Thursday, November 7, 2013

8/4/13: Soldotna to Mat-Su-Valley

Well, as most bloggers have happen...  I fell of the face of blogging once we got home and had a full connection to wi-fi!!  That is not okay with me, so I decided better late then never and am back at it to finish up the last of our journey!  The following post is from my daily journal notes from the trip.

Today, we woke to sunshine again.  What a nice way to start our day.  Rick was off to fish the Kenai just one last time!  While the rest of us decided we were staying put and packing up.  We have been having so much fun on this journey, but the pull for home is creeping in on us as well.  Rick fished all morning and arrive back at camp with the final catch of the trip.  Those last salmon put us up to capacity in the freezer too!!!  Ya-Hoo!!!  What an amazing thing!  When he arrived back at camp he found that camp was almost completely broke down (except the high stuff) and we were ready to hit the road.  Of course, he still needed to clean the fish, so him and Brady were off to the cleaning station down at the river.  After that, we finished up packing and left our lovely campsite behind.  It was sad to leave the camp ground, as we dont know how long it will be until we return to this awesome place again.  That being said we were on the road.  We topped off with fuel and began the journey back to Anchorage.  We had planned on stopping back at Eagle River tonight, but once we got there we decided we wanted to keep going (again, that homeward pull was tugging).  We headed out on the Glenn Hiaghway, with no particular spot in mind - just getting up the road.  We decided to make a quick stop at Fred Meyers in Palmer before getting to far off the grid - as we knew from traveling this highway before that soon services would be few and far between.  Before we knew it we were approaching the Matanuska Glacier --  such and amazing view!  If you have the opportunity to travel along the Glenn Highway, you cant miss it!  Gorgeous.  The Matanuska Glacier heads in the Chugach mountains and trends northwest-ward for 27 miles.  I guess 18,000 years ago the glacier reached all the way to the Palmer area (some 53 miles away from here).  The glacier itself is huge, average width is 2 miles wide.  You can just feel the cold air from the ice far off in the distance.  It is just awesome.  We continued on to Chickaloon, where we found a nice Alaska State Park to call it a night at.  There would be no hook-up at this site, so we are running on our wonderful little generator to keep that fish frozen.   Once we got to camp and started the set up process, we decided to get a little campfire going.  The kids collected fire starter and Brady went to work prepping it all up.  Before you knew it we were in business.  The camp was fairly deserted, just a few campers that were traveling the highway home themselves.  While dinner was cooking, I decided to take Bo on a much needed nightly walk.  I was surprised to be greeted by a red fox on our walk.  My faithful companion and protector did his job well and we both made it back to camp safe and sound.  We are planning for another long travel day tommorow.  We will see where the highway takes us....  

Last Kenai Salmon of the trip -- I would say we ended on a high note!!

Scenes from Soldotna camp:

Oh yes, the sign:

Matanuska Glacier:

Our campsite tonight:

Monday, August 12, 2013

8/3/13: Soldotna

This morning we were up very early, as we had a scheduled charter on the Kenai River.  We arrived in the town of Kenai, about 5 miles from Soldotna, at 6:00am and met our guide for the day, Justin.  What a great group of people!!  We officially got in the boat around 7:30am and were off.  We had a bunch of bites right away and Kailey was the first one to pull in a fish -- a Dolly Varden.  We didnt want him, so back into the river he went.  It was a bit slow at that spot, so down the river we went..  Our guide had just said "yes, no one is in our spot -- someone is going to catch a fish" and BAM I had one on my line.  How exciting!!  It felt really heavy, but I was not sure what to expect.  Justin guided me through what to do and where to get my line so that he could net the fish.  As the fish came to the top of the water all of us freaked out a bit!!  It was a really, really nice silver salmon!!  I was able to land him and couldnt stop smiling!!  As the rest of the day went, it was really slow.  The sockeye run was almost done and the silver's were not quite in the river yet...  Brady had a real nice one on, but it came off right at the boat.  A few more bites and lost fish (my fault) and we called it a day -- Mr. Bo was waiting for us!!  So, yeah, Momma caught the only keeper on the charter!  Woo-hoo!!  ;)

After getting back to the lodge and getting pictures taken, we were back to camp and of course Rick was off to do some more fishing -- as he caught nothing today and it was our last day on the Kenai.  Tomorrow we will start the journey southbound towards home....  The rest of us stayed at camp and retired to our beds early, we were pooped out from our early morning for sure!

The 15lb Silver and myself:

8/2/13: Soldotna

So, today was just a fun day for us to relax in Soldotna.  We were hoping to meet up with both Rick's uncle and another set of friends from Anacortes today, but as it turned out it didn't happen.  That's ok..  we fished instead!  :)

Rick got four more Sockeye today and then we needed to run into town and run a few errands.  So, off to Trustworthy's (an awesome local hardware/fishing supply store) we went.  After that, it was dinner time and then Rick was off to see if he could get his final two fish!  Ugh!  The rest of us stayed at camp and I chilled the rest of the evening by the fire... then off to bed as we would have a VERY early morning!

