Be sure to read all the latest in the 2017 SUMMER BLOG
From Our Drive North to Alaska to 2017 SUMMER BLOG – Bob’s Birthday, and a Wrap to the Season
Our Drive North to Alaska
We decided this year to bring the 5th Wheel back up from Kansas to the Park. The harsh summer sunshine in Kansas was not doing the camper any good (we had to replace the rubber roof) and we weren’t using it much. So we decided to use it as a rental in the Park.
We left Lawrence on April 12th headed north to Seattle with a stop in Scottsbluff, Neb. at Debbie and Paul’s. Then after a couple of minor break downs (2004 GMC truck!), we made it to Christine and Mark’s in Kirkland, WA. On the 18th, we crossed over into Canada and started up the Frasier River Valley to meet the ALCAN highway just north of Fort St. John, BC (British Columbia). I still think it is the prettiest and quickest way from Seattle to the ALCAN. The weather was cool and sometimes rainy, but no snow and such a beautiful drive.
By the 20th we arrived in Fort Nelson, BC and stayed at our normal campground north of town.
The next morning we woke up to 5 inches of wet snow.
The roads were clear and the forecast was good although we had to climb over the crest of the northern Rockies that day. It turned out that the sun came out, the snow melted and we had a beautiful trip over the mountains.
It is always a joy to see all the wildlife on our trip north. We soon came upon a herd of Mountain Sheep grazing along the Highway. We slowed down and crept up along the side of the two out in the highway. They were so busy licking the salt off the road (used to melt the snow), they didn’t even move out of the way. So we stopped and took their picture.
North from there before you get to Watson Lake, Yukon, we began to see Buffalo grazing along the side of the road. At first there was quite a bit of snow on the sides of the road; however, as we drove further to the west the snow had melted and soon the sun came out. That night we stayed in Watson Lake, Yukon.
The Alcan Highway from Watson Lake runs west along the southern border of the Yukon toward Whitehorse. We saw a black bear at the edge of the woods, but it went back in the woods before we could get a photo. It is a pretty drive especially along Teslin Lake and the Tlingit village of Teslin. There is an interesting Museum in the town about the Tlingit Heritage.
That evening we stayed in the town of Haynes Junction where the Alcan heads north along the St. Elias Mountains seen off in the distance. This range of mountains extends along the coast of the Gulf of Alaska all the way from Glacier Bay to the border of Alaska and the Wrangle Mountains. Mt. Logan at it’s northern end is only 619 feet lower than Denali, the tallest in North America.
The next day, April 23rd we travel north past Kluane Lake and cross the border into Alaska, just above Beaver Creek, Yukon. The roads between Beaver Creek and Tok were really bad with lots of broken surfaces and frost heaves. We stayed the night in Tok, AK, then onto Anchorage the next day. With a stop at Costco to buy our supplies for the summer, we drove on down to Kasilof RV Park the next day.
It was 4224 miles in 13 days with partial day stops in Scottsbluff, Kirkland and Anchorage.
The old Moose Sign was more than 10 years old and it was beat up and worn out. We decided that it was time to move the old guy into the shop, where we glued him back together and repainted him. Then we placed him on the front porch of the Lodge under the roof where the weather wasn’t so hard on him. He had served us well and we wanted to preserve him.
Besides there was going to be a big change in the Kasilof RV Park this summer.
We had decided to change from an overnight RV park to an Extended-Stay Campground where you could relax for a week, a month or the whole summer. That way we would have a chance to get to know you and you would have time to meet the other campers in the Park. We have found it was impossible to get to know people when then only stay one night, plus all the coming and going of campers was about to wear us out.
So we made the change and by golly it worked out great! We only had 43 separate campers this summer instead of the 183 in 2016. We got to know everybody, had lots of fun and actually got to eat our evening meal regularly without having to check a new camper into the park. We had several campers that came to spend a week and enjoyed themselves so much that they stayed the entire summer with us.
Getting Ready to Open
Mark and Christine decided they wanted to come up to help us open up the Park this year. They had helped us close the Park several years ago so they wanted to find out how to open it up. The picture shows them helping me put up our canopy tent where we store some of our tools and vehicles during the summer. Christine cleaned all the bathrooms and the Lodge for Jan and Mark replaced a lot of our old florescent lights with LED lights and put up a new outside night light for the Lodge bathrooms. Then he helped install our flags on the Lodge roof.
As soon as the Park was up and running, Texas John and Kim arrived for the summer. Our major improvement project for the summer was to be the addition of sewer lines to three more of our campsites.
But First We Fish
HALIBUT FISHING – Bob and Sally took Texas John, Jan and me on a Halibut trip in late May. The day was beautiful, sunny skies, no wind and a beautiful day on the Inlet. Our first stop looked good with two other commercial guide boats in the same area, but all we could catch were sharks so we left for another of Bob’s spots. Although we got trapped in the sea week once, the fishing was great and we caught or limit of two apiece although two are already on the cleaning table. Jan caught the biggest at 60#.
SEWER LINE ADDITION
Since we are reducing the number of people in the Park in the future we decided to add three of the back row campsites to the sewer system. However, campsite #14 was at a lower level than # 15 and #16. Although the specks for the original sewer system indicated that the sewer level was 8 feet below the surface, we decided to check the sewer connection at campsite #8.
John and I dug around the sewer outlet on campsites #8 and #4 to determine how deep the main line was below the surface at each campsite. Much to our disappointment, we found that the line was only buried 3 feet below the surface of the ground and the main line was only 12 inches below the surface at campsite #4 where we wanted to connect the third sewer line to campsite #14. The result was that we had to eliminate putting a sewer line into campsite #14. We realized that **IT doesn’t run uphill!
