After crossing Windy Creek/Three Forks visitor center in distance
After Minnesota Sue and I returned from our Valley adventures, things were pretty quiet. We tried for two days to get on a flight-seeing tour – “If we can’t walk to Novarupta, at least we can fly there!” But once again the weather was the determining factor in what we were able to do, plus the lodge manager was unwilling to bring a plane from King Salmon for only 2 passengers. Since the advertisement for flight-seeing states “minimum 2 passengers” I thought his reasoning to be a bit lame.
And then I remembered the kayaks. Katmai employees association keeps 2 kayaks at Brooks Camp during the summer for our personal use. I checked to see if anyone had reserved them for Thursday afternoon and no one had. Woo Hoo!!! So we dragged them down to the beach (How much do these things weigh, anyway?) and after sliding into our PFDs and some rearranging of body parts in our respective vessels, we set sail from the visitor center. I have never been in a kayak but I have been canoeing a time or two. I knew which end of the paddle to use (both of them). It was sweet! The water in the lake was nearly glass with the usual insect escort, but then a slight breeze picked up and soon we were rolling over 1/2-inch wavelets. I tended to hug the shoreline (I was not really going anywhere anyway) until I got my sea legs, but Sue was less inclined to do that because there was that big brown bear moseying down the beach and she thought it wanted her for lunch. We toodled over to the mouth of Brooks River and asked Ranger Mike at the corner “Is this the way to Novarupta?” It was a relaxing way to while away a few hours. I didn’t bring my camera because I figured it would end up overboard, entwined about my neck. Sue had hers in the cutest little waterproof camera pouch – that woman sure knows know to accessorize for the Alaska bush!
Later that evening we found our Dutch friends (from the Valley adventure a few days earlier) at the lodge and had quite a nice time drinking and playing cards with them for a few hours until the bar closed. Their names (clockwise around the table) were Robin, Sebastian, Daniel, and Marco. They introduced us to a card game called Toepen in which high card was 10 then descending order of 9- 8- 7- A –K – Q – J with all other cards taken out of the deck. You are dealt 4 cards, player to dealer’s left lays down whatever card they want, and you have to follow suit. You play rounds to 15 points and the person with the fewest points wins the game. I never did figure out the nuances of the game but had a lot of fun trying. Sue and I said goodbye to the Dutch chaps the next day as they headed back to Holland and then we went for a walk to see what the bears were doing.
Sue departed Saturday after I went back to work. I got a postcard from her later in the week, from King Salmon. She almost didn’t make it out of Dodge – flights out of King Salmon seem to be at someone’s whim – but at the last minute was put in first class on Alaska Airlines’ last flight to Anchorage for the season. It was “Just another interesting twist to this trip!”