I'm back in business with a fresh French press. I need it too because last night was a long one. The lethargic, do-nothing children of the RV families I saw laying about during the daylight became enlivened last night with the sight of the campfire. They fed on smores and ice cream provided by Miller's Landing. On a sugar high, they played flashlight tag all over the compound until far after midnight. The smell of the RV sewage kept me awake all night too for my site was adjacent to the dumping station. I hope I never lay eyes on that place again. If I had one thing to tell the absentee owners of this business it is this: fix your fucking roads.
I dropped Rocket off at Wuffta Kennels in Anchor Point and drove to Seward. Tomorrow I leave for a three-day saltwater trip. I'm camping at Miller's Landing and it needs description. I booked this private campground online without any knowledge of Seward. Private campgrounds, as a rule, bum me out. But this one...it is a four mile gravel road that takes you to Miller's Landing. The road is pocked. You pass the city sewer treatment plant on the way. The campground advertises "guided fishing" on their "private beach." The place is a collection of junk, uneven campsites and a bathroom that can only be described as soggy, at best. The showers cost 2 bucks a minute, but there's no way I'm going in there. I have been in Homer for the past five days and I forgot about the ugly side of camping. As I was taking my equipment out to reorganize, I witnesses a huge woman berating her kids. She said, Bud Lite at her lips, "Put down my stuff!" "That's my stuff." Indeed, stuff seemed to be her obsession. "We're trying to cook stuff for dinner, god dammit," she said.Another Bud Lite in progress. I like the state campgrounds much more than private ones. They do one thing, provide campsites. They don't try to sell you coffee, or frozen pizza as they do at Miller's Landing. It's too bad too, because this pile of shit sits out on a point overlooking an amazing bay with green peaks in the distance. There's just too much "stuff" there, for me.
Rocket gone for only a few hours and I miss him. He's a loyal traveling companion.
Fishing has picked up here.They say the red run is dwindling and never really peaked. Halibut are small. I used to catch 40 pounders all of the time. Now a 25 pound fish is what you hope for. Something has changed, that's for sure.
Yesterday I went out for halibut. It was so so, a few small ones. At night I fished for silvers and hooked two. This is the only one I landed, It was a 12 pound hen and I caught it on a blue flash fly. It took 20 minutes to land it and some poor kid fell in the water trying to net it for me. These big fish don't come easy. I'm trying to keep things simple, as you can see by my lunch. It's really all you need. Slept in the truck last night by the fishing hole. The coho and running and you can listen to them leaping all night long, leaping salmon and sound of summer traffic gushing by.
I stayed on the spit again last night. Tragedy struck this morning when while making coffee I broke my French press. This piece of equipment has been a reliable and useful tool throughout this trip. I am not sure what I'll do now. Explorers like Lewis and Clark, and John Wesley Powell always had two French presses when they traveled. Camping on the spit has its challenges. It's just 8 bucks for a city campsite, but that comes with a horrifying port-a-john, choked to the gills with various contents which I will let you imagine.The fish hippies arrive in droves to camp on the beach. They drive BMWs and pitch expensive tents, drink nothing but high octane IPAs and burn their campfires way past 2 a.m. They are here for halibut. Last night they took my wood when I was away. They camped a few feet from my truck and talked all night by the campfire about their careers as school administrators and financial advisers. I made plenty of noise breaking camp this morning and Rocket left a huge token for them by their sandals. Hippies aren't what they used to be these days.
Can someone send me a Mr. Coffee French press in chrome? Send it to Seward Alaska, general post.
Camped on Homer Spit last night beside a rowdy group of fishermen who kept a smudge fire burning until 2 a.m. All of my stuff smells like campfire. Went out on a charter for pollack and caught as many as I wanted. Does anyone know how best to cook them? They are being processed while I sit here in the laundry mat/ video store/pizza parlor. Rocket loved the beach, but didn't trust the waves. I hooked a few silvers in the lagoon on Farmer's "Purple Death" fly, but I could not land them and no one had a net to help. Halibut tomorrow. The weather is a mix of clouds and sunshine, smudgy fires and Coleman lanterns at night. No wind.
Rocket and I have hit our stride. He sleeps when I sleep. Same for eating, fishing, and drinking. Caught maybe a dozen trout and dollies by the salmon cleaning tables on the Kenai River last night. Fished until almost 11, the daylight still making it possible to see my strike indicator. Fished for salmon this morning. Had a few hooked up but couldn't close the deal. I'm going to take a nap today, and go back out in the evening. Last night I drank raspberry wheat beer by the campfire while I rigged my leaders.
I went to Halibut Box (or Halibut Jack's, or Halibut Haven, not sure of the name) in Valdez, Alaska and had the rockfish sandwich without fries. It was fresh, covered in shredded iceberg, pickles, and American cheese--a list of chiche. It had an old school vibe. Rockfish, also called black bass, or sometimes miscalled "sea bass", are caught all over Alaska in the salt water. They are aggressive and often feed in schools. I loved my sandwich, and especially the little placemat that came on the tray and showed a map of the coast with different fishes chasing a school of baitfish.Now that I think about it, the place was called "Halibut House", and it's worth a stop.
Schroeder flies to Denver today, so it's time to reset the trip. I give him about a 7.5 on the trip overall. He didn't bitch too much and he went with the flow when we weren't sure where we were going. He took this picture of me and Rocket in Valdez viewing the pink salmon run. We caught as many as we wanted on a gold spoon. Schroeder took 7 home with him and we ate one (pictured) in camp on the fire. Today we saw a grizzly chasing a cow and calf moose. Schroeder failed to bring the camera with the zoom (even though I asked him twice) and we didn't get a shot of it. But we watched for maybe 4 mins as the bear chased the pair, eventually heading into the woods in hot pursuit. I give him a 20% chance of catching the calf. I'm off to the Russian River tonight to try for sockeye.
Living on Johnsonville Cheddar Dogs and paying up to $7.15 a gallon for gasoline, we eked our way through BC and The Yukon to arrive in Alaska on the sixth day. My windshield took a beating. I caught a few grayling in this stream where we camped for the night. We ate two of them right out of the fire. We're in Valdez at the moment, catching pink salmon and getting ready to take Big Daddy to the airport in Anchorage. He's going to Cheyenne Frontier Days, 102 degrees or heat, screaming kids, and the sort of Country Music that makes you want to drink 15 bud lites in a row. My favorite town on the Al-Can Highway was Haines Junction, in YT.