We rented a backhoe to dig a trench from campsite # 8 to campsites # 15 and #16. John had experience running a backhoe so he became the digger. Richard Pierce came over to help and we gave John a lot of suggestions and moral support (headaches) as he dug the ditch.
As John was digging, he found a layer of clay that was frozen like permafrost. It was a layer about 6 to 8 inches thick that was used to keep the upper surface of dirt and gravel from penetrating into the old glacier rock and soil beneath. He dug it all out below the area where the pipe would be laid so the permafrost would not freeze the water in the pipe early in the spring when the ground was still cold.
We then tamped down dirt in the bottom of the ditch in a gental rise such that the pipe would drain without any low spots and glued all the pipe together. Then John came back with the backhoe and pushed the dirt back down on the pipe to cover it. The Tubbs Gravel Company came in a week later and put fresh gravel over all the campsites in the park and leveled them out. We have to do that every 3 or 4 years because we get sink holes and bad spots in the campsites.
Spring is such a great time in the Park before the main crowd comes for the summer, the Park is quiet and as it begins to bud and bloom. The animals begin to show for the summer and we occasionally get to see birds that are migrating to the tundra of the north for the summer such as the swan on Johnson Lake across the road.
In the late spring, we normally get to see our momma moose with the scares on her side and she usually brings one or two little ones with her when she visits the Park. This year we saw her twice shortly after we got here and she didn’t look like she was going to have a baby this spring. Not long after she was in the park, a yearling heifer moose with an orange collar. She really looked like her mother with the same coloring and the same bushy, blond fur on the hump of her back. It’s not the first time that the calves that have been born in the Park or close by have come back to visit us often and sometimes have even had calves of their own in or near the Park. A few years ago, we had a pair of yearling twins that spent a lot of time in the Park. They used to tease us by pretending to eat our flowers and vegetables although we never saw them actually eat anything. And the next year, the female of the pair birth her own calf in the Park right under our living room window. Later in the spring we did have a momma moose bring her new calf into the park several times, but we never got a picture of the two of them until later that fall. You will see that photo later in the blog.
Collecting Poop – who knew?
Now my sister, Sally had a good idea about using female moose poop, the small tubes of dried grass, twigs, leaves and other vegetation that female moose eat. She decided to collect the poop and then soak them in hot wax. Then when they dried, you could put them in the wood in the fireplace and light them, and then they would light the larger wood for the fire.
We have a lot of moose poop in the park in the spring.
We are big fans of Kansas University Basketball and try to watch all the games during the season. We have seat pads to use around the firepit from some of the universities in the Big 12 and some from other family members from other universities such as Nebraska and Purdue. We are always eager to get seat pads from other universities to hang on our wall and this summer we added a new one. John and Kim Brooks, who are regular summer residents of the Park are BIG Texas fans, so this year we gave them a special opportunity to add their seat pad to the Park Wall. She was desperately trying to put it higher that the other Big 12 pads but it wouldn’t stay that high.
4th of July
On the 4th of July we had a special Potluck dinner for the entire Park. We invited all of the Park residents to come spend the afternoon with us, asked them to bring their own favorite potluck dish and we would furnish hamburgers, brats, hot dogs and all the fixings!
Plus we had our own famous guitarist, banjo player and singer, Bill Jackson from Montrose, CO entertaining the crowd.
Although they are not immediate family, Tom Wilson and his great grandson, Braden arrived on the 3rd of July followed by Ryan and Kameron Pyle on the 6th. Kam and Braden went trout fishing over at Johnson Lake all the time. For one evening meal, Kam cooked a mess of trout wrapped in foil in the Chiminea, Ryan cooked cheese-noodles and made salad for our evening meal. Both boys were responsible for keeping wood available on the deck for our evening fires in the Chiminea.
Now how did that little car ever pull that 5th Wheel to Alaska?
Actually there is a large group of campers that have modified their trucks that used to pull 18 wheelers, to pull 5th wheels. They have left room on the back of the truck to allow them to carry their little Smart Car to use as an extra vehicle. We met two of the couples this summer and the Church’s stayed with the whole month of July.
As much fun as the party was, we still had work to do on the Park.
For the past few years raspberry vines and grass have been taken over part of our front driveway area. So one of our beautification projects this year was to eliminate the vines and grass and clean up the area. It turned out to be a lot of work. John cleaned out the big vines while I cut down all the grass and little vines with the WEED EATER FROM HELL. We use the 4-wheeler and trailer to haul all the vine and grass clippings around to the back and dump them over the bank. We had it pretty much cut down by the time Ryan and Kameron arrived the 6th of July. Ryan helped with the clearing of all the vines and grass and helped cut some of the grass along the grader ditch.
Todd arrived on the 20th and used the 4-wheeler to pull the WEED EATER FROM HELL around to the road to clear the grass along the road ditch. After about a couple of hours of that work he got almost to the cleaning table. Then the raspberry vines, cottonwood saplings, willow trees and rocks became too much for even the WEED EATER FROM HELL to handle. I guess it will be a job for next spring to cut all the vines and saplings down before the grass gets high.
Dog Sitter Business
Oh, by the way, we have a new Dog Sitter Business in our Park. It’s Kim Brook’s new profession and she gets so caught up in her job that she forgets which way she is walking! Actually several campers this past summer ask where to find dog sitters so they could take fishing trips or tours. Kim loves dogs and always has baked dog cookies just for them. This summer she dog sat for several of our campers and they gave her tips, so now she is declaring a new business for the Park, Dog Sitting. So you need to leave your dogs to take a tour or a fishing trip while you are staying in the Park, Kim is the person to see!
