Week 7 of 16 ~ Sunday, July 12 to Saturday, July 18, 2015

Day 40 ~ Sunday, July 12 - Here we are in Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska with lots of cars, people and the biggest buildings we have seen north of the lower 48. The buildings are mostly very simple looking square boxes with not much pazazz. The tallest building in Alaska, the Conoco-Phillips building with 22 stories, is right here in downtown Anchorage. I suspect that they are a little scared to build a real skyscraper due to the threat of another earthquake. What about Los Angeles?

So, why are we here? Oh, I know... there are two Walmarts here and oil change shops. If you read all of the travel literature and check the internet, you will see all these wonderful things to do here in Anchorage. Right. But, it's Alaska, with mountains and salmon and bears and moose. Right. The BS runs wild like the animals if you can find them. If you are a fisherman, come here and fish. There are a lot of fish. Just get a one-day license for twenty bucks, stand next to the water with a pole and hook, and you're bound to catch something. Maybe a cold.

If you are a hunter, don't come here, stay in Michigan. There are lots of deer in Michigan. We've been here in Alaska for a while now and haven't seen a single bear. I think they are all hiding in the mountains. Actually, I know the animals are here somewhere; I've seen pictures and we have talked to other tourists that have seen them. I know that there is a law against feeding wild animals. I wanted to take a bear to lunch, but that's illegal. Rats!

We visited two local parks in Anchorage today. Earthquake Park has a bunch of info signs and displays about the 1964 earthquake that wrecked havoc here. The second park, Kincaid Park, is really big and has a lot of hiking trails of which many of them are paved. We did a little trail walking before the skies turned nasty looking. Both parks are very nice, but nothing we don't have in Michigan. It was very windy here today and, of course, the clouds came rolling in and threatened rain, again. We bailed out and went for ice cream. Old folks do that sort of thing.

vacation pix
This is a strange sculpture in Earthquake Park having something to do with an earthquake.
Hard to say what the artist was smoking. Hey, he got paid for this.
park spuirrelvacation pix
There are a lot of rustic trails in Kincaid Park. No motor vehicles allowed. Duh...
I managed to take a picture of a bear on a fence. All right, it's really a squirrel.

Our chosen RV park, Ship Creek RV Park, sucks with all the really loud small planes flying overhead. We residents of this parking lot are tired of all the noise so we are leaving tomorrow after two nights here. We have it in our schedule to return to Anchorage in a week or so after we visit Seward and Homer.

Day 40 Summary ~ We drove about 34 miles today which puts us at 6093 total miles into our journey.
It is rainy outside tonight, again.

Day 41 ~ Monday, July 13 - After checking out of the really crappy Ship Creek RV Park, we returned to Kincaid Park and went for a long walk around the paved trails. As we were leaving the park, we encountered our first wild moose by the side of the road about 300 feet inside the park entrance. This was a thrill that didn't last long, but we had enough time to take a few pictures.

Son-of-a-gun, a bit outside the park on Raspberry Road is the same ice cream place, Tastee Freez, that we stopped at yesterday. It hasn't moved and it's open waiting for us. It's after three in the afternoon. So, ice cream it is. A major food group for seniors.

vacation pix
Kincaid Park is lousy with trails for bicycles and walkers alike. Yellow line - stay on your side.
The weather was much better than yesterday - warmer and no rain for a change.
vacation pix
So there are moose in Alaska. At least one here in Anchorage - running wild.

Walmart was our next stop for major grocery shopping and a few other things. We then left Anchorage heading south on highway 1 (a.k.a.Seward Highway) stopping at Beluga Point Turnout right on the water's edge to see if we could spot some Beluga whales. Well, we didn't see no stinkin' whales or a train. The pesty clouds kept threatening rain and eventually delivered.

vacation pix
No whales, but a nice railroad track and it's used a lot. (I had a smudge on my camera lens.)

We stopped again just a little further down the highway for some fresh spring water coming out of the side of a mountain. There's a PVC pipe stuck in the rock right next to the road. Interesting idea. The water flows freely 24/7 and is as clear as can be. We filled all of our water containers. Good water!

vacation pix
Gale filled a bottle with the spring water. This is just one of the coolest ideas. This spot is maybe eight feet from the edge of the highway and the parking area is across the highway with traffic zipping by at 60 mph. Just a little dangerous. We had to run like hell.

