Pioneer Potluck: About Alaska summers — fishing, camping, traveling, visitors and mosquitoes

Taking visitors to see the peninsula is a summertime tradition.

  • Tuesday, August 13, 2019 11:29pm
  • Life

You are truly an Alaskan if you smell like mosquito repellent and fish. Or campfire smoke and mosquito repellent.

A weekend on the riverbanks 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 has arrived and so has the fishing and traveling, camping and, oh yes, the mosquitoes.

Or for some, it means your relatives and friends come to see you from the Lower 48.

Taking your visitors to see Homer is a three-hour drive if you stop at the mouth of the Anchor River for lunch. It takes about four 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 three to four hours to Seward from Kenai. If you dillydally along the way, it may even take five hours!

Seward has the Kenai Fjords tours that go out into the Resurrection Bay to see the puffins, seals, otters, whales and eagles and the beautiful mountain peaks. Seward also has Salmon Derby Days, and on the Fourth of July you can 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, jellyfish and the diving murres and cormorants and all the other creatures of the sea.

Homer has many charters to take you to all the bays across the inlet and Kachamak Bay — just to go fishing and catch your limit. The scenery is just as stunning. The Homer Spit and the boat harbor are worth walking the piers to see all the beautiful boats.

Or how about the Homer Spit, the Salty Dawg and all the little shops? Look up the shrimp and crab man and pay the price for the wonderful seafood.

Fish out of Anchor River boat launch or take a big halibut fishing trip by charter from the shores of Cook Inlet in Ninilchik. This means you get up at early, early to 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 fishing charter hopeful catching the “big one.”

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 nine 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 Alaska railroad to meet a cruise ship to take you to Valdez.

How about a train trip to Fairbanks? The highlight is Denali and the slow ride over the Hurricane Bridge. Take the train to Denali or one of the bus rides to see the “mountain” up close, or take the long trip to Kantishna Lodge.

Get back on the train headed for Fairbanks to see 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 wonderful museum that houses the pioneers of the beginning of aviation era in Alaska.

Our summer visitors from the Lower 48 states get a peek at our home-style Alaska living. The first thing most of the visitors say — “it’s so quiet here” and “do you live here year round?” Others ask, “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 gladly take them to our favorite fishing holes and our favorite places to go — as you see, summertimes are our vacation along with our many visitors.

When they get ready to leave, give a call to all your Alaskan friend 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 batter salmon and halibut is what we serve around a bonfire.

Some days we just show them our backyard, fishing at Bishop Creek and Swanson River — on our way to 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.

The oil rigs standing on legs sticking up out of the swift water. Usually, we 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 off favorite spot to pick blueberries, raspberries. Daughter Gail kept us well supplied this visitor season! Also, 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 those devilish stickers and that big ol’ bear that may be watching you pick HIS blueberries. We tell them of our “bear encounters” and Momma moose and her babies. This year we had twin babies and Momma in our back yard.

We end the summer days around our bonfire telling tall tales of Alaska. Most of them are true!

Our valuable visitors this year from Buckley, Washington, are Jo Anne (Adams) Wahlstrom and her pretty daughter Kandi, who was born in Kenai — Dr. Pete Hansen was the doctor.

The other guests who traveled to Homer with us were Leatha and Tia Earll. They live in Soldotna. Dr. Hansen was also the doctor when Tia was born. Tia and Kandi are almost the same age. She and my daughter Susan are great friends.

Daughter Susan was the driver and sightseeing tour guide. We would leave home early in the morning to see the sights around Kenai and Soldotna.

The destination this day was Funny River Road and seeing the wonderful groomed grounds of Alaska River Cabins, where Susan’s flowers from Fireweed Greenhouse graced the property.

We just came back last night from a two-day trip to Homer. Our lodge and Land’s End was perfect.

We made trips all over Homer and the trip to the Bear Creek Winery was spectacular. Their gardens are beautiful.

