Day 54 - Friday, May 24 - Milepost 5542 - Birdcount 243 - Cook Inlet, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska.
(BF's Journal). We drive up the west coast of Cook Inlet exploring various state parks along the way. This is the start of the Memorial Day weekend and thousands of Alaskans are anxious to greet spring in their campers, RVs, motor homes, tents, boats and all-terrain vehicles. The beach sites are jam packed with vehicles almost all with Alaska license plates. I guess my southern metabolism is not a match for the Alaskans as they shed their warm clothes and play in T-shirts and shorts and some kids go barefoot while I still have on three or four layers of insulation. Near Anchor Point we drive to the most westerly point of North America. Here the Bald Eagles have taken over the beach and dozens loiter on the sand poking at fish carcasses. Some allow me to videotape them at close range. Traversing the rock and sand road toward the beach camping area, I get stuck with the Pathfinder and have to shift to 4-wheel drive and shore up the wheels with secure rocks to back out to more stable ground. The beach itself is more treacherous. Boats are launched by huge tractors with wide wheels. With passengers riding in the boat, the tractor pulls the trailer across a quarter mile of sand and then backs the trailer into the shallow water until four feet of the tractor is submerged.
At another stop near the Russian fishing village of Ninilchik we follow a rushing stream and spot six Harlequin Ducks, arguably the most beautiful North American duck with a clown like painted face. The birds rest on midstream rocks, then jump into the strong currents as they feed in the icy waters.
(SF's Journal)Separated by arms length, one hundred twelve people stand with poles in their hands, anxiously awaiting the big bite. For two of those people the big bite occurs but the fish is lost. This is what it looks like at Homer fishing hole. Big kids, little kids, big men, little men, big women, little women all want to catch the King Salmon coming home to spawn. If one should happen to get a fish hooked, all others better reel their lines in quickly or there will be a tangled mess. Such a frenzy for such a fish. People lucky enough to own boats, have their problems too. How to launch a boat with tides that differ by 18 feet and beaches that are too soft to drive upon is a problem. Some enterprising young men set up a boat launch with two huge tractors. For $29, they will hitch your trailer and boat to their tractor, pull you and your stuff to the beach, push you off, take your empty trailer up top and park it until you call them on the CB when you are ready to return and reverse the process. Such a frenzy for such a fish. There are boats and guides awaiting hire that will take you out for a fee and increase your luck on finding fish. People come in cars. They come in trucks and vans, campers and pop up trailers, Class C and Class A motor homes and they park on the beach anywhere, everywhere. People sleep, dream, talk, nothing but salmon. Stores stock lures, bait, rods and reels for only salmon. Such a frenzy for such a fish. It reminds me of football in Texas. After our drive up to Anchor Point and Ninilchik we scoop out a campsite for next week. The guidebooks are not very informative about RVs and the government parks. Is access easy? Can you turn around? Are the sites long enough? Is the area pretty or plain? About 45 miles from Homer we find Ninilckik Beach Campground to be good for us when we move in a few days. Tonights date night is at Addies, a quaint little restaurant overlooking the boat harbor. We both opt for the seafood and prime rib buffet and stuff ourselves with baked haddock, fried salmon, cod, and rock fish, sweet and sour chicken wings and prime rib.
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