Jul 20, 2008
We drove to Soldotna taking the 19 miles gravel Skilat Lake loop. Just a few miles on the gravel road, we saw a black bear’s head sticking out of the trees along the side of the road. We stopped the pickup and turned the engine off. She stepped out a couple of steps but kept looking back and then at us. I said “she’s got babies back there”. Sure enough she came on out beside the road and starting eating grass. After a few minutes she told her cubs that it was ok and they came waddling out of the undergrowth. There was two of them and they were soooooo cute. They tried to eat grass just like momma. They wandered down the road a little ways and then she headed across the road and the two little fur balls followed. They disappeared into the forest. What a great experience. I will post pictures of them.
We saw many pretty wildflowers along the way, beautiful lakes and lots of blooming lily pads but no more wildlife. We came to the end of the gravel and back up on the two lane pavement to Soldotna. We went to the post office and got Odie’s medicine that was waiting there. We saw on the map that there were several fish walkways along the Kenai River in Soldotna so we decided to go there and watch them catch some reds (Sockeye Salmon). They have built long stretches of walkways along the river to keep fishermen from stomping down the banks along the river edge. The young fry (salmon babies) need the green plants along the bank to hide from the big predators in the river. There were quite a few people fishing and catching reds that weighed about 5 to 8 lbs. It was drizzling rain and was cold. We had taken our raincoats so we stayed dry. We watched for a couple of hours and talked to some of the folks there but didn’t fish any.
We headed back north to our trailer. On the way, we stopped at a place where there was a chainsaw carving competition going on. There were several guys and one girl carving logs. The competition had started on Wed. and would run until Sat. They were making some pretty neat stuff. A lot of sawdust was flying.
We also stopped at a little knife shop. They had a lot of really nice knives. Odie bought a diamond knife sharpener. One of Odie’s friends had tried to sharpen Odie’s knife awhile back and really messed it up. Left big gouges in it and he was about ready to toss it in the river. The man at the knife shop worked it over and got it in good shape again.
It rained all night Wed., all day and night Thurs. It was dark and cold. A good day to stay in and read a book. We have a little catalytic heater that runs on propane but no electricity so we kept it on quite a bit to keep the trailer cozy.
We left Cooper Landing and headed toward Homer, Ak. We stopped at a horn and antler shop on the way. The man who owns the place has been carving for 30 years. He has some very beautiful moose and caribou antler carvings. They are fine work and the price is pretty hefty too. He puts quite a few hours into each piece. He showed us how he does the carvings. We bought some small caribou antlers. After we get back home, I would like to try carving them. I have lots of big plans, carving antlers, scrap booking, painting with watercolors, etc. I will never get it all done but it is fun to plan.
We decided to stop at Clam Gulch to see what the clam digging situation was. You have to dig clams when the tide is out and preferably a minus tide. There was a little state campground there. No water or elect. But not too far from the beach. The tide chart said that the tide will be a minus at 11:30 am tomorrow so we decided to spend the night there.
The campground hosts are a couple from Georgia and really nice folks. He works with internet companies so he has satellite and can broadcast wireless. They gave us the password so that we could use their internet. We haven’t had internet for over a week so that was great! The lady, Marsha, also told us how to dig clams and loaned us a clam shovel and an extra bucket. We had a nice visit with them. Odie made the trip down to the beach this evening and saw lots of fish gill nets, bald eagles and quite a few little shanties and trailers right along the high water line while I tried to get pictures sorted and uploaded to the website.
We had breakfast, put on our rubber boots and headed off for the beach. It is about a half mile or more to the beach down a steep hill. You can only drive out on the sand flats with a 4 wheel drive vehicle because there is a deep sand pit along the edge. We started down the hill and some people with 4 wheelers stopped and offered us a ride. We gladly accepted. They took us all the way out onto the sand flats. We dug a few hole but didn’t find anything. Digging that wet sand is WORK. There were a lot of people out there digging holes. We asked a young couple exactly what the clam spots looked like. They told us that it is just a little dimple in the sand as if you poked it with your finger. They had gotten several clams. We visited them for a few minutes and then they said that we could have their clams. They live near Anchorage and said that they could come here any weekend and dig clams and were just doing it for fun.
The girl was raised in Alaska and has dug clams her whole life. She is one clam digging machine. Sometimes she starts with a shovel and then gets down on her knees and digs with her hands. The hold starts filling with water. She runs her arm down in the hole and feels around and generally comes up with a clam. Sometimes she just gets down and digs with her hands, no shovel. She really loves to dig up those clams. There are about 18 inches below the surface and when they feel you start digging they start digging the other way. We did find a few of our own. There were kids of all ages out there. Some just walking good. It was fun watching those little guys with their rubber boots on.
The tide started coming back in about 1:30 pm and we were tired by then so headed back up to the beach. We weren’t so lucky getting a ride back up the hill so had to trudge back up on foot. A 4 wheeler is the way to go out on the wet sand.
We finally made it back to camp. Marsha told us to wash the clams off and drop them in boiling water to open the shells, then she would show me how to clean them. The clams here are razorback clams.
You have to use kitchen shears and cut the edible parts of the clam away from the inedible parts and wash, wash, wash to get all of that sand out. I worked on them for an hour or so.
While we were on the sand flats, Odie found a little hermit crab in a sea shell. The shell was about the size of a pecan. The little crab would stick his big claw out and scoot along. He was really cute. We took a picture of him.
We had fried clams for supper tonight. They were pretty good but not worth all of the work digging them and then cleaning them. We had another ‘Real Alaska Experience’. Odie went back down to the beach later while I took a nap. He saw boats coming in from running their gill nets. They had quite a few red salmon. He picked up several eagle feathers. He will go back later to see if the bald eagles are there again this evening.
We will move on to Homer tomorrow. We have a camp site reservation right out on the end of the Homer Spit. Alaska is such a diverse place. New sights everyday. We hope to see some whales, seals etc. when we go to Seward in a few days. Exit Glacier is near Homer so we will go and check that out. Thank goodness for this journal and the camera. We could never remember all that we have seen. It has been an awesome trip and we have met so many great people. I will try to get this posted while I have internet