Our choice for a campground was about eight miles further down highway 1, Bird Creek Campground for five bucks for the night. It is a real parking lot (rest area) right next to the highway and is run by the State. Of course, it has lots of road noise, but the scenery is actually pretty good looking over the railroad track and across the water. We are on the Turnagain Arm southeast
off of Chickaloon Bay with many nearby mountains to dress it up and make it look like Alaska.
Thank you, God!

wall vacation pix
Here we are for the night in what is really a Rest Area called Bird Creek Campground. The rain made the parking area a bit muddy.
The right-hand picture shows the marks on the rock face left by the long drills used in the blasting process that ripped away the side of this mountain to create this parking area just for us. Well, a few other travelers also stopped here for the night.

It rained most of the night, again, but we're in Alaska and we're getting used to it. The rain on
our metal roof masks the road noise. There isn't a lot of traffic and only an occasional train
rumbling down the nearby track. We did all right.

Day 41 Summary ~ We drove about 52 miles today which puts us at 6145 total miles into our journey.
It is 58 degrees outside at 9:00pm Alaska time.

Day 42 ~ Tuesday, July 14 - We left the Bird Creek campsite about nine-thirty and headed south on highway 1 toward Girdwood to do some panning for gold. The weather was ugly with heavy overcast skies and a light rain. It could be worse, it could be snowing. There are almost no tornadoes in Alaska.

vacation pix
This is Alaska! We are getting tired of all the rain, rain, and more rain.
As bad as ithe sky looks, the rain is rather light.

About fifteen miles down Seward Highway is the small town of Girdwood where we hung a left toward the Crow Creek Mine. We drove thru town and a few miles further then had to drive 3 miles on a gravel road to get there. Crow Creek is a small settlement with a few buildings and a bunch of old junk antiques carefully placed to add charm. This historic place was very busy back during the gold-rush days. Now, it's just a tourist trap for those who want to try panning for gold. If you go to Alaska, you must do this. It's in the rule book.

flower vacation pix
Welcome to the Crow Creek Mine! Nice sign - fun place. The gold is all gone, but the flowers are still here - everywhere - very pretty.
wagon vacation pix
The Crow Creek Mine is the remains of a small gold mining town with lots of antiques, flowers, and a gift shop.
panning vacation pix
We walked a short trail to the river where the imaginary gold is located. They have a really beautiful piece of property here. Diane had fun panning for gold.

The whole gold panning thing was a fun and interesting experience and now we can say we did it. No, we didn't find any gold of course. Crow Creek is a pretty neat place with lots of old buildings, old rusty junk tools and an old truck. Looks like a giant outdoor museum of sorts with nice flowers to spruce up the place. They even have a gift shop.

Enough of this gold panning nonsense, it was time to move on. Not far down the road we found the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center just south of Portage on highway 1 where we spent several hours looking at animals that we couldn't see in the wild. They have bears, musk ox, elk, moose and who knows what else all in giant fenced areas like a zoo. The Alaskans do like their animals. And, of course, they also have a gift shop.

magpie vacation pix
What a cool job this guy has - feeding baby moose. Magpies are all over up here.
vacation pix
Puppies! Maybe not. How about elk or whatever.
vacation pix
The bears were the stars of the show. We watched them from a raised walkway where it was safe. I took advantage of my telephoto lens.

Bears Fighting Over Lunch

This video is 1 minute
and 9 seconds long
without sound

These two bears do NOT want to share lunch.
musk ox moose cat eagle

After an easy, fun day, we are spending the night at
the rustic State run Williwaw Campground located a
short drive down Portage Glacier Road toward
Whittier, Alaska. We discussed the possibility of driving all the way down the road and thru
the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel to Whittier, but decided against it. The tunnel is strange.
It is a single lane width that is shared with a train track. It is twelve miles long with traffic
lights on both ends that meter the traffic flow this way and that way. If a train wants to use the
tunnel, all traffic is going to wait a long time to get to the other side. To make it worse, there is a twenty-two dollar toll. Whittier is a nothing place to visit. There is a large marina there with a few small crappy restaurants serving seafood. Not much else.

All that said, it is very quiet here in our chosen campground with its paved roads and pit toilets. We have a great view of nearby Portage Glacier. It is perfect camping with perfect scenery. A great place to spend the night.

vacation pix
That is the Portage Glacier high up in the distance as seen from the campground. Cool.
vacation pix
Our campsite in Williwaw Campground was another rustic winner with paved roads and sites. Very quiet and nice.
Day 42 Summary ~ We drove about 42 miles today which puts us at 6187 total miles into our journey.
It is 51 degrees outside at 10:30pm Alaska time.

