Posts Tagged ‘Cooper Creek Campground’

Autumn Changes

Kenai River as Autumn Arrives

Since beginning this nomad life four years ago, we have traveled south for the winter leaving Alaska to the Alaskans. Last year we abandoned our campground early because of the raging forest fires that daily rained ash on everything. Smoke burnt our eyes and we needed fresh air. Wearing masks to breathe was too claustrophobic for me and not wearing one made me cough with the intense smoke. We headed south for Colorado (a son and daughter live there) to travel eastward to Pennsylvania (where my family lives) and then back west to Las Vegas (another son lives there). During those travels we had issues with our Forest River trailer and decided to order a new one. While it was being ‘made,’ we stored our cracked and nearly broken trailer in Las Vegas and flew back to Alaska to spend several winter months with our daughter and our new granddaughter.

March 15, in the height of COVID in Seattle, we flew through Seattle back to Vegas to pick up our new Grand Design home. After a month in Vegas with our son, we began the northern trek back to Alaska for our summer job managing Cooper Creek Campground on the Kenai Peninsula. After a week or so of ‘set apart’ time, we jumped exhaustedly into the routine of camp manager. It is now autumn and we are finishing our last big hurrah of the summer with Labor Day weekend campers. According to my daily calculations, we have 24 days left to clean bear boxes, firepits, and pack ourselves up.

After the fires last summer, we could never imagine the craziness of this year and the ‘dreaded virus.’ With all of the ‘mandates’ (not laws) for travelers, we knew we wouldn’t be meeting too many tourists this year. We also wondered how the campground would fare with only Alaskans. They came out in droves and really kept the summer economy afloat. They fished, camped, floated, biked, hiked, and made more messes than any other year. Some had never ever camped before and we found the evidence in discarded rubber bands and abandoned receipts for tents and sleeping bags. Some Alaskans asked if we were happy (as they were) there were no tourists. Honestly, tourists respect and honor Alaska than most Alaskans. We had more toilet paper (and tampons) in the trees, trash in the fire pits, dogs off leash and pooping everywhere, people cutting trees, and campers selling their sites on Facebook pages. I had more issues with campers over reserved campsites than ever and I called the no-help- whatsoever-law enforcement more times than the previous three years combined.

On the flip side, we met many new Alaskans who were true campers, true Alaskans, home grown and native. I met natives from Utquiagvik, the highest point in the Arctic Circle (a bucket list place I want to go). Another man, a tour guide from Coldfoot, invited us above the Arctic Circle to see the Aurora Borealis overhead in October. I met people from Fairbanks to Juneau, and some who pass by here from Anchorage to Homer always calling to see if we need anything. Anything included going to RV places to bring us supplies because we had no time to do it! Or even Oreos! Or ice cream! We were given flowers, wine, sake, brownies, halibut, salmon and FOOD, FOOD, FOOD! Some campers we have known for the past 4 years gave us sour dough starter from the 1920s and invited us for caribou steaks. I even had one camper bring me a nice big rock for holding the door open when I clean my toilets! These are the people we enjoy in our campground. These are the real memories. They are the blessings in our daily lives.

We still had a lot of tourists from Maine to Georgia to Tennessee to Boston to Las Vegas to Nebraska to California and Arizona as the summer progressed. Each person talked about their journey to get to Alaska whether they had to drive through Canada with their stringent rules or via an airline that required a mask for 12-15 hours. From each of their experiences, I came to understand quite quickly how much of the Covid19 information is deceptive and even wrong, especially when it comes to the outcome of tests. In spite of all their struggles, everyone was grateful to be here, breathe fresh air, and enjoy the 20 hours of sunshine!

If I’m completely real, this year was tough, especially tough when we realized that we literally had no law enforcement back up for anything. For all of those cities wanting to be without law enforcement, let me tell you, it’s not cool when someone threatens you and you have no recourse. Then there was the bear that removed a cooler from someone’s truck and they shot off a firearm to scare the bear. We did call law enforcement, but they never followed through to tell us what exactly happened. And, what exactly happened was that my husband could have either been shot or attacked by a bear while hauling water from the creek to put out a raging fire an irresponsible camper left at 10 p.m. at night.

