A Travellerspoint blog

September 2017

Seward and beyond

Winding down the first part of our trip

all seasons in one day

11 September 2017

Shall we never forget!

It was time to head out from Homer and make our way to Seward which is actually not far as the crow flies but as the saying goes...can't get there from here. The ride was wonderful. Blue skies and the sun followed us for the three hour trip. Do you know how the views on some drives are totally different in the reverse?? Well, this was one of those drives. It was a bit clearer and we had magnificent inlet views to our right almost all the way into Soldotna. My comment to Jim, "where were those mountains on our way out?"

Chigmit Mountains

Chigmit Mountains

North from Homer - Cook Inlet

North from Homer - Cook Inlet

View from our lunch stop between Homer and Seward

View from our lunch stop between Homer and Seward

Our destination for overnight in Seward was the city owned Seward Waterfront Park. Easy to find and though a large parking lot with a park area, the sites couldn't have had better views- we pulled in and came face to face with Seward Bay. Also, it was a good price - $20 with electric and water. When Jim went to pay for the spot, he was told by one of the park employees to keep an eye out - a bear had been in the park the night before. Lock up your food is not just a suggestion!!

Seward Waterfront RV Park

Seward Waterfront RV Park

Seward was the original site for the first Iditarod Race and there are plaques on the waterfront walk that lead into town (about a 10 minute walk). We wanted to see the Alaska Sealife Center but found that it closed at 5pm. As it was 415pm and rather than race through, we decided to tour it before leaving in the morning.

Downtown Seward

Downtown Seward

Seward - Home of the 1st Iditarod

Seward - Home of the 1st Iditarod


But as they say , when one door closes...another opens and our next door to open was right into the Seward Brew Pub. As we walked towards the pub we checked out the menus on the different restaurants. Where to go for dinner tonight??

We did find out a bit about Seward at the pub. The last cruise ship will be arriving in a few days and the pub will close after that. Many of the people sitting at the bar were locals talking about where they were heading out to - like other parts of the world. We thought today was a quiet day - can't imagine what it will be like for the next eight months.

Dinner tonight was at Seasalt. Reviews were mixed but we actually thought the food was good. Jim and I both had (from a good friend's recommendation) Haddock and chips and Jim indulged in his mollusk lust - more oysters. Again from Kachemak Bay, the sauces were different and I think may have been his favorite so far.

Oysters a la Seasalt Restaurant

Oysters a la Seasalt Restaurant

12 September 2017

Grey skies greeted us the next morning but no rain - yet!! We vacated our site and made the short drive to the Alaska Sealife Center. A very nicely appointed aquarium and marine mammal rehab facility. My favorite part was watching an orphaned baby walrus. It was found at two weeks and currently at three months was rolling around and playing with toys in it's pool. Only it was now a 300 pound baby!!!

More info the Center: http://www.alaskasealife.org/

Frisky Sea Lion

Frisky Sea Lion

Billed Puffin

Billed Puffin

Big fish......

Big fish......

Jellyfish fascinate me!!!

Jellyfish fascinate me!!!

Seward Shoreline

Seward Shoreline

As we started to drive north from Seward we made a last minute decision to drive into Kenai Fjords National Park and see Exit Glacier. It was a nice little diversion. A short hike (about two miles round trip) got our blood moving - not a bad thing with all the driving we've been doing.
This glacier has (as have most in the area) retreated greatly. As we were walking in there were postings starting out the road to the park marking where the glacier was and at what year. I believe the first was a few miles before we got to the Visitor's Center with a date of 1895.

Visitor's Center Exit Glacier

Visitor's Center Exit Glacier


Top to bottom - Exit Glacier

Top to bottom - Exit Glacier


Exit Glacier

Exit Glacier

Enjoying the view - Exit Glacier

Enjoying the view - Exit Glacier

Not quite as old as the glacier :-)

Not quite as old as the glacier :-)


Not really sure when we're going to lay our heads tonight. Two options: Alyeska or make or way into Anchorage. Ultimately, Anchorage won out and we parked at the Golden Nugget RV Park. Nice park and conveniently located.

