Sunday, July 31, 2011

On The Road To Denali

Sunday: (07/31) We were up early and on the road to Anchorage. We had breakfast at McDonald's Lou and Dawn had egg McMuffins and i had a sausage McGriddle. They don't come close to being as good as Don McMuffins but were convenient this morning. we had a lot to do today. Our destination today was to be outside of Denali National Park so we can go in to our campsite tomorrow. It's 30 miles in on the Park road and 15 miles past the open road. Only campers get to go in to the campgrounds beyond mile 15. We'll be there 6 days so we need to get stocked up. We also need to replace the broken microwave.

We checked at Walmart, Costco, Fred Meyer, and Best Buy for an appropriate microwave oven.  Appropriate is one that required the least amount of retrofit for installation and had appropriate other features and also wasn't too costly.. We found a couple of that were close but most were not. The close ones would have worked but would be quite right. At Best Buy we found one that was perfect and got it. It fit the opening in the vent frame perfectly and required only a little bending of mounting hardware and drilling a few holes in the oven to look just like the original. Of course, finding it an installing it too a little time. Lunch was roast chicken and pepper soup. We completed that task and our shopping by 4:30 and finally were on the road from Anchorage to Denali, a mere 240 miles. We had made reservations at Denali RV Park in Healy and confirmed our late arrival. This will be our third night in an RV park on this trip. We decided to do it here so we can easily empty the holding tanks and fill with water before we go in to the park. Every thing needs to last for our stay there. We can't come back pout and go back in. Once in your in for the length of your visit. It rained all the way up, very little to be seen due to the low clouds. No views of Denali on the way up. We stopped for dinner along the way at a rest stop, garlic bologna sandwiches. We arrived and checked in to the RV park about 9:45.
(GPS: 63.82146073, -148.98898733)
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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Whittier, Alaska

Saturday: (07/30) French toast and spam for breakfast. We went through the Railroad/Auto tunnel to Whittier. This is a 2.5 mile tunnel, the longest combined train/auto tunnel. It's a single lane tunnel.

Whittier Marina Whittier Harbor View
We explored around the marina. It is a very active fishing port. There was a cruise ship in port that dwarfs the "city."

Old Army Buildings In Whittier Whitter Village
Whitter is an interesting "city'. It has about 139 residents. Almost all of them live in a single building that also includes the city offices and a bunch of other offices. The building, on the left above, is one of two big buildings that were built back in 1956 and were abandoned by the Army four years later in 1960. They survived the 1964 earthquake very well being well built concrete buildings sitting on solid rock. The public works building is another old Army building. The picture above right pretty much shows the entire village except for the marina area.

Old Army Buildings In Whittier Old Army Buildings In Whittier
The other building has since fallen into total disrepair and has been severely vandalized. The water leaking through the broken windows and through cracks in the floors has created stalactites.

Pedestrian Tunnel In Whittier Salmon Berries In Whittier
To get to the village area from the marina and under the railroad yard pedestrians use the tunnel above left. On our walk behind the village we found a lot of salmon berries.

Dawn And Lou By River At Whittier
There is also a nice little park and campground by the village.

We enjoyed looking around the town. For such a small town it took us quite a while. We had lunch at the Chinese Sea restaurant by the marina. We also explored all the roads we could find driving out Shotgun Cove Road. They seem to be extending the Road West and selling lots so possibly eventually there will be more town. we also drove out to some old munitions bunkers and the trailhead to the Portage Passage trail on a short Forest Service Road. The driving tour didn't take long. Not much road this side of the tunnel. We returned to camp about 6:30. For dinner Lou made beef noodles and a green salad.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Williwaw Campground At Portage Lake

Williwaw CG
Friday: (07/29) Oatmeal for breakfast. We were on our way early and arrived at our new home, Williwaw campground near Portage. Lou made red pepper soup for lunch. Lou and Dawn saw a bear in the campground on their exploration walk of the campground.