The loop we are camping on:

Pine cones:

8/1/13: Back to Soldotna today..

Well, as mentioned in my last post --- EARLY morning for those of us that stayed up way to long after bed time --- writer of this blog included!!  Ouch!  We got through it and got camp packed up and then the kids decided that they were going to teach Bo to "Mush" -- ha,ha!  They decided that they wanted to use this short leash that we still had in the camper from who knows when, rather then his normal long leather one...  No one got hurt, but man did all three of them get tired!  I guess, what more could you ask for on a travel day?

It is a short drive back up to Soldotna, only about 70 miles. We sadly left Homer behind and headed back up the highway.  We were there in no time and decided to checkout the same camp ground that we had been at before.  What a difference a week makes -- the place was deserted!!  I mean empty.  We had our pick of the camp ground this time and quickly found a dandy of a spot and got all set up.  The sun decided to grace us with is presence again today and that is always a warm welcome when camping.  After camp was set up, Rick & Brady were off to fish and Kailey and I decided to stay at camp and read our books by the campfire -- pretty relaxing for sure!  Rick texted to let me know that Brady hooked into one right away and yes, they had a fish on the stringer already!!  Awesome!  They fished for awhile longer and came home with just one or two more.  The run has slowed down in the river due to the commercial boats that are netting right at the mouth.. bummer!

We just enjoyed another nice, relaxing night at camp and then it was off to bed.

Mushing in Homer:

Goodbye for now Homer:

Hello Soldotna:

If you ever wondered how dirty a truck and trailer get when traveling the AK Hwy during construction season, this will give you an idea:

Check out that Sockeye!

Off to clean up the fish:

Bo, safe from the mosquitos under the awning tent over the table:

Fireweed in camp:

7/31/13: Homer

Another early, yet beautiful morning in Homer.  Rick was up and off to the marina by 6:00am for his second day of Halibut fishing with his favorite charter company out of Homer.  The three of us stayed at camp and tried to plan out our last full day in Homer.  Brayden had not gone to many of the shops yet and desperately wanted to find one thing:  a hooded sweatshirt that said "Homer, AK" on it...  Do you think that we could find one in his size???!!!  NO!!  Everything was toooo big or toooo small -- poor guy.  He was kinda of sad, but rebounded just fine.  

After looking all over for a sweatshirt, we decided to walk back to camp via the beach and go on an agate hunt.  Kailey was the lucky agate finder today -- believe it or not she found it in the parking lot!!  Crazy for sure, but we will take it!!  Then it was back to the trailer for lunch.  While we were eating lunch, I noticed something that appeared to be a really long line of logs floating by.. we got out the binoculars and realized that it was actually a ton of Sea Lions that were in a line!!  It was really cool.  They would float so far down and then break formation and swim back up stream and start all over again!  Really fun to see them playing in the water with one another!

Before we knew it Rick was calling to let me know that he would be back to the dock shortly with another load of Halibut -- yay!!  I went down and gladly picked him up.  He once again got his limit on halibut and would be busy vacu-sealing the fillets for awhile.  While he did that, Kailey and I took Bo out for a beach walk (and more agate hunting).  We came back to camp to find "Story Time with Rick" (as Kailey called it)...  We had new neighbors and they were all gathered around Rick chatting away about, shocking...  fishing!  Ha!!  As it turns out the neighbors were on a family reunion adventure that included sisters & brothers (and all their kids) that were traveling around Alaska for a week this summer.  The kids lived all over the USA and flew into Anchorage to meet up.  They were sooo nice and had kids that were the same age as our kids.... needless to say, they all hit it off and took off to the fishing hole right behind our camps.  Kailey hit it off with the older daughter, Liz and they just had a great time visiting all night!  Rick who was up really early went off to bed and the kids and I joined them at there camp for s'mores and more visiting.  We were able to see a bald eagle fly right over our heads at camp and land on a light post right across the way from us... we all walked over and got a REALLY close picture of it.  After the eagle fun, it was back to there camp for more visiting...  The sisters of the group and myself sat around the fire and talked away, while the kids fished.  In Alaska, during the summer, it doesn't get dark until VERY late... ha!  Well, before I knew it -- it was VERY late and actually getting dark!  Um, yes myself and the kids were all still up playing!!!  We all decided to let the fire go out and headed off to bed.  Needless to say, it was a VERY early morning!!  :) An early morning that would include packing up and heading back to Soldotna!!  Ahhhh!!  Oh well, it was worth it - we had such a fun evening with our new friends!

