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Take a peek out the front windshield of our coach!
We were able to dump at Meziadin Junction (an awful experience) and then drove the couple miles to the campground. We had a great campsite facing the lake with an island right in front. Next morning we drove to Hyder (Fish Creek) and to our surprise got to see “Runner” a Grizzly that was hungry for fresh Salmon and he put on a show for us. It was raining and very cold, so after about an hour watching his antics, I went back to the car and turned the heater on high. Kathy and Sue and Larry stayed out watching him. So incredible to see him so up close!!
We then drove across the border back into Canada and looked for a place to eat. The only place open in Stewart, Canada, was a small trailer next to the grocery store that only served pulled pork sandwiches. The owner told us that the Mexican restaurant closed when they all got deported. The hotel could get no staff to open its restaurant, and the pizza place is hit or miss because they can also not get any staff. And the bakery was just closed that day. So pulled pork was for lunch.
To our surprise we got a text from friends of ours that were traveling in Alaska too, we had met up with them in Quartz Creek (Coopers Landing) and weren’t thinking we would see them again till probably Christmas back in San Diego, but now they were joining us the next day. That was really nice to see more folks we knew while on this very long journey.
They arrived the next day and coincidentally around the same time, new acquaintances arrived that day too. We had not met Devin and Cheryl before. We all had a few happy hours together while staying at Meziadin Lake. Scott, Tami, Kathy and I drove back down to Hyder that following morning, but we didn’t get to see any bears in the creek. The rangers mentioned that Runner hadn’t been back in a couple days.
After hanging out, we drove back over to Stewart (from Hyder, Ak) and the only place open this time was the bakery. Scott and I had the dipped beef (aka french dip) Apparently the French speaking folks from Quebec aren’t on their friends list. The sandwich was really good. Personally it was much better than the pulled pork sandwich from the other day.
On the long drive back to Meziadin, we took a few pictures of the Bear Glacier. It was a lot smaller than it was back in 2019.
One afternoon we drove over to the Fishway to take some photos. Got to watch the salmon trying to jump up the small dams waterfall instead of going up the fish ladder. Hopefully they figured that out and got upstream, which I surmised was Meziadin Lake.
Our last day there Greg and Cheryl drove up and got a lake front site next to Larry and Sue. The rest of their group camped down at Big Bear in Stewart. That evening there (a VERY windy evening) someone spotted a Grizzly just across from us on the island. Within minutes we had quite a throng of people in front of our coaches taking pictures with all sorts of cameras, large and small.
The following morning we said our goodbyes, assuming we wouldn’t see any of them for a while. But again, we were pleasantly surprised to see Scott and Tami in Prince George a few days after we left them. Devin and Cheryl also stopped by in PG to say hi.
We picked a waterfront site at Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park. It’s a First Come, First Served Campground (FCFS) It was Site 11 and had a nice small rocky beach out front. These are no hookup sites, not even a dump station close by. We were here for 5 nights. It was supposed to be 7, but I realized we would need a dump between Boya and here; so I chose to stop at a small campground in Dease Lake, (not close to the lake at all) so we could dump and do a few loads of laundry and add some supplies after 7 nights at Boya dry camping with nothing at all around there.
Turns out we picked up a lot of mice in Dease, and I was deploying mouse traps, I was able to get 2 of them while there and drove back to Iskut to see if I could buy more Tom Cat Sticky Traps. Nope, so we ended up moving on to Meziadin Lake carrying 5 more mice.
We ran into a couple there that the prior afternoon someone tried to steal their small boat engine. Turned out it was too heavy and they dropped it into the lake. The owner fished it out. Our friends were walking around over there and saw a couple guys come in, drive right to where it was dropped and searched for it, probably to put it in their black truck and drive away. Our friends walked away without getting a picture of the truck’s plates, darn it.
The last night at Kinaskan Lake, two groups of horses trotted by our site. We had not seen anything like that before. There was no one with them, but it looked like they knew where they were heading.
On the way to the turnoff for the Cassiar, a couple of dogs were in the road; so we stopped and waited for them to get off the road, but instead of that they ran over to our bus and started running around in front and back of us. I kept creeping forward, but that didn’t deter them and they continued to stay way too close. Finally the one that was running in front of us went and joined the one behind us and we quickly took off. Larry & Sue got around them fairly soon afterward. Little did we know it was going to get a bit nuttier in just a little while.
