Day 73: High above Kachemak Bay in Homer, Alaska

Day 73: Saturday, July 27, 2013. Ninilchik, Alaska to Homer, Alaska. Baycrest RV Park Site 44. 35 miles traveled.

Delicious lunch at Captain Pattie's on the Homer Spit
Delicious lunch at Captain Pattie’s on the Homer Spit

Foggy skies greeted us as we drove south to Homer, Alaska, our next destination on the Kenai Peninsula. We had chosen a campground for its spectacular views from a bluff overlooking Kachemak Bay. The fog was so thick we couldn’t see anything so we drove to the Homer spit for some lunch at Captain Pattie’s. The Homer spit is a long, narrow piece of land with several campgrounds, a small boat harbor, and many restaurants, shops, and bars. Tourists were everywhere on this Saturday afternoon and parking spaces were rare but we found a spot in front of the restaurant and enjoyed a lunch of halibut and clam chowder.

After a stop at Safeway for some much needed groceries we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying our view from the campground. Several eagles were soaring over the bluffs. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Day 74: Sunday, July 28, 2013

The fog rolled in over the water early in the morning. It was eerie looking down over the fog.

After a home cooked breakfast of sourdough french toast and reindeer sausage we took a drive to Anchor Point, the western most point reached by highway in North America. We stopped at the beach to watch the tractors bring in boats from the water like in Ninilchik. It was so foggy the tractors beeped to help the boats find them.

From Anchor Point we took a drive on the North Fork Loop Road where we saw hillsides covered with fireweed and views of two volcanoes.

We dropped Blondie off at the RV and took a drive down to the spit. We stopped at the Baycrest Overlook where we could see our campground. As we drove along the road a bald eagle was flying at eye level over the beach close to my window. He stayed beside us for a while. What a treat.

As the former owners of several boats named Salty Dawg, we had to stop at the Salty Dawg Saloon for a beer. We finished our tour of the Homer area with a stop at the small boat harbor.

Henry had just built a fire when Ted and Ruth Ann arrived from Ninilchik. They had been on a halibut fishing trip in the morning and were pretty exhausted after each catching their limit. We visited with them and some campers from Missouri while watching more eagles and enjoying our fabulous views.

Day 71: More exploring around Ninilchik

Day 71: Thursday, July 25, 2o13

Blondie and I started the day with our usual early morning walk by the marsh behind the campground.

Later I went for a long walk on the beach away from the campground and boat launch area. It was a beautiful day and many boats had gone out fishing. I passed by many people digging for clams, walking along the beach, or four wheeling by the water. The tide was low so there was plenty of beach.

My hope was to find flocks of eagles feasting on the fish carcasses that end up on the beach at low tide. The only birds dining on the carcasses were hundreds of gulls at waters edge. I managed to find a couple of eagles sitting tucked away high up on the bluff overlooking the water.

Later in the day Henry and I took a drive to see the Russian Orthodox church which sits on a bluff overlooking Ninilchik Village. Ninilchik was first explored and settled by Russians and there are families who have lived here for many generations. I met two women at the church who manage the gift shop and maintain all the graves. They grew up in Ninilchik together and lived with relatives in Anchorage to attend high school because at the time there was no high school in Ninilchik. They graduated together in 1950.

There was an eagle soaring over the bluff as I looked down into the village.

We enjoyed relaxing with Ted and Ruth Ann and feasting on clam chowder that Ruth Ann made from the razor clams that Ted had dug that morning. Henry cooked hamburgers on the grill to finish up a great dinner. As we sat by a campfire after dinner we could see about 2 adult eagles and 4 or 5 young eagles soaring over the bluff by the mouth of Deep Creek.

I went to bed early and was sleeping soundly when Henry woke me up about 11:00 pm and said to come outside to look at something. I couldn’t imagine what it was but put on a jacket over my pajamas before going outside to see the most spectacular sunset I’ve ever seen. It was so out of this world I felt like I was on Mars!.

Day 70: A little sightseeing and a lot of Beach

Day 70: Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Our friends Ted and Ruth Ann moved from the RV park to the site next to us on the beach at the state park. While Henry took the truck to the mechanic I rode with Ruth Ann and Ted to Homer to check it out.

