We left Bullards Beach State Park Campground in Bandon around 10AM and headed for the California border. The fish must have been in at the mouth of the Rouge River as the inlet was filled with fishing boats. We stopped for fuel and coffee at Fred Meyer's in Brookings, OR before crossing into California. The drive along the Oregon coast was nice but quite slow. In the early afternoon, we pulled over to have lunch at a picnic area near the Klamath River. We then drove through Redwood National and State Parks as we travelled along US 101. We turned off the highway to drive through the Avenue of the Giants (old US 101). We stopped in a large redwood grove and hiked around the huge redwood trees. We then continued south on US 101 and headed for the Napa Valley. We arrived in Sonoma County around 8PM and stopped for dinner at the Hamburger Ranch in Cloverdale. After dinner, we drove to the Calistoga RV park in Napa Valley and pulled into our campsite at 10:30PM. It was a long day of driving and everyone was tired. As we leveled the trailer and unhitched the truck, our new RV neighbor yelled at us for making to much noise at this late hour. That's what happens when you arrive late in RV parks where the distance between the vehicles is about 12 feet......oh well.
The Champoeg State Park and Campground was very nice so we meandered around the park in the morning. Sean walked down to the Willamette River with his fishing pole but the reel was jammed so he didn't get his line in the water. He then went to the frisbee golf course and played one hole. He said he got a 15 on a par 3 but sometimes he has problems counting above 10 in real golf (unless he takes off his shoes). We left the park around 1PM and drove south/west toward Dallas, OR. On the outskirts of Dallas, we visited the home of Ruth and Evan Firestone. Mark worked with Ruth at the City of Santa Monica before she retired and moved to Oregon. Ruth and Evan recently completed the construction of their new home on several acres. It is absolutely beautiful and it was nice to see them and get caught up during our short visit. We tried not to damage their new asphalt driveway when we turned around our 53-foot long truck and trailer in their front yard.......Ruth knows where to send the repair bill! After leaving Dallas, we decided to head to the Oregon coast. We headed west to Newport, OR and then travelled south on US 101 along the coast. We went from very hot temperatures to cool and foggy. We stopped in Florence and had dinner (leftovers) in the trailer. After dinner, we continued south toward the California/Oregon border and we looked for a place to camp. There are a lot of State campgrounds along the Oregon Dunes area but many had signs indicating that the campground was full. We decided to drive to Bandon to a large (couple hundred sites) State Campground. It was getting dark as we pulled into the campground and the sign on the entry said the campground was full. We went to the Ranger station and he said the campground was full but he would check to see if there were any cancellations. After a few minutes, he gave us the good news that they had a spot for us with a full hook-up.....we got lucky again! After we settled into our site, we took Denver for a long walk toward the beach.
We left Sunshine Valley RV Resort and headed toward the US border. It was about a one-hour drive to the Sumas border crossing. Since it was a holiday weekend in Canada, the border was busy and we had to wait about 45 minutes to get through the border check station. Once we crossed the border, we headed toward Seattle. There was a lot of traffic on I-5. We stopped for fuel and a cup of coffee in Everett, WA and kept driving south. The Seattle area was quite busy and smoky from the fires in British Columbia. We decided to get into Oregon before we stopped for the evening so we drove across Washington and into Portland, OR at around 7:30PM. We didn't have a place to camp so we decided to head to a Oregon State Park just south of Portland. As we entered Champoeg Heritage Campground, the sign said the the campground was full. We drove to the entry kiosk and spoke with the Ranger at around 8PM. She said that she would let us camp at one of their emergency sites (site that they use if there are problems with a campsite). We were so lucky! We got a great campsite with water and electrical hookup! The campground was packed with a large group of Geocachers (outdoor activity using GPS to find stuff). We made a late dinner and went to bed.
