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Published on July 30, 2017, by admin in Alaska Trip.
Hike to Thunderbird Falls

Hike to Thunderbird Falls

Alaskans love their weekend toys! If you live up here for any length of time, you probably have some combination of the following adventure vehicles: airplane, RV, fishing boat, ATV, snowmobile, mountain bike, and maybe a lesser chance because of the weather, a dirt bike.

It was quite evident to me as I left Anchorage and joined the Glenn Highway on my way to Valdez that ahead lay a popular area for off-roaders. I met trailer after trailer of vehicles pulling ATVs.

Motanuska Glacier

Motanuska Glacier

The road passed through some very pretty mountains and was quite smooth for most of the way. I stopped to take a picture of Motanuska Glacier, a long river of ice and snow that reminded me of Ruth Glacier in Denali. I added a little gas in Glennallen and found a scenic pullout a few miles south on the Richardson Highway headed to Valdez.

I just wanted to mention again what a good time I had visiting with Kleenex in Anchorage. She went out of her way to take me hiking in Whittier, drove me all over town to shop and show me the sights, and include me in a hike and outdoor potluck with people from her church. Thank you, Renee!

 
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Published on July 29, 2017, by admin in Alaska Trip.
Kleenex and Castaway at Portage Glacier.

Kleenex and Castaway at Portage Glacier.

On Friday, Kleenex and I traveled an hour south of Anchorage to hike a trail to Portage Glacier and visit the town of Whittier. The weather was cloudy and misting for much of the day, but the skies cleared and the rain held for most of our hike. It was a fun day.

Tunnel

Tunnel

Because it was a day trip, and we knew we would have to pay to got through Whittier Tunnel, Kleenex drove us in her car. Our first stop was at the Boggs Visitors Center where they had some information about points of interest in and around Portage Valley. We also went to check out the price of a tour boat that took you up to the face of the glacier. If it was better weather we may have taken the boat ride but voted to just enjoy a hike this day.

We proceeded on through the two-mile tunnel and drove on into Whittier. The tunnel is a marvel in itself. Blasted through solid rock and completed in two years, the one-lane tunnel was originally made in 1941 for train travel to connect the port with interior points. Sometimes the wait for your turn can be a half hour or more. We were lucky to hit the line as cars were being let through just as we arrived.

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Kleenex told me that weather in Whittier is almost always rainy. Because the coastal mountains trap the moisture from the bay, it can be sunshine in Anchorage and raining in Whittier. We saw a sign for a museum and decided to browse there for a bit and wait for the weather to improve.

The museum had many displays of pictures about early ocean explorers, building the tunnel, and the war of the Aluetian Islands. We read articles for about an hour then had lunch before driving to the trail.

Ready to hike.

Ready to hike.

The trail to Portage Glacier was only 2 miles up and 2 back but there was a steep hill to climb up to the pass and then a knee punishing decent down to the lake. When I start climbing hills I realize how out of shape I am. As we neared the lake where Portage Glacier entered the water, the clouds lifted and we had great views of the glacier and icebergs in the lake.

On the hike back from the glacier it rained some but we didn’t care; I was so hot and sweaty that the light rain felt good.

We had to wait 30 minutes to get back through the tunnel. On the drive home Kleenex took me to see the hippy town of Girdwood. There were lots of artsy places, a luxurious resort hotel, and a classic ski slope. We stopped for ice cream and arrived back in town about 6:30 pm.

I had a wonderful time with a great friend. We even made a date to go see a movie later that evening. By the time the movie let out I was ready to crash. On Saturday I will help Kleenex move some of her belongings to a room where she will be staying and then go with her to a pot luck meal with people from her church.

 
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Published on July 26, 2017, by admin in Alaska Trip.
Cold boxes for packing the fish caught by tourists.

Cold boxes for packing the fish caught by tourists.

I left Fred Meyer in Soldotna and drove northeast until I reached the turn to Hope, Alaska. The highway to Hope runs along the south side of Turnagain Arm, crossing many rivers that feed into the tidal basin. It was a pretty drive with views of Turnagain Arm in several pullouts along the road.

The Sixmile Creek that Hope Highway follows for a few miles is popular with rafters for its Class IV and V rapids. Only experienced river runners attempt the adventure. The company that offers the rafts and shuttle sometimes require participants to demonstrate they can swim across the river before they can sign on.

Hope is a ramshackle sort of town of 150 residents. Many of the old cabins have been preserved and the only new buildings are the post office and a well maintained bed and breakfast. It has a couple of cafes’, and of course, bait-n-tackle shops.

Mouth of Resurrection River.

Mouth of Resurrection River.

The main reason to come to Hope this time of year is to fish for salmon in Resurrection Creek. I saw many fishermen standing in the water as I crossed the creek. I’m not a fisherman and I don’t want to do a Class V rafting adventure so I went to the local museum for my afternoon entertainment.

Miner shacks.

Miner shacks.

The museum had many pieces of mining equipment on display along with preserved cabins that some of the first residents used in the early gold rush. I spent quite a bit of time talking with the lady that runs the museum. She has lived in Hope for the last 40 years, and explained in more detail than I wanted, extensive history of the town. I don’t think she get a lot of people that stop and visit for a while.

