Friday, August 31, 2012


Another one of the towns on my Kenai Peninsula Passport venture is Ninilchik (Neh-nil-chik). There's not a lot to this little seaside town and as with many wind-whipped, salty-aired communities, it looks a little rundown. Even so, it has some nice appeal to us.

It's around this area where The Fisherman has taken me to see bald eagles on the beach in the early part of the season.  They perch on the sandy cliffs behind the beach and when the boatmen dump the remains of their fish into the water the eagles swoop in for a feast before the waves and tide take the food out to sea. One time I stood and counted all the eagles I could see from my single vantage point. I counted close to 100. It's an amazing place to be. Cold in early May, but amazing.

Here are a couple nice photos of Ninilchik eagles (from 2008) that didn't make the final cut for The Fisherman's photo work. I was with him for these photos and I tell you, it was awesome!

Another thing the Ninilchik area holds is the old Russian Orthodox church, which I wrote about here. Since the U.S. bought Alaska from the Russians, there's quite a Russian influence present. The names of things is one evidence of this. Ninilchik and Nikiski, are just a couple examples.

For awhile this summer I was so busy with work, overtime, and personal business on my agenda that it felt like I hadn't had a real day off in ages. Finally I was able to take another day trip. I headed for Homer but on the way stopped to get my "passport" stamped in Ninilchik.

I'd never seen the cute little coffee shop before. (And I do mean little.) It's called The Buzz. If only I liked coffee, this would be a great place for me. The staff was friendly, the tiny inside was quaint, and it came complete with a couple of locals just hanging out for a bit of social time.

As I walked to the porch I knew this was going to be a fun stop.
The path was sprinkled with some of my favorite beach stones, ones a co-worker calls "sugar stones". They're kind of translucent but it's obscured by a rough, cloudy surface tumbled in water and sand.

The flower boxes were so quaint.

The edges were lined with orange rocks that looked like terra cotta clay from the southwest, or the red rock of Sedona. Being from Arizona and so familiar with this color of rock, I at first I thought nothing of it. But then did a double take remembering how out of placeit is in Alaska.

I learned it's only found in this area between two stretches of beach and is the result of volcanic eruptions from "my" Redoubt and it's sister volcano, Iliamna (Illy-ahm-nah) across the Cook Inlet.

I love this next photo. I like it for it's composition and the single bit of blue color spilling over the wooden border, but that's not the reason I LOVE this photo. The reason I love it is that.....'s a crop of this photo below!

Wow! Can you find it?  When I started messing around with zooming and cropping and saw how clear it came out, I became very impressed and pleased with my camera!

Another charming thing about The Buzz Cafe is their doormat. Just look at that thing!

Being a nautical community, it's fun and creative that they've incorporated
giant dock rope into their porch decor.

It's cool how they started at the center, coiled it up around itself and then hung up the excess
alongside the door.

Another shot of quaintness comes from all the old coffee pots filled with flowers!

So cute.

I love the red table, too.

The Buzz Cafe in Ninilchik. 
If you're ever "in the area" stop by and see how cute it is!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Alaska Where.....

ALASKA, where.....

.......everybody pulls through.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


One day in July The Fisherman had a rare half day off. He'd heard there was good fishing from the beach in Nikiski so he went up there. He had a nice peaceful day on the beach hearing the Inlet's waves and smelling the salty air. I can't even remember if he caught anything but he had a very pleasant day in the midst of an otherwise tumultuously busy fishing season. 

And he brought me home a rock.

But not just any rock.

This is The Perfect Skipping Stone. It is flat and perfectly round. I mean, PERFECTLY round. I even traced around it in my journal and, yep, it's just perfectly round. No question about it.

Don't believe me?

Nikiski isn't really a quaint little community. It's an industrial community. The industry is oil.
I like to make note of street names that are cute, funny or quaint. I've included some of them from an earlier trip to Alaska in this post

Nikiski has Chevron Rd. and Tesoro Rd. 
Oil company names. Charming, eh? I had to laugh.

Nikiski may not have much charm as a town but it does have a very nice new friend of mine. She's a homeschooling photographer mom who sells some of her work at the shop where I'm working this summer.

I found my way to the beach which is just past some sort of oil related business in a junkyard looking port along the Cook Inlet.  But since I love rust, I had a picture taking blast!

When I found this chain, I was enthralled. I love the big heavy links.

It was located on a huge tire sitting on the boat ramp.

It takes up such a small portion of the tire that getting a perspective is kind of hard. So I put my foot up on the tire to show just how big this thing was. The links of the chain were about 2.5 inches or more long.

And then I found some more rusted chain hanging around.

And some rusted cable.

And some delicate fireweed blossoms in a nice contrast.

And some not so rusted chain. These links were even bigger than the rusted ones.

Kind of a chain smile.

A chain frown.

Or maybe more of a grimace.

