July 19 – Soldotna, Alaska
Our trip from the Yukon into Alaska went pretty well. There were rough roads and ice heaves, but it seemed to be less treacherous than we expected. Kluane Lake is a gorgeous area. The Alaska Highway is an amazing feat of engineering. I should have been writing about it more as we traveled. The basic information is that it was build by the US Army Corps of Engineers as a supply route during World War II, in about 10 months in 1942-43. There were really neat stories about it all along the highway. It followed lots of prospecting and hunting trails.
We had lunch on the porch at Buckshot Betty’s – the inside tables were reserved for our Bus tours friends from Liard River! A swell group of senior citizens from Virginia….
We pulled into Tok at 5 PM, got some groceries and decided to keep driving. At 7 PM, the rest area at Milepost 24 was our stop for the night, the beautiful pink fireweed was blooming right outside our window. We had the parking lot to ourselves and you couldn’t even see (or smell) the outhouse from our spot!
Bright and early on the 17th (because Jackie didn’t reset her watch), we left for Pete and Ed’s in Soldotna, less than 400 miles to go! We have been on the road for a full wekk and have gone through 3 time zones. The weather was cool and overcast. But the scenery is still awesome. We had breakfast at a roadside café, decent food, but not 5 star in the cleanliness department! We saw the Matanuska Glacier outside Palmer – spectacular! Drove through Anchorage and on to the Kenai Penninsula. The Kenai is huge – and being Sunday afternoon, there was lots of weekend traffic returning to Anchorage. There was also some road contruction. Had some dinner at the Taco Bell next to Fred Myers in Soldotna. Arrived aat Ed and Pete’s about 6. It’s a cute little A Frame cabin with a great spot for the RV right in the driveway. Ed warned us they had not gotten any salmon yet, but the guys fished for trout for a bit – can’t be on the Kenai River and NOT try to catch something!!! Pete made ribs and p[otatos for dinner and we ate again! Early to bed, and what a great feeling to know that we didn’t need to drive in the morning.
So, the 18th was our first full day here at the Kenai River – what a great day!! Beautiful sunshine, clear blue skies and the salmon run started!! I don’t even know where to begin. The river is the most amazing shade of turquoise blue. This area is part of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and the Kenai River is a state park. In addition to watching Lowell and Bob master the “Kenai Flip”, we watched eagles and gulls and grebe (waterfowl) on the river all day. Ed’s dog Cody kept us entertained as well. She loves to stand on an old tree stump next to the fishing dock, watch the fishermen and “help” land the fish. For ab out 3 days before we got here, there was a grizzly bear showing up across the river to feast on a moose calf that had drowned and floated down. We are watching, but haven’t seen him yet.
After lunch, Pete took Jean and I to the Kenai Fabric Center – OH MY!!!!! I have never seen so many beautiful batik fabrics all in one spot. It was almost too overwhelming to shop! But shop we did, all 3 of us found “a few” things to add to our project stashes. We also stopped at the Laundromat and got a few groceries. Later in the week we’ll need to find the Soldotna shop as well.
In addition to Pete and Ed’s exceptional hospitality, their neighbors are showing us true Alaskan kindness as well. We were invited to Scott’s for deep fried salmon appetizer’s – melt in your mouth – fresh – salmon cubes deep fried with a light coating of batter mix. We never even made dinner after that! More fishing and an early bedtime again.
Today (Tuesday the 19th) I am writing this sitting at the picnic table, looking at the river and learning to net salmon. Lowell, Bob and Pete ran into town after breakfast to get more flyrods, a box to ship salmon home and a few other supplies. For dinner tonight, Ed is grilling salmon!
OMG! Talk about melt in your mouth - that was the best and freshest salmon ever!! The fish are still biting and the sun it still shining - it's 10:30 PM and we are all exhausted! Time to hit the sack.
Today we (the girls) went into Soldotna for additional fishing supplies and the quilt shop! We are at McDonald's doing the technology thing!
One interesting fact for your fisher-people, each day Ed calls the fish # and gets the report about the number of salmon that have entered the Kenai, when we arrived, only 90,000 had been reported over about a week or 10 days. On the 18th, they reported 230,000! Yesterday it was over 150,00 (2 record days in a row). It takes about 3 days for the fish to make it to the area where Pete and Ed's cabin is, so fishing is picking up! I'm not sure how we'll get Lowell and Bob to leave! We will be shipping fish home.
Just about time to get back to the cabin, I need to sit by the river again and look around at this amazing country! I have to pinch myself at least a couple of times a day to make sure this is all real. I feel like I’m walking around in an 8 X 10 glossy coffee table book!