Portage Lake
We walked out to the Visitor Center for a look. Portage Lake is next to the visitor center. Portage Glacier drops icebergs into the lake but can't be seen from the visitor center.

Dinner was pork roast with mashed potatoes and a pickle salad by a campfire. Lou discovered the microwave wasn't working when she tried to use it for dinner. I took a look at it and it wasn't the usual fuse. It seems like it finally bit the dust. I've been surprised it lasted as long as it did. I had to replace the movistors in it about seven years ago. Another something to pickup in Anchorage on our way through.
(GPS:60.78558902, -148.8783471)
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tenderfoot Canpground, Chugash National Forest

Thursday: (07/28) We had intended to stop by the Kenai Princess Lodge to visit with our friend Jeanie. We had the weekend sneak up on us and decided to try and get to Portage to get a campsite before the weekend crowds arrive on Friday. We tried to connect with Jeanie but since we hadn't connected in time it didn't work out so we continued on to Portage a day early. We stopped for dinner along the way before Cooper Landing. Lou fixed grilled pork chops with fried potatoes and fresh corn.

Tenderfoot CG Upper Kenai In Chugash National Forest Lake At Tenderfoot CG Upper Kenai In Chugash National Forest
After dinner we drove on stopping for the night at Tenderfoot CG by Upper Summit Lake about 40 miles from Whittier.
(GPS: 60.63612757, -149.49878351)
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Monday, July 25, 2011

Soldotna, Alaska

Monday: (07/25) It was a quick trip on up to Soldotna. We looked at Centennial Park but it was too muddy so we went on over to Fred Meyer's and enjoyed their paved parking lot. The rain this morning kind of made a mess of things. Fred Meyer's allows RVs to stay 3 days so we may take them up on it. They also have a sanitary dump and water. Are you listening Walmart?

Chorizo Kale And Onion Soup
For dinner Lou made a chorizo onion and kale soup.

Soldotna Fishing Boardwalk Soldotna Fishing Boardwalk
We took a walk on one of the fishing boardwalks that hang on the edge of the river near Soldotna. The walkways help protect the river from the damage that so many fishermen cause the the salmon spawning areas. A fisherman displays his catch for us.

We continued our walk around the area looking at the stores. There were two big sporting goods stores to examine. At the Sportsman's Warehouse it was interesting that 1/4 of the store was just ammunition. Moose must be a real threat here.  protect the edge of

Tuesday: (07/26) Leftover biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast. We dropped Dawn off to look at some local book stores and Lou and i visited the visitor center at Centennial park and the National Wildlife Visitor Center just South of town. We took a little hike on the forest trail there. We also visited a thrift store, found the library and a laundrmat, and tried to locate a battery for Dawn's watch. We need a bigger town for the battery. Lunch was leftovers. Lou's chorizo ravioli soup and my Mexican Surprise. After lunch I was dropped off at the Library to work on the blog and Lou and Dawn returned to one of the book stores.

Wednesday: (07/27) When we woke up we were in heavy fog. That turned in to a heavy overcast, a little rain then by the end of the day it was mostly clear. Unfortunately, the part that wasn't clear was the mountains across the Cook Inlet. We drove out to Kenai and looked around. Stopped by at Lowe's and Home Depot and found an adequate faucet for the kitchen sink. Tomorrow we'll move over to Kenai and I'll park at Lowe's while I reinstall the faucet so I have an endless supply of additional parts that seem to always be needed.

Fishermen At Mouth Of Kenai River Russian Orthodox Church In Kenai
We watched the fishermen at the Mouth of the Kenai River. We explored old town and toured the Russian Orthodox Church. The priest there was very excited to talk to all the guests and informative about the church.

Snowcat Minivan In Kenai
On our walk in Old Town we passed this soccer moms minivan.

We drove out to Kenai Landing, an old cannery, for a look. It was supposed to be a shopping center now but it was vacant now. We also stopped by a couple of excellent thrift stores where we found some real treasures.