We drove about 30 miles south on the Cassiar thru dense smoke and finally came upon the road closure gate and a flagman. He came over and said the road was open again and a pilot car would be back for us in about an hour or so.
Then it only took about 60 seconds and we were told to move! A yellow truck backed up in front of us and then took off. I jumped back into the driver’s seat and let the air brakes off and shifted into gear and took off after him. Mr. Toad soon came out on this 35 mph road and the pilot truck was doing close to 60 mph and was pulling away fast. Not wanting to be left for dead, we started going a lot faster, first to catch back up to him so we could keep him in sight, then to match his 55-60 mph speed. Now, this is a very narrow winding and bumpy road first in the Yukon, then crossing the border into British Columbia. It definitely reminded us of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland!!!
For some reason the smoke we were driving in was now gone, but we could see it all around in the distance, which was nice. We did keep getting closer and closer to the billowing clouds of smoke. Then it seemed we passed the fires, but within 5 minutes we could see what looked like fog in the distance, but it was smoke. As we got closer, we could see it was right on both sides of the road we were driving on.
The pilot car kept jamming down the road and within a few minutes we were driving between the fires on both sides of the road. Luckily the flames there were small and posed no real risk to us. Seems most of the fuel along the roadway was burned up. There were just a few things still burning. That stretch was about a mile long and then we were out of it and the pilot car pulled over and let us all by.
The next twenty miles were clear blue skies and no smoke at all. The wind was blowing the smoke north and east toward Watson Lake, not south toward Boya Lake!
Kathy went Kayaking on the lake for a couple of hours with Larry and Sue.
Kathy visited Jade City with Larry and Sue while I stayed behind with Dusty and I started looking into fixing the slide problem we were having. I had to move the coach over a bit to allow the cargo bay doors to open fully. This campground places very large rocks to delineate the edge of the campsites to the roadway.
While looking at the slide motor and gears that it drives to move the slide in and out, I noticed the shear pin holes were very elongated, leaving a lot of play. I figured that my problem was associated with that and started to remove the square tubes that drove the gears. First the right one. I took it off and cut off about an inch from the end of each side (it’s actually 2 square tubes, one fits inside the other) and then re-drilled the holes for the shear pins. That right side was easy. The left side was not easy at all.
The first issues was the shear pins were bent, preventing them from coming out after removing the nuts holding them on. I had to cut the heads off them with my Hackzall. My guess is they used cheap Chinese shear pins, as they shouldn’t bend. They are hardened and should just snap like they are intended to do.
Once both those pins were out, I became aware of a special grommet that the tube passed thru on the bulkhead between the cargo bay and slide gear that is above the propane tank. (not in the cargo bay but open to the outside) The tube passed thru it and allowed it to spin but blocked water and dirt from getting into the cargo bay. (aka the basement) It was a bear to get that tube to slide thru that grommet so I could remove it completely to cut the ends and re-drill its shear pin holes. Larry came by and saw me struggling to get that out and offered to help. It still took another hour to get it out of the coach. Clearly a bigger hammer was needed!
Once out, I cut off the ends and re-drilled the holes and put it back in. It went in thru the grommet a bit easier than it came out, but still wasn’t easy. Lots and lots of spray lube eventually helped get it out and to get it back in.
After we were all done and the tools were put away, I tested it. It wasn’t fixed. Now the real work begins.
Boya Lake is in a forest, so Starlink had a real hard time connecting to the satellites. It was blocked more than 95% of the time, saying “obstructions” every 1 minute. We were still able to get on the internet, but it was painfully annoying to have it start and stop constantly. Although downloads worked fine as they just restart where they were when it gets connectivity again. Thank god for Pop Mail! If I had to use a web browser to get our email, life would have been pretty bad.
I’m writing this blog post as we sit at Meziadin Lake Provincial Park and were talking to a couple that pulled in a few day after us and they had just come from Boya and he has his Starlink Dishy mounted on a 20′ Harbor Freight Flag Pole that he uses wood clamps to hold against the lip on the side of his deployed slide. (ingenious!)