Love this job!

Will we do this again? We are waiting on the LORD for that answer. We love what we do. We love 99% of the people, but we would really like to have water, sewer and electric rather than boondock all summer. We may have some options if the fear over the virus ends and nothing else bigger happens, but we’re not hopeful for that. There are too many political entrapments with this whole event and other ‘Plandemics’ so we have no idea what will happen next summer. We also know Biblical prophecy and what is promised for the world and ‘lawlessness.’ Yet, we could return to Cooper Creek and continue to make new acquaintances and friends. I know the regulars who depend on us will really miss how we manage this campground!

We will have the entire winter to pray about it. We are not leaving Alaska this fall. As the leaves on the Cottonwoods change, we will be packing up and winterizing our nomad home to store here in Cooper Landing. We will be renting the same suite we lived in last year near our daughter and our grandchildren. I will also work a few days cleaning the post office as I did last year. My husband will be working at Alyeska Resort as a ski instructor if all goes well with this ridiculous virus that was supposed to last two weeks to a month.

The most difficult part of these changes is not seeing my other children. Neither of us have any desire to fly wearing masks – remember I wore them last summer and it was claustrophobic for me. We also have no desire to travel through Canada again with their rules when the Yukon has zero cases. They are actually fining people who stop along the way! We hope maybe we can fly in April, but it seems that the whole population has been programmed for masks and then a vaccine – something else I will not accept. So, in the realities of the ‘new world order’ in which we are living, I may never actually see my other children and it grieves me deeply.

For now I will be here in the Last Frontier helping my daughter teach her son to read, watching my granddaughter grow and learn to walk and talk, meeting locals in the post office, going to Bible study with some of the wisest, oldest women I have ever known, and having time to continue writing, studying Revelation, and preparing my heart and life for what is coming on this world.

“Just one thing have I asked of Adonai; only this will I seek: to live in the house of Adonai all the days of my life, to see the beauty of Adonai and visit in his temple. For he will conceal me in his shelter on the day of trouble, he will hide me in the folds of his tent, he will set me high on a rock” (Psalm 27:4-5).

I will probably ride snow machines around the mountains or out on the frozen lake, play a little ice hockey with my grandson on their neighbor’s rink, and maybe this year I will finally try snow shoes. I never ever imagined one moment in my life that I would ever visit Alaska, let alone say I’ve spent four summers here (and visited the two summers before that) and actually have an Alaskan ID. So as the autumn changes take place on the trees and the rose hips and high bush cranberries ripen, we too will be making transitioning to remain here and not return to the Lower 48. Life is always an adventure as a noman and with Yeshua at the helm, there’s always a plan that we take step by step. For now, however, reflecting on this past summer and all of the wonderful memories warm this chilly fall rainy day.

“This is what everyone faithful should pray at a time when you can be found. Then, when the floodwaters are raging, they will not reach to him. You are a hiding-place for me, you will keep me from distress; you will surround me with songs of deliverance” (Psalm 32:6-7).

©2020 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

It’s July Already?

This is our second year campground hosting at Cooper Creek campground on the Kenai Peninsula.  I have been calling us ‘sophmores’ or ‘wise fools’.  Freshman year we learned the ropes of running our ‘own’ campground, sophmore year, we are learning there are always new things to learn and see with regard to campers and their shenanigans.  

Wild Roses

Last year our biggest problem was guests leaving salmon everywhere, filleting salmon on the old wooden picnic tables, leaving their coolers sitting out full of salmon or just plain salmon problems.  It also meant that people were catching a lot of fish and we were blessed by so many campers with salmon that I rarely ate anything else.  Wild-caught fresh salmon (20 minutes or so old) is to die for.  Several people this year have also blessed us with salmon and even fresh halibut.   