The King salmon made a significant come back to the Cook Inlet and both the Kasilof and the Kenai Rivers had good runs of fish. It was the first time the King run was good in the last five years.
The Sockeye (reds) season started out with the Alaska Fish & Game (F&G) claiming that it was going to be a huge run of red salmon in the Kenai, so rather than overwhelm the river, they let the commercial fishermen use their purse seines to catch 1.55 million red salmon out of the Cook Inlet. There were not many fish left to catch after that. The first time any of us from the Park caught our limit of three red salmon was the end of the last week of July. By that time most of the out-of-town fishermen had left after complaining about the high cost of fishing licenses, gear and lodging without any fish. The Sport Fishermen and the Fishing Guides on the Kenai were screaming at Fish & Game. Then F&G started claiming that there were two hundred thousand Reds waiting at the mouth of the river to enter. We don’t know where they went, but they never showed up in the river. We did see some increase in the fish and were able to catch our limits of 3 for several day into August, But they never raised the limit to 6 as they do normally when the achieve the number of fish in the river to replenish the supply for the future. They also had not reached a count of a million reds in the river until after the middle of August when the Silvers and Pinks had also come in.
SAME SONG, 2017TH VERSE!
Anyway we had a good season. We had ten fisherpersons fishing at various times from the second week in July through the third week in August. As I wrote earlier, Ryan and Kam came on the 6th of July, Cary on the 12th, Cary’s friend Neal on the 17th, Todd on the 20th.
And Kyra on the 22nd as a surprise for Jan.
OLD FISHING HOLE
PIERCE’S NEW FISHING HOLE
You can always till whether Jan and Kyra were with you as then you got plenty of photos. Otherwise the rest of us are too busy fishing to take pictures. Unfortunately we didn’t get any photos of Ryan, Cary or Neal fishing (although they all caught fish).
Anyway, altogether we caught 123 reds, three silvers and a bunch of pinks (although it was not a Pink year). Texas John also caught 4 Kings and released a bunch, a bunch of reds and silvers. We wound up with a lot of frozen fillets, a lot of canned salmon and a lot of smoked salmon jerky.
Cody arrived on the17th of August. We got to go fishing and we still caught a few reds.
IT WAS ANOTHER GOOD YEAR FISHING!
We celebrated the end of the fishing season with all the kids at St. Elias Brewery and Pizza Parlor in Soldotna prior to their leaving at the end of July.
So it was the last of August, the red fishing was over and it was time to can the salmon.
Kim cleaned the cans and then she and Jan filled them. They filled 183 16-ounce cans of red salmon and 48 8-ounce cans of smoked salmon.
We waited for Cody to arrive because it is always good to have strong arm available to help with the can sealer. We boxed 72 cans in each of our fish boxes to carry home on the airplane and sent prepaid USPS boxes to each of the kids, John and Kim and us. Our entire family was well supplied with another years Alaska Salmon.
It was Sally’s husband, Bob’s Birthday and we all had a big party for him at the Soldotna Elk’s Club. His daughter bought him a birthday cake and we had a grand time celebrating his 79th birthday.
The last week of August was the last Farmer’s Market in Kenai. Jan had put an order in for the wooden Christmas ornaments that she paints every year for all the grand kids. One of the local wood carvers does a great job making ornaments. We have 24 grand children (including wife’s and husband’s) and 5 great-grands, but she only bought 21 cutouts of a moose between two Pine trees. So we need to make up different ones for the rest. It’s not a big problem because the new twins get Rocking Horses ornaments for their first Christmas and when the couples buy their first new house they get a wooden ornament of their first new house. Although we have to cut those out separately and there is sanding, painting, and mailing. Lots of time before Christmas, but we better get busy!!!
And look who came to see us before we left for the winter.
We think this is the same momma that came last year with her twins. She had been bringing her calf up to the Park during this past summer knowing that they would be safe in the Park. We got quite a few videos of the two of them stripping off the leaves of the willows in the yard. This quite often what happens, a female that is born in the Park or near the Park will come back year after year knowing it is a safe place to raise their babies. It’s rare to have a male return because they normally spend most of their summers in the mountains. Although we did have one male called ‘Spike’ that came back for three years.
It’s Labor Day week end and the only ones left in the Park were John and Kim and Cheryl and Bill, so we decided to have an end of the season Pot Luck. It was a great way to spend Labor Day and celebrate the end of the summer.
So we closed the front gate, hung up the Closed Winter sign, turned the water off, winterized the Park and said –
Sorry this is so slow in being posted! I had prepared it last fall and thought I had installed it, but it never installed. Hope it happens this time!
Say Hello to Mr. Prickly! He was supposed to be our spokesman for this year’s blog, but he crawled under the deck and wouldn’t come out again. So I guess I will have to be the spokesman for 2016.
IT WAS AN UNUSUAL YEAR!
It was really warm in Alaska the winter of 2015-16. It was the 2nd year in a row with no snow and high temperatures (generally higher than Kansas). The summer was warm in the seventies and got up to 85 locally and up to a 100 in the Mat Su Valley! No squirrels, very few moose and calves, but we got a porcupine! The glacier rivers never stopped dumping water. On top of that the fishing was WEIRD! The rivers were full because of the extra glacier water and the river water was warmer than normal because of the higher outside temperatures. The salmon came into the Cook Inlet early, but then seemed to be confused by the higher river water temperature and didn’t enter the rivers. So we had lots of salmon in the Inlet but few in the rivers. THE COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN LOVED IT! But we bank fishermen did not! Thus we had a very poor early run into the Kasilof river and Kenai runs through to the Russian river. We started catching red salmon in the Kenai the 10th of July. The fish were smaller and there were not as many of them (I think it was part of the Russian river run of fish). By the third week of July, the water in the Kenai was running over the banks (the highest I have seen it in 24 years) and the first salmon run was over! Finally, the 31st of July the second run of red salmon enter the Kenai and they were huge. However, the high water made it very difficult to fish from the river banks. Normally we step off the banks to fish in the water. The edges of the river are gravel and rock. This year the water was above our knees (almost to our waists) and the fish were often behind us against the banks. We had to fish from the top of the banks and through the tall grass that grows along the shores. We caught fish into the second week of August.