A couple of days prior to our check-out we woke up and it was 29 degrees and there was a dusting of snow on the mountains surrounding Boya Lake. That was a wake-up call that we may have overstayed our welcome…
After 7 nights there, we headed out to Dease Lake and Kinaskan lake for the next 7 nights.
We drove from Skagway to Teslin Lake and stayed at the Yukon Motel and RV Park for a night. It’s a good halfway point when heading to Watson Lake. It provides 30 amp power and water, but no sewer.
The next morning we drove to Watson Lake to put our signs up in the Sign Forest. It was a beautiful, sunny day and quite warm, an experience this trip has been lacking.
We stayed at Downtown RV, a place we really didn’t appreciate the first time coming up to Alaska, but at that time we didn’t have a washer/dryer in the bus. We had it put in just after we got home that fall, and we still cannot believe we waited so long.
So here in Watson Lake Kathy could easily do a bunch of loads in the convenience of the coach. I think I carried a load or two over to the campground laundry too. The internal W/D can only do small loads, so going to a campground laundry can be helpful with a bunch of towels and sheets or blue jeans.
The day after getting there, we all headed over to the Sign Forest to find spots to hang our signs. We chose a spot very close to our sign from 2019, and I stood pretty high up on the ladder to bolt it onto the provided 4×4. Larry & Sue went a ways over, far from their prior 2 signs, and attached theirs. It was nice and warm, maybe 80 degrees, much nicer than the last sign hanging that was probably 33 degrees and raining, intermittently snowing, back on August 17th, 2019.
We also headed to the small well- stocked grocery store and filled up on foodstuffs for the 3-week trek down the Cassiar Highway. It got a bit smokey from the fire just a bit down that highway, so we were going to be glad to leave, but we had to go down the highway with the forest burning on both sides. But that is for another post. Look for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride…
Some very interesting clouds were out that day. Chris told us they were lenticular clouds and then sent us a satellite view showing them right in the area of Canada that we were in!!!
The drive over to Skagway was extremely beautiful all the way to the grade down to Skagway, then it turned into an 11% grade for 14 miles into town. But the views out our huge windshield were probably the best we had ever seen in the 60,000 miles of travel in our motorhome. I really had to concentrate and only peek at the views, not wanting to drive off the cliff, and to keep these 40,000 pounds of bananas from wanting to go 100 mph down that steep windy narrow road.
About halfway down the mountain we encountered the US border checkpoint (Skagway is back in Alaska). There was another long line; but after a little bit and not moving ahead very much, we could see a guard waved us up to the front of the line in a lane to the right that had been blocked off. Little did we know they were pulling over motorhomes for food searches this time.
After answering all the questions, we were asked to pull out and over to the right out of the traffic lanes so a border guard could come inside to inspect our food. When I saw a new guard approaching with a 5 gallon bucket, I knew we were in for something…
He ended up taking two dozen eggs, 2 lbs. of deli lunch meat, a tomato, and a bell pepper, saying you couldn’t bring them into the US due to bird flu in Canada. I was really wondering how cooked turkey lunch meat could spread bird flu, not to mention eggs, but they were already gone. I bet those guards have a great “free” breakfast of Denver Omelets each day, and turkey sandwiches galore.
After driving downhill for a few more steep miles, we got down to sea level and into the town of Skagway. We had a reservation for 5 nights at Pullen Creek Campground, which was located just a few hundred feet from the harbor with all the big ships that are docked on the southern berths and with a close view of the ships.
The railroad was just on the other side of the small park between us and the town, so we got a rude awaking the next morning at 6 am from a train horn at a road crossing about 100 feet from us. The train horns went off numerous times a day. This campground turned out to be the noisiest place we had ever camped, but it was fun nevertheless, and the best people watching since everyone from the cruise ship walked by our campsite. We could even hear the loud speakers from the ships’ PA systems some mornings. You couldn’t really make out what they were saying, but it wasn’t quiet.
