Note: Since I was incommunicado during my trip, I will post details of the Kenai fishing trip that my dad, my brother and I enjoy during the following days in chronological order. I hope you enjoy it! Pictures will follow soon.
Monday, June 9, 2008
After weeks and months of agonizing anticipation I was finally at the San Francisco International Airport with an Alaska Airlines boarding pass in hand. My sister and her husband graciously allow me the use of their son’s bed the night before, so my wake up time wasn’t until five thirty and the drive to the airport (Thanks Tom!) a short ten minutes.
While I’m not a terrible traveler, I don’t settle down for a flight until I’m on the plane, but the wait was short and soon we were winging it northward to Seattle. The flight was uneventful – which as the saying goes is a good thing when flying – and I was able to watch Northern California slip away. Above the Golden State I was able to identify a good many locations and after I spotted the Weed rest area (readily identifiable by its proximity to the Weed airport), I was able to follow Interstate 5 to Oregon. The Oregon border also was easily identified by the overcast that would conceal my view of the earth for most of the remainder of both legs of my flights.
The flight landed in Seattle on time and in short order I boarded my next flight. Then the trouble began. The seats that remained vacant as our departure time neared should have been a clue. Our departure time came and went. Almost thirty minutes later a gaggle of Texans destined for a cruise from Alaska raucously boarded the 737-300. After another half an hour or so of tussling with carry-on baggage and deliberating over seats, all was ready again. Another few minutes were required to remedy a mechanical glitch and we were off.
My seatmates, two elderly gentlemen, keep me chatting as fishing Alaskan waters was their goal as well as mine. This helped while away the time and stirred up more excitement in each of use about hooking a Kenai king.
Despite forecasts of possible showers throughout the week, the cloud cover broke up a bit for our descent into Anchorage. Chiseled mountains peaked through the clouds, while breaks in the cloud cover gave way to glimpses of incredibly green rivers. Our aircraft passed over the Turnagain Arm on our final approach to the Ted Stevens International Airport. Once on the ground with baggage in hand, I called my brother/chauffeur for curbside pickup. (My dad and Mark landed about two hours before my expected arrival.) I also called the lodge to leave a message that our arrival might be later than planned.
The fact that I was in Alaska didn’t dawn in full force until we headed south on Alaska’s Highway 1. Snow-covered mountains seemed to rise out of the ocean. Turquoise rivers and meandering creeks seemed ever-present. Species of trees I had not seen before peppered the hills. Moose nonchalantly glanced up as we passed by.
Mark and I shared the task of driving and three hours later we found the short gravel driveway to Tower Rock Lodge. In accordance with the instructions I had received, we entered the log dining hall to check in. My brother cast an uneasy glass around, wondering where everyone might be and voiced concern that no one was there to greet us. Being new to the fishing lodge experience, I speculated that, gee, they might be out fishing. As if prompted by some unseen force, lodge manager, guide and great host Mark T. called me and quickly came to greet us. He and chief cook Tom helped us lug our baggage to the cabin, and with a quick primer on the lay of the land an introduction to our cabin for the week, we settled in.
To say that the service at Tower Rock Lodge is great wouldn’t accurately describe it. We sat down in the dining hall to enter our fishing license information in a log and wind down from our flight, and suddenly appetizers were brought to the table by Mark T.
The plate of marinated and seared moose, two cheese spreads, some meats and crackers was more than just food, it was a warm prelude to what would be fantastic experience at TRL (Tower Rock Lodge).
We relaxed and talked for a bit, meeting some of the other guests as they returned from various fishing destinations. We met Dave, Mary Ann and “Mom,” his petite mother-in-law who just happened to love to fish; Bob from New Hampshire, who had made the trip after being sick the first time he tried to make it out; and (another) Dave and Etta, TRL staff members and culinary students who had joined the lodge for the summer. Dinner, served at 7:30 p.m. to allow for guests returning late, was an excellent tri-tip with potatoes, followed by German chocolate cake dessert. During dinner Bob warmed up to the typical Konoske boys’ banter and he would become a welcome part of our TRL experience.
Our first of four fishing trips had been scheduled and posted during dinner. We were to drift fish the Kasilof River. We were to be on the river at six o’clock the next morning. We “hit the sack” about ten o’clock despite the sky lit up like a late afternoon back home. I would wake up during the night at three o’clock in the morning to find it just as bright outside.
Gallery of day one photos from our Kenai fishing trip: