FRIDAY, JULY 28, 2006
Today we left the Russian River National Forest Campground for Beluga Lookout RV Park in Kenai. What a difference in campgrounds. Beluga Lookout sits on a bluff above the Cook Inlet and the Kenai River mouth where whales are often seen. Beluga whales are small and white and fairly easy to spot. They feed off the salmon which are swimming into the Kenai River mouth; but since there aren't any salmon coming up the Kenai River right now, there are no Beluga whales hanging around. This campground is very clean, but it is another parking lot with a very small patch of grass between campsites. The campsites are so close that we can't even put out our slide and it is costing us $40.00 a night to stay here. We do have full hookups, but we'd be happier back in a national forest campground without them. We have a large party of caravaners camped with us. One of them is from Hannibal, Missouri, and knocked on our door to see where we were from in Missouri. He noticed the Missouri license plate. Their caravan trip ends tomorrow and lasted thirty-three days. I can't see how you could see a whole lot in that short amount of time.
On our way to Kenai we stopped at an interesting souvenir place called Living Trees. There was a lot of chain saw sculptured bears, benches, fish, etc. There were also a lot of chances for photos so you will be seeing Jack riding a salmon and maybe a few other things. We did find some things we liked and picked up for friends and family. Then in Soldotna we stopped at the Fred Meyer store which is much like a super Wal-Mart. They are huge. We had put off shopping for a long time because there really weren't any decent grocery stores at Cooper Landing. Jack ended up spending almost $200 on groceries, but it seemed to me we could have gotten the same amount for closer to $100 at home. Anyway, we shouldn't have to shop for groceries for a while. We had lunch from the deli at Fred Meyers, and then we took the Kenai Spur Road to Kenai.
Kenai is not very far from Soldotna. We arrived in good time, and we were assigned our camping spot. It was very windy and cold here, so we had to immediately change into warmer clothes. We rode around looking for a burger joint that was advertised in our literature from the campground, but we couldn't find it. We finally ended up at a place called Ski-mos, Burgers and Beer. I had a BBQ beef sandwich which was huge and delicious and Jack had a Russian burger which came on rye bread, had the equivalent of two burgers in meat and had grilled onions on top of it. We both enjoyed our meal; we were neither one of us in the mood for a big meal and the sandwiches were just the right amount.
We have cable TV here so we watched a movie until midnight and then went to bed. We watched Stepmom with Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon. Jack is not a big Julia Roberts fan, but even he had to admit it was a good movie. I had seen the last part of the movie before, but I had never seen the beginning. By the time I went back to the bedroom to finish the movie in a prone position, Jack was so hooked that he finished the movie also up in the front of the motorhome. We have a little TV in the bedroom and then a large one in the main part of the motorhome. We can actually each watch our own TV shows if we wish while we are each in our separate queen-size beds. Is this really camping?
SATURDAY, JULY 29, 2006
After being up so late last night, we didn't get up until late this morning. We had a leisurely breakfast and showered and generally took it easy. My arthritis was acting up today and I went back to bed after breakfast, hoping that some of my morning medication would kick in and give me some relief. Around noon I started feeling better, and I started catching up on paying bills and writing in this journal. Jack went off to the Visitor's Center to get a copy of the walking tour of Old Kenai. We are camped right in the middle of this area and the Visitor's Center is only a few blocks away. I figured I could use my handicap cart to do the walking tour since we are so close.
When Jack returned home, he said that there was a craft fair going on at the Visitor's Center and also several different movies he wanted to see at the center. So we had lunch and then went on to the center. We watched two different movies--one about Alaska bush pilots and another about the huge Alaskan earthquake. The one we were waiting to see came on at 5:00 and was on the Kenai Peninsula. Anyway, the one on the earthquake went over its time allotment--they started it late--so they decided not to show the one on the Kenai Peninsula since it would run past their closing time.
We started the walking tour at about 5:30 only we did it in the car because it was too cold and windy to be out walking. We were able to get some good pictures of the Russian Orthodox church and the Russian Orthodox chapel. They are quite pretty. In the picture of the church, which I will be posting, the priest is on the front porch and it is interesting to see his rainments.
