Sunday, July 31, 2016

Deep Creek, Part II – Rest and Relaxation

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In our last post, we talked about our fishing trip out of Deep Creek. Thankfully, I got over my illness as soon as I hit terra firma, which was just as well because there is so much to love about this area and we were parked right in the middle of it. On the other hand, as soon as Linda came down from the high of catching fish, she alternated between napping and being hangry (possible side effects of Dramamine).

Deep Creek itself is located just off the Sterling Highway near Ninilchik. Our campsite was right on the shore of the Cook Inlet with a breathtaking view of two volcanoes; Mount Iliamna and Mount Redoubt. Each evening, the sun set almost directly behind Redoubt and it made for some seriously spectacular sunsets.

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Looking across our Deep Creek Beach campground.

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What a beautiful view Scoopy had!

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We used to see photos like this in RV brochures and say that’s just not real!

Our time in Deep Creek was a chance for us to unwind with little or no obligations. Our week with Zac had been wonderful but exhausting and now we wanted to slow the pace down. We spent our time walking the beach watching the boats being launched and retrieved from the water. Bald eagles were in abundance flying in groups above us. The waves crashed within earshot at high tide and the weather, for the most part, was fabulous.

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Lots of bald eagles around Deep Creek!

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Gull drama. Fighting over fish remains.

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Fish carcasses littered the beach.

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The many moods of Mount Redoubt.

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A group of friends enjoy the evening sun.

Occasionally in our travels, we come across a place that has a special "it factor". Salt Creek Recreation Area in Washington is one of those places, Tuttle Creek in California is another and now Deep Creek has joined that short list. What is it with all these creeks??

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The tide is out in this photo, but came within feet of Scoopy at high tide!

What's great about the area is where it's positioned. It's smack in the middle of Kenai/Soldotna and Homer. Our original plan was to spend a week in Deep Creek and then move on to Homer but that quickly changed once we realized that we just couldn't beat the campsite we decided to make Deep Creek our base camp and extended our stay from one week to eleven days.

During that time, we visited Kenai City to check out their local Elks Lodge offerings for camping but mostly we were there to see the local phenomenon known as dip netting. What the heck is dip netting, you ask? The Kenai Chamber of Commerce Website describes it best, "July 10 marked the beginning of dip netting season for Alaskan residents. To dip net, anglers stand in the mouth of the Kenai River holding large nets with long handles. Dip netting is open to Alaska residents exclusively.  For visitors, the dip netting is a spectator sport not to be missed!" And what a spectacle it was! There were hundreds or even thousands of people by the water's edge for as far as the eye could see. People were dragging nets in with flopping fish who met a swift end with a good smack of what looked like a small baseball bat or nightstick. Everywhere around us, people were either fishing or filleting. It was quite interesting to watch a whole range of levels of expertise from beautiful fish cuts to crudely hacked chunks. Hey, it all goes down the same way, right?  :)

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Dip Netting at the mouth of the Kenai River!

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A Russian church in Kenai City.

Speaking of fish, although we had netted quite a bit of halibut, we also wanted to get some salmon. This time, it would be store-bought which I was much happier about. We revisited Homer, thinking that would be the best place to pick up some sockeye filets but, to our surprise, all they had available was last year's harvest. We would not have known this tidbit if Linda hadn't asked. The shopkeeper didn't seem all that thrilled to reveal their age. There was an audible pause before she said no when Linda asked were they this year's catch. We decided to get our fish in Kenai instead. 


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Two Sisters Bakery in Homer. Great food, highly recommended!

While camping in Deep Creek, I took the opportunity to get out and do some shooting. The nearby Russian Orthodox church cemetery and the Homer Spit proved to be places that got my creative juices flowing. The resulting photographs spawned a new photography blog post, complete with short stories and images. You can see the post here

Our friends Jim and Barb visited with us one evening and we had a fun happy hour together recounting our fishing experience. Becky, a former workmate from our All Critters Animal Hospital days was in Sterling visiting her parents so she and her dad came out to see us on another night.

