Monday, July 23, 2012

Leaving Kelly Lake and Exploring Kenai

Liz and Nan and I have one last day of sunshine at Kelly Lake before we packed up and headed farther west along the Sterling Highway.

This is a photo of the artist Liz at her craft.  For further evidence of her concentration and skill I will refer you to her blog.

It was a beautiful morning for a paddle.

Mama duck and babies cooperated while all three of us floated silently past her next to the shore.

But she knew where we were and was watching the whole time.

Leaving Kelly lake was hard but we were heading on towards Kenai and opportunities to do important things like dump our tanks and do laundry.  The dump station at the Fred Meyers may have been free but the line was long and not everyone is equally skilled at dumping their tanks.  Nan spent part of her time just trying to flush away the mess someone earlier had left.  The weekend being one of the biggest for the netfishing and apparently clamming also, the lot at Fred Meyers was wall to wall RVs.  It made Walmart RV parking look like the Hilton.  And just twenty miles down the road we had lake front property for the same price...FREE.

I will not talk about the laundry adventures.  We each got there at different times because Nan and I had to dump and Liz didn't. Nan picked up some fresh water and I didn't need any.  I should have finished up my loads with plenty of time to head on down to Kenai and get my prescriptions and groceries at the Walmart.  There was something about forgetting about one of me washers until I unloaded the last dryer and started trying to figure out where my jeans and pants had ended up.  Sigh. I waved goodbye as Nan headed off with her clean, dry clothes and sat down until I could leave with clean britches.  Liz and Nan later hunted me down in Walmart to be sure that I hadn't gotten lost or just given up hope....

We drove north out of Kenai towards Discovery Campground.  It was raining slightly but it was Friday afternoon and as we suspected all the spots were taken. The camp host was able to flag us down and let us know that we could camp just down the road in the "beach" area that they were using as overflow.  We took it.  I headed off early to was all the laundry don't you know.....but Liz said that a TT pulled in later in the evening on the other side of the lot and unhitched and even built a campfire.  By the time we were up in the morning they had already pulled out.  I think the families that are came out for fishing move with the tides and not the normal time schedules.

Nan, Liz and I headed back and explored Kenai. Some of us spent money at the Saturday Market near the Visitors Center and we all completed a walking tour of the old part of town.  Standing on the bluffs, we looked down at the river which was filled with individuals net fishing.  The banks of the river were filled with tents and awnings.  Reminded me of picture of music festivals or the infield of Churchill Downs during the Derby.   I will again refer you to Liz's or Nan's blog for pictures.  

After lunch of reindeer sausage from the vendor set up at the Saturday Market we headed on south towards Homer.  We stopped at the museum in the small village of Kasilkof and had a wonderful and informative private tour of all the buildings that have been relocated to the grounds there.  There was a lot of information regarding the early Russian settlers of the immediate area and the Fox Farming that the area was briefly known for....until the world war changes the fashions of the day and overnote the farms went out of business.

Here is a picture from inside one of the trapper cabins. A Sear and Roebuck PORTABLE bathtub.  We all decided that filling and emptying the tub was still going to be a major job.

The cabins were built very tight for the cold winters. This one had signatures of other trappers who had come through written in pencil above the window frame.   Nice cabin but I am keeping my rig just the same.

The young woman providing us the tour pointed out the unusual notches on the logs.   She said that they were distinctive to that particular builder.  The yellow material on the right is tin that was used as siding in this case and was also used extensively as roofing on many of the original buildings in the area.  We have heard on several tours about how materials in Alaska were difficult to come by and were reused and or repurposed whenever possible.   There had been a ship wreak near by and the ship had been carrying boxes filled with flat tin pieces that were to be used in the cannery to can the fish.  These ten pieces never made it to the cannery.  The ceiling in one of the housed (the superintendents) was made out of neat pieces of rectangular board.....the remains of the boxes the tin had been shipped in.

This building looks a little like a school house but was the kitchen for one of the larger fox farms.  The fox farms started when folks realized that it was somewhat easier to raise the foxes than it was to go out and trap them in the winter.  Feeding the breeding pairs was enough of a chore.  That took enough trapping and fishing.  Liz wondered why they didn't think to just raise rabbits right along with the foxes and solve that rabbit trapping issue.   

Anyway, the breeding foxes were sensitive to humans and if disturbed would eat their young so that the fox farmers had to be very careful and not disturb them.  They were fed on a strict schedule which I guess the fox parents adjusted to and tolerated but the towers were used to monitor the foxes and make observations without disturbing the pens.

Still looks like a school house to me.

After the educational portion of our day we headed on down to see what Clam Gulch looked like.  There was no clamming at the time we visited but there had been some Salmon fishing for sure as the remains were all over the beach.   We were camping in the campground up above the beach and enjoyed the no parking signs along the road leading down to the beach. I wondered if  the rigs that were down there knew exactly were the boundaries of the park were and were parked outside them and above high tide.

The ATV on the left was carrying two young women back to their camp.  Alaskans know how to have fun.

Up above in the campground we did get to observe a family packing up children and tents getting ready to pull out from who knows how many days of net fishing.  You can tell the kids that are form Alaska, they are the ones running around in shorts and bare feet while we  are keeping a few layers for warmth.  It looked like a lot of work to us, but them if it fills the freezer and cuts the grocery bill, it definitely could mean a lot to a family.   

The next day we stopped in the little village of Ninichik. The Russian Church stands on top of the bluff and over looks the small village.  It was Sunday morning and there were services going on or about to start. I think Anita commented in her blog that when she stopped she was able to speak with a young seminary student staying there for the summer. She mentioned that there were nine active church members remaining.

Just a picture of the river from the pull off before we drove down into the village itself.

We drove through the village, all one block of it and then drove on down to the beach area. This is a picture looking back at the village.  I am thinking it is one of the original planned retirement communities in the Americas.   

 When retirement age came the Russian retirement plan in the early 1800's was originally to return to Mother Russia. That wasn't what all of the employees wanted to do after living in Alaska and marrying natives and raising families here.
Here we did get to observe some folks hunting for clams.

Or playing.

It looked like hard work to all of us.   I have a better respect for those contributing to a "clam bake."

Not everyone was hunting for their dinner.

We stopped at the RV campground near the beach but it was full.  So we headed down towards Deep Creek to check it out.

Deep Creek had room for us and also had eagles flying overhead and standing around in the creek hunting for fish.

And when the tide went out, it went way way out.

And when Stuart and Remi went for their walk they went way way out, too!   No one rolled in a dead fish at any time but there was much to sniff about.  What good boys.

And today we finally made it in to Homer and are parked on the spit decided what to do next. 


  1. What an interesting post and great pictures. You caught a really neat one of Liz.

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