Why is salmon such a problem?  We are in BEAR country.  Though what makes you stronger may not kill you, a BEAR will kill you.  Just last weekend I had a guest who had been attacked by a grizzly three years ago.  She had been hiking along the Skilak Lake lower trail (we did this last year) and the grass was tall, the river high.  Though she and her two dogs wore bear bells, the sound of the river drowned them out.  They surprised a grizzly sleeping in the grass.  She is an Alaskan and was prepared, but fear took over.  She stepped backwards, tripped and fell.  The bear picked her up by the leg and threw her on the ground several times; she doesn’t remember too much as she passed out.  When she woke up, she was by the river and just rolled into the frigid Kenai river which saved her from any more blood loss.  One of her dogs was missing, the other one she attached his leash to her backpack and he pulled her 1 1/2 miles to the trailhead where she was able to get help.  Several days later her other dog was found seemingly fine until she got sick and they found she had internal injuries, probably from fighting the bear to save the woman’s life. 

Apart from reminding guests about bears, this year it seems our biggest problem is tree cutting.  Imagine being in a forest service campground and going into a campsite to greet guests and there’s a 15-foot tree lying either near or in the fire pit!  Really?  First, GREEN wood doesn’t burn and secondly, it is illegal in a US Forest to cut anything GREEN.  I had to tell that to a BLM employee who thought he could do whatever he wanted in our campground including stripping branches to make marshmallow sticks – also illegal.  He challenged me to show him the law which was hanging on the very board where he bought his permit to camp.  So, now I have to remind EVERY camper not to cut trees or strip green branches to make marshmallow sticks.  After talking with some forest service law enforcement, our best friends and backups, I learned an interesting ‘fact’.  The US Forest Service is committed to protecting the forests while the Bureau of Land Management is committed to abusing the forests.  Now I know and you do too.

Happy Birthday Ducks!

Lil Campground Host with is bike

July arrived hot, hot, hot.  When I say hot, it was about 80 degrees but feels like a humid 90. For the peninsula, this is HOT.  Trust me, it’s HOT!  Last year we never reached 70 and that felt HOT! Those few days last year were a blessing in the midst of a very rainy summer.  This year we have had mostly sunny days until now.  Hence why I can take some time to update our adventure.  It is supposed to rain the next 10 days and has been raining for the last 4.  July also brought my grandson’s first birthday which is why we host in Alaska.  He lives here with his mommy (our daughter) and his daddy (our son-in-law) in a log house with a dog named Max and now has a sandbox!  He loves to come to our campground and either rides or pushes the wagon I use to tidy up sites.  He loves being in our trailer as I made a zone for him with toys and books.  He loves to eat rocks, wave to guests, and meet other children.    

July is also exhaustion month.  We arrive May 3, but we begin working May 15.  Until Memorial Day weekend, we have few campers and prepare for our first big weekend.  Again, like last year with the rain, it was slow.  During the first few weeks, we hike and spend time with family.  Then, June 11 arrives.  Fishing season opens on the Russian River which is about 2 miles down from us on the Kenai River.  We are considered ‘overflow’ from the Russian River Campground which has a stay limit of three days.   From July 11 until about August 1, we are non-stop and I mean non-stop between fish runs and dip netting for natives.   From the moment our eyes open in the morning until we drop about 11 p.m. at night, we are working hard.  Remember, it stays light in Alaska until 1 p.m. at the solstice! We have to put “Office Hours” on our trailer or people would knock on our door 24-7.  

Comment Card

We work for Alaska Recreational Management running our own campground with a lot of freedom.  We dry camp all summer hauling water, hauling our waste, and running a generator while managing and hosting about 100 campers per night (a smaller campground).  I have really learned that hosting and managing are two different positions, both of which we perform.  Hosting is easy.  “Hi, how are you, where are you from, what are your plans while you are here?”  Managing is more complicated.  “You need two nights and there’s only one?  You need a bigger site and I’m booked solid?  Let’s see if we can trade you with this site for another site?  Your friends are coming in, do I have anything for them too?  Did you pay for last night? Where is your permit as it should be on your campsite post?  Why are you in this site when it has a reserved sign?”  And, we have paper work.  Everyday I have to submit a daily sheet that lists the permit numbers of every filled or reserved site, the license plate number, where the guests are from, number of days paid, number of days stayed, the amount paid.  My wonderful oldest son helped me this year with a spreadsheet as last year I had to hand input repetitive days on every sheet.  And, my other younger son bought me an iPad so I can welcome and check-in guests on the spreadsheet as I meet and greet them.