The town is a Hoot! Lots of shops, bars and restaurants to experience. And more jewelry stores than seemed warranted, but I guess the throngs of cruise ship folks need to part with their money as quickly as possible. We wandered around for a long time and then started looking for a restaurant with a patio where we could eat dinner that would allow dusty. We tried Skagway Brewery as they had a large patio, but pets could only be out there when the kitchen was closed for that area.. (odd) But they said we could go upstairs and order take-out and bring it back down there and eat in there. I believe they were still selling beer on the patio, just not food during doggie access hours. We ended up finding the Skagway Fish Company (SFC), but it had just closed for the evening, so we headed back to our wheeled homes for dinner “in”.
The next evening we walked over to the SFC for dinner and sat outside watching the throngs of people heading back to their cruise ships before they shoved off and left them there. The restaurant had pretty good food, but our waiter was an ass. His tip suffered as he continued to have a bad attitude for the whole dinner. Never experienced that before, especially at a pretty high priced meal with several alcoholic drinks.
At noon on Tuesday we had a reservation for the Skagway & White Pass railway to ride it to the top of White Pass. Some of the rail was on very narrow ledges with drop-off cliffs. The railway tracks were narrow gauge, which means the tracks look way too close together. Narrow gauge is 36″ wide and regular tracks are 54″ wide. It almost seems like the cars should topple over sideways with a slight breeze. But, fortunately for us, they only looked like that might happen, but they don’t.
During the summer the trains run constantly from 6 am till about 5 pm, lots and lots of trains coming and going. They only do tours, it doesn’t seem like they are used for freight, but I am not sure of that. We did hear whistles a few times late at night, but I figured they may be moving trains over to the maintenance yard. They had lots of new engines. They looked brand new to me. I imagine that was a huge capitol investment. I guess they only have a finite window to make money while the cruise ships are in port and they didn’t want a broken locomotive to potentially stop the revenue “machine”.
The train ride was fun and the views were breathtaking. I don’t know how many trains are on the tracks at the same time, but there were at least 6 trains that passed us going the other way during our trip. There were at least 4 areas where they could pass you and seemed to be timed well so very little time was spent stopped while another train went past. All the passenger cars looked in very good shape, meant to look old, but well kept.
Tuesday evening during happy hour we started talking about the drive out of Skagway on that steep grade, but this time uphill. Lightening the load seemed to be a good idea. We eventually decided the gals would drive the cars up instead of us pulling them (they are an extra 4,000 lbs. each) We also used up most of the 100 gallons of fresh water, lowering that weight from 1,000 lbs. to about 150 lbs. Dumping the other tanks was a no-brainier as they were probably weighing in around 1,100 lbs. of unneeded weight. So all in we jettisoned around 6,000 lbs. of weight for the trip up the mountain.
We drove off in the morning and of course we got stuck behind a double tanker truck struggling with a full load of fuel to get up the grade. It never really got above 20 mph till it hit the top, where it disappeared quickly leaving us in its dust while we hooked up our cars for the rest of the trip to Teslin Lake. We stopped for the Canadian border station not far from the top of the mountain, which was a bit different than the norm, as the guard was up in a window much higher than the normal border stop windows. He was actually a bit higher than us, so we were looking up at him, We had not seen that before. No issues at the Canadian border again. Apparently only US border guards are problematic and very picky about the food.
We drove on for a while and stopped at a pull-out overlook of Nares Lake and Bove Island just about 1/4 mile from shore for lunch. This is probably one of the best parts of traveling, being able to pull over anywhere we want to stop for lunch and walk around a bit before traveling on down the highway.
Not but a few miles after we got back on the highway, we came around a downhill curve at speed and there was a car stopped in the middle of the road. Assuming there must be some large animal in front of him, I slammed on the brakes, and at that moment wondered what might be hurtling toward our heads from behind due to that. Larry was a bit closer than normal and I worried that he could plow into us, but he was paying attention and was able to stop too. Turns out the Clown had stopped in the middle of the road there on this downhill blind corner to watch a bear over near the tree line. I cannot imagine if he had done that in front of that fast moving double fuel tanker we had followed up the hill. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have been able to stop fast enough and this bozo was smack dab in the middle of the highway.
The rest of the drive to Teslin Lake was thankfully uneventful. We camped overnight at the Yukon Motel and Campground right on the lake and next to the long bridge they are replacing. Lots of noise (pile driving) in the morning.
