It is the middle of the summer. The sky is grey for the better part of the time, and it rains at least every few days. Not that this is something to complain about. It is not unusual for it to rain all summer here where we are, on the Kenai peninsula. There is even a fair amount of sunshine compared to last year. In spite of this supposedly reasonable weather, I struggle with being here. The campground is beautiful and the workload is okay, but we are so far away from everything that it paralyses us. In the morning, the campground chores need to be done. Before we are ready to head out to the grocery store, library or laundromat, it is well into the day. Then we never make it back to our camp to get dinner on the table at a child friendly hour and stick to any type of bedtime routine. More campground chores to finish off the day. Of course we don’t go to town every day, but doing this a few times per week keeps us solidly off track.
By the time that August comes around we don’t feel very productive anymore. The campground is getting emptier, and although we are meeting great people every day we feel like we are stuck in molasses in our personal life. My seasonal job here does not allow for us to be gone, even for two days. Having been here for months now, we have hardly visited anything at all. Hikes are at least a 90 minute drive away and being so far out in the middle of nowhere really makes us feel stuck. Something needs to change, and we decide that the time has come for us to move on and discover a little more of the last frontier. This summer has not been miserable altogether though; our kids have had so much fun in this campground that it makes it all okay. Nevertheless, we are happy to hit the road.
Fishing in Homer
It is the middle of August when we drive away from Captain Cook for the last time. We stop at our local friend’s place to say goodbye, which turns into a party. The kids help painting a wall and Antoine plays pool. One of their five dogs dies while we are there, an owl attacks the rabbits so an attempt is made to shoot it and beer flows liberally. When we finally leave Nikiski the next day, we take another full day doing chores before we make it to our first travel stop. We get to Homer well into the evening of the next day and park right by the local fishing hole out on The Spit, also called the Lagoon. When we are trying to get the fishing rods going, several people step up to help out. While we originally intended to go tide pooling and hang out at a local coffee shop, we end up spending several days fishing for halibut and salmon. Not my cup of tea, but the kids are thrilled. With a little help from a neighbor, Zoe even manages to catch a silver salmon. She spent two days fishing until past eleven and we had to drag her to bed, so this is a great reward.
Eventually we have to get back up to Soldotna. The road to Homer is a dead end, and Soldotna is the Kenai peninsula hub of two highways and a bunch of services. Our laundry is way overdue, and we have booked a tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park on the only sunny day this week in Seward. We decide to make sure to leave for Seward nicely on time, so we will be able to settle in quietly and make it to bed earlier than usual. We pick up free ice creams at McDonalds in Soldotna while it is pouring rain. (The kids earned these tickets with the library reading program and they will enjoy it rain or shine.) On to the hardware store to get new fishing line. When we get ready to head out of town and Antoine does a final check of the trailer, one wheel does not look in good shape. The cap came has come off the hub between McDonalds and the hardware store. We slowly drive to a shop, where we are advised to drive 10 miles down the road to a trailer repair shop. It is probably the only one on the peninsula. The bearing has come out, the hub is destroyed and the spindle damaged. So much for trying to make it to Seward at a reasonable hour.
A good temporary fix
But oh my, we have been so lucky. This could have been so much worse. As opposed to our bearing problem in Montana, the spindle is still usable. This repair shop has a bearing in stock, but no fitting hub. As a matter of fact, there does not appear to be a hub on the entire peninsula or even in Anchorage. Will we be stuck here until a hub arrives from the lower 48? The mechanic thankfully does not give up easily. He does have a hub and a fitting rim, so we decide to put our tire on the new rim. Now we can drive and replace the hub when we get to it. Let’s just not get this tire flat, because then our spare tire would be useless. We make it to Seward by 10pm. After we clean up a disaster of broken glass and tinctures that somehow fell out of the cabinet during the drive, we pop a pizza into the oven and crash.