Sunday, August 26, 2012

Seward and Valdez

After saying farewell to the beautiful Homer Spit, we moved on to Seward. As we traveled along the Cook Inlet we saw what looked like a floating island to the left of us. The magical kingdom of Avalon?

It was actually a tall snow covered mountain on the other side of the Inlet but fog and mist can sure play strange tricks! As it was a Saturday there were lots of fisherman about including some four legged ones that you can see in the background of the next picture.

Seward's small boat harbor.

Notice the snow covered mountains right next to the harbor. It was the strangest thing - the further south we went the colder and snowier it seemed to get!
One of the things on our Seward agenda was a glacier/wildlife cruise of the Kenai Fjords National Park. Unfortunately the weather was not very cooperative and it was a very cold, rough, and rainy cruise. Neither Bob nor I got seasick but there were a number of green faces and barf bags on board! We did see otters, puffins, sea lions, seals, whales, and glaciers but the pictures leave much to be desired because of the poor weather conditions.

The day after the cruise we went to the Sea Life Center and I was able to get better puffin and seal pictures.

Baby walrus that they were caring for.
Our next stop was Valdez. Because of where these port cities (Homer, Seward, and Valdez) are located we have had to do some backtracking each time we move to a different location but we never tire of the scenery.


We have tired of the endless road construction though!

Valdez has a fish hatchery and when we were there the salmon were returning to the area to spawn. It was an amazing sight. Hundreds and hundreds of salmon all congregating in the same area trying to climb the fish ladder.

A great place for fishermen whether they are two legged or four.

Our trip is now starting to wind down. Tomorrow we will cross back over into Canada and start heading south. Hopefully our adventures will continue!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Soldotna and Homer

Soldotna and Homer have been all about fishing. Soldotna was salmon. Terry and Rose did the salmon fishing and it took them until the day before we left to figure it out. Homer was halibut and it didn't take Bob and I long to figure that out! We took a half day charter out of Homer's small boat harbor. I felt lucky right from the start as the boat was called the Irish and Bob is half Irish.

It took us an hour and forty-five minutes to get to the fishing spot but the minute we dropped the lines in the water the fun began. The sinker would no sooner hit the bottom (about 200 feet down) and you would feel a jerk on the line. Time to reel in . . . and reel in . . . and reel in. Whew,  it was hard work! Because your limit is only 2 halibut a day most of the first fish caught were thrown back as they were "too small". After the skipper moved to a different location the fish started getting some decent size to them and then we had to start making those tough decisions - keep or throw back in and hope for a bigger one. I ended up catching about 8 all together but of course could only keep 2. Everybody on the boat caught their limit and all were about the same size - 15 pounds. Supposedly if you do an all day charter the boat goes further out and you can catch 30-40 pounders. I can't imagine trying to reel in one that big!

In Soldotna we camped near the Kenai River but in Homer we camped on the Homer Spit.

Above is the Kenai River in Soldotna. Below you can see the Homer Spit sticking out in Cook Inlet.

What a place! I can honestly say this was the first really "ah-h-h" site that we stayed in. The spit is a long narrow strip of land that juts out into Cook Inlet so we had water on both sides of us and as we had a beachfront site our front window looked out over the water. We also had a great view of the mountains and the glaciers. We spent a lot of time just walking and enjoying the scenery.

Below are views from front window.

Views of surrounding glaciers.

Small boat harbor in Homer.

Bald eagle.

Unfortunately tomorrow we have to move on. We are headed to Seward and from what I understand the scenery is just as magnificent there. We hope to do a glacier/wildlife tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Moving on Down!

Since my last post we have spent some time in Anchorage and moved on to Soldotna. Anchorage is a typical American city with the usual box stores, fast food restaurants, and traffic. It is located on Cook Inlet.
 Our first day there we explored the inlet stopping at Point Woranzof, Earthquake Park, Beluga Point, and a few other places. Point Woranzof is located at the end of the Anchorage airport runway so we got to experience airplanes taking off over our heads.

 From this vantage point we could see Mount McKinley (Denali) in the distance and a cruise ship sitting in the harbor.

 Earthquake Park commemorates the 1964 Earthquake, a 9.2 earthquake that destroyed many of Alaska's coastal communities. Beluga Point is south of Anchorage along Turnagain Arm. You can sometimes see Beluga whales chasing the salmon and occasionally even an Orca chasing the Beluga. During our time in Anchorage we drove past this place three times and never saw a whale!

We also made a day trip to Portage Glacier and the port town of Whittier. Portage Glacier is an active glacier located at the end of Portage Lake. Active means that it is not receding as quickly as most glaciers but somewhat maintaining it's size. We took the boat tour so that we could get up close and personal.

Below are two icebergs that had "calved" during the night. Even though they don"t look that big both were bigger than the boat we were on.

A chunk of glacier ice. It will turn a milky white color after being exposed to air for a while.

 Boy was it cold!! What's really funny is this is also the only place in Alaska so far that we have really been bothered by mosquitos. Go figure! Apparently the weather conditions in this part of Alaska are perfect for glaciers as Portage Glacier was only one of many glaciers in that area.

 After the boat trip we drove on to Whittier. To get to Whittier you have to drive through North America's longest vehicle tunnel - a 2.5 mile one way tunnel. Whittier itself was a surprise. Because it is considered an important Alaskan port I expected to find a bustling city. Instead it's a sleepy little town with a steady population of less than 300 even though over 700,000 people visit every year. There was a cruise ship in port waiting for boarding.

 We are now in Soldotna on the Kenai Pennisula. A fisherman's paradise, at least for some people. For Rose and Terry, not yet. Fishing for salmon is very different. Running salmon have only one thing on their mind and it's not food! You do not fish with fancy lures or tasty tidbits. You fish with a bare hook and hope you can get lucky and snag a passing salmon. Terry has managed to catch one and we grilled it last night. Yum-m-m!  Fresh, wild Alaskan salmon is everything it's advertised to be. I just hope somebody finally gets the hang of it and we can fill the freezer.

Monday, August 6, 2012


They have t-shirts in the souvenir shops that say "I was one of the 30% who saw Denali." Well, today we were not only part of the 30% but we had a cloudless blue sky besides. I think my guardian angel was working overtime!

We have seen many snow covered mountains in the past few days and I was worried that I might not recognize which one was Denali. Not too worry! We came around a corner and "boom" there it was. You couldn't miss it!

When you get around to the south side you realize that it's part of a whole snow covered range of mountains. Wow!!

This isn't the only amazing thing we have seen since I last posted. We spent several days in Fairbanks. We took a riverboat cruise on the Chena River where we learned about the Athabascan Indians and saw a sled dog demonstration presented by Susan Butcher's husband. She was an Iditarod champion.

Susan Butcher's home.

The next day we visited a gold dredge mine that was in operation until the 1980's. We panned for gold and made a whopping $48 between Bob and I! The Alaskan oil pipeline passed right by the entrance.

My poke of sand and gravel.

After that we moved on to Denali National Park. Of course it was rainy and cold the day we took the 12 hour bus tour but we saw lots of animals and beautiful scenery anyways.

We just didn't get to see Denali that day. We drove back into the park the next day for some more animal watching but still no Denali. However as you can see from above our luck changed today!
Now we are in Anchorage awaiting new adventures.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone