Week 8 ~ Sunday, July 19 to Saturday, July 25

Day 47 ~ Sunday, July 19 - We bailed out of Ninilchik State Park and headed south on highway 1 toward Homer. Just a few miles down the road, we stopped at a scenic pullout and walked about a thousand feet toward the water of Cook Inlet. We stood at the top of a cliff above the water's edge with a bunch of other picture-taking tourists overlooking the water with the mountains in the distance across the Inlet. What a magnificent view of what Alaska has to offer. The weather was warm and sunny with quite a breeze.

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Here we are walking toward the cliff to get a better view of the water and mountains.
Highway 1 is a good 600 feet in back of us.
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The view of the mountains across the waters of Cook Inlet is fantastic.

The Best of Alaska

This video is 29 seconds long

It takes a video to show how far you can see standing on the cliff overlooking the waters of Cook Inlet.

We continued our scenic drive south on highway 1 passing thru two one-horse towns, Happy Valley and Anchor Point, and stopped at a "Welcome to Homer" rest area. Homer does a very nice job of greeting tourists to their town. There were sidewalk merchants selling trinkets in the sunny parking lot. The view across the water was spot-on pretty.

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What a lovely way to greet tourists to your town! This is a great rest area just north of Homer.
The flower gardens are really pretty and they look so happy on this sunny Sunday.

So where the heck are we?

(...or is the question, "Where the Hekawi?" from the old TV show F-Troop)
Homer Spit - so what the heck is a Spit? you may ask...
Google says: "Spit, in geology, narrow coastal land formation that is tied to the coast at one end. Spits frequently form where the coast abruptly changes direction and often occur across the mouths of estuaries; they may develop from each headland at harbour mouths." Wow.

Let me help here with my less-scientific definition - A long, skinny strip of land sticking out into the water made mostly out of rock and gravel where you build gift shops and restaurants and maybe a campground and some condos. Anything to suck in tourists and relieve them of their money. Welcome to Homer Spit.

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The cross is right on Homer Spit. Our campground is about half-way across the bay.
FYI: Homer is named for Homer Pennock, a con man from back in the Gold Rush days. Great.

We continued our drive south on highway 1 thru the small town of Homer and right out to the end of the road on Homer Spit and found vacancy at Homer Spit Campground. We booked in for two nights. Yes, it's another parking lot dump, but it is on the water with a beach and has a fantastic view of the mountains across Kachemak Bay toward the southeast. We are actually sitting about half way across the bay. Cook Inlet is on the west side of Homer Spit. You should check it out on the map above.

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Our campsite (parking space) in the Homer Spit Campground is not far from the water.
What a view of the mountains across the Kachemak Bay.

After setting up camp, we all jumped into the truck and drove back four miles into beautiful Homer looking for a real downtown, but never found one. Businesses are spread out all over. Bad idea for a tourist town. There's really nothing in Homer to write about except the Safeway store that supplied us with Ben and Jerrys espresso ice cream, more chips and a few other things. I found out that my Safeway Rewards thing from about 15 years ago is still good and, like Kroger Plus, saved us a few bucks the last two visits. We drove all over this little town which took us about a half hour. It's Sunday and every place is closed. No big deal 'cause we didn't want anything anyhow. The scenery is beautiful and the town itself, not so much. Pretty dumpy like most Alaskan towns.

The parking lot campground is really old and the buildings are crappy as hell, but the Wi-Fi is really good and fast. After a few nights in the rustic campgrounds, the showers that cost us an extra buck each were great. We don't stink anymore and we have a good internet connection and can receive emails. Life is good. It's funny what we value most when we are traveling this way.

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We are parked somewhere in this mess. One of those condos way in the back would be nice.
They are on the end of the spit with a 270 degree view of the water and mountains.
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This is the backside of the restrooms-showers building. No awards for neatness here.
The front side is much more welcoming. The inside is pretty bad, old.
The building on the right is the office with their new Wi-Fi antenna high on the pole.
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The laundry room is where? This is Alaska, folks. How weird can we make the laundry room...

This campground is busy with a lot of campers staying only one day. A bit noisy at times, but the scenery is real nice just sittin' and looking at the mountains. So relaxing. The wind picked up later in the afternoon and it got quite chilly. I had a Samuel Adams Boston Lager by the seashore. Great! Good night.

