OPINION: One fish, two fish ... not touching that fish
Having been raised for much of their lives in the South, my two sons thought they knew a thing or two about being outdoors. As kids, they spent their share of time fishing for crappie and pulling catfish out of the rivers and streams while camping. Needless to say, the idea of coming to the Kenai Peninsula in the summer and working at J-Dock Seafoods in Seward and hanging around the Spit in Homer was something they looked forward to.
It was a chance for them to get up and close to the fish, come back to Alaska - and, thanks to Travis Turner, put some money in their pockets for college - which they didn't save.
Now that the season is done and they are headed back to Texas (they fly south for the winter on Nov. 4), they both agree that outdoors in Alaska is much more interesting, and challenging, than camping and fishing in Texas. There, you generally don't run into fish larger than a barn door or have a bear trying to sneak in the house, or business, for a snack.
"We had a blast this season," said my oldest son, Tommy Jr. - or as we call him, "Bubba." "We learned so many new things. It was incredible to see those big halibut come across the dock, or to see a rockfish, get the chance to climb Mt. Marathon or crawl up the Exit Glacier, or just see the beluga whales on the drive to Anchorage."
In case you didn't happen to meet my two boys (and many didn't because among the many things they enjoy doing is playing video games all day). They both arrived a day before the Mt. Marathon Race. Prior to arriving and seeing the race, they both bragged they could conquer the mountain and finish in the top 10. After the race, however, they had a profound appreciation for the athletes — and decided the better part of valor was to simply not run up the mountain in the future.
Nor, I can assure you, are they talking smack about doing the Spit Run next year.
To say the least, they both learned a lot about fish while working during the summer. My youngest, Bobby, would come home talking (and smelling) like fish. I'm not so sure he didn't bathe with them at work the way he smelled. Bubba enjoyed the time learning to "cut" fish with Mike Carbon in Seward. He even volunteered to work extra hours just so he could hang around and learn more.
"It was really interesting to see the fish come across," he said. "I kind of think I might change my major and go into marine sciences now."
Perhaps one of the better memories for them came late in the summer when a small bear ventured across the docks in Seward, and stuck his head into their area before heading next door to investigate Chinooks.
"That was pretty crazy," said Bubba. "I had never been that close to a bear. I video'd it just so I could show all my friends in Texas."
Although both are excited to get back to classes, Bubba and Bobby both agree they return in the spring for a second season of Alaska reality not on TV.
"I think I'd like to try and find a job as a deckhand next season," said Bubba. "I think that would be fun."
"I think I'd like to go hunting next year, or maybe take one of those whale cruises," said Bobby. "If not, I'll just have fun hanging out in Homer and Seward. There are so many cool things going on, you need more than one season to do them."
Thanks for everyone on the lower Kenai Peninsula for entertaining the boys, y'all.
Tommy Wells is the editor of the Homer Tribune. Everything in this column is true, except for the parts that have been fabricated, exaggerated or are just plain lies.