Not your average travel blog
If the Kenai Peninsular was a box of chocolates, it would probably be one of those industrial sized boxes of Quality Street that you get at Christmas, to fatten grandma up so she doesn’t steal all the goose. A pretty big box and full of variety. Picking through them, choosing what you fancy is a possibility. It’s also a lottery to let grandma pick for you, but also much more fun to either delve your hand in without knowing what you’re grabbing, or tossing the whole box over a king sized bed and going through as many as you can with your lover, while watching some cheesy Christmas movie, like Love Actually, Santa Clause the Movie, Home Alone, Frozen, or better still, Pans Labyrinth…not exactly a Christmas film, but you’ll probably enjoy it a lot more. There are real fairies and stuff.
Alaska’s ocean around the Kenai peninsular is “the halibut capital of the world”, with some pretty massive flat fish, this time, the U.S. may actually be justified in their claim. However, as I found out, running riot are also a plethora of bear, more eagles than you can shake a stick at, 40 days and 40 nights worth of salmon (in biblical terms, let’s just say there are a lot, for a long time), plenty of rock fish, ling cod, sea otters, moose, deer, undoubtedly wolves (although I didn’t see any on this leg of the trip), and dozens and dozens of other wild and wonderful creatures. I’m honestly amazed sometimes that we see any wildlife, as we carry KP’s pungent shoes – and they’re enough to make sure we always camp alone. Some of Kenai’s wildlife parks are safe from the nostril-stinging wafts however, as they are only accessible by boat and KP would wear his other shoes. As well as all the usual and (almost) common wildlife here, nothing has ever humbled me more, than whales; Humpbacks and Orca are home in these waters – and of the creatures that we are aware of in our seas – they are some of the finest examples of ocean-dwelling legends that we have left.
Whilst here, I wanted to do some fishing. Halibut, salmon or rock fish were on my menu, but I didn’t just want to try and catch them from the beach. I wanted a boat trip, some hot coffee in my hand at 6am, and soon to feel a submarine-sized halibut test the end of my twitching pole. Sadly, it wasn’t just my desire, and not only would a full days trip (only starting at 8am and finishing at 4pm) set me back essentially $400, but I had to wait 9 days for the first available boat (which go out daily, some twice for the shorter, rock fish trips). I also would have to share the experience with another dozen people on board, and as social as I am, I find fishing to be much more fulfilling when there are a few less people around. The world over, sport fishing has exploded to a hobby on steroids, and if you’re not a local with access to a boat or cheaper licences, it really is an expensive, commercial, overcrowded palaver. New rules recently have lowered the amount you can catch and take home, so as much as I agree with some of our restrictions as well as fish freedoms we need to respect, I was a little saddened that I didn’t get my chance…this time.
Homer is an unusual town in its geography. It has a giant finger of land that sticks out into the inlet of ocean that sweeps north, into Alaska from the gulf. The spit, as it’s called, is home to a thin line of gift shops, local artists’ wears, bars, restaurants and fishing charter companies. The marina on the end is protected by the spit and although it currently is a sunny, peaceful holiday spot, I can only imagine how bitter it can be in the depths of winter. It isn’t surprising that whales spend time here though. The gulf of Alaska is rich in its bounty, and fishing is fruitful year round. Except for bitter tourists like me. Stupid, massive, halibuts.
We took in the sights and actually played like normal, sheep-driven tourists for an afternoon. However after some fish and chips, we found a remote locals beach fifty miles or so from Homer on the east coast of the inlet. Away from the tourists, locals fished here and camped on the beach in their RV’s and tents. Unfortunately, the local’s getaway was noisier and rowdier than the commercialised hustle of the tourist-riddled spit, and uncomfortably, I could see it was merely a jiffy away from driving my retiree over the edge with madness and cold sweats. The only place I could imagine it might resemble, is Sturges in bike week. That, or at an F1 meet, where very exhaust has a hole in it. Feeling like we were in the middle of an ATV rally where dogs barked as if surrounded by mailmen, the volume was enough that it drowned out the possibility of any creative thought or possible conversation. We returned to an earlier camp site where we could close our eyes without holding our heads in pain, and I could pooh in the bushes in peace…