is the Alaska Journel for the summer of 2006..
Wilderness Adventures - June, Week 4/2006
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of the Day.
toured a road down around Big Lake not far from Wasilla
and then followed the road around to Knik, and back north
again. We woke up to a rainy, overcast day so we decided
to stick to looking around an area where we probably wouldn't
be missing too much mountain or ocean view because of
the weather. We turned out to be mostly, although not
Big Lake is more or less Southwest Alaska's playground.
It's where you go on the weekends and during the summer
to get away from the 'city' whether that be Anchorage,
Wasilla or Palmer. The lake is pretty much wall to wall
with summer cabins and there are several recreational
campsites on it as well. We saw quite a few floatplanes
moored on the lake and there's a small gravel airport
nearby. Actually, there was a very interesting little
fenced in compound that was very easy to miss as you drove
by. We went back for a second look because we caught
the sight of a few 'broken' wings and fuselages in behind
the trees. Some of the crashes the pilot and passengers
may easily have walked away from. Some....possibly not.
The compound must be a holding place for salvaged parts
and I can see the need. According to books we read written
by Alaska pilots, plane crashes were common, and
unless you put a guard on your plane soon after it went
down, you might easily come back to a plane that had been
stripped of anything useful. Other pilots that
overhear a mayday on the radio or that happen to fly over
a plane within days of it going down apparently will often
swoop in and help themselves to spare parts.
The road past Big Lake quickly deteriorated into a a narrow
rutty lane that wound through the trees for miles. The
undergrowth here is quite thick and jungle like. We finally
came out to our intended destination which is the paved
road from Goose Bay that runs adjacent to the Knik Arm.
Anchorage is on the other side of the Arm down where it
narrows and feeds into Cook Inlet. We stopped at a pullout
just a hundred feet above the ocean to give the dogs a
break from the back of the truck. As we pulled in I noticed
a large log and woodsided house across the road. The
log work definitely looked like Pioneer Log Home's but
I wasn't accustomed to them using lumber siding
and didn't give it another thought. After watching the
tide go out for a few minutes we went to leave when Andy
noticed that there was a Pioneer Log sign near the house
so I took a couple of pictures of the place to show Bryan
and Tabby Reid when we got back to Nimpo Lake. A fellow
came out onto the front porch so Andy and he yelled greetings
across the highway to each other and discussed the fact
that we all knew the Reids and Bryan Senior who owns Pioneer.
The fellow invited us over to see the house and it turns
out he's the Alaska Rep for Pioneer and had actually designed
the house. Beautiful place and well laid out and the guy,
Ed Payton was a great person to talk to. It's a
small, small world out there! In any case, we
managed to shoot down the whole afternoon and it turned
out to be a great day, even if it was dreary weather wise.
For anyone considering that particular drive, make sure
you just take your vehicle. Although you could take an
RV over the dirt section of the road, it is a little rough
and could be quite messy if muddy.
I managed to get the stuff below loaded up at Kaladi Coffee
up at Wasilla and will probably do the same with the rest
for as long as we're here but I'll probably load up several
day's worth of stories at a time.
probably won't be any articles uploaded for a few days.
We've landed in a Sardine Spam Can RV Park in Palmer
and although it has trees, that is about its only
redeeming factor. I have just been informed that
if I wish to use WI-FI from any of the three towers in
the area I will have to do so at my own expense of somewhere
between $6 and $10 a day. This tells me that the owners
are obviously too damned cheap to pay the $30 or $50 a
month it would cost to provide their patrons with internet
service. Unusual when you consider that the monthly fee
they would pay to provide service for everyone in the
campground they would get back from the fee paid by only
one camper for one and a half day's stay. Especially
unusual since every park that we have been to in the Yukon
and Alaska that provide internet service, have done so
for free. It doesn't say anything about a charge
out on the sign on this place or in the MilePost and
I hate false advertising! Since I only need to
be online to upload this blog for less than a minute daily,
paying for access does not make it worthwhile. So unless
we come across internet access elsewhere, I'll keep writing
the articles but they probably won't be uploaded until
next week sometime. Had we not already paid for
a five day stay in this dump already, I'd be moving.