Jan and I arrived back at the Kasilof RV Park on the 5th of May. We were surprised at the greenery. The trees were all leaved out, the horsetails and fireweed were twelve inches high and the grass needed to be mowed already. Our first job after getting the water on and place opened is to plant flowers and the garden. This year the flowers in the nurseries were all picked over because the planting season had started in April, but we managed to get enough to make the place pretty again. A few days later, Richard and Doris Pierce arrived to open up their camper that is here year around to stay the summer. That weekend the Pettit’s came to spend the weekend in their camper that they store with us over the winter and enjoy on the weekends during the summer. The Christensen’s brought their new camper down from Wasilla to also spend the summer. And our Texas friends, John and Kim Brooks arrived in early June. Within a couple of weeks, the place was hoping again. Early in June, Jan’s daughter Debbie arrived to spend a week with us to start the season. The photo was taken at the Kenai Airport where the Alaskan Scene was painted on the outside of the building.
The weather was beautiful and warm and the flowers were just begging to start blooming.
Later that week we just had to make a fishing trip to the Kasilof River to catch that first red salmon of the year. Unfortunately, it was raining and a little cool, but we braved the walk down to the river and tried our luck. It was still a little early and we didn’t have much luck although I did manage to catch a nice one.
Yes we did use the old Salmon Mobile and Debbie found out how to stop the problem of running out of gas. She bought us a gallon can of gas to carry with us. Now why didn’t we think of that!
Ryan and Kameron arrived on the 7th of July and they were ready to catch fish. Of course Kam didn’t wait until to test out the trout in Johnson Lake and sure enough they were still there to his joy
Fortunately, Uncle Bob came to Kam and Ryan’s rescue and took them Halibut fishing out of Deep Creek. Kam managed to catch the biggest Halibut of the group. Although it was still early for the Kenai salmon run to start we waited until Sunday, the 10th to try. Sure enough Kam caught the first one that day and the catch in the Kenai continued through the rest of the week.
Now unfortunately Jan’s iPhone camera lens cover was damaged about the time that all of the other groups got to the Park. As she is the one that takes most of the photos, many of the photos of family were too dark or dull to show in the blog. We did get some from the rest of the group that I can use.
Cary arrived on the 14th, Cheri on the 15th and Chris on the 16th. Lots of trips to the Kenai Airport, but we love to share the park with our kids. On Tuesday, the 19th Jan and I drove to Anchorage to pick up Jordan, his girlfriend Heather, Jake and their friend Paul.
Mark arrived on the 21st which completed the first group to come. At one time or another we were able to take them all fishing in the Kenai. The water was getting so high that in most places we had to fish from the back or wade too far out in the river. In some cases, the fish were swimming behind us close to the bank.
Our fishing in the Kenai was not all peaches and roses though, we had a terrible time with our boat. The engine kept giving us trouble not running with any power and finally quit while we were trying to get back to the dock. Jordan and I had to pull it back to the ramp in the water.
Jordan’s group were a big help to us also as they chopped up a large amount of the saplings and trash limbs that we collected from the park this summer.
As July came to an end and the fishing had dwindled to just a few a day and of course that was the time when Fish & Game decided they had enough fish in the river to spawn so they raised the limit from 3 to 6. Although there were not enough fish in the river to catch 3, let alone 6. By the end of July, most of our group had left.
But Cody and his friend, Scott came to spend a week with us on the 27th and were disappointed that there were no more fish available. But they kept fishing and then the second run of salmon finally entered the river.
We had a great time then each catching our limit of 6 a day. It kept Jan and I busy cleaning the fish that we caught.
The second week of August, Todd and Karen came to visit. It was Karen’s first trip to Alaska. Todd talked her into fishing with us and she caught her first fish, a nice bright Silver salmon. Then she proceeded to catch two more, a Pink and a Red.
Todd and Karen went hiking at the Exit Glacier just outside of Seward.
Then we all went down to Homer for a day and we had to stop at the Greek Church above old town, Nilnilchik first. Of course we couldn’t pass up a Kalua Coffee at the Shady Dog Saloon.
Todd didn’t go away empty handed. He managed to catch the largest Halibut of the day on another trip with Brother-in-Law Bob
By then it was mid-August and was time to start getting things done for the summer. Kim Brooks helped Jan with preparing the salmon for canning and John Brooks helped Jon with the sealing of the cans. Altogether we canned 146 cans and 13 jars of salmon.
John and Kim Brooks were summer campers with us for the past two years and this summer they bought sister Sally’s older King of the Road 5th Wheel for permanent placement in campsite #7 for the future.
They also helped us put up the long gate at the main entrance to the park when we closed for the winter.
Just before we left for the winter, we got to celebrate Brother-in-Law Bob’s 78th birthday with a fun party at Bistro Flats.
