Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Slowly Approaching Seward

Exit Glacier Road Pullout, Seward, AK – July 30, 2014

Our mornings rarely result in an early departure and this morning was no exception. We thought we would wait an appropriate amount of time for the early risers to have already stopped at Fred Meyer and done their business. After boondocking for 6 or 7 nights, we were also in need of a dump and fill and Fred Meyer has the necessary facilities for accomplishing this. It’s a well stocked grocery store and it even has a Starbucks. Another welcome feature is that they are happy to have RVs stop here and stay over night knowing they will spend lots of money in the store.

However, our well laid plans soon ran into a snag. It appears that not  all the other campers got the early start message. This was the line to get to the dump station. If you look at the left of the picture, you can see “Big Guy” waiting patiently for his turn. It took an hour to get through this line. The fresh water fill was what was slowing everyone down. In the meantime, EJ got  Frank a Starbucks coffee to make the wait more tolerable and also some last minute groceries.

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Then, since Fred Meyer had pretty decent fuel prices we decided to fill up. It took half an hour to get through that routine. This store is in an excellent location and everyone going to the Kenai Peninsula has to pass by here. And most of them stop.

All duties attended to, we continued on up the highway to where the Sterling intersects the Seward highway. Coming down here a couple of weeks ago, traffic going in the direction we were now traveling was backed up for miles waiting to get through this intersection. Since the salmon net fishing season was winding down, we were counting on this no longer being an issue.

But fate had another treat in store for us. Just past Cooper Landing, traffic came to a complete halt. We are only 8 miles from the intersection, so we hope that isn’t the problem. It must be a wreck. Hope it’s not a bad one.

We’re stopped right next to a grocery store and an espresso hut. We watch as folks leave their cars parked on the highway and walk over to get a coffee or a bite to eat for lunch. Hmm, they must know something.

After 20 –30 minutes traffic begins to move again. First we see the tow trucks but no wreck. Then we see an 18 wheeler laying over on its side by the edge of the road.

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Traffic returns to normal, and we decide to ditch our original plan of staying over to explore Cooper Landing. If you don’t fish, there’s not much else to do there. We make it to the intersection with no more problems and turn right to head to Seward.

Along the way we enjoy more outstanding scenery.

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We had read in “Days End” about some boondocking spots along the Resurrection River. We land there and disconnect the Element to run into town to check out the Iditarod Campground which is where we want to stay while in Seward.

On the way we check out Exit Glacier NP and plan on exploring it later.

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When we get to the campground, there’s one spot available and while we sit there trying to decide if we want to go get BG and stay here tonight, someone else pulls in and claims it. So we head back to Resurrection River to enjoy the peace and quiet.

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And our wildlife sighting for the day was this flock of ducks swimming furiously against the swift current instead of flying to where ever they were going.

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Frank enjoying the calm and serenity of our river front location.

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A relaxing end to another event filled day!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kicking around in Kenai

Old Walmart Parking Lot, Kenai, AK – July 25 through 29, 2014

EJ wanted a haircut, so while she went out and did that, Frank did research on a float plane trip to go see some bears. Most trips concentrated on fishing with bear watching thrown in. We were only interested in the watching part since if we fished and caught some, what were we going to do with them? No room in Big Guy’s little freezer and we weren’t going to pay over a hundred bucks (starting price based on how much you caught) to ship them to the lower 48. If we did, then we’d have to decide who we were going to trust with our very expensive salmon until we returned to Orange Park.

I narrowed it down to 2 companies and made some phone calls. One of my choices only had the fish first, bears second trip available. So I called the second one and they had the bears only trip available on Saturday. When EJ got back, she concurred and we set it up. I told EJ my perfect trip would be if I got to fish for and catch one salmon, which we would immediately filet and cook, then watch bears for the rest of the day. Well this trip promised to very nearly match that dream.