We drove from 10-Mile Lake Campground south on the Cariboo Highway. As we came into Williams Lake, you could see the damage caused by one of several forest fires in the area. The road was closed at 100-Mile House and we were detoured across Highway 24 toward Kamloops. After reaching Kamloops, we headed south toward Hope. We pulled into Hope and looked for a campsite. We discovered that Monday is a holiday in Canada and since it was Friday evening, most campgrounds were full. We called around and found an available site at Sunshine Valley RV Resort. It was an end site in the ATV area (noisy and dusty) adjacent to the sewer pump station. It was fine except it cost $98 Canadian for one-night (supply and demand)! It was very smoky in the area but since we had electrical service, we ran the AC instead of having the windows opened. We made dinner and relaxed for the evening.
After breakfast, we left Tyhee Lake campground about noon headed for Prince George on the Yellowhead Highway. There was a lot of traffic on this two-lane road and we got stuck several times behind slow moving trucks and campers. It was a long and somewhat slow drive as we covered the 220 miles to Prince George. We finally arrived at the Costco in PG at 5PM. We filled the truck with diesel and the trailer with propane then had dinner in the food court. We tried the Poutine (French Fries with gravy and cheese). We had some problems ordering as we thought it had different ingredients but after a moment, the food court clerk figured out what we wanted. It was pretty good but I don’t see it transitioning to the States anytime soon. We did some shopping then left Costco and drove to the truck stop to get diesel emission fluid (DEF). We called the truck stop earlier to confirm that they had DEF at the pump; however, you needed a special card to purchase fuel. We ended up going across the highway to another fuel station and purchased a 2.5 gallon container of DEF which should get us home or at least to a truck stop on I-5 where DEF is readily available. After putting the DEF in the tank, we drove about 60 miles south of PG to 10-Mile Lake Provincial Park. We found a spot near the lakefront; however, as we backed into the site, the front bumper of the truck caught a large bolder on the side of the road and that ended that. We pulled out with minimal damage and found another site and which we were able to get in without hitting anything. So now we have some minor bumper damage to go along with the broken windshield and the rock dings on the front of the trailer (one almost went through the aluminum shell). It was late so we all went to bed.
Today we saw the most bears we had ever seen in one day. Although we tried to get an early start on the day, we ended up leaving Kinaskan Lake at around 10am. Not soon after, at 11, we saw our first bear. Less than a minute later, we saw a mom and baby bear on the side of the road. On our drive to Stewart and Hyder, we saw a ton of nature. There were countless glaciers and waters falls, and a few places to get out and take photos. Although we never got out of the car, we rolled down the windows and took photos as Dad drove by. We made it to Stewart and Hyder, and had lunch in the airstream in the parking lot of the Fish Creak Wilderness Center (not realizing that wasn’t allowed). We then entered the Fish Creak Wilderness Center, and walked along the wooden path next to a creek with tons of salmon. The salmon were swimming up river and were really big. We continued to walk down the path and walked by people with giant cameras. After about 25 minutes someone pointed at a bear inside of the bushes right underneath us. We watched as the bear slowly walked into the river, and everyone was silent taking photos. The bear slowed and then pounced at a fish, but when it came up, it had missed. It got out of the river and walked on the opposite side of the bank and everyone moved down taking photos as it walked. It crossed the creek and went back into the plants under us. As my dad and I turned off our videos we realized we hadn’t taken a bear selfie! Luckily the bear was still in the plants and heading back to the river. As it got back into the river, we took an illusive bear selfie! Right as we turned around to face the bear, it pounced at another fish and got it. Although we weren’t taking a video, our mom got a bunch of really great photos! A bear hadn’t gotten a fish in the last two days there according to the log they kept, and we had spent around 25 minutes and had got to experience it! It was incredible! We then drove back across the Alaska/Canada border into Stewart to go the bakery but it ended up being closed. Instead, we got ice cream and Dad got a coffee. We headed back onto the road, and saw a bunch of more bears! There was a mama and baby bear on the side of the road (the second pair we had seen today!) and a really big bear in the middle of the road. After passing those bears and more, we headed into Smithers and got Boston Pizza. We then drove around Tyhee Lake before finally finding the entrance to the campground. We dumped our holding tanks and headed for a campsite. My dad helped a woman park her trailer by backing her car/trailer into a campsite. We then ate our pizza and went to bed.