We arrived at a KOA on the Chena River in the afternoon after a drive from Denali NP. It turned out to be a fairly nice KOA. We normally avoid them as they aren’t usually very nice, but this was the exception to that rule. We spent a few days there and re-stocked up on everything we were low on or out of, mostly groceries and I even got a badly needed haircut. One afternoon, Kathy and Dusty were down by the river and saw a moose mom and baby in the river!
The second day there it started getting smokey, and by the day we left it was very smokey. We did the normal tourist traps, like the North Pole gift store and the Museum at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks also.
Kathy and I drove out to the Turtle Club, a restaurant out in the middle of nowhere along the Dalton Highway north of Fairbanks. It was an odd place, with nothing near it. As we were getting close, according to the navigation, I was thinking it was taking us to something that wasn’t there. But we came around a corner and there was a large, very full parking lot and a low building behind it. The food was good, but nothing to write home to mom about.
That last morning we filled up the fresh water tank and emptied the others for a few days dry camping at Clearwater State Recreation Area Campground, a FCFS place. We left early so we would have a better chance of finding a spot we could fit into. It was a nice campground and the town of Delta Junction was a few miles away.
Delta Junction is the northern end of the Alaska Highway. We did the usual checking out the place prior to heading out to Tok, Alaska, our last stop on the Alcan inside Alaska. While camping in Tok for a couple nights, we walked over to Fast Eddies for Halibut. It was very good!
We then headed for the long, slow drive to Discovery Yukon, about 20 miles past Beaver Creek.
On the way we had to stop at the Canadian Border check point. That was quite the bottle neck as only one lane was open and it took at least an hour for us to get to the window. Nothing special, all the usual questions we had gotten before.
We stopped at the Discovery Yukon Lodge for one night and then pressed on in the morning for 4 more dry camping nights in Congdon Creek. We again took site 9, and Larry and Sue took #2-3 this time. And that site lived up to what I had been told by a local the last time we camped in CC, it was like a wind tunnel three of the four days there. I was pretty happy I hadn’t tried it.
After 4 nights there, we headed off to Whitehorse where we had reservations at Sanchez’s Mexican Restaurant. Last time we had to sit outside as all the tables inside had been reserved prior to us arriving. Live and learn, who knew you would need reservations there. I guess it was because our favorite spot had closed earlier in the year. That was very sad news for all of us, and probably many others. I suspect the pandemic drained their bank accounts and then the labor shortage did the rest once the tourists came back.
We stayed two nights in Whitehorse instead of 5, and added those nights to Congdon Creek’s 1 night stay, making it 4 nights there.
The last morning there we packed up and headed for the relatively short drive to Skagway. What a spectacular drive that turned out to be, quite an adventure.
We arrived at Denali’s Riley Creek Campground around 11 am as that was check-in/ check-out time there. Your reservation does not secure a particular campsite, just that there will be a campsite that can fit our 40′ coach; so getting there as early as possible makes it more likely to get a nicer site. The site we wanted was taken, but the one across the street from it was available. We set up some of our things, but not everything as we saw on the campsite post they were leaving the next morning. When they did, we immediately moved over there and enjoyed the next 6 nights in what we think is the best site in Riley Creek for a large rig.
That afternoon we walked over to the mercantile store as we heard there was huckleberry ice cream to be had. It didn’t disappoint.
When we arrived, we had been dry-camping for the prior 4 nights, so we wanted to use the dump station before starting another 7 nights of dry-camping in Riley Creek Campground Denali National Park. Their dump station was set up so it would take a very long time to dump and fill with water. When you are dumping, the potable water is probably 40′ or more away; so the average RV had to move up about 25 feet or so for their fresh water line to reach, but that wasn’t far enough forward for the next vehicle to start dumping, so it took most folks twice the time to get out of the way for the next vehicle. Lucky for us we found a line with only one rig in front of us, and we have a long fresh water hose so we could fill the tank and dump at the same time.
Our traveling companions had been to Riley Creek a couple other times, so they knew which were the best sites to try to get. The best spot was taken so they took their #2 choice and set up. We picked a site across from their first choice and noticed that the person in there was leaving the next day, so we deployed the bus just enough to live overnight as the site we were in was long enough but very narrow.
