Saturday, June 19, 2010

June 19, 2010

Rain and No Bears Again

We drove down to Homer this morning in hopes of flying to see bears.

We made a brief stop in Anchor Point, AK to search out another point of interest.  While searching we flushed out a moose.  Again too quick to get picture.  A small bit of searching (there isn’t much area to search) led us to this:

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The bottom line says “WESTERLY HIGHWAY POINT”.  This is the farthest west you can drive to in North America from some place else.  There are a couple of roads in Nome but you have to take a plane or boat to get there.  This ranks right up there with our visit to Mt. Sunflower.

We continued to Homer and went to a GREAT bakery.  Outstanding fresh baked goods of many types.  Sweet and savory goodies and home style breads of all kinds.  Also breakfast and lunch items (egg puff, sandwiches, etc.).  Reasonable prices, homey atmosphere, helpful and pleasant staff.  They say that in order for a food service establishment to survive it must have a product that attracts the locals. There was a steady stream of locals going through while we were there. Definitely a must see in Homer.  Not a sole reason for returning but certainly an incentive.

Disappointment again when we got to the hanger.  The weather was better than last week but not good enough.  Tomorrow looks better.  He showed us pictures he took a couple of days ago.  Fantastic.  We will try again tomorrow.

Friday, June 18, 2010

June 18, 2010

Back to the West Side

Day 49



Woke up to see this out our front window.




That is a BIG boat.


We started the day working on a sewer problem.  Not fun.  Hope we got it fixed.

Back across the top of the Kenai Peninsula and down to Ninilchik again to the same RV park we were in last Sunday.  We will go to Homer in the car tomorrow (hopefully, right now it is raining harder than we have seen in several weeks). 

We washed clothes and are now just hanging out and listening to the rain :( .

Thursday, June 17, 2010

June 17, 2010

Kenai Fjords Cruise

Today we took a six and a half hour sightseeing cruise out of Seward.


18 Our Boat


Don’t know how well this will show up.  We took the yellow cruise with a couple of modifications to see more sea life.


Impossible to describe the trip adequately.  The captain/narrator was excellent.  Lots of narration about sea life, geology, geography, history, and many opportunities sought out to see different animals, fish, and birds

DSC04342 .

Sea otters.  They really were that close.








Bald eagle.








Orca (Killer Whale)
















Harbor seal.







Ice chunks in water.





This is where they came from:



Holgate Glacier.  It is more than a quarter mile across and several hundred feet high.  This picture taken from a half mile away.  We did get closer.




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While we were there we saw (and heard) the glacier calf several times.  Quite a sight (and sound).



Puffin.  There are two types.  This is the Tufted Puffin.








Horned Puffin





Steller Sea Lions

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Common Murres





We saw several other species including a Humpback whale and Dall’s Porpoises but seeing them is iffy let alone photographing them especially on a rocking boat in the rain.  Except for the weather it was a great day.  The weather was very manageable too as the boat has completely enclosed and heated cabins.  We could wander around all we wanted and go outside to get better views whenever we wished.  Several hardy (foolish) souls spent most of the trip on the railing on the bow of the boat with rain and sea water splashing them much of the time.  Good ride though.

Back home to some hot chocolate and tomorrow back to Homer hopefully.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June 16, 2010

Alaska Sea Life Center

Morning started overcast but very calm and dry.  Looked like boat tour might have been ok today.  We watched several tour boats head out on their morning runs.   A while later things began to change.  First a drizzle, then light rain, and then wind.  We were glad we opted for tomorrow, so far anyway.

Off to our goal for the day but first stop the local quilt shop :).  We have been doing this in every town/city in Alaska.  It is interesting to see the different approaches to quilting as opposed to home.  Here there is much more emphasis on using pictured fabric and making pictured quilts rather than fancy piecework quilts.  I find them more fun to look at but appreciate the work of a piecework quilt.

Two blocks down from the quilt store (Seward is pretty (very, actually) small), on the waterfront, is the Alaska Sea Life Center.  This is an aquarium and sea life research center.  The only one in Alaska.  Certainly not near the size of Monterey Bay Aquarium but what is there is very well done and very well presented.  There are docents everywhere with ready information.  Many displays and videos and of course tanks.  There is an island 35 miles south of Seward that is a sea lion rookery.  There are several video cameras stationed there that are controlled remotely by the research center.  That way they can study the sea lions without disturbing them.  The video is a live feed to the aquarium.  Ever watched a sea lion give birth?  We have.  Good timing I guess.


This pup was birthing tail first.  Something else we can add to list of sights seen.  :)



King crab up close.








Shrimp up close.







Starfish (up close).




04 feather duster

05 basket starfish


They have an enclosure and tank devoted to sea birds.




Our first look at Puffins.







