Thursday, July 31, 2014


Map - July 31 Leaving Fairbanks today and headed back to Healy, then into Denali next Monday. I still haven't decided which route to take on the way back to Oregon - I keep hearing horror stories about the Top of the World Highway and the highway that goes north from Fairbanks to the Arctic Circle. Rains are making the roads muddy and slippery, since they are paved in only small sections. A caravan of 23 RVs is parked near me, and 17 of them have to replace tires while they are here in Fairbanks - all from the Top of the World Hwy.

On the road to Fairbanks, and near Denali NP, I saw this mountain and was struck by how pretty it was, with the sun peeking through the clouds and shining on the snow.

The view from the RV park in Fairbanks - the Chena River and houses. All sorts of boats go by, from canoes to speed boats. The "mosquito authority" sign is for a company that promises to rid your garden of the pests with child and pet friendly chemicals. Hmmmm right next to a river...

And look who's here! One of the Milepost writers! The Milepost is the bible of Alaskan travel. Don't leave home without it! Mickey, this photo is for you!

Fairbanks is a typical small city, with strip malls and even a Fred Meyer. One day I drove out of town to find the dog musher museum, which of course was all closed down. But Koka loved running along the trail. It's a practice course for the sled dogs - 50.00 dollars for a winter of unlimited trail use. It's a beautiful area, with a few farms, and fields of cows.

Tomorrow I will head south to Denali National Park, where I will await clear skies so just maybe I will get to see THE MOUNTAIN. I have reservations at a camp inside the park but the weather forecast does not look promising. Please, just a few minutes of a clear sky!

Palmer, Healy, and Nenana - on the road to Fairbanks

On the trek north to Fairbanks I stayed a few nights in Palmer. The fishing frenzy is happening here, as well. There are a lot of people with dip nets. These nets are huge - 5 feet in diameter. Alaska residents are the only ones allowed to possess or use these nets. Salmon swim right into the nets, and some times the nets are completely full of fish.

Scenes on the road to Palmer - it takes a long time to get anywhere because I keep stopping to look at the scenery!

The Kenai River and yes, it really is that beautiful color. Minerals in the melting glaciers cause the water to be turquoise.

A store in Palmer, where I stopped to poke around, and found some books for grandchildren.

Chatting with a woman who lives in the bush about 50 miles from Palmer, I learned that in the winter it is easier for them to travel to towns for supplies because everything is frozen and they can use sleds. There are no roads to their property so they use a four-wheeler, a dog sled, or a snow machine. Snow machines are known as sno-mobiles in the lower 48. In the spring and summer, after the "break-up", the swampy ground makes travel difficult. She also told me about the "roadkill list". This list is a waiting list for those who would like to use for food any moose that has been struck and killed by a vehicle. Nothing goes to waste out in the bush. If your name is up, you must go to retrieve the animal, butcher it, and save various parts, one being the lower jaw, to turn in to the authorities. If you are unable to retrieve the animal, you lose your turn and your name is removed. Hunting and fishing help to feed families during the long winter.

Not sure what's going on with this building...form follows function...

Byer Lake State Park, where I spent the night. It was beautiful, but hiking or even walking around was not possible because of the "bear in camp" warnings, and if the bear didn't get you, the mosquitos would. The state parks and public campgrounds are very rustic, without electricity or water, and that's what I prefer. But alas, I've had to avoid those camps because of the bears. Mama bears are roaming around with their new cubs, and that's a dangerous situation. The bears are also ravenous, and when they kill a moose or other animal, they let it "age", and if you come across the "aging" carcass and the bear is nearby, you're toast.

Koka exploring our campsite

The charming little village of Nenana -

The village cafe

A typical Alaskan house

The railroad station

I love this cabin that is now the visitors' center.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Homer Farmer's Market

Saturday and Wednesday are Farmer's Market days in Homer. Lots of local people were there, all greeting each other, hugging and kissing. Kids were running around chasing each other and having fun.

These kids were doing face painting, but they also got out of bed very early to pick lettuces to sell.

I bought chard, lettuces, peppers, broccoli and halibut cheeks. Dinner!

Homer - beach and glaciers

The road to Homer is another scenic drive.

Homer is located on the Kenai Peninsula, 226 miles south of Anchorage. Population 5,153. Part of the town in located on the Homer spit, a narrow strip of land jutting into Kachemak Bay. I stayed in an RV park on the spit for two nights, again among fishermen. A group of four bearded young men were camped next to me, and apologized for their noise (beer plus campfire) by giving me some halibut. Not a bad deal!

Outside of my front window I could see the Bay, otters, seals, many kinds of birds, and the beach.

Koka was happy!

The spit is full of campers and cars, and I had a nightmare about a tsunami. If one were to occur, there would be absolutely no way to get a bunch of RVs, some 50 feet long, to safe ground.The next day I moved to a camp in town. I never have nightmares so I decided to take heed. The beach was even better from the second RV park. Three major glaciers across the bay - the Dixon, the Portlock and the Grewingk glaciers.

Ninilchik and lots of fish!

Ninilchik is all about fish. I stayed in a fish camp, and I finally understood why all the houses and cabins in the little towns had RVs parked in their yards. When it's fishing season everyone piles in and makes their way to the coast and the rivers. There are not a lot of hotels outside of the two major cities so camping of all sorts is big with Alaskans. Everyone but me woke up at 4 am, hauling their boats to the boat launch.

A local Native woman teaching her son to prepare the fish for freezing. Many Alaskans depend on the fish to feed their families for the coming year. She gave me a nice piece of salmon for my dinner.

The village -

The Russian church, which is beautifully sited on a hill above the village.