Carson's Alaska Newsletter #17
|Location: Seward, Alaska||Date: July 10-14,2003|
On the Road with Fred and Barb - Newsletter #17
July 10-14 Homer to Seward
July 10-11 Kenai
We retraced our steps north on the Sterling Highway from Homer to the city of Kenai which is right in the heart of the salmon fishing frenzy. Kenai was a Russian settlement and there are still some old Russian Orthodox churches in the area. They are so picturesque with their onion domes. Our campground was on a cliff overlooking where the Kenai River dumps into Cook Inlet. On July 10, they opened this area to Alaskan residents to dip net for red (sockeye) salmon. What a sight that was! Each head of household is allowed to net 20 salmon plus 10 more for every member of his household. The nets they use are huge. They wade out chest high into the water holding these nets and wait for the salmon to swim into them. Then they drag the net back into shore, conk the fish on the head with a hammer or rock to stun it, and throw it into their cooler for later filleting. When I first heard about this I thought boy what an easy way to catch fish. After watching them do it, I realized it's not all that easy. It's a very slow and tiring process. Then after they get all the fish home they still have to can, smoke or freeze all of it. It's what many families live on all winter.
Fred and Stacey decided they had to take advantage of all the salmon coming up the Kenai River to spawn so signed on for an early morning(as in 5:30 am) charter. They joined hoards of other hopefuls on the river and luckily came back with two very nice Kings. We added them to our growing accumulation that is being sent back to Las Vegas. Guess we too will be dining on fish a lot this fall and winter. All in all we have almost 60 pounds of salmon and halibut being sent and we still have plenty in our RV freezer. So you know what we'll be serving if you come for a visit.
July 12-14 Seward
From Kenai, we headed south to the city of Seward. It is another of the cruise ship destinations though not near as many come here as Skagway. We are again camped right on the beach overlooking Resurrection Bay and looking across at snow topped mountains. We have really enjoyed watching the sea otters playing in the water right in front of our rig. The weather has stayed warm and sunny and we were actually able to eat outside at night.
Just a few miles outside of town is a road that goes out to Exit Glacier. There are some very nice groomed trails that take you right up to the edge of the glacier. Some big chunks had calved the day before we visited so there was some fresh blue ice showing.
One of things we learned about when we were in Anchorage was that Safeway (called Carrs up here) sells a discount coupon book for attractions throughout Alaska. There are 2 for 1 campgrounds, fishing charters, siteseeing boats, admission tickets, etc. It costs $100 but today alone it paid for itself. In the morning we visited the Alaska Sealife Center which was opened in 1998. The facility looks part zoo and part aquarium but that is not its main function. It is a non-profit marine science facility where they do research on declining marine wildlife populations. They also do some rehabilitation of marine life as well as public education. We spent several hours wandering among the exhibits but the highlight was the behind the scenes tour. We were shown the state of the art laboratory facilities where scientists are currently conducting research on Steller sea lions to determine why this endangered species is on the decline. There is also a staff of veterinarians who try to rehabiitate sick, stranded or injured marine mammals and birds. We talked with one vet who was quite proud that they had recently successfully amputated the leg of an injured seabird and they were getting ready to release it back into the wild. This is a not to be missed attraction if you are ever in Seward.
In the afternoon, we took a six hour cruise into the Kenai Fjords National Park. The weather wasn't too cooperative as there was heavy fog and clouds settling over the mountain peaks and a strong wind was kicking up the waves. We thought we were in for a bad trip but it turned out to be great. Think we saw every kind of wildlife there could be: both humpbacks and Orcas, a huge school of Pacific whitesided dolphins that were leaping out of the water, Stellar sea lions, porpoises, sea otters, and of course lots of sea birds including both horned and tufted puffins and a nesting Bald Eagle and eaglet. We sailed to the base of Aialik Glacier and stayed for about ½ hour just watching and listening to it calve. We even saw a black bear foraging on shore next to the glacier and there were harbor seals lying all over the ice flow in front of the glacier. Another must do attraction while in Seward (and there's a 2 for 1 coupon in the discount book.)
We are now heading back to Anchorage to meet some friends who are here from Germany.
Barb and Fred