Day 43 ~ Wednesday, July 15 - Check out is noon. It's afternoon. Time to leave this really nice rustic National Forest campground. The weather is absolutely gorgeous this morning. Very sunny and quite chilly, but normal for here. We headed south on highway 1 and then turned left onto highway 9 toward Seward, but just had to stop at Moose Creek to see a working water wheel. Well working is a loose term here. It is turning a grinding wheel so, as the sign at the wheel says, "If you have an axe to grind, do it here." (see the picture below). Moose Creek, like everything else in Alaska is a dumpy little place worth about $120 for the whole town.

vacation pix
Well, here's beautiful downtown Moose Pass in all it's glory. We did get our daily dose of ice cream from that there yeller building on the right. Ya gotta love the small towns up here.
vacation pix
As the sign says, "If you have an axe to grind, do it here". The water was a-flowin' and the grinding wheel was a-turnin'. Alaska has a lot of weird stuff. Gotta love it.

We stopped in Seward in mid afternoon and checked out the really terrible city-run campground right on the water. Bad news, so I checked the internet and found Stoney Creek RV Park about 5 miles north of town. It was already marked on our map program and we drove right past it on the way into Seward. Rats! So, back we go. Stoney Creek became our choice for two nights. It's another KOA type parking lot like so many other private campgrounds in Alaska. We figured it'll do because it has Wi-Fi so Diane can do her work. Not so. After we were settled in, the Wi-Fi proved to be just another big Alaskan marketing lie. I couldn't even download text emails. I changed our Wi-Fi connection to our Verizon Hotspot and all is well. Diane is working just fine. Emails are downloaded. It's a good thing we brought our own Wi-Fi. Can't rely on these crappy campgrounds.

vacation pix
It was raining on and off all day today and the water was standing in our campsite here at Stoney Creek RV Park by Seward, Alaska. We had to walk thru the puddle by our door. The doormat was under water. Lots good it did. Wipe your feet before you go in.
Actually, this picture was taken the next day with non-stop rain all night. This parking lot campground is pretty flat with no place for the water to go.

Well, it's raining again here in the late afternoon. Overcast big time. The rain is strange, but the same every day. Mostly just a sprinkle that lasts for ten minutes and then quits for twenty minutes. It was so sunny and nice this morning. This happens a lot. Sunny and nice in the morning and crappy overcast drizzly in the mid to late afternoon. I couldn't live here; the weather is way too crappy. Can't even see the mountains most of the time. Take away the mountains and you have Kansas with a lot of water front property. With salmon and bears. Okay, wait until tomorrow and the mountains will reappear. Wow! Alaska is a beautiful state. I am so glad we swindled it from Russia for $7.2 million. Oh, by the way, Seward is the one who put the deal together back in 1867. They named this town after him. Good deal for the U.S. Now, if we could just keep the mountains from disappearing all the time.

The temperature got down to 38 degrees last night and we didn't have electric to keep us warm. There would have been frost on the pumpkin if there were pumpkins in Alaska. It wasn't cool, it was cold. We'll be warm tonight with our electric heater humming. A couple of Rum and Coke cocktails will also help. Good night, Irene.

Day 43 Summary ~ We drove about 90 miles today which puts us at 6277 total miles into our journey.
It is 58 degrees outside at 8:00pm Alaska time. Crappy overcast and drizzly, again. Rained all night.

Day 44 ~ Thursday, July 16 - We are in Seward, Alaska, and woke up to rainy weather, again. It rained all day on and off and up and down. So we had to do something indoors. We went to the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward. Cool place. They rescue busted up sea creatures, repair them and set them free. The center had some of the most impressive exhibits and habitats for salmon, sea birds and mammals. They do a lot of research here as well. Very interesting.

vacation pix vacation pix vacation pix duck bird crab
The Alaska Sealife Center has some really impressive aquariums and habitats.
The top picture shows one is set up for waterfowl.

We wandered thru a lot of gift shops and then ate dinner in downtown Seward where our waiter told us that they only had 6 inches of snow last winter. Seward has a nice touristy downtown with lots of gift shops and restaurants. It was warm, windy and rained the rest of the time. Lousy weather. It could be worse, but I don't know how. Lightning maybe?

bear vacation pix vacation pix vacation pix vacation pix
We ate dinner at the Apollo Restaurant. It was very Italian food and reasonably priced.

We headed on back to our crappy campground in the rain. The parking lot had a lot of standing water and there is a muddy puddle right outside our trailer door. We are leaving tomorrow for sure. Our bellies are full and it's time to call it quits for the day. Good night.

Day 44 Summary ~ We drove about 17 miles today which puts us at 6294 total miles into our journey.
The temperature went down to 52 degrees outside at during the night and continued raining all night.

