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Old 08-12-2012, 12:11 AM   #111
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Time to catch up a bit. Keeping even as informal as log as this one is is surprisingly time-consuming, when one has wi-fi only rarely. It seems I'm always uploading an entry that's already behind the times, then skipping something in order to catch up. Anyway, here goes.
Our last tour before we left Seward was through the Alaska Sea Life Center. This is another top-notch facility for the science-minded. It's a large building with both static displays about the huge variety of marine life in Alaskan waters AND tanks of live fish, marine birds, seals and sea lions. You can view the latter both above and below water level. We intended to spend a couple of hours there but ended up staying four hours, emerging so late that we decided not to leave Seward that night. Instead, we moved to a dry-camping spot (a big caravan was coming into the CG that day and we had to quit our powered campsite) and determined to leave the next day. I found a coupon for $5 off an oil change and since it was time for one, I had it done first thing the next day. We lit out for Homer just before noon.
Here in Homer we lucked out and found a dry-camping spot right next to the Bay in the Oceanview RV Park. $25 seemed a bit steep to me for a dry site, but as I thought it over, that's what we paid at the Centennial Park CG in Anchorage, for which we got very little value. Here, the wifi is strong at our site, the free showers are very nice, and the view out our window can't be beat. Considering the cost of other CGs not on the Spit, this is a bargain. If you camp here and don't need utilities, ask for site 86.
Another item I've been meaning to mention is that we're seeing a few A-frame campers, all Aliners so far, as we travel around Alaska. There should be no reason for Rockwood and Flagstaff A-framers to avoid Alaska, except for avoiding roads like the Dempster. It seemed to us that the RV types that were best for the Dempster are pickup campers and motorhomes, due to the truck frames and super sturdy suspension systems both kinds enjoy. Just my opinion and it's an even more humble one than usual, as I've never owned or even ridden in either type of unit.
Now to today's trip to the Village of Seldovia. Seldovia was at one time on track to be the economic powerhouse of this part of the Kenai. Settled in the 1700's by Russian fur traders, by the middle of the 20th century, Seldovia was bigger and more economically powerful than Homer. The completion of an all-weather highway from Anchorage to Homer in the 50's began the change of power, but the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964, while it devastated both Homer and Seldovia--on opposite sides of Kachemak Bay--was a bigger blow for Seldovia. Only one of the several fisheries that operated out of Seldovia ever reopened, and Homer emerged as the economic victor. Seldovia today is a sleepy little village presided over by the Seldovia Village Tribe, which operates a modern, fast ferry service to and from Homer. We enjoyed our 4-hour visit to the town on what started out to be a cold, foggy day that turned gloriously sunny (I got warm for the first time in days!). If you come to Homer, set aside some of your budget to spend in Seldovia. Our lunch at The Tidepool Restaurant there was superb, BTW.
Homer is a bit of an arts colony, but is also a place to come if you're interested in fishing, especially for Salmon. We drove last evening up East Hill Drive to Skyline Drive, which runs along the bluffs overlooking the city and the bay. The mountains here leap up out of the bay and don't stop going up 'til they develop icefields and glaciers. Many of them are green with vegetation all the way to the top, so they're not only impressive to look at from a pointiness standpoint--they score high on the Wolf Pointiness Scale--but they're also colorful. We'll be sad to leave tomorrow, if we actually do go. We're notorious for changing our minds at the last moment. That's why we have such clean minds; we change them regularly. I was asked how we get by with traveling when we don't make reservations. I'd have to say it's mostly dumb luck. We've more than once gone to a CG office when their Campground Full sign is up and happened to arrive just when they've had a cancellation. If we don't luck out that way we change our itinerary and go somewhere else, at least until we can get into our original destination. We hate being tied to a schedule, we don't even wear watches. Anyone else have a strategy for getting by without reservations?
One more thing. Before leaving home I switched out the puny Type 24 battery that's standard on our model for a pair of Type 32 hybrid deep-cycle batteries. We've discovered we can go up to 6 days without needing to recharge, even using the furnace at night--as we've had to almost every night up here. I got the idea to do this from D-mo, and I'd recommend it as an alternative for those who don't have a genny or who won't be dry camping for much longer than a week at a time.
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Old 08-12-2012, 12:42 AM   #112
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photo uploads aren't working for me this evening. There may be a network problem, or maybe someone in the CG is Skyping or something like that. I'll try to get some stuff uploaded later tonight or tomorrow.
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Old 08-12-2012, 12:13 PM   #113
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At the Alaska Sea Life Center

