Monday, June 11, 2018

MOUNTAINS, GRIZZLIES AND MAGIC, the "Real Alaska" Part 2, Guest Post by Nora Gould

Fireweed in bloom on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

My friend Nora and her husband Frank went on a memorable trip to Alaska in August, 1996. Nora recalled the trip in a recent essay she wrote for Kendalights, a literary magazine published by the retirement community where she lives in Lyme, New Hampshire. She has graciously given me permission to reprint it for readers of The Intrepid Tourist. Nora and Frank's trip brought back memories of a similar trip to Alaska that Art and I took in 2002. Unfortunately, the photos of Nora's trip were lost when her computer crashed. I have used our photos as a substitute to illustrate her report.
Last week was Part 1. Here is part 2:
The next morning Frank rents a car and assures me that the trip will only get better.
“A lot better if it is to compete with North Face Lodge,” I say.
We drive to Seward. (The town is named for Secretary of State William H. Seward. At the time of Alaska’s purchase from the Russians in 1867, it was called “Seward’s Folly.” It cost 7.2 million dollars.) Seward is only slightly bigger than Lyme, New Hampshire. Seward is a gray town, and it appears that every other commercial building houses an Evangelical church. It is on the Kenai Peninsula on the Gulf of Alaska. We are there because Frank has never met a fjord he didn’t like. Early the next morning we board a small ship to take us to see the fjords. The ship has barely left port before we are seriously rocking and rolling. Within an hour Frank and I are the only people on the ship who are not sick. The captain announces that we are in 12-foot seas and are heading back to Seward. On our return, we see a cruise ship anchored in the harbor towering over the town. We leave Seward for Homer that afternoon.
Homer harbor
Homer is another seaport town but a little livelier than Seward. On arrival we are guided to an incoming boat. Michael McBride, owner of Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge, has come personally to take us to his lodge. During the 30-minute trip Michael says, “There are twelve guests and ten naturalists at the lodge. We can arrange just about anything that you want to see or do.”
Bird Island on way to Kachemak Bay
Mike and Frank compare their experiences in the Service. Mike was a career Air Force officer. He retired and opened the lodge. Once again, we are fed a wonderful meal upon arrival, then shown to our cabin located above China Poot Bay and looking down on amazing scenery. Soon we are sleeping soundly.
Halibut Cove in Kachemak Bay
It is hard to describe the pure magic of Kachemak. The tidal pools, the hikes, the sea otters, the bird islands, and the friendly, knowledgeable staff all combine to make this experience unique. Each day we choose an activity and have one-on-one service.
Sea Otter
I spend a morning on a motorboat looking for and finding sea otters. Another day we fish for salmon. We are not alone—the bears, eagles, young eaglets, and flies are feeding on dying salmon.
Bald Eagles are common in Alaska
The richness of nature at Kachemak and the way the McBrides are preserving the wilderness is inspiring.
Before we leave, Frank decides that he would like Mike to fly him up to the lake owned by the lodge. He and Mike will camp out and then fish the lake in the morning. I curl up with an enjoyable book after going to the tidal pool to photograph starfish the size of dinner plates.
View of Kachemak Bay
The next day we fly home filled with memories of Alaska. Whether it is the “real Alaska” is open to question. However, what we experienced was a wonderful portion of it.

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