We decided to spend the day at Kinaskan Lake. We had a late breakfast/brunch at 12:20 of pancakes, eggs, and fruit. As we (Sean and I) got the fishing supplies ready, Mom went through the car and ended up finding the flash drive with all of our zip lining photos! Then we took off to go fishing near the river entrance. It took around 20 minutes of paddling to get us and all of our fishing stuff across the lake in the kayak. As we explored a little and got all of our stuff ready, we realized we had forgotten the pliers! We decided to still try to fish. Sean taught me how to use the big fishing pole and I begun to fish. Sean picked up his line, and on his first cast, he got a fish on! I put my pole down and got out the camera and walkie-talkied my mom. I told her we got a fish on and she asked us how we were going to get it off of the line. We had no idea. As Sean pulled the fish in, we realized that it was hooked through its eye. After many tries to free the fish and about a million calls from my mom, we decided to take the fish home. I tried to catch one and on my fourth of fifth cast, I was able to catch one. Unlike Seans fish which was a pretty good size, mine was very small we were about to free it, but it had swallowed the hook. So we ended up having to take both of the fish home. We finally got back into the kayak, and in order to keep the fish cold, we paddled a little and every five or so minutes we put the fish in the water to keep cool. We got back to the airstream, and our dad cleaned and cooked them. We had it for a late lunch at 4 o’clock. Later, after getting different (and legal) hooks from our neighbors, Sean and I decided to go walking down to the fishing spot. It was a horrible walk… we ended up having to walk through a bunch of tall grass and were being attacked by mosquitos and bugs the whole time. Finally we got the place to fish. The only problem was that we would have to cross some water to get to the real entrance of the river… where we were before. Sean was wearing his waders, and he could easily cross, but I couldn’t. We walkie talkied our mom, and she told us not to cross or else we couldn’t fish. She said they were coming soon in the kayak and we should just fish from he spot where we were. We both knew we wouldn’t catch nearly as many fish if we stayed where we were. So just as our parents were turning the corner near the place we were, we came up with a quick solution. Sean threw his waders off, I pulled my wet hiking boots off, and we switched. The waders fit me perfectly, and my hiking boots were Seans size. Sean put on his backpack, and we left the fishing poles across the lake. Sean jumped onto my back and we went into the water. I was laughing so hard I barely made it across, and as I dropped Sean off on the other side I ran back through the water and got the poles. Right as I got across, our parents arrived. We fished for a little while, and when we didn't catch anything, we headed back. Sean hopped on the kayak, and I walked through the water. We finally got back, had a nice chicken, rice, and salad dinner with some cookies that mom made and ice cream. We watched a beautiful sunset at 10:15 and headed off to sleep.
Today we drove back into Canada. We began on the Cassiar Highway which had really bumpy roads. After a few hours of driving, we reached Boya Lake. It was beautiful lake campground with really clear waters and some people were swimming. We stopped there for a little while, took some pictures, fed Denver, and then decided to continue on the road. After a few more hours of driving a sign in Jade City caught our attention. We pulled into the Jade Store with the “free coffee” sign and checked out the small city. They have been filming a reality TV show about the process of getting and producing the jade. The show will come to the US in about a year. Finally, we arrived at at Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park. We pulled into a great spot right next to the lake and Rachel and Sean immediately jumped out at got their fishing poles and bait ready. They fished for a while and we talked to our neighbors who had been fishing earlier in the day. They said the best place to fish was near the rivers entrance, and you could get there in a kayak. Rachel and Sean decided to check out the lake and kayaked while the sun was setting. They came back right before dinner with freezing hands. We ate a late chili dinner and went to sleep.
