Alaska Day 13 – 7/1/2011

Alaska Day 13 07/01/2011 Photo Album

Jane booked us for two nights in Homer, AK, but we were now concerned that we would not find enough to do there for two days since we ruled out charter fishing due to the cost. There seemed to be more we wanted to see along the Kenai River so we decided to spend most of the day along the river and then drive the remaining 100 miles or so to Homer.

I found a rafting service that offered scenic floats on the Kenai out of Cooper Landing, so I called and booked an afternoon float trip. We downed our muffins and tea and coffee and headed out the door. We also read about hiking to the Russian River Falls and decided we’d like to undertake that adventure as well, so that was our first stop.

We found the parking lot and paid $9 and found a parking spot in the overflow lot. It was a nice day by Alaska standards with partly cloudy skies and temperatures that probably approached the mid-60’s. Since we read that bears frequent this area to snag salmon on their upstream migration, we maintained fairly constant chatter, chants and singing.

These Flowers Were Everywhere in Russian River Area

A young couple and their children from Kenai, AK caught up to us and eventually we arrived at the falls simultaneously. There was a large observation deck overlooking the falls, and we immediately noticed the pool at the base of the falls teeming with sockeye salmon. It was quite a sight. The father/husband of the family we’d met was a science teacher and fishing guide, and he told us that this was the end of the first wave of sockeye, and they migrate to the lake above the falls to spawn.

Salmon Stacked Up Above Birds and Log

We hiked down from the platform closer to the river and found a small side channel that was just boiling with salmon. There must have been 15 fish in an area two feet wide and three feet long. We returned to the deck, and I noticed salmon leaping from the pool at the base into the frothy falls and then bouncing back. It appeared to be a rather futule venture. I captured a few of the leaps and bounce backs using the video capability of my camera.

After viewing for 15 minutes or so we began the 2 mile hike back to the parking lot. Along the way the family stopped ahead of us and motioned us to quietly join them as they’d encountered a spruce grouse and her young chicks.

Spruce Grouse and Young

Once we returned to the car we departed the Russian River area and drove east a short distance to the rafting company. The starting point consisted of a bunch of sheds and cabins where the rafts and clothing and life jackets were stored. They served some meager snacks in the form of reindeer sausage and crackers and hot coffee, and then we put on our rubberized pants and life jackets. One of the guides ran through some safety items, although this was not a white water float and the danger was quite low.

Jane and Dave Ready to Raft

In a short amount of time our guide was pushing the inflatable raft into the aqua colored Kenai River, and we were off on our scenic float trip. Among the other raft patrons was a family from Lititz, Pa. including a grandmother, mother and three children. The grandmother was married to a guy who was a linebacker for the Philadelphia Bulldogs, a team in the USFL or some other start-up league that never got off the ground. He then played for the Pottstown Firebirds, and she said there was a movie or TV show made about the Firebirds. Also on our raft was a young lady currently attending the University of Alaska – Anchorage. She was planning to run the Marathon Mountain race on the Fourth of July in Seward, AK and was a high school friend of our guide. Also on our raft were a couple from Oklahoma. Jane named them Debbie and Jim, a couple that are friends of ours in Denver. Their lives, speech and actions all reminded us of Debbie and Jim Eckert.

End of Our Raft Trip

The raft trip was rather uneventful other than seeing at least 15 to 20 eagles perched on the trees surrounding the river. We took out near the Russian River ferry and rode a bus back to our launch point where they had some cookies and tea and coffee. We were glad to get out of our rubberized fireman pants and set off on our trip to Homer, AK.

We traveled back through the Kenai Wildlife Area and Soldotna and headed south along the coast to Homer. This was a pretty drive with numerous views of the mountain range on the western side of Cook Inlet. It was Friday of the Fourth of July weekend and we noticed numerous RV’s and boats particularly as we crossed rivers and streams draining into Cook Inlet.

Behind Our Lodging in Homer

Just before entering Homer there was a pullout and we stopped and snapped a photo or two and then continued on into Homer. The lodge owners provided us with directions, and we found the Ocean View Inn fairly easily. Once again a key was in an envelope on the office door. Our room was on the second floor of a cute building set back a bit from a sea wall overlooking the ocean. We unloaded our suitcases and took a walk down to the sea wall. There was a metal ladder that enabled us to descend to the beach.

Eagle Sharpening Beak Behind Our Homer Lodging

We were hungry and the innkeepers recommended two restaurants in Homer, so we found them, but both were exceedingly busy on the Friday night of the Fourth so we used our own instincts and found a more out of the way place tucked behind a storefront along the main road running east to west through Homer.

When we returned to the Ocean View Inn and walked down to the ocean we spotted an eagle perched on the sea wall. The eagle was using its beak to pull at some loose material on top of the wall which made a noise. Jane was convinced the eagle was sharpening its beak. At any rate I snapped a couple nice close photos of the national bird before it flew off.

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