We Loved Valdez

We left Blueberry Lake Recreation CG via Richardson Hwy. towards Valdez. The road was good and we came across a beautiful waterfall called Bridal Veil Falls. You CA people does that ring a bell?

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 As we entered Valdez we stopped at the Visitor Center and then proceeded to find a campground. Patti/John, fellow LD owners, recommended Bear Paw II. So we checked it out. This is a great campground. Right on the water next to the entrance to the harbor, adults only, super showers, inexpensive laundry and full hookups. There are 30 back in spaces, and it is centrally located to the harbor. We would highly recommend this campground even though it is a little higher in price.

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We had a perfect view of fishing and tour ships heading out and returning. We could see the oil refinery, and several glaciers and mountain ranges.

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The Museum here was very interesting. They talked about the history of the Alaskan Bush Pilots, told about the Good Friday Earthquake in 1964 that destroyed the town, and the tragic oil spill caused by Exxon in 1989.  Old Valdez was Milepost 0 and instead of redoing all the books, new Valdez just became Mile -2.

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We walked all around the harbor, and two times the 2 ½ miles to Peter Pan Fish Market for fresh fish.

IMG_4205Fresh salmon, frozen halibut and mahi mahi, frozen salmon patties and canned fresh & smoked salmon.

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 As we were walking around the harbor we even got to see them pull a boat out of the water for repair. It was very interesting.

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Our plans were to stay here for 2 days, but it was such a nice place that we stayed for 4 days. We had rain one night and all the next day. When the rain quit the fog rolled in for a while.

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At night we were able to have a fire, much to John’s delight.

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Here are some more great shots from our Million Dollar View. Also, a surprise last night was the ship that is the main attraction on the show Deadliest Catch.

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IMG_4217Feeding time for the birds.

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On to Haines and Skagway.

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Homer and beyond

We left our campground via the Kenai Spur Hwy. back to Kenai. We visited the Visitor Center and then headed out on Kalifornsky Beach Road towards Homer. We were driving right along the coastline. This turned into the Sterling Highway which took us all the way into Homer.

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We decided to try camping on the Homer Spit, which people talk about. In most of the campgrounds rigs were stacked in like sardines. So, we decided on the City Campground for $15 a night. We got a great site on the water and thought we were really lucky. Unfortunately that afternoon a truck and older trailer pulled in with a family of 5. They turned on their generator, which was old and loud, and ran it for hours. Quiet time is 11:00 and they ran it until just before. So we decided to tell anyone if they stay on the Spit, go to Heritage RV Park and pay a little more for hookups and with no generators allowed.

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Moving on, we checked out the Homer Elks and decided to stay. They had hookups and a great view for $25.00. It was John’s birthday so we went to Boz Hoggs for dinner. The three of them had burgers , and we all had a milkshake. I later got a fabulous salmon sandwich at Mauras.

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The Elks was very centrally located so we walked to the library, Safeway (Starbucks, of course), 2 Sisters Bakery, and the Visitor Center. This was the most amazing Visitor Center I have ever been in.

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Leaving Homer we drove via the Sterling Hwy, towards Soldotna. At this point we have driven 4675 miles since leaving Longmont, CO. The city park in Soldotna was full of fishermen and the Fred Meyer (where many people stay) was a zoo so we decided to drive on the Glenn Highway to the Quartz Creek NFS cg that someone recommended to us. This was a great cg with nicely spaced spots and right along the Kenai Lake.

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After a 2 day stay at Quartz Creek we got back on the Sterling Hwy. to the Seward Hwy. heading to Seward. It was a beautiful drive to Seward. We walked around in downtown Seward and were amazed at the beautiful murals on the buildings.

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The Exit Glacier was located outside of Seward a little bit so we drove there. However when we got to the Visitor Center at the glacier, there was no more RV parking so we drove back and got some great pictures at a view stop. We had planned to eat lunch at the Salmon Bake, highly recommended by someone, but it was only open for early breakfast and dinner.

