July 07, 2014

Mom and Dad came to visit!

My parents visited Alaska for their eighth time in mid-June. It's weird to think about the first time the three of us visited Alaska in 2002 prior to Leah's second summer nannying, imagining that it would be our only opportunity to visit Alaska. Now, my parents have had the opportunity to visit a number of communities throughout the state. Each experience has been delightful. I just love spending time with these two people, no matter what we have planned.


Matt already had a trip planned to Seattle for work and then to visit his family, but he was able to enjoy the first weekend with my parents before heading South. One thing he wanted to do with my dad was to go salmon fishing. We had heard the Reds were running, so Dad, Mom, Matt and I drove (yes, my new car) down to the Kenai Peninsula so Matt and Dad could fish. 


There are two very popular fishing rivers on the Peninsula. The Kenai River runs 82 miles westward from Kenai Lake in the Kenai Mountains, through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and Skilak Lake to its outlet into the Cook Inlet of the Pacific Ocean. The Russian River is 13 miles long and flows upward from Upper Russian Lake in the Kenai Mountains through the Lower Russian Lake, draining into the Kenai River near the town of Cooper Landing. Like the Kenai River, the Russian River is very famous for salmon fishing. There are two runs of red salmon (sockeye salmon) in mid-June and mid-July and a run of silver salmon (coho salmon) in August. While red salmon are considered premier fishing for eating, canning and smoking, silver salmon tend to be favored by anglers due to the large size of the fish. Silvers are also very tasty.


Interestingly, the confluence of the Kenai and Russian Rivers has no direct road access. However, it can be accessed by hiking or by a privately operated ferry that crosses the Kenai River and takes fisherman to the mouth of the Russian River. This ferry is known as the Russian River Ferry.


The Russian River ferry launch deck...


Matt and Dad on the ferry, destined for the opposite side of the river...


The Russian River ferry uses a pulley system and the current of the river to move the ferry across the river...


 Matt and Dad fishing on the Kenai River...



Although it was raining for most of the afternoon and about 50 degrees, Matt pulled in a red and Dad helped Matt net the fish.


Leah also joined in on the visit, arriving in Anchorage two days after Mom and Dad (Saturday). Together, the five of us (Rio stayed home) visited the Downtown Saturday Market and did some quick shopping. We then headed home to feast on the red salmon Matt caught the day before...it was delicious. 


Sunday was Father's Day...and also Game 5 of the NBA finals. Dad wanted to watch the game, so we went to Crossbar, a new sport's bar in town, to watch the San Antonio Spurs defeat the Miami Heat. YAY!


We also celebrated Father's Day with some fresh crab legs for dinner, which were purchased at New Sagaya Midtown Market and prepared by me...


Rio enjoyed the company but her spot on the couch was often occupied by humans...


A new wine bar opened in Anchorage about a month ago called Killjoy Tasting Room. I've been to the restaurant a few times with friends and I was excited to share the place with Dad, Mom and Leah. We enjoyed some charcuterie and a glass of wine...



...and then did some tourist shopping downtown before heading home. We viewed the new Hard Rock Cafe (it was not yet open)...


Three people being tourists with their bags in front of some downtown road construction, both of which (tourists and construction) seem to overtake the streets of Anchorage in the summer...


After a few days in Anchorage, we headed to Talkeetna, Alaska. My parents had never been to this quaint community roughly 2.5 hours north of Anchorage and visiting Talkeetna was on their bucket list. I reserved the "Cabin in the Woods" via Denali Fireside Cabins. The cabin completely suited our needs and the hospitality was exceptional. Highly recommended.


A town best known for hosting mountaineers who have plans to summit Denali, or Mount McKinley, Talkeetna is a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Anchorage. Only 876 year round residents call Talkeetna home; however, the population of Talkeetna almost triples in the summer to meet the demands of tourists and mountaineers. We ate at Wildflower Cafe our first evening in Talkeetna. We all ordered either salmon or halibut and we agreed it tasted delicious and was very fresh.  

(photo courtesy http://www.talkeetnasuites.com/wildflower-cafe.html)

A few local restaurants and shops stay open all year long and one restaurant (also a lodge) is the Talkeetna Roadhouse, which I have written about in previous posts on this blog. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast at the Roadhouse our first morning in Talkeetna.


After breakfast, or more accurately, brunch, we walked around Talkeetna for the rest of the day, visiting each shop, enjoying refreshments and exploring the water front and trails.

Leah and I ran into a friendly moose...



We walked into Nagley's Store, which is open all year round and home of Stubbs, the cat who became the unofficial mayor of Talkeetna after a successful write-in vote campaign in 1998. Stubbs recently made headlines in August 2013 when he was attacked by a dog.


We stopped at Denali Brewing Company for a refreshment. Dad had a root beer float...


Leah and I enjoyed a brew...



And Mom had an iced tea...


Three rivers, the Talkeetna, Chulitna and Susitna, converge in Talkeetna to become the Big Susitna drainage. The Dena'ina Indians, an athabascan subgroup, first inhabited this area and refused to allow Russian traders up the Susitna River. In Dena'ina, Talkeetna means the river of plenty; however, local residents may translate talkeetna to where three rivers meet


Leah and Dad walking down Main Street Talkeetna...


After two nights in Talkeetna, we headed to Horseshoe Lake to spend the a night and two days. Next, we headed back to Anchorage to round out the last few days of my parents' visit. We ate at Glacier Brewhouse Saturday night and further explored downtown Anchorage on Sunday. The highlight of the day was visiting the Anchorage Museum...




The bubble exhibit was quite exciting...


Dad providing an example of how the bubble machine works...

video

It was great having my parents visit for almost twelve days and I am so thankful that they take the time and resources to visit me. I love exposing them to my life in Anchorage and sharing some of my favorite destinations with them. I hated saying goodbye on Monday morning, but it did help that Matt would return to Anchorage two days later and Leah would be in town for another seven days before heading back to Iowa...

Cheers!