Grandma and Grandpa (I call them that since I feel that I am related) finally arrived up here on the 5th of May. Man, I thought they would never arrive, but here they came with the big old van loaded with goodies for the summer. I decided to wander over and see what was going on. Turned out they were very happy to be back and to see me. They took lots of photos of me which really pleased me (I am very handsome after all).
Turns out that they had a lot of company (mostly my cousins and their kids) visiting this summer. It wasn’t more than a couple of weeks before this really good looking gal named Debbie and
this crusty geezer named Kevin arrived. Debbie started planting those really tasty bright colored plants in all the boxes which will provide me lots of munchies this summer. However, that was short lived when Grandpa really yelled at me when I tasted those bright red ones at the end of the steps. Then we got in a big propane tank with a transfer pump on the front to fill propane tanks and RVs.
Kevin got busy and built a platform in front for the tanks.
Then shortly after they arrive, a real cute little girl named Nicole (I call her Colie) came to stay part of the summer with us. She was doing something called a Physical Therapy rotation, whatever that means. Turns out that she was gone most of the days, but would show up in the evenings.
BOY, she was really cute so I spent a lot of time in the park in the evenings. I had to show off my better half a little for her and got down on my knees to eat some of those tasty little greens called Horse Tails.
Debbie and Colie wanted to go clamming, but Grandpa wouldn’t let me go so I stayed home. I took care of the RV park while the others were goofing off. When they got back, they had to clean all those nasty little shellfish (what a waste of time when they could eat tasty leaves and grass). Then I heard a lot of screaming when cute Colie thought one of the clam parts moved when she was cleaning it (I’d squirm too if someone poked me with a knife).
If that wasn’t enough, all the women took off to visit Homer. I just don’t understand what is so great about ‘Homer,it’s just a small drinking village with a fishing problem’. It would seem that they would have had more fun staying home and taking photos of me. I guess that cousin Debbie got mad because I was paying so much attention to cute Colie because she went back to someplace called Nebr-aska. I don’t know where that is, but it must be close to Al-aska.
Then all of a sudden this tall dork with long hair and a scattering of hair on his chin (doesn’t he know that it is supposed to be below your chin?) shows up. (Note that I was hanging around in the background to make sure he didn’t get too familiar with my Colie)
(Oh Man, I thought that it was her husband. Then he gives me the evil eye , but I found out that it was her brother, one of my cousins) Turns out he is pretty cool although he managed to do some dorkie things like trying to swim in the river with his chest waders on (oh well, kids!).
Grandpa rowed the big pontoon boat down the Kasilof river from Tustumena Lake with Colie and Grandma on the front seats. Travis was in the small pontoon boat behind them (I was running down the side of the river watching them). Then I find out that he doesn’t know which is the front and the back of the pontoon boat. No wonder that he ran into the tree hanging over the river (Boy did I heh-hah when he upset the boat).
My opinion of him didn’t improve when I saw him riding this log down the hillside later in the week, but it turns out he was tying a chain around it so he and Grandpa could pull it up the hill with the truck winch so it could be used for firewood. He managed to clear a lot of beetle killed trees off the hill for firewood. Turned out he was a pretty hard worker and got lots of firewood up for the summer campfires.
Then of all things, I wander down by the well house. Grandpa throws all the cottonwood saplings that he clears out of the green spaces between the RV pads there and what do I find, two masked bandits stealing the saplings. Well darned if it isn’t cousin Trav and the cute little Colie burning those saplings up. I wondered if they were playing with fire and didn’t want Grandpa or Grandma to know they were doing it. Did they really think the masks would keep them from being recognized? (Kids!)
In the evenings around the campfire, Grandma and Colie liked to roast marshmellows and put them on graham crackers with chocolate to make s’mores. (It really doesn’t sound too good to me. I’d rather eat those bright red flowers in the front of the deck steps.) Anyway, they gave cute Colie the name: The S’MORES QUEEN. (They must be okay if she likes them!)
They must have been pretty good though because she had to go take a snooze on the ATV behind the workshop (that doesn’t look too comfortable to me, but then I prefer and nice grassy area).
Travis decided to go back home and work at the Marina where he could watch all the young chicks in bikinis that came to swim and ski (I couldn’t figure out how you could put a bikini on a chicken, but then I wasn’t sure what a bikini was either. Evidently Travis liked it because he didn’t want to stay here with me anymore). So we bid him goodbye until hopefully next year.
The Hill family from Hoxie came for a visit with us. They are from Grandma & Grandpa’s winter home in Kansas. They have two good looking young daughters (I drooled a lot while they were here and I think Colie got mad at me). Anyway, Mark, the dad walked out of the restrooms in the back of the lodge the next morning and came face to face with my Mom. She had come over to hunt for me and decided to munch on some goodies around the campfire pit. Before long Sueanne and Carmen joined Mark to watch Mom show off. Kelsey in the mean time was parading around in the lodge in a towel, much to Kevin’s delight (darn, I’m never in the right place at the right time!).