But Nikiski isn't all rust and metal. Of course it's surrounded by beautiful Alaska wilderness. My Nikiski beach combing day gave me a beautiful blue sky and the peaceful lull of water lapping the shore. I found a bunch of cool rocks and even an agate or two on this beach.

And I had the company of a bald eagle the whole time. How cool is that?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Alaska Grown, 2

Remember the post where I started out talking about the "Alaska Grown" symbol that adorns many clothing items for sale here?

While it seems to have become an icon of pride in being raised in or living in Alaska, I presumed it was originally a logo chosen to promote Alaska grown produce.

Last week my presumption was confirmed. I had my first Alaska Grown siting where the symbol was NOT on a piece of clothing but actually on something that was grown in Alaska.

It's almost like another country up here because Alaska is so far removed from the rest of the Lower 48. For a state with such a small population (about 750,000 people living in 6 million acres), Alaska has a lot of locally made, grown, fabricated, or produced industry. While much still comes from the Lower 48, shipping costs are killer. And things can take approximately forever to get here, often coming by land to Seattle and then by barge up the coast. So anything that is home "grown" by any meaning of the word is a real plus for the state. Alaskans are proud of what originates in Alaska, whether it's produce or people.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Alaska, Where....

Alaska, where......

I get to see this whenever I drive down the residential street to the post office:

Aren't they cute?

Little red wagons with flowers in each one!  I love it!

Pretty much every time I drive by this home, these flower wagons are in a different configuration.

Sometimes they're in a semi-circle, either concave or convex to the street.

Sometimes they're in a line. But almost always they're moved. I suppose that's to keep the grass from dying underneath them. Smart.

I wish I had pictures of every arrangement. It's such a joy driving by and seeing them.

I love this little "baby" wagon bringing up the rear of this arrangement. The sun was shining just right the day I stopped and the golden yellow pansies look warm and glowing.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


The town of Kenai is just about 10 miles from Soldotna. They're often called the Twin Cities around here. Kenai has a great Visitors Center where there's a museum, gift shop, and films about the Kenai Peninsula and Alaska run all day long. There's also usually an art exhibit of some sort.

For one reason or another, at the beginning of the summer I had to go to Kenai a bunch of times. At Kenai, the mouth of the Kenai River enters the Cook Inlet of the Gulf of Alaska. There's a big bluff overlooking the river and the inlet. I found a little park from where I could look out over the bluff at the water and the mountains to the south. Seagulls, water, sea smell, snow capped mountains, and Mt. Redoubt. It's so peaceful there.

One day at the park a whole bunch of seagulls were riding the air current straight out from the bluff. It was so cool to see them almost hovering in the air so far above the water but some of them at eye level for me.

As I positioned myself to look downstream along the bluff's edge, I saw dozens and dozens of seagulls floating on the air current right at the edge.

A little later I saw this:

A local phenomenon in Kenai Alaska is dipnetting. Alaska residents are allowed to harvest a nice amount of salmon per person. The head of the household is allowed 25 salmon per year and every additional member of the household is allowed 10 each per year.

Dipnetting season on The Kenai River lasts about 20 days, so EVERYBODY's there. 

Fisher-families camp on the beach for the weekend or whatever handful of days they get off work for the event.  This year the season was from July 10-31.

It's quite an event that The Fisherman and I would like to experience at least once. But you have to be an Alaska resident to participate.

And the rule is very strictly enforced. In fact, non-residents are barely allowed on the beach during dipnetting.

 Non-residents are not allowed to participate in any part of a resident's dipnetting, not even carrying a tackle box. Of course, Game and Fish has a big presence on the beaches. If your non-resident guest is caught holding a net, carrying a tackle box or touching a fish, you could lose all your catch and probably suffer the loss of your privileges. Alaska is serious about managing their resources. The resources belong to the residents. Non-residents are allowed to share them in to only certain extents.

Even the seagulls seemed to be camped out, waiting upstream for their share.

In dipnetting, fishermen literally dip a net into the mouth waters of the Kenai River and salmon swim right into it.

And the nets are giant. Three or four feet in diameter and very long.

They break down into several segments so they can be more easily transported to and from the river.

One day in Soldotna I saw a little compact car with two women inside and a big ol' four foot dipnet strapped to the roof, overlapping the edges.

Before I left Kenai this particular day I saw this boat smoothly cruising in amongst all the shoreline hubbub.

As I drove away from the bluff, I decided to explore the Old Town a little bit. I came upon this beautiful American flag hung outside an old house. I thought it was so striking looking, against the honey colored siding, that I had to turn around and get some pictures.

While I was shooting, the owner came out from his garage and I talked with him a little bit.
He told me, "That's the flag of a dead Army man."
It's the flag given to his girlfriend upon the death of her veteran father. They hung it up in his honor.
I don't know if I've ever seen an American flag hanging straight down like that. And because the rod was a little shorter than the width of the flag, it's kind of bunched up. There might be some breach of "flag etiquette" here but I certainly don't care. It was so pretty lifting in the breeze.

I think it's beautiful.