August 28, 2014
I am writing this missive on the 29th. I need to recap yesterday but first let me comment on our view this morning. Yesterday was mostly rain with brief periods of mist. It was somewhat discouraging but to be expected. Today we have sun and clouds but no rain so far. On the neighboring house sits an immature Bald Eagle. He is huge and the master of all that he surveys. We will have to be careful getting in the car. We can also see across Cook Inlet to three snow covered volcanos. It is beautiful.
Back to yesterday:
We left the Alyeska Resort after a good night’s rest and a quick breakfast. We headed down towards Turnagain Arm to look for Beluga whales. We started with visit to the Portage Glacier. We passed by a salmon observation point that was occupied by tour bus and decided to return later. We drove towards the glacier on a paved highway. Forty years ago the road was a gravel path but you could drive to the face of the glacier that calves into the lake. Today the glacier has receded up the valley and you can only see it “up close” by tour boat. I am sure glad we climbed on it when we could.
There is a nice visitor center with observation windows that are inside and out of the rain. We wandered around and Bobbie got a chance to touch some glacial ice. After touching the cold, she has decided that the iceberg option might be uncomfortable. She found comfort with Smoky the Bear. I had fun talking with the old timer docent. She too had arrived in the late 60’s and we could talk about the changes to Alaska. Like many of the older Alaskans that we talk to, she spends the winter in the lower 48. The Alaskans refer to the seniors without the means to escape the winter as Sourdoughs. Sour on the land and no dough to get out. We managed to find some souvenirs that we could not live without including a CD of bear songs. I cannot imagine who we were thinking about.
We stopped by the salmon observation deck since there were no tour buses in sight. The salmon were busy creating the next generation and didn’t seem to mind us watching. They are a magnificent species and taste good to boot.
We left the Turnagain Arm and headed on to the Kenai Peninsula. Despite the rain, the scenery was great. You get a feeling for how big this place really is even though the Kenai is one of the most settled areas of the state. We would pass occasional cabins and lodges until we reached the Kenai River with scads of fishing areas, guides and outfitters. The river itself seems huge and we could use every drop in California.
Had lunch at a roadside joint with typical folksy Alaskan decor before reaching Ninilcik and our home for two nights. Found the general store and needed to go to a bar to buy beer and wine since they don’t co-mingle in Alaska. We tried to keep the wine buying quick as the smoke from the bar was stifling.
Our little house is quite nice with an upstairs and downstairs and plenty of beds. The local pizza was more than enough, and we even bought enough wine. We enjoyed the good news about Barrett and went to sleep easily in our cabin by the Cook Inlet.