Thursday, July 7, 2011

Escape to Alaska: The Town Where Salmon is King

Soldotna, Alaska. On the Kenai River. This little town bustles and hums in the summer as the RVs, trailers, accompanied by hardware-encumbered tourists, roll in. They're intent on catching red salmon and, the monster of the river, a king salmon.

It's an industry.

Translation: On Friday it will be legal to fish
the Kenai River using salmon eggs on a hook.

But that's not why we're here. My wife's brother lives in Soldotna. It's been three years since we've gotten together. He's going to catch us up on the Alaska we've been missing.

So let's slip into the rhythm of the north...

Around 6 a.m. I wake up to clear skies. The sun has been up longer, I suppose. Whatever the case, all the light shining through the crack in the curtains is significant. After a long dark winter, Alaskans crave as many bright, warm summer days as they can get. I know. I lived in this state for 25 years. A dismal summer day with clouds and drizzle was the ultimate downer. But that's not what we have today.

Backyard view Alaska-style...
I  get dressed, pull on my shoes, and go for a run. I'm liking what I feel. For the first time in months the air is friendly. I'm not breaking out in a sweat.

Then it's time to go to breakfast at a local cafe.

Our son orders the Spruce Tree. It's one of a host of gimmicky named entrees directed at the tourist crowd. Nevertheless, this culinary item turns out pretty nice...

That's French toast with bacon to form the trunk...

On the way out the cafe a friendly malemute sticks his head out the side of an SUV and howls a bit for us.

The wild, intriguing face of Alaska.

The day is turning out quite nice. Ahead of us are a visit to the mouth of the Kenai River, some wild flower photography, a walk through an old salmon cannery, and a dish of delectable rhubarb cobbler topped with whipped cream.

After that it will be evening and the sun will be almost as high as if it's still early afternoon.  Who knows how late we may stay up, talking, soaking up every solar morsel of the midnight sun? That's what Alaskans do, and whether in Rome or Soldotna it doesn't hurt to follow the crowd. We can always sleep once we get back home. Wherever that is. - V.W.


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