Next morning those folks left and we were ready to move. That site was a much better setup for us, way more level and much wider too. We stayed there for the next 6 nights. It was also much better for deploying our solar suitcase to keep the generator running time to the very minimum. A few of the days we didn’t need to run it at all.
Kathy and Sue wanted to go shopping in town, so one of the first days when it was cloudy and misting rain, that was what we did. There are only a few things in the town of Denali: restaurants, a few hotels, trinket shops and gas stations, also a few tour guide storefronts. Not much else. It’s all about the National Park across the river from the town.
We went for lunch at the place voted best pizza place in town. We got a table outside so Dusty could come with us. The pizza was as good, if not better than the last time we were here for dinner. Dusty was very popular there. It seemed like everyone had to come over and see him. He mostly ignored them, except the kids who still had some food on their hands. He wanted to lick those hands! In the picture to the right you can see the Alaska Railroad Train across the river heading south toward the Denali Station.
Kathy, Sue and Larry went over to watch the Sled Dog Kennel demonstration. The dogs are used all winter in the park, it’s quite amazing. Then they walked back on a 3-mile forest trail that had quite a bit of elevation change. Many sore knees after that!
We drove out the park road every day trying to see the Denali Mountain, and each time we were disappointed, as it was shrouded by clouds. One of the days we decided to go for a hike on Savage Creek Canyon Trail. We visited the Savage Creek Cabin on the way to the end of the road where the trail begins and heard a little talk about the history of the area from one of the tour guides.
It was a bit windy and mostly cloudy when we parked at the trailhead. There was a large sign saying a grizzly bear had been seen in the area. Not what you want to see when starting your hike!!! (but thankfully we never saw him) We decided to walk up and around the river, over the road bridge so we would end up at our parking lot when we finished. (there was a small foot bridge at the other end of the trail that made it a loop.) It was a short 2-mile hike thru some very pretty country. Not far along the trail we came upon a ptarmigan (the chicken of Chicken, Alaska, fame) I had only seen pictures, and this one was right on our trail and didn’t seem to care about us. It just walks right up to us then darted into the underbrush.
Some of the areas were slippery and you could see the park service had tried to make them a bit less of an issue by strategically placing rocks to try to divert the water into small channels that emptied into the creek next to the trail. When we got back we saw a caribou crossing the creek and then eating in the bushes near the parking lot!
The next day Kathy and I drove over to Healy for lunch at 49th State Brewing. They had a nice patio now out front that wasn’t there the last time we went there, so the Dust could also come with us and not have to stay in the car. It was one of the scarce almost warm day, so we wouldn’t have wanted to leave him in there.
On the last full day there we got to see Denali in all its glory! We had an app that showed a real time view of Denali and we could see the cloud cover looked gone. We took our last drive out the Park road and could see it clearly. We could now leave feeling like camping there was a success!
The next morning we headed for the couple-hour drive to Fairbanks.
We camped a couple days at Big Bear to catch up on laundry and supplies. We did find our favorite taco joint while there. It had moved so that made it a bit more challenging. If you’re ever in Wasilla, try out Taco Cancun, you won’t regret it.
We drove up to K’esugi Ken Campground just a bit north of Talkeetna. What a nice campground, very wide, paved roads and beautiful campsites, and surprisingly they had 50 amp power. Nothing else, no water or sewer there and no dump station either. The campground was built on the side of a large mountain and the views were spectacular. Our traveling companions had the site behind us and they could see Denali from the back of their campsite. But it could only be seen the first day. After that the clouds obscured it completely. But prior to that happening, we drove back down the Parks Highway and over to a Denali Overlook and snapped a few pictures. Denali was just as grand as I remembered it!
The next morning we drove over to Talkeetna, which turned out to be quite a long way. The road that goes over to Talkeetna was about 30 miles south of us; but what we didn’t realize was that turn-off was still a long way to the town, which looked to be right off the Parks Highway, but there was only one road to get there, which meant you drove way past it and then drove back up to it. It was a bit deceiving until you really look at the map closely.
