Sunday, June 20, 2010

7,818 Miles

IMG_2416

We’re home!  We can hardly fathom that we covered 7,818 miles in only 5 weeks.  British Columbia, The Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories and Alaska are VERY big places!  We totaled more miles than if we’d driven from Seattle to the Florida Keys and back. Quite a few more.  As we’ve written more than once, we have a new appreciation for what the word “vast” means.

IMG_2511

A trip such as the one we’ve just completed is well worth taking.  Other than our 2008 trip to Africa in which we went on safari, we’ve never seen such an amazing collection of wildlife.  It simply doesn’t exist anymore in the lower 48, Europe and other places we’ve traveled.  Seeing animals in their natural habitat is a very moving experience, nothing like seeing them in photos or a zoo.

IMG_3108

Additionally, experiencing a chunk of the planet in its much more natural state further heightens our appreciation for the environment, and our concern for the abuse we people are heaping upon it. Trees, glaciers and animals are all in serious jeopardy.  Why we humans think we can continue to survive if everything else on the planet continues to decline completely eludes us.  We’re not oblivious to the irony in noting that we burned 600 gallons of fuel, and that each gallon burned produces 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, to make this trip. Bob is feeling guilty enough that he’s researching ways to buy carbon offsets.

IMG_2674

So, to our family and friends: we hope to see you soon! To our fellow travelers and blog readers we’ve never met: we hope you’ve enjoyed traveling with us through this blog, and we hope we may enjoy reading your blog, or even meeting you somewhere along the road.  Happy travels!

IMG_2824

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chainsaw Carving and Horses

Chetwynd, where we spent last night, calls itself the “Chainsaw Capital of the World”.  And for good reason perhaps.  Chetwynd is not a large city, or town, but it appears to have as many chainsaw sculptures as residents. Maybe more. We had no idea just how creative and interesting chainsaw carvings could be!  Check out the display at the southern entrance into the town. Then imagine the rest of the town with scatterings of sculptures, as well as many individual homes displaying their own carving.

IMG_3427

IMG_3437

“The Horse” (that would be us) is now galloping back to the barn.  We’re on our way to Penticton where we’ll visit friends, then cross the border back into the U.S. the following morning, then to our home4-5 hours later.  We’ve loved this trip, and we’re eager to return to our own bed, bathroom and home, and looking forward to re-connecting with family and friends.  What a journey . . . a little under 8,000 miles in one month plus one day!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No Excuse: Highway Robbery

M~ Sun0520B-PeaceValley3

We drove from Fort Nelson to Chetwynd, B.C. via the Hudson Hope Highway today. Wildlife sightings totaled one fox and one black bear. The Alaska Highway between Fort Nelson and Fort St. John was the best piece of highway (in terms of quality of the surface) we’ve traveled on the whole trip, and it was fun looking off to the north side of the road and seeing several stretches of the “old highway” winding back and forth through the woods. The Hudson Hope Highway travels through the Peace River Valley which was absolutely gorgeous! Signs along the highway suggest there’s a new dam being proposed, which is far from universally popular (there are already two on this stretch of the river). We don’t know the details, but ceding any portion of the Peace River Valley would be quite a loss.

Now on to the topic which produced the headline for today’s post. Since we don’t have much to report on today’s journey, and because we know several people are following our blog as they prepare for their trip north, let us report on what we think was the biggest rip-off we experienced on the entire trip.

gas_prices[1]

Yesterday after we left Liard Hot Springs and drove south, we passed a couple of gas stations, but because we still had more than half a tank, we kept on driving, thinking we’d fill up somewhere further down the road. By the time we got to Muncho Lake Provincial Park we needed fuel to make it to Fort Nelson. So we pulled into the Northern Rockies Lodge which advertises itself as the “only full service resort between Watson Lake and Fort Nelson”. We pulled up at the pump and did a double take: could the pump really say $1.72 per liter ($6.47/gallon U.S.) for regular gasoline? We had only paid $1.42 a liter ($5.34/gallon U. S.) in Inuvick, 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Yep, that was the price. We bought the absolute minimum it took to get to Fort Nelson.

