Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Around the Kenai Peninsula

Along the highway to Seward, a pond with water lilies.

Rode into Seward this morning, the wonderful welcome smell of the ocean greeting me as I approached. One cruise ship at the pier. A cloudy day. The striking pale aquamarine color of inlet and surrounding steep, rugged peaks create a powerful impression. Hearty, vital people, outdoors people.

Stopped at the "Resurrect Art Coffee House" for coffee and a bagel. I had a lot of ground to cover on the Kenai Pennisula today, so I didn't stick around long.

The Sons of Norway are alive and well in Seward

I stopped at Ptarmigan Creek Park and found an easily-accessible, rushing river. I took my bike down on the bank and washed it there, carrying buckets of water over to rinse off the accumulated dirt. A family pulled in nearby to have a picnic. Finally, a gentleman came over to look at the bike and chat. His name was "Steve" and he was here with his daughter and grandchildren. He said that in a few weeks, Ptarmigan Creek will be thick with salmon. He used to ride but said he is no longer able to; he has cancer, and is spending time doing things most important to him, such as being with his grandchildren, or sailing.

Before leaving, he told me I must see "the Steens", near Burns Oregon. "You gotta go."

At the Ptarmigan Creek Car Wash

Spent the day riding, following the incredible turquoise Kenai River, a very popular river for kayakers and rafters, then turning south along the west coast of the Kenai. The landscape never ceases to amaze up here.

Just another typical Alaska view...

The shoreline at Kenai Lake

The color of Kenai Lake is amazing; an iridescent turquoise. The Kenai River, flowing out of the lake is even more so.

Looking west from the Kenai, snow-covered volcanoes rise beyond the Cook Inlet. And the then reaching Homer, a whole new panorama to the south and east is even more dramatic.

Looking west from Homer, there are numerous volcanoes. The perfect cone of 4,134-foot Augustine Volcano, an island unto itself, rests on the horizon. (Later note: Augustine erupted several times during January 2006)

Approaching Homer. Across the inlet, a chain of mountains and volcanoes.

"There's no place like Homer."

Visited the famous Homer Spit, wandering among the restaurants and gift shops, watching the tide come in at the fishing hole and enjoying a halibut taco at "Lola's".

The shipyard at Homer. I included this for Louis. Look familiar?

Another one for Louis; the harbor at Homer.

The Homer Spit. Touristy and interesting.

Big boys with big halibut. Happy fishermen.

That fish is about 180 pounds. Not sure about the guy.

I think it took them about a minute to fillet a fish.

These guys are fast!

This is Lola, of "Lola's Tacos". She talked me into trying her halibut fish taco. It was the best fish taco I've tasted. Halibut, right off the boat, poached in white wine and spices, with mango salsa!

These boys (and, I assume, their grandfather) are Russian. They were having a blast.

The tide is starting to fill The Fishing Hole, carrying in the salmon, right past these clowns...I mean, fishermen. In the hour or so I watched, I saw one or two salmon. I only saw one small one caught (and released) one of the Russian boys.

It's a riot!

Any salmon entering "The Fishing Hole" on Homer spit is doomed. This is "combat fishing" at its best.

All around the Western Kenai, 4-wheeler roads parallel the highway, a separate system for drivers young and old, but mostly young.

Left Homer around 9:00, after a coffee stop at "Fresh Sourdough Bakery and Cafe." It was dark when I reached the Bird Creek Campground again, and occupied the last available space, right alongside the highway.

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