I was not looking forward to spending this past summer in Alaska. Summer in Minnesota is what our family has always done and I wasn't very happy about giving that up. C.O. and I looked at the average yearly temperature in Soldotna versus the average temperature in Minnesota and the statistics were depressing. Cool and wet and gray is the norm but we had no choice but to stay. Work and finances determined that.
But thankfully it turns out we had a pretty great summer. Long time locals kept saying summers like this only come around once every ten years. While I don't like the sounds of that, I was happy we were here to enjoy one of those perfect Kenai Peninsula summers. Warm temperatures, clear skies and just enough rain when we needed it suited me just fine. And I was thankful for each day.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, C.O. worked 80 plus hour weeks for most of the summer. I wish it wasn't the case but the kids and I made the best of it. I decided to take advantage of the weather and take the kids on as many camping adventures as I could manage.
I was first inspired to take the kids camping when we joined in on a Memorial Day camping trip with a bunch of families from our church. Camping with a group of people is a blast. I didn't have to worry about the kids, the older ones looked out for the younger ones and they were constantly entertained so I was free to relax. Other people did most of the cooking as well. I just talked and stared at the fire for a couple days. Perfect. (This was the complete opposite of our future camping trips when I had to watch the kids, cook and pitch the tent on my own.)
The first solo camping trip was at Johnson Lake State Park. We were introduced to this spot by our friends Mollie and Trevor from Anchorage. Staying right on the lake had some advantages. For Harold the advantage was being able to fish practically from your front (tent) door.
Harold is an absolute fishing fanatic. I tried to explain to him that I would first have to set up the tent and get dinner going before we could do any fishing. I thought he understood the situation but as soon as we pulled in, Harold grabbed his pole and ran to the water's edge. Thankfully there were other adults around that were willing to help Harold out when I was busy or just plain unsure of what to do with hooks, sinkers, spinner, fire balls and all that other stuff I don't know much about.
Our usual routine was to pack up the car (which took all day), drive to the campground and spend the first night on our own. C.O. would work a crazy long day so that the following day he could get off around dinner time and at least spend the evening with us. I was thankful for even those few hours together.
A quick Johnson Lake story that must be told here. I was taking a morning walk around the lake with the kids. Tizita's thing at the time was to ask me, "Who's that?"for everyone we saw. So I told her to just ask people their name. A couple pulled up in their motorhome near the lake to do a little fishing. Tizita asked the lady, "What's your name?" She said, "Arlene, what's your's?." Arlene then introduced us ot her husband Aimo. I told her that Aimo sure sounded like a Finnish name and that my maiden name was Lindula. While I was busy lamenting the loss of my beautiful Finnish name after I got married she said to me, "As in Cindy Lindula?" My brain was totally confused for a moment or two or ten. Turns out Arlene lives in Northern Minnesota, knows a bunch of my family and works with my mom at the Cherry Greenhouse! It's a small world after all. Now Arlene and I are friends on Facebook. The End Moral of the Story: Don't be afraid to talk to strangers.
In my opinion, the most beautiful place we stayed was at Captain Cook State Park north of Kenai about 30 miles. It is situated right on Cook Inlet. You can kind of make out the water from the above photo. Our campsite was basically on the bluff at the edge of the Inlet. Amazing views, for sure but it was also a little stressful trying to keep the kids within sight while I set up camp. I trust Harold but still worry about Tizita getting herself in a scary situation.
Exploring the beach was the best part of Captain Cook State Park. We had fun climbing on rocks, finding pretty rocks and acting silly. Tizita does her best to keep up with her older brother. She fell a few times and got hurt but there's just no stopping her. She is determined to do everything just like Harold!
We changed things up a bit when I signed the three of us up for family camp at Solid Rock Bible Camp just down the road from us. This was fun because we were camping but our food and entertainment was provided by the camp staff.
It was a little weird camping so close to home. I realized it was only 7 minutes from our campsite to our house's front door. So I went home each day to give Tizita a nap and to shower. Then went back for more activities and slept in the tent on the ground. Crazy but it worked.
There were a ton of fun activities at Solid Rock. Mostly the usual camp things, archery, riflery, swimming, kayaking, a game room, crafts etc. But the second day was the main event with a mini "fair". There were carnival games, cotton candy, fry bread, a dunk tank, carriage rides and pony rides.
We met a bunch of neat families and made many new friends. I would love to do it again someday, maybe C.O. could even join us.
A lot of people asked if I was scared taking the kids camping by myself. I don't know if they meant that I might be scared of bears or bad guys or what but I wasn't scared of any of that. The campgrounds were full of people so I really wasn't worried. Mutiny from my children was probably the scariest possibility of all. But they're still with me and enjoyed their summer experiences so I'd call this adventure a success.