Hi, I’m Sammy Squirrel! I am kind-a taking over for Spike this year as he hasn’t been around to do the talkin. I saw him early this spring and he told me that he made it through the hunting season OK since he broke off both his spikes. He said the hunters thought he was a girl. I thought to myself that he was really smart to break off his spikes, but I expect that he was really clumsy. Anyway, he headed up into the hills at the base of the Kenai Mountains where most of the other bulls hang out for the summer months.
My old lady and I took up residence in the bird house in the cottonwood tree next to grandma and grandpa’s house. It gives me good access to the goodies on the deck in front of the camp kitchen. Gramps puts out the best sunflower seeds with the bird seed. I just love those things! Although I sure have a lot of trouble getting to them. I had to chew up two of the plastic bird feeders to get to them. Gramps called me a ‘fluffy-tailed rat’ for doing it. That was the first time he threatened with the pellet gun. All the visitors thought I was really cute and would throw out peanuts for me to eat and then take pictures while I was eating them, but I got into trouble by chewing up the deck boards trying to get to peanuts that fell in the cracks.
It was the Bird Seed Bucket that was really my downfall though. I knew that was where gramps kept all those delicious sunflower seeds and I just had to get to them. I was frantically chewing my way into the lid when I heard gramps coming so I got on top of the bucket.
“Have you been chewing on the bucket again?” Gramps asked.
“Who, me?” I replied.
“Yes you with the plastic chip on your nose! I going to get my pellet gun!” he says.
Well I decided it was time that I make myself scarce so I guess that gramps will have to do the commentary from here on out. Hopefully, I will see you next year!
Well I guess that put the fear into him and it will end him chewing on things. We have noticed that he doesn’t spend as much time on the deck anymore.
The moose have been scarce this year, but it’s probably because we became so used to having Spike around all the time. Momma moose spent some time eating the new greens before she had her yearly calf. She has been a regular here in the park for years. We think three years ago she was the mother of Spike and his sister, who came into the park with her twins later (photo later).
Momma moose wandered back into the park eating the new grass and leaves. One of the campers was busy taking photos of her in the space next to his. He had his video recorder busy, but notice that he was behind his auto. Momma moose noticed this too and came over to investigate what he was doing.
We enjoyed this sight, but I could not blame him for hiding behind the camper. Momma moose was as big as his car! Moose are very curious so soon she started eating the leaves off the bushes and completely forgot about the camper.
Several weeks later, Brindle brought her calf into the park. Brindle was Momma moose’s daughter the summer of 2007. We named her Brindle because her face and mane are very blond for a moose. She also has very blond eyebrows. For the past four summers, she has been a regular visitor to the park and for the past three has shared her calves with us to our delight. In early May when we first got here, I was trimming cottonwood saplings in the south end of the park. I saw her walk through the other end of the park very heavy with her calf. When she saw me working at the other end, she wandered down and watched me work for several minutes, then wandered off into the woods. It was nice to be greeted by one of our other residents!
This summer she and her new calf spent several days eating the young bushes and leaves plus new grass in the park and across the road in the State Park. She is so used to people in the park that she hangs around posing for photos for all the campers in the park. This day she and her calf were very photogenic!
Sorry that this photo isn’t better, but we were limited by time and space. We were eating breakfast one morning when Jan noticed Spike’s sister chewing on the willow leaves out behind the shop (we think it is his sister because she has the same long, narrow dewlap that he has). We quickly went out on the deck to take pictures. You can barely see the second calf behind the little red trailer peeking out behind the front calf. We were hoping that they would come out behind the blue spruce to the willow beside the shop so we could get better photos. However, the camper in space 16 came out with his camera to get a closer picture of them. It was a little too close for the momma so she took her calves down the back road to the woods again. Hopefully we will see them again before we leave for the winter although we have noticed hoof prints in the roads where they have been browsing during the night.
SUMMER VISITORS (the human kind)
We had a great summer with lots of campers and family visitors. The family started on the 11th of July with the arrival of Kevin’s son, Ryan Pyle.