13 September 2017

Coffee and yummy berry scones from the bakery near Girdwood sufficed as breakfast. Our last day on our RV tour would be "wrap up" time.

I had heard that the Anchorage Museum was especially nice so that was our "tourist" destination. With bags partially packed,we headed towards downtown. Note: Anchorage is not especially RV parking friendly. We finally found a spot not too far from the museum. With our frig cleaned out, before culture...food!! We both noticed Pho Lena (Thai, Lao, Vietnamese) right on 5th Ave while searching for a parking spot and always up for Asian food we made our way there. So glad we did, it was awesome...not even just good...really good. With no hungry husband to worry about it was off to the museum. I would highly recommend it for any traveling to Anchorage. Nicely appointed with wonderful exhibits, it was a great way to pass the afternoon.

We'll be spending our last night in Anchorage, in the RV, in the parking lot at AM RV Center. I know that may sound a little strange but the other option was to pack up all of our belongings, drop the RV off, get a cab to a hotel , get a cab to dinner and then back and then pack up again early this morning and make our way to the airport. Katie from AM offered the parking lot and it seemed like a logical decision.

Before dinner, we did make a quick stop. It was to drop off a post card. When we were in the Galapagos this past summer, one of the stops was an island with a makeshift post box. Travelers leave postcards with their info on the card, in the hope that a fellow traveller will deliver it back to them. This was a tradition started by seaman many, many years ago. They would write letters home with the hope that someone would deliver these messages to their families. Our card was picked up by a guy from Dallas and he was in touch shortly after we got home. Jim saw a card that was from a man in Anchorage and picked it up with the hope that we would surprise the writer. He projected that it would take 6 months to a year to get back to him. In actuality, it was a little over a month. No one was home at the location of our addressee but we left our "travel card". He was indeed surprised and hoped that we could get together but unfortunately we had already left for Sitka...shout out to Greg Durocher - thanks for following in the tradition.

Our last decision for Anchorage - where to have dinner. Friends who used to live in Alaska recommended two places for dinner - Moose's Tooth (Pizza) and Glacier Brewing. We decided on Moose's - but it was not to be. We found it easily enough but there was absolutely no place to park a 27' RV and the line was long and out the door. On to our next choice - Glacier Brewing. It's downtown and closer to the RV center. It was a little (but not much) easier to find a parking spot. Glacier turned out to be a great choice. We arrived without reservations - thinking that a Wednesday evening off season would be quiet. Well, I guess it would have been if there hadn't been two conventions in town. It was a mad house. The wait for a table was 90 minutes or we could go the bar. We ended up a communal table near the bar. Crowded but actually pretty comfortable. We also lucked out Giovanni as our waiter. My halibut came out overcooked but they quickly took care of it. We were offered a dessert but being absolutely full and leaving the next morning we declined. He said we could have a rain check and thanked us for being so patient. A nice way to end the first part of our trip and on to the next...Sitka and our "Uncruise"!!!

Posted by pjburke 17:28 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Homer

City by the sea at the end of the road

sunny 52 °F

First of all...we want to shout out to all friends, family, friends and family of friends and family who have loved ones in Florida. You can't be from NY and not have some connection to Florida. Sending good thoughts and prayers that you all escape Irma's grasp with little or no damage...by the time I'm able to post this, I've heard that some may still be awaiting power but all are safe.

08 September 2017

From Palmer, the road took us through Anchorage and being the curious person I am, I wanted to stop at Costco to see what type of local "Alaska only" types of food they sell. Having visited Costcos in New Brunswick, Canada and Hawaii, we found they always have "something" local. NB was Poutine and yummy Maui Onion Dip in "yes" Maui. Here in Alaska...we know they will have salmon. And "yes" there is salmon but I can get salmon at home. We bought reindeer meat sticks...no, it's not like eating Rudolph and yes, it's very good!!!

Our drive from Anchorage south along the Seward Highway was equal in views to the RIchardson Highway but instead of mountains and glaciers....you have sea, mountains and glaciers...a triple treat.