Coming Up in 2017
KASILOF RV PARK EXTENDED-STAY CAMPGROUND 21377 Crooked Creek Road Kasilof, Alaska www.kasilofrvpark.com 907 262-3704
Yes, we have finally decided to make the Park an Extended-Stay Campground which means that we will no longer be willing to accept overnight campers. By eliminating the short term campers, Jan and I will have more time to spend with those who are visiting us. Plus we won’t have the hustle and bustle of people coming and going so often. We really enjoy getting to know the people who visit the park and the best way to do that is to have them stay long enough to get to know them. So starting in 2017, we will only take 7 day reservations in June and August, 30 day reservations and seasonal reservations (Memorial Day to Labor Day). Hopefully, this will be something that we can all enjoy together.
”Hello, I’m Sammy Squirrel and that’s my sister Samantha on the right. Gramps told us to welcome you to the 2015 Blog this year. We got up on top of old wood bears so you could see us better , but then we spend a lot of time on the railings and the bears so we can see what is happening in the park.
We pretty much run this place summer time and keep a lookout for anything causing a problem such as that ornery old worm that is trying to eat the cabbage plant. It’s been a wonderful summer with lots of warm weather and sunshine.
Last winter was so warm, we didn’t even have to sleep much, but it sure caused a lot of fires in the forest. There is so much vegetation and new growth this year that the moose haven’t been around much. We saw several early in the spring and there have been a couple of cows with their calves occasionally in the back of the park. Those peanuts sure looked good, but I just can’t get this lid off and here comes Grandpa so I better go some place and hid for awhile. See you all!
WELCOME TO THE 2015 KRVP BLOG
Jan and I arrived early this year (5th of May) and got a great start on the park, planting the garden and the flowers. May was very warm (up to 85) and dry as had been the entire winter at the park. Unfortunately, a fire started east of Sterling and consumed much of the upper part of the forest around Skilack Lake and east to the edge of the mountains. Forest fires were bad up here this spring, but fortunately they were not close to us.
Sally and Bob got married last fall at our development clubhouse in Lawrence. So she is no longer staying in her camper in the park. She came up this year on the first of April and they are living in Bob’s house just north of Soldotna.
They took us Halibut fishing in May. It was a beautiful day on the Cook Inlet and we got some nice Halibut. Good start to the summer fishing! Sally didn’t use her camper at the park this summer other than to move most of her things into to Bob’s house. We finally decided to move it into the back storage area of the park late this summer so we could use the campsite for campers. Sally’s camper has electricity and can be used for family in the future. Sally and Bob are doing well and we got to spend lots of time with them this year.
KIRK AND RITA’S VISIT
Our first family visitors this year flew up with Ryan and his son, Kameron. It was the first time for Rita to be up here since we bought the park and Kirk hadn’t been to Alaska since coming up with the family in 2001.
We had a great time with them, lots of good food (Kirk’s Crab boil) and drinks (my famous Glacier margaritas!). Kirk and Rita were here for the start of the Red Season in the Kenai and Kirk caught his first Red
Bob also took the guys Halibut fishing in his boat. Kameron was really excited as it was his first time Halibut fishing. The went out of Deep Creek into the Cook Inlet and caught their limits most in the 20 to 30 pound range, good eating!
Kameron caught his share and he helped Bob get the Halibut from the boat to the cleaning table. Note Cheri’s waders that he is wearing in the photo above and how clean they are. They were a little baggy on him, but the shoes fit. They dumped all of the fish on the cleaning table and then filleted them. Later they all processed the fish by vacuum packing the fillets for future dinners. It was a good learning process for Kam.
We had a lot of fun with Kirk and Rita while they were here, but they were only here for a week. We sure hated to see them go back to hot Kansas.
A funny while Kirk and Rita were here. Ryan discovered a leak in the roof of his camper and got the rubberized paint to seal the leak. He climbed the ladder at the back of the camper and painted himself to the edge of the roof away from the back ladder. Kirk got him another ladder to get down, but it was a little short! We don’t know how that worked out, but we did see Ryan off the roof later that day.
We sure enjoyed having Kameron (Kam to us) up to spend the summer red season with us. Cheri couldn’t come up this year because she was just finishing her degree to become a Respiratory Therapist (and she graduated and got a job). So Ryan decided to bring Kam with him. Note the fishing pole in Kam’s hand. That kid loves to fish and he spent most of his time fishing for trout over in Johnson Lake and red fishing with his Dad on the Kenai river.
His 13th birthday was the day after they arrived (the 10th of July) and we had a big party for him with Kirk doing his Crab Boil, yum-yum.
Kam did a great job red fishing. Here he is with his first red that he caught. At first Ryan had to help him get his fish in, but soon he did it himself. One time he caught this one and his Dad told him that he jerked the fish to hard to the bank.
He actually caught 13 reds by himself and some of them were very nice. Note Kam’s waders in this photo with his big red. Of course when you are fishing 6 to 8 hours a day on a muddy riverbank or around a muddy lake, it’s hard to keep your pants clean! Kam got so muddy fishing that Ryan had to throw most of his clothes away before they went home. I would imagine that Cheri will be getting a new set of waders the next time she comes back. Ryan’s waders are not too pristine clean by the end of the season either! Actually, Ryan was a good role model for his son in the clean wader category!
Kameron loves to fish! After getting up early with his Dad to go Red fishing on the Kenai, he would come back to the park, get a bite to eat, grab his trout pole and disappear to Johnson Lake across the road from the park. He had his fishing buddy that would watch him fish and bark every time he caught a trout.
Kam talked Mark into taking the pontoon boat over to the lake to fish for trout. Of course guess who got to row! Actually they both had a ball fishing and catching trout.
Beside fishing, Kam was a lot of help to Jan and me. He would haul split wood in the wheelbarrow from the well house up to the deck and stack it for use in the chiminea and he liked to build the evening fire in it. He also had mosquito elimination duty.
