Wednesday, September 24, 2014

alaska, part II

In addition to fishing the Kenai River in Soldotna, we also visited Seward, Homer and Girdwood all located in the Kenai Peninsula. They had a very different vibe than the north as they are all located on the water and had a marine climate. Unfortunately, we encountered a lot of cloudy skies and some rain, but I think it made for some moody pictures.

 An unplanned and quick stop in Whittier, a crazy little fishing village that was mostly shut down for the season.

 Earlier morning fishermen in Seward trying to catch silver salmon

 We visited the Sea Life Center in Seward, which is Alaska's only public aquarium and ocean wildlife rescue center. They focus on research, rehabilitation, education and exhibits. Since puffins in the wild had already flown to the middle of the ocean for the winter (that's where they spend it!), this was our only chance to see them.

 We saw this crazy crab there too.

 We attempted to hike to exit glacier, but it was pouring so hard that by the time we made it half a mile we were soaked to the bone. We decided this was close enough.


 We took a boat tour out into the Kenai fjords. Highly recommended!

 On the boat tour, we saw sea lions!

 ...and glaciers!

 I could watch sea otters all day long. This little guy was in the Seward harbor munching on mussels and clams under the dock. I wanted to bring him home.

 The Kenai has moose too.

 Visiting the very divey Salty Dawg saloon on the Homer spit.

 One more impressive glacier in Homer.

 That's the Homer spit! There are lots of shops and restaurants on the spit, but they were mostly closed down for the season.

 We saw so many bald eagles in Alaska. Fun fact: they have never been endangered in Alaska.

 The Time Bandit (from the Deadliest Catch) was docked at the marina on the Homer spit. They are gearing up for crabbing season.

 Hiding from bears.

 Looking for wildlife...from a safe spot.

 Another moose! I can't get enough.

And my favorite creatures of the whole trip were the bears we saw at the Wildlife Conservation Center in Girdwood, AK. Like the Sealife center, they focus on rehabilitating animals and releasing them back into the wild. 

Some of our favorite from the Kenai:

Alaska Sealife Center and Wildlife Conservation Center - two great places to see Alaska wildlife 

Double Musky - hands down the best restaurant in Alaska. Funny enough, it's New Orleans themed (just trust us)

Thorn's Showcase - Located in Seward. Order the bucket of but!

Salty Dawg Saloon - a Homer spit dive bar staple

AJ's Oldtown Steakhouse - Homer. Delicious.

Two Sisters Bakery - Homer. Get the ham and cheese savory. I'm still thinking about it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

fishing the kenai

One of the coolest things we did in Alaska was fish the Kenai river. It was silver salmon season and the river did not disappoint! After a slow start catching only pinks (pink salmon were also abundant in the river, but most of them were spawned out and they aren't as good), we finally found a pocket of silvers and pulled them out slowly but surely. I'm not sure exactly how many fish we ended up with  (9?), but I do know that we ended up with 44lbs of fish. And while it might seem a little weird that we paid to have all of our fish sent home to Seattle when Anders works in a fish market, there really isn't anything better than eating fish you caught yourself.

I have more pictures to share from our time in the Kenai (we also went to Seward and Homer), but I thought fishing deserved it's own post as there were just too many pictures! 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

alaska, part I

Anders and I just spent the last few weeks in Alaska. We rented a car and drove north to Fairbanks and then south to the Kenai peninsula. Alaska is an incredible state with picturesque scenery around every corner. We loved it! Here are some pictures from our time in the north.

 The day we arrived was clear and sunny and Mt. Mckinley was in full force. This is really rare. Apparently the mountain is so tall that it creates its own weather, which tends to block the view of the top. Our hotel told us that only 30% of guests get to see the mountain. We felt very lucky.

 The mountain at sunrise.

 Anders was born in Fairbanks, so it was important to him to go back and see his very first home town.

 Beer drinking, shuffle board playing at the Pumphouse.

 Anders' very first home!

 We visited the Chena Hot Springs, which is a bit of a tourist trap. However, they have an ice museum, where you can get an apple martini in an ice glass!

 The hot springs were the real reason we went.

 Visiting the bus that Chris McCandless made famous. I have to confess...we didn't hike the 20 miles into mosquito infested back country to find the real bus. This is the Into the Wild bus used in the movie that can be found at the 49th State Brewery in Healy, AK.

The only wildlife we saw at Denali National Park was this roadside moose.

A few of our favorites from north Alaska:

Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge - a beautiful hotel with the best view of Mt. Mckinley. Splurge on the executive suite. The little town of Talkeetna is super cute too.

Pumphouse restaurant - The best restaurant in Fairbanks. Get the seafood risotto!

49th State Brewery - Located in Healy, AK. A really cool brew pub with delicious food and beer, outdoor games and the Into the Wild movie bus.

Chena Hot Springs - I would not recommend staying there, but you can visit for the day and use the hot springs, which are perfect.

Santa Claus House - just outside of Fairbanks in North Pole, AK. You can visit the Santa Claus House, which is a little bit silly, but you can send a postcard from there with the official North Pole postmark (I sent a card to my nieces telling them I checked in on Santa). They also have reindeer onsite.

Pictures from the Kenai up next!