View from the Seward Highway outside Anchorage - Cook Inlet

View from the Seward Highway outside Anchorage - Cook Inlet

We took our time and ended up in Homer at the Driftwood Inn RV Park. We were questioning whether we needed reservations but this time we were glad that we made them ahead of time - all booked for the weekend.

The Driftwood is in the "Old Town" section of Homer - which is really not much more than about a dozen older buildings but the RV park area is on a bluff overlooking the sea...Literally, the sea is right out our front door. The RV area is not big - only about 20 sites but #3-11 front the water. Just beautiful!!!

Our first views of Homer

Our first views of Homer

Low tide view from the RV site - Driftwood Lodge

Low tide view from the RV site - Driftwood Lodge

It wasn't until about 9pm when the sun started to set. With just a "little" effort we were able to start our campfire. Chatted with our German and Florida neighbors before the evening shower pushed us in for the evening.

09 September 2017

When traveling for 3-4 weeks, it can't be go, go, go all the time. Today, the sun is out and we're going to have a bit of a quiet day. I was inspired by our view and was able to update the blog. We also drove out to the Homer Spit and wandered around. There are a number of little shops - tours, fishing, kayaking, souvenirs and food. It was busier than I thought it would be. But one young lady told us that they had not had more than three consecutive sunny days since June, so todays partial sun was welcome.

No words needed!!!!

No words needed!!!!

[right]

After the walk, Jim wanted to try out the local brewery. Homer Brewing Company is located on a little side street near the airport. Only three beers on tap - our favorite was the Porter. Jim was hoping for oysters but they weren't due in until 330pm (we arrived at 2pm). I'm sure he'll get oysters sometime soon.

Hanging out near the beach

Hanging out near the beach

Eagles Perch

Eagles Perch


Rainbow over Homer Old Town

Rainbow over Homer Old Town

Note: The two eagles above seemed to be the bluff resident eagles. One perches daily on the roof peak just one house down from the RV park and the 2nd was just sitting on a pipe along the beach. One of the locals told us they were always around.

We'd been using the kitchen in the RV for most of our meals but tonight we tried a local spot - Fat Olives. I'd read really good reviews and they were spot on. Jim got his first taste of Alaska oysters from across the bay in Kachemak. Harvested that morning - he was a happy guy. My scallops were perfect and this little place was buzzing - all tables full with mostly locals and the occasional tourist.

10 September 2017

Sunday in Homer is even quieter than usual in this laid back little town. Our concerns this morning are family in Florida. So...we did something we normally never do when we travel - watch TV - or rather the live streaming news feeds. Wifi at this site is pretty strong so not too much buffering.

Mid morning, we decided it was time to get out. Homer, known as the "Halibut Capital of the World", is located at the very southern end of the Kenai Peninsula so the road options are limited. When we checked in, Maria at the desk told us that there is a road that goes out of town to the east about 20 miles and that the views were very nice. At the 20 mile mark, it turns into a dirt road (not where we want to be with a 27' RV) but we found the views along the winding, swervy road were indeed stunning. It's not a "scenic highway", just a local road so there weren't many stopping points but we saw more glaciers than we've ever seen....ever!!! One after the other...

Glacial Beauty

Glacial Beauty


On the way back to town, we stopped at the local winery - Bear Creek Winery. Cute little place which serves mostly homemade, locally grown fruit wines with a few standards made with imported grapes. Samantha walked us through the tasting. A new Homer transplant from Dallas, she was fun. She shared with us the info on the local wines but also let us know that there would be a "burning" at Mariner's Park "sometime" later this afternoon. I said "Kinda like Burning Man?" She said "yes, but without the drugs or naked people". We both got a chuckle out of that.

This "burning thing" peaked our interest so we made our way to the beach. Mariner's Park is at the north end of the spit. Basically a big parking lot, but right on the beach with beautiful views. RV camping is available and it did appear by the laundry drying on the picnic table that there were more "permanent" tents residents.