But as good times and early morning fishing trips come to an end, it’s time to head back home and get ready for another school year. Jan and I really enjoyed having Kameron spend most of July with us and we hope he will come back a lot in the future.
THE FAMILY ARRIVES
Christine managed to come to Alaska while Rita and Kirk were here and stayed to help Jan through the difficult two weeks when the park was overflowing with campers. She kept track of all the incoming and leaving campers each day and helped Jan keep the lodge cleaned. Jan sure appreciated her help. Mark came the following week in time to enjoy all the fishing for reds.
My boys, Cody and Cary arrived for red fishing season, the third week of July. Note that we were all enjoying my famous Glacier Margaritas!
Todd and Brandon also arrived for the red fishing during the third week so we wound up with a group of ten for the week. We all participated in preparing the evening meals and having a great time together. That is what the park is all about, having a great place for the entire family get together and have a good time.
However, as will all the good family gatherings, they eventually come to an end when we take them back to catch their airplanes home.
Jan and I started fishing for reds in the Kasilof River in the middle of June, but we weren’t very successful this year. Although Fish & Game were saying that it was a very good run of reds in the Kasilof, most people fishing on the river were having very poor luck. Last year Jan and I caught just over 50 reds in the Kasilof. This year we only caught 12! We wondered if F&G were counting bubbles in their sonar, again!
Here’s part of the crew getting ready for the daily fishing trip to the Kenai River. It was an unusual red run this year as it started off slowly with only 20 to 30 thousand reds entering the Kenai river a day. That may sound like a lot, but the Kenai River is big and long and it takes a lot of fish in the river to be able to catch them. The run built up slowly until finally on the 20th each of us were able to catch our limit of 3. We never had a big number (100,000 to 200,000) enter the river on a day like in the years past, but they kept coming into the river in the 20,000 to 50,000 until they finally reached the maximum number (750,000) Fish & Game want in the river to sustain the future population of reds. They raised the limit they last week of July to 6 per day.
THE FISHING TEAM
All told we caught 187 Reds this season and 7 Silvers and had only one accident. Fortunately although it was painful, it wasn’t serious and we didn’t throw the sucker back!
Of course the fishing doesn’t end with the catching. It is followed by the cleaning and filleting and then the processing by vacuum packing the fillets, preparing the strips for jerky and freezing the fillets.
We canned 142 cans of salmon and over 300 packages of frozen fillets. Plus we had a huge number of bags of salmon jerky in the freezer. That should be enough to feed the family for the year.
IT WAS ANOTHER GOOD SALMON SEASON!
The salmon season is over, but the salmon were still swimming up the Kenai River in August to spawn in Kenai Lake. It’s always fun to go up to the Russian River Ferry, cross over the river to fish for the big red and green male reds for fun. They are so feisty and fun to catch and play with. We always let them go because they are not very good to eat when they change to the bright red and green color.
We took our friends Kim and John Brooks with us to the Russian Ferry landing. The Brooks have spent the summer with us this year. Unfortunately, the fish were not coming through very fast like normal. I did manage to hook one in the tail and Jan hooked one for a little bit, but lost it. We finally gave up and took the ferry back across the river.
While we were having a picnic lunch at the river, someone started calling ‘Bear, Bear’. Sure enough a Brown bear had come up the river just below where we were eating and decided to have his lunch at the cleaning table at the edge of the bank below us. He picked up a few carcasses and cleaned them off and then caught a salmon. He sat down in the river and enjoyed his lunch as we took pictures of him.
Thank you Kim Brooks for the great photos at the Russian river. And thank you so much for the beautiful picture with needlepoint park symbol in the center. We have enjoyed having you and John stay the summer with us this past year and are looking forward to seeing you again next year for the summer.
TALON AIR TRIP ACROSS THE COOK INLET
Last year we told you about the trip Debbie, Scot and Skip took across the Inlet to sight see, bear watch and fish on the west side. This year Todd, Jan and I decided to do it too.
We left Mackay Lake north of Soldotna around noon on unfortunately a very cloudy, rainy day (have to have reservations to go). So we didn’t get to fly over the glacier and do the sight seeing of the Mount Redoubt mountain range, but we did land on the lake below the glacier to go fishing and watch the bears.
They picked us up in a boat and took us around the lake and to a rockslide area where a creek came down from another small lake above. The red salmon were schooling up at the bottom of the creek to climb up to the upper lake.
When we arrived at the spot, there were four boats ahead of us and they were all trying to snag the red salmon from the boats. I told Jan that it was ‘Combat Fishing from a Boat’. All the boat guides had a system where the front boat could only stay at the front of the line for 30 minutes and then had to move. So in an hour and a half, we were at the front of the group and among the bears.
The brown bears were having a great time trying to catch the salmon and actually got close to the boat. Todd was sitting with his legs hanging over the side of the boat. He had to quickly pulled his legs up from the side away from the bear when it came close although it was not in the least interested in him.
We got lots of bear pictures and watched them trying to catch a salmon out of a big school of fish that were swimming around on the bottom of the pool. The water was clear enough that we could see them swimming below us. Occasionally we would snag a fish with our hooks and try to fight it back to the boat, but you had to be very careful not to do it when a bear was close or it might be in the boat with you. It was lots of fun to be up close to them and to get such great photos.
After our 30 minutes was up, the guide took us around the lake to another falls area although there weren’t any reds in this location. We did anchor not too far from this location to fish for Silver salmon and we did finally catch 6 Silvers and 1 Red. It was a great trip and a beautiful area on the other side of the Cook Inlet.
We were sorry that we were not able to see the glaciers and the area around Mt. Redoubt, but we will just have to save that for another trip.