Day 47 Summary ~ We drove about 59 miles today which puts us at 6541 total miles into our journey.
It is 55 degrees outside at 1:00am Alaska time with clear skies and not much wind.

Day 48 ~ Monday, July 20 - We are in the ever-so-crappy Homer Spit Campground for a second day. The weather was absolutely beautiful; sunny and about 70 degrees. In the morning, I got a chance to sit in the sun, naked. Well, I had my shirt off. We never left the spit today, just walked the water's edge, visited the numerous local gift shops and took a lot of pictures. The local merchants liked our credit card and we have more souvenirs to take up room in the truck. We gotta quit buying stuff 'cause we're runnin' out of storage space.

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A sample of the stores on Homer Spit - food, ice cream, clothes, crafty gifts, tour companies.
The buildings on the water side of the highway were all up on piers. They must have an occasional high-water problem. Not today.
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Back up the spit towards Homer is this maritime junkyard with one heck of a lot of old boats. The owners of the property want to call it a museum. That might work.

Everything is here on the spit. This is where it's happening. Oh, nothing is happening. Well this is the Homer everybody talks about. I'm not sure why. Yes, I am. It's a fun place if it's sunny. Reminds me of Fort Lauderdale, Gatlinburg and Mackinaw Island with all the zillions of tourists. Ah, we drove an extra 6000 miles to see this place. Now we can go home and brag, "We've been to Homer, Alaska." Well, it is actually a very picturesque town and honestly we really like it for what it is. The shoreline here on the spit presents a great walking experience and yields more driftwood than any lousy Michigan lake shoreline. Then add the view of the distant mountains on a sunny day like today and we have ourselves a pretty good vacation spot. I'll drink to that! So I did.

Day 48 Summary ~ We drove about 10 miles today which puts us at 6551 total miles into our journey.
It is 54 degrees outside at midnight Alaska time with clear skies and not much wind, again.

Day 49 ~ Tuesday, July 21 - The plan was to leave Homer today, so we did. It was a little past the noon checkout time. As we were driving up the spit from the campground, we noticed a cruise ship anchored in the harbor and a bunch of passengers had already hit the wonderful gift shops with credit cards raised high above their heads. Good for the local merchants. If the cruisers can afford a cruise to Homer, they can afford overpriced gifts.

Up on the mainland of Homer is the Alaska Islands & Ocean Visitor Center which we passed by on our way into Homer. Well, we are visitors, so we stopped in for a visit. Nice place showing interesting nature movies in their theater. They had a lot of information about the history of Alaska nature and how the Russians and then Americans tried to fix it and failed. That's all changed and it is quite impressive what these people do to study, measure, calculate, tabulate and record everything going on in Alaska's outdoors. Everything is protected now and they reversed the screw-ups of the past. Alaska is a beautiful and wild state and they intend to keep it that way. Good for them. My grandkids may want to come here someday and see nature at it's best.

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Diane is checking out one of the displays inside the Alaska & Islands Ocean Visitor Center in Homer. There are very simple displays here for simple people like us.

Okay, we are out of here, traveling north on highway 1, back the same way we got in here like most of the other Alaskan tourist towns - one way in and the same way out. We ran into the same road work again. The state is replacing long sections of the highway; really replacing it, not just repairing it. They removed the roadbed down about two feet and had the road down to one-way traffic. It wasn't too bad and I took some cool pictures.

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Look at the size of that pothole! These guys were replacing the entire road down a couple of feet. We were down to one lane.

We took our time. Stopped for gas and ice cream and bought some stop-leak for the truck's cooling system because we keep smelling anti-freeze and I don't see any green blood leaking out anywhere. I think the heater core may have a small pin hole leak. The smell is giving Diane a headache and is driving me crazy not knowing if this problem will get worse. It is what it is and I wish I knew what it is. We'll see if the stop-leak helps. Maybe tomorrow.

On our way east on highway 1, we made a quick stop at The Dreamers Woods to have Eric Berson, the wood carver, autograph the bottom of the little bear we bought from him on our way to Homer last Saturday. Artwork should be signed by the artist.

It's close to five o'clock and a bit early to end our driving for the day, but we couldn't resist when the sign for Kelly Lake Campground popped up. We stayed here last Friday night and the camping was wonderful, rustic and beautiful. We got the best of four sites, right on the lake. Wow! There were the remains of a large campfire, so I resurrected it and Diane and I enjoyed our second campfire of the trip. Nice. of course, Gregg and Gale were our neighbors. Stopping early gives us some time to relax and enjoy this little paradise on the lake. I looked at the odometer and what were the chances it was right on 170,000 miles. Cool.