Harbor seal (up close).






Everybody’s  gotta have a jellyfish tank.





Back to carbus.

Views from our front window, about 60 feet away to:


Sea otter









Another sea otter







Harbor seal.  He was a little farther away, about 40 yards.  Hard to get close up photo.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June 15, 2010

No Bears Today So On To Seward



The wind blew all night.  This morning as we were getting ready to go to the airport it began to rain lightly.  Didn’t look good.  When we got to the hanger it was confirmed that the weather was too poor for flight seeing let alone going across the Gulf of Alaska to look for bears.  Tomorrow’s weather looked like it would be much like today so instead of taking a chance we rescheduled for next Saturday hoping things will settle down by then.

Back to the carbus, quick pack up, and off to the other side of the Kenai Peninsula to Seward. (four hour drive. Rained all the way.)


Not quite ‘combat’ fishing but close.

DSC04385 kenai Rver fishermen, sportsman Landing

We are parked in a city campground right on the edge of the bay.

DSC04448 parked at city campground

View out our front window.  The shore line is about 25 feet from the RV.

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After lunch we hustled over to the tour boat headquarters to sign up for a tour.  We opted for Thursday to give the weather time to settle.  There are things we can do tomorrow that are inside.

After making reservations we walked through several gift shops and checked menus of seafood restaurants.  Looks like we may not get to have any seafood around here.  $13 for basic fish and chips or $15 for Halibut fish and chips.  Fish meal other than deep fried is much more.  We couldn’t do it.

Seward is the home of the headquarters for Kenai Fjords National Park.  Most of the park is accessible only by float plane or boat.  There is one glacier that is a little north of town that can be reached (almost) by a short drive followed by a one mile hike.  It was part of our master plan and walking in rain is fine so off we went.  As you approach the far end of the road, still miles from the visitor center, signs with four digit numbers start appearing.  We learned that the signs mark the location of the foot of the glacier as of the year indicated.  The glacier has retreated several miles in the last 150 years.



Sign showing retreat of Exit Glacier.






We got to the center just before a scheduled ranger walk to the glacier so we went along.  More fun to get some education along with the view and exercise.  Our guide was a volunteer from south Florida.  Been working at this park for six years.  She was very interesting.


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DSC04435 Pete and Sue at Exit Glacier, end of trail

Back to the carbus to dry out and look out the front window.  :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

June 14, 2010

Homer, AK



Easy drive this morning of a little over forty miles to Homer. 


Weather was cloudy and spitting rain.  Too bad because the views overlooking Homer and across the bay are outstanding.

We drove out the Homer Spit and found a place at a city campground.  More like a large segmented gravel lot but cheap and off the road.  Mostly the Homer Spit is just a long rock and gravel jetty with a road on top of it.  A couple of places it widens and there are various businesses along the road.

DSC04349 Homer Spit Shops

After setting up we looked up the office of K-Bay Air and confirmed our reservations for tomorrow.  We had a chat with the nice reservation girl and then her mother, a partner, came in.  We chatted with her a while and she asked where we were from.  When we told her Auburn, CA she said “Michael’s from Auburn! (owner/partner/pilot/guide).  He still has family there.  We talked about that for a while and she mentioned that he moved there from Palo Alto.  Where I grew up.  Double coincidence.  It will be fun to meet him.

We walked the shops on the spit.  Mostly very expensive food and ‘gifts’.

  We stepped in to the local iconic bar to see what it was all about.  Homer has been called ‘a quaint little drinking village with a serious fishing problem’.  The Salty Dawg is the epitome of that statement.  Small little building (actually three very small buildings that join each other) with a bar, a TV, a mounted King crab, and a few tables.  

DSC04354 Salty Dawg Saloon

The decorations have a nautical theme IF you can find them.  Everything is covered by dollar bills with notes and signatures written on them. 

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When we were there the patrons were mostly tourists.  Usually it is filled with crusty fishermen complete with look and smell and language to go with the image.

DSC04363 The Catch of the Day


One charter’s catch waiting to be filleted.





DSC04364 How to dress while cleaning  and fileting fish


The dude in the orange overalls  is cleaning and filleting the Hallibut. (Real men clean fish topless. Right! Notice what the other two are wearing.  Temp was in 40’s with wind and rain)






We took a drive out East End Road.  This road goes for miles along the north coast of the Kachemak Bay and every inch of it has spectacular views across the bay to snow covered mountains with glaciers nestled between them.  Even with overcast sky it was stunning.

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DSC04380 Plane landing in Beluga Lake, Homer, AK


Float plane landing in float plane lake next to airport at base of spit.




DSC04371 Eagle Window at the Homer Post Office


This stained glass is in entry to post office.  Homer post office is probably half again as large as Auburn, CA post office and serves smaller population.