Alaska 2021

Day 1

The flight out of SLC was scheduled for 9:10p (landing at 11:56p). After a bit of discussion about the new airport being ‘huge’ and my lack of experience with the new airport, I agreed to pick up godoloju and mandeez at 6:00p. Since I wanted a few minutes to adjust my headspace as close to the plane as possible, we decided I would drive to the airport, and they would ride in with me. Parked in economy parking and rode the shuttle in. We were done with all of that and in the airport by 6:30p. After security, we had a 1h30m wait, and I was reminded that the ‘two hours before’ is for the worst case scenario, and it never takes anywhere near as long as that.

The flight there was fairly empty, and I ended up with a row to myself, and there were a few empty rows on the plane. I haven’t had a chance to try out the wifi on planes, so I decided I would this flight. They wanted $10/hr for “streaming quality” internet. It was not. I watched some streamers on twitch most of the flight and had to adjust the quality down to 320×240 and 30fps to get it not to stutter. The flight was uneventful.

We landed, grabbed the rental, and left the airport all within 30m. It was after midnight, and Anchorage (at least the part we were in) was dead. We were lucky to find a gas station still open. We grabbed some supplies, had a smoke, and godoloju showed his charitable side by filling up a gas tank for a guy that was looking for a little help.

holiday inn express

Checking into the hotel was fast and easy, pretty much what you’d expect. When I turned on the TV in the room, it was on OANN.. gasp. Mandeez found blood on the wall in their room.. not as strange as you’d think for a hotel room. Godoloju and I went out to the parking lot for a smoke and a drink. It was pretty cold, not unbearable, but cold. Then it was time to sleep. I watched a little South Park and had a couple more smokes.

Day 2

I ended up shutting off the tv in my room around 3a. At around 6a, I got up and hopped in the shower, catching a couple more hours there. At around 8a, I ran down to the lobby to see what the breakfast was like, ran into Mandeez on her way back. Breakfast was bacon, turkey sausage, scrambled eggs, and some baby omelets. The tv in the breakfast room was playing Newsmax, reminding me that we were in Trump country. I ate more than my fair share and went out for another smoke, it was still very overcast, and there was a cold breeze.

I went back to my hotel room to watch a little tv while I waited for the crew to wake up and noticed blood on the pillow I had used under my head. It wasn’t a lot, just a few drops, but I don’t remember seeing that the night before, and I’m not sure where it came from. I assume it was from me, but IDK. I took a little nap before godoloju pinged and we set a time to leave. I had time for a second round of breakfast, so I ran down and grabbed myself a second plate of bacon and eggs. Checked out, had a smoke or two, and met godoloju and mandeez at the car.

The first goal on the list was finding a dispensary. We hit one, it was closed, ended up at another one about two blocks down called AM Delight. Staff was on point and we came out stocked up for the trip. I bought a few grams of Cookies and Chem and a pen, and I believe Mandeez got something similar. I think my total was $160.

Next on the list was coffee. We found a place downtown Anchorage and while they went in for coffee, I stood between “town hall” and a convention center and found a happy place. There was a pretty crazy mural painted on the wall right next to where I was partaking and I had plenty to read as I stayed incognito. It had been several hours since I had last partaken, and this was a new strain, I got higher than normal, even paranoid.

We had roughly a 3-hour drive to Soldotna and the Airbnb in front of us, and with nothing better to do, we got started. It was still so overcast that we couldn’t see more than a couple of hundred feet from the road, which was a bit of a bummer. I wanted to see the mountains of Alaska. But we were near bodies of water, and driving through a pretty dense forest the whole time, so there were things to look at. At about halfway through the trip, we jumped off the highway onto a dirt road that went straight up the mountain. We drove 5mins up to a nice little grassy area and took a smoke and pee break. The dirt road ended up being a service road for a cell tower.