rockies-lodge-muncho[1]

We know it costs more to get fuel into these remote areas, but we saw prices $0.50/liter less within 50 miles on each side of this resort. So there is no excuse for this price; it is nothing more than greed. If you’re passing this way, we encourage you to plan ahead and make sure you drive right by this rip-off. OK, we got that off our chests.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Down time at the Hot Springs; Bison not Buffalo

IMG_3403

We left our boon dock location this morning and drove 50 miles to Liard Hot Springs. This is a provincial park and quite popular. The main hot springs are half a mile from the parking lot via a boardwalk, and have restrooms and changing rooms at the pools. If you go here, consider walking 5 minutes beyond the main pool to the Beta Pool.

P1030018

This pool is deeper and cooler than the lower springs, but when we walked there after getting out of the main pool, no one else was there! The lower pools were quite warm depending on where you sat, up to 110 degrees, but with other spots that were closer to bath temperature.

P1030010

While there were perhaps 25 people in the pool, it’s large enough that it didn’t seem crowded and we weren’t forced to converse with other people as we relaxed. Worth the stop.

P1030007

After the hot springs we traveled mostly east, just south of the Yukon Territory/British Columbia border to Fort Nelson, BC where we’re spending the night. There has been a clear change in the landscape since we left Whitehorse. We don’t know the terminology, but the northern spruce forests and permafrost landscape has changed to pine and birch forests and a more Rocky Mountain/Cascades environment. One other change we noticed: Bob got up briefly about 2am last night and . . . . drum roll . . . . it was ALMOST DARK!

As we drove along today, another change occurred. The signs which before always warned to be on the lookout for moose, have changed to be on the lookout for buffalo, and we saw LOTS!!

bisson

One editorial comment: Despite the official Government of Canada signs warning us to be on the lookout for buffalo, a Google search convinces us we were actually seeing bison. We’ll let you do your own research if you want to find out the difference. And one final note about wildlife and highways living in close proximity: at several points along the Alaska Highway we’ve seen signs announcing “245 moose-vehicle collisions so far this winter – slow down!” Today we noticed a truck off in the ditch, trees and bushes on the south side of the highway (no person inside) and a dead bison on the adjacent north side. We didn’t take photographs, but took this to be a more graphic warning of the consequences if one fails to take seriously the warnings to keep alert for wildlife near the highway.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Somewhere North of Liard Hot Springs

We left Whitehorse at 9:30 after our wonderful socialized medicine experience with a couple of options available to us: 1) stop about 100 miles east at Teslin Lake to go kayaking if the weather looked good, or 2) continue on to Watson Lake. Option one didn’t work out due to clouds, cold and wind, so we went with option two. When we arrived at Watson Lake at 3pm it was still rainy and cool, and we couldn’t divine any real reason to stop as we’d been here on our northbound journey and already seen the sights. So again, we continued on, east by southeast and re-entered British Columbia. As we drove, we saw pairs of buffalo in two locations (our first of this trip) and a young grizzly bear, all immediately adjacent to the road.

IMG_3392

IMG_3401

Around 4:30 we tired of driving but weren’t near any destination. The Liard River paralleled the road, so it occurred to us perhaps we could find a spot to boon dock. And did we ever! We spied a dirt road on the south side of the highway and pulled over to investigate. What we found was a camping spot 200 yards off and invisible from the highway, with a view of the river surrounded by a dense grove of birch trees. We checked it out, Bob did a little tight maneuvering and parked in the perfect spot. And the sun was out! Bob began work outside the trailer dropping the stabilizer legs, pulling out the camp chairs and planning to have a beer while gazing at the river.