We finally got to the town and the train was there letting off passengers and tourists. We had arrived at lunch time, so we went off to find the Denali Brewpub, which was right on the main road down to the River’s Edge Park.
The food was just Ok. I would try somewhere else next time. The patio was very nice, as the day was perfect, around 70 degrees and sunny. Afterward we walked all around town, with me hanging outside all the gift shops with Dusty while Kathy shopped.
We ventured down to the park, and the river was high and moving very quickly. There were a lot of signs about staying off the rocks due to the fast moving water scouring the dirt away under the rocks on the edges. Of course there were a lot of folks that apparently didn’t or couldn’t read them and they were out on the rocks’ edge taking group photos and selfies. Basically they were trying to warn you that if you fell into that fast moving frigid water, it wouldn’t be a rescue, but would be a body recovery. Lucky for us (and them), no one fell in while we were there.
After a few hours wandering around the small town, we headed back to the car and drove the long way back to the campground. Denali was no longer visible.
The following day Larry and Sue were going to try fly fishing in Troublesome Creek just up the road a mile or so, and we headed out to see other campgrounds in the area and visit a war memorial not far from one of them. Also we did a short trail called the Moose Flats Trail. And I was fairly happy we never saw a moose. What we did see were mosquitos by the gross. I wished I had brought my racket as the Deet seemed to have little effect on these buggers.
We spent four nights there and then headed up the road to Denali National Park for a week of dry camping. No power/Water/Sewer @ Riley Creek Campground.
Got to Quartz Creek on Sunday afternoon. Scott and Tami, with whom we planned to meet with there, had arrived a couple hours before us. Scott texted that our site was already empty. Turns out they had an issue with getting their large rig into their reserved site and moved to “an emergency site” that was quite a bit closer to our campsite. We had site number 10, which turned out to be perfect for us as the lake was right out our door, with a great view from our patio.
That evening all 6 of us went out to dinner at the Cooper Landing Brewery. The beer was pretty good and the burgers were even better.
I checked out the group pavilion and a large fire pit with seating around it when hiking through the campground one morning. It was right there, but hadn’t seen it while going around the campground on the roadway. It was maybe 50′ from the road.
Scott & Tami came by our beachfront site in their kayaks the next morning on their way out to explore that very large lake. It’s Kenai Lake and is a very beautiful color. It’s also the source of the Kenai River. And just a few miles away is the Kenai Princess Lodge. Lots of fisherman on that river, all the way, some 50 miles to Kenai City.
We drove over to that Princess Lodge one afternoon to take a look at their campground. It was pretty ugly. We were both glad we didn’t choose to stay there. Quartz Creek Campground looks like the Taj Mahal compared to that ugly campground.
The next day we took a drive out a small road on the other side of the lake to see where it went and drove all the way to this sign and decided to turn around there. The fuel gauge was on empty, just prior to the light coming on by then and we needed to fill up the car before heading back. The prices were pretty steep in Coopers Landing, so I put in a few gallons so we’d have 100-mile range if needed while towing to Wasilla. While I was there I noticed this electric car Charging Station. It seemed to be attached to a diesel generator to power it. It wasn’t on. My guess is it started up when you started to charge your car. Had never seen anything like that anywhere in our travels. The town seemed to have utility poles, but maybe it was a fast charger and needed a lot more amperage than the utility could provide.
We had happy hour on our patio almost every night except the last evening as Tami cooked an incredible brisket dinner for all 6 of us the night before we left for a campground in Wasilla. We really needed a grocery run and laundry hookup (sewer) prior to us heading toward Denali and 11 days of dry camping.
I did some diesel fuel price comparisons for the next leg and Costco was way less than all the other places, actually less than every other fuel station in all of Alaska and Canada, and the best part was it was right on our way to the next campground. We left a bit early the next morning so we wouldn’t get to the Costco fuel station right at the noon rush. It is an easy in/out if you look at the Google Maps Satellite View before you get there so you know which entrance to use, and which lane to use for diesel, and how to get out of there easily into a big, mostly empty parking lot so the Costco food run can be completed! We are 40′ long plus an 18′ car and 6′ towbar making us about 54′ bow to stern. Easy in and out of fuel stations is a must unless I want to unhook the car. (which I prefer not to do unless we are very close to our destination.)