Grandpa was busy building a roof over the conex and a workshop, smoker on the side of it. Colie and Grandma painted the rafters and front although I don’t know how Colie could paint upside down! (It made me dizzy watching)
The workshop is big enough that he can put the ATV in it in the evenings. The fish smoker is in the box on the left at the far end of the shop area. It can hold 6 trays of fish. The smoke barrel is just outside the shop with storage for the alder wood across from it. They finished it just in time for the red salmon season to start.
Wow, things had just started to settle down when Grandpa’s oldest son, Cody and his family came to visit. They were at the overlook down at Homer for this photo.
It didn’t take long for the boys to start having fun on the ATV in the park (Now why didn’t they ask me for a ride. I’m as big as a horse. I had to be careful not to walk out of the trees and get run over). Nelson would take Jim around the park, then Jim would take Cody then Margaret around the park. They manage to put a few miles on the ATV while they were here.
While Travis was here, he took the back off of the ATV trailer box and made a fort for Jim and Nelson. It was really cool as it was set part way down the bluff behind the park and overlooked Crooked Creek below. It had a door on the back and a window that opened in the front with a steering wheel (I have no clue where they were going to drive it!). I watched as Jim and Nelson painted the fort green so it would disappear into the trees. They even painted a helicopter landing area on the top of it (I’m not sure what a helicopter is, but it would have to be pretty small to get through the trees and land on the fort).
It wasn’t all fun and games while they were here as they had to help around the park. Both boys were splitting the logs that Cody had cut with the chain saw and then they had to stack the split firewood in the firepit area for the evenings. Jim had taken lessons in fire starting this year when he was a Cub Scout and was responsible for building and starting the campfires every evening.
What is it with this ATV? It sure doesn’t look like a bed and yet every one wants to sleep on it. Surely he didn’t think he could drive it like that. He must have been tired from all that work!
Now I wasn’t able to go on the next trips with the family as I won’t go out on a boat even if it was an ARK. Since they don’t take ARKs halibut fishing or sight seeing out of Seward, I decided to stay home and watch the park. I really hated to miss the Seward trip because sweet little Colie was going on that one!
So I’m going to let Grandpa tell you about the Halibut trip and the trip out of Seward to visit the Kenai Fjords National Park and the Holgate Glacier. Spike signing off until they get back to the park.
Each of the boys managed to catch their own halibut. Jim caught the biggest one of the day 44#, but we all had good success and came back with a limit each. The day started out with swells of 2 to 3 feet and Captian Don was worried that it might get worse. However, as the day wore on, the seas began to calm and we had a beautiful day with lots of fishing.
KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK
Cody, Margaret and the boys, Nicole and Jan and Jon took the Coastal Explorer on a tour of the Kenai Fjords NP on the 4th of July. We had a early morning drive to Seward with an 8 am trip scheduled. The boat wasn’t crowed although Seward was over-flowing with people due to the annual Mountain Marathon. The seas were calm and although cloudy most of the day, the sealife was very active.
We were barely into Resurrection Bay when this feisty little sea otter came to the surface to show off for the observers on the boat. Otters are plentiful in the bay and tend to be very curious. On out further along the bay we saw a rare sight of a mountain goat with her kid. They were probably 150 feet above the water on the shear edge of the mountain.
We saw lots of seals and sea lions such as this one watching us as the boat passed by. The rocks along the shore in this area was covered with both harbor seals and sea lions. Next was the bird rookeries with large number and variety of sea birds including several groups of puffins in the rocks.
We also saw several groups of humpback whales including this one female with a young calf. She actually came out of the water (breached) once, unfortunately I didn’t have my camera ready for the photo.
Our ultimate destination on the tour was the Holgate Glacier. The boat pulled up very close to the front of the glacier and stopped the engines so we could hear the glacier cracking and popping and watch it occasionally shed ice into the ocean (they call it calving). The boys were fascinated with the huge size of the glacier and it’s blue color.
The boat crew was nice to net samples of the ice that had broken off the glacier and hand them out to the people on board the boat. Cody is holding the ice while Colie and Jan are posing for the photo (I had to take the photo quick because the ice was cold!). Margaret was with us on the trip although the motion of the boat made her queasy so she wasn’t running around the boat like the rest of us were. We had a good trip, saw a lot of sealife and was a nice calm day even though it was cloudy. The Captain indicated that the overcast was good because the sealife viewing was better then.
THIS IS SPIKE AGAIN – There, I thought Grandpa did a good job describing the trips that I couldn’t do. I let him talk occasionally although it’s more fun to tell you what has happened this summer.
Here it is early July and this is when things really start popping around here. The Red Salmon season is about to start and we have more guests coming and lots of campers.