IMG_3406 Cathryn was hauling things out of the truck to put in the trailer. Suddenly Bob yelled at Cathryn: “Get in the truck, now!” For once, the unusual urgency in his voice made her scramble to respond without asking “Why?” She jumped in the passenger door, and clambered over the console into the driver’s seat so Bob could jump in behind her. With both windows open, we listened to something crashing through the woods nearby, peering around to see what it might be. A bear? A buffalo? No, finally we spotted a huge female moose, at least 9’ tall at the shoulders, about 20 feet away in the woods! We watched for several minutes while she peered at us, finally deciding we were scary, so she wandered away in the other direction. Whew!

IMG_3414

After our heartbeats subsided, we settled by the river and had our beer, but we played some music loud enough that no bear or moose would be surprised we were around, and kept our can of wasp spray close at hand! Oh, you wonder why we have wasp spray? It’s illegal to transport mace or pepper spray into Canada, we don’t carry guns, and we’d read that wasp spray is actually better than mace or pepper spray because it’s easier to aim and the spray shoots farther, so whether you’re concerned about animals or human intruders, wasp spray is a good weapon!

Alaska, here they come!

IMG_3372

On our northbound journey we often drove many miles between sightings of other vehicles and stayed in campgrounds which were relatively empty. Since we left the Kenai Peninsula 4 days ago, we’ve noticed a sharp up-tick in the number of RVs on the road and campers in the campgrounds. Last night was the strongest indicator yet that the summer migration of folks headed to Alaska has begun in earnest. Two weeks ago we stayed at the Hi Country RV Camp just outside Whitehorse, a large place with more than 100 sites which was perhaps 20% full.  Last night we stayed there again and found it more than 90% full. Today on the Alaska Highway there’s a steady stream of pickup trucks with campers, motor homes, and trucks pulling trailers all headed north, as we head south. Our friend Gene (the camp host at Deep Creek Beach) had told us we’d be traveling on the “shoulders” of the primary summer season of travelers, and would encounter smaller crowds as a result. The last few days confirms the accuracy of that statement as the highway now looks like a river during salmon-spawning season, only in this case the fish are RVs!

Socialized Medicine, round 2

We’ve had a second occasion to sample the offerings of that nasty Canadian “socialized medicine” we keep hearing about in the U.S. news. Cathryn developed a minor eye infection and hoped it would clear on its own, so hasn’t been wearing contact lenses for a bit. No such luck. Yesterday on arrival in Whitehorse, we asked for directions to a walk-in clinic and learned it opened at 9am Monday. As we wanted to be on the road quickly, we arrived early this morning in hopes of being patient #1 of the day. At 8:45 a.m. Cathryn found the clinic doors open, walked in, and found Dr. Bekhit there alone, as the receptionist hadn’t arrived for the day. On seeing Cathryn enter, he greeted her, had her fill out a brief information sheet and health history, and took her into an exam room.  Ten minutes later, having paid her $60, she walked out with a prescription for Tobramycin optical drops and directions to a nearby pharmacy, where the prescription was filled in 10 minutes for $15. We’re sure Canada’s medical system has its faults, as all do, but so far based on two encounters, we’re utterly charmed by the ease, cost and quality of care we’ve received.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kluane Lake and Some Alaska Observations

akusa_trans_sm[1]

We’re at Kluane Lake in Destruction Bay, Yukon Territory, 200 miles east of Tok. We plan to spend two nights here, kayaking on the lake if the weather cooperates. We thought we’d offer some initial impressions of Alaska.

In short, two words: vast and empty.

Vast: The size of Alaska is equal to 20% of the surface area of the lower 48 states (bigger, even, than Texas) and only has about 600,000 people in the entire state. The southern portion of Alaska is a lot like where we live in the Puget Sound region of Western Washington: very green, except the trees are mostly White or Black Spruce, not Douglas Fir, and there are more deciduous trees; and mountains, except the mountains are all a few thousand feet higher than ours at home.

