Tag Archives: fishing

Once upon a time on a trip to Alaska, day 30

Valdez, Alaska

Sunday, July 15, 1973

We’d been on our trip for one month as of this day.

A short drive today, the sixty-five miles on into Valdez (Val-DEEZ, although I wanted to pronounce it Val-DES, as I recall).  We drove through both a tunnel drippy enough to require the use of the windshield wipers while traversing it, and over a bridge to get there. Valdez is yet another beautifully-located coastal town, this one on the shores of Prince William Sound, a name which became familiar to the world in the worst possible way, being the location of the Exxon-Valdez spill, one of the worst ecological disasters in history.

An aerial view of Valdez.

The main thing I remember about Valdez, which would later become the southern terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, is the huge piles of metal pipe stacked everywhere, awaiting government approval for the pipeline’s construction later that year.  The pipes were bigger in diameter than I was tall, as I recall, and pyramidal stacks of them were all over the place.

Alaska pipeline pipe.

Our afternoon was spent exploring Valdez, and going to a slide program at the city’s information center.  I don’t remember what the slide show was about, nor do I mention its subject in my diary.  I suspect it was either about the 1964 earthquake, which hit very hard in Valdez as it did everywhere else along the south coast of mainland Alaska, or about the proposed pipeline.  Or it could have been about both, I suppose.

And we did do some more fishing, so I was wrong about our last time fishing on the trip being on the Kenai Peninsula.  I know we didn’t catch anything, though.

True Gold, a novel about the Klondike Gold Rush, is now available through Amazon and Smashwords

Once upon a time on a trip to Alaska, day 26

Russian River Campground, east of Soldotna, Alaska

Wednesday, July 11, 1973

We left Homer on this day.  Time to go since we’d caught our salmon, I guess.  We didn’t go far after dumping and refilling our water and sewage tanks, just to a campground a few miles east of Soldotna, which is about 75 miles back towards Anchorage from Homer.

The campground was on the banks of the Russian River.  I imagine that name is a holdover from early in the 19th century when the Russians actually owned Alaska.  There’s another Russian River in California, too, which supposedly marks how far the Russians got in their explorations of North America’s Pacific coast back in the day.

We did some more fishing, but as I wrote in my diary, we “discovered that you had to fish with flies,” apparently a state park regulation, so the only thing caught was a minnow, by my father.  “It was cute.”  I think that was the last of the fishing on this trip, if I remember correctly.

That evening after supper, my father took a piece of leftover bread roll and tied it to the end of his fishing line, then set the roll on the picnic table.  Soon a ground squirrel came to investigate, and Daddy teased him by repeatedly tugging it away from him with the fishing line.  “At first I thought it was funny, afterward I didn’t like it.”  Honestly, I remember it not even being funny to begin with.

It was, to use my personal metaphor, like filling someone’s car with popcorn, being deliberately mean to get a laugh at someone else’s expense.  My three sisters all got married the year I turned twelve.  You know how people tie old shoes onto the back of the car when a couple gets married?  Well, at the first wedding reception, my new brother-in-law’s friends decided to do something different, so they filled the honeymoon getaway car with popped popcorn.  All the way to the roof.  Everybody else thought it was funny.  All I can remember is the mess it made and how it took forever to get the car cleaned out enough to drive it.  My sister said that they were still finding popcorn kernels in that car a month later.

There are some things that other people find hilarious that I find just mean-spirited and nasty.  And teasing some poor hungry ground squirrel is like filling someone’s car with popcorn.

True Gold, a novel about the Klondike Gold Rush, is now available through Amazon and Smashwords

Once upon a time on a trip to Alaska, day 26

Homer Spit Campground, Homer, Alaska

Tuesday, July 10, 1973

 Fish!  We have fish! 

The day started, however, with another trip up Skyline Drive, this time, I wrote in my diary, all the way to the end.  I don’t know what kept us from doing that the first time, but something must have.  We did a lot of that on this trip — in Fairbanks, we drove partway down to Mt. McKinley and back before going the whole way a couple of days later, and we drove partway out to Circle City and back, too.  And there’s more of that later on in the trip, too.  But we went back up Skyline Drive.  Maybe the weather was better or something.

After lunch we came back and fished for hours.  From the beach, from the dock, from the beach again.  I was a little ways down the beach from my parents by late in the afternoon, when my mother yelled, “Mary, Daddy caught a fish!” (I went by my first name back then — my mother is the only person on the planet who still calls me Mary), which was very exciting, but soon after that, “something hit my line like an express train” to quote my diary.  “I yanked it out of the water, screaming, and this little boy came over and took out the hook.”  Actually, he hit it over the head with a rock first to kill it.  My mother still talks about how he said “this won’t hurt it” and then went smash with the rock.

Anyway, the two fish, Daddy’s and mine, were both pink salmon  (since most salmon are pink, I don’t know if they were really officially the variety called pink salmon or if they were just salmon which happened to be pink).  Daddy’s weighed four and a quarter pounds and was male, and mine weighed two and three quarters pounds and was female.  Both were 21 inches long.

Pink salmon

 

I remember ‘helping’ my father clean and fillet them.  And I do remember eating them.  I still have a fondness for salmon at least partly because of that day.

And that was the day we caught fish!

True Gold, a novel about the Klondike Gold Rush, is now available through Amazon and Smashwords