The Klaysmats are retired!

After 33 years at Crane Lake, Minnesota, Kalie & John Klaysmat have hung up their firefighter gear, retired from their jobs with U.S. Customs & Border Protection, sold their property, and moved to Sterling Alaska!

They have bought a home on Whisper Lake, just a few miles east of Soldotna, and are looking forward to exploring the Last Fronteir. The property is located on the Kenai Peninsula, about midway between Anchorage and Homer. After years of driving 80 miles each way to buy groceries, Kalie looks forward to being 5 minutes from a real town. John looks forward to being only 5 minutes from some of the best hunting territory in south central Alaska. Alaska will give them everything they both enjoy.


The adventure began August 30th, 2005 when they sold out their household at auction. Shortly afterward, John  drove to Alaska hauling a full trailer of family treasures. He flew back to Crane Lake two weeks later, picked up Kalie and the 2 dogs, Spruce & Acacia, and together they  made the 3300 mile drive across Canada around October 1st. Although they encountered a little snow in the Canadian Rockies, they were settled in their new home before the winter arrived in Alaska.  So far it has proved to be a little milder than winter at Crane Lake.

The first year has been one of adventures. There were fishing trips on the Cook Inlet and the Kenai River. John landed his first King Salmon while they were on a charter trip out of Homer... by Alaska standards it was a small one of just under 35 pounds. He also caught more sockeye than he could count on the Kenai, and while fishing on the Russian River he  "caught" a young grizzly! The grizzly had eyes for the salmon that John had just hooked, and after a brief contest, the bear won the prize.

In September of 2006 they were lucky to win the Denali Road lottery, and had the opportunity to drive the 80 mile long road into Denali Park in their own vehicle. Generally travelers to Denali do so by bus, but one weekend a year private vehicles chosen by lottery are allowed to enter. Kalie & John were lucky enough to draw a beautiful clear day and were able to see Mt. McKinnley in all its glory. The scenery was awesome, but they also enjoyed seeing moose, grizzlies, wolves, mountain goats, marmots, ptarmigans and swans along the way.

Their lifetime of volunteering has continued, but has changed direction. John is a summer volunteer as a Ranger's assistant with the Alaska State Parks, and spends a good deal of time on the Kenai River. In winter he also drives for meals on wheels for the Sterling Senior Center. Kalie is volunteering with the Soldotna Police Department, and has joined the Central Peninsula Crime Stoppers Board of Directors. They are also members of the Alaska Peace Officers Association.

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Check back often for more notes from the frozen north.....


Mt. Redoubt, our local volcano as seen entering our subdivision on Nina Robinson Rd at junction of Sterling Highway (mi 88) 

The close-up view of Denali (Mt. McKinley) on a clear September day (taken from 30 miles away).

The Kenai river between Bing's Landing and Skilak Lake. The turquoise color is because the river is glacier fed.

John catching a young grizzly bear while fishing the Russian River... the bear won the salmon!

Mother moose and 8 week old calf on the Swanson river Road

John casting for sockeye (red) salmon on the Kenai River

John's first King Salmon caught on a Winter King Charter out of Homer in May of 2006. It weighed just under 35#.

The small halibut are called "chickens" in Alaska they are the 'other white meat'. They are white on one side and dark on the other and both eyes are on the dark side

Eagles on the beach at Homer on a winter day.
The Russian Church overlooking Cook Inlet at Ninilichik

Trumpeter swans preparing to migrate south.

Young Grizzly cubs on the Denali Road (taken thru windshield) 
  when you get to this row, hit "tab" and it will make more rows down.