Empty: To give some perspective to those of you in the Puget Sound area about how empty it feels, imagine western Washington if Seattle/King County only had 237,000 residents (its population in 1910) and the rest of western Washington were proportionally reduced in population. Given the topography and vegetation of the Puget Sound region, and this reduced population, you begin to have a sense of what it feels like up here. Except Alaska is about 50 times the size of western Washington. It’s astonishing how little traffic there is, how few freeways (only one near Anchorage we’ve seen), and how few people we see anywhere we go.

We’ll add more observations later, but will start with these.

Moose, Frost Heave and Mosquitoes

Ever since we began our research for this trip, three things we were warned about, repeatedly, were moose leaping in front of vehicles, frost heave on the highway, and mosquitoes the size of bats! After a month on the road, never having a problem with any of the afore-mentioned threats, we’ve become sanguine. Well, today proved it’s never a good idea to let your guard down on a road trip to Alaska!

IMG_3363

Just after heading down the highway east from Tok, AK this morning, Bob yelled “Moose!”  Sure enough, leaping out of  the trees and bushes on the side of the highway, not far in front of our truck, was a large female moose! Cathryn hit the brakes while Bob grabbed his camera and started clicking away, even as the moose quickly disappeared into the bushes on the opposite side of the highway. No harm, no foul, just an adrenaline rush that took some time to subside.

“Milepost” serves as the Bible for Alaska road travelers, a book which describes, literally mile-by-mile, the entire length of the various highways from the lower 48 and throughout  Alaska, telling history, what services are available, location of visitors centers and campgrounds and much more. About the stretch of road we traveled today, from Tok, AK to Destruction Bay, Yukon Territory (YT), Milepost has this to say: “According to Public Works Yukon, much of the soil along the north Alaska Highway is of glacial origin and unsuitable for road embankments. Anything that causes the permafrost to melt will cause the ice-rich soil to liquefy, and liquid soil has little strength and will settle or subside. Then if this soil refreezes during lower air temperature, it will expand or heave. This process wreaks havoc on the drivability of the road surface by creating undulations and cracking.”   Well, in our view, this is an understatement! This segment of highway is reportedly the worst the entire length of the Alaska Highway, and we found ourselves driving 30 mph much of today. On arrival at Kluane Lake at the end of the day, we found inside the trailer that two upper cabinets had popped open despite taking the extra precaution of securing them with bungee cords on the door pulls, and several items had fallen to the floor – fortunately none made of glass! No snoozing today while riding shotgun, as the road was simply too rough.

IMG_3365

The large mosquitoes are out in droves here at Kluane Lake, despite the fact it was 49 degrees, overcast, and the wind blowing hard enough to raise white-caps on the water on our arrival.  We’d have liked to sit outside, but the weather prevented it, so the mosquitoes didn’t bother us at all tonight. And we have a spectacular campsite, (dry camping with no hook-ups) right on the shore of the beautiful lake, with no other campers in sight.  We remain happy and well!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Back at Tok AK

frs4165[1]

We’re back in Tok, Alaska, less than two weeks after entering the mainland (there must be a term for the main body of Alaska that doesn’t include the panhandle of “Southeast”, but we don’t know what it is). We’re moving faster than we thought we would for a couple of reasons. One, Bob’s back continues to bother him a bit, and as a result we haven’t been able to do the hiking and kayaking we’d intended to fill our “no drive” days with, and second we’ve had some personal reasons to want to get back to Seattle a week or so earlier than we’d planned when we left home. We’ve been moving quickly, but have gone everywhere on the itinerary, and even added a few stops. The cooler, wetter weather since we’ve been on the mainland also contributed to our moving right along. We always intended this to be our “survey trip”, much like we thought of our first trip to Baja, and we’ve accomplished our objective. Now if anyone ever asks for an opinion on whether they should go to Alaska, or where they should go, they will get an ear full!

alaska-1[1]

Bob hasn’t decided if he can handle another visit to Fast Eddy’s in Tok for another Musher Omelette tomorrow. He thinks we should go and split one; Cathryn’s thinking she’ll go for a run instead.