Nikiski Dock For Oil Platform Supply Oil Platforms Off Nikiski
We continued North up the peninsula to Nikiski. We went out to the harbor that services the oil platforms out in Cook Inlet. The dock is an old ships hull filled with dirt. The beach there is rocky so there was rock skipping to be done.

We drove on out to the North end of the road where there is a State campground. We considered camping there next but decided against it due to all the cottonwood stuff blowing in the air. Dawn wouldn't be able to breathe there without a mask so we'll stay in Kenai instead.

Egg, sausage, potato and cheese toasted English muffins for breakfast. We stopped at Don Jose's Mexican restaurant for lunch. I had a chili relleno and taco, Lou had a super nachos, and Dawn had flautas. For dinner we stopped at the St Elias brew pub. It's located just up the hill through the woods from our parking spot here at Fred Meyer's. We stared a couple of pizzas, had enjoyed their home brewed cream sodas and a beer.

Thursday: (07/28) We were up and rolling away by 0650. We wanted to to our laundry and the laundromat wasn't too big and seemed in demand. It opened at 0700 so we were there just before they opened. We had no problem getting our wash started but when it came time to dry there was difficulty getting dryers. It seems they do laundry themselves, possibly for a motel and tied up some dryers. Then there were quite a few washers and dryers that weren't working. It seems they won't be getting fixed until after fishing season as the owner had gone fishing. We had cereal wit hyogurt and honey for brekfast as we waited to dry our wash. We got everything done and took our showers then returned to Fred meyer's to use their dump station and get water. With all these tasks accomplished, we headed out to kenai to Lowe's where I parked. Lou fixed grilled bacon and cheese sandwiches for lunch. After lunch I started installing the new sink faucet. I wanted to be by a good hardware store to get parts as needed. We bought the new faucet earlier but I had to rework the water lines and relocate the accumulator tank. In addition I had to drill even more holes in the sink. With a lot of looking and measuring and two trips to the store to get parts and one to return parts the faucet was in and there were no leaks. i did secure all the water lines, something that the previous installation didn't do. Since I believe our bumpy roads and loose water lines contributed to the faucet failure, I took some precautions that may help this one last longer.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ninilchik River View Campground, Ninilchik, Alaska

Sunday: (07/24) We prepared to leave Homer and finally left about 11am. We didn't go to far, just up to Ninilchik.

Ninilchik River View CG Chorizo And Mini Ravioli Soup
We stopped to checked the Ninilchik River View campground and liked it so we stayed. After lunch we took a long walk down to the beach which is down a lot of stairs.

Ninilchik River Village Rotten Boat On Beach Ninilchik River Village Flowers
We walked up the beach and passed this old wooden fishing boat. Also saw a few flowers, of course. At the end of the beach is a small harbor which really kind of odd. At low tide all the boats sit in the mud. There were about 30 commercial fishing boats there in the mud.

Ninilchik River Village Ninilchik River Village
We looked around the old village and up the hill to the Russian orthodox church. Above left is a look at the Ninilchik Village from above by the church.

Ninilchik River Village Russian Orthodox Church Ninilchik Russian Orthox Cemetary
On top of a hill above the village is this Russian Orthodox Church (Transfiguration of Our Lord Chapel). Next to the church are a couple of cemeteries. One belongs to the church, the other, I believe, to the American Legion.

Ninilchik was settled by the Russians. The Russian fur trading company needed a place for their employees to retire after they had harvested most of the furs so they set up retirement villages on some islands and here at Ninilchik. When we looked around the two cemeteries by the church we were surprised that none of the grave markers date back to that period. We completed our walk and took a drive around "town". The little general store is quite interesting. We also found a local bakery which we'll have to visit tomorrow when they're open.

Leftover chorizo and eggs for breakfast. Chorizo, mini ravioli soup with garlic Parmesan toasted bread for lunch. Pork chops with Mexican rice and beans for dinner.

Monday: (07/25) Biscuits and gravy for breakfast. We started the morning retracing some of our footsteps, in the car, so that Dawn could take some pictures. We stopped by the bakery we saw and got a few things for later.

Ninilchik Deep Creek Beach Boat Launching Ninilchik Deep Creek Beach Boat Launching
We drove down to Deep Creek beach to see the boats launch there. Looking at the "harbor" at Ninilchik village made us wonder where all the charter fishing boats here were launching. Above shows how they launch at the Deep Creek Beach.

We hooked up and then enjoyed our bakery treats for lunch. We then were off up the road to Soldotna.
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Mexican Surprize

I can't think of a better name for this dish. I like meal in one dishes like this one.

  • Two packages of 90 second brown rice. (Any rice will do. We usually use the 90 second rice because it uses less energy to prepare. Any rice will do.)
  • Can of white beans
  • Can of corn
  • Can of diced tomatoes
  • Salsa to taste (1/2 cup or more)

I cooked some pork chops in a large frying pan then sauteed some mushrooms in the same pan. Put the pork chops and mushrooms aside. Throw all the above into the frying pan and cook until hot and and all the juices are absorbed or evaporated.

I sliced the pork chops into thin strips and added them and the mushrooms to the rice.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Homer. Alaska

Tuesday: (07/19) We had oatmeal with yogurt, cranberries and honey for breakfast. We left camp about 8am continuing South on the Skilak lake Loop Road. It's a gravel road and was very good coming in to Hidden Lake. We explored a couple of campgrounds along the way. The road got quite like a washboard before we got back to Sterling Highway.

Rock And Antler Shop In Sterling
We stopped at Dan Cooper's rock and antler shop in Sterling. He spent a lot of time answering our questions  and showed us his work shop.

We stopped in Soldotna at Fred Meyer's to have Dawn's glasses looked at and pick up a few things. Fred Meyer's allows overnight stays and has a dump station and the parking lot was well parked up with RV's. While shopping Lou bumped in to Jeanie Helms, a friend from Quartzsite. She took us to lunch at Don Jose's Mexican Restaurant. She works summers at a local lodge. The food was very good. I had a chili relleno and burrito. Dawn and Jeanie  had enchiladas and Lou had a chile relleno.

Homer Spit Marina Campsite Homer Spit Marina Campground viewed from the beach with the tide out.
Our campsite on Homer Spit viewed close and far away and low tide

We made our way on down to Homer stopping for the night on the Homer Spit at the Marina Campground. Nice view of the ocean on one side and Kachemak Bay on the other side. We settled into a nice site and relaxed the rest of the day. For dinner Lou fixed baked potatoes, corn on the cob and BBQ ribs.
(GPS: 59.631696, -151.4949159)

Cranes Walking On Homer Spit Beach Cranes Flying away from Homer Spit Beach
Wednesday: (07/20) A nice sunny day with clear skies. Some cranes walked by on the beach in front of our RV until scared into flight by a fellow campers dog.

Homer Spit Marina Burro Walking On Homer Spit Beach
We explored the shops and marina on the spit.

Homer Farmers Market Eagle At Homer Alaska
We also visited the Homer Farmers Market  held Wednesdays and Saturdays.. You can tell the vegetables are locally grown or at least not grown hear our home by the huge size of them. An eagle resting at home near her nest across from the post office.

Of course we stopped at a couple of hardware stores for a look. One, Ulmers was more of a general store. I've been looking for good protective cases for our phones since we bought them. The cases came with Lou's and Dawn's but they are both different and not very good. In fact Lou's was a two piece case the broke and was taped together. Dawn's was similar to the one I bought but not as good. Since they didn't have one for mine at Best Buy when we bought the phones i got a credit instead. I located on at another Best Buy store later. When Lou's Broke we started looking in earnest but haven't found any other than the louse type Lou had. Not at any of a dozen Best Buys visited, Fry's, and numerous wireless stores. What an odd thing to locate at a store at the end of the world here in Homer. I bought them out. They cost 1/6 what I had paid as well. They wanted to get rid of them and I wanted them. How nice!

