Alaska, Day 8: Kenai, Soldotna, and Sterling

Friday, July 27, 2012: fishing frenzy


We woke up and headed out to explore our campgrounds, since we hadn’t been able to look around much the previous night. Kurt headed down to Swanson River to do some fishing, while I walked along the beach to check out the view of the active volcanoes across Cook Inlet.

volcano coast

After breakfast, we drove back down the coast to Kenai, where we stumbled upon a crowd of fishermen at the mouth of Kenai River. During the salmon season, net fishing is allowed for Alaskan residents only. The edges of the river were crammed with people holding nets as salmon seemed to literally jump right into them. The beach was covered with fishheads while people cleaned their catch on top of bloody coolers (I don’t want to imagine what their ride home smelled like). It was a real family event, with a bouncy tent set up near the end of the beach and kids running around dumping fish guts at their dads’ request. In the water, sea lions hunted the leaping fish, joining in on the big feast.

fishermen and families

this sight was typical

After watching for an hour or so, we walked around Kenai and checked out some souvenir shops, an art gallery, and split a reindeer hot dog. We had an RV site reserved for the night, but when we arrived we saw that it was along a busy road with no greenery nearby and no campfires allowed. Since it was prepaid, we decided to take advantage of the showers and water/electric hookups to load up the RV, then we left in search of a more scenic place to spend the night. And boy, did we find it. After a teeth-jolting ride on a bumpy, 13-mile-long backroad, we came to Dolly Varden Lake in Kenai National Wilderness Refuge. Our site was in a wooded area right next to the lake, with a gorgeous view. As our friend Thomas later said of this picture “You two get out of the way of the Bob Ross painting.”

me and Kurt at last campsite

We sat in camping chairs facing the lake, enjoying our last Alaskan beers, fishing, and watching wildlife on the lake. A beaver swam along the opposite shore; its head was so big at first we thought it might be a bear. The sky got dark enough for the North Star to shine through. It was a perfect final night in Alaska.

the moon appears

Wildlife sightings: sea lions, salmon, beaver, ducks


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