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We got back on the Seward Hwy and headed back to Williwaw campground for the night on our way back to Anchorage. Just a hint – don’t stay in Site 1 because the host has a commercial generator and runs it late into the night. However, we did get to have a fire, which was great.

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On the road to Anchorage, from Williwaw, we think we got a picture of Denali. You be the judge.

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In Anchorage we did laundry and then ate lunch at the Arctic Roadrunner, which was recommended by a local. It was fabulous. John had a hamburger, John/Zoe had chicken burgers and I had a halibut burger . I have since learned that they are celebrating 50 years this year. It was a cute restaurant and very busy.

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Hitting the road again, we drove on Glenn Hwy. towards Palmer. We drove through some gorgeous scenery and then arrived at King Mountain Recreation Site to spend the night.  This is a state campground for smaller RVs in a wooded setting next to the Matanuska River.

The next morning we started out on the Glenn Hwy. to the Richardson Hwy. towards Valdez. We had a great view of the Matanuska Glacier.

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We had heard about the sourdough pancakes in Copper Center so took the loop to find the place. The original Roadhouse had burner down and it had not all been rebuilt so it was just a little restaurant. We got an order of sourdough pancakes and an order of sourdough toast. They didn’t sell the bread, so decided getting the toast was just as good. Both of the items were fantastic – real sourdough taste.  Roadhouses were popular in the late 1800s among trappers and travelers, located every 50 miles for people to get supplies.  Many of them have since closed.

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It was a horrible road, but the scenery was beautiful. We came across Worthington Glacier as we drove along.  This is the only bad road we have experienced in Alaska.

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That night we stayed at Blueberry Lake Recreation Area and it was a really nice campground. This is a small campground, about 20 miles from Valdez.  It sits below the summit to Thompson Pass, surrounded by mountains and meadows.

Our stay in Valdez on the next post.

 

Trekking on Through Alaska

As was pointed out by my friends, Linda and Carol, I forgot to include the pictures of our camping site in Talkeetna. I found it on Day’s End and was great. Really quiet and amazing view of Denali.

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We had heard about the Mayor of Talkeetna, but were never able to meet him, but I did get a picture.

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We left Talkeetna and headed for Wasilla where we needed to restock our food supply and do some laundry – both of which we accomplished. We looked for Sarah Palin, but no luck. After getting our work done, we visited the Iditarod Headquarters and saw a movie about the race, met a musher and his dogs, and met 3 puppies that are being raised to be racing dogs. It was a really cool place

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We had planned to stay at a place called Lake Lucille (where we heard Sarah Palin has a house), but when we got there it was very damp and there were lots of mosquitos. So we went back to the WalMart in Wasilla and spent the night. It is a huge, very nice Super WalMart.

Our next route took us towards Anchorage on Alaska 3 South. Anchorage is a big city, with no parking for RVs. We got propane for $4.50 a gallon and then headed to the new Cabellas to dump and get water.

We continued on Porta Glacier Road towards Whittier. It was a beautiful drive with views of the glaciated Kenai Mountains.

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We arrived at the Williwaw NFS Campground a few miles outside of Whittier. This is a great campground below the Middle Glacier, with a beautiful waterfall and river. The sites were nicely spaced and the campground was quiet.

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As I walked around the campground I got this cute picture of the squirrel happily eating someone’s leftover bread, and the beautiful fireweed growing along the river.

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The next morning we left for Whittier. The most interesting part of that trip was the 2 ½ mile tunnel you had to go through to get to Whittier. It is called the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel and it opened to highway traffic in 2000. It was the first time both automobile and trains traveled through the tunnel. It is the longest highway tunnel and the longest combined rail-highway use tunnel in North America.

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The town of Whittier was very interesting. There was water (the Prince William Sound), lots of boats and a few ferries. Very few stores, but lots of seafood handling facilities. We didn’t stay, just drove through.