Samantha told us that there is a woman in town who creates elaborate woven "baskets'. We found her work on the beach when we arrived but we found so much more. She creates messages. Today's message was "Shine". There was a table and paper/makers where people could share messages and thoughts of those that have passed. I read that and the tears started immediately. It's just been just over a year since we lost my sister Judy...she would have loved this place and it's message. I found more information on line - see the link below.

http://homernews.com/arts/2017-09-07/burning-basket-sunday

Homer Community Burning Basket

Homer Community Burning Basket

Special Message to my sister Judy

Special Message to my sister Judy

Inspiration

Inspiration


When we told another RV'er who we meet in Palmer that we were going to Homer - he said "why" - we said "why not!!" Glad we voted for "why not". Homer is a nice little town - very comfortable and friendly. But tomorrow, on to our next destination - Seward. We've heard that the city run Waterfront Campground is the place to be...will keep you posted.

Posted by pjburke 09:51 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Fairbanks

The farthest north we've ever been in North America

all seasons in one day 49 °F

Note: I've added some pics to the previous post...take a look.


04 September 2017

It's Labor Day and we're heading north to Fairbanks - traffic is pretty light. After leaving Denali, the mountain does seem to follow you. The area around it is fairly flat and with each look in the rearview mirror she seems to be keeping a watchful eye on us.

When we planned this trip, we had to make a decision.

1) Take the Denali Highway to Paxson (which heads east from just north of Denali but is mostly a gravel road)
2) Head north to Fairbanks
3) Back track and head south

All options would lead us to the Kenai Peninsula where will spend our 2nd week. The first option was out - we found out we aren't allow to take the RV on that road. Initially, we were going to backtrack but the week before we left on this trip, we changed our minds "again" and we decided to check out Fairbanks.

A short two hour drive brought us to the River's Edge Campground along the Chena River just outside Fairbanks proper - lovely little place and well situated. Along with a list from our friends, the Slocums, (former Fairbanks residents) and the young man at the desk we had a nice list of "things to do" to choose from.

The view of the Chena River from our campsite

The view of the Chena River from our campsite


05 September 2017

It must be the air because we've been sleeping in a bit. Up a little late, breakfast and off for the day. First stop... the UofA (University of Alaska) Museum - I highly recommend it. It's not huge but it's packed with exhibits on local wildlife, people and the land - both past and present. As with any museum, I could have spent alot more time there.

Museum of the North at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

Museum of the North at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

Mastadon Bones

Mastadon Bones

Tribal totem pole

Tribal totem pole

Hope we don't meet him in the woods...the bear not Jim!

Hope we don't meet him in the woods...the bear not Jim!


Next, we're off to take a cruise on the Riverboat Discovery. This trip was recommended by friends. There is a shuttle from our campground picks us up promptly at 1pm. It's a 3 1/2 hour narrated cruise up the Chena River. At $64 per person, it's a little pricy but very enjoyable. The MC was a very knowledgable gentleman (and actually pretty funny) who educated us regarding life on the river and for those living in the area - dating back to the mid to late 1800's. The riverboat, as a tour vessel, originated in 1950 but the captain's family (Capt Jim Brinkley) came to the area in the late 1800's when the Chena River, along with the Tanana and Yukon Rivers, were used for transportation. For a little bit about our tour click here...http://riverboatdiscovery.com/

Riverboat Discovery III

Riverboat Discovery III

1954 Piper Cub

1954 Piper Cub

Athabascan Village

Athabascan Village

Demonstration of traditional clothing of the Athabascan people

Demonstration of traditional clothing of the Athabascan people

Had a bit of a IASW (It's a small world) moment. We were walking off the boat and the woman in front of me had a camera harness that said Tucson Audubon Society. I asked if they were really from Tucson...yes, her husband was, though now living in California, they knew Tucson well. We ended up chatting with them most of the trip.

With a long day behind us, we opted for Thai Take Out for dinner. Fairbanks (and Alaska in general) has a large Asian population. Great for us. We highly recommend the Lemongrass Thai restaurant and we had leftovers, enough for lunch the next day...even better. As the rain came down on our tin house, we were warm and cozy inside enjoying our dinner...yes, RVing is definitely growing on me.

