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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

HUGE GLACIERS & HUGE HALIBUT


We leave the workshop by 6pm Friday. Due to so much daylight we can still get a few miles covered today. We head south past North Pole & Delta Junction before stopping by 9pm. The next morning we wake to rain. That means there is no point driving the picturesque Denali Highway, so we continue south to Glennallen, then turn & head west towards Palmer & eventually Anchorage. It is another gorgeous drive, especially the gorge passing Glacier Manatuska. Nearly at Anchorage we stop at Reflections Lake where we see a young family. The father has the baby on his back & to our amazement a shoulder strap holding a row of bullets & a hand gun! To date the USA seems to have more guns than anywhere else we have travelled.

We are hoping there will be Equinox festivities in Anchorage, but apart from a band playing not much is happening. So we try to find a Walmart near the centre. It has closed, so instead we settle right beside an RV dealership (on a little dead end road surrounded by RV’s). The next day we pop into church for the Sunday service before visiting the weekend craft markets in town. Here we bump into our motorbike friend, Johan & his wife Ann.

Then it is time to head on towards Seward. Our route takes us along the Turnagain Arm towards the mountains. Here would have to be the most traffic we have seen anywhere since leaving Seattle. The weather is great & everyone is out enjoying it. Eventually we find a great spot right beside Upper Trail Lake near the tiny town of Moose Pass. I could go on again about the scenery, but it must get a bit tedious – just look at the photos instead.

On our way into Seward we stop at Bear Lake to watch salmon racing upstream & jumping up a weir (very hard to catch on a photo) & then walk to Exit Glacier along with lots of other tourists – it is a tad dirty & unexciting. Then Seward – a pretty port town, with motorhome camping all along the waterfront. We book a glacier/wildlife boat trip on the Kenai Fjords for tomorrow on a small boat – 25 people. Fingers crossed for fine weather as today is gray & cold.

Perfect weather! A magic 8 hour cruise stopping every time we spot Whales, Sea Otters, Orcas….. We finally cruise towards the highlight - Northwest Glacier. The ice is cascading into the ocean & large chunks are calving. Hundreds of seals are sitting on icebergs. Magic. We sit and watch before heading back to Seward. We even get a porpoise escort – about 10 of them riding our bow waves. For dinner we head to a restaurant to meet Johan & Ann. A perfect day.

The following morning is gray. We have one final stop before we leave town – the Alaska Sealife Centre to take a closer look at Puffins, seals etc. Then it is on through the Kenai Peninsula, passing the “combat fishing” area of Russian River. (So named because the fisherman are in such close proximity to each other that their lines frequently get tangled). By the time we reach the coast north of the petroleum based town of Kenai it is so cloudy we can’t see any mountains. We pull over for the night at Captain Cook State Recreation Park. It is raining in the morning – such is life in Alaska. The saying here is if you don’t like the weather wait 15 minutes.

We head along the coast to Homer stopping to look at the Russian fishing village of Ninilchik. & the Russian Orthodox Church with its onion spires. (Like being back in Russia – even the weather!  Mind you this country did once belong to Russia, but they sold it to America for $7.2 million (about 2cents per acre) in 1867). Another quick stop at Anchor Point to inspect all the Bald Eagles sitting there waiting for an easy meal. Eventually we wind downhill to the spit at Homer. We can camp right beside the fishing hole for a mere $15. Fishing is serious business in Alaska. There are rows of anglers fishing this small pond catching good sized Salmon.

 

The first thing we do is book a fishing trip for John. Then John wants to check the radiator because we have developed a leak. The long & short of it is that he takes the whole radiator out & plans to hitch into town tomorrow, as it is Friday, to get it fixed. Fortunately we can change the fishing trip until Saturday. The end result is no one in town can help, so John buys Bars Leak & fixes it himself. In the evening we meet Laura for dinner. We met her in Cuba.

Saturday John heads off at 5.30am on his fishing trip. The day is magnificent. I go back to bed & generally laze around all day (apart from a few chores) & John has a fun time getting his 2 huge Halibut (the max he can have). Crazy system – one has to be over 29” and one under. In all he caught 15 (13 lucky ones went back) the hardest was to catch one under 29”- what a fisherman’s problem. Our freezer is now full of frozen fish – much to Johns delight. Finally it is time to leave town. All the mountains are clear, so we take the scenic route & finally end up camped beside a pretty lake. The next day is an early start as we are due at the ferry terminal in Whittier by 9.30am. The start of our Alaskan Marine Highway adventures.

 

 

 

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