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.
One last trip before we leave for Alaska for the summer. Our friends, Ronnie and Nancy Miller decided to spend some time at Wilson lake before they started back to Arkansas. Ronnie loves to fish and I enjoy it too! It was just past spawning time for the walleye and crappie and we were thinking that they might be a bit hungry. Jan and I met them at the Minooka campground about half way up the lake for a short week of fishing. Wilson lake is located about 10 miles north and east of Russell, Kansas birthplace of Bob Dole and Arlen Specter. It’s a very long lake built in the late 50’s on the Solomon River basin as a flood reservoir. The weather was beautiful although we did have some windy days and the wind does whistle down the canyon at times.
Ronnie had his boat and his brother Ed came from Hoxie with his boat. We had beautiful pull through campsites right on the lake. We could actually fish from the bank although we preferred to fish from the boats when it wasn’t too windy. Jan’s son Todd joined us from Lawrence for a couple of days and then Shirley and Dave Cooper and Gary and Janice Baalman came also. We had a great time and caught some fish. We didn’t slaughter them, but we did catch enough bass, walleye and catfish to have a wonderful fish dinner one evening.
The hillsides had some of the most unusual rocks that I have ever seen. They were a very deep red and looked like a form of sandstone or limestone that had been subjected to a concentrate of iron giving the stone it’s color and hardness. The region around Russell has quite a bit of oil, but I don’t know how that would affect these rocks.
These types of rocks occurred in many places in the park naturally usually where the water in the past had cut through the hillsides exposing them. We could see a cove across the lake from us that had a lot of colorful rocks visible. So one afternoon when the fish were taking a siesta, Ronnie took me over into the cove to photograph the beautiful rock formations with their variety of colors and shapes. BOY, was there a variety of both!
The variety of colors are just beginning to show in this hillside. Note the caves that had been washed out at the water level on the left. The upper part of these caves contained the mud nests of a huge number of barn swallows and as we motored by the air was filled with them.
Around the bend from this hill were two monoliths that had been cut from the sandstone by the wind and water and painted by the elements. It was interesting to see the variation in color from the bright greys, to dark yellow going into bronze capped off with the red rocks. Up on the hillsides the rocks were again the deep red and the willows at the right side were just beginning to leaf out in a brilliant lime green. The water is the cove was very clear and emerald green. What a beautiful picture!
Along the eastern shore were a series of rock shelves with a variety of colors and shapes. Here a tree had fallen into the water or was there when then lake rose and drown the tree. Why the red had colored the rock in this particular location is one for the geologist.
Further along the eastern shore of the cove the rocks turned from light sand to mustard yellow to bronze to dark brown. Why this difference was not evident especially as several outcroppings of rocks above the shore were red in color.
At the tip of the cove with a final burst, again a variety of colors in the rocks bidding us goodbye. From the dark reds on the left and above the tip on the bank, shifting through the light grey to yellow, mustard, bronze and into dark browns. Some of the colors are lost in the photo because the tip of the cove was in the shade. Here again a lone tree stands at the tip with it’s bright new green leaves pointing the way into this secluded cove. Unfortunately, you can only enjoy the beauty of this cove from a boat. There are no roads in the area leading to it.
Western Kansas is often visualized as a broad flat plain without much scenery to enjoy. There is wheat and corn almost from horizon to horizon. But as you begin to look around you find all kinds of beauty just waiting to be enjoyed. There are numerous lakes and reserviors promising abundant fishing and boating fun and just occasionally a peak into the wonders that nature has created such as this secluded cove in Wilson Lake.
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.
We drove south out of San Antonio heading for Corpus Christie and Jan’s friends from Colorado. We stayed in an RV Park in Fulton which is about 15 miles east of Corpus. Nice park, but crowded with winter residents. The next morning we drove to Port Aranus to visit Marla and Jim Miles out on Mustang Island. They own two RV parking sites in a very nice, windy park just off the beach. They took us on a tour of South Corpus and the north end of Padre Island. If you are ever in Rockport, TX, dinner at Charlote Plummer’s is a seafood delight!
Next day we drove south to the Rio Grande Valley, our warm winter designation. We stayed at a park in La Feria for a few days and toured the area around Harlingen and the south Texas Coast. Port Mansifield was interesting from the standpoint of a remote Gulf Coast town. It was very remote and was primarily a salt water fishing town. The area is mostly produce crop farming although as you got closer to the coast line the real southern Texas land became visible, prickly pear cactus and Mesquite bush. I doubt that goats could even survive on it. Further south we reached Port Isabel and could see South Padre Island from our restaurant on the bay. Looked promising for further exploration.