By the way, during the winter it gets to 80 degrees BELOW O here in Tok.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Prince William Sound

We left Seward this morning and drove 60 miles to the Williwaw Campground near Portage, most of the way north up the east side of the Kenai Peninsula. We parked the trailer and drove 5 miles further to the Whittier tunnel, a 2 ½ mile ONE-lane, dual-use (autos and trains, so rails are laid in the single lane) tunnel mined through solid rock.
IMG_3361
After paying our $12 round-trip toll, we passed through the tunnel (which opens only once each hour for travel in each direction) to arrive at the Town of Whittier, which serves as the Port of Alaska. We’re told that 2/3 of the water-borne freight coming to Alaska arrives here. It’s also the closest Alaska Marine Highway (ferry) terminal to Anchorage and Fairbanks. Whittier has a total year-around population of 170, 85% of whom live in a single, large 11-story apartment building as there is NO single family housing here. Talk about a company town! Whittier also receives 170 inches of rain each year, which may go a long way toward explaining its’ population of 170!
IMG_3356
From Whittier, we embarked on a 150-passenger boat which was mostly full, for a 5 ½ hour cruise. We saw it all: eagles, humpback whales, sea otters, waterfalls, icebergs, hanging glaciers, tidewater glaciers and thousands of black-legged kittiwakes! We’ll let the pictures tell the story; there are a few included here, plus a link to a Picasa Web album click here. We encourage you to go to the link and play it as a slide show. Bob was lucky enough to capture on camera a calving of a hanging glacier that came down a waterfall channel to the water. It makes an amazing series of about 10 pictures as the ice cascades down the waterfall. If the link doesn’t work, you should be able to reach it by going to the “slideshow” tab at the top of the page, and look for the slide show titled “Prince William Sound”.
IMG_3269
IMG_3259
IMG_3278
IMG_3280
IMG_3294
http://picasaweb.google.com/BobWhite1/PrinceWillaimSound?feat=directlink

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

On to Seward, AK

We left Deep Creek Beach on the southwest side of the Kenai Peninsula this morning after saying goodbye to Gene and Joyce, our bloggin’ friends who are now real friends. We drove 140 miles: first north, then east, then south to reach Seward which sits at the end of the road on the southeast side of the Kenai. This is still serious fishing country, but fishing doesn’t seem to overshadow all else as it does on the west side. It also has more varied terrain in terms of proximity to the mountains than does the west side.

IMG_3236

After dropping the trailer at the Bear Creek Campground, we drove 9 miles on a side road to the Exit Glacier Visitors Center. From there it’s possible to hike a mile to reach the toe of the glacier, which we did. Exit Glacier is a relatively small tongue of ice flowing from the larger Harding Ice Field. What it lacks in grandeur is made up for by its’ ease of access. We also learned a new word: katabatic. This is a special type of drainage wind that results from cool, dense air that sinks and flows down over the glacier to the valley, with the temperature and density differential causing the stronger, colder wind. Brrrr – we felt it!

We drove back to Seward and spent the afternoon exploring this small seaport town. One unique feature of Seward: there are 4 or 5 municipal campgrounds that only cost $5-10 a night, right in the heart of downtown and mostly on waterfront property. These campgrounds are merely gravel lots with sites delineated by white chalk lines, but how can you complain given the price, view and convenience?!

Tomorrow we’re off to Prince William Sound for our last glacier fix before we start the journey back to the Yukon Territory, heading toward home.

Exploring the west side of Kenai

IMG_3209

This morning we took off in the truck to meander through and photograph some of the places Gene took us last night. We visited Ninilchik’s Russian Orthodox Church and adjacent cemetery, noting how many of the gravesites were new, and how high a percentage of the folks buried there died at very young ages, even in recent years.

