States visited: 49!

visited 49 states (98%)
Create your own visited map of The United States
Miles driven so far -
LOOP 1 (Aug 2009 - Aug 2010): 29,000
LOOP 2 (May - August 2012): 10,800

Highest altitude with camper: 11,158ft (I-70, CO)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Halibut Fishing and Cooper Landing

These days are getting earlier and earlier!  The alarm went off at a horrifying 4:45am – to be clear, this is an absolutely unheard of time within the Valentine family.  Even crazier, Dave fairly jumped out of bed, woke Jake, and the two of them, along with Dave, headed out on the road to Rainbow Fishing charters, stopping en route for a super early breakfast.

Homer is known as the Halibut Fishing Capital of Alaska, so it seemed too good of an opportunity not to partake in some halibut fishing.  Although there is a two halibut limit, they each caught about twenty fish and threw back those that weren’t deemed worthy.  Jake said it was quite tiring as the lure/line weight was already 2lbs before the fish was added to pull up.  Dave S. caught the biggest on the boat: around 20lbs, the others all had catches of around 15lbs.

They were filleted on board and then vacuum sealed.  Keeping just over 2lbs for all of us to eat in the evening, we shipped 5lbs of the fish to the Bulman’s and the remainder shipped to the Scarani’s.  I guess we’ll be eating halibut in the autumn!  Another raft of otters welcomed them back into the harbor.

The exhausted Valentine/Scarani crew returned just after 11am while Karen and I were catching up on yet more laundry, sigh, the number of quarters we fed those machines across Alaska in two weeks was depressing!  We were allowed a late check-out of 1pm and after a quick stop at the Sawlty Dawg for shirts, we were on our way (being careful not to leave behind any of the precious rock collection!).  Blue sky finally peeped through after two dull days which made for a pleasant drive.

Tempted by the goodies at The Moose is Loose, we briefly stopped in Soldotna before pushing on toward Cooper Landing, passing beautiful Kenai River and photographing the multitude of fly fishermen.  Dave was excited to finally capture a bald eagle clutching a fish (albeit partially eaten) on film!  Passing over Kenai Lake, we decided to push on past Cooper Landing – our initial intended stop - toward Girdwood as the weather had really cleared and we were eager to ride the Tram without clouds. 

Alyeska Tram is part of the Alyeska Resort, a beautiful hotel with an impressive entryway. 

Chatting with the Tram operators going up and coming down (four minutes each way and 2,000 vertical feet), we learned that this is quite an advanced ski resort and this past winter, the resort received a considerable amount of snow – as much as six feet one day!  Due to this vast amount of snow, skiing had still been possible until Memorial Day.  Although the skiing operation was officially closed for the season, there was still an unbelievable amount of snow outside.

The kids raced out onto/into the snow.  We couldn’t do much but follow suit!  The views to the Turnagain Arm were spectacular, but I’m pretty sure the kids didn’t notice too much.  They had an absolute blast jumping and rolling around.  After a few minutes, they were soaked!  We had to admit, it was a lot of fun though, everyone joined in the jumping, even our cautious KarBear managed about a half inch of air!

There were some huge, fresh jumps on the lower slopes.  Evidently a professional film crew and stunt boarders and skiers had been there the previous week making a new show.

On the ride down, we were all searching desperately for a bear when the operator slowed the Tram down and nonchalantly told us to look at the edge of the lake where a black bear was wandering around.  After so many grizzly sightings on this trip, it was awesome to see a black bear too, albeit from a distance.

In Dave S’s amazing library of Alaska books, a local camping suggestion had been mentioned.  We drove along a dirt track out to Crow Creek Mine, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, where we camped in a large pullout, grilling the freshly caught halibut for a late dinner.  The kids were thrilled to have a huge fire, and we were once again chatting about the wonder of having a self-contained unit (I see one in the Scarani’s future!).

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