During summer months, there is a very good chance you will see several whales. We did indeed see several of these magnificant mammals. This photo was taken in Tutka Bay as we were heading out to do some halibut fishing (or so we thought). This was the closest we got to a whale - we were about 300 yards away.In addition to this whale, we saw several...more
Undaunted by our failure to catch any halibut on our first attempt, we tried again on our third evening of our stay on Tutka Bay. This time we went out with a local Tutka Bay resident on a trip arranged by the owners of Tutka Bay Wilderness Lodge. Our captain was Rick, who knows all the local fishing holes in Tutka Bay. We got off to a slow start -...more
The peak in the background is Grace Ridge, standing at just over 3,000 feet. The lodge owner's son-in-law gave us a lift by boat to the trailhead on the other side of Tutka Bay. The trail is all within the Kachemak Bay State Park, and is a beautiful hike. It begins in a lush forest, and then climbs above the treeline through tundra. At that point...more
Tutka Bay was swarming with pink salmon, or "humpies" while we were there in July. They would swim under the pier in schools of hundreds, teasing and baiting US, not the other way around. My daughter, husband and son are demonstrating their original, if not unorthodox, fishing skills in this photo. The locals will tell you the humpies are the least...more
The sea around the Kenai Peninsula is a prime location for halibut fishing. For the best fishing, head out to the Cook Inlet, which is where we were headed on our second day at Tutka Bay. On the day before we took our trip, the same fishing boat with its party of 4 caught 80 halibut fish among them in that location. Naturally, we had high hopes of...more
Take a kayak out to the Herring Islands, which are located at the mouth of the Tutka Bay. The Herring Islands are almost entirely uninhabited by humans. You WILL see bald eagles, sea otters, salmon and loads of jellyfish. The Herring Islands used to be known for the thousands of schools of herring in the area - hence its name. However, due to...more
One of the lodge guests, Jon, had the good fortune of going out halibut fishing on a day that his fishing boat caught 80 halibut fish among four guests. What do you do with so many halibut? You donate some of them to the Tutka Bay Wilderness Lodge where Nelda and Christy, with their fabulous culinary skills will whip up an extraordinarily delicious...more
Nelda Osgood, owner of Tutka Bay Wilderness Lodge, and her daughter, Christy, are the head and very accomplished chefs at Tutka Bay Wilderness Lodge. Three meals were included with our stay, and they were always the highlights of the day. Breakfast and dinner were served family style around a large dining room table with floor to ceiling windows...more
Blueberries are abundant throughout Alaska, and they are ripe in July and August. On our second day, we went out halibut fishing but came up empty handed. In the afternoon, my daughter and I wanted to salvage our egos by going after easier game - so we picked blueberries on the Mental Health land that borders the Tutka Bay Wilderness Lodge...more
Tutka Bay is located at 59 degrees north latitude, which is only 7 degrees south of the Arctic Circle. In July, the sun will set - very late - but it will not get dark at night. I had been told before going to Alaska that it would take some adjustment to get used to falling asleep in the daylight. Not so for me - but then again I am someone who never has trouble falling asleep anywhere - movie theatres, road trips, airplanes, hotels, commutes by ferry, boring business meetings, etc. Some might even call it narcolepsy... I prefer to attribute it to good healthy living with lots of activity.
This is an photo taken at midnight from the front door of our cabin at Tutka Bay Wilderness Lodge.
Like many places in Alaska, Kachemak Bay State Park is accessible only by boat or plane. The most convenient way to get across the Bay is to catch a water taxi at Homer. The trip to the shores of the Kachemak Bay State Park takes about 30 minutes from Homer. The lack of accessibility by car guarantees that, at least for now, the Kachemak Bay State...more
The only way to get to Tutka Bay Wilderness Lodge is by water taxi from Homer. It's a good idea to make reservations in advance. Don't expect to be able to simply flag down a cab - this isn't Manhattan. Our lodge pre-arranged our water taxi trip with Mako's Water Taxi, and the cost of transportation was included in our lodging charge. Otherwise,...more
There is no shopping in or around Tutka Bay. The nearest shopping is in Homer, across the Bay, which will cost you about $60 to cross by water taxi. Make sure you bring whatever you need. It would be no fun having to spend $60 to buy something like a hairdryer. Or batteries. Or a tube of something.
Fireweed is abundant throughout Alaska -- in fact, so abundant that non-residents assume it is the state flower. (It is not - the forget-me-not is the Alaskan state flower.) You can always spot someone who just set foot on Alaskan soil when they ask "So what is that purty purple flower?"
Fireweed blooms from bottom to top. When the top blooms, the story goes that there are only 6 weeks of summer left. The flowers are edible, and I tasted fireweed jelly and chocolate covered fireweed candy. My Alaskan recipe book said you could mix fireweed blossoms into a green salad for a beautiful purple contrast. I bought some fireweed soap. I was just sorry I couldn't figure out some way to bring a bunch of fireweed home, since I am big, big, big on cooking local cuisine from all my vacation spots.
Black bears inhabit this area of the Kenai Peninsula, so we were told. I didn't see a single one around the lodge. I even took pre-dawn hikes in the forests near the lodge every morning all by my lonesome, but it was just me and the bald eagles. Across Tutka Bay on a hike, we saw a goat/bear, but other than that viewing experience, we didn't see any of these creatures near the lodge.
We see black bears from time to time in the California Sierras, so knowing that black bears are in the area doesn't really faze me. Some people wear bells around their necks, but I would feel like a cow, so I have not adopted that fashion accessory as of yet.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: While we aren't exactly highly-paid Eddie Bauer models, my husband and I are wearing clothing we sure were glad we brought to Alaska. I am wearing 3 things that got more wear than just about anything else - a very light rain jacket (worked great over a fleece jacket), lightweight nylon pants that dried quickly and zipped off to make shorts, and water shoes that doubled as sneakers. Got these from the Lands End catalog and they were great - I highly recommend them!
You'll hit snowfields at about 2,000 feet in July on the Kenai Peninsula. On our hike down Grace Ridge, the snow was soft enough that it wasn't icy, but firm enough that you didn't fall through. (I hate it when that happens.) The slopes were steep, so my method required digging my heels in (which comes naturally to me). Or you can slide down on...more
From the top of Grace Ridge are fantastic views of the Tutka Bay State Wilderness Park. It covers 400,000 acres and has 80 miles of hiking trails.Tutka Bay, shown in this picture is a good example of a fjord carved by glaciers. This is the general area of our "successful" halibut fishing on day 3 of our stay. Somewhere in there are the 3 butt ugly...more
Once we were on top of Grace Ridge, we discovered there was an easier way up on the north side that didn't require scaling up sheer cliffs. In this photo, my husband and son are beginning the descent. More distant ridges separating the fjords in the Kachemak Bay and the Kenai Peninsula are seen in the background.more
We were extremely impressed by how much information about Alaska, the history, the people, the ecology, was readily shared by the local residents. Alaskans take great pride in their state and nothing demonstrates this more than their amazing store of information. Nelda Osgood, one of the owners of Tutka Bay Wilderness Lodge, our home base, grew up...more
The Tutka Bay Wilderness Lodge property borders land owned by the Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Office, a major landowner in the Kachemack Bay area. Lodge guests are permitted by easement to hike on the Alaska Mental Health property, and the Lodge owners will provide a map of the network of trails, which total 2 miles and will take you through...more
This picture was taken on the first morning of our stay at Tutka Bay during my early morning hike on the Mental Health Trust lands. This morning was exceptionally calm. The surface of the Kachemak Bay was like glass. I watched pink salmon (humpies) jump by the dozens, and bald eagles swoop down and pick them up for their chicks.more