Day 45 ~ Friday, July 17 - It's still raining. We checked out of the campground and went back to downtown Seward. It's only about five miles and we wanted to see more of the town's points of interest. It rained all morning and was quite windy which made picture taking a real challenge. We found the start of the Iditarod, visited the historic Seward Hotel, took pictures of everything Seward, bought gas for the vehicles and drove out of town north on Seward Highway in the rain. There is one road in and the same road out.

sign stone thing hotel patty wagon
vacation pix
We really liked downtown Seward, even in the rain. There are a lot of things to see here and a lot of restaurants and interesting gift shops.
Seward is the start of the Iditarod and they have the historical markers for it.

At about 40 miles out of Seward, we hung a left (west) back onto highway 1 for about 15 miles, a little past Cooper Landing, where there is the Chugach National Forest with the Russian River where the salmon swim back up the Russian Falls (which are more like rapids than falls) to spawn. The thing is there's a 2.3 mile long trail we needed to hike to get there. We did it, took a lot of pictures and watched the crazy salmon trying to swim and jump up a small waterfall. Pretty cool to see it in real life. We were all tired when we got back to the parking lot and hit the road toward our next major destination, Homer. It was after six and we needed to find some kind of campground. The campground here at the falls was full.

sign vacation pix
The Russian River as seen from the 2.3 mile long trail to the "Falls".

Crazy Salmon

This video is 1 minute
and 37 seconds long

These crazy salmon are trying to swim up the Russian River to spawn. Some of them do make it up the small waterfalls.

We found another rustic campground at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on Kelly Lake a few miles down the road. It's the smallest campground we have ever stayed in with just 4 sites right on the lake. We got the last 2 sites. Come to think of it, we took up half of the campground. Great view! Perfect rustic camping. It'll be chilly tonight without electric. A beer, dinner, recorded TV show, some computer work and off to bed.

vacation pix
Here we are in the rustic Kelly Lake Campground right on the lake. It is so quiet here.
Day 45 Summary ~ We drove about 86 miles today which puts us at 6380 total miles into our journey.
It is 57 degrees outside at 11:00pm Alaska time and quite windy, but no rain

Day 46 ~ Saturday, July 18 - The morning sunshine and beautiful skies don't get any better than it was in our lakeside camping spot. It warmed up into the sixties by ten o'clock. We ate a nice breakfast outside in the sunshine while we played a game of cribbage. What a perfect morning.

We left the campground at noon and headed toward Homer, but never made it. We stopped by The Dreamer's Woods run by a chainsaw sculpturer. He and his wife had quite a display of sculptures of bears, eagles, fox, moose and other Alaskan creatures carved out of cedar, his wood of choice. We just had to buy a little bear, about twelve inches tall. He's so cute and will look great on our mantle.

bear vacation pix
The Dreamer's Woods has a bunch of wood carving of bears, moose, eagles, a bobcat, a pelican and a lot of wooden benches with bears on the ends. Bears are the favorites.

We drove in a lot of circles around Kenai looking for a campground. There are a lot of campgrounds, but they are all full because Net Fishing is on. It is open only to Alaskan residents. There are billions of fishermen with really large fish nets, three to four feet in diameter, all up and down every river. It's crazy popular here right now and very crowded. All of this fartin' around made us hungry so we had a great late lunch early dinner at a "fine dining" restaurant, Paradisos, in Kenai that yielded leftovers for tomorrow.

vacation pix
Driving south on highway 1 (a.k.a. Sterling Hwy) about 9 miles past Clam Gulch is this scenic pullout with a spectacular view across the Cook Inlet with the mountains on the far side.
The wildflowers aren't bad either.

We talked to a few people in the know who told us that our best bet to find camping would be in one of the many State Park roadside campgrounds on our way south to Homer. They all said that Homer would be out of the question because every Tom, Dick and Fisherman from Anchorage are here with their nets and they all brought their campers. So, with this advice in mind, we started out for Homer and found a neat little rustic roadside park, Ninilchik State Park, like a National Forest campground, that had plenty of open sites because there are no rivers or lakes close by. Great! And here we are for the night.

vacation pix
Our campsite in Ninilchik State Park is a double-wide site with two picnic tables and firepits.
Later in the evening a young couple with a tent drove in and camped the the second half.

BTW: The weather was beautiful all day. We had so much rain in the past few days that it was a great change for us. Alaska is all nice again, but chilly as I write this outside on the picnic table a bit after nine o'clock and the sunset is still a couple hours away. The long days here are quite strange. A little booze will help.

Day 46 Summary ~ We drove about 102 miles today which puts us at 6442 total miles into our journey.
The temperature went down to 43 degrees outside during the night and no rain.
This is the end of Week 7 ~ Tomorrow is Sunday and start of a new week, so you'll need to Click Here to Go to Week 8