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. Here are some of their stories.
HOMER — Jolene Minton stirred a big pot balanced on a grate over a campfire on the beach.
She had turned a collection of ingredients from a local food pantry into a soup — split peas, green beans, pinto beans, carrots, corn and pork. She has cooked a lot of different meals for her family over a fire here, even cupcakes, she said.
This is Jolene and her husband's ninth summer camping in a tent on the Homer Spit, close to the water's edge and close to an ice cream shop. It's also close to a seafood processor where her husband said he has a seasonal, on-call job as a forklift operator. The family set up their tent on the beach about three weeks earlier and will spend all summer living in it. They live the rest of the year in Happy Valley, a community about 30 miles away.
"It's just easier to walk to work," said Jolene's husband, Adam Minton.
The Minton's children, ages 7 and 8, have spent all of their summers in Homer. The family also brings their pets on the seasonal relocation: a scruffy dog named Scooby Doo and two rabbits named Dolly Parton and Elvis Presley.
Jolene is particularly proud of the family's firewood that they sell at their campsite. On July 4 weekend alone, they can make up to $400, she said. Her children help and get a sliver of the profits, which they tend to spend on ice cream.
Asked what's the toughest part about camping all summer on the Spit, Jolene said, "There is no tough part."
"Our kids don't watch TV for three months, that's a good thing," Adam said.
The children play in the bay, he said, and help other visitors set up their camp spots, showing them how to use rocks to weigh down their tents. Their daughter, Jordyn, also goes to summer school in town, catching a school bus across the street, Jolene said.
Throughout the summer, the family keeps a pulse on the camping scene. Tents start to pop up on Thursday and multiply over the weekend. By Sunday, the beach is largely vacated again, except for the Mintons and their pets.
"I love it," Jolene said.