A day later, Dave Cooper (Jan’s cousin) and Ron Miller (Dave’s brother-in-law) arrived followed two days later with Ryan’s firemen buddies, Dave Hunter and John Maddox.
On the 20th, Debbie, Paul, Jerod, Jordan & Jacob Post arrived for a Red Salmon fishing frenzy. Two days later, Kyra Stromgren arrived for the Red Salmon season also (plus maybe to be with the Posts too). Not to out done, Todd Andregg arrived on the 24th for the Red Fishing plus to complete the togetherness of all of Jan’s kids.
We had a great time with all Jan’s family, Ryan and his friends and our friends, Dave and Ronnie. The Red Salmon fishing (more later) was great with one of the best years that we have had. It started off with a bang! 237 thousand red salmon entered the Kenai river on the 16th of July, the highest one day entrance of reds ever recorded. On Monday and Tuesday, the 18th & 19th, 26o,000 more came in the river. It seemed that they were almost jumping out on the banks, there were so many of them, BUT OH WAS IT FUN!!!!!
That was who was here to help us harvest all of these wonderful, tasty red salmon, but first let’s go back and review our friends and families visits with all the other things that Alaska has to offer.
DAVE COOPER & RONNIE MILLER
On the 15th the reds weren’t in the river yet, so Dave, Ronnie, Jan, Gary & Betty Buchanan and I went clamming. In this photo, Betty was taking the photo while I was parking the vehicle and bringing the 4-wheeler back to the beach. Dave & Ronnie had never been clamming. Gary & Betty were from Michigan and wanted to try it. ? So off we went to Ninilchik Beach on a -3.5 foot low tide to try our luck.
Across Cook Inlet is 11,000 foot Mt. Redoubt, the group is heading out to the open sand bars where the famous Alaskan razor clams are found. Notice all the people already there and the many rocks and muddy streams between them and their destination. But being the hardy souls that they are, they will persevere and claim their prizes (Note that none of them have clam shovels or clam shooters with them).
I guess that they think the clams will just jump in their buckets. Whoops, no buckets! But along comes the Hero, Jon on the 4-wheeler loaded with clam shooters, shovels and buckets to save the day!
And there it is! The clams just waiting under the surface for us to come along and pick them up. Notice the beautiful setting with Mt. Ilimana (over 11,000 feet) in the background. How could this not be the perfect place to collect all the wonderful razor clams that one could want?
Well it is, but as Ronnie found out the clams don’t jump in the bucket! After forcing the clam shooter down through the sand and mud then pulling it out (with a great deal of effort), NO CLAM!
So notices Gary who is busting his back pulling out a shooter full of empty sand! “Hey, this is work! How do I know if this dimple is really a clam or just a rock?”
Wait a minute, where’s Dave? There he is, looking for dimples? What is he going to do if he finds one? He doesn’t have a shooter or shovel.
“Here they are! It just takes a lot of effort to get these little guys out. Keep at it guys!”
Finally the clams were dug and we loaded everything for the trip home. It was a good day with almost a hundred
nice clams, not too many of them damaged! Now comes the cleaning process which takes a lot of time. Everybody pitches in and soon it is done.
Left are the slices of the foot for yummy clam strips and the necks and cleaned bodies for chowder. We look back on the work and it was FUN! But the best part was ‘THE CLAM STRIPS FOR DINNER“!
START OF RED SEASON
Red season begins with a bang! So many fish in the river. Dave hung a nice one with his first cast. It’s a fighter and he’s having fun fighting it to the shore. The river is low and the fish are able to use the fast current to make the catching exciting.
It’s a good one! Hooked in the mouth and on the bank. It was the first of many. Dave managed to get his limit of three in just 20 minutes, then watched as the others limited out.
Almost at the same time Dave was bringing in his fish, Ronnie had one on and was fighting it. They are hard to handle trying to get away in a swift river.
After several minutes having fun, Ronnie got his into the bank. Another nice red salmon! It was also the first of many that Ronnie would catch.
