Kenai Peninsula and on to Anchorage
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06/18 - Looked in one of the many 'Tourist Guides' and saw what seemed to be an interesting side trip. So we cranked up the truck and headed for the Russian village of Nikolaevsk. The Milepost says several miles off the road. About 10 miles later the road turned to gravel a we had arrived. Saw a beautiful church and found the Samovar Cafe. (and gift shop), about 15 foot square with a counter seating 6. We were greeted by Nina, the owner, cook, and gift seller. The place way quite attractive and lined floor to ceiling with actual Russian imports. She wanted to know what we would like for lunch as she was ready to cook for the other two guests and wanted to do ours at the same time. It was obvious who was in charge at this time! We ordered borsch, a Russian dumpling stuffed with mushrooms and cabbage and had creampuffs for desert. Quite tasty and all freshly prepared. Afterwards we were 'required' to put on the Russian costumes and give her the camera to take photos. We did buy a bag of her special fireweed tea after much friendly persuasion. Inasmuch as it was still trying to rain and was cold and damp we headed back to the trailer.
06/19 - Left Homer in beautiful sunshine. Tried to see the Palmer Marsh where many species of birds are viewable. Found the road and the sign stating that the viewing area was closed due to renovation. Spent a while turning the trailer around on a 1 lane gravel road after we had backed up to a short driveway. Next stop Aleyesca Tram. On the way to the Tram we saw a sign for the Crow Creek Mine so off to another gravel 'road' for a short tour. This is both an historic mine and an operational gold mine. Spent about an hour looking around and got a few nice photos. Arrived at the tram and rode it to the top for a fantastic view of the bay and surrounding mountains. The tram travels about 25 mph and can withstand winds up to 65 mph fully loaded with 60 passengers. Pleasant ride with not even a breeze! There were several hang gliders launching and enjoying the updrafts. Stayed in the RV Parking area to get an early start in the morning. A 'double' hang glider ride was available but we opted out after about 1/2 second of consideration!
06/20 06/21 06/22 - Finally, on to Anchorage. Not a lot of miles but no idea where we will stay for the next several days. Stopped at Costco for a few steaks and then on to look at campgrounds. Several were no longer in business and the first one for consideration was not a place to be. Looked like a Motel 6 for campers. The next place looked fine so we moved in for 3 nights. Not bad looking and reasonably comfortable but poorly managed. Many totally unacceptable conditions for suvh a high pricetag. Set up and down to Anchorage. Absolute mess of traffic and one way streets. Spent several hours looking for the visitors center and finally went back to the trailer to rest. Next morning got a new map and found a parking lot and proceeded to check out the town. Found the visitor center and visited the Ulu factory and the fishing hot spot several blocks from city center. Reports of 200 salmon caught for the day. Had a nice lunch and wandered in and out of the mass of shops. The only thing we found of interest was Charlies Train Shop where we bought a mug and an Alaska RR hat. Back to the campground to sleep 12 hours to try to fix the colds we picked up in Seward from the overloaded tour boat. Not many pictures as the weather turned nasty. Cold and rainy both Thursday and Friday. The visit to Anchorage did not impress us. But, one big downtown is much like any other. This one just has more one way streets than most! Planning to leave Saturday for Denali, but looks like maybe a two day trip.
06/23 - The road to Denali was fantastic. 65 MPH limit most of the way. Also very little traffic for a main route to a place like Denali. Arrived at Rainbow RV Park 1 mile from the entrance to the park. Not much to look at, but has power and water as well a a much needed laundry. Their WIFI works, unlike most of the places we have stayed. Even has a locally generated TV satellite with about 10 channels. Entered the park and got 2 nights in their RV Park for Monday and Tuesday. We plan to slow down a bit and see Denali right. Maybe see it twice for good measure. The weather shows a clearing trend so lets hope for the best. When we parked the truck and walked to the visitors center a ranger stopped us and we had to detour around, as a moose and her two calves were wandering around the center! She finally left via the parking lot and we were allowed to pass. This was done to keep us from getting too close and causing a 'moose encounter' or worse. You don't mess with moose! Some tourists have learned this the hard way. We have driven over 2,000 miles in Alaska, and we see our first live moose in a parking lot! Maybe our wildlife sightings will pick up now. Elena has attacked the last two weeks laundry and we will relax and plan the next few days this evening.
06/24 - Reviewed all the options for touring the park. This cannot be done from a privately owned vehicle due to park restrictions. Several bus tours are available within the park and several more commercial offerings. Decided to try to stay in the park an additional 2 nights so we requested campground space and were lucky to get a total of four nights at Riley Creek. This is dry camping with dump/refill stations nearby $20/night but only $10/night with the Golden Age Passport. Made reservations for a 92 mile commercial bus tour which travels the full length of the park.
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