First to arrive are Ainsley Pyle and her daddy, Ryan. Ainsley had to show off her baby to Colie and tell her all about their trip to Alaska (she sure is a cutey and really smart for a girl. I didn’t understand the baby bit though since it sure didn’t do much except lay around when Ainsley wasn’t holding it. It got left out in the rain one night too! I didn’t hear it cry once.).
Ainsley helped around the park too. She liked to water the flowers (which I appreciated because they sure are tasty. Fortunately it was raining a lot because she had a little problem figuring out where to put the water other than her shoes). Ryan’s mother, Pam came up for a couple of days to visit and then to take Ainsley back to Kansas with her. Ryan took them to Anchorage to the airplane and then picked up his girl friend, Cheri to stay for the Red Season.
Doug Hinzman and his friend, Beasley Tarver arrived on the 16th of July. Beasley is the grandson of the Budweiser distributor in Sebastian, Florida. Doug brought him up to Alaska to give him the experience of fishing in Alaska. Their first fishing trip was with Captain Don of Alaska Trophy Charters for Halibut. They had a great time catching their limit.
I wandered over one evening after Doug and Beasley arrived to see what was going on at the park. There was this masked man with a shovel in his hand moving a bunch of red, white and green things around on the big metal grate above the firepit. The red and green things looked appetizing, but they sure didn’t smell very good. There were also some slabs of something that didn’t look appetizing at all. When the masked man saw me, he called me Spike. I’ll be darned if it wasn’t Grandpa! I asked about the mask and he said he didn’t like the smoke either.
Then they all went into the kitchen and ate all the stuff that was on the metal grate. Sure didn’t look good to me, but they seemed to enjoy it. Sitting right up front was Cheri with Ryan on her right, then Grandma and Grandpa with Beasley on the end. The Crusty Geezer next beside my cute little Colie and her dad, Todd next to her. Doug was taking the photo.
Todd, Jan’s son had arrived on the 19th to spend a few days with Colie and be here for the Red run which had already started.
Back to Grandpa’s commentary –
We started fishing for red salmon on the Kenai/Russian River ferry landing in late June although we didn’t have any success. There were very few salmon being caught there this year partially due to the Fish and Game netting over four thousand before they could come up the river (according to the Peninsula newspaper). We tried several times on the Kasilof River close to the park in early July when the red salmon run was starting; however, we had very little success there also. The Kasilof is shallow and very swift, therefore it is difficult to determine where and when the fish are running. We were beginning to wonder if this year’s red season was going to be a bust.
When the second run of the red started up the Kenai river, we went to Ryan’s fireman friend’s home to try our luck. Fortunately, the reds were plentiful in the Kenai. Colie caught her first red the first night we were there and although she was a little queasy about holding it, she was definitely hooked on red fishing. Cheri too quickly started catching the reds and the two of them limited out each time we went.
The limit continued at three each until the minimum number went up the river to assure futures stocks. The photo on the right was a catch on the 23rd with the six of us limiting out (Cheri wasn’t available for the photo). On the 25th the limit increased to six each, but by that time we had enough fish for our winter stock. The last day we fished, five of us caught 30 reds, one pink and one dolly varden, a fitting end to a wonderful red season.
Catching fish didn’t end the fun! We still had to clean and fillet the salmon, then package and freeze it for the winter. Of course the strips were put in our marinating mixture for a couple of days before they were cured in the smoker. And then the pieces with bones were frozen until later in the summer when they can be thawed and then canned.
Several families of Japanese were staying the park for a few days and some were dip netting salmon. We were rather curious how they manage to clean the fish with the entire family at the cleaning table. (vailey inter-es-ting!)
Since red season was over, we decided to complete a couple of projects that we wanted to accomplish this summer. And since Todd and Ryan were still here, we started to build the walkway between the park model and the camp kitchen. We set the posts in cement, then put cross beams to hold the decking boards. It has one set of stairs just outside the park model so we have access to the rear area and then a step down to the grass and gravel path beside the camp kitchen.
You can’t believe how many steps it saves Jan and I each day by having the walkway . I still have to put the lattis under the front to match the deck on the park model plus I want to build some planters to put on along the top railings for flowers.
Todd had the brilliant idea to increase the amount of storage in the camp kitchen by adding storage shelves in place of the screened window. Jan sure needed more storage space so we took out the 8 foot section of the window and enclosed it with a framed box. Then put plywood on the inside to enclose it and siding on the outside match the exterior of the building.
The wooden cabinet that was on the floor just fit inside the storage area. We finished putting shelves in to hold the microwave and other items on the turn-table. We then moved the two stoves up along the wall to the front. The result is much more open space without a lot of stuff setting around. Some new carpet and thus a much handier kitchen. Thanks, Todd
Stay tuned to the end of the summer blog and further commentary by Spike.