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We can't drive by this campground without spending the night. Alaska's finest camping.

It is quarter after eleven and still light outside and getting chilly as all get-out. I had a glass of Merlot by the fire and listened to the loons. Nice and peaceful. I almost fell asleep.

Day 49 Summary ~ We drove about 106 miles today which puts us at 6657 total miles into our journey.
The temperature got down to 43 degrees during the night. The skies were clear and no rain.

Day 50 ~ Wednesday, July 22 - We woke up to mostly overcast skies and it looked like rain was coming. The lake was like glass with the total absence of wind. We had a rather large and very friendly bird visit us at our picnic table while we were finishing breakfast and a game of cribbage. Yes, the bird got a few crumbs. Kelly Lake is such a wonderful campground, we hated to leave it, but a few raindrops are coming down now and we are starting to melt. Time to leave. That's right, a few raindrops and we quit. We had several days of sunshine and now it's time for more rain. Rats!

The rain got more serious as we left Kelly Lake heading east on the Sterling Highway toward Anchorage. We waved at the Russian River Falls as we passed on our way to Bearly Threaded quilting store in Cooper Landing. Yes, a quilting store in the middle of nowhere Alaska. This little store was jam packed with one heck of a lot of quilting fabrics. We spent a while picking out Alaskan wildlife fabrics for Diane's upcoming projects this winter. Maybe we'll finally get a couple of new placemats with reindeer and bears for the trailer. Diane will make our own Alaskan souvenirs.

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Diane had the Bearly Threaded Quilting store on her list of places to stop.
They have a pretty cool bear and cub wood carving on their front lawn.

The rain continued as we headed east on the Sterlng Highway and rounded the southern tip of Turnagain Arm by Portage and officially left the Kenai Peninsula, one of the most beautiful and popular areas of Alaska. It was raining when we arrived and it's raining as we leave. Maybe the sun just doesn't shine here.

We are now traveling north on highway 1 along the shore of Turnagain Arm and next to the railroad track. This highway is the only way in and out of the Kenai Peninsula so we are seeing everything in reverse from a week ago and a stop for more of the free spring water is a must. We filled even more water bottles than before. We are good to go.

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We are looking south from the pullout where we get the fresh water and a southbound train from Anchorage proves that the track is indeed being used to haul freight.
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Diane fills one of our water bottles at the Free Spring Water pullout. This water makes really great morning coffee. It stopped raining long enough for us to complete our mission.

As we got closer to Anchorage, a stop at Potter Marsh was on our schedule. This place is just another conservation area with a lot of raised boardwalks and information signage. It was still raining and we needed our umbrellas and rain gear. Small animals and birds didn't seem to mind the rain at all and posed for our picture taking. The boardwalk kept us high and dry, somewhat. Our feet got rained on.

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This is the really long boardwalk in Potter Marsh as seen from northbound Seward Highway.
See the ariel picture below.
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The brown boardwalk kinda zigzags about ten feet above the yuck and affords a perfect view of the marsh and all the small critters and numerous birds that live and play here.
Our National Bird was way back there in the trees. I used the entire 60X zoom of my camera to shoot him. I shot a bald eagle!
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Ariel view of Potter Marsh showing the brown boardwalk. Thank you Google!

We arrived in Anchorage fairly early and checked out one campground run by a motel and quickly rejected it before heading to number two campground which met our needs just fine. The Golden Nugget RV Park became our home for the next three days. Actually quite a nice place with paved roadways, some trees and flowers, and the bathrooms are clean and fairly new. This place is much better than Ship(t) Creek that we stayed at before. Remember? The one with all the low-flying aircraft. This place get's an occasional helicopter passing over at about 100 feet above our heads and the noise is just deafening.

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The weather on Thursday and Friday was much nicer than today (Wednesday) so I'm using this Friday picture to show our campsite in The Golden Nugget RV Park with sunshine. It's a very nice place and looks better without the rain and yuck.