06 September 2017

Now we're heading south but we want to check out the Tanana Valley Farmer's Market. It doesn't open until 11am and we have a little extra time so we decide to venture out to the Alaskan Pipeline Viewing spot. My Mom's late husband, Bob Huttinger worked on the pipeline project and having heard so much about Alaska (which he absolutely loved) we headed north about eight miles. Well, it's a big pipe!!! We really didn't need to make the extra trip..our drive south pretty much followed the pipeline and there were multiple viewing spots.

We really do love local Farmer's Markets. Unfortunately for us, timing was not great. We had done grocery shopping days a few days prior. As we walked in, all I noticed were incredibly beautiful, fresh veggies... Even with Jim loving his veggies, there is only so much he can eat. We saw radishes the size of beets - amazing!!

One of the things we did pick up was Birch Syrup. There are no maple trees in this area but there are so many birch...hence birch syrup. Same process but with a little different taste - a bit more earthy.

Onward!!!!

Fairbanks to Glennallen on the Glenn Highway was a pretty, though extremely windy drive. It was a long driving day for us and as we were entering the Glennallan area, we noticed a BLM Campsite. With no prior reservations, we made the short drive in and and found a beautiful site. BLM (Bureau of Land Management) sites are basic (no electric or water but there are bathrooms) and for only $15 and with us being self contained, we took advantage of this peaceful little oasis.

Alaska starting to get real....

Alaska starting to get real....

Fairbanks to Glennallen

Fairbanks to Glennallen

Glacier view from the Glenn Highway

Glacier view from the Glenn Highway

Slide area

Slide area

One OMG after another

One OMG after another

Beautiful

Beautiful

07 September 2017

Westward to Palmer along the Richardson Highway.

I hope I don't hurt anyones feelings but up until yesterday...Jim and I were both thinking...Well, Alaska is nice but other than Denali there were no real "wow" moments...Those thoughts have changed. The Glenn Highway was a tiny taste of what was to come on the Richardson Highway...OMG!!! Yup, one OMG sight after another...good thing I'm driving. Photo stops at my leisure!!

I said above that there hadn't been (until today) any super big WOW moments. I have to admit there is one thing that has really impressed me about Alaska....it's people. I know, people are people everywhere. And yes, I know we are all Americans, but the Alaskan people have a spirit about them. They are ready with a helping hand and a smile. Beyond the views, I will always remember these gracious people.

Along our drive today, we took our time and the views didn't fail to impress. I'll let the pics speak for themselves.

Glacial Beauty

Glacial Beauty

Richardson Highway

Richardson Highway

Beautiful view along the Richarson Highway

Beautiful view along the Richarson Highway

Matanuska Glacier

Matanuska Glacier

View from the roadway - Richardson Highway

View from the roadway - Richardson Highway

Another beautiful mountain along the Richardson Highway

Another beautiful mountain along the Richardson Highway

Distant Beauty

Distant Beauty

Jim checking out the glacier

Jim checking out the glacier

Ice!!!

Ice!!!

I just love glaciers!!!

I just love glaciers!!!

Our campground in Palmer (actually about five miles outside Palmer) was well run and very clean. Sorry, but I do judge a campground on it's bathrooms and Big Bear Campground is #1 on my list right now.

Tomorrow we'll be off to the Kenai...head from the mountains to the sea..........

Posted by pjburke 17:00 Archived in USA Tagged alaska Comments (1)

Denali

"The Mountain"

all seasons in one day 43 °F

01 Sept 2017 .....continued.

We started out from Talkeetna with just a sliver of sun showing. I was so optimistic - I grabbed my sunglasses. Well, that probably cursed us - it started to rain shortly after we got on the road and didn't stop until we reached Denali. There were times when I was sure that the rain was deciding between snow and sleet but just stayed rain....windy, cold and rainy...until we reached Denali.

