Friday, July 18, 2008

Alaska: Kenai and Homer (July 15-17)

After arriving in Anchorage and melee fighting for our luggage, we secured a cab to the Airport in order to pick up our rental car... at the Hertz counter we were offered either a Taurus or a Minivan. Decisions, decisions! We opted for the Taurus, and to our surprise got a brand new one... brand new as in 7 miles on the odometer. Shiny new wheels beneath us, we made our way to The Car Whisperer's mother's house, where she so graciously offered to put us up for another night. We stopped for groceries along the way, and I managed to buy some of the most expensive apples in history... $4.49/lb. Yikes, $2/apple.

The next morning we set out for Kenai, an apparently beautimus day ahead of us. At the innermost point of the turnagain arm we stopped at a wildlife center that was much more like a zoo than we had expected... there's something unsettling about going all the way to Alaska in order to see moose, bear, etc behind bars. We snapped a few pictures but then quickly made our way up into the mountains towards Kenai.

The drive from Girdwood to Kenai was by far the most gorgeous countryside we've ever seen - the turquoise blue water of Kenai Lake and River are spectacular, add in the mountains and lush greenery and it's truly a gorgeous place.

We made our way into Kenai and were 3 miles on the other side of the town before we realized that we had driven through town - not much there at all. We swung back through and checked out our hotel... to our dismay it was in between a Home Depot and a Carls Jr. Since we weren't planning on fishing in Kenai and the town didn't have much else to offer, we decided to spend two nights in Homer and got back on the road.

Somewhere between Kenai and Homer, Tracy needed a restroom break... and we came across this place:

Why this sign indicated this was a reasonable place to stop, I'll never know.

We saddled up to the bar and ordered a few beers, then Tracy went to the restroom... while she was in the restroom there was a good bit of jeering and some snide comments about our attire (I don't think either of us own Carhartts, the apparent attire de rigeur). I drank my beer as quickly as possible and hinted to Tracy that she might do the same. Shortly after we made our way outta there.

Upon arriving in Homer, we decided we'd made the right decision to stay there for two nights. We drove out onto the spit and recognized that there was quite a bit to do there, and that we definitely wanted to go fishing. At The Car Whisperer's suggestion we stopped into the Salty Dawg, an infamous establishment out on the spit.
Words cannot describe the Dawg(maybe "low clearance"?, but you've just gotta go there if you're ever in Homer.
Bring a $1 bill to leave behind.

We checked into our hotel and wanted to go for a run, but the rain deterred us - we went out in search of food. We went into a liquor store for some wine, and the guy behind the counter suggested we head over to Duggan's since we were in the mood for burgers and beer. Since we're not used to smoky bars anymore it was a little off-putting at first, but it certainly didn't deter us. A guitar/singer duo were performing in the back room, so we made our way across the uneven floors and found a table in the back.

(On the topic of uneven flooring... what the hell? Why does it seem like buildings here are so slipshod? Is it a lack of care, skilled contractors, or building code?)

The next morning we slept in and decided we definitely wanted to fish that afternoon. I made a few calls and found a half-day halibut trip that had space on it. We knew it was going to be a bit of a rough ride, but had NO IDEA what we were actually embarking upon. We had a 1:45 trip out to the fishing grounds, which was no small feat in 4 foot seas... the tide was on its way out, but we were sailing into the wind, which combined for quite a rough ride. There were about 20 people on the boat including the three crew, and 12-15 of us ended up getting seasick. A few people started puking over the sides while on our way out, but after we dropped anchor the chunks really started to fly... it was quite a challenge to stabilize your body AND stomach with decks pitching and cookies being tossed. Neither Tracy nor myself had ever been seasick in the past, but these conditions proved too much for us and we fell victim to the conditions.

Despite feeling awful, Tracy managed to get the first fish of the trip! She landed a 20lb halibut - a freaky looking yet tasty seabeast that yielded 9lb of fillets. I managed to get a bunch of bites and had my bait (delicious herring) swiped numerous times, but only landed a rockfish. Once the tide had completed its shift, the seas got noticeably rougher and the Captain let us know that we needed to head back in - we pulled in our lines and headed back in. By the time the boat made it back in we were both feeling MUCH better, so we headed to our hotel, went for a run and called it a night.

See all the pictures from the trip:

1 comment:

The Car Whisperer said...

Lessons learned in Alaska:
1. ALL produce not grown there is more expensive than cocaine.

2. Any bar outside of Anchorage MUST have a floor with at least a 3% incline and sawdust, with a man of at least 50 wearing no pants dancing on it. He must ask your for a cigarette at least once an hour.

3. When Halibut fishing, it's a good idea to focus on the Volcano (St. Augustine) out there everyonce in a while...the distance really settles your stomach.

4. And "Wildlife Center" = tourist Trap.

5. There's not much to do in Kenai, b'sides fish...