Day 59 - Wednesday, May 29 - Milepost 5603 - Birdcount 252 - Clam Gulch, Alaska

(SF's Journal). I awake at 3:10 AM and it is still light enough to read the large print on pamphlets I have laying around. The moon shows through a heavy mist but the moon is not what is causing the brightness since the whole sky is light as if looking through an opaque white window. It’s really strange having so much daylight. Even Bert does not get tired as early since it is so bright and sunny, even at 11 PM. But he does end up sleeping longer in the morning since he is still tired. Finally we are on the same time schedule! After he comes back from his morning birding, we pack up and again do not hitch up until we are on top of the hill overlooking our camp. Our next stop is Clam Gulch State Recreation area with parking lot campsites on a high bluff overlooking the ocean, and picnic tables in a spruce and grassy area in front of the parked vehicles. None of the state recreation areas have electricity and some do not even have water. Here we have water available in a central area (it tastes like iron) and there are pit toilets. Since we are not on the beach we should not track in so much gritty dirty sand. Maybe the sheet covering the floor can be removed. We spend the afternoon driving the 22 miles to Soldotna and get gas for the car, have some film developed and do two weeks worth of grocery shopping at that neat Fred Meyer store we stopped at our way down. After the groceries are put away in their nooks and crannies we check the tide table and notice low tide at 7:30 PM. The camp host mentioned some women got half of a five gallon pail of clams this morning. We grab our pail, some rubber gloves, and the shovel Missy gave Bert last year for his birthday. Since we do not know what we are looking for we can only guess at what the book calls a depression in the sand. At the first depression, we dig but nothing is there. Same for the second, third, fourth, fifth and so on. This is getting depressing; we are digging at every little hole, circle, ripple in the sand and still nothing. We meet our camp neighbors from Maine and asked them what to look for. They said they were hoping we could tell them. We dig around again for awhile and come up with nothing. I walk back to R TENT feeling low. I came to Alaska with visions of salmon and clams and have not caught any salmon and now it looked like clams were out of the picture too. Everybody was supposed to get clams; the guide books showed little kids digging clams for heaven’s sake. I decide to drown my sorrows in some wine and steak for supper. Tomorrow is another day and we really were not at the best tide. It is supposed to be a negative tide; those few times in the month that the moon has the strongest pull and highs are at their highest and lows are at their lowest.

(BF's Journal). Today is a real camping experience day: I build a campfire. We really haven’t had a campfire very often since we left Texas - too cold, too wet, not permitted, too tired. So finally the conditions are right and I build an unusual fire. Unusual because it contains oak from Texas, pine from Utah, cedar from Montana, spruce from Alaska and coal from the shore next to our campground. I kept picking up leftover wood from places we stopped and threw it into the woodpile we keep in one of the undercarriage storage compartments on the motor home. The coal is fascinating - large chunks roll up on the shore like rocks. The sea floor is covered with coal and in the early days of Homer, it was mined and shipped to foreign ports. Now it is still used by local residents who pick up a winter’s supply free on the beach. Besides the campfire it feels like camping with a bottle of red wine, eating outside, throwing bread crumbs to the Gray Jays and listening to the Red Squirrels scold us. The fire keeps us warm from the chilly ocean breeze blowing up the cliffs to our campsite nestled in the trees. It’s at least 15 colder at the shore than in the inland town of Soldotna. In early evening we try our hand at clam digging with no success and Shari is disappointed. I came to Alaska to see birds and wildlife; Shari came to catch fish and dig clams. So far I’ve gotten my share, but she has come up short. Maybe tomorrow.

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