There's no place to walk the dogs in the RV park itself
but I did find a road down below the park outside the
fence along a swamp and was congratulating myself for
finding at least one positive thing about the place. Until
the owner informed me that we need to pick up after our
dogs anywhere on their forty acres, including down in
the swamp. I wouldn't have a problem with inside the park
fence, but swamp? Wonder who's picking up after the moose
and bears that skip through there.
Do I sound pissed? You bet I am! Oh, by the way, the name
of this joint is the Homestead RV Park and I most certainly
do not recommend it to anyone, now or at
anytime in the future!
I will try to get this part uploaded so that you all know
what's happening. There's also the article below that
will be uploaded at the same time.
Oh, and Happy Canada Day to the Canadians and Happy
July 4th to all you Americans!
now we're starting to get a complex about our little trailer.
As we were leaving the RV Park in Homer today we had yet
another tourist, or in this case, tourist couple,
inquire about our trailer. At least in this case the first
reaction was very postitive. Yeah, everyone is questioning
our home on wheels. We have had so many people
ask us about the trailer that we're beginning to get a
complex about it. At one point when we pulled into a site
at the Tesla campsite, we even had people across from
us laughing at it. Finally the campsite host came over
to collect our money and admitted that everyone around
the fire over there had been having a chuckle and wondered
what our trailer was supposed to be. So we showed her
around and told her a little about it and back she went
over to the bunch across the road to tell them that it
was indeed a full sized trailer.
When we went to the Wildlife Conservation Park and I had
asked Andy to grab the 35mm with the big telephoto for
some pictures, he didn't arrive because a fellow had come
up to ask about the trailer. I just walked away because
I was getting too used to the 'ridicule'. As it turned
out, this guy was an engineer and the next time I looked
he was crawling around under the trailer and checking
out the framework. In the end, his verdict was
he just couldn't understand why all trailers weren't manufactured
that way. My sentiments exactly!
The big question that everyone has on seeing our trailer
is, "Does it have to be wound up like an Alaskan
Camper?" or, "How do you stand up in it?"
Well, that's pretty easy. The trailer is 6'5" high
in the middle and not that many people are that tall.
But it does have a very low profile overall, especially
when it's being pulled by a big dually Ford supercab and
it looks so tiny next to all the big fifth wheel
'walls' coming down the road. It is '30 in length
which gives us lots of room inside. It doesn't have any
pop-outs but as a result it has so much cupboard, drawer,
and closet space that we actually have several of those
Because this is a lightweight trailer with aluminum frame
and only weighs 3600 pounds, it can actually be pulled
by a car and although our mileage has dropped somewhat
as compared to empty, we are still getting 15.5 MPG and
that is not highway driving. Not great but we can live
with it. Especially when these guys in monster motorhomes
are telling us with great pride that they are getting
a whole 6.5 MPG. Scary in my books!
At least the couple that inquired about the trailer this
morning in Homer were pretty cool. They saw it when we
pulled in the night before and decided that was the trailer
for them! Obviously they recognized that it didn't need
to be pushed up and saw the potential for fuel savings
pulling it. And as the fellow expressed, "At least
it will fit in my pole barn!" I guess they have been
looking long and hard for the right rig for some time
and this is the first one they've been really excited
about, especially after I showed them how roomy the inside
So people, stop laughing, please! We have
loads of room, lots of height, and we get better fuel
mileage than most. We can't help it if it's Canadian made
and your engineers haven't come up with that kind of concept
yet. Shit happens.
