By Tim H. Martin
Recipes Courtesy of Gwin’s Roadhouse, Cooper Landing, Alaska
Ingredients (per burrito):
• Butter, to scramble eggs and sauté pepper and onions
• 1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
• 1/4 cup red onion, diced
• 1/4 cup tomato, diced
• 2 large eggs, scrambled
• 3 links of your favorite sausage
• 3 strips of bacon, crumbled
• 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
• 5 slices of jalapeno (optional)
• Salt and black pepper, to taste
• 1 large tortilla shell
Sauté onions and bell pepper in butter, reserve. Scramble eggs in butter. Fry meats and assemble burrito.
*Gwin’s serves with salsa and sour cream, but patrons often request a side of their amazing sausage gravy.
For more info on Gwin’s Lodge:
Print The Recipe!
Trip to Grizzly World
– By Tim H. Martin
Photo: After falling headfirst from a large boulder into Alaska’s Russian River, the author searches for his submerged shotgun. His wife, although still watching for brown bears, scrambled down to take this photo for his friends to laugh at later.
The only thing worse than falling headfirst into the Russian River is falling headfirst into the Russian River while surrounded by brown bears and a wife who told you so.
In September of 2006, Allyson and I went on a do-it-yourself fly fishing adventure in Cooper Landing, Alaska, experiencing sublime fishing in the nearby streams for salmon, char and trout.
On Day One, salmon fishermen had crowded the confluence of the Russian and Kenai Rivers, so we hiked nearly three miles upstream to a secluded section renowned for giant rainbow trout and enormous brown bears.
I’d brought along a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun for peace of mind, but this didn’t ease the mind of my nervous wife who’d noticed dinner plate-sized paw prints in the mud.
When a fisherman’s warning shot to a grizzly echoed through the alders, Allyson was anxious to leave. But I was too close to trout heaven to turn back now, so I coaxed her onward. “No worries! Probably just a hunter.”
Moments later, a retreating moose hunter didn’t help my cause as he hurried down the trail, huffing and puffing, “I’m getting the **** out of here. These ****ing bears are everywhere.”
“Gee, thanks, buddy,” I said, knowing the now wide-eyed Allyson would definitely want to go back to Gwin’s Lodge and leave fishing to the bears. It wasn’t easy, but somehow I eased her mind and convinced her to press on.
Not a soul was in sight when we arrived at a lonely stretch of river. Carcasses of bear-killed salmon littered the banks. We hadn’t fished five minutes when Allyson gasped. “Bear!”
Busy taking a fish off the hook, I hadn’t seen it, so I asked, “What color is it?”
She said, “Black.” I said, “Oh, no worries, then! He won’t bother us.”
Suddenly, an obese 500-pound boar waddled down the bank, pacing nervously and peering back into the woods. I didn’t tell Allyson, but I knew the bruin was edgy for fear of being eaten by something twice his size, which is truly scary if you think about it.
“Don’t worry about him, Sweetie,” I chimed. “Blackies won’t hurt’cha, but we’ll keep moving anyway. There’s a great-looking hole just up ahead.”
Upstream, a dark pool teemed with trout and salmon, although it was guarded by a slanted, 12-foot-tall boulder we’d be forced to climb. “Let’s go!” I said, beckoned by the sight of feeding fish.
Allyson’s voice shook. “Isn’t that the big boulder the lady at the lodge said for us NOT to try to climb over? We’d better not try it!”
“Nah — that’s a different one,” I lied. “C’mon, I’ll go first — no worries!”
Everything traveled in slow motion as I plummeted headfirst into the river, shotgun and backpack strapped to my shoulders.
It’s funny, the things you thinks about in mid-flight, like, how my wife would never let me live this down for the rest of my life.
Miraculously, my head missed the rocks on the bottom and I pushed off quickly to avoid getting wedged underwater in the stiff current.
As I surfaced, I heard Allyson’s screams of terror and I felt a shot of pain in my lower back. The water was shallow where I’d caught bottom with my hands, so the force of the fall bent me forward sharply. My spine wrenched violently, causing tingling in my legs for several seconds.
Eventually, I regained my footing, recovered my watch and shotgun from the river bottom and sloshed downstream to exit. Allyson paced frantically on the shore, anxious to see if I was unharmed.
My favorite Auburn cap vanished, and my best fly box fell out of my open vest pocket, but I didn’t care what I’d lost. I just wanted the pain in my back to subside and to reassure my wife a grizzly wasn’t about to eat us.
When she saw I was going to be okay, Allyson laughed nervously, then took a couple of pictures to serve as evidence of my stupidity. I sat on a rock to access the damage and decide our next move.
Since my wife isn’t obsessed with trout and continued to scan the woods for clawed death, I made the call. “How about we head back, clean up and eat breakfast-for-supper at Gwin’s?” I did not have to ask twice.
As we sat in the warm Roadhouse waiting for our food, I stared at my bloody fingernails, shattered from tearing at the rocks during the fall. I didn’t remember doing that.
The strangest thing about the incident was I had the presence of mind to place my precious Sage fly rod safely on top of the boulder as I fell. Priorities, I suppose.
Hot coffee and a mountain of food soon arrived to wash away the pain. I plotted our next day’s Alaskan adventure over a burrito copiously stuffed with reindeer sausage, eggs, bacon, cheese and peppers. Allyson smiled so happily at her jaw-dropping stack of blueberry pancakes, I didn’t mention how many Jenny Craig points she was about to blow.
Between bites, I said, “Sweetie, there’s a mountain lake full of HUGE Arctic char just up the road. We can hit in the morning if you like. It’s only a 3-mile hike.”
“Are there any bears up there? If so, I’m NOT going,” She replied flatly.
“Sweetie, grizzlies are salmon-eaters, not char-eaters. No worries!”