The Kenai Peninsula comes alive during summer. Tourists, fishermen, seasonal workers and year-round residents share highways and harbors from Homer to Seward. ADN's Tegan Hanlon and Marc Lester recently spent a week meeting some of the people who make the Peninsula unique. Over the next few days, we'll be publishing more than 20 of their stories.
CLAM GULCH — Eleven-year-old Avielle Clucas stretched to place a stack of dishes on a high shelf in her family's temporary kitchen on wheels that's parked on the beach here. They had arrived a day earlier from Delaware, where they live when it's not fishing season in Alaska.
It's from the Clam Gulch seaside kitchen that Avielle's mom, Rita Clucas, uses binoculars to watch her family setnet for salmon in the Cook Inlet as she prepares their meals all summer. Avielle and her 13-year-old sister, Samara, don't often get to go out in the skiff, but help by picking the nets from shore.
"They have a mama who stands here and grits her teeth and bites her nails until they're all back in safely," Rita said.
But despite the nerves, she values their time together on the Kenai Peninsula.
It's a few months each year when the family works hard as a team, then spends time together drinking tea, playing games and searching for stones on the beach without the distraction of television and other electronics.
"This has taught my children so much," Rita said.
Her husband's grandparents settled in the Clam Gulch area in 1948. He would setnet with his family every summer as a child and continued through adulthood. This year is Rita and her husband's 29th summer fishing together as a married couple.
"All our children have been raised doing this," she said.
But Rita senses a change coming to the annual family pilgrimage to Alaska. Her two older children have jobs in Delaware now. It's also harder than it used to be to make a living setnetting, she said.
"I know that there's transition and things happen and the world doesn't stay the same," she said. "I will be sad to see that end."
She was, however, looking forward to the next month, when her older daughter and son would visit for a short time, and they would all spend their days again in the trailer on the Clam Gulch beaches.
"We'll all be together for the first time in years," she said.