Aside from the one of many comments we've had about the
trailer, we've had a great time so far. The park that
we stayed at is a 'must' choice. We saw some awful places
that have great pictures in the MilePost and that I wouldn't
board my dog at. However, the Glacier View RV Park in
Homer is super and way more comfortable weather wise than
anything I saw elsewhere, including on the Homer 'Spit'.
Super people, great spots with a terrific view, and those
all important things like free heated showers, fantastic
view, WI-FI, and a little less wind than elsewhere. My
top recommendation to anyone going to Homer.
We went back down the spit in the hopes of getting some
reasonably priced seafood. As usual, the tourists get
ripped off, me among them. But we've got a little fish
in the freezer and since it doesn't look like we're going
to stop long enough anywhere to catch our own, that's
probably a good thing.
We went back up the highway along the coast and this time
got to see Cook Inlet, Mount Iliama and Mount Redoubt
because the mysterious mist mysteriously disappeared.
We went the back way up to Kenai and looked around there,
then headed back through Soldotna and Sterling until we
found a fantastic spot on Kenai Lake at forestry campground
east of Coopers Landing at Quartz Creek. This is
by far one of the prettiest campsites I have ever seen.
It's US Forest Service run and they couldn't have done
a nicer job setting it up. Much as I would love to nest
here over the long weekend, and the host in charge showed
us how to get a long term campsite, it's just not to be
I guess. So onward to Palmer we go. We stopped and talked
to the campground host for awhile. He's from Arkansas
and ex law enforcement and our kind of dude I think. When
I questioned him about fishing for Arctic Grayling he
said he was taking a three mile hike up into a mountain
lake tomorrow if we'd like to join him. Boy, would I love
to, but the wagon train must go on!!
Sure would like to know when the wagon train is gonna
stop. Goldpanning, flyfishing...can you imagine? Both
passions of mine and I sure would like the chance to do
either, but I ain't driving this rig baby, so there you
We're all safe now because we've got reservations in Palmer
tomorrow and possibly over the holiday weekend so I guess
we'll work our way around that part of the country for
the next few days. I was pushing for picking a wild country
camping spot up in Hatcher Pass if we had to leave the
Kenai now because it has....guess what!... fishing and
goldpanning! But I didn't win. So I guess I'll write about
whatever it is we do.
drove back north out of Seward today to the Exit Glacier
and that was a trip I'm very glad I didn't miss!
The road takes off only about three miles north of Seward
and in about eight miles. From the parking lot at the
interpretive centre you walk less than a mile to a path
overlooking Exit Glacier. Down another path, cross the
flood plain and you are at the foot looking up at the
three mile long glacier. It's small in comparison to many
but it is one of the few completely accessible glaciers
that you can almost drive to. It is one of many glaciers
fed by the Harding Icefield that is said to be a remnant
of the last iceage and they still have no idea how deep
that little sucker is!
Anyway, we took the walk along a path that you are supposed
to be able to see bears from. Fortunately, all we saw
up the mountainside were goats. The glacier itself
was fantastic in every respect but I have to tell
you folks...even up close it still looks
like melted blue Styrofoam! The only thing that convinced
me otherwise was that I actually walked on it and it's
a slippery little bugger. You know that pebble ice that
you can get on the highway from freezing rain that just
about guarantees a fender bender? Well that's what the
surface of the glacier was like with grit imbedded in
it. Said grit helped very little with traction, let me
tell you! I'm assuming the texture is caused by the surface
of the glacier constantly melting and refreezing over
a long period of time and apparently this glacier, like
Portage, is retreating.
Got some great pictures of the Styrofoam, especially
since we woke up to a gloriously sunny day today.
That also allowed me to get some pretty nice pictures
of the Seward area. Sure does make a difference when you
aren't dealing with low, grey clouds.
The glacial silt coming from the foot of the glacier just
kept on rolling down Resurrection River toward the highway
and since there was a lot of quartz in the rock near the
glacier, it sure looked to me like it would be a great
river to pan gold in. Unfortunately, we decided to keep
on going to the Sterling Highway cutoff toward Soldoltna.