Alaska Veterans Memorial

Alaska Veterans Memorial


Of course, we're told the best views are from a distance. With each passing mile, the mountain would tease us with just the slightest shadow and then would cover itself with a grey blanket of clouds.

Arriving at the National Park, we checked in and picked out a campsite. No water or electric, so we're a bit off the grid...which, thankfully, our RV is equipped for. Riley Campground is right as you enter the park and with Jim's Senior National Parks Pass it's quite a deal...$12 per night. We found a nice site that was relatively flat and after a couple parking attempts, settled in.

Denali.....check!!!

Denali.....check!!!

Riley Campground

Riley Campground

Denali, like many other national parks, to avoid traffic congestion and the environmental impact, uses buses for transportation into the park. There is a fee if you want to travel farther than the Savage Creek site - that shuttle is free but travels less frequently. All the shuttles are hop on - hop off (subject to a seat availability - no standing on these buses).

We opted for the shuttle to Eielson Vistor's Center - which is 65 miles into the the park and takes about eight hours round trip without hopping off. The shuttle does do a few short "rest" stops and will stop if there is wildlife sightings. Each ticket costs $35 per adult and reservations are required. We made our reservations for tomorrow this afternoon and will be on the 830am shuttle. Sunday (the day after tomorrow), I think we'll try the Savage RIver Trails....at least that is the plan right now...

After setting up the RV, it was time to see what the Visitor's Center had to offer. We always make use of the information offered by the rangers at the National Park offices. They provide wonderfully useful info. From our camp site, it was an easy 1.5 mile walk to get to the Visitors Center via the McKinley Station Trail. We chatted with the ranger and caught the ongoing video about the park.

We made our way back to our site and settled in to make dinner. We're still feeling our way around. The weather forcast indicates the possibility of rain and/or snow tonight. Not missing our tents today.

Relaxing in the RV, played some cards, pierogies for dinner and we're both about ready for bed...

02 September 2017

We actually slept quite well. The bed is queen sized and nice and firm.

Up, breakfast and we're on our way to the the Wilderness Access Center (WAC or AKA the bus station).

This information might be a bit redundant but I found it all a bit confusing before we got here and saw how the system works.

Our trip today will be out to the Eielson Visitors Center - 65 miles each way. If we took one of the "tours", there is a guide on board, multiple stops and a box lunch is included..for $80 and no option to hop on/hop off. The "tour" is a bit more extensive but drives the same road as the shuttles. With the shuttles ($35) you can decide how far out on the park road you want to go. Our shuttle ride will be an eight hours round trip. Also, shuttles are the green buses and tour buses tan. All buses start running at 0630 and run every half hour throughout the day.

We did luck out by getting Elton Parks as our driver/guide. He was funny and incredibly knowledgable. We learned about the animals, park history, local area information - probably one of the best driver/guides we've ever had. Elton shared that a good portion of the drivers have more than 25 years experience. And, also that most the guides at Denali are there because they love being there. We could just tell that his man loved his job!!

Our bus departed at 0830 (shuttle by reservation only and this was the first time we could get). One other thing that is very important to remember. Other than the convenience store at the camp entrance and a snack/coffee shop at the WAC, there is NO (and I mean NO) food sold in the park. You are able to replenish water at the Eielson Center. Even though this was impressed upon us many times, there was still a group of nine young people who boarded the bus with no food or water. They decided to get off the bus, get some food and I did see them at a stop later, so they were able to catch another bus. It was ok to eat on the bus and Elton told us he'd seen everything: pizza, mostly sandwiches, salads, some food choices that were more inventive than others and there was even a gentleman from Germany who brought a 6 pack of beer. He was not able to drink on the bus but at each stop he would step off and enjoy his tasty beverage.

It was a wonderful day. The skies cleared with just a few clouds. Again, we lucked out. "The Mountain" is usually clouded over at the peak and only about 20% of visitors get a chance to see it. We didn't get a clear view but did get that "almost" view. Clear but cold "The Mountain" rose up against the blue sky with a slight cloud halo circling the summit. Quite glorious!!