Linda, Steven, Becky and John

If there was one downside to Deep Creek, it was the less than optimal cell service. It was a struggle to get any kind of Verizon wifi signal until after midnight. My guess is that most people were in bed and the traffic on this single cell tower was not as intense. A small gripe, perhaps, but having access to the internet is important to us and so it was an inconvenience. It would certainly not stop us returning there again. We would do that in a heartbeat!

At Fred Meyer in Soldotna trying to soak up them wifis!

Let me see.... what else happened while we were there....Oh, oh, I know! We called 911! This is our second call to 911 since we left Bellingham in May. You may recall, we had to make that call back in Williams Lake when we had an unexpected guest join us for happy hour. This time, we were in need of the fire department. Our neighbors (a family of 5) decided it would be a great idea to have a campfire. That was all fine and dandy until Linda looked out her window a little later and noticed all the curtains were drawn in the neighbors' RV and there was an old log smoking near some grass. I decided to use some of our limited water supply to extinguish the smoke but that sucker would not go out. I poured a gallon of water with no luck and then another gallon. It was still smoldering. From what I could see, it was now burning from the inside out. We assumed the neighbors had gone fishing so I went in search of the camp host. No luck there but I did notice signs all over saying to call 911 for all unattended fires. So that's exactly what I did.

Soon the local Ninilchik Volunteer Fire Department arrived. They got busy right away, splitting that log right down the middle and dousing it good and proper. The fire chief asked me if anyone had lit a fire and I mentioned that our absent neighbors had. He went over and took a look at the fire pit. He grabbed a stick and poked at it and, sure enough, there were still burning embers. It was windy too and the chief said sparks had definitely jumped over to the old log. All of a sudden, one of the kids emerged from the RV looking like he had just slept for a hundred years. Soon the dad was stepping out so the fire department had a little chat about campfire etiquette. The smoke, they said, could easily have escalated so it was good that we had called. Soon after they left, and to our total surprise, Dad was outside again, lighting another fire!! They were cooking a meal on it and left it burning again while they went off to the beach! Oh well.


The Volunteer Ninilchik Fire Department gets busy.

On the twelfth day, we were ready to go. Well, kinda. We felt sad leaving this great spot. Part of it was because it had been so relaxing and the views were to die for but the other part was that this was the beginning of our (albeit long) journey back to the Lower 48. There are lots more adventures still to be had before we cross the border but, what seemed like an infinite amount of time in Alaska is now being measured in weeks.

NEXT UP: Goodbye, Kenai.


  1. Great seeing you guys there and catching up! We are in Fairbanks now headed to TOPWH in the next few days.

    1. We'll be in DC by Saturday, Sunday at the latest, weather depending. Heading to Chicken tomorrow! Probs stay at the Yukon PP.

  2. Really great spot and loved the photos

  3. We're still a week or so behind you - thanks for the tip on Deep Creek! Sun? where did you find the sun? Still raining in Denali :(
    Go HAWKS!

    1. I cannot believe the weather you are having compared to our experience! It's like we're in different parts of the country! I guess Alaska is just that big. I'd say we've had 80 percent sunshine, or at least partial sun. It's been amazing!

  4. Sounds like a wonderfully relaxing week (other than the idiots who tried to set the campground on fire)! One of our favorite spots is also Salt Creek Recreation Area, so I bet we'll love Deep Creek, too. Your photo of the Bald Eagle is fantastic!

    1. Isn't Salt Creek wonderful? We've been going there for years, since our three children were little. They used to explore and called it Narnia. It is our most favorite family campground with memories that we all cherish. And yes, you will love Deep Creek! I just can't wait for you to go and experience it!

  5. I almost missed this - figured you didn't have internet :-) Love the bald eagle, have you gotten used to having so many of them around? The Dip Netting looks crazy. I don't know how they don't all hit each other! So frustrating to have neighbors who clearly have no concept of safe practices. Glad you called 911 for the log.