I mentioned that the summer was warm and beautiful with just enough rain to make the flowers grow. It was also great for the garden.
This was an early photo with the potatoes at the far end, the greenhouse with the tomatoes, basil and cucumbers which did very well. We got lots of cukes, about 25 tomatoes and a batch of basil. The middle garden box had dill, onions and cilantro. We picked the dill twice and dried it, got three nice gallon bags of dried dill. Cilantro was used in Ryan’s Pad Thai and we have a few onions and lots of potatoes to take home.
I thought I had purchased a sixpack of cabbage plants, but they turned out to be Brussel Sprouts. They took over the garden box by the kitchen blocking out the light to the radishes and beets. We laughed about the tiny little sprouts along the stalks all summer long, but when it came time to pick them there a bunch of sprouts. 3 nice batches for us and they were yummy fried with bacon and onions.
See, we are not the only ones that show off the KU flags! The Pittmans, Lee and Ellen spent 17 nights in the park with us. They were from south Kansas City, near Nicole and Tyler’s. Ellen graduated from KU and was obviously proud of it!
Piet and Dottie Knetsch came to tour Alaska and to take the cruise down the Inside Passage from Seward. Piet and Dottie are both substitute Pastors of our Methodist Church in Lawrence. We were absolutely delighted to get to meet them in Seward and go for lunch at Ray’s famous seafood restaurant on the pier. Then we took them on a tour of the town. Behind them in the photo on the right is the Holland America cruise ship that took them to Vancouver. It was a fun day for us!
I had to include this photo of the three individuals that were responsible for a lot of the improvements to the park. They are Todd – the idea man. He would sit on the 8 foot porch of the kitchen and say, “It would sure be nice to have a deck on the front of this building“. Then Jon, the money-man, would provide the funds to build the deck. Then Ryan, the ‘M________’ – (labor)-man, would build it. Sounds funny, but actually the entire family has provided the time and labor to make so many improvements to the park that makes it so wonderful. Jan and I really appreciate it and we hope you enjoy it.
As part of our improvements, Jan and I have purchased a new toy that hopefully will solve part of our problem of finding places to fish on the Kenai River for all of us. As all of you know, the river is very busy during the red season and people from all over the world and most from Alaska come to the Kenai to fish for the big reds. It is hard to find a place to fish that is not combat fishing, ‘elbow-to-elbow’. Hopefully, this boat will help us solve that problem for the family.
Jan finally talked me into taking her over to Johnson lake to take pictures of the swans. The swans have been on the lake most of the summer and we found them in the lily pads. Although they didn’t like us getting too close to them, Jan did get some great pictures of them. Rowing that boat is hard work!
We will leave you this year with a couple of neat photos that Richard Pierce’s son, Chris took (3 am) of the Aurora Borealis looking northeast from the park. The photo on the left is the early start of the northern lights and the photo on the right is later when the lights were at their peak. Note the change in intensity and the beginning of reddish tints in the later photo.
I have to say, our trip from Avignon to Paris was interesting. We arrived at the Avignon Train Station early to catch our HIGH SPEED, 1st CLASS BULLET TRAIN to Paris. It was rather confusing as there were two trains listed going to Paris at the same time on the same platform. Our train was listed first (yes I did check the # of the train). Of course, the announcement for the train when it arrived was in French (I mean who in the world of the brilliant and sophisticated can’t speak French). We boarded the train and found our seats and the train left the station. As we were traveling along, the steward came with another couple and asked to see our tickets. Yah, you got it right, we were on the other train. So as our HIGH SPEED, 1st CLASS BULLET TRAIN to Paris went whizzing past us we took pull down seats in the area between the cars and spent our time getting to DISNEYLAND PARIS. It was only about 50 miles from where we wanted to go and there was a taxi willing to take us to the Hotel!$$$$!!! Yea, you got that right too! The only bright spot in the whole trip was that we didn’t have to lug our backpacks and extra suitcase on the underground to our Hotel.
Scenes of Paris –
I know you have seen it all before so how do I make it more interesting, more exciting, more wonderful, more beautiful (more boring!- – – -), well we took all our scenic photos from the top of a two-decker tour bus (us old grey hairs don’t like to walk so much)!
Hey, another photo of the Arc de Triomphe! Well, no this is a photo of the front window of the tour bus and the damn arch got in the way!
So I thought that I would try again, but the Church Ste. Marie Madeleine got in the way. When I looked at the photo on the camera, I asked Jan “when did we get to Athens, Greece?” It does resemble the Parthenon, doesn’t it?
So I asked her why all these old buildings kept getting in the way of my photos. She said, “Try taking them out the side of the bus”, so I did, but I didn’t get a photo of the window. I got a photo of the River Seine.
Oh well, the window wasn’t that pretty anyway and beside I got really interested in all the gold in Paris.
As we entered the Esplanade des Invalides (I think that means, ‘Way to the Castle’) there were four pillars with gold horses (with wings?) and some gal blowing a long horn. I don’t have a clue what that was supposed represent, but it sure was impressive.
Not much further on was another gold dome on the top of the Church of St. Louis (Eglise Du Dome St. Louis) and downtown was another roof covered with copper and gold statues. Boy, the French sure do like their gold! But that wouldn’t even hold a candle to what we saw the next day.
But hey, we are still on the two-decker bus and there was another scene that caught my eye out the side of the bus.
The bus driver said this place was called the Place du Trocadero (which is the Palace called ‘Palais du Chaillot’) with a view of the Eiffel Tower across the River Seine. I thought it was a pretty neat picture especially from the top deck of a tour bus!