Our next stop for a few days was Breeze Lake Campground east of Brownsville. The campground was nice with a beautiful lake; however, it was overcrowded with campers parked almost on top of each other (mostly short term campers). We spent the next day touring South Padre Island and drove north on the Island to the end of the road (about 10 miles). The upper end of the road was mainly for surf fishing and sun bathing. The lower part of the Island is very built up with beautiful high rise hotels and condos along the ocean and a lot of tourists. We did enjoy a great shrimp dinner on the south end of the Island and again a delicious seafood buffet on the Island with our friends Ronnie and Nancy Miller.
With a two night stop in Mission, TX just west of McAllen, we spent one day on a trip to Progresso, Mexico. It was way overcrowded, too many hawkers on the crowded walkways and the military guarding the border with machine guns including 50 caliber guns in sand bag revetments. With all that’s going on with the drug wars along the borders, it wasn’t a good place to be. We left Misson for Falcon Lake the next day with the intent of staying a week there. However, that was curtailed by a blooming bush called the ‘Weezak’. I usually don’t have problems with alergies, but the pollen of the thousands of blooming ‘Wezaks’ did me in. My sinus swelled up like a balloon and I was coughing constantly. I couldn’t sleep at night and had to set upright to get any rest. Falcon Lake was beautiful and was formed by damming the Rio Grande river. The border between US and Mexico is in the middle of the lake causing a lot of border patrols through the State campground. The campground was very nice with full hookups available and ample room. Too bad I couldn’t have enjoyed it.
After three nights, I couldn’t handle it anymore and we move on to Zapata to a campground where Earl and Opal Moss, Hoxie friends of Jan’s were staying. The campground is located at the upper end of Falcon Lake and is very popular with boaters and fishermen. We stayed in the park for five nights and toured the local area. The weather was nice and warm in south Texas and that is about all the good I can say about it.
We drove north on Highway 83 back toward home. Highway 83 goes all the way from Harlingen, TX north through Oklahoma, Kansas (just 20 miles west of Hoxie), Nebraska, South and North Dakota and into Canada. Its mostly two lane roads, but we like to travel those instead of the freeways when we are not in a hurry. You get to see a lot more country and what the towns are like that way.
The first night on the road we found that there were not a lot of campground oportunties along Highway 83 so we found a campground about 20 miles west in the city of San Angelo. I must say that the Spring Creek Campground there was the most beautiful and pleasant campground of the entire trip . It was a privately owned campground in the middle of a huge city park along a large lake just south of the city. Our camp site was at the edge of the lake and although the sites were closely spaced, the scenery was beautiful. I could have stayed for several days there and except for the cooler climate would be a nice winter camping area.
The next day we drove on north to Canyon, TX with the intent of spending a day in the Palo Duro Canyon. It was well worth the trip.
The canyon is a Texas State Park just below Amarillo, TX. They call it the Grand Canyon of Texas and I must admit is was really grand. What was so unusual was the terrain leading to the canyon. A few miles west of the entrance is the Texas Panhandle plateau, almost flat ground as far as the eye can see. Then as you travel east all of a sudden this gorgeous multi-colored canyon opens up below you. We stopped at a view point on the plateau and just below us on the side of the cliff was a large stone gift shop, informative center (all about the canyon) and a lodge for guests. The view above was from the parking lot.
But the best still waited for us as the road lead us off the side of the rim and down into the canyon itself. The state has built a 16 mile drive at the base of the canyon so you can really enjoy the beauty and the colors of it.
There were at least four RV campgrounds on the floor of the canyon some with full hookups and most with separated pads each with a shelter, a campfire pit and some with charcoal grills. Very nice camping facilities. Each of the campgrounds also had toilets and showers.
There were even some stone cabins called “Cow cabins”, some with water, fireplace, restroom and even airconditioning. These could be rented although they didn’t have maid service! We were there in the off season which is usually from April to October so there were almost no one camping except for a few campground hosts. As we drove into one of the campgrounds we saw a young doe eating nuts below a tree in one of the vacant campsites. We watched her for quite awhile and took pictures of her and then as we were driving on by a herd of wild turkey walked out of the woods and went to the deer, then over to the truck expecting a handout.
The variety of sediment through the millinea has provided unusual colors as the wind and water eroded the canyon walls. There are layers of greys and white which were ash layers deposited when the Rocky Mountains were still volcanic. The floor of the canyon is mostly sparse grass, junipers, cactus, mesquite and cottonwoods along the creek that runs down through the canyon. The creek which often turns into a flood has over time eroded the canyon.
The continuing beauty of the canyon almost takes your breath away at times. There are also all kinds of trails through out the various side canyons and the canyon floor. You can walk, ride bikes and on some of the trails ride horses. Horses are available for rent. Several of the most photographed parts of the canyon including the pinicle and castle were too far off the road for us to do in one day. But it does make you want to return sometime and stay for awhile to enjoy the entire canyon. It’s only a day away from Hoxie!
This is just sample of the beauty that does exist in Texas. If you ever get a chance to visit this area don’t pass up a day in Palo Duro Canyon.