We stopped across from the post office to watch a Bald eagle perched on her nest with her two eaglets. We didn't get a view of the eaglets though.

For lunch we had grilled cheese sandwiches and white chili. (Stagg's white chilli uses white beans and sour cream instead of tomato sauce). Dinner was some a Chinese vegetables with noodles and chicken Lou stirred up.

During dinner Lou noticed the carpet was damp under the dinette table. A check revealed the water was coming from a lick in the kitchen sink faucet. I hoped it was just a loose fitting but it wasn't. The copper line entering the faucet broke at the base of the faucet. Must have been too bumpy of a road recently. No easy fix and too late to get parts tonight. Too bad we didn't know earlier when we visited the stores. I disassembled the dinette seats, We vacuumed the carpet and setup fans to dry it out. We also had some water in a storage cabinet below the floor as well.

RV Kitchen Leak Repair RV Kitchen Leak Repair
The sink faucet broke and needed to be capped off.

RV Kitchen Leak Repair RV Kitchen Leak Repair
A lot of the floor needed to be dried out. We used our fans after the wet vac.

Thursday: (07/21) We got up and went to breakfast at the Fresh Sourdough Express Bakery Cafe. I had a mix of potatoes and vegetables with some cheese on it, Dawn had French Toast and Lou had biscuits and gravy. The real purpose of our morning trip was to visit the hardware store. We dropped Dawn off at a book store and visited both hardware store, Spenards and Ulmers, which fortunately are next door to each other. i needed to get a new kitchen faucet or plugs to cap off the lines to stop our leak. Spenards had only really expensive fauscets with too many features for our RV. Ulmers had some tice simple cheap faucets but the lines weren't long enough to avoid reworking some of the water lines. We decided to just cap the water lines and live without a sink the rest of the trip or at least until we pass through Anchorage again. We intend to remodel the kitche to eliminate the double sink, which we don't use, and install a single sink and new counter top. The faucet can wait until then. So, a only plugs were neeeed to be able to turn on the water again. Afraid not. One line was cross threaded and couldn't be plugged. So another trip to the store to get another compression fitting to replace the cross threaded one. Finally no leak. We're still drying out so can't reinstall  the dinette until tomorrow.

Lou made hamburgers for lunch . We enjoyed them out at the picnic table on the beach.

Since we're eventually going to visit Denali National Park I needed to make reservations. With extreme difficulty on a really bad website I finally was successful at reserving our campsite at Teklanika campground. I couldn't complete the order for the shuttle tickets with the reservation so I had to call to complete the entire reservation. You get a special shuttle ticket when you're camping beyond the 15 mile point. Visitors can only drive in tothe 15 mile point but people camping inside can drive in to their campsites. They can't move again until their departure and we also have to leave our Jeep outside since it can't be used. Rules, Rules. So we needed the shuttle passes. So, two normally simple tasks that developed into complex efforts were successfully completed.

Now we can play here in Homer then on our way back up the Kenai peninsula. We still need to visit Whittier on our way back up. We just have to limit ourselves a little and meet our arrival date of August 1 at Denali. Lou and Dawn are out on the town visiting book stores. They stopped by a nice market before coming home. The Save-U market has interesting stuff and some interesting prices. They have lots of ethnic foods and a row dedicated to Trader Joe's food items. Lou found some fresh chorizo there and got some for breakfast.

Friday: (07/22) Lou fixed some fresh chorizo and eggs that she got at the market last night. She also prepared sandwiches for lunch.

Pratt Museum Homer Alaska Pratt Museum Homer Alaska
We headed up to the Pratt Museum. It's another excellent little museum. It has three floors. The upper main floor is the museum with displays and hands on displays about fishing, the 1964 earthquake, local native people and pioneers settlers. It takes quite a while to get through the displays if you're like us and read and watch everything. The second floor has some life fish and sea creatures and a camera that you can control that's on Gull island across the bay from the Homer Spit. The lower floor contains an art gallery. and information about the Exxon Valdez oil spill. There are also some stuffed animals including a huge wolf, a quite large brown bear and this Lynx that reminds us of what spunky may grow up like. There is more art scattered around along the halls and stairways.

