I’m sure glad we didn’t encounter any mechanical difficulty as the landscape offered no hope whatsoever of an emergency landing from which anyone would walk away.  All in all, we were lucky and this turned out to be a damn good day!


Intermezzo…

A few hours later we had returned them safely to the Anchorage airport for their midnight flight back to reality…

The next morning we packed up and headed to Talkeetna to recuperate from 2 days in the bush and to nurse mosquito bites that had all of us looking like well used pin cushions.  It was also an opportunity to get off a fish diet and back to real restaurant bought American food: burgers and fries…

  Alaska 2010 - Part 5                                                       July 21, 2010

Now, if only he could cook…  In times past we have had twosomes of our assorted daughters visit us in such fascinating places as Key West, New Orleans, Mexico and even Alaska, but we have never been as bone weary at the end of one of their visits as we were when the boys left.  I believe that one more day would have been the end of me and our son would have taken over the reins as patriarch of Clan Bryan... 

It was pretty sad to see them leave but it is sure nice to wake up in the morning without a nose to nose confrontation with a goldfish in the bedside water glass swimming around your molars.  That about wraps things up for now.  See y’all next time.  Hugs, Chuck and Zookie

The bitter end is the last you will see of your anchor line should you forget to secure it to the vessel before tossing the anchor into the water.  Homer is located at the bitter end of the Kenai Peninsula and is the last swatch of land you will see before stepping off into the Gulf of Alaska.  Although it has long been regarded as “The Halibut Capital of the World,” having already stocked up on this tasty flatfish, we spent a couple of weeks camped out at the Elks Lodge enjoying the view from their deck…

I'll bet THIS is not quite the laid back Alaskan fishing experience you've always imagined, is it?  The 30-minute flight over Cook Inlet gets you to Big River Lake and, more importantly, Wolverine Creek.  For it is here that the Sockeye Salmon gather before swimming upstream to spawn and where both fishermen and bears gather to catch lunch…

The Petersville gold camp is 40 miles off the highway and requires either a 4-wheel drive vehicle or a lot of determination to reach.  Of course, it does help if you have a fearless Spartan at the wheel…

My bride, always eager for the opportunity to see bears, didn’t even blink at the $350 per person price-tag of this combination bear viewing/fishing expedition.  And I am always anxious to throw a line in the water regardless of the pretense involved to accomplish that end…

Although the wildlife viewing throughout Alaska is nothing short of spectacular, perhaps the strangest birds we encountered was this pair we happened upon one afternoon on the Homer Spit…

I really don’t understand the logic in play here but you must snag these fish somewhere near the mouth in order to keep them.  It is actually much more exciting to hook one in the tail, enjoy the ride and then turn it loose.  At Wolverine Creek bear claws are not the only ones the fish must avoid to complete their upstream journey…

This eagle found a perch atop a dead tree overlooking the mouth of the creek and waited patiently throughout the day for both bears and fishermen to depart.  This bird is a young Bald Eagle that has not yet reached 5 years of age. They are often mistaken for the Golden Eagle until they get their distinctive black body feathers and white head and tail feathers as they mature.  I don’t know about the bears, but we left after nearly 5 hours of non-stop arm-numbing casting, snagging and fighting one of the greatest sport fish I have ever encountered.  And they’re pretty fine eating too!   Our flight home included a detour over a glacier-clad mountain pass at tree-top level, had there been any trees…

After a hearty meal of rainbow trout, they decided on a “relaxing” (HAH!!) truck race to round out the day…

The next morning we dropped them off at Sandfish guide service for a day of rafting and more fishing on Sheep Creek ($235/full day, $160/half day per person)…

He spent the next several hours see-sawing between unparalleled joy and unbridled terror.   After a day of 4 wheeling, we returned to camp and had “the kid” catch us a trout dinner…

As well as a few otters...

Denali National Park was at the top of our Alaska “to do” list with the 12-hour bone-crunching bus trip to Kantishna and back topping the agenda.  The bus goes approximately 100 miles to the end of the Park Road before heading back.  At somewhere near the 70-mile mark is the Eielson Visitor Center.  Here you will find a lot of interesting exhibits, one of the best views of Mt. Denali (Mt McKinley) and a group of Park Rangers anxious to tell you absolutely everything you could ever want to know about the park and its inhabitants…

Our son, Jeff, and grandson, Nick, spent about a week with us and we were determined to treat them to as much of the Alaska experience as possible during such a brief visit.  It was raining and dark and after midnight when we arrived back at the Palmer Elks Lodge after picking them up at the Anchorage airport and this was their first glimpse of Alaska through the windshield of our Urban Assault Vehicle the next morning…

Spawning salmon have no particular interest in eating during this final phase of their life cycle leaving both bears and fishermen to simply “snag” them with quick claws or un-baited hooks…

All of the brown bears we have shown you throughout our Alaska series of Updates have been either the inland or coastal grizzlies.  These guys grow to a maximum weight of about 600 pounds.  The small skull on the right is one of them.  The skull on the left is the Kodiak brown bear, found on Kodiak Island, which grow to a maximum weight of about 1600 pounds!  Quite the difference, isn’t it?!   Along with bears, our boys were also entranced by a variety of the other Denali wildlife…

Welcome back!!  We decided to break this edition into two parts, with the first being all about us and the second featuring our son and grandson…

And the parking lot was not such a bad spot to do a little bird watching…

Rumbling down a one lane dirt road at near warp speed with this duo at the helm provided a thrill unrealized on any but the fiercest of roller coasters.   Our son received his own “baptism by fire” when we drove some 50 miles into the back country and I turned over command of the Jeep to him on a gravel bar in the middle of a river…

In spite of a few torrential downpours, they both returned at the end of the day, wet to the bone, with ear to ear grins and fish tales creative enough to regale even the most seasoned bunch of anglers…

In addition to offering a great panorama of Cook Inlet, our land-locked crows nest offered the perfect location to enjoy a pod of Orcas in the late afternoon…

Although Denali is, arguably, our greatest National Park, it has been designed to allow for access by millions of visitors each year.  We wanted to show our kids a side of Alaska that the vast majority of tourists simply never see…

The air temperature was just a notch over 40 degrees, the flags were raised to indicate “Gale Force” winds and the water temperature was chilly enough that ice would not melt.  WHAT is wrong with these guys!!??  It’s simple: they’re Alaskans!  Leaving Homer behind, we made our way back up the Kenai Peninsula to Soldotna and changed our mode of transportation…

We soon discovered that grandsons are not simply entertaining and rambunctious little souls; they are also quite functional...