Can you imagine camping without a microwave oven? Our's crapped out a couple of weeks ago and we have been suffering. Suffering I tell you. Suffering. I tried a quick fix that worked for a day and then poof. So, off to Walmart we go to find a microwave. Success for fifty bucks. I'll install it before we leave the campground. The install involves drilling holes thru the bottom for mounting screws. Pain in the butt, but we need a microwave. Diane made another easy microwave-less dinner tonight. The cocktails don't require a microwave. Just pour and enjoy.

Day 50 Summary ~ We drove about 137 miles today which puts us at 6794 total miles into our journey.
The temperature outside was about 59 degrees at one o'clock in the morning and overcast skies with a light rain starting.

Day 51 ~ Thursday, July 23 - It's nice and sunny this morning. Gregg and I went to a barber shop and got much-needed haircuts for a nominal $15 each senior citizen rate. That was okay. I picked this place out on the internet because it was a regular barber shop with old-fart barbers who are all conservatives. Conservatives give the best haircuts don't you know. Actually, I did get a really good haircut and my hair is hard to cut what's left of it.

On the way out of the parking lot we stopped at a Jiffy Lube to check on the price of an oil change for Gregg's motorhome. Eighty bucks. Twenty bucks more than a regular five-quart $60 oil change, just because. The bays were plenty big to handle the motorhome with no extra trouble on their part. Just because.

In the afternoon, we visited The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage. This is one ill-conceived zoo. It is located in southern Anchorage on too small of a piece of property. Alaska has a zillion acres available and the zoo is landlocked inside the city limits. Dumb plan. The zoo, like every other Alaskan property that houses once-wild animals, is a refuge of sorts. Some of the animals have been here a long time recovering from various injuries that keep them from ever being released back to nature. All of the animals are native to Alaska and have a story about how they got here. The zoo is clearly under-funded and the exhibits are too small. We all felt sorry for the caged creatures because many were just singles, all by themselves, in a small enclosure or fenced area. Like I said, ill-conceived. Well, the admission was only ten bucks each and we did get to see a Lynx, Dall sheep, owls, hawks, fox, porcupines, musk ox, camels, yaks, sea otters (in too small of a swimming pool) and whatever I can't think of now. It's a zoo, which are somewhat inhumane places no matter where they are. The animals are healthy and fed and may or may not be better off than dead in the wild. There are so many organizations here trying to fix and repair broken animals and then tell everybody to not feed the animals and leave them alone and don't frighten them or scare them. What a bunch of Hippocrates. They just can't leave the animals or nature alone. I am amazed they allow fishing here.

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The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage has a very impressive entrance. The inside is not so impressive. They could do better.
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Here kitty, kitty, kitty. The Lynx has always been a favorite of ours. We like cats.
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Bullwinkle was given ten to twenty for armed robbery and put in a cage. He has always maintained his innocence and claims the squirrel made him do it.
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A red fox and an owl. The framed information signs were very nice and quite helpful.
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What's a zoo without a tiger? This is an Amur Tiger that came from the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York. He and his brother arrived here in 2008 to do what tigers do best...
sleep in the sunshine.
vacation pix Enough zoo pictures already...
The Detroit Zoo doesn't have a Yak. There are at least two Tibetan Yaks here waiting for a hair appointment. What does this thing smell like after a rain?

We all agreed that the zoo was not very good and after this disappointing adventure, we headed to downtown Anchorage for a self-guided tour of the gift shops and a search for a restaurant. It was after eight and we were all very hungry and tired of telling the pan-handlers NO. Where do these people come from and why are they here? We left some money in the gift shops and failed to find an open restaurant except for the noisy and expensive Hard Rock Cafe so we went for Grand Slam breakfasts at Dennys next to the RV Park. We're easy. We didn't get out of there until after eleven. It was bed time.

Day 51 Summary ~ We drove about 28 miles today which puts us at 6822 total miles into our journey.
The temperature outside went down to 51 degrees during the night. No rain.

Day 52 ~ Friday, July 24 - Sunny skies greeted us this morning in beautiful downtown Anchorage and the temperature went up quickly to 73 degrees by eleven o'clock. Our planned trip to The Botanical Gardens went well and involved a lot of walking through some really beautiful gardens and wonderful nature trails. This place is another low budget operation and has a lot of volunteers working here. We were all surprised at the vast selection of plants and flowers and how well everything had signs and labels.

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The entrance to the beautiful Alaska Botanical Garden - a must-see Anchorage attraction.
We were here exploring for almost four hours.
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This is Lile's Garden. The use of pavers here is unbelievable. This was not a cheap project.

