Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fish, Glaciers, Whales and More!

Hello!  We finally have service again and I am able to post what we have been doing.  It's been a few days and I haven't been able to update the blog as much as I would like to, but I'll go ahead and update it to finish off when we dropped Keith off on the 2nd of July.  I'll keep working on this week's blog so I can post that also.  See ya!

After we left Seward, we drove over towards Homer, AK.  We took a nice drive down by the Kenai river, where there are usually salmon running, but we didn't see anyone catching anything. We camped out beside a lake that supposedly had trout in it, but again, there was no "catching" going on.  We did have a great fire and played a few games of skip-bo and catchphrase.  Keith was nice enough to chop down a few trees that were still alive, but they burned nicely. :)  We got to see a bald eagle that was sitting on a branch across the lake.  

After waking up at our usual hour of 10am, we slowly got moving and drove into the towns of Soldotna and Kenai. We stopped by by a taxidermy place that had some very cool mountings of bear, caribou, moose and lynx.  Joe and Jan bought a caribou hide to put in the cabin in NC. We made our way down to Ninilchik, where we would camp for the next few days.  We found a nice campground on a bluff, overlooking Cook Inlet and some beautiful mountain ranges.  The Deep Creek campground hosts and people running that place were very laid back and welcoming. That was one of the best campgrounds that we have stayed at.  

We couldn't decide whether or not we wanted to fish there in Ninilchik or drive down to Homer, where so many other people go out halibut fishing.  We drove down to Homer, after I pulled the alternator off to take it to get tested. Keith and Mary were good at putting up with me trying to repair the rv for a few days. On the way down to Homer, I spotted a moose and her two babies hanging out in a creek bed.  We pulled over and walked closer to them so we could get a good picture. I had the alternator tested and it turned out that it was putting out amps, so it wasn't bad. Crap! Now what is it?!  We toured Homer on a rainy, windy and cold day. Most of the town is located on this "spit" or skinny peninsula.  There are shops, restaurants, marinas, docks and beaches out there.  The ladies shopped and the men walked around looking for food. :)  What's new!  There's a bar called the Salty Dawg that was pretty cool.  It reminded me of the No Name Pub down in the Keys.  It had dollar bills hanging on the ceiling and walls.  Keith and I walked in, took a deep breath, looked at the pool table and I could tell that he was thinking the same thing that I was. "This looks like a place I could have a drink in."  We didn't end up getting a drink because we were on a food hunt and the Salty Dawg didn't serve anything but drinks…not that that is a bad thing.  After getting some food at the Smiley Face restaurant, where the faces weren't so smiley…don't ask for the lunch special that ends at 2:30pm, at 2:45. The chef gets angry if you ask. He's very strict about not giving the lunch special after it ends because they are so busy.  Well…there were 3 other tables that had people at them, while we were there.  They weren't busy!  Oh well.  I don't think Alaska is known for their food and service anyways.  We took the skyline drive that has views of Homer and the surrounding areas, on the way home.  We stopped by a roadside coffee stand and had the "Strongest coffee in Alaska."  It was pretty strong, but was good.  We also drove out on the beach that had so many bald eagles on it.  There were seagulls and bald eagles walking and flying everywhere.  There was nice view of one of the volcanos across the inlet also. We decided that we were going to go fishing with our campground hosts, the next day.  Joe, Keith, Mary and I would go halibut fishing, the next afternoon. 

After repairing the master brake cylinder, it was time to go fishing at 2:30. We were going to be fishing with 4 other girls that we on our boat.  One of them was getting married in a few days, and her friends came up from California to go to the wedding and take a halibut fishing charter…because there's no other wedding, bachelorette activities to do in Alaska. :)  The weather was beautiful.  It was our first sunny day in 4 days, so we were excited.  We pulled down on a beach and Keith looks at the 20 year old deck hand girl and says, "I wish all of these white haired buzzards would stop getting in my pictures that I am taking of the seagulls."  She gave Keith this "are you serious" look.  That's when she got a glimpse of who she was going to be dealing with today. :)  We boarded the boat while it was still on the beach, and it was disconnected from the truck and connected to a tractor that launched the boat into the water.  I looked at the seas and it was a little choppy with rolling waves.  I looked at the girls on the wedding outing and thought, this is going to be fun.  We had a 30 minute boat ride to the halibut fishing grounds and we dropped our lines in the water.  One of the girls was sick in a matter a minutes and it took Keith 5 minutes to go lay down because he was feeling bad also.  The rest of us caught fish after fish.  Mary was our good luck charm because she was catching all of the fish on our side, until Joe and I could get a little luck on our side.  The other party of girls were reeling them in one after the other.  One of the girls was able to catch a 50 pounder. It took 2 of them to get it up though. :)  The halibut are like reeling up rocks. They don't fight too much, just lay in the water while you reel them in.  I started getting tired after the 20th one I reeled in.  Joe, Kelly (wedding party girl) and I were the only ones fishing at the end because everyone was tired.  I was trying to pull in a big one because I couldn't let the girls beat me, but I was never able to get one.  We headed in at about 6pm and had a nice ride back to the beach.  The crew was awesome.  They filleted the fish for us and we were able to shrink wrap it and ship it to BJ, back home. Don't worry!  Those who want some halibut, will get some when I get home.  That will be a Christmas gift for everyone this year. :)  You're welcome!  

We left that campsite after 3 days, and started our trek north to Whittier.  On the way there, we stopped by a wildlife refuge center.  We saw musk ox, caribou, elk, owls, eagles, baby moose and bear.  They had a bear whisperer that was in the fence with the bears.  I wasn't sure what he was doing because he wouldn't say a word to them.  All he did was walk around with his stick while overtime he turned his back one of the babies would swipe at his ankles with their paw.  I think they were playing, but who knows. We camped in a state campground right in front of a glacier that night.  We celebrated Mary's birthday with some champagne and cake, then called it a night. We were all pretty tired from the last couple days that we had.  In the morning, we woke up to make it through the Whittier tunnel.  The tunnel is about 2 miles long, and it is only one lane.  So each side of the mountain has specific times that their way is open.  We had to make the 10:30 tunnel to be able to make it onto our glacier sightseeing tour at noon.  We saw all of Whittier in about 30 minutes.  Needless to say, it's a small place and most of the town lives in this one high-rise condo building.  It mostly houses the workers on the tour boats during the summer. 

he glacier tour started at 12:30 and it was rainy and cold. Apparently that is what the weather is like all the time.  Their saying is "Everything is $h!tt!er in Whittier" because of how bad the weather is.  But, we were on a nice catamaran that had plenty of room for the 6 of us, plus about 300 other people. The catamaran travels at 45mph!  It was s moth ride.  About 30 minutes into the trip the capt came over the intercom to say that he saw a whale! It was a humpback whale and it was cruising by the shoreline. We stayed with it for about 10 minutes, then moved on after everyone was able to see it.  We saw so many sea otters and dolphins that were swimming in front of the boat.  We saw many glaciers also.  It was a 26 glacier cruise and we saw all of them. I recommend doing that if anyone comes out to Alaska. We had to get back to Anchorage that night to drop Keith and Mary off at the airport.  I can't believe how fast the week flew by.  We had a great time and I am glad that they got to come out and experience some of Alaska while we were out here.  We had a great dinner at the Peanut Farm and dropped them off at the airport at 12:30am…we had to pick Mo and her mom up at 1:30am. :)

Eagles and Seagulls

A few Eagles formulating a plan to attack us for being too close.

Here's the attack about to happen!

From our campground.  The sunsets were awesome!

Look at that motley crew!

Arrrrggg, we caught one, but we're definitely throwing him back!

The ritz Carlton of Homer.  That is someone's home!

One last prayer before he got cooked over the fire.

The chef at work. Those were great steaks!

Unfortunately I didn't catch that fish.

Ready to get some halibut.

Such a ham! You can see in the background, that I was still working on the brakes. :)

Scraggly looking mush ox.

Nice caribou butt!

Baby moose eating.

"Now, this is what I want you to do, go grab the honey and bring it back to me...and don't eat any of it!"

"I've fallen and I can't get up."

Ride like an eagle into the sea...

Humpback whale.

Cool whale tail splash!

Dolphin running in front of the boat.

We celebrated Mary's 28th birthday on the trip. Happy Birthday!

Sea Otters, just waiting around to get in trouble

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The shortest runway I have ever seen!

Ahhh 3 best friends...Keith, the Chicken and Alaskan Amber (beer)

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