BearFooting in the Kenai Peninsula

Comments 3 Standard

 

We completed our “bear footing” (having a good time), in Alaska’s playground – the Kenai Peninsula. It left us full of wonderful experiences and spectacular scenery.  The bountiful wildlife in the peninsula borough allowed us to meet the real locals (critters) in Cooper Landing.  We got hooked, we clammed and then traded clams for Halibut in Ninilchik. We gazed at volcanoes and walked and biked the well-maintained pathways in Soldotna.  We went all the way to the end of the road in Homer and to the most westerly point in North America at Anchor Point.  The Harding Icefields and Kenai Fjords National Park formed the backdrop of stunning scenery on the horizon at Seward.  We witnessed frenzy Salmon fishing (or combat fishing as they refer to it) and dip netting for subsistence at the Kenai River in Kenai.  ML even met in person, for the first time, Gemma,  whom  she has been communicating with through FB for eight years.   We spent an afternoon with her, her husband also named Steve and sisters at their home in Nikiski.  The sea life, the Alaskan life,  the glaciers and everything else in between were just astonishing to watch and to experience.

Kenai Peninsula

Kenai Peninsula

The two weeks we spent traveling through the area were not enough. The pictures below are some of the many we took, attempting to capture the essence of what its like to be in the Kenai Peninsula.  We had a great time and we urge you to come and play in Alaska’s playground!

Anchor Point, AK

ML modestly posing at another sign

Homer Spit

Viewing snowcapped mountains from Homer Spit

Homer Spit

Beautiful Sunset at Homer

Anchor Point

North Fork Loop road in Anchor Point

Floatplane

Steve’s first floatplane trip, out of Homer.

Harding IceField

The Harding IceField covers over 700 square miles at the top of the mountain ranges, and spills over the peaks as hundreds of glaciers.

Grewingk Glacier

Grewingk Glacier

Glacier view

Yet another glacier, as seen from the plane from Homer during Steve’s flight.

Mt Redoubt

Mt Redoubt

Mt Iliamna

Mt Iliamna

Gemma, ML, Joy and Wennah

Ninilchik, AK

Steve attempts to fly with the seagulls. They were very graceful, he crash-landed.

Bald Eagle

Bald eagle hanging out near our RV site

Halibut and Razor Clams in Ninilchik – yum, yum!

Comments 12 Standard

Ninilchik,  meaning  “peaceful settlement  by the river ” was our next stop on the Kenai Peninsula.  This town has a rich Russian influence dating back to the early 19th century.  A Russian Orthodox Church was built in 1901, and the historic cemetery on the hill continues to overlook the rustic village of Ninilchik.  This is also a town from which world-class Halibut and Salmon fishing charters are launched to the Cook Inlet.

Old Ninilchik Village

Russian Church and Cemetery

Russian Church and cemetery

We had a lot of excitement and action during our four-day stay here, and we just loved this little town.

First off, I caught a fish – not just any fish – a HALIBUT!  Yes I did!  I hopped aboard one of the charters and went with a group of six for some serious ocean fishing.  My first scheduled outing was canceled due to 50-knot winds and 4-foot waves, but I managed to get on a trip leaving the next morning.  Unfortunately, I had to shell out an extra $20 to get another 24-hour fishing license.  Steve decided to stay home and defrost the freezer to prepare for arrival of the bounty.

Ninilchik, AK

Some of my fishing buddies, Sarah and Nazly

Launching of the fishing boats is a choreographed dance of tractors and boats – in goes one boat and out comes another in a matter of seconds.

Ninilchik, Alaska

Tractor launching boats

It was raining hard as we sped off several miles into the open ocean.  The excitement built as our bait was grabbed by the Halibut.  The hard work began once the fish was hooked and I had to reel it up some 250 feet from the ocean floor.  Halibut are bottom feeders, so a 5 lb. sinker is attached to the end of the line.  I had to reel that in, plus the weight of the bait, plus a 30 lb. fish.  To say it was extremely tiring is an understatement.

I had to take rests during my reeling, as my arms tired and took much of my energy and effort – and the rain was relentless.  The good thing was that Sarah and Nazly cheered me on and helped reel when I needed a break.  I was warned that it would be hard work, but I didn’t know how hard until I caught my first Halibut.  And the worst part is that I had to let go of the first three I caught, as they were too small according to the skipper.

I also caught a black cod which had to be released as well.  I think I reeled in six but got to keep only two, per regulations.  I was totally exhausted – what day!