We went on a 3-mile hike on a nature trail down to the creek looking for fish, which we didn't see, and bears, which we didn't see or want to encounter. We made a lot of noise to ward off any nearby bears. We haven't seen a single wild bear in Alaska yet. We all think it is just marketing hype. "Come to Alaska and see the bears." Right. Well, it was a nice walk in the woods. Oh, we did see bear poop right on the pathway. Yes, bears do poop in the woods.

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Good thing this is not winter. If you're happy and you know it, raise your hands.
We walked the Lowenfels Family Nature Trail all the way down to the North Fork of the Campbell Creek looking for bears. No bears, just bear poop.

Oh, another trip to Walmart. There are two in Anchorage. We spent too much time here, but got some groceries and Diane got a new pair of sneakers; she wore out her old pair with all the walking. Salmon is right here for the taking and it costs $18 a pound for Sockeye Salmon in the store. Go figure. One would think it would be about three bucks a pound. Like I said, everything is expensive here. By the way, gas is $3.319 per gallon all over Anchorage.

Back to the RV Park for dinner and a beer, then ice cream for dessert followed by Rum and Coke to end the day. The weather stayed sunny all day and a very nice 70 degrees or so. It was a very good day for doing tourist-like stuff. Holy cow! Three sunny days in a row!

Day 52 Summary ~ We drove about 24 miles today which puts us at 6846 total miles into our journey.
The temperature outside is 61 degrees at midnight with clear skies.

Day 53 ~ Saturday, July 25 - Happy Birthday Lindsay!
The day started with more great Alaskan sunshine and it was actually warm outside; short sleeve weather. The Golden Nugget RV Park goes down in our books as an OK place to spend three days, which we did. Time to leave this place and Anchorage today, never to return, maybe. Before we left, we went back downtown to the Farmers Market and Festival for some food and a quick visit to the Ulu Factory across the street where they make those weird kitchen knives. We just had to take a quick look at Ship Creek to see how the fishermen were doing. There were a lot of fishing persons, but we didn't see them getting many fish. The creek (river) is low and these guys and gals were standing in a foot of mud next to the water or in it. This is what Alaskans do on Saturday mornings.

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Saturday morning on Ship Creek draws all the local fishermen to wade in the mud.

On our drive out of Anchorage, we stopped at Sam's Club for $3.249 per gallon gas and ice cream to go with us on our trip north up highway 1 toward Wasilla. It was a simple drive that led us to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Museum and Headquarters in Wasilla where we took a sled (cart) dog ride thru the woods. This was great fun and I have a movie as proof. Them dogs can really run! The museum itself was a wonderful place to spend some time with ongoing movies about dog sledding and how it has changed with the dogs becoming the major component in the race. These dogs are so important and get the best of love, affection and care by their owners. This place has pictures and info about the entire history of the Iditarod and then some. Cool place, free admission and worth the stop. Of course they have a gift shop. More souvenirs were purchased.

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The entryway to the building is very well done with Iditarod statues and a beuatiful garden.
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Ten bucks per person and worth every penny. If you go to Alaska, you just gotta do this.
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After the run, the dogs took a break. You can tell from their excitement in the video that they just live for these runs.

Dog Ride

This video is 2 minutes
and 42 seconds long

The dogs took us for an 80-second ride thru the woods.
This was great fun!
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We entered their parking lot from a different place and had to stop when we exited to get a picture of their very impressive sign. Cool!

After leaving the Iditarod Museum, we zipped down the road looking for our next place to park for the night. The tension was building as I was scolded way too times with "You passed another campground" from the other travelers. So, I slammed on the brakes and slid into Riverside Camper Park right on highway 3 in Houston, not far from Wasilla. It's just another old campground with showers and electric for the night. I need a Jack Daniel's to finish off the day and the week. It rained slightly for 5 minutes this evening, quit, then started again and rained all thru the night.

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We had lots of room in our Riverside Camper Park campsite. The river is way back there behind our trailer and motorhome. There were some fishing persons casting their lines from the shore but not catching anything.
Day 53 Summary ~ We drove about 70 miles today which puts us at 6916 total miles into our journey.
The temperature outside is 59 degrees at ten o'clock with overcast skies.
This is the end of Week 8 ~ Tomorrow is Sunday and start of a new week, so you'll need to Click Here to Go to Week 9