IMG_3213

We also wandered through the tiny village of Old Ninilchik, situated on the shores of both the Ninilchik River and Cook Inlet. The village contains a tiny marina which can only be entered or departed at high tide – otherwise the outlet to Cook Inlet is a very shallow stream.

IMG_3226

Leaving the Ninilchik area we headed south on the Sterling Highway toward the city of Homer, taking a 14-mile detour through the Village of Nikolaevsk, a Russian orthodox community of folks who continue many traditions from “the old country”. IMG_3227

Finally we arrived at Homer, a city of 5,500 residents at the southwest end of the Kenai Peninsula. The city consists of “downtown” on the hill above Kachemak Bay, surrounded by gorgeous snow-capped volcanoes and peaks of the Alaska Range, and the Homer Spit, a 4 ½ mile strip extending into the bay, with restaurants, shops, hotels, campgrounds and a marina, including a small deep-water dock with room for one cruise ship (which arrives once every two weeks in summer). We had lunch at Captain Pattie’s on the beach and both had halibut, which we noted tasted fresher and more delicious than any we’ve purchased in Seattle, ever. 

We enjoyed the Pratt Museum, an art, culture and natural history museum at which we spent more time than expected given its’ small size – but it had terrific exhibits, including an informative video about the Exxon Valdez oil spill 21 years ago, which seemed timely given what’s going on in the Gulf of Mexico at the moment. We visited other shops and galleries, and drove through the East End Road residential area.

At 5:45 we met Lea Miner, niece of our very good friends Phebe and Jim Richards, at the “Cups CafĂ©”, a super fun, artsy restaurant on the hill, for dinner. Lea has lived in Homer year-round for 10 years. The food was creative and delicious, including fabulously fresh seafood, and we had a lively conversation with Lea who was enthusiastic and gracious in satisfying our curiosity about year-round life in Alaska. She grew up in Boston and has very happily settled into life in Homer, including the long, cold winters, and loves the beauty, remoteness, outdoor emphasis and life in the lovely town at the end of the Kenai Peninsula. What an enjoyable evening! And we made one mistake: we were so absorbed in the conversation we forgot to take a photo of the 3 of us together, despite having our camera with us!

We both concluded Homer is our favorite Alaskan town so far, and though the Spit is quite touristy, it has a real downtown that’s appealing and accessible.

IMG_3195

The volcanoes of Mounts Redoubt, Iliamna, Augustine, and Douglas, adjoined by the mountains of the Alaska Range and numerous glaciers provide exceptional scenery, and  proximity to the water provides mild winters by Alaskan standards. We’d also note that summers are “chilly” to our taste – averaging 60 degree high temps in July and August, and colder the rest of the year. Today was sunny and 53.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Deep Creek Beach: All About Fishing

We’re camped at Deep Creek Beach State Recreation Area just south of the small Kenai Peninsula town of Ninilchik. We picked this spot because we have blog friends (more on this later) who are Camp Hosts here for the summer. From what we can tell, we’re the only “tourists” in the campground despite the fact there are at least 40 campers in a mix of tents, motor homes and trailers, all with Alaska license plates. There are perhaps another hundred day-use groups with boats at the spot where the boats are launched. And they’re all here for king salmon and halibut.

IMG_3187

There’s an unusual “boat launch” here, and it’s not your run of the mill operation. Boats of all kinds, some up to 32 feet, are launched into the Cook Inlet using what look to be logging skidders. We went down the beach to watch the operation for a while this afternoon, and they must have pulled at least one boat a minute for the thirty minutes we observed. There were three skidders, each with a two-man team: a driver and a second guy who rode the trailer, jumped into the water as the boat ran up on the trailer, hooked on a bowline and then hopped back on while the skidder pulled the boat onto the shore.