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Horned Puffin, the Jimmy Durante of the bird world


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Oops

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Jellyfish, nice to look at, dangerous to touch

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Homer Spit, from Skyline Drive overlook. The last shot is a pair of Steller Sea Lions
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Old 08-12-2012, 12:22 PM   #114
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Glaciers wherever you look, and volcanos too. If it's cone-shaped it's probably a volcano, or was.

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Coming into Seldovia

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Seldovia harbor.

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The ferry.

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Tide's out. There are extreme tides in Kachemak Bay.
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Old 08-12-2012, 12:29 PM   #115
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Court was fascinated with the chainsaw sculptures around Seldovia. There's an annual competition to make them. Sculptors come from all over to battle it out. I imagine it could get grisly.
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Old 08-12-2012, 09:33 PM   #116
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Carefree lifestyle *sigh* gotta love it!
We appreciate the good trip tips and news on how the aframe is holding up along the way.
I like the Skyline Drive Overlook of the Spit. Neat to see it in your photo compared to a map.

Deb
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Old 08-15-2012, 02:42 PM   #117
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Sunday, August 12, starting our long arc home, we left Homer late morning under blue skies to retrace our route up and across the Kenai on the Sterling highway to and through Anchorage. With the beautiful weather, it seemed that everyone from fishermen to kayakers to rafters was on the Kenai river or its tributaries. With all the weekend traffic it was quite a long drive, but it gave us time to reflect on a return trip to the Kenai. There's so much more to explore.

Following advice, this time we stayed at Eagle River State Park, only about 7 miles further out of Anchorage than Centennial Park. Thanks to a forum member for that tip; Eagle River is a nice park and it was only $15 to stay there. The Alaska state parks we've stayed in so far are well-maintained with large treed sites, fire rings, picnic tables and nice clean toilet houses, so we don't miss having flush toilets so much. We forgot to take any pictures, dang!

We still had one museum ticket left for Anchorage, so Monday morning we zipped into the city and toured the city museum. It's a modern facility and has nice, well-displayed exhibits. Too bad we were getting museumed out or we'd have stayed longer. As it was, 2 hours and we were ready to head back to the campground and pack up. That day we drove the Glenn Highway through Palmer (where we stopped at Fireside Books to see an author we liked--she was in Europe on a book-signing tour, though, and the bookstore is closed Mondays) and out to Glenallen--a beautiful drive along mountains and rivers. I've run out of superlatives to describe Alaska's beauty. Just when you think 'nothing can top this,' you come around a curve and a new mountain, glacier or river valley takes your breath away. About 3 miles north of Glenallen is another nice, quiet state park, Dry Creek. Both of us are in what I call the "wet & mizzable" stage of a cold, so we went to bed early and forgot to take pictures once again.

Today we decided to bypass the Tok Cutoff because of the description of its surface in the Milepost. It seemed to describe conditions a little like the Dempster in places. Stuffed up and achy, we didn't feel up to the challenge; instead we went north on the Richardson Highway to Delta Junction and then east on the Alaska Highway (2) to Moon Lake State Recreation Site, which has some 15 or 16 sites next to a pleasant little lake where folks like to fish. Float planes also land here; there's one parked on the shore about a block from our campsite.

Any Forum members who fish will be in absolute heaven in Alaska, bring all your gear. Salmon are running now and although the numbers are way down, we still saw salmon in their spawning grounds and in the creeks and rivers leading to them. Lots of other kinds of fish are available to catch; the Milepost usually tells what's found in the creeks, rivers, and lakes along your route.
We made do with maple sugar-smoked salmon from a little shop in the Kenai alongside the Sterling Highway a few miles south of Soldatna: Tustamena Smokehouse. Not only was the fish much cheaper than we'd seen it anywhere else, it's to die for. We're already kicking ourselves that we didn't buy more of it than we did.