This the first blog so I will take some time to discuss what I am planning to do. As most of you already know, I used to update our DJS Folly website during the summer months when something special was happening. It takes a lot of time to prepare and post a website each month and in the past few years, I rarely updated it each month. Last summer we sold the DJS Folly. Jan and I had the good fortune to find a beautiful RV Park already in existence and we purchased it. At first we were going to utilize it as we had DJS Folly for the purpose of having a place for our family to enjoy Alaska in it’s beautiful summers. However, we got so many previous guests asking if we were going to keep it open that we decided to do just that although it is still primarily for our families. We now have a permanent website that you obviously know about or you wouldn’t be reading this, so I can now update What’s Happening at the Kasilof RV Park in the summers by updating this blog and I will also be adding photos and limited discussion of our travels in the winter time. Since you can already read about our travels last summer in the Maps and Reservations Section, I won’t add that to the blog.
One other item and then I will get on with our trip to Texas last month. If you are interested in following What’s Happening as I update it, you can subscribe to the Blog. By adding your e-mail to the list, you will be notified when I make a change or add another item to the Blog. You can either ignore it or click onto the website and read it in the What’s Happening section under About the Park. Under no circumstances will your e-mail address be used in any other way.
Jan and I decided to see if we liked south Texas this winter. Now it does get cold in Kansas and BOY does the wind blow. We don’t get a lot of snow because the wind is usually blowing so hard it all blows down to Oklahoma and Texas. Jan decided to get her cataracts removed so she could see the great sights of Texas so we got a late start and didn’t leave Kansas until the 21st of January. On the third day, the weather was warming a little and we stayed in Fredricksburg, TX (about 50 miles north of San Antonio). It was a nice surprise, a immigrant German community of the mid-1800’s and all dolled up for the tourists. Actually the beautiful old stone buildings of main street had been converted to gift shops, winery outlets and good German restaurants. The old stone Churches were really great. We did enjoy looking through all the shops, tasting the local wines (not bad!) and really enjoyed some good German food.
On our way to Canyon Lake above San Antonio, we stopped at the National Historic Site of the LBJ Ranch. It was a really pleasant stop and a beautiful ranch. LBJ donated the house and buildings plus some of the land to the Nation as a memorial and it was very interesting. The State of Texas also has an adjoining part of the park where the visitors center is located. We really enjoyed visiting a recreation of an late 1800’s farm complete with animals and people dressed in the period. The farm is currently being run as they did in that time, raising feed and food, butchering the animals for their meat and storing it in the old ways. They were very informative about the conditions and the way things were done at the time. Both of us being old (very discriptive) farm kids were fascinated with how they got things done without electricity and gas.
On to Canyon Lake later that afternoon and we stayed a few days at the Lazy L & L Campground at New Braunfel. The campground is located on the Guadalupe River flowing out of Canyon Lake and is has a lot of campsites. On weekends and holidays we were told that it was totally full with kids and adults rafting on the river and fishing. Fortunately for us it was the middle of the week and there were only about 25 RVs in the park. It was a nice park and we enjoyed it although we did a lot of sightseeing while we were there. It was only about 50 miles from downtown San Antonio.
We took a day and toured San Antonio, the main objective being The Alamo and the Riverwalk. I don’t know how many times I have driven through San Antonio and never stopped (usually on my way to Florida). Now I’m glad I didn’t because Jan and I had a great time that day. We arrived at the Alamo early in the morning (at least for us) as we had been told at the campground that it got very crowded by midday. We got the audio cassette tour which took almost two hours. I didn’t know that the Alamo is not a National Monument. I had assumed it was, but it is owned and was restored by the Daughters of the Texas Revolution. It has been accomplished and is run totally by donation. It was a good history lesson and was fascinating being there as the audio tour took you through the entire fight. It’s definitely a must see when in San Antonio, but give yourself at least a half a day to really enjoy it. We did!
That afternoon we strolled down a few blocks and took one of the river boats on a tour of the river that runs one level down in the central part of town. Most of this area is hotels, apartments, restaurants, and convention center with associated businesses. The Alamo is just a few blocks from the boat entrance to the river. The San Antonio river feeds most of the water to the city proper. The 30 – 45 minute boat tour was in an open raft powered by a natural gas motor and the commentary (punctuated with many jokes) by a fun boat captain.
After the boat tour, Jan and I took a stroll back down the Riverwalk to the area where all the restaurants were located. There is a narrow walkway all along each side of the river often going through different restaurants with tables and people eating. There were a lot of different restaurants although many of them served some variation on Mexican food. Many of the restaurants were also accessible from street level up above the river. We walked quite a ways and finally decided on a seafood restaurant called the Rainforest. We were shown to a table for two next to a huge salt water fish tank. We had a large variety of appetizers and two very good Mai-Tai’s! So ended a fun day in a fascinating town.