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 We were glad we headed there early (8:30) because we went through the tunnel both going into and out of Whittier with no stoppage or delay. That wasn’t the case for later, as you can see by the line up waiting to go into Whittier. The literature said you could have to wait up to 15 minutes.

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We drove through Soldotna and Kenai on our way to the end of the Kenai Peninsula and a campground called Discovery Campground – Captain Cook State Recreation Area. There are a few mosquitos here, but the view makes up for it. We are right on a cliff overlooking the Cook Inlet. We were only going to stay one day, but decided to stay another since it is so nice.

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The shore line here is so strange. Every 6 hours the water goes in and then comes back. When it receeds the beach is so big, but dangerous to walk on because the mud is like quicksand. You can see by the pictures.

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We had a great treat this morning while sitting around the fire.

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Next stop – Homer, Alaska

Alaska the Last Frontier

Just before we got to Quartz Lake we drove along the Alaska Pipeline that was suspended above the ground and over the river.

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From Quartz Lake we traveled on Highway 2 and then Highway 3 to Fairbanks, and another Day’s End recommendation at the Fairbanks Airport.

While in Fairbanks we visited Pioneer Park and saw the train car Pres. Harding rode in 1923 when he was in Alaska to sink the golden spike for the newly constructed railroad. They also had a cool paddlewheeler and houses that were replicas of the time period.

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While at Pioneer Park, John, Zoe and John went to the Aeronautical Museum. Sadie and I stayed in the LD and I worked on my blog.

The next day we went to downtown Fairbanks and did lots of stuff. We visited the Visitor Center, Ice Museum, car museum, WalMart, Safeway, Sam’s, Petco, and Hot Licks Ice Cream.

Zoe and I walked through downtown Fairbanks on our way to the Ice Museum. We went through a cool park, called Griffin Park. They had a clock that played music every ½ hour, an Antler Arch, and several statues honoring service men.

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Every year in Fairbanks they have an ice carving competition. So Zoe and I visited the Ice Museum which showed a movie about the competition, ice sculptures, and even a carving demonstration.

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John and John C. went to the car museum which they said was really cool. We also went to Hot Licks Ice Cream, which was recommended to us by fellow travelers, and enjoyed ice cream cones, although kind of pricey.   Another place we stopped was Santa’s Smokehouse and we got several different kinds of smoked salmon. The guy who does the smoking is 80 years old and has been smoking the salmon there for 40 years.

After 2 days in Fairbanks we decided to move on. I was able to get a reservation for the next day at Riley Campground in Denali Park. I wanted to stay at Teklanika, but we couldn’t get in until the end of July.

So we headed South on Hwy. 3.   Along the road we saw great views of the mountain range and the bridge over the Tanana River. I even got a pretty good picture of Denali (formerly known as Mt. McKinley).

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Riley Campground had nicely spaced camp spots, but RVs were coming in all day and into the night.   Also they a lot of rain so some of the roads were flooded.

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The next day I got up very early to take the 8-hour bus trip to Eielson; John, John C. and Zoe went to the sled dog demonstration

On the trip to Eielson we saw grizzly bears, caribou and dall sheep. I also tried to get a picture of Denali, but she just wasn’t cooperating that day. It was a long but very interesting bus ride.

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The ones that went to the dog sledding demonstration said it was great; they really enjoyed it.

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After a 2 day stay we headed out on Hwy. 3 South. It was a very pretty drive but rain, rain, and more rain the whole way until we got to Talkeetna where we are staying on a vacant lot that I found on Days End. It is on the end of a street and very quiet , right along the river, with great views of Denali and the mountain range.  It is very close to town so easy to walk around. We are staying here until after the 4th of July.

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We walked around town and visited the airport, train station, cemetery (thanks to Linda/Carol recommendation), downtown, and library (where they have free WiFi).