The dog woke us up at 5AM. It was a short night. We checked in with the Alaska Marine Highway ferry and moved to the staging area. At around 6AM, they started loading the ferry. A small semi truck backed down the ramp and onto the ferry to drop his trailer. Then it was our turn. With the kids still in the trailer, we started backing down the ramp. As we entered the ferry, we had to turn the trailer to the stern of the boat and after a few adjustments; we ended up in our lane at the back of the ferry. The ferry staff guided us at every step and adjusted the ramp as necessary to keep the hitch from dragging on the deck. The ferry ride to Haines was nice except everyone was a little tired and cranky. After unloading and reloading vehicles and passengers, the ferry left Haines and headed to Skagway. It was about an hour and one-half trip to the dock in Skagway. We watched the bicycles, motorcycles, cars and RV’s unload the crowded vehicle deck of the ferry and negotiate two 90-degree turns to get off the boat, onto the dock and up the ramp. Then it was our turn. Due to the angles of the ramps, the crew made a few adjustments as we were exiting the boat. At two points, the crew placed blocks under the trailer tires so the hitch and undercarriage of the trailer would clear the ramps. They did this efficiently (since they do this regularly) and we were back on the road in Skagway without incident. We stopped and walked around the historic City of Skagway; however, many of the businesses were closed in the late afternoon. We left Skagway and drove up and out of the canyon toward the Canadian (Yukon) border. It was another very scenic drive as we went back into the Yukon Territory. Both kids fell asleep in the car. We stopped for the evening at Teslin Lake (Yukon Government Campground).
This was a long day! It was raining in the morning so Mark washed the rest of the trailer. It looks better but still needs a lot of work when we get home. We made a nice brunch….eggs, bacon and toast. After brunch, we went to Eaglecrest Ski Area on Douglas Island for a zip line adventure. The zip lines were great! There were five lines and a suspension bridge through the large Hemlock trees in the forest. One of the platforms was over 100-feet above the ground. After zipping through the forest, the tour ended with an axe throw at wood targets. We all had a good time and decided to buy the pictures on a cool carabineer flash drive (unfortunately we lost that too ...Sean!!!) that the guides took as we zipped. We left the ski area and drove back to town. Not to far from the ski area, we saw a deer on the side of the road. As we went around the next corner, a porcupine was on the other side of the road so we stopped and took a few pictures. We then went back to the dreaded Fred Meyers for a few more items but we didn’t use the self-checkout so we got out of there without incident. Since we were leaving early in the morning, we decided to go for a quick drive to the north side of town. We ended up at Eagle State Recreation Area about 15 miles north of Auke Bay. This area is tent/cabin campground and day use area along a stream adjacent to Lynn Channel. In the middle of the stream, two young eagles and several seagulls were fishing. Salmon were splashing around everywhere in shallow pools. After viewing and taking some pictures, we drove back toward the campground. The sun started to shine as we approached Mendenhall Lake so we went to the boat launch area and viewed the lake and glacier. Sean managed to step into the lake, which is very cold as there is ice floating around from the calving glacier. We went back to the campsite and made dinner and showered. We began packing up our campsite because we decided to move to the parking lot of the ferry terminal since we needed to be there at 5:30AM for a 7AM ferry departure. We left our campsite after midnight. After dumping the holding tanks, we drove to the terminal. We finally went to bed for a couple hours of sleep in the parking lot.
We woke up late (again). Mark washed the truck and the front of the trailer to remove some of the dirt, grime and insects. The truck and trailer will never be the same after this trip! It was raining off and on so we decided to go to downtown Juneau and hike up Mount Roberts. We found parking on one of the steep, narrow downtown streets and headed off for the trailhead. The hike up Mount Roberts was only about 2.5 miles but it had a 1,800-foot elevation gain so it was not easy. It was also wet and muddy. Somehow, we all managed to make it to the aerial tramway station (this was questionable at a couple of points). The aerial tramway is the easy way up the mountain and is set up to take cruise ship passengers to an overlook of Juneau and Gastineau Channel for $33. If you hike up the mountain, you can take the tramway down if you spend $10 at the gift shop or restaurant. We spent our $40 plus and took the easy way down. We then drove around the downtown and saw a very old Russian Orthodox Church, the State Capitol and Governor’s house. On the way back to the campground, we stopped at giant Fred Meyers for a few grocery items. We tried to use the self-check out but needed assistance three-times to scan our items and pay (that’s another story in itself). We went back to the trailer and cooked fish (compliments of the Howard’s in Homer and Bear at Lake Chilkoot, Haines). After dinner, we made s’mores at our campfire and went to bed.