The last few miles into Homer are down a hill with a spectacular view of the bay and mountains with glaciers across the bay. We stopped at a couple of the city of Homer campgrounds on the famous Homer Spit and looked at the private parks there also. Ted and Ruth Ann needed to pick up their mail at the Homer Post Office and while Ted went inside I managed to get a few pictures of a mama Bald Eagle and one of her babies on their nest across the street.

We stopped on the way out of town to get gas and discovered an RV park sitting on the bluff with a spectacular view. We liked it the best of all the ones we saw.

Back at Deep Creek State Park we cooked hot dogs over a fire and took a late night walk on the beach.  Life is good.

Day 68: Enjoying Ninilchik Beach

Day 68: Monday, July 22, 2013

After our exciting day of fishing we decided to take it easy and go for a walk on the beach where our boat was launched. We went at low tide in hopes of seeing some eagles feasting on the fish carcasses the fishermen throw into the water. There were plenty of gulls but the only eagles were soaring overhead.

Vehicles can drive on the beach here so we took off down the beach in our truck. Not a good idea. The sand was very soft and with our heavy truck and over inflated tires our truck had trouble engaging the four wheel drive. It started making strange noises so we got out of there quick. Henry took the truck to a mechanic later where we found out the four wheel drive is toast with a blown transfer case. We will stay in Ninilchik until the work is done on Friday.

Day 67: Halibut Fishing in Ninilchik

Day 67: Sunday, July 21, 2013

A beautiful, sunny day to fish! Our fishing charter with A Fish Hunt Charters left from here in our RV park. We walked to the office at 6:45 to purchase fishing licenses and then traveled to the beach in a passenger van pulling our boat the Afishhunt II. Karen and Mike from Minnesota rode with us. Jonathan and Kelly met us at the beach. We would be fishing through the slack tide.

When we arrived in the beach the tide was going out and the sea was calm. A big relief to me! We boarded the boat by climbing up a ladder and sat in the cabin while the skidder backed us into the water. Captain Seth headed into Cook Inlet for our 45 minute ride to the fishing spot. We spotted a few sea otters on our way out and enjoyed the view of the volcanoes on the other side of the inlet. The sea was like glass. I couldn’t believe our luck!

After arriving at our fishing spot first mate Joey dropped anchor and gave us a lesson in Halibut fishing 101. The Halibut lie on the bottom of the sea floor so you catch them by bottom fishing. With a huge 5 lb. weight on the line and a baited circle hook, you let out the line until it hits bottom and wait for a nibble. In about 120 feet of water we had to let out a lot of line.

The limit on Halibut is two fish per person per day. If someone catches a fish that is too small, they can throw it back and continue fishing. When you keep a fish, it counts toward your limit. When you reach two, you give up your reel. The average size is around 20 pounds although some were much smaller and some were bigger. They all looked huge to me!

It didn’t take long before people started reeling in fish. Mike was enjoying the sport of catching the fish and also was going for a really big fish so he threw back about 12 before he kept his two. Everyone else threw back a couple before reaching their limit. Except me.

I caught my first fish before Henry caught his first!! It was a pretty good size so I kept it. It takes a while to reel in a big fish with 5 lb weight 120 feet from the bottom! It was hard. Joey was there to grab the line to pull it into the boat and get it off the hook. No question. I was keeping it!

I caught my second fish and turned in my reel before Henry caught his first fish! I grabbed my camera and my sandwich and enjoyed watching the action the rest of the trip. Kelly was hoping for a really big fish and threw back a pretty big one to continue fishing. After throwing back several small ones she was the last one fishing. She kept on going until she got a nice one. By then it was time to head back to the beach.

Getting out of the water is the reverse of being launched. The skidder backs the trailer into the water and the captain drives onto the trailer. The skidder pulls up to the beach, unhooks the trailer and goes off to get the next boat. It all happens really fast. We climbed down the ladder to the beach where our friends Ted and Ruth Ann were waiting to greet us. The excited fishermen piled into the van to go back to the campground for pictures and the cleaning of the fish.

A perfect day! Beautiful weather, calm seas, excellent crew, fun fellow fisherman. It was great.

Henry and I had 24.2 lbs of filets between us. We kept some and had the rest vacuum sealed, frozen and shipped home.

Ted and Ruth joined us for dinner. We followed Seth’s recommendation of dipping the fish in butter, wrapping it in foil with lemon and garlic and seasoning, and cooking it on the grill. Henry cooked it to perfection and I made some more red rice for Ted. A delicious feast to end the day.