We passed the fantastic fishing rivers all along
the Kenai and then continued down the West coast
to Homer. I'm really hoping we can stop in a few places
on the way back but because we have the July 4 long weekend
coming up it's kind of throwing our schedule out of wack.
We really need to figure out where we're going to settle
for the weekend so we thought we would check out Homer
first then work our way back up the coast. But who knows...plans
were made to be changed.
There was a really strange mist that came up along
the ocean side of the coast reminiscent of some
of Stephen King's stories so you could only catch a rare
glimpse of what promised to be a breathtaking view of
mountains and Cook Inlet, but just never could see the
real deal. The same mist persisted until a little while
after we arrived in Homer. The woman at the RV park
said that it had been happening just the last few days
and was a phenomena that they have only begun seeing in
the last three years. Global warming again?
The views surrounding Homer really are worth taking in
but when we first arrived there was a vicious wind out
on the Spit, so though we toured it quickly, we didn't
stay, and chose a park well above the shoreline instead.
It turned out to have an even better view anyway and the
wind has dropped to just a tiny breeze. We walked the
dogs a couple of times down on the beach this evening,
the latter time while te tide was going out, and it was
really beautiful. Now I'm just waiting for the sun
to start setting to see if I can get a pink glow on the
mountains behind the bay in a picture.
You will probably have noticed that the article below
didn't get loaded up until a day late. No internet last
night but I thought I would write anyway and load up the
next time I could. You may see that happen fairly often,
especially this coming weekend. We're without RV hookups
tonite and I suspect that will happen a lot over the holiday
so internet will be iffy too. Oh, and please don't mind
the spelling or grammar in these articles while we're
in Alaska. More often than not I'm running on battery
power for the lap top and can't afford to be as conscientious
about spelling as I usually try to be. Besides, I
left my poor old faithful Webster at home and I'm too
cheap to spring for another one!
The Road To Seward
took us all day to make it to Seward even though it's
only 127 miles from Anchorage. You could say we're
taking that relaxing 'tourist' thing a little too far.
We travelled the highway from Anchorage this morning toward
Seward making stops at just about every viewpoint. Andy
has taken a liking to reading all of the informational
panels at every view stop while I've become fanatical
about anything 'glacier'. Once you get out of
Anchorage, the highway borders Turnagain Arm for several
miles to Portage. We watched the salt water churn in the
inlet trying to determine whether the tide was coming
in or going out. Here, tide changes are some of the most
drastic in the world measuring 33 feet between lowest
and highest tide. In addition to that, a large bore
tide tears up the arm about 2 1/4 hours after low tide
in a five mile stretch from Beluga point to Girdwood where
the Arm narrows down and can reach heights of six feet.
It's quite perilous to small craft as are the deadly mud
flats that appear after the tide is out. I'm sure you've
all heard of the one fellow that died trapped in the quicksand-like
mud because rescue operations could not pry him loose
before the tide came back in.
Beluga Point was noted in the MilePost as a place to see
the now rare whales and watch the bore tide come in but
the viewpoint was packed with people and vehicles so it
was one of the few places we sailed on past. We
did stop down the road at another pullout when we saw
the water ripping over rocks near the shore. Sure
enough, in the short time we were there we could see the
sea level drop substantially and see mud flats begin to
appear even out in the middle of the inlet. It was quite
interesting since I don't believe I've ever watched a
tide go out before, and certainly not that quickly.
There were lots of other sights to see but we chose not
to stop because we wanted to make two sure stops. Andy
wanted to see the Wildlife Conservation Center and I wanted
to see if the Portage Glacier was still visible from the
road as it was according to Andy's sister when she saw
it in the 70's.
