Alaska; Part II – 10 – 20 August – Summer 2017

Update-69

Thursday, 10 August – We drove to Centennial Park just outside of Anchorage.  We were wondering where to stay as some of the campgrounds did not have good reviews and actually neither did this one.  But this turned out to be a great park and we saw this bear in the campground !  So win-win for me.  Great park, great wildlife.

Update-65

This park has lots of fairly private treed sites with nice gravel areas for your trailer.  We were at site 21 and there was a big field and trees across from us.  Nice site and $35 a night with hydro and free showers.  I mention that because a lot of places we have stayed at on this trip do not offer free showers.

We set up and headed to Anchorage to see what it was all about.  We went to the Visitor Centre downtown, actually there are two, one is a big place and we had to go through security before we could go in.  They had a body scanner and guys with guns and everything !  The one guy with a gun was a good-looking guy, he looked kind of like Richard T Jones.  So that was the best part of this Visitor Centre.

The city has a trolley tour of the town and we paid $20 each for a one hour tour.  It was a terrific tour and our driver was also the tour guide and he was extremely knowledgeable about the area and we had a great time.  We drove all over the city and he talked about earthquakes, float planes, every day life and he pointed out buildings and sites of interest.  Really good.

Update-93

 

After the tour we went to King Brewery and shared a tray, it was okay.

 

 

Then to another small brewery called Cynosure, it was also okay.  This is the inside and outside of Cynosure Brewery.

We stopped at a Thai Town restaurant for dinner, really good and only opened in March.  Highly recommend.

Update-89

We also went to the Ulu Knife Factory/Store.  Such cool items, we bought some knife and bowl sets there.  Quite unique.

 

 

 

Update-92

 

Oh yes we went to Midnight Sun Brewery and had to park down the street as it was packed with cars and you have to go upstairs.  It was very modern and we split one beer and left.  For some reason, the place did not appeal to us nor did their menu.

When we got up Friday, it had rained all night but we still sat outside to have our coffee.  The young guy on a site down from us came over and told us there was a mom bear and three cubs in the woods across from his tent.  Cameras in hand we stood by his truck and watched them.  So cute the little ones.  Did not get great photos as the little ones stayed in the grass and behind the trees and I was not going in the bush to see them.  I did get photos of the mom on the road. (It’s the first photo in this blog segment)  The lady from the park said they are hanging around all the time.

Update-83

After the bear excitement, we headed to Anchorage to the Aviation museum.  We were there over three hours, what a place.  They have a big welcome room with a simulator that we both did.  It was fun in the simulator, you were able to fly around and it was quite realistic.  The museum was $15 to get in and an extra $5 for the simulator, which was so worth it.  They have 2 other big hangars attached and then another restoration hangar which was closed.  But there were displays outside and a tower you could go up into and listen to Air traffic controllers.  They had a WW2 movie which was about 50-60 minutes.  It was mostly about the Aleutian Islands but was very interesting.

We drove around that area of Anchorage and we couldn’t believe the number of float planes.  I think most people who live here own one.  They were constantly landing and taking off on the water and the shoreline was littered with them.

 

Update-94

We headed to Glacier Bay brewery downtown afterwards.  It was a nice place wand we shared a taster tray and seafood chowder – all good.

 

 

Left and went to the Broken Tooth Brewery but it was production only so we headed to Resolution Brewery and we shared a tray and Clint filled up a growler with some Porter.

Saturday it rained all day so we hung around our site and the park, I think my inner child was waiting for the bear family to come back.

We left the bears today and headed to Coopers Landing to the Kenai Princess RV Park.  Beautiful drive from Anchorage to Kenai Peninsula but it was overcast and cloudy so not the best day for photos.  Well overcast days can be nice to photograph too.  We paid $40 a night (full hookup) for site 36.  It was one road and the trailers were backed up beside each other on each side of the road.  Nice gravel pads and the sites were okay.  This park is part of a bigger resort with lodgings, restaurant, gift shop etc.

We left and drove to Seward which is a nice town and bigger than we thought it would be.  It is set on a cove, or bay, and it is very pretty and surrounded by mountains.  We could see the fish literally jumping out of the water and there were so many fishermen there. They dearly love their fish in Alaska.