We got of the tour bus just at the corner just below the Eiffel Tower very close to a French Restaurant where we had lunch. Rather, I should say Jan had lunch and I had a BEER! I thought I was in Germany again!
So we started our walking tour of Paris and the first stop was at the Eiffel Tower from the ground. I have to admit it was pretty impressive!
From the Eiffel Tower to the Island of Notre Dame was a good long walk, so we decided to take the Paris Underground. Now THAT WAS REALLY IMPRESSIVE and even more confusing, but us old grey hairs finally figured it out. So we toured island with probably one of the most beautiful churches in the world.
We had really wanted to take the tour through Notre Dame, but again the lines were very long. After Rome, plus our 25th day on the road, we were not in the mood for another line. They were working on the front of the church redoing the parking and plaza in front so it definitely was not picturesque.
From Notre Dame we crossed the River Seine to the Latin Quarter and walked to the Gardens of Luxembourg. It was a refreshing spot to relax after a busy day of touring.
The castle was huge with a huge basin of water in front. The front of the castle surrounded by several acres of grounds with trees, fountains and gardens which were very lush and cool in the afternoon sun. People were everywhere lounging and relaxing in the warmth and the beauty.
We joined them!
On our way back to the Hotel, we stopped at the Oldest Continually Operated Café in Paris (1660) and had a Tanqueray and Tonic (they were very hard to find in Paris and $).
Our last day in Paris – started early with a train ride to Versailles. We had our tickets to get into the Palace already so we would miss the crowds standing in line. OH, YES! THAT REALLY WORKED! I think that line was made up by the Paris Ticket Company that sold the advance tickets!
Now you talk about the Parisians loving their gold – visit Versailles! All this gold, no wonder the French revolted!
After entering the Versailles grounds and through the first gate, there is a very large parade grounds in front of the main palace. It is probably 150 feet x 150 feet of stone paved area. In the photo above, all you can see is people in front of the gate to the castle. That is because there is a line that is snaking around in the parade grounds to pass through the security to the castle. When I described as snaking, that is what it does. From the parade ground entrance, it starts toward the golden gate and then turns before it gets to the gate and goes back to the entrance of the parade ground (150 feet each direction). The line is six times up to the gate and back before you get to the security entrance.
We arrived at the entrance gate at about 9 am and there were that many people in the line ahead of us just to get through security before we could use our prepaid tickets to get into the castle. Jan and I stood in the first line for an hour and still hadn’t made it to the next line. WE LEFT!
Back in Paris, we wanted to finish our visit of the Latin Quarter and the beautiful garden that we saw on our way to the Luxembourg Palace.
At Place du Cluny there are gardens surrounding the ancient Hotel de Cluny and the Thermes De Cluny. Would you believe in the heart of Paris are the remains of a 3rd century Roman Baths? The structure above is the Hotel De Cluny built by the Abbotts of Cluny in 1334 from the remains of the Roman baths next door.
Where but in Paris would you expect to find a scene like this?
This is Hotel de Cluny from the back and the entrance to the Museum de Cluny. In 1834, Jacques d’Amboise converted the old hotel into a museum to hold the Sommerard collection of Medieval Art. There were old tapestries, icons, wooden carvings and enamels from the 1300 to 1500 time period.
They were quite remarkable because they had been so well preserved, especially the old tapestries (photos not allowed).
As we left the old hotel/museum part of the structure, we went down a stairs to the hidden entrance to the Roman baths.
The first exhibit was some of the interesting remains from the destruction caused during the revolutionary war. All the decapitated stone bodies and the desecrated heads were from the previous Kings of France. The originals were in Notre Dame. During the revolution, the people decapitated the statues and took out their frustration on the heads. I guess the French finally got tired of all the gold on the building and none in their pockets. It was quite an interesting display!
The gallery also had the statue of Adam from the interior of Notre Dame plus some of the decoration of the original Roman baths. The only visible remains of the baths were on the far end of the building.
The final visit on our last afternoon in Paris was to the Louve. Jan really wanted to see Mona Lisa so we took our prepaid tickets and headed to castle.
Triumph Arch is at the entrance to the Louvre Palace grounds containing the famous Louvre Museum. The Louvre was originally built as a fortress in the 12th century by the then French King Phillip. In 1682, Louis XIV expanded the fortress into the present Louvre Palace. After the French Revolution, the Louvre was made into a museum to house all the history of the world.
I visited the Louvre in 1973 and was very disappointed in the condition of the artifacts in the museum. At that time the Louvre had fallen into disrepair and many of the windows and skylights were broken. Pigeons and their droppings were inside the building and on many of the displays. I left totally disgusted.
The new Louvre is now worthy of all the treasures that it holds, over 35,000 objects of history. The glass pyramids in the courtyard provides a modern feel to the entrance of the museum and the underground access to the various parts of the museum handle the Enormous Crowds about as well as can be expected. Although it still can be very confusing. We spent hours wandering around the halls of the museum trying to find the Mona Lisa without too much success. We walked through the huge stone statues of the bulls of Mesopotamia, the bowls and urns of the Chinese Ming Dynasty, the mummies of the Egyptian Pharaohs and every doorway we went through had a little with card that said Mona Lisa with an arrow pointing.
Finally we walked into a hallway loaded with people and knew we must be getting close. Sure enough at the end of the hallway was a room off to the side filled with people. The walls of the room were bare except for the far wall and in the center of it was the Mona Lisa. Jan burrowed into the crowd of about 100 people to get close enough to take a photo of the painting. I stayed toward the back, but I could see the painting. The man next to me said, “What’s the big deal. That don’t look so great!” I said, “I don’t know, but I think she is pretty!”