The kids got up and went fishing first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, the fish weren’t biting (their lines). We packed up our campsite and headed into town to dump holding tanks and fill with fuel. Once we had our chores done, we drove to the fairgrounds for the Southeast Alaska State Fair. The Fair opened today and runs through Sunday. The fair was very fun. They had a few small carnival rides, food, livestock, art exhibits and live music. We had lunch and the kids did a couple of activities. We spent a few hours at the fair and we all had a good time. We left the Fair and drove to the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry Terminal. After a short wait, we drove down the ramp and onto the ferry. This particular ferry travels at 36 knots; therefore, it was about a two-hour trip to reach Juneau. We managed to get on and off the ferry with our 53-foot long truck and trailer without incident. After unloading in Juneau, we drove to the Mendenhall Lake Campground. The US Forest Service operates this campground and it is very nice. We had electrical and water hook-ups but the 50-amp service was shorting out so we used the 30-amp service (this works fine to run everything in the trailer except two AC units which we didn’t need). After setting up, we drove to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center and viewed the lake, glacier and a raging waterfall. We then drove to downtown Juneau (about 9 miles away) and looked around. It was late so we went back to the campground for the evening.
When we woke up, Sean was determined to catch fish at the river. He looked the other fishermen’s bait and we set up our poles with similar lures then Rachel and Sean headed for the river. After a little while, Rachel hooked a nice salmon and she was able to land it….she was very excited. A little while later, Rachel had another fish on. She pulled it in and it was a nice Dolly Varden trout. The kids switched poles since the pole Sean had was difficult to cast without tangling. Shortly after that, Sean caught a nice Dolly Varden trout. Now they were hooked and wanted to continue to catch fish; however, we wanted to visit Haines and explore the area. We had lunch at the campsite and the kids ran back to the river to fish. We wanted to visit Haines so we told the kids to bring their lines in so we could go. Right then, Rachel hooked another fish. She brought in a nice Dolly Varden. We left the river and drove around Haines. We visited that Hammer Museum which has the second largest hammer and an extensive collection of hammers (over 2,000 on display) for various uses. It was very cool. We walked around town and then drove around the peninsula. Haines is very nice place with a lot to see and do. Before returning to the campground, we stopped at a sporting good shop to pick up a couple more lures (since we lost a few). We got the lures and Sean got waders so he could go into the river to fish (and to unhook snagged lures). The kids went fishing when we got back to the campground but didn’t have any luck. A fisherman named Bear was cleaning and filleting several sockeye salmon at the fishing area. He gave us a nice salmon fillet. It rained fairly heavy overnight.
Before we left Congdon Creek Campground, we walked down to Kluane Lake. It is the largest lake in the Yukon. The campsites along the lake are great (we should have got there earlier). We hit the road and drove toward Haines Junction (Alaska Highway/Haines Road). The drive along the lake was beautiful as we travelled around the lake with the snowcapped mountains of Kluane National Park above. When we got to Haines Junction, we did our typical chores….dump holding tanks and fill with fuel. Fuel in Canada is very expensive at about $4.50 Canadian per gallon for diesel (if my liter to gallon conversion is correct). We had lunch and an ice cream cone at Frosty’s (one of two or three places in this small town). We continued down Haines Road which is approximately 140 miles long (Haines Junction, Yukon to Haines, Alaska). This road also travels along Kluane National Park in Canada. The scenery is spectacular. We stopped to view a bear eating along the road. He didn’t mind us taking pictures as he dug into the ground. We stopped at a Yukon Campground called Million Dollar Falls. We took a short walk to the water falls which were very cool. They say this area is heavily populated by bear but we didn’t see any (and we weren’t that disappointed). The falls are accessible by a couple sets of wooden steps and a boardwalk/platform which is very well done. We continued to the British Columbia border and then the Alaska border which is about 40 miles from Haines. After you enter Alaska, the area along the river is an Eagle preserve for many miles; however, we didn’t see any eagles. We pulled into Haines, drove through town and headed toward the Chilkoot Lake State Park Campground which is about 9 miles out of town along Lynn Canal. As we drove by the ferry terminal, a Alaska Marine Highway ferry was unloading. Just before the campground entrance, we saw two brown bears eating along the river. The campground was adjacent to the lake and a river flowed out of the lake near the campground entrance. Several people were fishing in the river. There was also a lot of RV activity in the campground and we were concerned that there wouldn’t be any sites available at this no reservation campground. Fortunately, there were several available sites and we think the RV’s just made a wrong turn from the ferry terminal and ended up in the campground with not intention of staying there. We got set up and the kids walked to the campground host to see if they had firewood. As they returned, a person stopped them and told them that a bear was walking through the campground just behind them…..great. Sean wanted to go fishing so we set up a pole and the kids went to the river. They fished with three Australian’s that were tent camping in the adjacent site and a guy from Whitehorse, Yukon. The Aussie’s and Whitehorse man caught some salmon and the kid’s enjoyed listening to their conversation. Rachel claims she hooked a salmon but it got away. After dinner, we drove into town trying to get some cellular service and looked around the harbor area. We didn’t get much cellular service but we got a nice picture of the small harbor.
