I'm getting nowhere fast, but at least I've been seeing some amazing sites. After I left you at the last blog, I discovered that there is the Homer Spit. The spit, is a gravel extension out into the bay and host a marina and a boardwalk. It's very quaint. I ended up spending a few hours here sightseeing and enjoying freshly caught halibut. Yum. I also had to drive the length of the spit just to be sure to drive as far south as I could go.
I'm now WAY behind my schedule on trying to get well on the other side of Anchorage before I find a camping spot for the evening. So I got back on the Sterling Highway (SR 1) and proceeded to retrace my steps back to Anchorage. Let me tell you, the Kenai Peninsula is large! I drove for a few hours and just as I approached the area where the peninsula joins the state I noticed a sign for a glacier. What the hell. I figured I was already running late and I wanted to see a glacier so I turned onto Portage Glacier Road and headed inwards.
After several miles I come to a Toll Road booth. WTF, out here? So I pull up to the ranger and ask "what's this?" The ranger lady ask "Are you going to Whittier?" I have no idea what she is talking about (remember this is spur of the moment thing), so I ask: "I don't know, do I?" I was trying to use my charming voice (probably didn't come out that way); she just looked at me and said that it will be $13 for a round trip. Huh, round trip? Now I'm intrigued so I hand over my $13 and she tells me to take lane 3 and that I don't have time to go to the bathroom (how did she know I needed to go). So I take lane 3 and discover the setup is much like getting on a ferry; marked lanes and all.
I noticed what I thought to be a small building or house was in fact an entrance to a tunnel. A very narrow tunnel. Think subway narrow. One lane. I'm the only one going in and so I literally had the entire tunnel to myself. At this point I'm ecstatic. A completely
random choice has landed me in this cool tunnel, the likes which I have never seen, with who knows what on the other side. I'm grinning from ear to ear when I enter the tunnel. And it's long. Really long. I found out later in researching the tunnel that it is called the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel and leads to Prince William Sound and the town of Whittier (so that's what "Whittier" is). The tunnel is also used for trains and is 2.5 miles long. It's the longest tunnel in North America according to Wikipedia.
The tunnel opens up to a town that is part marina and part cargo port. This place is nice. I saw that there was a campground so I decided to stay overnight. The campground wasn't that good and the ground was completely covered by a shale that only has an inch or two of soil on top (where it wasn't exposed). Anotherwords I had to be really creative in setting up my tent. How do you use stakes on a rock? Not easily. A positive for the site was that I camped near the banks of a river so I had another picturesque site
Notice the railroad tracks?
to enjoy. A negative, was I also could not find bathroom facilities so I ended up having to walk into town for the public restrooms (which, albeit, is nicer than the outhouses that I've been using).
The next morning I drove around town and went up into the mountains to look around. More gravel roads which gave me some fond memories of Prudhoe Bay (read sarcasm here). I collected some specimens for Audrey, took lots of pictures and headed back to Anchorage. Going back through the tunnel was just as cool the second time though I had to share it with several vehicles.
Today I'm hoping to make a large dent of the travel distance to get to Whitehorse in Canada. From Whitehorse, I'll head south and head towards the Puget Sound area.
P.S. I just saw Aunt Claudia's comment as I was about to post the blog and I wanted to make a few observations regarding the Bald Eagles that I forgot to write about (thanks Aunt Claudia). First the locals here treat them as just any other bird; they are completely indifferent to them. Second, I've seen Bald Eagles here in Alaska act like buzzards
eating road kill, like seagulls (competing with seagulls) hovering & diving around marinas grabbing fish off of boat decks, like bullies when I saw one of them in formation attack another Bald Eagle. The second observation may account for people's indifference. Who is not annoyed by seagulls or buzzards at times? 😊
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