We arrived in Soldotna and headed straight to the Airbnb just to figure out where it was exactly. We found it and we still had a couple of hours to kill, so we went back out to find a grocery store. Grabbed some steaks, soda, chips, and other munchies. We then walked over to a Sportsman’s warehouse to see if we could get some lures and information for fishing. An old guy suggested some specific spinner-type lures and said “anything bright”, cuss the water was muddy. Godoloju and I each picked up a few.

Checked into the Airbnb, put the food and some of our stuff away, and then went down to the Kenai River (right out the back door) to attempt some shore fishing. The breeze was just cold enough that our hands were freezing. It wasn’t a great situation. We were an hour in when godoloju read “Silvers like anything pink”, which was not the color of the lures I had purchased. No luck, not even a bite as far as we could tell.

The AirBnB we decided was around 900sq ft, had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a little kitchen, but could sleep about 8. More importantly, it had never-ending hot water, which was a score for me. It wasn’t a ‘real’ cabin, but a more modern build with ‘cabin-like siding on the outside. Whatever, it was comfortable and did the job easily.

We stopped by a restaurant called The Duck Inn for an early dinner, food was good. Everything was a little pricey. It was probably $30/person. We went back to the Airbnb, tried a little more fishing, talked about what we were gonna do the next day, and just hung out. Godoloju attempted to drink himself into a coma, and it worked. He said something along the lines of “I need to sleep” and disappeared. Mandeez followed him shortly after, and I stayed up a few hours watching more South Park and attempting to get eaten by bears (smoke a lot).

Day 3

I woke up early, took longer than I should have a shower, and then snuck outside for a smoke and headspace change. The plan for the day was to take a day trip about 2 hours south to Homer, the “Halibut fishing Capitol of the world”. Godoloju and I attempted a little more fishing using a bottom bouncing configuration that he had read about the night before. Saw a few bald eagles while attempting to fish, but didn’t stay out long as it was colder and rainier this morning.

We went out and grabbed a late breakfast, I don’t remember the name of the place, but we tried some Reindeer sausage (tasted like sausage) and ate our weight in other breakfasty items. Scored a few munchies for the road and started driving. I took down a note that godoloju and mandeez were overly cute with each other this morning, I must have been puking in my mouth a little. We were discussing my irrational fear of bears when it was decided (by them) that it was more likely that I’d be attacked by a shark than a bear. I’m not convinced.

The drive to homer was pretty uneventful, although pretty. We stopped by a place called Crab Gulch (in the background of the image above) that was famous for crabs at particular parts of the year. And even though “crabs may be poisonous”, apparently roughly one million are harvested from that little gulch each year. It was a cool little beach but was pretty cold and uninviting when we were there. At one point the clouds parted enough for us to see one crazy mountain, that I’m pretty sure was one of the ‘four volcanos’ that are in Alaska. I don’t know where I got that number, now that I’m looking this up a bit, there are hundreds of volcanos in Alaska. Based on the map I found below, we were probably looking at either the Redoubt or Iliamna volcano.

Homer is a little town maybe the size of Brigham at the tip of a peninsula. It’s all about fishing and tourists. Along this ‘spit’ that I believe was man-made and acts like a wave break for a big chunk of the bay, there were a bunch of shops elevated on platforms almost out over the water. There was also a big boat dock and a few restaurants. We wandered around the beaches, shops, and the harbor, checking things out. Most of the shops were closed, but there were enough to keep us entertained for a couple of hours.

We decided to grab some food, and ended up splurging a bit on king crab, muscles, and oysters, and clam chowder. It was good, and it was pricey. The king crab was $120 for the 4 empty pieces you can see in the picture below. They had one leg that was $280, that we didn’t get. I was a little surprised at that cost, especially because it was frozen. But we tried some anyway.

We hung out in Homer for 3 maybe 4 hours and then stopped by an outdoor supply store because we needed gloves for the fishing trip the next day. Then we started the drive home.