We got an early start and drove to into Tok where we dumped our holding tanks and fueled up at the Chevron Station. We were now back on the Alaska Highway headed toward the Yukon border. We stopped for lunch at a very nice day use recreation area (in the middle of nowhere). This area was used for staging during the construction of the Alaska Highway and subsequent pipeline projects and was contaminated with debris and chemicals. It was remediated and this very nice recreation area was created. From there, we drove to the border and entered back into the Yukon Territory. The road from Beaver Creek toward Destruction Bay was very bad. There were very long areas of road construction and many large frost heaves. Needless to say, we had to go slow through this area and we were a little tired from the long night yesterday. We stopped a couple of times at rest stops and the scenery was very nice. After leaving one of the rest stops, Sean couldn’t find his iPod. We pulled over to look for it in the truck but we didn’t find it. We turned around and drove back to the last rest stop thinking it may have fallen out of the truck when we pulled over. Unfortunately, we did not find it in the parking area. We continued down the highway and we were well short of Haines as we stopped for the night at a Yukon Government Campground called Congdon Creek adjacent to Kluane Lake. Unfortunately, the lakefront campsites were full but we had a nice pull-through site in a forested area. The Yukon campgrounds are very nice; however, they don’t have any amenities (dry camping) but they provide free firewood and nice private sites (and they only charge $12 Canadian….less than $10 US). It was a long day of driving on bad roads with one lost iPod.
We packed up our gear and left the Russian River Campground fairly early (for us). We drove back to the Anchorage area and went shopping. We started at Target and then went to Costco. By the time we left Anchorage the refrigerator and all the storage areas of the trailer were full. North of Anchorage, we turned onto the Glen Highway headed northeast back toward the Alaska Highway in Tok. We thought about trying to reach Haines in two days and decided to drive late into the evening. We stopped at a pull out along the highway and made chicken soup for dinner. After eating, we got back on the road and headed toward Glenallan and the Tok cutoff. The views of the tall mountains (over 19,000 feet) were amazing even through the bug filled windshield. We finally pulled over around midnight and slept on the side of the road about 60 miles south of Tok. It was a good start but it was still over 400 miles to Haines.
It was a nice sunny day in the upper Kenai River area today. The Russian River Campground has five loops and is busy, especially when the salmon are running. In the afternoon, we hiked to Russian River Falls. It is about a 5 mile round trip hike from a trailhead within the campground. The hike was very nice on a well-maintained trail that is used for hiking and mountain biking. At the falls, there is a viewing deck that overlooks an area of the river that has several drops through large boulders. There is also a fish ladder along the edge of the falls. There were many salmon working their way upstream at the falls while we were there. It was amazing to see the determination of the salmon as they swam and jumped (or tried to jump) upstream. A couple of good videos of the salmon are posted in the video section. This area is a long way up the Russian River and the change in elevation from the Kenai River is several hundred feet. This area is also at least 30 miles from the mouth of the Kenai River where these fish start their journey past the dip nets, other fisherman and bears. It is remarkable what these fish do to reach this spot. There was a side trail at the falls that leads to an area where fishing is allowed. We hiked down this trail to reach the river downstream of the falls. When we got there, we saw a bear fishing across the river so we quickly hiked back out of the area. We noticed that practically everyone that hikes or fishes in the Russian River area is armed (with pistols, shotguns and a few (like us) with bear spray. When we got back to the campsite, we decided to go fishing. We realized that you need to use a fly fishing technique since the river is very shallow and rocky with a gravel bottom. The fishing was going well.....but then across the river a mama black bear and cubs were walking along the river fishing, too! When they saw us, they went back into the forest so we continued fishing. We were able to fish without losing our flies but we didn’t catch anything. The fact that we didn’t get snagged on the rocks was a victory!