Cool shot with Kailey's camera that is black/white&color:

The Sea Lion log-boom:

Eagle at camp:

Cool fishing boat off of camp:

Friday, August 9, 2013

7/30/13: Homer

So, today the guys were up again at 0530am to get ready for their big day on the charter.  With lunches already packed, they were quickly ready to take off to the marina.  Another beautiful day here in Homer, so we were all hopeful that that would mean they would able to stay out today and get some Halibut!!  They left around 0600am and walked to the marina to find out they were all a-go for today... hopefully when they got out the fishing ground the weather (and water) would agree....  They left the dock and rode out about 20 miles to the fishing area.  The water was still a bit choppy today, but the captain said it would be ok and they were fishing before they knew it.   Um, choppy it was, and my poor baby boy was sea sick and barfing before he knew it.  Poor guy!  The cool thing is that barfing or not, Brady had the first "fish on" and pulled in his first ever Halibut!!!!  YAY!!!  The rest of the day proceeded to be more catching of Halibut and before I knew it I was getting a text at 1:30pm letting me know they were on the way back and would need a ride from the dock because they had a ton of meat to haul back to camp!  Yay again!!  Unfortunately, Brady got sick again on the way back in to port and was barfing once again...  This time he fell asleep and got some rest before being back at port.

KK and I spent the day exploring the upper half of Homer and then stopping off at Safeway for a few groceries.  We didn't find to many things, but had fun looking around town.  I just LOVE Homer and so it was neat to see more of it this time.  We just made it back to camp when I got the text from Rick that they were back -- off to the Marina I went.  They had quite a bit of Halibut meat, which is always a welcome!!!  Back at camp Rick vacu-sealed the meat and then got it all in the freezer.  

Tonight was the night we decided that we would be going to our FAVORITE Finn's Pizza!  I tell ya, if you are ever in Homer, AK --- you MUST got to Finn's Pizza!  After ordering we were able to get an outside beach table and enjoy the scenery while we waited for the excellence!  One of the charter boat had just come in and the deck boys were filleting the meat up just down from us.  Rick and the kids went to watch while I made sure our table was saved and watched from there.  The size of these fish was absolutely amazing!  Seriously, they were HUGE!  It was amazing to see how FAST those guys cut up the fish and were on to the next one!!  Pure skill for sure.  Before we knew it, pizza arrived.  We stuffed ourselves silly with pizza and then rolled back to camp,

We enjoyed the rest of the evening around a campfire.  Then it was time to prep a bag for Rick (he is going on another Halibut Charter tomorrow) and the BED!  

Sunrise in Homer:

Lines are out and BB has the first "Fish on":

Ohhhh Yeah!!!!!:

Poor baby:

Awake and feeling better:

Finn's baby:

Watching the guys clean the fish:

Agate hunting with Bo and KK:


Thursday, August 8, 2013

7/29/13: Homer

Today we again woke to sunshine, what a blessing for Rick and Brady's charter today.  The alarm went off at 0530am and Rick was quickly up and at em... Brady was not far behind him.  Before I knew it, they were off to the marina.  

Kailey and I had plans of shopping on the Spit and just enjoying Homer.  I let her sleep in (and that she did not waking up until 0830am -- which for the early bird of the family, is LATE).  After showers and breakfast we were just planning our day when I got a text from Rick that they were coming back to port... it was terribly choppy out where they were and the captain called it and they were coming back -- but would get to go out tomorrow instead.  So, since they were close, we girls decided to wait at camp until they came back.  Glad we did, as the little boy of the house was "starving" -- he continued to eat 5 scrambled eggs and then told me he was "ok" -- oh man, I think he is growing again.  I had a fire going outside and at camp it was completely calm, so the boys took a nap and us girls read in our books for a couple hours.  When they woke up we were ready to head out and they were thinking they wanted to fish at the end of the spit -- perfect!  They dropped up off at the spit and continued down the road to fish from there.  It was a great day of shopping with my favorite girl.  The guys had no luck, so they decided to head back to camp and fish the "fishing hole" off of camp instead -- us girls would walk back to camp.

After shopping, the wind totally picked up and KK and I walked (and froze) back to camp -- seriously, it was BLOWING!!  I shouldn't have been shocked, yet I was?!!??  Anyhoo, back at camp we chill-axed and after another nap by the boys (it was a very early morning) Rick though he wanted to go down to the spit and get a hat and shirt he had spotted the day before.  The kids didn't want to come, so off to the spit we walked (about a half mile) --- leaving KK in charge and Bo on protection duty while we were down there (they were watching a movie in the locked camper with Bo, we were not to worried).

At the spit Rick quickly found his hat and shirt that he wanted and we decided to watch the men at the docks cut fish from one of the charters.  Wow, couldn't believe it -- there was a 180lb & 110lb halibut that was being weighed... and a HUGE Lingcod!  What I wouldn't have given to bring that home to freeze!!  It was fun to see them weigh them and fillet them up really quick!  Then we went into the Salty Dawg Saloon that was next door to hang a $1 bill with our family "signature" on it.  If you don't know already, the Salty Dawg is famous for the inside being covered with $1 bills that people have signed.. it was fun to do that!  Now, we are on the walls forever!!  Now, back to camp.  Found the kiddosjust finishing   their movie -- perfect!!  Now it was time to get dinner going and relax at camp the rest of the evening.. oh and fish if we wanted too....  :)

Sunrise in Homer:

My favorite boys on the boat heading out:

On the boat:

Walking back to camp:

Rick's BIG halibut he caught at the end of the road:

The BIG 180 & 110 pound halibuts:

Rick and I at the Salty Dawg:

Our $$:

View of sign from camp: