Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tides and Yurts

Even though I feel the pressure of a couple tirades building, the MN and WI wolf hunt developments being one, and the travesty I witnessed on Monday Night Football the other night being another, I figure I better riff a bit more on the Alaska trip while it is still fresh in my memory.  There was lots of stuff that was fairly amazing to we guys from salt and shark free waters, stuff that makes me want to head back just as soon as I can pull it off.

Once the gale force winds died down we prepared to get out on the water and do some camping.  We did not have to pack tents, sleeping pads, and other camping gear for Delta Airline to abuse since we were going to reserve a yurt that was installed and maintained by a vendor to the Kachemak Bay state park we planned to visit.  A quick aside on airlines.  Travelers between Alaskan cities do not need to remove shoes, belts, watches, and pocket knives to board the aircraft.   We flew Era Airline from Anchorage to Homer and suffered a minor mechanical issue that forced us to return to Anchorage and change planes.  To compensate us for the inconvenience, Era Airlines served free beer.  Cans of Bud Lite or Miller Genuine Draft you ask?  Hell no.  The stewardess reached down and pulled out growlers of Denali Brewing Twister Creek IPA and started pouring.  We were happily stunned; was this some paralell dimension where the airlines actually gave a shit about their passengers or what?

 RonO thought it wise to take the water taxi over to the other side of the bay and we were on board with that.  They dropped our gear off at the yurt on aptly named Kayak Beach and then took us up to the head of Tutka Bay, about a ten mile run. We used Ron's two NDK boats and were provided two more, the NDK Explorers that had been used for the 2012 Aleutian Expedition, courtesy of Tom Pogson at the Alaska Kayak School. The tide, a neap tide apparently, only about half the size of the nineteen footer on the day of our arrival, was ebbing.  Our exploration of Tutka Bay Lagoon in those conditions meant we were paddling 'upstream' as opposed to downstream on a rising tide.  A 'river' that changes course and speed of the flow every six hours or so is pretty cool stuff for we big lake paddlers.  There was fishing along the way with handlines as well as on the end of the Homer spit earlier with traditional rods and reels.  We caught fish, recognized about half of em, and ate the ones that we thought we knew.  The flounders were recognizable and tasty.  We of course, thought they were 'little halibut' but were quickly disabused of that idea.  We thought we caught a nice Ling Cod and ate that as well but no one was really sure if it was a cod or not; it was delicious whatever it was.

We did not have to find a tent site, set up tents,  inflate sleeping pads, or hang the tarp so this afforded more time, perhaps too much time, for an extended, scenic, and somewhat raucuous happy hour. Supper was late and I don't recall exactly what it wa,s but then it was a couple weeks ago.  Morning found us tanned and well rested and fully 50% of the group paddled out and explored Yukon Island, Elephant Rock, and Sadie Cove.  Shore lunch was caught and devoured along with the traditional fried potatoes and we enjoyed the company of the next night's yurt occupants, two young sisters and the bf of one of them. 

It was an abbreviated although excellent little overnight.  We loved playing in the salt water with the tides and catching fish whose species we had no clue in hell about.  The scenery wherever we looked was breathtaking and the weather, 50F with a bit of drizzle now and then, was an absolute joy for we parched, 90F hating midwesterners.  While I don't see this being added to the long list of 'annuals' (technically however, it was the annual fall trip, a staple on the calendar since the late '90's) I really would like to go back. 

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