It was much later that night when I went out for one of my many smoke breaks when I nearly sat on a triple hook that was just sitting on the porch. The weird part about this is, I had sat in that exact spot a dozen times over the last two days, and not even an hour before. That hook hadn’t been there. Some jokes were made about bears or fish fishing for ‘moose’ at my expense. We all crashed pretty early this night, maybe around 11p, because we needed to be up and ready for fishing pretty early the next day.

Day 4

The next morning godoloju and I were out the door by 7:45a and on our 1-hour drive to Coopers Landing for our float trip. Stopped by McD’s for a quick breakfast, and a gas station for a few supplies, and then started driving. We found our guide quickly, were in waders, and driving to the float starting point within the next 15m. Our guide made everything pretty easy, was super descriptive about how to fish depending on the area we were at. It was a mix of spinner rods and fly rods.

When we were using the spinner rods, it was basically like anywhere else, cast, reel fast, add a little jig to it. I don’t think I got a single bite on a spinner rod. Not sure godoloju did either. But our guide did, by dragging the hook across the super lazy silvers we were attempting to grab. Either way, he got two fish in the boat, using a spinner rod, where we did not.

Our fly rods were set up with an indicator (bobber) and about 6ft of lead after the indicator. We would cast upstream, and watch it move downstream until the bobber dived underwater, then jerk. I hadn’t even really cast, just threw my line in the first time, and caught a little like 9″ trout. We joked that I should stop there as I was currently the most successful fly fisherman ever, with a 100% cast to catch rate.

We spent roughly the next 6 hours swapping back and forth from the spinner rods to the fly rods, fishing different pockets and flows of the river. Lots of smoking, stories and bites were had by all. Our guide was on point, managed to always be watching both of our rods/bobbers, and always had a suggestion on how to do a little better with the next one. I had like 10 fish on at different points but only managed to get 3 to the boat. One was decent-sized, and the other two were pretty small. Godoloju however, managed to get around 6 into the boat, with about half of them being decent sized.

Our guide managed to pull two big silver salmon into the boat not wanting us to go home empty-handed. We had a little discussion about it and he planned to give them someone.

At one point, a big, red, moldy old salmon followed my lure like 20 feet, popping it in his mouth, then letting me pull it out. It happened like 4 times before he was at the boat, and kinda just turned and lazily swam away. Our guide said it was basically dead.

The river was filled with dead fish, hundreds, in some areas you couldn’t even see the rocks there were so many dead fish. They were all the salmon that had gone upstream to spawn and then died afterward. Very few of them were floating on the surface, most had sunk to the bottom of the river. We saw a few eagles, which were cool to see. Our guide told us that it is not uncommon to see bears at this time of year, but because of the weird cold front that we were experiencing, they must all still be hiding out staying warm.

Speaking of weather, the sky cleared up for this last day. Much of the float was out in the sun, and we barely needed our gloves. It also made for a much more scenic drive back to Anchorage later that day.

We were back to the Airbnb to pick up our stuff and Mandeez by 4, and on the road back to Anchorage by 5. We got back to Anchorage with some time to spare, so we found a brewery called 49th Street Brewing (which was awesome) and grabbed a meal and some drinks. We stopped and filled up the rental on the way to the airport, and then found a little bar near our gate to pass the last of the time. I was asleep on the plane before it left the ground, and woke up as we were landing. For me, it was an instant flight.

Summary

Alaska is a lot more wilderness than anything.  Which I guess you’d expect, but surprised me a little.  Anchorage was the size of Ogden, decent but not big.  Everything else was Brigham or smaller, with a couple of hundred miles of wilderness in-between.  Very pretty place, my experience with the fishing was it was about like anywhere else.  We caught more because we had an experienced person and a boat.

My guess is this trip took around $1000/person.  But we haven’t done the math yet.

I will go back.

Update:
We did the math. 
Mind you, we ate/drank what we wanted to. 
Including 2x $300+ dinner bills
We did not skimp. 
We spent roughly $1800 each. 
Mandeez was closer to $1200 cuss she didn’t do the float.

 

The most epic image of the trip. Obviously its me.

Full sized images HERE

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