600_1188
Seward

 

600_1192
Seward

Update-95

We had read there were two bakeries but they must have closed down because there weren’t any.  Clint was devastated, he dearly loves his pastries.  But we did stop at Seward Brewing !  Shared a taster tray  and that was it.  It  was a more modern place, big,  open, not much ambience and it was over priced.  A small bowl of chowder was $22 US.  Holy…………………….

I know what people are thinking………..My God these people do nothing but go to breweries !  That’s not entirely true………. is it?  We love them, that’s the long and the short of it.  Breweries are great places to meet people and if they serve food, it’s usually awesome and the ambience and decor can be quite entertaining.  Just like wineries.  Yes we love them too.

Update-11

 

They had a cute dog sled with a dog carved out of wood so we took some photos with Trum “driving” it.

 

 

Update-12

We stopped at Exit glacier and walked around, we thought we saw people sliding down the middle of the glacier.  It seemed a little surreal seeing the glacier in the summer.

 

 

 

Update-13

 

It’s about an hour drive from Seward back to our park.  But we don’t mind, we love to stop and take sideroads and explore as much as possible.

 

 

The next day we were up early and left for a day trip to  Whittier.  The drive was pretty nice to get there.

Update-17
Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel Entrance to get to Whittier.

This is taken out of our truck window, you were not allowed to stop.  This is the entrance to the tunnel in the mountain to get to Whittier.

The tunnel is called the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel—the longest (2.5 miles) highway tunnel in North America and one-lane which must be shared by cars and trains traveling in both directions.  They have schedules and you have to wait at either end at a traffic light until it’s your turn to go through.  It was build in WWII, carved out of the mountain.

Update-26

This is going through the tunnel, Yes I know, photo is terrible but the best I could do out of the truck window.  But you can see how narrow it is and that’s why they are so particular about their schedule and no stopping.

 

When we arrived at Whittier, we went directly to the ticket booth to get tickets  for the  Phillips 26 glaciers cruise.   The cruise takes 5 hours and you travel approximately  140 miles; lunch included.  $189 US each and you know what?  that’s a lot of money and yet the ship was packed, we got the last two tickets.  We sat with a family from California, everyone is assigned a table and that is where you sit the whole trip.  Well,  you can go wherever you want on the ship but you can’t sit at another table in the main lounge area.  We had lunch about 130 and it was served to us – clam chowder, bun, crackers, fruit cup, coleslaw and chocolate and it was pretty good.  Also provided was free coffee, tea and water the whole trip.  Clint and I stood outside a lot, actually most of the trip so we wouldn’t miss anything.  We moved from our deck to the 2nd deck to the top deck.  The boat went at 33 knots when traveling but stopped a lot for wildlife viewing and at the glaciers.  We saw tons of otters, seals, dolphins and bald eagles.  On the way back we saw a group of about 40-50 otters floating past the ship.  Quite something to see.  It was overcast and I only had my 300 lens and the marine life and wildlife were quite far away but I did get some okay shots.

The main glacier we went to see had two big chunks fall off while we were stopped, called calving.  Big chunks of ice were floating everywhere in the water.  Across from the dock was a kittiwake breeding rock. 1000’s of birds.  And apparently over 12,000 otters live here.  Near the end of the trip they brought out fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, so good.

We left to leave right after our boat tour, we took a quick drive around but you can only leave at certain times through the tunnel and we didn’t want to stay overnight.  When we exited the tunnel and down the road a ways, there was a fish viewing spot.  We stopped and walked around and you could see dozens of pink and chum salmon just laying in the river.  So neat to see.

Update-18

We drove through the Chugach National Forest campgrounds and also through the Quartz Creek RV park.  Nice places.

Well Tuesday 15 August and we are off to Homer for the day.  We drove through Soldotna and it sure is a good-sized city.  When we got to Homer we drove right out to the Homer Spit.  Not exactly what we expected but we parked and walked up and down both sides.  It’s basically all gravel, no trees, a marina and small gift shops and restaurants.  Surrounded by mountains though.  On the way in, it looks like there is an old wooden boat graveyard.  We googled where to go for good fish and chips and decided on Boardwalk Fish and Chips

The fish was okay, well Clint liked it but I thought the batter was pretty greasy and the french fries were the worst we have ever had. He did agree with me about the fries.  Overcooked, hard, bleh.  Didn’t eat mine.  Very disappointing lunch for sure.

You can take a ferry to Seldovia across the water but we decided not to do that.  Went into a couple of shops and walked up and down the Spit.

Update-48

After that, we went to Homer Brewery and shared a flight. (here they go again, you’re thinking)   We did not care for the beer or the brewery.  The owner was not friendly nor welcoming.  So Okay when I spoke earlier about how entertaining and fun breweries can be………….this wasn’t one of them.  At least I assume he was the owner, he didn’t speak or make eye contact with anyone in there.  Bad day I guess.

On to Grace Ridge brewery (well we did have to make up for the bad brewery) and the beer was good, they had a nice IPA and amber.  We talked to a guy there who had stopped in for a beer and then was heading out to his little float plane and going home.  I cannot remember where he said he lived but how cool is that?  Fly home from the bar, well I guess we have all experienced that at one time or another, minus the plane.

Drove to Bear Creek Winery, what a cute place.  This place was adorable.  It was a gift shop, resort and restaurant.  Decorated nicely inside and out, really nice ambience.  We tried a wine or two but they were mostly fruity wines (yes I am aware grapes are fruit lol) but I am not fond of rhubarb or strawberry wines etc.

Drove through Kenai and back through Soldotna on the way home.

Update-5

 

We stopped at St Elias Brewery and restaurant for dinner and had a wood fired pizza.  Okay beer and pizza.  Nice place.

 

 

It rained off and on the next day so we drove to Kenai Lodge and parked.  This is a huge resort and our campground is part of it.  We went into the Lodge and the gift shop and looked around.  They had a trail going down to the Boardwalk Observation Decks so we did those.  Steep hill going down……..and up.  The trail followed along the river and it was pretty nice.  And there were people fishing !  Fancy that……………..

We packed up and left for Glenallen Friday 18 August.  The Glenn Hwy is pretty cool.  Lots of mountains and glaciers, really nice drive.  We stopped about 60 miles from Glenallen to photograph some mountains.  Beautiful colours, purples, reds, yellows, just magnificent.

Update-50

We stayed at Northern Nights RV park.  This is a nice park and nice people running it.  We were given site 5 and it was $37 for full hookup and it was also a Good Sam park.  Quiet park and the showers are tokens but you are given 1 free per person per day.  Not much in the area, a gift shop, gas station and Safeway.  Grey Jays kept flying in and out of our site. I love these birds.

The next day it was supposed to rain and it was overcast but we decided to go to Valdez.  It rained for about 20 minutes and the rest of the day was great.  The drive to Valdez is 119 miles and is a boring drive until you get about 20-25 miles before entering Valdez and then holy cow !

Some random photos below of our meanderings……………

It’s beautiful, lots of mountains, glaciers and Thompson Pass was really nice.  Also Bridal Veil Falls and some other falls.  We stopped at the Visitor Centre and there was a river behind the building and it was a salmon spawning area.  Lots and lots of salmon were in this river.  I named one Pinky, he was a rich deep pink colour.  I must have watched him for 30-40 minutes.  I kept rooting for him to get over the rocks and upstream to ……….well I don’t really know what he was trying to get upstream to.   Must have been important.  I don’t think it was for another fish as none of them were doing very good going upstream.  They were all trying so hard to get over the rocks, it was kinda sad really.

When we arrived at the town, we parked down by the marina and walked around the marina and then up to the town.  Lots of fishermen fishing and fish cleaning stations set up.  The harbour is very picturesque and surrounded by mountains.  Nice place.

We ate at the Fat Mermaid for our lunch and it was okay.  Better than our lunch in Homer……….

Sunday we left and headed to the border.

About 30 minutes past Glenallen the scenery was nice, more mountains and lakes.  I think they were the St Elias mountains.  The roads were not good, Clint said they were worse than the roads to Chicken and Mayo.  Horrible roads.  We got to the border at Beaver Creek and the good looking customs guy sent us through with no problems.  Oh Yes, we did see a mom moose and calf just before the border.

So now we are back in the Yukon………….and heading back home.  We were going to go through British Columbia but a lot of the roads are still closed due to the fires.  So we will go through the Yukon and down into British Columbia, Alberta and home from there.

 

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