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We woke up on the 4th and decided to go downtown to the local parade.

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But the best thing to happen today was the clear view of Denali. I hear that we are very lucky because most people never get to see it. And we saw it right out our door.

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Yippee Alaska

We left the Tetsa River Recreational Area and drove a little distance on the 97 North to Tetsa River Services. We had heard about their cinnamon rolls and we had to get one. They were the best cinnamon rolls we have ever had.

We got back on the 97 traveling North. The road appears to be the old road with lots of curves and bumps. We passed by a beautiful lake, called Muncho Lake, on our way to Watson Lake.

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We came across 2 black bears just North of Liard Hot Springs, and several Bison near Muncho Lake Provincial Park.

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We have been surprised that they are very few rigs heading towards Alaska. We were near Irons Creek the first time we saw multiple rigs heading that way.

 

We stopped at the Sign Post Forest in Watson Lake and what an amazing site. Our friend was here in the 70s and there were only 3 rows of signs, from these pictures you can see that it has grown exponentially.

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Continuing North on Yukon 1 we had terrible roads – concrete that had been ground down so all that was left was loose gravel. We spent the night at Big Creek Campground in the Yukon Territory. It was right along the river, but lots of mosquitos; more than any other place so far.

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We continued driving West towards White Horse. From the Cinnamon Roll place to just past Big Creek the roads were the worst we have driven on this trip, but great views.

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The longest water span on the Alaska Highway at 1,917 feet is the Nisutlin Bay Bridge.

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We continued on to Whitehorse and from Day’s End we stayed at the Pioneer RV Park, in the overflow area, for $12, which included free dump and water and 3 cents off a gallon of gas.   We drove into Whitehorse and walked around. A very cute, touristy town.

I got a great picture of the rugged snowcapped peaks of the Kluane Icefield Ranges, which are Canada’s highest and world’s largest nonpolar alpine ice field.

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We had heard there was quite a bit of roadwork being done between Destruction Bay and Tok, so decided to spend the night at a great campground called Cottonwood RV Park and Campground, right on Kluane Lake. Very nice place with free showers, but poor electricity (by their generator) and no cell service

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There was definitely road work being done – frost heave repair, and grinding concrete roads while leaving behind the rocks. Of course 18-wheeler trucks don’t care if they pass you going fast and throw rocks on windshield. Luckily we didn’t get any rock chips – yet!!!

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Finally we hit the border of Alaska and the Yukon Territory. It took us 11 days to get to this point, and we didn’t stay but 1 night at any place.

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That night we reached Tok, Alaska, and spent the night behind a Chevron Station (from Day’s End). You could get a brochure at the Visitor’s Center that had 10 cents off the gas and free overnight parking. It was very quiet and the next morning John used $3.00 to wash the dust off the rig (10 minutes).

From Tok we headed North on Alaska 2 towards Delta Junction. We crossed two cool bridges. The first one crossed over the Johnson River. The second one is the Gerstle River Black Veterans Memorial Bridge. It was renamed in 1993 to commemorate the 3,695 black soldiers of the 93rd, 94th, 95th, 97th, and 388th U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their contribution in constructing the Alcan Highway.

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Continuing on Hwy. 2 we stopped at Delta Meat and Sausage. They raise and make all their sausage. They had reindeer, yak, bison, and caribou sausage, as well as pork brautwurst. John tasted all of the, but I only bought the brauts.

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At the Visitor Center

in Delta Junction, we got a certificate stating we had driven the Alcan, and got a picture of the ending point of the Alcan.

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We spent the night at Quartz Lake, just outside Delta Junction. It was nice, and quiet, and even had a bear warning. But, we didn’t see one.

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Our next stop was the North Pole, Alaska. This was right along Hwy. 2.   First we stopped at the very unusual Visitor Center.

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Then on to the official North Pole and Santa Claus.

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Next is on to Fairbanks and beyond.