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Showing posts from July, 2015

Notes from Alaska - July 19 - 25

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This post covers our travels for the week of July 19 through the 25th.
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Sunday, July 19 (day 43) Ninilchik to Anchorage
Ninilchik View SRA CG

After getting things stowed and ready for travel, we took the 105 stairs down to the beach for an encore a.m. walk. This morning was brighter and clearer than yesterday, which wasn’t bad, but this morning was crystal clear with no clouds. The IRS volcano/mountains across the inlet were out in all their stark splendor. And the family of bald eagles we first spotted yesterday was out enjoying the morning as well. After more observation we now think there’s more than one set of adults in this immediate area, and one of the sets has a couple of youngin’s that are still in a nest. It’s well hidden, and we didn’t actually see the chicks, but you could here them and follow the adults into it as they brought in food.

Rolled onto the very busy Sterling Highway about 10:30am… aiming for Anchorage. It’s a great day for travel, but the heavy traffic ke…

The Mat-Su

We're currently in what they call the Mat-Su Valley of Alaska. It's a reference to the broad flat plain to the north of Anchorage formed by two rivers... the Matanuska, which we camped next to the other night, and the Susitna, which we're going to be near for while.

Over the last week we've had some good weather and some great experiences... which you'll be able to read about this weekend when I put the post up.

Since we don't have much internet connection up here, I've been continuing to write most days, but doing so offline. My intention now is to publish the weeks collective goings-on in one post that I'll publish on the weekend, or as soon after as possible... assuming I have internet available.

I also found out that the links to our photo albums that I included in a post recently don't work for everybody. For those links to work you must have a Google Account, and that ain't gonna work for some. The best way to get to our photo albums is to…

Homer Day

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Saturday, July 18 (Day 42)
The clouds dissipated some last night so this morning Redoubt Volcano, just across Cook Inlet from our camp in Ninilchik, was out in all of it’s sun-lit glory. Many taller mountains exist, but when a mountain soars to over 10,000 feet and it’s only 15 miles from the ocean… sea level, that’s a sight. All those Colorado 14-ers are tall, but they’re standing on a floor that’s already a mile high… so they poke up above the surrounding land merely 9,000 feet or so.

Still breezy here this morning. The low was around 52°. Most mornings in the far north, when we think to check the temperature, seem to usually be in the low 50s. Don’t know why. Just an observation.

First thing up, we took the path from the campground to the beach, and had us good old fashioned morning beach walk. Probably the longest walk we’ve taken since starting this journey. Tides here are big, the difference between high and low tide can be 20 feet or more. Our walk this morning was at near lo…

Seward Washout; Next the Kenai

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Friday July 17 (day 41)
Seward AK

Besides the sound of wind hitting and shaking the sides of the camper, and rain hitting the roof, I heard someone outside (walking a dog, I presume) tell another person (walking a dog, I presume) (why else would anyone be out in this weather?) “supposed to rain for another two days!”.

That did it. We’re not going to sit here for two more days of rain. That’s one reason we have wheels under our home away from home. We can move if we choose to. And that’s what we decided. Between rain squalls and wind blasts, we got the camper together and closed up, and we took off looking for sun.

A peek outside revealed a monster cruise ship, Radiance of the Seas, had pulled in overnight. It’s such a large ship it makes the small town of Seward appear even smaller. Some folks say that cruise ships have ruined these towns. Others like the economic activity… people spending their money right here in little Seward. I’m not sure who’s right… can see both sides of the is…

Wet Seward

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Thursday July 16 (day 40)

Rain. Rained all night. Rained all morning. Rained all afternoon. I believe this is the first period of extended and steady rainfall since we began this trip. We… I… could deal with it better if I had an internet connection.