We left Discovery Campground around 11:30 and drove to Bishop Creek (still within the Captain Cooke State Recreation Area). We hiked to the beach to see the salmon entering the creek to spawn. Fishing is not allowed in this creek. The tide was low and still going out but there were a few salmon in the creek. From there, we drove to Kenai and stopped at the mouth of the Kenai River to watch dip net fishing by the locals. People were lined up on both sides of the mouth of the river netting sockeye salmon. We then drove to Soldotna and shopped and fueled at the huge Fred Meyer store. The next stop was Russian River Campground in the Cooper Landing area. We got into our campsite around 5:30, set up our campsite and made dinner. After dinner we walked down to the river and along the elaborate pathway network and watched a few fishermen fly-fishing. Sean through a line in the water but lost his fly on about his third cast….so that was done. We walked up the river and Sean said he saw a black bear on the other side of the river. The river is small and shallow with a gravel bottom. Sure enough, there was a black bear walking up the river, too! We took a couple of quick pictures and headed down the river. Then we realized that the bear was walking toward three fishermen so we ran upstream to warn them. As the bear approached the fishermen, it stopped and took a salmon carcass from a seagull and headed into the forest about 50 feet from the fishermen. We asked the fishermen if they saw the bear and they said no as they were way into fly-fishing and didn’t notice the bear. We continued our walk by walking carefully along the river keeping an eye out for other bears in the area. We made it back to the campsite without seeing other wildlife…thankfully.
We finally got a few minutes of sun in Homer…right before we left. The view from our campsite of the mountains across Cook Inlet was great. We drove north on the Kenai Peninsula and decided to try to find a campground near the City of Kenai. After a couple of stops, we headed 30 miles north of Kenai to the Discovery Campground at Captain Cooke State Recreation Area. We arrived around 2PM and picked out a quiet site. The Discovery Campground is in a forested area with both beach and Swanson River access and views of Mount Spurr across Cook Inlet. (We made a late lunch in our campsite then we set up our fishing poles and went to the Swanson River in search of trout. We didn’t find any so we went for a bike ride. First we headed down to the beach. Then Mark led us on a trail through the forest to see where the trail went. It went nowhere, only to a mosquito filled meadow where an oil pipeline runs (thank goodness we had Deet on hand). We then went to the day use areas along the Swanson River. The Swanson River runs between several lakes and there is an extensive canoe/kayak route from the lakes to the ocean. We got back to the campsite and made dinner (halibut and salmon compliments of the Howard’s) and then went to bed.
The rain stopped and we toured around Homer. We visited the Fritz Creek General Store and Post Office on the East End Road. We had a coffee and pastries and ate outside. We then drove to the Spit and walked around the boat docks and businesses (including the Salty Dawg Saloon). Sean desperately wanted to fish in the fishing hole so he walked down there and through a line in the water. He didn’t have any luck (or waders) although he saw a couple of fish caught on the outside of the fishing hole as the fishermen chased the outgoing tide (waders were required to do this). We then went to visit Bob and Barbara Howard at their home in Homer (Mark worked for Bob at CDS Technologies, Inc.). We had a nice visit with the Howard’s and Sean caught some fish with Bob (from one of Bob’s eight freezers). After leaving their house, we went to dinner near Beluga Lake and watched a couple of floatplanes land on the water. It started to rain again and we went back to the trailer for the evening.
Today it was raining for most of the day. We desperately needed to do laundry so we found a Laundromat in Homer. Doing laundry was expensive as we spent close to $80 to wash and dry 8 loads. We put our laundry away and made the beds. We finally had dinner at 11PM in the trailer and then went to bed.
