Entire Route So Far
I’m back in Anchorage after three days on the Kenai Peninsula. Weather has been pretty bad; it’s rained all day every day. I have enjoyed the occasional glimpse of fine views however. Good wifi has been hard to find so I’ve not been able to upload the photos and such. I’m trying to decide how to spend the rest of my time here. I’ve got a brief break in the clouds and here I am blogging. Anchorage strikes me as a town without a lot to do on a rainy day.
Here’s a brief summary of my activities since my last post. I doubt these will ever receive the Full Treatment because I’m already starting to forget the details.
July 24 – headed south toward the Kenai Peninsula, passing along Turnagain Arm and some nice views of the Sound. Visited the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and saw lots of caribou, bison, bears and wolves up close and personal. Continued south toward Seward and walked out to Exit Glacier. Visited “downtown” Seward, saw the Iditarod Mile Zero marker, and got some tasty halibut at the “Gold Rush” restaurant. Stayed in the municipal campground and gloried in the $2-for-ten-minutes hot shower, my first proper bath in 5 days.
July 25 – awoke to a totally blanketing fog and the sound of foghorns. Regretted that foghorns are being removed across the world. No views whatever so headed back up the peninsula and across towards Homer. Stopped in Soldotna for a quick bite, then continued on to the Russian village of Ninilchik. Climbed up a thickly (but attractively) overgrown hill to the Russian Orthodox Church, feeling like I really was in Russia and becoming soaked in the process. At the top, discovered there was a road that would easily have taken me there while staying dry. Felt like an idiot but consoled myself that I got the “real Russian experience.” Enjoyed touring the overgrown graveyard and churchyard, then got soaked again on the way back down. Drove out to the Homer Spit and enjoyed some good views, visited the Seafarer’s Memorial, and walked around a bit. Went back to town and toured the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center (a nice little Fish and Wildlife Service museum) and walked down to the beach from there. Took in very atmospheric views. Finally, drove almost 200 miles back to the National Forest outside Portage.
July 26 – Drove to Whittier through the three mile long tunnel, which was originally built as a railway tunnel in the early 1940s. Now it shares the rail track with a one lane road, all on the same bed; one drives along on top of the tracks. The road is open down to Whittier for 15 minutes at the bottom of every hour, and it is open out of town for 15 minutes at the top of every hour. In between, the trains run frequently. I got to town early and wandered around for a couple of hours, although to be frank I felt like I’d pretty well seen Whittier after about 15 minutes. Everyone in town lives in a single building. Around noon, I left town on the “26 Glacier Cruise” which was supposed to be about seeing glaciers, but actually turned into a wildlife viewing vehicle. About 10 minutes out we encountered a pod of five or six orcas, which seemed to excite everyone including the crew. The forest ranger onboard told us they only encounter orcas about 10 days per season, so I guess it was pretty special. They swam along side us for maybe 15 minutes. We also encountered Steller’s sea lions, harbor seals, several bald eagles, many sea otters, Dall’s porpoises, and thousands of kittiwakes. We also visited four “tidewater” glaciers up close and personal, where they are calving directly into the sea. I spent most of my time out on deck and got very, very cold in the wind and rain. I went through five or six cups of coffee trying to warm up. Getting back to town, I visited the Prince William Sound Museum. It was a nice little museum in a musty, Second World War military building that I thought smelled just like Oak Ridge growing up. I also visited the large, derelict building on a hill and discovered it was the building everyone used to live in until it was severely damaged in the 1964 earthquake. Finally, I got some tasty fried pacific cod at the Swiftwater Cafe, then made my way back out of town.
July 27 so far – at Mother’s suggestion, I went to the Moose’s Tooth for pizza. When I arrived at 11 AM, I had the place to myself, but by the time I left at noon, there were cars circling the parking lot and parking on the sides of the road. I had the macaroni and cheese pizza, featuring reindeer sausage.
Now I’m off to see what I can do with a slightly rainy, overcast afternoon in Anchorage.
Entire Route So Far