakfast time. We didn’t do much celebrating, continuing to work on the office during the day, but we took him out to Buckets (the local sports bar/hamburger joint) for dinner that evening.
6/4/09 The carport was a good idea and it really helped, but we did need something more permanent and larger. We found a place in Anchorage that sold used Conexes and purchased a 40 foot one. They brought it down with a truck and installed it on 6 x 6 treated wood rails that Travis and Jon had leveled in place. It has a lot of permanent, secure storage. The 4-Wheeler will fit in there very nice in the winter along with all the other things we need to store.
6/5/09 This was a good week for very low tides (-5 feet below normal) so we decided to go clamming. Unfortunately, Travis’ camera wasn’t functioning while we were out clamming so Jan didn’t get any photos of him digging the clams, but we were able to take a photo with our camera when we got back to the truck. It only took us about half an hour to get 35 really nice clams which were cleaned when we got home. They were very good for dinner that night.
6/8/09 We were busy working on the office. I was doing the inside while Travis was putting the siding up on the outside. We had decided to move it out of the main Lodge to give us more room for our guests. So we just added another room on the porch to accommodate it. It’s almost 8 feet wide and 16 feet long.
6/10/09 Travis finished with the siding for the office and had to add our new logo created by his Dad to the office window. KASILOF RV is in the shape of a fish in yellow and black on the window, but on our new van it is red and green just like a mature Sockeye salmon.
6/12/09 They just opened the Russian River to fishing a few days earlier and they were saying what a great run that they were having. We decided to let Travis experience ‘Combat Fishing!’ and took him up to the Ferry the evening of the 12th. It wasn’t long before he caught his first red salmon and was thrilled. As you can see by the fishermen behind him, he was not alone trying to catch the salmon. You fish with only enough space between you and the next fisherman to bring your line into the bank. Often when you hook a fish it is lost to someone else cutting across your line and knocking the fish off your hook. Other times the hook releases before you can get the fish to shore or you might have it hooked someplace other than the mouth and have to release it.
This is a great shot of Travis fishing for salmon with a brown bear across the river from him. It had been there most of the evening either feeding on fish scraps, catching it’s own salmon or feeding on the salmon that the fishermen lined along the area had caught and put on a stringer. Note that it is getting toward evening and is actually about 9:30 pm. Travis had caught 20 to 25 reds by this time, all but two lost or released. Finally after a few more casts, he caught his last one to achieve his limit of three. We all had a good day catching our limit of three.
6/15/09 We try to take all our family down to Homer at least once while they are visiting and today was Travis’ turn. Homer is at the end of the Highway 1, the most westward continuous highway in North America. Homer is the Halibut fishing Capital of the World, so they say and is known as ‘A quaint little drinking town with a fishing habit’. Unfortunately it was cloudy so we weren’t able to really see the mountains and glaciers across Kachemak Bay from Homer. Here Travis and Jan were standing on the overlook above Homer and the Bay. The Spit is seen sticking out in the Bay to the left of Travis.
And everyone gets their photo taken in front of the Homer Spit landmark, The Salty Dawg’, a drinking hole! Travis and Jan are standing in front of the log cabin bar and note the eagle perched on top of the lighthouse.
6/20/09 Who is that young man in the Tux? Why it is our favorite Travis with his hair cut for his sister Nicole’s wedding! He cleans up good! We had a great time with him and really appreciated all the work he did getting the RV park ready for the summer visitors.
We are heading back up to Alaska on the 18th of May for the summer season. We have guests for Memorial Day weekend so we will have lots of work to do to get the park ready. As usual, I will try to keep you informed of what is happening as the summer progresses. Lots to do this summer as we have to build a new office and complete the interior of the lodge. I also want to extend the deck area and build a campground fire pit. I hope to also do some fishing!!
I am sure that most of you know that Mt. Redoubt (55 miles across the Cook Inlet from us) has erupted again this year and is sending steam and ash into the air on a regular basis. Our neighbor Paul Elkins has been kind enough to keep us updated with pictures of the eruption. This photo taken from the same spot as the previous photo in the February blog this time showing the steam and ash rising from the volcano.
The Alaska Volcano Observatory published this photo in their May update. It’s a beautiful photo of the steam and ash rising out of the cauldron on the rear side of Mt. Redoubt. So far the ash deposit on the Peninsula has been moderate as the prevailing winds have been carrying most of it north and west. The volcano is currently building a dome in the cauldron and the seismic activity has decreased significantly. It is still steaming and expected to continue this summer. A violent eruption is not expected. We are anxious to get up there and see it for ourselves.
Our neighbors in Kasilof, Paul and Martha Elkins sent us some photos when they got back to Alaska at the end of February. It looks like there is about 8 to 12 inches of snow on the roof of the lodge. Paul indicated that this has been a very cold winter there with temperatures below -40 degrees. March is the snowy season so we will see how much more we get. We plan to be there the 19th of May and have a lot of work to do to get ready for the summer guests.
Paul also sent us this beautiful photo of Mt. Redoubt. As some of you may have read, Redoubt has been steaming this winter and the earthquake activity has increased significantly since the first of the year. The Alaska Volcano Observatory has indicated that they expect it to erupt again although the seismic activity has seemed to decrease somewhat in the past couple of weeks. The cauldron where the volcanic domes are on the opposite side of the mountain in this picture and you can’t see steam rising from it in this photo. It is approximately 50 to 75 miles away from the Kasilof RV Park.