We slept in today (again)! In the afternoon, we drove a few miles out of Seward to Exit Glacier. Exit Glacier is the only part of Kenai Fjords National Park that is accessible by car. We hiked a couple of miles into the Park on very good trails. The glacier has been receding at a very rapid rate so to reach the glacier the path became not so good. In fact, there was really not a well-defined path, only signs indicating the danger of falling ice. We wanted to touch the glacier so we continued along the side of the rocks to reach the ice. It was worth it to get to edge and actually see and feel the glacier. We took our time climbing down and made our way back to the parking area safely. We then went back to Seward and hooked-up the trailer, dumped the holding tanks and headed for Homer. Before we left Seward, we pulled into a car wash and sprayed the dirt and grime off the truck and trailer. This was the first wash for the trailer and it really needed it! We drove to Soldotna and stopped for fuel and a quick bite to eat. We continued down the Kenai Peninsula and it became rainy and foggy. We finally pulled into Baycrest RV Park just north of Homer at 11:30PM. We tried not to wake up our new neighbors as we backed into our site.
After a quick breakfast, we walked to the dock and boarded the Spirit of Adventure for a six-hour tour of Kenai Fjords National Park. A National Park Ranger was onboard and she provided information about the area and sea life during the tour. As we left the harbor, a Bald Eagle was sitting on top of a pole at the harbor entrance. The seas were flat as we sailed down Resurrection Bay into the Gulf of Alaska. The tour goes to a tidewater glacier and on this voyage; the Captain chose to go to the Holgate Glacier. On the way to and from the glacier, we saw a variety of sea life, including Harbor Seals, Steller Sea Lions, Sea Otters, Dall’s Porpoise, Horned Puffins and several other varieties of sea birds. There was also a black bear on the beach near the glacier as we traveled down the fjord. They served lunch (Salmon & Prime Rib) on board the boat as we viewed the Holgate Glacier up close. The glacier was very impressive. However, the highlight of the trip was the humpback whales and Orcas. We saw several groups of humpback whales and one pod of Orcas as we cruised thorough this beautiful area.
We left Eagle River Campground and drove about 10 miles into Anchorage. We stopped at Walgreens for more bandages and supplies to treat Rachel’s leg. We also filled the propane tanks at the local U-Haul. We had lunch in the trailer and then headed down the Kenai Peninsula toward Seward. It was a 2 ½ hour drive along Cooke and Turnagain Inlets and over the pass to Seward. It is another very beautiful area and there was a lot of traffic on the two-lane road. Seward was hopping as campers, buses and cruise ships filled the town. Camping in Seward is along Waterfront Park, a City operated facility with a few hundred RV and tent sites. All the sites were full and we were lucky to find a site to camp in an overflow area. Sean found a skate park and enjoyed riding his scooter. We BBQ’d hamburgers and went to bed by midnight.
We left K’esugi Ken Campground in Denali State Park around noon and drove toward Anchorage. As we approached the Wasilla-Palmer area, the roads quick filled. There was some road construction and we experienced some Alaska traffic congestion (nothing like L.A.). We made a quick stop to the Iditarod Race Headquarters in Wasilla. A sled dog team was available to take you on a sled/buggy ride around the facility. The team was the property of the son of the founder of the Iditarod race. Several dogs were veterans of the race and this is what they do in the off-season to stay in shape (and make a little money). There were also two 4-week old Alaskan Husky puppies in a kennel. Rachel and Sean got to hold and play with them. We then went into the headquarters building and watch a 20-minute video about the race and the dogs. It was very interesting and turned out to be a great stop. We bought some souvenirs and left for Anchorage. When we got to the Anchorage area, we decided to stop about 10-miles north of town at a State Park Campground at Eagle River. It was a nice area along a glacier fed river. After we got set up, we drove into Anchorage and went to Costco to pick up a prescription for Rachel and a few other items. Costco also had diesel and it was the lowest price per gallon ($2.279) that we have paid on the entire trip. We went back to the campground and walked around the area before going to bed.