After we returned to the campground, Jack decided we should get carryout from Paradisos, an Italian restaurant close by that was recommended in AAA. He got his routine spaghetti and meatballs and I had fettuchine Alfredo. Both were very good and very generous servings. I will be having mine again for lunch. The salads were one of the best we've had on this trip; however, we find that we always get good salads at Italian restaurants. Tonight we turned in early because we were both really tired. Shortly after the news was over, it was lights out. Speaking of the news, a bear attack at Russian River Campground was on the six o'clock news. A man in a tent was attacked during the night while he was sleeping and the grizzly collapsed the tent and bit his shoulder. He was lucky to escape with such little injury. As a result, fishing on the Russian River is being closed from 11:00 P.M. to 6:00 A.M. for the immediate future. The newscaster said there had been three incidents in the last two weeks of campers leaving their coolers outside while they slept and bears getting into them. It is strictly against the rules to leave any cooking equipment, coolers, etc. outside even if they contain no food. You are also advised if you are in a tent to change out of the clothes you cooked and ate in before going to bed. People have been ignoring the rules and there is a $125 fine if they find anything outside of a hard-sided vehicle that is food related unless it is being used at the time. We had people in a pop-in camper across from us who pulled it with a pickup and stored their coolers in the pickup bed. I saw the man put fish into one of the coolers. A bear could have easily gotten into those coolers since they were out in the open bed of the pickup. If there is any more human-bear contact at the campground, they will probably close the campground to hard-sided campers only or they could close it down altogether.
SUNDAY, JULY 30, 2006
We started this morning by wishing each other a happy anniversary--it doesn't seem possible that we've been married 40 years. That sounds like an awfully long time, and it seems like just yesterday that I was walking down the aisle. We couldn't possibly be old enough to be married for 40 years.
We have nothing special planned for today--just continuing our dream vacation. It was raining when we got up and continued to rain all day today. We drove from Kenai along the Kalinformsky Beach Road to the Sterling Highway and then on to Homer. Everyone says how beautiful Homer is, but it has been hard to see the mountains because of the fog and rain. We did take some pictures of the snow covered volcanos visible from the Sterling Highway, and we saw a moose on the side of the road on our way to Homer.
We decided to splurge since it's our anniversary, and we stayed at the only campground on the spit which has full hookups. It is called The Heritage and they get $75 a night for beach-front sites and $65 for the others--we took a beach-front site and we do have a million dollar view. While Jack was in the lodge registering, there was a bald eagle lazily circling above our motorhome. There is also a very strong wind off of Kachemak Bay tonight, and we turned up the heat to 74 degrees because we were having a hard time staying warm. Thank goodness we have a furnace and are not in a tent.
I had a craving for halibut and chips for dinner, so we called Captain Patti's, the only restaurant on the spit recommended by AAA, and ordered takeout of fish and chips. Jack had a terrible time finding the place in the poor visibility due in part to the bad weather and also due to the fact that the restaurant's signs which give its name are not very large. He finally stopped and asked where it was, and it turned out he was right next door to the place. Our dinner was delicious and more than I could eat. Jack finished his, but just barely. Neither one of us was interested in any kind of dessert.
After we had turned the heat down to 65--which is where we keep it set at night if we have electricity and don't have to worry about how often the fan comes on--we crawled into my sleeping bag and watched the movie War of the Worlds on HBO. Yes, we also have cable--we should for the price, don't you think? Jack started to fade before the film was over and, in truth, it wasn't a very good film. Anyway, he got tired and headed off to his bed which is the overhead bunk. I opened the door of the bathroom which creates two separate rooms in the motorhome when it is open and successfully keeps someone in the front from being bothered by the back TV. Often it is Jack who is still watching the front TV, and I am the one going to sleep; but this time Jack headed off to slumber land first. It was a good night to sleep because the sound of the rain on the fiberglass roof is very soothing.
MONDAY, JULY 31, 2006
Today the weather was clear when we woke up. We had a nice breakfast, showered, and did a few errands around the motorhome. Before we knew it, it was time for lunch. After lunch we headed out to look for souvenirs and to drive the length of the Homer spit. It was easier to see the mountains which surround the bay today although there were clouds covering the top of some of the peaks. By 3:00 it was starting to rain. It rained off and on after that for a couple of hours. About dinner time the sun came out and warmed things up.
We were looking for two things. I had admired some earrings carved from moose antler which were whale tails at the museum in Kenai. I need to learn to buy something when it first attracts my interest--whenever I don't, I regret it latter. We had also seen some chain saw carved moose which were terribly cute on our way to the spit. Anyway, we couldn't find anything like I had seen earlier. We did find a cute shot glass for Jose. Then we went to the town to look at the moose. I thought one the size of the black bear we bought on our trip to the state of Washington would be cute. We keep the bear on the hearth at home and it would be cute to have the moose on the other side of the hearth. The moose in the size I wanted were $375. We couldn't believe it. I might have paid close to $100 because that was the general price range of the bear, but I wasn't going to pay $375. They had some really little ones, probably about ten inches high which were $175. Needless to say, we gave up on buying a moose.