The work isn’t down until the fish are cleaned. Dave and I are busy at the cleaning table cutting the fillets into pieces for packaging and freezing. The tail section without bones are cut off, the rib section cleaned and cut, then the top fillet is removed just leaving the strip of bones with their meat.
The skin is removed from the piece and the remaining cubed for the freezer. The bags full of cubed bone pieces will be later thawed and canned. The separated pieces of the salmon are then taken to the shop where they are packaged in plastic and vacuumed sealed before freezing.
Ryan is a master at catching red salmon. If there are any fish in the river, he is going to at least hook them. However, he seems to have an affinity for hooking them everywhere but in the mouth which the F&G insist is the only way you can keep them. They call it sporting: however, it is the only hunting and fishing where you are supposed to let a wounded animal loose. ?? We follow the rules: however, we do question when we see salmon trying to swim up the river with their bellies gashed open and the eggs hanging out. Maybe F & G should consider rethinking this rule. Why not keep the wounded ones and release the ones hooked in the mouth, they haven’t been damaged and will spawn without a problem.
He does seem to have a problem when he does catch one legally. He tends to get himself as bloody as the fish! And he gets scary looking!
I wound up without any photos of the firemen, Dave and John fishing. They were always fishing with Ryan at a different place from the rest of us. Therefore, all we heard were stories of how well they did. Some of them were surely fishermen tales, but they did have several boxes of fish to take home with them.
THE POST FAMILY
Debbie, Paul, Jerod, Jordan, and Jacob arrived the morning of the 20th ready for red salmon fishing. We stopped along the Cook Inlet to view the beautiful Alaska Range of mountains across the inlet.
It didn’t take long for them boys to get ready to go fishing. Ryan took them down to the river for their first trip and it was a good one with each of them catching their limit of three.
After lunch we took Paul and Debbie down to the river for their first trip Red Salmon fishing. It wasn’t too long before Paul had his first red on the line and was fighting to get it to the bank.
Soon he had his first red on the bank and was a happy camper! From then on, you couldn’t stop him. He managed to catch his limit while the rest of us were getting ready to fish. He had a blast fishing for reds!
It took Debbie a little longer to figure out how to hook them, but when she finally figured out what she was doing wrong, she had no trouble catching her limit too.
Debbie and Jan both had good luck and caught their limits.
Back at the park, it was time to clean our catch. I was cleaning and trimming the fillets while Paul was cutting up the separate pieces for vacuum packaging.
The fish then went to the shop to be vacuumed packed. The Post boys had that job while Debbie and Jan were fixing dinner for the rest of the crew. Everybody got into the act on this trip.
The next day the Posts we ready for more Red fishing! I took them up to Moose Meadows where the state had installed several fishing platforms along the river. However, everyone else in the Soldotna area had also gotten the fishing bug and there was no place to fish along the three different platforms and along the banks.
So I took them to the Kasilof river near our park. It’s a beautiful spot east of the Kasilof bridge and there wasn’t anyone there. Neither were the fish! We did get a lot of practice perfecting our salmon catching techniques though?
That evening the Post family went back to Moose Meadows hoping that the crowd had left so they could fish. The crowd had as least slimmed down so they could find a place. Soon Jerod had one on and Jordan netted it for him, then took a bath in the river due to the very slippery rocks. He didn’t loose Jerod’s fish though.
The result of their late evening efforts was another great catch of 12 between the five of them. By the time they got back to the park and cleaned their fish for the next day, it was midnight. See it actually does get dark up here after midnight!
This wasn’t the last of their fishing trips while they were here although they did have other things to do. They took the Seward Glacier cruise, a trip to Homer and a Rafting Trip down the Kasilof. But those are other stories and we haven’t finished the Red fishing with the rest of the family.
KYRA & TODD
Kyra’s husband, Craig decided that she needed some time with her siblings this summer before she started nursing at school this fall so for a special surprise he bought her a ticket to Alaska. She arrived in Anchorage the evening that Dave and Ronnie were heading back to Kansas and had a drink with them at the airport. We picked her up in Kenai that evening.