Since arriving in Alaska I’ve been disappointed by our ability to hook up to the internet with our Verizon MIFI device. Only in Valdez did we have good service. I don’t, and didn’t, expect we’d have universal service up here. Just consider the huge amount of space, the mountains. Just too much geography for anyone to cover. But if a town as small as Valdez has service wouldn’t you expect the bustling town of Seward would too? After a half-hour call with Verizon yesterday, we’re still sitting here with nothing. I’m suspecting my plan is partly to blame by not allowing roaming to other data networks. But it did work in Valdez… a good strong 4G signal. I don’t know and being pandered by the tech rep who didn’t seem to know any more about t…

From Whittier to Seward

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Wednesday, July 15 (day 39)

Woke to a bright clear sky. Poking my nose outside the view of the surrounding mountains was nothing less than spectacular. There’s a glacier in a mountain saddle above our camp and the steady sound of falling water from that glacier was our background “white noise” all night long. One doesn’t often fall asleep to the sound of a glacier waterfall.

Got ourselves moving quickly to enjoy the clearness while it lasted. We’ve learned that weather changes quickly in these parts, especially close to the ocean, and often mornings are better than afternoons. We drove back to the visitor center and Portage Lake to see what we missed yesterday afternoon, and then continued on our way out. Just a short drive to the junction with the Seward Hwy. There were a series of road construction segments through here where traffic was down to one lane… you know, the flagger, the pause, the alternating one way traffic. Not a problem. Actually used the pauses to get a better loo…

Aboard the Good Ship Aurora to Whittier

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A day or so ago, as I contemplated the next leg of our trip, an idea struck me. There’s a ferry dock here in Valdez… and I’d heard already that there’s ferry service over to Whittier, the next port to the west and on the northern end of the Kenai Peninsula. Online I found that the ferry Aurora leaves Valdez at 7am and gets into Whittier a little after noon. The next step was to find out if there’s room for a little pickup and camper.

Since the local ferry office doesn’t open until noon, I called the 800 number and found there was one last spot available before we’d have to go on the standby list. It didn’t take long (about 2 seconds) to decide we’d take it. It’s not cheap, $369 for two people and the truck/camper, but there are some offsetting savings to be considered. This five hour trip eliminates somewhere around 350 miles of driving (up to $120 in fuel, and, at our pace, two days of travel) and an overnight ($$??). Then, if you really want to dig deep for a rationalization… just …

Valdez Notes

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Valdez is a small town of about 3500. It’s location is a stunning... soaring setting, surrounded closely and on nearly all sides by the dramatic Chugach Mountains. Due to the heavy winter snowfall, icefields and glaciers abound. It’s sits on the north shore of Valdez Bay (a deep fjord really -- 700 feet deep) an arm of Prince William Sound. The town seemed reasonably energetic and happy.

History:
It originated as a stepping off point on the “All American route” to the Klondike during the goldrush days about 1897… little more than a tent-city and a makeshift dock. But as the northernmost ice-free port in Alaska, it soon found it’s niche serving the growing population, miners heading into the interior, and other interests of the last frontier.

In 1964, in March on Good Friday, a huge earthquake caused tragedy in old Valdez. The largest quake ever recorded in North America, at 9.2 on the Richter Scale. 32 people were killed in Valdez during the quake… all 32 of them on one of the cit…

Wrangell - St. Elias NP to Valdez

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Decamped and left our small roadside camp off Nebesna Road, and headed out of Wrangell - St. Elias National Park after a quick breakfast. We were alone with moose and squirrel, along with a bunch of other wildlife. At this hour of the morning, except for the very rare car or truck, this is a very secluded spot. Certainly no people around.

Stopped at the visitor center in Slana again. They were particularly helpful the day before, so Dar wanted to thank them and fill them in on our experience. In the category of “small world”, it turns out the woman at the desk is a relative of the Ellis Family who runs Devil’s Mountain Lodge at the end of Nabesna Road -- who we met yesterday. It seems most Alaskans are quite willing and happy to bring the passing visitor into their realm. Very friendly bunch.

Underway again, we tootled southward on the Tok Cutoff portion of the Glenn Highway until we got to Glennallen, where we refueled both the truck and ourselves. Then it’s south on the Richardson …