Voices of the Clarion: Moooving into summer

Peninsula offers beautiful views, rare weather, exotic wildlife

Posted: Sunday, July 03, 2005

It must be summer on the Kenai Peninsula. There are definite signs, anyway.

Mother Nature is more fickle during summer. Haven't you noticed how it's mostly nice weather on the days you're working? When you have something special planned for a day outing, she turns on the rain. Funny how a few showers can either make or break an event. Ask Allen Auxier, who guaranteed no rain at this year's KDLL Art and Music Festival. Of course, it rained most of that day — the same day as Family Fun in the Midnight Sun in Nikiski.

But Alaskans are tough. We're used to all kinds of weather. That doesn't mean we like it, we're just used to it. We're not, however, used to thunderstorms. Last Monday's grumblings brought several Clarion employees to their closest windows to get a gander at the rare concept of lightning — and we saw plenty of it. No, it wasn't like the classic thunderboomers of Midwest folklore, but it certainly was an added bonus to the season, if you're into that kind of stuff — and I am.

Another sure sign of summer around here is the constant state of rush hour. Traffic is thick — bumper to bumper in Soldotna, which is normal even without bridge construction. Tourists are flooding the rivers, the coastline, the campgrounds, the grocery stores and every other nook and cranny.

Oh, I'm not complaining. Without them our economy would falter. But just once I would love to go out without getting claustrophobic. On the down side, staying at home makes me feel worse because there's housework staring me in the face. Needless to say, claustrophobia wins out over housework any day.

Being out and about also exposes me to a variety of close encounters. Tourists are quick to slam on their brakes at the sight of any wildlife — and I do mean "any."

I had to laugh the other day when a crowd had gathered on the Kenai River flats and was ogling a group of animals far to the east on the other side of the river.

They were cows.

Of course, for all I know they could have been Alaskans, who rarely get to see bovines in this neck of the woods.

But let's get back to traffic. As Alaskans, don't you think every person who gets behind the wheel of an RV should be tested to make sure they can count to five? I'm referring to the law that says you need to pull over if five or more vehicles are piled up behind you because I could get out of my car and run faster than you're driving.

As much as I like to think of myself as a patient person, I find myself fuming more often than not when I'm No. 8 behind a slow-rolling behemoth.

On the other hand, who can blame a tourist who, no doubt, has never seen the likes of this much scenery in one place and the wildlife to go with it simply by driving down the road?

Yes, at one point, I was even one of them.

Besides, they're probably afraid to come out of their motor homes because of the massive squads of kamikaze mosquitoes!

Holy cow, where did these things come from this year?

Even our dogs are giving us looks that say, "No, no, I don't need to go out right now. I can hold it," while we stand there with the door open frantically waving our arms about trying to keep the little blood-suckers outside.

One day we braved the bugs and went to an outside dog class. Short of immersing ourselves in DEET, we doused our hands, arms, necks, hats, clothing, you name it, with bug spray and tried to go about our activities like normal people.

But the mosquitoes were relentless. It was like a bad movie. They just hung there, mere millimeters from our faces, and taunted us. They patiently waited for the bug dope to wear off, and then they made their move — repeatedly.

By the time we got home, we looked like assorted versions of Rocky Balboa — including the dogs.

And to think, July is just beginning.

Still, summer on the Kenai is like nowhere else, and for that I'm grateful. Despite all my complaining and whining, I can't think of a better place to hang out, watch the RVs roll by, swat a few (thousand) mosquitoes, watch the moose, caribou and eagles pass by and know that maybe, just maybe — if I'm lucky enough — I might even see a cow.

Dori Lynn Anderson is the managing editor of the Clarion.

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