We got to Homer Spit on a glorious summer’s day! Hasn’t been a whole lot of those on this trip, very different from our last trip to Alaska. It was really windy when we arrived and got a bit more windy as the day went on, but the views were spectacular!!! Later, after we set up the campsites, we headed down the spit and had a couple of beers over at the Salty Dawg, a true dive bar on the spit with extremely low clearances inside. Then we walked over to Captain Paddies for Halibut. It was one of the best Halibut dinners I have experienced. The place is nothing to look at really, pretty much a tourist trap, almost a strip mall with a nicer facade. Only “The Bus” had better Halibut in my opinion, and we will stop there on the way home; but Hyder, Alaska, is about 1,600 miles from here, so it will be a while.
It started to rain as we were leaving Captain Paddies and the wind made it a “driving rain”. Lucky for us, it wasn’t actually raining hard yet, but the wind made it seem like it was raining pretty hard.
The next day was “shopping” day. The merchants in town were very grateful for the money we left them. Picked up some sweatshirts and tee shirts, and the much needed refrigerator magnet from the Salty Dawg! Dusty even got a rain coat and a new jacket to help with the cold weather we have been experiencing. (Now it will probably warm up, but I am sure he will get a lot of use on the way back home.)
We went out for Kathy’s Birthday celebration a couple nights after arriving. She chose Fat Olives up in Homer itself. She couldn’t believe how good the Kachemak Bay Bowl was. It was so good she had me take a picture of it so she could post it in the Tiffin Eats group online. My pizza was over the top good too. It probably was as good as the little pizza joint in Tribeca I would frequent when back East, but this pizza was a close second.
On Thursday morning we woke up to a ship at the Homer Spit dock, it was the Hanseatic Nature cruise ship. A smaller, 500′ long cruise liner holding maybe 240 passengers on a 20-day trip from Sapporo, Japan, to Seward, Ak.
We drove back up the peninsula a bit to Anchor Bay to watch the crazy boat recoveries I had heard about. That was so fascinating I had a hard time believing it when I was originally told how it worked. But it was real, and I hadn’t seen anything like it before. They made it look normal. The video below shows how they do it.
When we got back to the coach, Kathy wanted me to get takeout from Fat Olives, pizza this time. It was just as good as the first time.
TSUNAMI ALERT 11 pm Saturday night!! We had seen articles and even a few pictures about Tsunami alerts for the Homer Spit, and still we were very unprepared when it happened. When my phone went off just after falling asleep Saturday night, I was in shock. I told Kathy what the alert and was we both jumped out of bed and started getting clothes on and quickly figuring out what we had to have in case a tsunami actually hit the motorhome. We needed phones, charger(s), laptop & charger, dog food and medicines, a change of clothes would have been nice, but that was an afterthought. And we had no information about the Tsunami, how long before it might hit us, etc. The only thing I knew was I didn’t feel an earthquake, so we might have a bit of time.
Larry came over to make sure we had heard it and within a few minutes of that they were gone. Within 5 minutes of them, we were packed and in the car. It was pouring rain and the road out (the only road) was full of cars moving very slowly. That’s when I started hoping the Tsunami was coming from Japan or somewhere that could take a really long time to get here. Within 5 to 6 more minutes, the cars starting moving faster and we got off the spit and followed the Tsunami Evacuation signs I had seen when we were driving around the area.
We came to a T intersection and there the signs ended. I sort of knew what was in each direction from the prior visit to Homer 4 years ago, so I turned to the right, drove past the airport and continued driving till we were at 300 feet of elevation. I decided to stop when I could see a road sign indicating a significant downgrade. We found a large driveway and pulled into that and turned the car around to face out to the road. Cars and motorhomes streamed by for about a half hour.
We started looking at anything we could find on our phones. Lucky for us there was a bit of cell service way out there and we could read what was going on. We found a news site that said the alert on Homer Spit was a mistake. I called the Homer PD and they acknowledged it was safe to go back. The alert was really for the Cook Inlet on the other side of the peninsula.
I am going to make a go bag and figure out a place to keep it so if something happened we could get out faster.