On Friday, since EJ had determined from our previous trip notes that little restaurant we sought in Ninilchik was in fact in Kenai, we went off to see if we could find it. Sure enough, it (Veronica’s) and the church were right there just as we remembered. We just had the town.

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Since we were in the area we decided to check on the dip net fishermen. Yup, still very busy.

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Mocha didn’t even miss us while we explored.

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The next day we arrived at High Adventure Air and checked in. They were ready for us and even provided free coffee and cookies.


Our plane arrives at the appointed time. It’s a De Havilland Beaver set up to carry 4 passengers.


This was no namby pamby turboprop plane. This was a real airplane sporting 450 growling snorting radial engine horsepower that you felt in every fiber of your body. Yes sir, this was a real man’s plane.

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Did we mention this was during the season for net fishing for salmon? This was the view  from the air of all of the resident Alaskans trying to net their limit of salmon on the Kenai River and some other interesting sites.

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Pictures of the intrepid adventurers.

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As part of the trip to Wolverine Creek, where the bears were, we flew over Double Glacier. It got it’s name because an ‘island’ divides the glacier. You can see it on the center horizon in the second picture below.

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Eventually the plane lands after a fantastic flight and we board a 19 foot aluminum flat bottom boat. Here is our entry into the bear viewing area. The salmon fishers have first priority it looks like.

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But the bears (both black and brown ie grizzly) do show up and occasionally the fishermen get pretty close.

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The seagulls enjoy the fish carcasses left by the bears.

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We take a break from watching bears to having our guide, Steve, cook fresh salmon for us. First he takes us to a hidden lake.

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Then he prepares the salmon filets.

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Steve was also an excellent story teller and kept us laughing with many stories about his bear encounters while he’s cooking. Also, he’s a southern boy. Can you tell?

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Finally the salmon is ready and he dishes it up. Boy was it good! This is about as fresh as it can get.

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Afterwards we continue bear watching and find one more black bear and a young bald eagle.

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Our time is about up and we begin slowly working our way back to where the float plane will pick us up. But first, a little detour to see a waterfall. The waterfall is fed by rain and melting snow. You can see where it mixes with the silt laden glacier fed lake we’re in.

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On the flight back we fly over more bears and even some moose. We also fly over a green delta laced with many small streams.

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We spot several oil rigs in Cook Inlet.

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Alas, the trip is over as we safely touchdown on Longmere Lake, home base for High Adventure Air.

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Sunday was another beautiful day and it looked like a walk on the beach was in order. This gave us a chance to see the fishing wars up close and personal. Also this was the last week of the season and we wanted to see the action before it was too late.

The trail to the beach.

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Catch of the day.

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Wait a minute! That’s not a salmon!.

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All ages and sizes get a piece of the action. Check our the pink camo waders.

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We take drive further up the Kenai coast to the Kassik’s Brewery.

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And it was good!!

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It’s been another full day and it’s time to head home.

Uh, honey are you sure this is the way?

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We finally found our way home. We stopped to talk to our RV neighbor and he gave us a whole salmon. To my surprise, EJ offered to filet it and carried it off to Big Guy. I set up the grill and chairs. We’re gonna have a feast.

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Boy that looks delicious!

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Even Mocha got a taste.

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Life is good!

After laundry day, Mocha entertains us by attacking a belt from the safety of the basket.

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The local ski club is out practicing on the asphalt.

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On Monday we visit the Kenai visitors center and see the metal catwalk next to the Kenai River that will soon be the site of more combat fishing during the next salmon run.

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While there we took in the Historical Museum and ended up with a very nice and knowledgeable guide. She was the child of one of the original homesteaders in the Kenai area. It was fascinating listening to her stories. This little fellow followed us as we made the rounds of all the exhibits.

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And for the finale of the tour, EJ hugged a bear. Although I think it’s hugging her instead.

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We’ve been in Kenai for 6 days. Who would have thought we could spend that many days here wandering around, exploring and just having fun. Next stop, Seward.