After we returned to the park, we went up to the lodge and I used the Wi-fi system to read my e-mail. While we were there, we noticed another camper who was cleaning a nice large salmon. Our campground is right next to what is called The Fishing Hole. It is a man-made little lake in the spit which allows fish to return to it, but makes it difficult for them to swim out because of the way the spillway is built into the bay. Jack went over to talk to the fellow fisherman; and he said he had caught a couple of silver salmon, but that they were really hard to catch. While Jack was talking to the fisherman, he noticed a bald eagle riding a current over the lodge building. When I finished at the computer, we looked at the gift shop in the lodge and then headed back to the motorhome.
When the sun came out, it got warm enough in the motorhome for us to open a couple of windows. We just watched the news and admired the mountains surrounding the bay.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 1, 2006
It's hard to believe August is here so soon. We started our trip in June and we have already been on the road for six weeks. Those six weeks have flown by. So far, we are two days behind schedule and it looks like we're going to be further behind after today. On the news last night they talked about the red salmon on the Russian River and in the Kenai River. It seems that the second run has finally arrived. As we went past the Russian River Campground we noticed there wasn't a "Campground Full" sign posted. So we turned around and went in to ask them what was going on. They said the fishing was much improved over last week and they did have sites available because they were no longer allowing tents or soft-sided campers to use the campground due to all of the bear activity. We took a site for two nights. We are at the end of the campground, which means we will be closer on the river to the confluence with the Kenai. The confluence is supposed to be the best area, but it is also the busiest.
It rained on us while we were traveling today, but stopped raining shortly after we arrived at the campground. Jack went fishing after we had supper. Because of bear activity, the fishing must now cease at 11:00 P.M. and can't start again until 6:00 A.M. He came back a little after 11:00 P.M. saying he had managed to hook four red salmon, but he was unable to land any of them. None of them were hooked in the mouth. They were hooked by a fin or somewhere else and they managed to fight their way off the hook before he could get them to shore. He was excited by how big they were and what a good fight they gave even though he hadn't landed any of them. On his way back to the camper, he talked to a fellow who suggested he lengthen his leader to have a better chance of hooking them in the mouth. Needless to say, Jack was really tired when he went to bed.
The fishing hole he was fishing was suggested to him by another fisherman. When Jack arrived there were three black bears across the river from where he was fishing. After they wandered off he went up to the fishing hole and a wife and her husband joined him. The three of them had a good time catching salmon, but none of them were able to land them.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 2, 2006
It rained this morning, but it cleared off by afternoon. Then it rained again in the evening. We are getting sick of rain. Jack did a few chores around the camper; we put oil in the generator. We've been using that generator a lot when we are in these boondock situations. It doesn't use much gas at all and it provides electricity for such things as the coffee pot, Jack's razor, and strengthens our house batteries so we don't have to worry about losing our 12 volt power.
Jack went fishing during the break in the rain but he didn't stay down there very long. When he came back so quickly, I assume he had caught some fish. Not so--he hadn't even had a bite. He said it was shoulder to shoulder on the river and guys just came and butted in without even speaking to you. He decided that wasn't his kind of fishing. So he decided he had had enough fishing.
Later in the day a fellow from Lake of the Ozarks came by and asked where we were from in Missouri. He was telling Jack that the pinks were really hitting in Hope, Alaska, which is on our way back to Anchorage. Jack doesn't even seem interested in going to Hope. He seems to have had all the fishing he wants for one trip.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 3, 2006
This morning we headed out for Seward in the rain. It was not raining real hard when we hooked up; but by the time we hit Seward, it was pouring. We had planned to take a boat trip into Resurrection Bay in Seward, but Seward was a mess. The roads are so torn up with construction that it's really hard to get around with an RV. We were not impressed. Everywhere we looked, there was black gravel and construction. We finally decided to turn around and head out of there. We didn't see anyplace that looked appealing to camp. And the tour guide book said not to take a cruise when it was raining because you wouldn't see anything. It was doing more than raining, it was pouring. We later heard on the news that Seward had received as much as 2 and a half inches of rain in one hour's time and it poured there all day.
We headed up the Seward Highway and thought about stopping at Portage Glacier and spending the night there, hoping for a break in the weather tomorrow. When we reached the turnoff for Portage Glacier the weather was worse than it had been in Seward. It was not only pouring, but there were real strong winds. We later heard that Portage Valley had hurricane force winds.
We continued on and finally ended up in Anchorage where it was just sprinkling. We bought a bunch of souvenirs that Jack had spotted at Wal-Mart on our earlier visit and we had decided to get when we went back through town. He also did a little shopping for food at Wal-Mart and then we headed out to Anchorage RV Par, a lovely park close to the museum we want to tour tomorrow.
We managed to order a pizza and have it delivered for supper. Yesterday was the worst driving day we've had on this trip and we were both pooped--Jack from driving through the awful wind and rain and me from riding through it. We were both on edge the whole trip.