Our 1st view of Denali

Our 1st view of Denali

The Mountain follows you throughout the park

The Mountain follows you throughout the park

The Mountain

The Mountain

Old Glory

Old Glory

It was also a "bearly" good day. No caribou but we saw about ten bears including a sow and two pups and also two good sized bears bathing in one of the roadside ponds. We were not able to stop for a photo shoot on the swimming bears. They had gotten a little close to the some of the camp sites and the rangers were using some aversion training (bean bags).

Bear Sow and Cub

Bear Sow and Cub

Our trip was highlighted with the sighting of two rutting moose. As with many of the bear sightings, it was quite far off so my pictures were not good but the experience was great.

Rutting Moose

Rutting Moose


Regarding photos: about a year ago I invested in a new Nikon D3300 with hopes of learning more about photography and becoming a better "photographer". After some faltering and then help from John at Tucson Camera - I'm feeling a little more comfortable. I brought both cameras with me on this trip but only the "new" camera on today's trip. My "old" camera is a Lumix DMC FZ200. Tomorrow we'll be heading back into the park to the Savage Lake area. I'm going to take the "old" camera to compare.

Dinner was back at the RV. I'm really getting spoiled - I really don't think I can go back to tent camping after this treat...Jim....hint....hint!!!

03 September 2017

Another good night sleep until the CO2 alarm starting going off. This "RV'ing" is a definitely a learning curve for us. I called Katie from AM (yes, I know it's Sunday but after perusing the internet - when your CO2 alarm goes off - it's kind of a big thing.) Of course, she knew exactly what we'd been doing wrong. Quick fix (our batteries were low) and I could still get a hot shower before heading out for our hike.

The WAC was about a 15 minute walk from our campsite and we grabbed the 1030 shuttle. From our first "hello", I knew this driver was no "Elton".
Skies today are overcast and the air colder. The short ride (45 minutes) to Savage Lake passed quickly with no sightings. The walk is a two mile loop trail. It was good to get out and walk if only for the views - not spectacular but a subtle beauty. The return was into the cold, gusty wind but enjoyable nonetheless.

Savage River Trail

Savage River Trail

Messy little eater

Messy little eater

Lichen as art!!!

Lichen as art!!!

Jim bundled for the hike

Jim bundled for the hike

We walked to the ranger hut to wait for the return bus and chatted with the two rangers on duty. One was a young man who would be heading to Kansas for his next assignment and the second a local woman, who, after chatting with for a bit, we found out she graduated from SUNY Brockport. Yes, the world does get smaller and smaller.

We got back to our site just in time to drop off our backpack and head to the Visitor's Center to catch the bus to the Sled Dog Demonstration.
The sled dogs are housed at the historic park kennels and demos are given three times a day and are free to the public. The rangers assigned to this post show how they work and train with the dogs. These dogs are very important to the park as they are the only mode of transportation into the park once the snow arrives - no motorized "anything ". The public is able to interact with some of the dogs, then a brief demo, kennel history and Q/A from the crowd.

I'll give you about 2 days to stop doing that!!

I'll give you about 2 days to stop doing that!!

Her name is Party...for obvious reasons!!

Her name is Party...for obvious reasons!!

Upon our return we stayed and toured the small museum exhibits at the Visitor's Center before taking the trail back to our site.

We'll be off tomorrow for Fairbanks with wonderful memories of the views of this spectacular part of our country.

Posted by pjburke 09:47 Archived in USA Tagged alaska denali bears Comments (4)

Alaska ......here we come!!!

rain 46 °F

30 August 2017

Though it's always been there, Alaska has traveled in priority position...up and down our "to do" list. Last summer, we decided it was time to visit our 49th state. At one point, we thought we'd drive up and camp. After being here for just two days....what were we thinking??? Glad we changed those plans.

Our trip up was seamless. Tucson non stop to Seattle, a short layover and we headed north to Anchorage. As we dropped through the clouds, it seemed as if we would land on the mountain top. The sun was trying, oh so hard, to peek out but was shadowed by clouds and the dark images of massive mountains. Even though it was 730pm, it felt like the afternoon of a rainy day. Darkness wouldn't fully arrive until after 10pm...yup - we're in Alaska.

