Tenakee Springs, AK – Independence Day in Alaska

I don’t know if it was the perfect 75 degree weather….or the upcoming 4th of July holiday….or the wonderful welcome by Cassidy’s friend Ila and her family (who we had met in Juneau a few weeks ago)….but Tenakee is the type of town that you want to bottle up and take with you.  I fantasized about staying for the entire summer.  It is difficult to capture the charm of this little spot with words.
Tenakee Springs, AK

View of Tenakee from the harbor

We arrived on July 3rd, just in time to watch another boat take the last spot on the transient dock.  After several unreturned calls to the Harbormaster, we had just about all but given up when we heard “Bakery calling Cassidy, over” on the radio.  I recognized the voice right away!  Chris, Ila’s mom, tried calling the Harbormaster on a landline for us and came down to the harbor to direct us into a spot.  A local fisherman was out for a few days so we were in!  No sooner than the dock lines were tied, we were making our way up the dock with Chris to find Ila.  

The town is situated along one dirt path.  Homes on the north side of the road are built up against the hillside and the homes along the south side overlook the inlet.  Although the path continues on for miles, the main part of town is about a 1 mile stretch with the harbor and the library marking each end.  The town center includes a (surprising well stocked) general store, post office, and bakery.  Ila’s family runs the bakery and lives upstairs.  

As we walked along the path, Chris pointed out the salmon berries.  They are similar to raspberries and they come in red, yellow, and orange.  Dougal and Cass took to harvesting loads of berries later in the day….although they seemed to disappear as quickly as they were collected!  Yum yum.  

Proud of her berry harvest

Harvesting berries in their secret spot

A few minutes later, we spotted Ila.  She was racing down the path, bursting with excitement.  Cass and Ila embraced each other like long lost friends….and quickly went skipping down the path.  

Ila’s family invited us over for dinner that night.  Chris made a beautiful salad and cheesy cornbread chili.  The table was set in front of a large window overlooking the inlet.  It was a mesmerizing view.  I could have sat there for hours.  My mom was with us, and Ila’s grandma Susan was also in town, so the table was set for all 8 of us – moms, dads, kids, and grandmas.  It was such a nice evening.

The next day was the 4th of July.  Tenakee really knows how to celebrate Independence Day!  It starts with a parade at 11:30.  The girls were dressed as cows, towed in a cart by Chris and Susan.  A sign on the side of the cart read “Cows Caught for Beef…Oh No!”  Darius, Ila’s Dad, followed in a festively decorated bicycle.  The parade was led by the fire truck and followed by family’s on decorated ATVs or kids on bikes.  

Start of the parade

Cass and Ila – Cows Caught for Beef, Oh No!

4th of July parade

We all wandered over to the potluck after the parade.  Potluck is an understatement.  This was a feast!  There were hamburgers, hot dogs, crab, halibut, salmon, potato salads, and more treats than you could imagine.  Someone even makes ice cream for the town every 4th of July!  It is salmon berry ice cream made with the berries picked locally.  Delish!

View from the 4th of July potluck

Tenakee knows how to do a potluck!

Waiting for fresh homemade ice cream

The entire afternoon was filled with games.  The girls participated in the fishing game, running races, the partner underwear race, egg toss, water balloon toss, and tug-of-war.  Swept by the festive spirit, Dougal and I even participated in the games!  We partnered in the underwear race against Chris and Darius!  To participate, each partner steps into one leg opening of a giant pair of underwear and races to the finish line.  I was certain that we would end up in a face plant in the dirt!  But we made it safely across the finish line.  By the time they wrapped up the games, we were all sticky with sweat from the heat, eggs, dust and dirt.  This tired bunch would have to head home for a shower and a nap.

“Fishing”….catch a big one!

Candy time!

4th of July fun in Tenakee

Good ole fashion tug-of-war!

Underwear racing!

Look out….water balloons!

The next day was forecasted to be another beautiful day so we made plans to head to the beach with Ila after seeing my mom off on the seaplane.  Joan and Jed invited us to play at their house for the afternoon while they were out fishing.  It was a perfect spot for the girls.  They ran up and down the lawn, spraying the hose, and made several trips down to the water.  We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day.  

Seastar found on the beach!

Fun in the sun

Hot day….squirt guns….hose

It was time to say goodbye.  It was a tearful goodbye.  Although we are sad to leave, we know we will be back again someday.  Until next time…

Admiring the local signs

More local signs….

Tenakee Springs airport

Aerial view of the harbor in Tenakee Springs

5 thoughts on “Tenakee Springs, AK – Independence Day in Alaska”

  1. don@meares.us

    SUBJECT: Re: Tenakee Springs – Independence Day in Alaska

    A truly interesting little place. I worked on the north coast with the store owner. I think Don….hmmm, too many years.

    Sent from my iPad

    > On Jul 8, 2018, at 9:16 AM, M/V Cassidy wrote:

  2. Karin Weishaup

    It was a great 4th of July spent with you guys in such a wonderful place.  Ila’s family was delightful.  Such terrific hosts. 

    Thank you for the invitation to share it with you all.  Love Mom

  3. Oh, Jen, this is such a lovely chronicle of your time here!  The photos are amazing, and I especially love the pics of our beautiful girls.  The 4th is always wonderful in Tenakee, but having the four of you here with the four of us made it the most cherished 4th ever.  We all cuddled up on the couch last weekend and watched your videos…we are hooked!  Your blog writing and videos are fantastic!  We are so excited to follow your adventures!

  4. Hi!

     I noticed on your blog about Tenakee, a picture of the Tenakee Harbor. Did you take the picture and could I use it (with reference to you as photographer) in one of the websites for Alaska Department of Fish and Game? Thanks

    —Reply posted by Dougal Gardyne on 9/25/2018

    David – no problem sharing.  I will send you a larger file that you can use…

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