When I left the museum, she told me of a camping spot six miles out of town on the Resurrection River where it is legal to pan for gold. I drove up and settled into a spot for the night. I asked the Forest Ranger at the parking area if I was alright to camp here. She said that technically it was not for camping but no one would say anything about me staying a couple nights.

I took my pan down to the river after dinner and found several flakes of gold in my first two pans. I wanted to play gold-miner a little longer but the water was ice-cold, the bugs were out, and it was starting to sprinkle. I jumped back into Minnie just as a heavy rain started.

A while later a couple drove up on quads. The man was pulling a dredge on a trailer so I went over to talk to him. He said they own a claim up the river. He puts on a wet suit and crawls around in the river with a suction hose attached to the dredge. I figured it wasn’t any of my business so I didn’t ask him if the make much money dredging the river. I would like to know, though.

 
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Published on July 24, 2017, by admin in Alaska Trip.
It looks better with eyes than a camera.

It looks better with eyes than a camera.

I packed up this morning and headed Minnie back towards Anchorage. It was almost 1pm before I left the campground on the Spit, and I will truly miss the wonderful time I spent, walking the beach, riding Honda to town and along the East Road, watching eagles feast on morsels brought in by the surf, and most of all, I will miss the friends I met there.

Dena and Rick behind their pickup camper.

Dena and Rick behind their pickup camper.

We all said our goodbyes this morning with the hope we will meet again down the road sometime. Diana is from Ontario, traveling full-time in a 28′ class c, with a destination of Western BC where her son lives. She was planning on just traveling through Canada, but when she ended up in the Yukon, reasoned she may as well continue into Alaska.

Rick and Dena are from the San Bernardino area. Rick is a recently retired fireman. They are traveling like so many of us adventurers – going where we want and spending as much time as we want in each place. Rick, Dena, and Diana were all going to stay another day, but when the weather forecast for the next couple days was looking rather rainy, they decided to move on, too. We have all decided that Quartzsite for the Big Tent Show will be a good place to meet again.

Glaciers everywhere you look!

Glaciers everywhere you look!

The wind was blowing strong as I drove up Highway 1, but it was mostly a tailwind that helped me along. The traffic was not nearly as bad as the trip down the Peninsula. As I neared Soldotna, I turned towards the town of Kenai, looking to see if anything caught my fancy. There was mention of a lighthouse on my Google maps but I think it was just the name of a small community. There were a few places to drive out to the bay to look for animals, but the gloomy, cold weather wasn’t very inviting. If you are into it, one wildlife area was advertised as as a good place to see all kinds of birds. I think a high-power spotting scope would be a great tool to watch wildlife here in Alaska. Even through binoculars it is hard to see the birds sometimes.

Russian Cemetery.

Russian Cemetery.

I didn’t stop to see any Russian Orthodox Churches. I did, however, find an old Russian community on a motorcycle trip east from Homer while I was staying on the Spit. The settlement is called Voznesenka. I didn’t see much there, but I did walk around in a cemetery and puzzled over the pronunciation of the deceased names.

Tonight I’m at Fred Meyers in Soldotna. I have no idea where I will stay tomorrow, but there is no hurry to get to Anchorage for a couple days. Kleenex has Friday off so we will probably find a hike in the area.

 
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Published on July 23, 2017, by admin in Alaska Trip.
Shops on the Spit.

Shops on the Spit.

One of the best parts of hiking the AT was the people you meet. This trip to see Alaska has been like that in some ways. In campgrounds, tourist attractions, beautiful scenic places, and all along the highway, you run into people with the same pilgrimage – to explore this great and beautiful land of ours.

Me and Diana at Lands End.

Me and Diana at Lands End.

When I was in Seward I ran into a fellow traveler and we became instant friends. We had such a good time talking about our adventures on our journey, we decided to meet up in Homer and spend a few days together enjoying the Peninsula.

I arrived in Homer a day before Diana and the next morning reserved two spots out near the water on Homer Spit. After spending the night at Fred Meyers in Soldotna, Diana joined me here in the Mariner City Campground.

In the afternoon we rode Honda down the Spit to walk around the many shops and tourist haunts scattered like an Atlantic City Boardwalk along the ocean. Diana bought a couple of souvenirs for her kids and I found a fleece jacket with a Homer logo that will always remind me of the good times here. We stopped at a fishing trip place where they were weighing the Halibut caught by the guys on a recent trip. One of the fish weighed 148 pounds and was over 6′ long. Diana has the picture and I will post it when I can get it, so no one thinks it is just a “fish story”.

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There are glaciers across the bay.

There are glaciers across the bay.

Later on we took a walk along the beach as the tide went out. The water was surprisingly warm. We thought it would be quite chilly this far north. Diana’s dog Carter loves to retrieve a stick thrown into the water and we watched him play fetch whenever we found something to throw.

On the way back we ran into another couple we had met earlier and joined them at their camp for good conversation until after 11 pm. The sun finally set and the air grew chilly, so we all retired to our RVs for the night. It was a good day with nice people on Homer Spit.

 

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