Sunday, July 16, 2017

Weekend on the Russian River, OR Nolan and Alex Encounter Their First Grizzly in the Wild, OR Stacia Goes Salmon Fishing

Michael and the boys had so much fun with Josiah on the Russian River last weekend, that he wanted us all to go down this weekend. I was skeptical. Michael had four very rough days after the two days of fishing.....but I remembered dear friends saying HE gets to make the choice on what is worth rough days.  He had noted the RV parking lot at the Russian River Ferry  when it was raining and they were trying to find a dry place to stay last Saturday.  We all went along for the adventure this time, leaving our Jeep, trailer and Josiah's car to save our already-paid-for-spot at the Travel Camp on JBER.

#WYFF - ours are on the Russian River
Friday we headed out of town....a beautiful drive! 
Leaving Anchorage

Low Tide on Turnagain Arm

Portage Glacier
We arrived at the Russian Ferry Parking Lot around 5 p.m. and chose our parking spot. Most of the RV's were from the rental places around Anchorage. I've never seen so many rental RV's as we have in the past month. The spots are paved and fairly level. There are no hook ups. You pay $15 a night  - beats $200+ for a bed in Soldotna!

It became apparent no one wanted to wait for dinner. They made sandwiches and headed for the ferry. The ferry is $11.00 per adult and $5.50 for children (Stacia is 11 and was still considered a child). ONE trip across the river and back is included in the price. The ferry begins running at 0600; the last run of the day is at 2300 (11 p.m.).  One  may take a 12 INCH cooler on the ferry, along with fishing gear.

Mom G had regaled Stacia with stories of Gpa Jack, and others, who nearly drowned because of their waders on the Smith River. She was NOT going to wear waders - thus she didn't go fishing last weekend. She decided she wanted to fish, so she conquered her fear this weekend. (Add another set of waders to our fishing cost this year. )🐽

Stacia in her waders 

5 hopeful fishermen - Nolan, Stacia, Alex, Michael and Josiah

The technique for salmon fishing is new to us - there's a learning curve. We are encouraging the kids they WILL catch salmon eventually - they're learning the technique even when the salmon are elusive.  When the run is hot - this is a busy river. I've heard it's common to have fishermen 4 ft from you on all these are good times for the kids to learn the ropes - less people to tangle with. 
Stacia and Michael
Almost immediately Michael's pole got taunt. He played this thing down the stream and then they noted it was a King. You can't catch King on the Russian. Bummer.
Alex assists Michael 

Josiah and his polarized glasses 


While they fished, Yuuki and I walked around and took photos. We visited with others - both locals and tourists.

No salmon were captured this evening - HOWEVER - while Nolan and Alex were fishing they heard a snuffling sound. Out of the brush popped a grizzly. She was big. On all fours she came up to Alex's shoulders - he's 6 feet tall. We assume it was a she based on the siting on Sunday. She looked at them, turned away, came back....Michael and Josiah were not with them. Stacia had come back earlier.  They stood their ground and pulled the bear spray from their belts.  She sized them up and sauntered away....and then they saw the elderly gentlemen behind them putting his gun away.  THIS mama was happy to know someone had the boys' back. I was also proud to know, when alone, they did just what they should have done. This is bear country!

They came back on the 11 p.m ferry.

Saturday, Michael and Josiah caught the 0600 ferry across the river.  The kids waited until  0830 or 0900 to go over. I served them a big "camping breakfast," before they went over. Michael and Josiah grabbed Kind Bars and such - no time to wait for breakfast - I think protein bars are a "fishing breakfast." πŸ˜ƒπŸŒ²πŸ½ I sent snacks and a double lunch over in a back pack with the younger ones.