I've always wanted to try RV travel. Jim...not so much but with the encouragement of friends, this gave us the perfect opportunity to give it a shot.

We'll be picking up our RV (aka home on wheels) tomorrow am but tonight it's the Lakeshore Inn and Suites. My first discovery while researching this trip is that hotels in all the major cities are pretty expensive. This hotel was nice and clean and close to the airport.

After arriving and getting settled, it was time to feed my hungry husband. We walked the neighborhood and opted for pizza. Today's Pizza (the name of the pizza place) was a perfect example of "don't judge a book by it's cover". There were two other customers who appeared to be locals and known to the owner - A Chinese gentleman and his family. The pizza was tasty and the beer cold - all in all a good choice.

31 August 2017

My first night sleep away from my own bed is usually restless and this night would be no different. The airport was close by so there was the sound of planes, a group arrived late and although it sound like 100 people, I doubt that there was and as I would come to find out after an "after breakfast" walk - there is a nearby lake (Lake Hood) surrounded by seaplanes, as far as the eye can see, that were taking off and landing regularly.

Sea plane parking lot

Sea plane parking lot

Lake Hood

Lake Hood

Lake Hood

Lake Hood

Our check in for the RV is 12noon, so I wandered the neighborhood near the hotel for a bit. My first conclusion - Alaskans are pretty friendly people, from a quick wave from a morning runner, a conversation and walk recommendation from a woman walking her dog and even a "have a good" day from the seemingly homeless young man looking for a light for his cigarette.

With check out at 11am and Uber readily available we arrived at A and M RV Center a bit early. I've been in contact with Katie at AM for over a year. It was nice to finally meet. As the saying goes...our chariot awaits. After a complete walk through, we were off. Being the primary driver, I gave it turn around the parking lot. At 27'...it seemed so big and at first I was a bit nervous. But, truthfully, it really wasn't difficult at all.

716BAE9AB15AFCC597CFBE153BD20911.jpg

First stop, Fred Meyer's for food. Not being from the PNW, I'm not really familiar with "Freddies" but seems to be a Fry's on steroids. Not ten minutes into our shopping and another "friendly Alaskan". The lady behind the deli counter told us how sorry she was that the weather wasn't better (it was raining out) but that they had had a horrible summer. She laughed and wished us well.

We made our way out of town. Anchorage is a bit like Tucson in the fact that there really are no freeways (that we found). With Garmin in hand we're on our way north but not before a quick stop in Wasilla - no we didn't have tea with Sarah. Doing research we found an Eastern European Deli (one in Anchorage and the other in Wasilla) that got great reviews. The shop in Wasilla was right along our route with a good parking lot for our baby whale. After sampling a couple of different kielbasa, we came away with that, some highly rated potato salad and best of all - homemade potato and farmer cheese pierogies ...That will be dinner one night in Denali :-).

A rainy but easy drive brought us to our first stop - Talkeetna. A small, off the main road, town that is supposed to have some of the best views of Denali...our view....clouds. The campground is about a 10 minute walk from town, so after doing our first "set up" we walked in for dinner. With recommendations from our camp host - the Denali Brew Pub (DBP) was our destination.

The number of people wandering this small town is a definite indication that the "tourist" season is winding down. I'm sure earlier in the summer this cute little spot would be buzzing.

DBP was a great choice. Good food and the beer (made just down the road) was really good.

01 September 2017

With rain drops tickling the metal roof and the quiet of the forest surrounding us...we had a great night sleep.

After solving (with Katie's help) a minor issue (operator error)....we're off to Denali National Park. Rain today but sun predicted for tomorrow and Sunday - keep your fingers crossed. I don't believe we'll have internet in the Park but our following stop is Fairbanks and I'm hoping for some great pictures to share.

Posted by pjburke 10:56 Archived in USA Tagged alaska Comments (2)

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