Sunday, July 13, 2014

Homer -- Kenai -- Soldotna

Since we decided to stay at Country Boy RV Park in Ninilchik we did a couple of day trips to nearby Homer, Sodotna and Kenai.   The weather for the most part has been typical of an Alaskan summer, cool, highs in the high 50's low 60's, with clouds, sun and some rain, often all in one day.  Low temps are usually in the low 50's or high 40's so it is very good for sleeping.  We have noticed that it now "almost" gets dark in the middle of the night.  
Mount Augustine Volcano is an island 70 miles form Homer.  It was last active in 2006 with 13 explosions in twenty days.  Even though it is the smallest of the five Cook Inlet volcanoes, at 4,025 feet it is the most likely to cause a tsunami.
Homer is famous for the spit that jets out into Kachemak Bay.  It is a beautiful setting with the Kenai Mountains and glaciers across the bay.  The glaciers flow off the huge of the Harding Icefield, the same one that feeds the glaciers near Seward on the other side of the Kenai Peninsula. 
 Mount Iliamna is the least active of the volcanoes, but has been the site of several small earthquakes.  It is strange living in the shadows of five volcanoes that could erupt or cause an earthquake at any time.
Homer harbor is the home of the Time Bandit from the show Deadliest Catch.  It was out at sea when we were there.
The Salty Dawg Saloon, the famous Homer landmark, is a must do for most visitors.  We stopped in for a drink and found it to be typical of other such places we have visited while on the road. Been there done that.
Since we had planned to spend a few days in Homer we had our mail sent there.  When we decided to stay in Ninilchik we had to drive down to get the mail.  As you can see it was overcast and rainy.  Sure happy we were not dry camping on the spit in this weather.  We did check out the Homer Brewing Company and gave it a thumbs up even though they did not have an IPA. 
Another day we drove to the town of Kenai.  The old Russian Orthodox church, Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary, has been restored. 
With all the summer sun the flowers in Alaska are unbelievable.  We did another brewery tasting at the Kenai River Brewing Company and were impressed enough that I bought a small growler.  Like the Homer Brewing Company, this one was just a tasting room and served no food.  In Alaska breweries that are not brewpubs are only allowed to serve three beers on site, not a bad idea.  
Chuck told us not to miss this real diamond in the rough near Anchor Point, The Norman Lowell Gallery of Alaska.  We even got to meet the artist.  Norman moved to Alaska 50 years ago and began painting the local scenery.  His gallery has a huge selection of his paintings and other works.  
A few of the neat exhibits of other artists.  I loved the carvings in the antler and horn.  On the right is a clock that is completely constructed of wood, including the chain.
There are several rooms featuring his artwork through the years.  Recently Norman has begun to lose his sight and has to paint on an easel with extra lighting.  He completed many paintings in 2013 that may be his last.
This large (7 x 14 feet) picture of the aurora really captures the winter sky.  If you visit the Kenai Peninsula don't miss seeing this great gallery.  His art really captures the wildness of Alaska.  
One of my goals was to go salmon fishing.  Here are Larry, me, Don and Roger from Country Boy.  Roger has been coming to Alaska for fourteen years and was very helpful in showing us all the technique needed to fish for salmon.  It is like no other fishing I have ever done.  You fish with a bare hook and have to snag the fish because they are only interested in getting up river to spawn and are not eating.  They must be snagged in the month and must be let go if they are hooked anywhere else.
Another day Nanc and I went to an area on the Kenai River in Soldotna where I did not have to stand in the water. Again, no luck. On Wednesday Don, Larry and I got up early and were on the water by 5AM.  They had a couple of illegal snags that they had to return, but I'm still waiting for my first hit.  The number of fish in the river is growing with the daily count increasing from 9,000 to almost 30,000 this week.  They expect it to hit 200,000 next week but we will be gone by then.  I even tried another river, the Kasilof, and had no luck.  I'm sad to report that as we leave the Kenai I did not get a salmon.  Hopefully, I will have better luck in Valdez.  
On Friday we had a going away fish fry at Up Chuck's, the restaurant that is part of the campground, but not open this year.  Everyone contributed some fish and a covered dish and Chuck showed us all how to cook the halibut.  He had a line of workers dipping and breading and someone manning the fryer.  Molly did homemade hush puppies and as you can see it was a wonderful meal.  We had a great time at Country Boy and will plan on returning as long as Chuck is here.  If you are headed this way make sure you stop.  It is a great deal and a great time.

We made a couple of trips to Soldotna, the largest town on the peninsula, to shop and fish.  I needed to buy some fishing equipment including hip waders.  The waders were cheaper here than the same ones I looked at in Las Vegas at Bass Pro, very surprising.  Soldotna has all the big stores so we refilled our larder before leaving.  Other than the Anchorage area, that we will just be passing through, Soldotna is the last place with any big stores until we get to Edmonton, almost 2000 miles away.  We checked out St. Elias Brewing in Soldotna and were happy with the brews and the stone fired pizza.

After three weeks on the Kenai Peninsula we have made reservations for much of the remainder of our stay.  We made campground reservations in Valdez where we have scheduled a glacier cruise.  Then we will drive back through the Yukon and have reservations in Haines where we plan to take a day trip to the Alaska capital in Juneau.  From Haines we will put Opus on the ferry for a one hour trip to Skagway where we have park reservations and have scheduled a trip on the White Pass & Yukon Route railway.  After that we will head back though Yukon and BC and reenter Alaska in Hyder where we hope to get a close up look at the grizzles feeding on the salmon.  This will take until the end of the month and then we plan to sprint over 3,200 miles to WashPA for a couple of months.  Still lots to do as our time winds down in the great state of Alaska.

1 comment:

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

I fished the walkway you are on a week before the run and only had one hit in two days. Good luck in Valdez.