The Kenia Peninsula is surrounded by the Gulf of Alaska and Cook Inlet, and it’s a huge tourist destination famous for mountains and glaciers and King Salmon. We’ve avoided camping in the Kenia during the salmon season because of the crowds, but as our Alaska trip is winding down, we had to come down to see what it was like.
Seward’s Silver Salmon Derby
Everyone posts photos of their RVs right along Resurrection Bay with mountains and glaciers in the background, but they don’t mention what they’ve cropped out: the fact that they’re camped in a gravel parking lot side by side with a kazillion other RVs. We avoided the worst of this by picking a first-come-first-served lot not directly on the water (everyone else flocks to the security of reservations), but people were walking right by our windows, anyway.
Notably, this guy, who walked to the inlet of the creek each morning and fished until he caught one Silver Salmon, then walked home. No sport fishing charters or weigh-in or photo op for him, just dinner.
The Silver Salmon Derby is a long tradition in Seward, though, and I spent a while talking with a guy at the weigh-in booth about the differences between Pink Salmon that were everywhere and Silvers, and why snagging (grabbing the side of a fish with a giant hook) is legal at this time and place as well as the vagaries of salmon season this year versus last.
It was kind of interesting watching people fish, but really, snagging is bloody and violent, and 90% of the fish people were catching were Pinks, which they threw back with gashes in their sides to die soon anyway after spawning.
Plus, we were shoulder to shoulder with tourists off the cruise ships docked in the port, sometimes two at a time. Look at the mountains behind the ships, though!
And Tracy caught his salmon (a Pink that we ate that day) after two casts the morning that we left. We joked it was a $100 fish, seeing as how he spent that amount on his Alaska fishing license. We also joked, though, that if we’d eaten this at a restaurant instead, considering prices around here, it would have cost us $100 anyway, so this seems suddenly reasonable. #Alaska
Captain Cook State Recreation Area
We had time for one final camping spot in the Kenia before we head to the Alaska State Fair, so we picked this spot west across the peninsula, described as “isolated,” “desolate” and “overgrown.” We needed exactly that.
It had been I don’t know how long since we were in a campsite that I consider “typical” for us: wooded, with our own private area out back, a bit of sunshine, a view.
We’re surrounded by a plant called Devil’s Club, which is prickly but lush.
The beach below looks out at Cook Inlet: the beach itself is long and wide, with no one on it but the occasional fisherman walking to where a river empties into the inlet.
Because of lava from the volcanic mountain across the water, rocks on the beach are considered agate, which I didn’t even know what that was until I started looking for them.
At which point I was entirely obsessed.
Mount Spurr is the volcano, and it’s been shrouded in cloud while we’ve been here, much like Denali. It looks otherworldly when it does emerge, like it’s floating above the sea, dreamlike.
You can see it barely with clouds above it here, which is how it looks most of the time we’ve been here. There’s a clearing out behind the campsite, right on the cliff’s edge, where we can take our chairs and beers and enjoy the evening. Banjo makes the most of the sunshine anytime it graces us.
Melanie and I have been thinking and talking about why we’re here. I mean, after a while we keep seeing ridiculously beautiful mountains, glaciers, rivers, bays, lakes, bears, moose, caribou, my goodness our list is full. Why not just come up for a couple of weeks, check all the items off the list, and then go back down to where life is easier? This question came to a point when I asked Melanie why they’d paid for a train ride recently in an area they’d already driven through. Her answers nails it.
The experience. No matter what animals or glaciers or whatever we see or don’t see, no matter the terrible weather or grumpy-making isolation, or heck the grumpy-making tourists around us, we’re feeling the feels here: jubilation when the sun comes out, eye rolling when we pass a guy riding his skateboard down the side of the highway, a guitar in one hand and the other hand with his thumb out, hitchhiking.
Shrugging at guys like this who we’ve seen several times. Note how he’s got two choppers and two kayaks on his trailer, not to mention the camper welded to the school bus.
This is not even the weirdest thing we’ve seen here. I can’t begin to list the weirdness or the beauty or to summarize either. It’s the experience, and that’s the reason why we’re here.