Kenai River*

The South side of the campground has 21 reservable sites.  This is the part of the campground I host and manage.  The North Side is by the Kenai River and has 7 walk-in non-reservable sites.  My husband manages that side as they are our ‘problem children’ most of the time.  This past weekend one of those campers decided they didn’t want to pay for wood so they ravaged all of our other sites ‘stealing’ wood left behind for those campers who would eventually have that spot!  For those of you who camp and see a checkout time, be kind to your hosts and checkout before or at least by that time.  What many people don’t realize is that we only have a few hours everyday when we can actually leave the campground and enjoy Alaska or just do laundry and grocery shop.   Some days I never see the river and it’s only 100 yards away!  Together, we have created a motto for our work: Done by 1, have some fun; Back by 5, keep campers alive!  

*The Kenai River is ALWAYS that color of turquoise.  When the glaciers melt they are full of silt.  As the water enters the Kenai Lake, the silt falls to the bottom leaving only the minerals suspended in the water.  It is the most beautiful river I have ever seen.

Along with managing and hosting, we are responsible for cleaning toilets, tidying up campsites by cleaning out the fire pit that is used for everything from cigarette butts to broken glass beer bottles, raking the site when needed,  and unfortunately, cleaning up dog poop whose owners neglect that part of their responsibility.  We check bear boxes for items campers left behind; some campers leave things with us like coolers, stoves, or food they can’t take with them on an airplane.  We also weed whack, hang signs reminding people of the rules, and keep our eyes open for squatters who steal campsites or refuse to pay.  

Joe and Beryl, Australia

 

 

 

One of the greatest rewards to this ‘job’ is the people we meet.  Without them (and family) this would truly be a thankless job.  Recently, we had guests from Australia who are traveling the world. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had a little problem with some guests’ payment (they paid too much) and when I went to talk with them, they were from Switzerland and gave me a Swiss chocolate bar. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a Baptist church group of men who fish together and are here nearly every weekend so we have been able to share our Messianic faith walk with each of them after they see our Shabbat Shalom sign. 

 

 

 

 

 

Nate and Crystal

 

 

 

We had a wedding ceremony by the Kenai and a reception in Site 10 celebrating Nate and Crystal. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcia and Me on the Kenai

 

 

 

I had an Inner Court dancing friend visit from Colorado. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carol, Sam, Sarah, and Lisa

 

 

 

We have had Israelis along with many Europeans and even some crazy women who decided to jet ski out of Whittier to see the glaciers!  Their next stop was a fly-out to a glacier for dog sledding!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike and Kim

 

 

At the moment,  we have guests in the campground from York, PA where most of my mom’s family still lives.  Hi Keith! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandy, Gene, Carrie and Brian

 

 

Just now I received a text message from some guests who went to a creperie in Seward that we recommended!  We enjoyed these fabulous four and spent our Erev Shabbat with them.  Two of them will be back in the ‘hood’ next week.

 

 

 

 

 

Such is the life of a campground host in July.  Right now we’re slower because we’re between fish runs.  It has also been raining.  I’ve been reading a lot of books as I made a Cooper Creek Library book bin: Take One, Leave One.  Today we’ll be checking out a few of the other campgrounds in the area so we can give better information to our campers who are on vacation.

I started this blog post today with the intention of saying ‘thank you’ to all of the campers who stayed with us this past weekend.  Our dumpster was full to the top with trash and there was no pick up until yesterday.  We asked each camper/campsite to either haul out their trash or take it to the other side and put it in that dumpster.  Saturday night my husband I discussed where and how much trash we would find because people would be lazy, stupid or just not care about what we asked.  We expected bear boxes to be full, the bags in the toilets to be full or just bags set by the dumpster welcoming every bear on the peninsula.  We found NOTHING!  Absolutely NOTHING!  Every camper this past weekend took their trash with them out of the campground.  I was astounded and my faith in humanity was somewhat restored by these people who were here from all over the world.  Thank you!

Host Site View Day 57

As for today, this is what I see today from our host site.  I have been taking one of these everyday from the same spot and will create a slide show of how Cooper Mountain looked as I began each days chores.  Until August …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

©2018 Tentstake Ministries