Monday, June 16, 2014

Becoming Alaskan

I got called out this weekend for saying that I don't intend to be an Alaskan forever, but we are all in for our time here so when we hadn't gotten a spot this weekend with the squadron at the Russian River Campground, we decided to take matters into our own hands and book a couple of nights down the road at the Kenai Princess RV Resort. It's a bit of a misnomer; to quote Jeff, "it's not to princessy," but it was an RV park with full hook-ups and availability, so it won. The Russian is packed this time of year because it's the start of the red salmon run up the river, but the Kenai River salmon run won't come until July so things are a little less crazy on the river. Originally we planned to go with another family, but they fell through at the last minute (it's the downside of military life; the schedule isn't actually our own) which wasn't a big deal except that Jeff and his buddy had already booked a learn-to-fish river expedition. That turned out in my favor since Kristen offered to watch our kids at the other campground so that Jeff and I could learn to fish together. It was awesome because this was my view for the morning.

We met our guide, Adam, at the Cooper River landing where he fitted us with waders and life jackets. We looked super-sporty. Then we headed downstream to do a little spinner-fishing and a few different kinds of fly-fishing. Jeff got the first catch of the day with a  Dolly Varden.

I had the next catch - a pretty Rainbow Trout. It jumped out of the water as I set the hook and both guys were excited about how big it looked. The glory was kind of lost on me as I have no idea how big a Rainbow Trout normally is. I can tell you that this one was a fighter and it was really fun to reel in. 

After that, we tried a little fly fishing which doesn't look nearly as graceful on me as it does in movies. Jeff stuck with that a little longer but my hand got really tired and cold, so I spent a while just hanging out. I'm a pretty easy fishing client, it turns out. But I did catch another little Rainbow and a little Dolly Varden, so it was successful.  Jeff caught a couple more as well, so it was a successful day. And for anyone who might be thinking I've totally changed my ways, it was catch and release fishing. I still don't have a desire to fry up any trout. 

We made it back to Kristen's campground just in time for Jeff to grab the Rife kids so Jerod could go salmon fishing and Kristen and I could go on a float trip down the Kenai with ten other wives. My life was not difficult on Saturday! It was essentially the same trip I'd taken down the river on Saturday morning, but with refreshments, female conversation and a longer trip. The Kenai and Russian Rivers converge, so we floated right through all the combat salmon fishing, so termed because people line the riverbank on both sides for a couple of miles, not more than five feet from one another, all attempting to snag their daily quota of three red salmon. I've never seen anything like it but sadly don't have a picture since my camera was in my sweatshirt pocket, which was under my fleece, under my rain jacket, under my waterproof rafting jacket, under my life vest. It was fun, but it wasn't a warm day!

After we parted ways with the Rife kids, we grabbed a little dinner and took our kids back down to the river so they could fish a little, too. It turns out we need some new fishing rods, but it was fun and Jeff was the big winner with another Dolly Varden. 

I think this was taken just about the time Natalie informed Jeff he was killing the poor fish. It was a little tricky to get the hook out of this one. Shortly after that, Natalie got bored and took up residence on a tuft of grass.

Seeing that we were losing our audience (it was 9:00 at night, after all) we headed back to the camper for a good night's sleep and plans to find a mountain lake the next day. As a Father's Day gift to Jeff, everyone slept in until 10:00. That NEVER happens! Wyatt was up for a little bit but crawled into bed with us, where he proceeded to go right back to sleep. I don't think any amount of shopping could have produced the same quality of gift for an overworked Jeff. We had some brunch and headed out to find Rainbow Lake, as recommended by our fishing guide for a cool place to take the kids.

After a twelve mile drive into the mountains, we found it. Alaska is not warm, it is not always sunny, but it is beautiful. 

family selfie - it's the only way to get a pic of all four of us in the middle of nowhere.

Wyatt at the trailhead.

Natalie in action. 

Wyatt getting a lesson on the big-guy spinner. 

Fisher boy - he totally got the hang of the reel without the easy casting button.
just a gratuitous Alaska scenery pic. It's amazing at every turn.

And if that wasn't enough excitement for one weekend, we caught a porcupine sitting in the road on the way down the mountain. I always thought porcupines were little, and maybe some are, but the ones here are huge! I only had my phone, but you can see that big brown blob on the right side of the road. As soon as it saw us, it lumbered off the road. 

Once it got into the woods, it was actually fairly agile getting into the underbrush and up the incline. You can see its brown and white striped back among the leaves in the picture below. 

Another adventure weekend in the books!

1 comment:

SStites said...

Oh, I'm loving your blog again! Have missed it! Reading this one, I'm thinking "A River Runs Through It" with the fly fishing and all! Great photos and love seeing all of you again!