It was nice to have her with us for a week and she got to have her first experience catching reds. She arrived just in time to take the Seward Glacier tour with the Post family (see it later) and the trip to Homer.
SHE DEFINITELY GOT IT!
So, a few days later Todd comes up. Now Todd is a fisherman and he loves catching Reds. He limited out his first morning (note that the limit was raised from 3 to 6 very early in the run). Obviously he quickly got back into the swing of hooking the Reds.
Then it comes time to take care of all those fish that you catch. Todd and Ryan were busy at the old cleaning table in the park when the idea was generated that there could be some improvements in the cleaning table (but that is a later story in the blog!).
But fishing wasn’t the only activity at the park. Remember the Somores Queen Nicole from last year? Well, Ky and Todd had to pay tribute to her becoming Dr. Nicole this past spring (note the charcoal marshmallow that Ky is hold and the one still in the sticking out of the firepit in front of the chair. Congratulations Dr. Nicole (Somores) McWilliams!
Oh yeah, two other photos which had us wondering? Now why would Ky be standing on the porch with one foot in a bucket of water? Was she practicing standing in the river? Or did she just happen to stumble into when walking on the porch? (Not that she tends to be clumsy or anything!) And what about these two guy with those silly grins on their faces? If you could see the label on Melissa’s hat and shirt, you would realize that it is the Kenai River Brewery labels. ?????? What have they been doing? Did they have a hard day fishing on the river? Doesn’t she look a little pale? I wonder if they smelled kind-of fishy? We won’t show the other picture of Ryan laying in the park driveway! �
WE DO HAVE FUN AT THE KASILOF RV PARK!
KENAI FJORDS GLACIER CRUISE
The Post family and Kyra drove to Seward the day after Kyra arrived to tour the glaciers of the Kenai Fjords National Park. The Park is known for it’s many tidewater glaciers (those flowing directly out of the Harding Ice Field into the ocean) and it’s abundant sea life. It was a beautiful day with clear skies, lots of sunshine and calm seas. It promised to be an exciting trip.
The tourists on the ship were all lined up watching the Muirs (a type of seagull) lined up on the rocks of the shore. They look something like a penguin with their white fronts and black backs. We wondered ‘Who is watching Who’?
The scenery was beautiful with the lush vegetation on the lower cliffs, and shear, snow capped mountains falling into the water. Plus the hint of the glaciers and ice field between the mountain peaks.
They passed rookeries of seals and sea lions laying out on the rocks sunning themselves. The birds were thick with many puffins diving and occasionally they would spots groups gulls gathered at a spot where whales were feeding on small schools of fish. Humpback whales would appear off in the distance with a spout of water from their nostril.
They arrived at Holgate Glacier and watched the ice calve off it’s face leaving small icebergs in the water. Some of the larger bergs had small harbor seals sunning on them. The Captain turned off the ship’s engines so they could hear the glacier popping and snapping as the ice pushed down from the Harding Ice Field above until is broke off the face into the ocean.
The ship assistants collected some of the small chunks of ice from the water and gave them to the passengers to hold and exam. Jake must have been hungry!
Debbie and Kyra chose to enjoy a bottle of good Alaskan beer rather than the ice on their way back home. While the boys decided that they had seen enough and crashed.
TRIP TO HOMER
Homer, Alaska is located at the western end of the longest continuous highway in North America. It is at the southern tip of the main Kenai Peninsula although the Kenai mountain range and the Kenai Fjords National Park are south of it across Kachemak Bay. It’s know as a ‘small drinking village with a fishing problem’.
Actually, it is a small town located on the side of a bluff overlooking the Kachemak Bay and the glaciers coming out of the Harding Ice Field in the mountains across the Bay plus the great Alaska Range of mountain across the Cook Inlet to the west. It is one of the many beautiful areas in Alaska. Plus the Halibut Fishing is Great!
The action is out on the spit, a long stretch of sand and rock that sticks out into Kachemak Bay. The spit was originally created by a Tsunami back in the 1800’s and then fortified with stone keep it from disappearing back into the ocean.