Of course, we walked the Homer Spit row shops. Ate at Captain Patties, AJ’s steakhouse and had take-out pizza and salads from Fat Olives on Bishop Beach.

Our trip home included a visit to the Russian Orthodox Church perched above Ninilchik. Then, a stop at the General Store for ice cream.

We came home happy, tired and ready to rest at our own house. Today, we will go to Old Town Kenai, and then find a nice place to eat. Tomorrow, I will put them on the airplane back to their own homes, loved ones and beds.

I want to thank King and Bernie Titera for the hospitality of providing lodging for Jo Anne and Kandi. Their peaceful house and beautiful surroundings were at the top of the list for peacefulness in Alaska!.

We had a get-together picnic for most of our friends Saturday. Wonderful music by Nikki Turnbull was provided and appreciated by all. She even let people pick out their own favorite song. I thank you very much for her three hours of music!

Also, tomorrow Susan’s son Michael and daughter Cecile age 13 now, will come from Washington, after picking up another passenger in Anchorage, niece Natalie to stay the week with them. They have several things planned, including an afternoon at Great Grannie Annie and Great Grandpa Bob’s playing bingo, with Bob as the caller. We have fun prizes and the girls will have fun with our kitties. It will be so nice to see them!

Son David is working across the inlet and has missed the fun. We know he thinks about us and we miss him too.

AND how has your summer been? I see the fall leaves on some trees already — prompting me to say, “WHERE has the summer gone?”

Brownie Cookies

If you are looking for something fast and simple, these are the best.

1 package chewy fudge brownie mix

1⁄4 cup melted butter

2 eggs

Stir in 1⁄2 cup nuts (walnuts, pecans, salted peanuts)

1⁄2 cup chocolate chips or M&M’s or Reese’s Pieces

Shape into balls (about 3 tablespoons). Place on a cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes

Cool. Eat!

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

1⁄2 cup brown sugar

1⁄2 cup butter, melted

2 cups chopped strawberries

2 cups chopped rhubarb

1 cup cold water

1⁄2 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix oats, flour, brown sugar, and butter together in a bowl; press mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan. Top with strawberries and rhubarb.

Stir water, white sugar, and cornstarch together in a saucepan. Bring to simmer, constantly whisking, until mixture bubbles and thickens; pour over fruit layer.

Bake in the preheated oven until bubbling, about 1 hour.

Pink Fluff Lemonade Dessert with Pretzel Crust

Crust

2 cups broken pretzels (about 4 ounces)

1⁄4 cup sugar (or whatever sweetener you prefer)

1⁄2 cup butter or margarine, melted

Topping

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese (low-fat or Nuefchatel cheese)

2 boxes (4-serving size each) white chocolate instant pudding and pie filling mix (sugar-free or whatever you prefer)

1 can (12 ounces) frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed

2 or 3 drops red food color

1 container (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed (low-fat or which ever you prefer)

Garnish

Lemon slices, cut into fourths (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In food processor bowl with metal blade, place pretzels and sugar. Cover; process 15 to 20 seconds or until finely crushed. With food processor running, drizzle melted butter through feed tube, pulsing to mix well.

Press crust mixture in bottom of ungreased 11 x 7-inch pan or glass baking dish. Bake 5 to 8 minutes or until set and golden brown. Cool completely, about 45 minutes.

Remove foil wrapper from cream cheese package, place cream cheese in large microwavable bowl; microwave uncovered on medium 45 seconds to 1 minute or until well softened. Stir until smooth. Beat dry pudding mix into cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until well incorporated. Add lemonade concentrate and food color. Beat on low speed until mixed. Beat on medium speed, about 2 minutes until fluffy. Gently stir in 2 cups of the whipped topping until smooth. Spread over crust. Spread remaining whipped topping over lemonade mixture. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until set.

Cut dessert into squares. Garnish each serving with lemon slices or halved of strawberries.


• By ANN “GRANNIE ANNIE” BERG, For the Peninsula Clarion


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