The Wildlife Center is a super place to go and I highly
recommend it to everyone. As seems the case with everything
nice to see in Alaska, there is a fee, but in this case
it's perfectly acceptable because the money goes back
into looking after the animals. As I understand it, most
of these animals have been brought to the Center because
of injury or because the animal's parent was killed and
it was too young to survive in the wild. What
this means is that it certainly isn't a zoo representing
all of the animals in the area, but only those that were
in dire need of help. What is truly amazing is that the
facilities provided for each type of animal is so natural
and provides such good cover, that none of the animals
could possibly be suffering and you could tell that from
their coats and their demeanor. The enclosures for the
hoofed animals were huge with lots of grass, brush, and
trees and in the case of the moose, they even had their
own swamp. The brown bears had a swimming pool as
well as several acres of buckbrush so that when
they got tired of posing for people, they disappeared
and you couldn't have found them again if you tried. As
a result of such 'natural' surroundings, all of the animals
appeared relaxed and happy or as much as they could be.
Once you watched for any length of time you started to
see the various injuries that caused them to be brought
to the the Center. Caribou that limped, a black-tailed-Sitka
deer that had hoofs that were four times too long, a
bald eagle with only one wing resulting from a gunshot
wound. In the case of the twin black bear cubs
now grown to a year or two, their mother had been shot
while a young moose's mother was killed on the highway.
But even through all that grief, there were babies. Elk,
wood bison and muskox that had been there long enough
in high enough numbers to breed had done so. It was pretty
We went on to Portage and on the hunt for the elusive
Portage Glacier, called such because it had provided the
easiest pass through the mountains for gold hunters and
others that came after them. On the way to Portage Lake
we saw two glaciers up in the mountains, so close it seemed
you could touch them, but we were too slow stopping and
had to save pictures for our return. We got to Portage
Lake, which is quite pretty, but very glacierless.
According to the MilePost, Portage Glacier extended across
the lake in the 1970's to within a mile of the visitor
center but it has receded so dramatically in recent years
that it has now disappeared around the corner of Byron
Peak and can only be viewed by getting on a tour boat.
I'm sorry Barb!
We stopped at pullouts where you could view the two glaciers
we saw coming in, one of which was Explorer Glacier and
reared up above the beautiful green-blue of a glacier
fed lake. What a spectacular blue the ice was at
the tail of the glacier! It almost doesn't look
real the blue is so indescribable. The closest thing I've
ever seen to it would be melted blue Styrofoam because
the ice had a smooth, sculptured look with great streaks
of black from the shadow of deep, deep crevasses scarring
the face of the glacier.
It was sure something to see and I'm hoping we can hike
to the foot of Exit Glacier tomorrow so that I can see
one up close.
The highway from Portage to Seward is narrow and overhung
on both sides with a jungle of greenery. I can't really
compare the country to any area that I know. On
the coast around Vancouver you have huge trees as you
do in Bella Coola. Here you're too far north and
the snow probably too heavy to support anything but alder,
poplar, some spruce, birch and low bushes, but it grows
thickly from road right up the mountain sides except where
the taller trees have been wiped out by avalanche.
We arrived in Seward tonite and have camped in a park
along the ocean. Actually, it's Resurrection Bay. The
views are spectacular with the green of the Kenai Fjord
and mountains surrounding the town but you can tell I
wasn't born on the ocean. I have no love
for that cold, damp wind that comes with the view but
that's just me. We'll check out the town tomorrow and
then head back north for the Sterling Highway cutoff and
Soldotna and all the sights in between.
By the way, last week's stuff about Alaska can be found
The purpose of this web site is to draw attention to a
remote area of west central British Columbia. It is a
beautiful area that relies heavily on tourism. The search
engines don't know much about the West Chilcotin, Anahim
Lake, Nimpo Lake or any of the other small communities
in the region and I hope to change that! Even as large
as this site will eventually be, there just isn't enough
room or time in the day to fully describe this incredible
country but I am going to try scraping away at the tip
of the iceberg, so join me!
the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!