IMG_3184

They were really hustling to secure the boats, pull them out, unhook, and go pick up another trailer and get back down to the beach. There were at least 100 empty trailers on the beach, so we assume we’ll see a major launch operation in the morning, or perhaps not – we may still be asleep.

IMG_3190

Deep Creek Rec Area also has, not surprisingly, a creek. This is really a fast running stream about 30-40 feet wide. Even in mid-afternoon at low tide (not prime fishing time) there were at least 10 fly fishermen out trying for salmon.

Bloggin’ Friends

P1030001

While in Baja last winter, we got an email from Gene and Joyce Shea telling us they’d stumbled across our blog and were enjoying reading it. We responded, asked a few questions about them, and mentioned we were planning a trip to Alaska shortly on the heels of returning home from Baja. Turns out Gene and Joyce had already committed to serve as Camp Hosts at Deep Creek Beach State Recreation Area this summer, and we quickly became bloggin’ friends (or pen pals, as we’d have called ourselves back in the day). Gene became our “travel consultant” offering tips on traveling the Alaska Highway, commenting on our draft itinerary, and sharing thoughts on “must sees” and ways in which traveling in Alaska is different from other places. We’ve been extremely grateful for all their help, began reading their blog in early May as they headed north, and came to feel we knew them and were friends. As of last night, that became literally true!

Gene and Joyce had us to dinner in their Arctic Fox 5th wheel trailer last night!  Gene grilled pork chops, and Joyce cooked delicious scalloped potatoes, had applesauce to go with the chops, and baked peanut butter-chocolate bars topped with berries for dessert.  We brought the salad and wine.  What a great evening it was! We stayed for FOUR hours, talking and talking, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Between dinner and dessert Gene loaded us into his pickup truck and took us on a quick tour of a few points of interest around Ninilchik, places we’d like to re-visit in more leisurely fashion today or tomorrow.

So now our “virtual” friends have become real friends, and we look forward to crossing paths as we continue to travel in the coming years. They live in Montana big chunks of each year and promise to visit us if the find themselves in the Pacific Northwest.

P1030004

Historic Kenai

IMG_3165

IMG_3150

IMG_3171

IMG_3143-1

A Travel Day

 

We left Denali this morning under sunny skies (figures!) with a temperature of 39, and headed south toward the Kenai Peninsula. We didn’t have a plan as to where we might end up for the night, only that it would be sorta “thataway”. Well, we ended up in the town of Kenai, which means we covered almost 350 miles!

IMG_3137

Along the way we saw Denali . . . almost! We were driving south on the Parks Highway when we saw the mountain almost entirely exposed. We stopped at a viewpoint and were soon joined by 5 other rigs, all waiting for the last cloud to clear the summit. Wouldn’t you know it? After 20 minutes of watching the last cloud slowly move west, it stalled. We waited, and waited, but it just sat there. We finally gave up, happy to have seen as much of The Mountain as we did.

We proceeded south through Wasilla (nope, no Sarah sightings, but maybe we saw the “First Dude”; he was a burly guy with a mustache in a pickup, right?). We went through the western edge of Anchorage and looked further west to see Russia, but it seems there are mountains in the way. We did find a Costco and bought gas for only $3.30/gallon; it felt like they were giving it away after the prices we’ve been paying!

IMG_3140

We then drove further south through the Turnagain Arm and onto the Kenai Peninsula. What a spectacularly beautiful area! We’re camped on the top of a bluff above Beluga Point with a great view of Cook Inlet, and we sat outside in the never-ending sun with a glass of wine and our binoculars, but failed to spot any beluga whales. Maybe it’s not the right season? Now that we’re here, we have 5 days in which we’ll drive maybe a total of 300 miles exploring the area. It will be a nice break from our “road trip”.

IMG_3141

Mt. Redoubt, Cook Inlet Alaska

Redoubt%20Volcanoe%20Map[1]