Pratt Museum Homer Alaska
Outside there is a pioneer cabin that we found quite interesting. Compact and functional and one of the best and most realistically appointed pioneer houses. We finished off with a hike on their nature trail where we were supposed to see som birds but none cooperated. they also have some interesting art displayed along the trail. one of the things we found interesting was that doing service and or projects at the museum is part of the school curriculum here. We ate our sandwiches in their little arboretum.

After the museum visit we headed out the East End highway.That's the name of the road that continues beyond Homer. It goes about 22 miles further and is a nice paved road for all but the last three miles.

East End Of East End Road 22 Miles East Of Homer East End Of East End Road 22 Miles East Of Homer
It turns into a gravel road and then a treacherous dirt road going down a high cliff to the beach at the upper end of Kachemak Bay. We walked the beach and collected some nice shells.

East End Of East End Road 22 Miles East Of Homer East End Of East End Road 22 Miles East Of Homer
A bunch of paper or cardboard like crust was on the beach at the end of Kachemac bay.

Homer Alaska Eagle And Eaglets
We stopped by to watch the eagle feed her eaglets. The mother eagle on left, an eaglet on the right.

We had dinner at AJ's steakhouse in old town Homer. Lou and Dawn shared an excellent ribeye steak. I had halibut tacos. After dinner Dawn visited a nearby book store and Lou and I stopped by the Save-U market. I had seen it before. It's a big and includes pet foods, hay, gardening items, tools, a deli, an excellent selection of foods.

When we got home I reassembled the dinette. Nice to have it back. Lou will get the rest of the storage organized in the morning.

Saturday: (07/23) Granola with yogurt, honey and fresh strawberries for breakfast.

Homer Farmers Market Marimba band
We started the day with another stop at the Farmers market. There was an excellent marimba band playing there.

Norman Lowell Gallery Anchor Point Alaska
We then headed up the highway a little ways to Anchor Point and visited the Norman Lowell Gallery. An outstanding gallery in a town without a gas station. Lowell homesteaded here in 1949 and has been paint successfully for a while. Nothing in the gallery is in our reach. The cheapest I saw was over $24,000.  .

Norman Lowell Gallery Anchor Point Alaska  Norman Lowell Gallery Anchor Point Alaska
We got to tour his original cabin with a nice tour guide dog that only wanted to fetch sticks.  The original homesteaders cabin is just to the left of this second phase addition. the original is too dilapidated to enter now.

Norman Lowell Gallery Anchor Point Alaska Norman Lowell Gallery Anchor Point Alaska
The part you can tour isn't in too much better condition but has some nice items displayed in it.

We drove out a road in Anchor point to the end of the road and the farthest point West you can drive in the US from the 48 states on a paved road. Yesterday we drove the furthest distance into Alaska when we went out to the end of the Kachemac Bay on East End Road.

We also drove out the North Fork Loop road. Lunch was goodies form the car reserves.

Homer Spit Marina Tour Homer Spit Marina Tour
We then returned to the Spit and took a tour of the harbor given by a Pratt Museum docent.

Homer Spit Marina Salty Dawg Saloon Homer Spit Marina Salty Dawg Saloon
We finished the day with a visit to the salty Dawg saloon for a drink. It is supposed to be a must do for visitors here.

Homer Spit Marina Salty Dawg Saloon Dawn And Lou At Homer Spit Marina Salty Dawg Saloon
They have that wonderful green wall and ceiling paper, dollar bills. We enjoyed talking to a group of people originally from Switzerland now from Puerta Valarta, Mexico. Dinner was leftover tuna and noodles and hot potato salad.

Homer Alaska Coal From Beach
Some of the coal that Dawn collected from the beach. it would have been nice for a fire but we had rain and wind except for one night's fire. The stuff can spontaneously ignite so we didn't take it with us as much as we wanted to.
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