The Richardson took us above the tree line once again to alpine tundra and glaciers. We had lunch at a stop by a tributary of the Copper River where we watched as a few deep red salmon played tag, or so it seemed, in absolutely clear water. The Alaska pipeline winds its way alongside the highway, moving from one side to the other and back, creating a kind of surreal scene. Despite road work and several long delays we were happy to have experienced this scenic road.

Notes: I'm being so specific about our route because I know that at least one Forum member likes to follow along in something like Google Earth, Google Maps, or the like.
We're getting to be great fans of Fred Meyer stores, so when we saw there was one in Soldatna we found a reason to stop (a pastry called Petite Palmiers. Courty is hooked). As we pulled into the lot we saw a part of the lot was set aside for RVs. There was even a fresh water spigot clearly labeled. I don't know if all Fred Meyers stores are RV-friendly, but it was nice to see one that is. Adding that fact to the fact of the free wifi in the parking lot at the Lowe's in Anchorage makes me wonder if that store--or the chain itself--is trying to appeal to RVers. Has anyone else seen evidence of this elsewhere?
Gas prices vary widely. We stopped for gas at one place where it was nearly $5 a gallon. We didn't want to pay that much so we went on to the next place about 30 miles up the road, only to find that they were completely out of gas. That's when I put in the 5 extra gallons I've been carrying along. It was almost 80 miles farther before we found a gas station, and gas there was well under $4. The advice we were given (also on this forum, I think) to carry an extra can of gas saved us a lengthy stay on the roadside somewhere along the Richardson. We'd probably be there still!
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:25 PM   #118
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Sorry to hear: "Both of us are in what I call the "wet & mizzable" stage of a cold, so we went to bed early and forgot to take pictures once again."

We are loving the updates, photos and we all appreciate the time you are taking from getting rest to post them. Wise choice to not take the more "difficult" route when you aren't at your best health wise.

Please get some well deserved rest while continuing on your safe journey toward home.

Deb
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Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike._ John Muir
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:33 PM   #119
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregory
Sorry to hear: "Both of us are in what I call the "wet & mizzable" stage of a cold, so we went to bed early and forgot to take pictures once again."

We are loving the updates, photos and we all appreciate the time you are taking from getting rest to post them. Wise choice to not take the more "difficult" route when you aren't at your best health wise.

Please get some well deserved rest while continuing on your safe journey toward home.

Deb
Ditto everything Deb said!!!!! Safe travels!!!

Debbie
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Old 08-16-2012, 11:23 PM   #120
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The trip home won't be a rethreading of the outbound leg. We plan to take a series of ferries down the Alaska coast, hopping on and off at various places. it'll be expensive but if you subtract the cost of gas that we'd use otherwise and add the fun factor, I think we'll be able to justify it. We're in Haines, AK, tonight and plans are now to take the 6:something p.m. Ferry to Juneau tomorrow. It gets to Juneau around 11 p.m. We have reservations--a rarity for us, but the late arrival hour made us do it--at the Spruce Meadows RV Park. Court and the owner, Linda, had such a happy chat on the phone (cell service! Yea!) that when she asked whether they have a Good Sam discount, Linda said no but she'd give us the Good Linda discount. We intend to see the Mendenhall glacier, just about 3 miles from the campground.
We'll get off the last ferry at Prince Rupert, BC, and take various highways either to Seattle or elsewhere depending on whether we can get to Seattle by a certain date. If we miss it, we'll wind southeastward through Canada and decide where to reenter the US as the spirit takes us. We'll want to sidestep the forest fires we've heard are burning aplenty in the western states.
The trip yesterday was rough but beautiful and today, on the leg from our campsite about 15 miles south of Destruction Bay, YT, to Haines, the road was better and the sightseeing even better. The Haines Highway is a good route to take.
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