It is a tourist attraction and as such has many gift shops, eateries and Halibut charters. Highlight among them is the Old Salty Dawg Saloon which was orginally the lighthouse and log cabin base for the caretaker. It has been turned into a saloon with very low ceilings. The walls and ceilings are covered with sea paraphernalia, some ladies’ unmentionables and thousands of dollar bills with names and addresses on them. The benches and table are carved with initials and names all varnished into the surface after many, many years. It was a watering hole for sailors and fisherman since it became a saloon and remains that way today, although the day time patrons are mostly tourists.
Not only on the inside, but the outside of the Salty Dawg has it’s own paraphernalia and oddities, not including the two sitting on the rocks smiling.
Located behind the Salty Dawg is another gift shop with a Halibut cleaning area called ‘Buttwhackers’. Many of the Captains from the Halibut Charters bring their catch into this area where the tourists can watch them fillet the fish. Often there are a group of young women that do the filleting much to the pleasure of the guys watching. Note that Todd is not watching the girls fillet the fish. Ha!
Take your pick! Need I say more?
KASILOF RIVER TRIP
The Posts wanted to take a rafting trip down the Kasilof from Tustemena Lake to the river bridge just a mile away from the park. The river is not considered dangerous but it is swift and very remote. There are very few houses located on it and those are just a few miles from the end of the trip. It takes about three hours from the Lake to the boat ramp just before the bridge. We loaded up the big three person pontoon boat, the two person raft and the one person pontoon boat and took them up to the lake where they would start their trip.
Paul is rowing the big boat with the girls in the front taking pictures. The raft was tied to the boat so it wouldn’t get away if it got loose (not a good idea!). Jake and Jordan were in the raft and Jerod was on the single pontoon.
The Tustemena Lake is behind them around a couple of bends and here the current is slow prior to the river narrowing down and becoming more shallow. Tustemena Lake is quite large and very shallow causing it to be very dangerous in strong winds. It often can get waves 6 to 10 feet high is a very short period when the wind comes up. Fortunately today was cool and rainy with no wind.
The river becomes more narrow and much swifter the further downstream they went. The boys were wanting to try rowing the different boats for the fun of it. Jake had just gotten his turn and was still trying to get the one person pontoon boat to do what he wanted it to do when a fallen tree in the river got in his road. Whoops! I guess Grandsons like to test the water to see how cold it is. Like Travis last year , Jake took a bath when the tree caught the boat and flipped it. Fortunately, no one was hurt, nothing was damaged, nothing was lost, only Jake had a very cold trip down the rest of the river.
A couple of hours later after a wild ride downstream, everyone was hugging as the trip was over. I picked them up at the bridge, we loaded the boats back on the trailer and headed home where they would warm back up.
NEW CLEANING TABLE
After standing out in the rain or frying in the sun cleaning fish, Todd and I decided that we needed to improve the cleaning table as our building project this year. We had a problem though. We couldn’t dismantle the old one until the new one was ready as people were still cleaning fish on the old one. Therefore, we decided to build the frame for the new cleaning table on the trailer, then haul it out to the area and replace the old one.
It worked pretty good except we found we needed a couple of gorillas to move the water soaked old one out of the road and replace it with the new frame. We got Jan to help!
We finally got it in place and are putting on the plastic roofing. The metal table was added with a new splash backing. An additional cleaning station to allow three to work at the same time and three individual hoses were added for each cleaning station. The water is now strained to keep all the fish scraps from going down the drain and the drain lets the cleaning water off into the ditch area along the road. It turned out to be a good addition to the park.
There was only one problem with this!
Todd was left with time to think about what to do next year!!!!!!!!
Tune in next year to see what he came up with!
CHRISTINE AND MARK’S VISIT
They will arrive on the 3rd of September for a weeks visit. I will add that after we arrive back in Kansas. We will close up the park and fly back to Kansas City on the 14th, then after a short visit will head back to Hoxie for the winter. See you later.