Halibut Fishing, Ninilchik Alaska

The hard-working fisherman and women, Nazly, Mark and Sarah

We were soaking wet and cold after our six hours on the ocean, but we were very happy with the catch – check it out!

Ninilchik Charters, Alaska

Our catch of the day

And after filleting it for us, this is what I got to take home, almost 20 lbs. of Halibut fillets. Woo hoo!  But I won’t ever go fishing for them again.

Halibut Fillets

We’ll be eating this tasty Halibut for the rest of our trip!

One of the most popular activities in Ninilchik is digging for Razor clams.  It turned out that the following day was a monthly “minus tide”, and the beach in Ninilchik was exposed for hundreds of feet down to the waterline.  Perfect for digging for Razor clams.  Steve went out with fellow RV’er Jacob to learn how it’s done.  They caught a lot of clams, and only came home when the tide chased them back.

Razor Clamming

It’s worth getting muddy for these excellent Razor clams

Alaskan Razor Clams

Alaskan Razor Clams

Razor Clamming in Ninilchik, Alaska

Steve is excited that he found several clams during their trek

Razor Clamming

The clammers bringing back the catch of the day.

We all agreed to trading Razor clams for Halibut.  Hey, what a deal – we didn’t have to dig up or clean the clams, and although it was my hard-earned Halibut that we had to give away, we were looking forward to trying the clams.

Razor Clams

Here are the 26 clams Jacob and Steve harvested and bartered with our halibut, about 3.5 pounds. It was painful to give up the halibut, but the clams are awesome raw with wasabe and soy sauce, fried, or in clam chowder.

Clam Stew

Clam stew is what’s for dinner

I want to give a shout out to Roadlife for her Clam Stew recipe.  What a wonderful dinner we had that night!

 



 

Salmon Frenzy in Soldotna

Comments 7 Standard
Kenai River

We arrived at Soldotna in the midst of the salmon frenzy. Mid-July happens to be the the second salmon run for King Salmon (Chinook) and Red Salmom (Sockeye).  Fishing seems to be on everyone’s mind for locals as well as tourists, as you see them swarming along the banks and in Kenai the river.  Steve reported that the hardware/fishing supplies store was jam-packed with folks buying gear, and it seemed like every boat was heading to/from a launch loaded with supplies.  Most anglers and tourists alike are here,  since  Soldotna is the central hub of the Kenai Peninsula and home of the World Record King Salmon caught, at 97.4 lbs.

Kenair River Salmon Fishing

Locals and Tourist alike are fishing on the river.

Soldotna Fishing Salmon

Watching the fishermen at play

Kenai River

View from the bridge

Fishing regulations are complicated and well regulated.  You can only fish during a certain period of time, at certain river locations and for a certain species of Salmon in particular.  You have to know the fish you catch and know when to throw it back in case you got the wrong one.  Fishing in the Kenai river is extremely popular and on these days quite crowded.  The glacially turbid streams flowing into the Kenai river support the largest recreational fishery in Alaska.

Salmon Fishing in AK

Catch of the day.

Soldotna

Fish Cleaning by the river, there is a rule for that too!

Mt Redoubt

At the mouth of Kenai River.

 

It’s fun to watch the beautiful fish being reeled in, and even for “non-fisherpeople” like us it can be exciting.  We are considering scheduling a salmon tour during our stay in this area.  We still have plenty of time to do it, and our freezer is pretty small so we may have to eat fish for every meal – not a problem!  We’re getting spoiled on the best salmon you can imagine, and we’re afraid  of how much we will miss it while sitting in the desert during the winter months.  Oh well, by then we will have switched our diet to fresh scorpions and cactus- yum yum!

Salmon Fishing

Another salmon pulled from the river!

Soldotna's trail

More fishermen across the river.

We really like Soldoltna.  Even though it is very busy during July, it is basically a small town but big enough to have decent stores and services that make life a lot easier.  We took a long bike ride  on their nice paved trails paralleling Kalifornsky Beach road and went all the way to the mouth of the  Kenai river which is about 11 miles away.  There we saw more people fishing for the tasty salmon.  On this ride we caught the first glimpse of the active volcanoes and with nary a cloud.  We were gazing at Mt Spurr, Mt Redoubt and Mt Illiamna, all viewed from the mouth of the Kenai River.  Just beautiful !  We wished the nice sunny weather will hold up for more days to come.

Soldotna's trail

Biking along Soldotna’s trail with Mt Redoubt at the background.

Kenai River.

Lunch at the mouth of the Kenai River.

Mt Redoubt

Mt Redoubt – wow!