Hey guys! I'm in Homer (doh!) at the bottom of the Kenai Peninsula. Well ok ok (knitpickers), as far south as I can go by car. So the score is: I've made it driving as far as you can going north, south and east in Alaska. I screwed up and didn't stay on SR 2 when it split to go on the Dalton Highway! Drat! That would have taken me to Manley Hot Springs. Of course there are towns (Juneau being the obvious example) that are further in all 4 Cardinal Directions but you have to get to them either by ferry/boat or air.
Yesterday was a fairly easy drive and relaxing. Well, except going through Anchorage during rush hour on a Friday. That wasn't fun. Apparently, there is a loop road that would have had me bypass a lot of traffic. Don't quote me on that. It just looked like it on the map.
To backup for a sec, I left Wasilla on SR 3 and almost immediately turned onto highway SR 1 which took me into Anchorage (and the traffic fun I mentioned). Luckily that torture wasn't longed lived; not like
those commutes in NYC, the Southland or the DFW Metroplex that some of us must suffer through. We'll see if in my next job, I can avoid having to work downtown. I'm not holding my breathe.
After Anchorage, the highway became very scenic. Almost immediately after the city you are driving down the rocky coast overlooking the Cook Inlet that is part of the Gulf of Alaska. Very beautiful with the view being only partially marred by the railroad tracks that run below the highway. There were several scenic turnouts that I pulled over to take pictures and it was somewhat of a pain trying to picture the shot without the tracks. Of course I could be like a lot of people and just climb down the cliff, cross the tracks and climb up the rock protrusions to get better pictures, despite signs posted all over the place declaring that crossing the tracks is strictly prohibited. When the cats away...
I continued on 1 passing beautiful lakes, rivers, mountains and glaciers. For some reason I thought it was going to be more hospitable. It wasn't. It was just as cold and rainy as many other parts of Alaska
that I have seen. The rain was coming down hard and the temps were in the high 30s. Burrrrrr. I was NOT looking forward to setting up camp in those conditions. So I kept pressing on hoping I can drive out of the weather.
At this point, I made a wrong turn (I was not lost) and started heading towards Hope on the northern coast of the peninsula. I was about halfway down when I realized my mistake. Grumble grumble, I did a u-ey and headed back to 1.
Back on the right track, I eventually drove out of the weather and the mountains and onto a plain atop of a bluff overlooking the inlet. SR 1 is now paralleling the coast line. Across the inlet (facing west) you can see the Alaskan Range rise high into the heavens. It was very beautiful, especially with the sun starting to stretch into late afternoon (late afternoon being like 8 PM). In fact, it was so purdy I started looking for campsites on the coast. I wanted to setup camp and watch the sun set over the mountain range.
I was starting to get worried that I wasn't going
to find a site, when miraculously, a small privately owned campground named Heavenly Sights came up. I made the snap decision to go into the entrance (I couldn't see anything but trees) and drove down a bumpy dirt road. It opened up to several houses/buildings and several large boats that were obviously being readied for the Halibut season. The people were super duper friendly. I was in the good fortune to have the camp ground to myself. They told me to pick whatever site I wanted. I drove down and selected a spot on the bluff with the sea directly below me and a majestic view across the water. I was in time to setup camp and watch the sunset. Life is good. So I got a couple fingers of medicine (thanks Dad!) and sat back in my chair and prepared for nature's fireworks. I noticed Mt. Redoubt and Mt. Illiama were easily visible and were set off nicely by the setting sun. That's also when I noticed that those mountains were in fact active. You could see the occasionally steam stream out of the vents at the top and flanks of the mountains. I hadn't realized that the volcanoes
were that close. Seeing them simmer was a nice bonus. Another bonus was that I had a bald eagle in the tree right behind me. The bird perched there thinking whatever deep thoughts bald eagles think of ("I wonder if he taste good?" -- that's a nod to FarCry).
Looking over the inlet I could see semi-submerged rocks everywhere. It was low tide so the submerged rocks were visible and seemed very hazardous to any nautical navigation. Joe, one of the proprietors of the camp, told be that the tide ranges well over 30 feet. He said that there was only one other location in the world with larger tide swings and that's the Bay of Fundy near Nova Scotia and Maine. Impressive.
So, I watched the sun settle behind the mountains and thought my own deep thoughts (not withstanding the bird above me who at least had the curtesy not to poo on me... eagle poo ).
I crawled into my tent and blissfully dozed off to sleep.
I did not want to get up this morning; it was cozy in that sleeping bag. Seriously, I love that sleeping bag. No doubt it stinks and
I'm really starting to like my beard
Real men wear beards. At least in Alaska.
I have no idea how I am going to get it washed and back to our friends Patty & Joe. Maybe I'll just throw in one of those car air freshener? They might not notice.
Finally I dragged myself out of the tent, packed up and headed south to Homer. Along the way, I was paced by 4 bald eagles taking advantage of the updates created by the bluff's morning up drafts.
I'm heading back up the peninsula (may stop at some of the sights along the way) and will then proceed east on 1. Not sure how far I will get today. I'm trying to figure out how to get out of Alaska and British Columbia without going over a 1000 miles I have already driven; I'm not sure there is. I was considering the Alaskan Maritime Highway but the costs were much MUCH more than I was willing to pay.
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