Seward, Kenai and Dolly Varden

Part III

We trained from Talkeetna to Anchorage, rented a car and drove to Seward. This is September, and we were late in the season. We went late in order to miss the big tourist season, and we did, but things were turning toward winter. We got the fall colors inland, but the rain was coming in in the coastal areas. It poured rain most of the time we were in Seward.

But it’s a fun little community and in the river behind our hotel a family of river otters gorged themselves on fish every morning. Very fun to watch. We took a tour through Kenai Fjords National Park and saw dall porpoise, harbor porpoise, stellar sea lions, lots of bald eagles, enormous jelly fish (Al thought the first one we saw was a submerged buoy), blue glaciers — and even some crazy guys surfing right in front of one. Big blue ice bergs floated in the fjords. Again, the landscape was fantastic. Photos do not capture the amazing scope of this amazing land.

After two nights in Seward, we jumped in the car and drove through more astonishing wilderness to Kenai, where we stayed with our fishing guide, Gabe Linegar and his lovely wife and two beautiful daughters.  Gabe, of Drift Alaska Charters, is a great fishing guide. Al fished first while I explored the galleries of Homer (Homer was virtually closed for the season), and he caught a dozen rainbows, the best of which was a 10 pounder. (No photos, because I had the digital camera.) Then the two of us fished the next day, and Al got shut out, only snagging one after another of the millions of spawned-out, dying pink salmon, but I caught a little rainbow and a nice, 5 pound Dolly Varden. The Kenai River is certainly salmon-choked, and while we missed the big salmon run, the evidence of bears was everywhere, in the matted down foliage at the riverbanks and all the salmon carcases left there to rot. The third day Al fished, he caught a 17-pound steelhead on the Kasilof River, and his trip was truly complete.

Then we drove back to Anchorage. I miscued about how often I might find a gas station, and we drove fifty miles through wilderness on fumes and prayer. Al was busy scouting all the trucks that carried spare gas cans. But fortunately we found fuel at the last possible moment in Girdwood and were ready to get back to Anchorage.

We got back to the hotel to find a sign up on the door that warned guests of a black bear in the neighborhood. We took a walk around that quaint and unusual little town and could easily see how a black bear could live in downtown Anchorage without being caught.

It was good to get home again.

Bottom line: We’ll go back. We’ll certainly go back to the Kenai for salmon fishing, and from here, we could actually do that over a long weekend. Now that we’ve done the whole tourist thing, next time we’ll get off the beaten path and go to Kodiak, and perhaps fly into Ilianna for some wlderness adventure.

If you haven’t seen Alaska, I suggest you do. Put it on your bucket list and be amazed.

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