Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Went from Homer to Kenai on Tuesday, July 28.  The drive was lovely, and we could see the mountain range with Mt. Iliamna--actually a volcano.   Went to the visitor center when we arrived in Kenai and enjoyed that; they had lots of stuffed animals on display all around the room, as well as some representative garments and tools used by the early native people who inhabited the region.  They had a huge commemorative quilt on display,  so big we had to take a number of pictures to get it all.  Trisha especially loved that.

We stayed at Diamond M Ranch RV Resort, which was a fabulous operation, run by a family, all of whom worked there.  They were so nice and accommodating and had a really unique arrangement for a big group like ours.  Rather than the typical side by side sites, they had a number of quads, with 4 rigs all around the sides, and a big grassy area in the quad, and these humongous firepits for use by the quad residents.  They were caps for huge heat exchangers that had been used in an oil refinery, but these folks salvaged them, turning them upside down to rest on two pipes--sort of like one of these little self-contained firepits you get at Home Depot--on steroids!!  Anyway, we've never seen this set up before and it was a lot of fun.

But there was also something at this RV park we've never experience before either--an earthquake!!  About 5:00 PM, as we were fixing supper, Trisha and Sophie were sitting on the couch and I was standing in the kitchen, when all of a sudden the RV started shaking like crazy.  Right about this time Sophie jumped down off the sofa--actually a split second before the shaking started--and I said to myself, no way an 8 pound dog jumping off the sofa could do that!!  My next thought was that the leveling jacks had somehow failed and the RV was falling down.  I went outside and was leaning down to look under the coach at the jacks when I felt the ground shaking again and could see the RV rocking.  Then the guy in the next rig hollered "Earthquake!"  Fortunately there was no damage to any rigs and no one was hurt, but soon someone got on the news site and learned that it was indeed an earthquake--6.32 on the Richter scale--with the epicenter at Mt. Iliamna, a volcano some 30 miles from the campground.  Never had that happen before, either!!  

That evening we had a big campfire in one of the quads with the host family providing all the fixings for s'mores, including a couple of interesting variations--using huge square marshmallows, plus peppermint patties and Reece's cups in the place of the traditional Hershey's chocolate bars.  Very cool idea.  They also had some biscuit dough they were wrapping around sticks, but they weren't putting it over the end, like we had always done when we used to camp with our kids--we called them  doughboys--so you could stuff it with jelly or other goodies.  So Trisha went over to show them how to do that, and everyone really loved that!

The next day Trisha went to what turned out to be the oldest and largest quilt store in Alaska, while I went for a wonderful 35 mile bike ride on some of the super paved bike paths that run along so much of the road system in Alaska.  Trisha loved talking to the woman who owned the store, and learned that her daughter had designed many of the quilt patterns we have been seeing throughout the state.  That evening, the owners hosted a lovely king crab dinner for all of us, with lovely kale and other greens from their garden, great salads, some wonderfully prepared salmon and halibut, and lots of crab legs.  We decided that we just had to step off the vegan express for this dinner and it was delicious!!  It was on their "viewing deck," a high deck that overlooks some marsh land where sometimes you can see wildlife.  Though we didn't see any big animals, we did see a pair of bald eagles in a nest, so that was pretty cool!  

The next day we went downtown and did a historical walk near the water, starting with an old Russian Orthodox church.  Turns out that a Baptist church mission group from West Virginia was there doing renovation work on the church, so we couldn't get inside.  We did have a good time visiting with the folks there, and one man had a young son who was pretty excited to see Santa on Vacation!  From the church we walked down to the location of the first Protestant church on the Kenai Peninsula, though the original building is no longer there.  We also saw tons of folks down in the water "dip net" fishing.  To do this, you wear high waders, walk out into the river with this absolutely huge net, with the ring holding the netting probably 5 or 6 feet in diameter, on the end of a 10 ft. pole.  You hold the pole so that the net ring is perpendicular to the floor, and wait for the fish to get caught in the net as they swim along the shallow water, then haul the full net onto the shore and empty it into a cooler.  Only Alaska residents can dip net fish, and this was the final two days of the season, so there were so many people out to catch their limits--very interesting!

En route to Kenai, views of Mt. Iliamna

 The mountain through the fireweed!

 Crossing the Kenai River
 Musk ox in the visitor center

 Dance fan made of fur seal whiskers
 Woven inlay in this basket
 Early primitive sled dog harness
 Primitive snow shoes
 The beautiful quilt

 Model of a church
 Some beautiful handmade dolls

 Beautiful beadwork adorning garments and boots

 These stones occur just like this in nature, though they looked like they were carved

 Stuffed eagles in the visitor center

 Campfire in the quad

 Trisha and I met this woman from Hiawassee, just 40 minutes or so from our home!  She's spending a month here.
 They used some pretty long marshmallow roasting sticks!
 The owners' dog
 It was Earl's birthday, so his wife had this cake for everyone after we all sang Happy Birthday to him!

 Wagonmaster Chuck roasting a marshmallow

 Trisha with her huge roasting stick and her creation!!
 Sequence interrupted by this shot of a beautiful rainbow someone pointed out!

 What a creation!!
 Josiah, the owners' son, riding one of his many unicycles
 Looking out across the marsh from the viewing deck on the night of the crab feed

 Jack, getting "bibbed up!" by his wife, Jean
 Ken and Kathy

 Tailgunner Lorrin, with the crab leg cracking hammer ready to go!
 Of course, it can also be used for other things!
 The eagles

 Tailgunner Nyla with Kathy and Ken
 Wagonmaster Sally
 Josiah's triple wheeled unicycle--quite the feat to ride this one!
 The owners made the office and laundry room building look like an old frontier town

 Downtown on the historical walk
 This original chapel was built to honor the first two Russian priests who came to Kenai to start the mission--it  was built over their graves
 Looking out from the chapel
 A restaurant just across from the chapel
 An early rectory from the church, now used as a private residence
 The original rectory
 Closer view of the chapel

 This outbuilding was so enchanting, even though it's leaning--again, just look how big and beautiful their flowers get with all the sun during the brief summer

 The church, with the crane where some of the mission team volunteers were painting the steeple

 Pictures of the exterior and interior of the church from its early days

 In a park above the mouth of the Kenai River where we saw the dip net fishers

 And here they are!

 Site of the original Protestant church on the Peninsula
 Unique house next door
 Look at Trisha's latest knitting wonder!!  This beautiful sweater vest she's been working on for a while on the trip--though she bought the yarn before we started, it's serendipitous that it's got a lot of the colors of the fireweed we've been enjoying on this trip!

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