Alaska, 1St Trip
I've been thinking about Alaska since being stationed in Panama some twenty years ago. Finally after realizing that I've been thru Desert Shield/Storm in a Mech Infantry Unit and a year in Afgahanistan after 9/11, and that I've turned fifty years+ old...what am I waiting for?!
Booked a flight from KC to Denver to Anchorage. Surprizing less than I thought, about $560 round trip. (Book early)Reserved a car for two weeks. (about $700) Planed on fishing (2 week license $88) and exploring the Kenia Peninsula staying at bed and breakfast inns($89-$130 a night). Staying in Cooper Landing and Homer. Packed some recomended fishing gear and way to much other stuff for the trip, and took off. (This was August 6th to 18th)
Now at first I was reluctant to go to Kenia Peninsula. I've read of the crowd of tourist standing in line and the backed up traffic. Thoughts of Branson traffic on a weekend almost changed my mind. But then I thought why does everyone want to go there? Must be a reason. To my pleasant surprise, no crowds, no traffic, great weather - except on arrival.
Arrived in Anchorage at night & raining. Slept that night in the car at the airport, no problem. I would have missed one of the most beautiful drives of my life that next morning along the Seward/Sterling highway. Stopped along the way to watch the tide coming into Cook Inlet..awesome, and the mountains...awesome.
Cooper Landing..beautiful. Stayed three days fishing on my own picking up tips from others and the tackle shops. Next time I'll take a guided day float/fish trip. Finally seen some bears with cubs on the Kenia & Russian river on the third day. Just follow proper awareness and bear saftey you'll be fine. Also figured out the "Kenia Flop" as one guide put it for salmon, and hooked a sockeye for a ten second fight before breaking off. Went to a fly rod for C&R rainbows.
Drove on down to Homer...I love Homer and want to retire there now..all tho I have not wintered over there yet. The Anchor river is a 14 mile drive back. (Along the way a Moose and two yearlings grazed along the road side.)Good for wade fishing silver salmon coming in on the tide. Hint, dont be on the other side of the river at high tide. Nuf said. Again hooked a silver for a breif fight. Took a half day charter boat for halibut ($100)and caught two, the limit. The fish was less than average size. only ten pounds of fillet. Next time take an all or multi day trip. Spent time on the "Spit" with a helpful local who was bank fishing for cod, halibut or what ever was pulled in. What a view..fishing surrounded by mountain glaciers, float planes and great weather.
I had met several people from the northern US who fly up to Alaska two or three times a year to fish a few days and take thier catch back home.Fesh salmon & seafood in the frezer. And the international visitors from Italy, Germany, Australia and Russia. But when I met a man and his son fly fishing on the Anchor river (only ones there that day)and he was from just down the road Carthage, and that he has also hunted Alaska(some thing I also want to do)for six years..WOW.
I had wanted to see Denali while there so drove all the way back to Anchorage and 100 miles north. Stayed at the Princess Crusie Lines Mnt Mckinnley Lodge. Found to my great discomfort that 'crusie line tours' is no way to see Alaska and I advise anyone to never do that. Unless doing nothing is your plan. Anyway, the employees were nice but I didn't like the 'cold corporate' fake atmospher compared to the warm personal touch and local knowledge of a B&B. I really liked Homer and besides..I'm on vacation! So drove back to Homer for four more days of fishing, beach combing and just relaxing.
I found that to me Alaska is a lot closer than I thought. (6 hours there & 4 hours back from Denver)and more affordable if you make it that way. I packed to much clothing and things I didn't use which cost over wieght baggage fees. I wasn't going on an expeditionary deployment as in my military life,its a fishing trip on vaction. Just a couple clothing changes, fleece jacket & rain gear. I also packed a few days of Mnt House freze dried meals & bought at a grocery store,dinng out is expensive. I also packed a small tent and sleep bag that - had I used at one of Seward or Homer camp grounds a night or two like many other people were, I would have saved a little more. The economy rental car was great!I could go where and when I wanted and if the weather changed..so did my plan. The highways on the Kenia have several pullouts to easliy access and fish the many rivers and lakes there.And trail heads to get into the mountain lakes.
Well, if your thinking about it, got a couple of weeks vacation to plan out, and a bit of room in your finances..go! My trip total was about three thousand on the credit card(airline,car,rooms,gas,some meals and gifts) I have the winter to pay it off. But the experience and satisfation that..'Yes! I went there and did that." will last the rest of my life. I came back with hailbut,cod and silver salmon,froze, vacum packed & boxed for the air line. But Alaska is a lot more than fish. I feel blessed that I got to fish a salmon run with black AND BROWN bears in the river. Had to slow down because of moose in the road. Reeled in a halibut from 150ft of water. Had a beer by a fire watching the moon rise over glaciers on Kachemah Bay. Meet people and the dogs of the Iditorod. And yes I'll be going back.
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