Fishing, camping, traveling, visitors and mosquitos — you are truly an Alaskan if you smell like mosquito repellent and fish. Or campfire smoke and mosquito repellent.
A weekend on the river banks of the Kenai River or subsistence fishing on the beaches means daylight most of the time, not knowing what time it is — or, for that matter, not caring. Summer and visitors have arrived and so have the fishing and traveling, camping and — oh yes — the mosquitos. For some, it means your relatives and friends come to see you from the “Lower 48.”
Take your visitors to see Homer, a 3-hour drive if you stop at the mouth of the Anchor River for lunch. It takes about 4 hours from Anchorage to Kenai because of the traffic and motor homes on the road. It takes that long from Kenai to Homer if there is heavy motor home traffic. It also takes 3 to 4 hours to Seward from Kenai, if you dilly-dally along the way…it may even take 5 hours!
Seward has the Kenai Fjords tours out into the Resurrection Bay to see the puffins, seals, otters, whales and eagles and the beautiful mountain peaks. Or the Seward Salmon Derby Days or the Fourth of July and watch all those muscle guys and gals in shorts and shirts, run up and back down Mount Marathon. Chances are the person who won is your neighbor. Be sure and pick a place to watch that serves ice cream cones close by because it is one of the hottest days in Seward.
Top the day off by visiting the SeaLife Center — give yourself plenty of time because you can spend hours and hours learning about the habitat of the seals, otters, whales, octopus, jelly fish and the diving murres, other beautiful birds and all the other creatures of the sea.
Homer has many charters to take you to all the bays across Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay, just to go fishing and catch your limit. Take a boat ride to Seldovia — you will never forget all the creatures of the sea you will see! The scenery is just as stunning.
The Homer Spit and the boat harbor are worth walking the piers to see all the beautiful boats, hike the beaches of the Homer Spit, visit the Salty Dawg and all the little shops. Look up the shrimp and crab man and pay the price for the wonderful seafood. When you head home we used to stop at the Anchor River Inn for a great seafood dinner.
Fishing out of Anchor River boat launch or a big halibut fishing trip by charter, you take off from the shores of Cook Inlet in Ninilchik. This means you get up at early, early and be at the boat launch at 4:30 in the morning with rain gear, your lunch and drink. You will be out on the water in a well equipped fishing charter, hopeful catching the “big one.”
After a long day at sea, going back when the boat gets to the beach there is a tractor waiting to pull the boat up on the trailer so you can get off the boat with your catch of the day. Most fishing guides clean and fix your fish for freezing and shipping. Then there is the long ride home well after 9 in the evening – but oh well, it is still daylight out!
Don’t forget to take your visitors to the old mining towns, Valdez, Hope, Whittier. Or experience the ride from Anchorage to Whittier on the Alaskan railroad to meet a cruise ship to take you to Valdez.
How about a train trip to Fairbanks, the highlight is a stop at Denali, as the natives had named it. The highlight is slow ride over the Hurricane Bridge.
Destination on the Alaska Railroad at Denali and the bus rides to see the “mountain” up close and the long, beautiful trip to Kantishna Lodge. You can snooze on the way back to your room and wait for the train to take you to Fairbanks.
Back on the train headed for Fairbanks and the great mining areas and the great park at “Alaska Land” with all the museums of the old time mining, general homestead living and the a wonderful museum that housed the pioneers of the beginning of aviation era in Alaska. Float down the Chena River on a stern wheeler. We so enjoyed that ride.
Our summer visitors from the Lower 48 get a peek at our home-style Alaska living. The first thing most of the visitors say is, “It’s so quiet here” and “Do you live here year round?” Comment range from “It’s so beautiful and much snow do you get?” We have answers for all the questions, after all we have told “our story” many times to visitors through the years. We have lived in the same place for over 30 years.
We gladly take them to our favorite fishing holes and our favorite places to go … as you see, summer times are our vacation along with our many visitors. When they about ready to leave, give a call to all your Alaskan friends and they will be right over with their favorite picnic dish and a big smile ready to meet a new friend from down below. Usually deep-fried beer battered salmon and halibut is what we serve while we sit around the famous Bob’s bonfire.
Some days we just show them our “backyard,” fishing at Bishop Creek and Swanson River. On our way we show them our very favorite place to go almost every week — Captain Cook State Park. We look across the inlet to the land of 10,000 smokes, volcanoes in every stage of eruption. You also can float down the Swanson River by canoe ending almost at the mouth of Cook Inlet,
Walking on the beaches of Captain Cook Park you can see the oil rigs standing on legs sticking up out of the swift water. Usually Bob can name each and every one of the 12 or 15 rigs.
But the most important of all is to stop and smell the fireweed blossoms and the wild Sitka roses and show them your favorite spot to pick blueberries, raspberries, wild strawberries and currents.
You do warn them of the “devil’s club” that attacks you if you wander too far off the beaten path. Watch out for the those devilish stickers and that big ol’ bear that may be watching you pick hi blueberries. We tell them of our “bear encounters” and mama moose and her babies.
We end the summer days around Bob’s bonfire telling tall tales of Alaska. Most of them are true! Have a great rest of the summer that is sliding into fall way too fast!
The Pioneer Potluck series is written by 50-year resident of Alaska Ann Berg of Nikiski. Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends. She has gathered recipes for more that 50 years. Some are her own creation. Her love of recipes and food came from her mother, a selftaught wonderful cook. She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day. Grannie Annie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.