DAY 4: Driving, Fishing, Bears, and Bald Mountain

After finishing the hike the night before, we went out and took my Dad out for Father’s day at the Windbreak Café in Wasilla. Sufficiently satisfied from this and much needed showers, we got a healthy 6 hours of sleep and awoke early to begin the next portion of our adventure.

We stopped at the local fishing/hunting warehouse and picked up some essentials including hip waders, an extra fishing pole, some line, lures, and of course, licenses.

Two final pit-stops in Anchorage for firewood from my dad and waders from Mr. Quiet, we hopped on the road to Homer.

We stopped at another rest stop towards Girdwood and snapped a few photos of the scenery

Bird Point Alaska

We also stopped at the portage river for a photo op. Even port-a-johns can be beautiful in the right scenery

Porta-John Beauty

The colors of the Toyota, boat, children, and water make me momentarily forget my hatred of the large SUV.

Portage River

Driving up into the pass, we cruise into more snow and memories from my childhood float to the surface – remembering this spot where I would always have to stop and pee, or that spot where I saw a moose once, or another where I always told my dad that I saw a giraffe.

We stop at a small pull off for a bio break and some photos.


I’m struck by the stark difference between Alaska and DC yet again. In DC, this spot would be roped off, and the cliff face would be many feet away with garbage strewn about and bums sleeping close by. Here, it is serene. The only warning of the cliff and the hundred foot drop is your own intuition. Survival of the fittest. Don’t fall off, dummy.

Clay Pointing

Campground Shenannigans

We cruise on down the road and pick up some ice for the cooler along the way. The attendants in the liquor store move at a pace native to rural towns. Slow, methodical, and without a care in the world. This makes my purchase of a single cigar to dissuade mosquitoes a tad frustrating, but tolerable in my vacation state.

We pull into the Russian River campsite and prepare for some fish catching. Cousac downs a beer in the wilderness after strapping on his new waders.

Cousac in Waders

We then make our way down to the river proper and try out a few spots. Ten minutes in, Cousac hooks into a fish and our blood begins to flow.

Cousac\'s Rainbow Trout

It turns out to be a Rainbow Trout and Cousac opts to let it go. We fish for a few more hours seeing no other fish and decide to call it a day after snapping some nature and action shots

Russian River

Cigar and fishing on the Russian

Sancho Fishes

Right next to the walk way up to the car, I notice two fishermen crossing the river at a fast point, and behind them, a large brown bear rustling in the woods.

“BEAR” I say loudly and point

The fishermen look up confused

“BEAR” we all say, and point.

“Shit” says the one fisherman, turning an about face at the swiftest part of the river and crossing back to us and the safe side, standing a good distance behind the four of us. The other fisherman wades across the river and proceeds upstream a safe distance from the bear. We look at him in disbelief and inquire to the man standing with us.

He responds “I don’t know, that’s just my friend’ as if embarrassed by his friend’s lack of reaction to the large Grizzly.

Meanwhile the bear splashes into the river looking for fish and we take the opportunity to photograph:

Bear in the Russian River

Bear in the Russian River Again

The bear is limping and favoring its rear left leg. Mr. Brown sees bullet holes and we all shake our heads sadly and walk up to the car, excited at seeing a grizzly, feeling proud as we warn fellow anglers on their way down.

See a Grizzly up close: CHECK

Near Death Experience 2: CHECK

We pack up the car and drive out of the campsite. Mr. Brown shouts out from the back seat a few miles down the road that he’d like to get out and see the combat fishing that’s taking place in the larger portion of the river. We stop, and Mr. Brown suggests fishing. Cousac and I are hesitant and opt to walk along the bank for fifty yards – we see a fish jump right in front of us, share a grin, and got out or poles to join the battle.

Combat Fishing in the Upper Kenai River


We saw all kinds of fish, and Sancho even managed to snap his pole on a fish that must have been a monster. Mr. Brown hooked into a few but was unable to land them, and Cousac snagged one in the tail before it got away. We got skunked, but it was so scenic and peaceful that we deemed the day a success.

Black bears came to see the fish and pick up the remains of fish-fileting going on upstream as two bald eagles fly above the river. Life is good.

Black Bear on the Russian

Black Bear on the Upper Kenai

See Black Bears up close: CHECK

We pile back in the car and drove down the road a bit more in search of food. Along the way we come across a sign that tells us to ‘WATCH FOR MOOSE’ and tells us that 198 have been killed this year on the highway. Cousac states ‘you know, the only thing we haven’t seen on this trip is a moose.’

No sooner are the words out of his mouth than he shouts ‘stop the car! Moose!’ and we pull over to the side of the road, where not four feet away is a large Moose Cow grazing along the side of the road

moose in sterling

See a Moose: CHECK

We stop for dinner shortly thereafter at ‘BUCKETS’ in Soldotna. Overpriced food and mediocre service do nothing to dissuade the draw of an old lady’s cleavage shining brightly across the restaurant. It’s surpsingly hard to eat your meal and enjoy a pint with that right in front of your face. Yeesh.

A few hours more down the road, we catch a true sunset over the mountains across the bay:

Alaska Sunset

Alaskan Sunset

The full moon peaks out above the trees lit up by the still orange sun just below the horizon


We reach the summit overlooking Homer Alaska and stop to take in the sights as we sing out ‘Say it Aint So’ by Weezer in wonderful unison and terrible harmony.

Moon above Homer

Group Shot above Homer

Sancho Strikes a pose

Sancho strikes a pose

Mr. Brown comments ‘take as many pictures as you want, but nothing will capture this moment as spectacularly as this reality.‘ He could not be more right.

We finally reach Homer and drive up to my Aunt’s place on Bald Mountain and promptly fall asleep in the warm & comfortable home.

Inside Aunt Jeanne\'s House


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