The three meet up with Michael and Josiah on the other side of the river. I settled in  for a day of reading, walking, and lounging in the beautiful sun. 
Nolan, Ales, Josiah, Stacia and Michael 

 Jamin and Jared joined us. A word about packing - perfectly legal and common around here. I found it ironic, though I see guns all over the state, they are NOT allowed on the military base. 
Jamin, Alex, Michael, Stacia, Nolan, Josiah, Jared
I love this photo (though I'll be checking to make sure there are no poles in front of faces in the future and maybe I'll give them feet next time). I love Stacia surrounded by her Dad and all 5 brothers. This is heaven for our relational extrovert. I love how they are making memories...sharing a passion regardless of age... Michael isn't working and can enjoy the outings....and we're doing it all in Alaska!

(What do you mean I didn't want to retire in AK?  I'm pretty sure it was my idea.)πŸ˜πŸ½πŸ˜‰

I love in a few weeks Izaak and Cory will be in the shot...and while I don't know that Bre would want to stand all day in the middle of a river (someone DOES have to watch the babies), maybe Arielle will next year (though it doesn't bother Stacia to be the only Gherkin gal out there). Next year, when I can get a resident license, I plan to join them....but paying $$$ to stand in a cold river didn't make any kind of sense to me....until we grilled our first WILD, FRESH ALASKAN SALMON. It's starting to make sense. 
I also love there are no bears in the background, though note all the cans of bear spray and the stray handgun (which I've been told may scare a bear but isn't going to take them out). 

No salmon caught on Saturday either. Josiah went home with Jamin and Jared. The rest fished until 5 or 6 p.m.  I fixed a nice dinner, everyone slept well. A note about sleeping in Uchi with the slides in - it's like living in a spam can.  I DID enjoy the extra counter space provided by the table butting up against my tush.🐽

Sunday morning - Michael and Alex are determined to catch a salmon. Michael caught three last weekend, but the kids haven't gotten any. They headed over on the first ferry at 0600. I was told they'd be back by 1000 and we'd head back to town.

While the other two were still sleeping a loud HORN went off. I looked outside and noted folks running to the ferry dock. I grabbed my camera and joined them.  There was yelling and horns going off.....and five GRIZZLIES directly across the river. Four yearlings and a big mama.  We are TOLD to act aggressive if it's a black bear, to stand your ground and slowly back away if it's a grizzly.  Most fishermen were doing just that.....but ONE was yelling, screaming, waving his arms.  The ferry workers were alert and watching. Three bears went up those stairs....

Eventually there was one left on the bank. The man was still yelling. He set off several  M80's. The bear turned and began to saunter away. THE FOOL CHASED HIM - setting off more fireworks. This is bad on so many levels. If he angered the bears and they turned it would have gotten bad fast. At this point the worker yelled across at him that fireworks are illegal. He used some colorful swear words in return. He said his 4 year old was sleeping on the bank. Good grief! He was aggravating grizzlies...if they turned they would get him and then go for the 4 year old - LET THE BEAR WALK AWAY IN PEACE.  He threw another one, more screaming back and forth....a gun was fired by someone in here. The Game wardens were called. They did some 'splaining about regulations and bear country etiquette.

Nolan and Stacia slept right through it. They chose not to go fishing. I was so hoping Alex would catch a salmon.  He didn't. Most didn't. Folks were coming from the Kenai and Soldotna and saying nothing was happening there either.
Picture of dejection 
The only one I saw caught on Sunday. 

"The worst day fishing is still better than the best day in the office." The weather was perfect and it was a beautiful weekend to be out and about in Alaska.  Alex came back about 1100 and Micahel made it back at 1315. We were in no BIG HURRY to get home, BUT I didn't want to get stuck in terrible traffic like they did last weekend.
Dog tired
Once we got past this stretch, the traffic was great all the way to Anchorage. 

We saw a lot rule-breaking this weekend. A man buying salmon from another - illegal. Tents and slides out - regardless of signs. BAD snagging and KEEPING of salmon - against the rules on the Russian. Fireworks in the Kenai - illegal. Aggravating Grizzlies - illegal AND DUMB a two fer!  I enjoyed people watching and they enjoyed fishing. I don't believe there are bathrooms on the other side of the river - just a note.

*Note all fishing/River photos are taken from across the river- I wasn't paying $11 to go over.

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