Friday, June 18, 2010

How Did We End up in Seward? Musings on the evening of June 17th

Alaska provides some constraints on a driving trip that require an adjustment to the routine of even the road savvy couple. The distances are enormous, and the map is misleading to those of us who have only driven the lower forty eight. The roads are sometimes good and sometimes not. Frost heaves abound and the prudent driver doesn't want to go air borne too frequently. All the road repairs are done in June and July, so the friendly hello of the lonely flag man occurs often (one of these guys entertained him self and us by showing the dragon fly sitting on his arm, consuming the last of a bumble bee it had caught in mid air. The waits are less than ten minutes, but occur several times a day.


Taking all of this into account, we realized that we won't have time to cover all of the Kenai Peninsula in between our next two fly-in trips, and so we ambled down to Seward to get this piece of the Kenai under our belts before the flight out to Bristol Bay. The usual spectacular vistas lay around every bend in the road. Much of the morning we drove along one arm of the Cook Inlet. Nick remembers the Cook Inlet people who had a huge investment fund in the early eighties, and who bought into several startup cable TV companies in the lower forty-eight. They probably made damned good money. A glacier enters the Cook Inlet far to the east and south of where we drove.


We broke the journey with a fine hot sandwich and soup lunch at the Mt. Alyeska ski resort. Mary got a recommendation from one of the nice shoe clerks at a mall in Anchorage. I spent the shoe buying time reading the WSJ on my Kindle, but I did overhear Mary and the two girls talking about mid-summer's night approaching in a few days (the 21st of June). Mary said something like "do you have sexual orgies like in Scandinavia on that evening?" I missed the reply but I think the young women were a little surprised.


We arrived late afternoon to a nice spot six miles from Seward, got the camper rigged up and put the RV park laundry machines and shower facilities to work. Nick learned the previous night that not all RV parks have electrical outlets to receive a typical three prong 20 amp 110V plug. That led to a question of the manager of this night's RV facility, and she loaned me a conversion plug (50 to 20 amp). Looks like we need a trip to the hardware store tomorrow.  It has rained on and off for several hours, much like yesterday evening. The pattern is: mornings are cloudy but dry, with the sun poking through the clouds occasionally, while the afternoons bring a steady, moderate downpour. We drove into Seward and had a good seafood dinner and beer and wine. The restaurant was crowded with tourists and locals, a bit of a shock to ears more accustomed to road sounds and quiet camper life. Tomorrow we get a nine hour cruise of the Northwest Fjord of Fjordlands National Park. If it would stop raining we could get a hike in the following day. The snow level is down to about 1,500 feet, so until it does clear we are restricted to walking on the flats. That is a possibility because Seward is situated in a very wide harbor.


Here are some notes from our June 15th dry camp at Lake Creek, the Yukon.


This was the first day we put substantial mileage on the truck. We picnicked along the Haines Highway, in view of Haines Junction, situated below in a beautiful valley. The Haines Highway is a glorious journey past glacier-filled mountains and very long vistas.


We refueled at Haines Junction. The fuel stop owner, a Chinese man and his wife, took time out from their Chinese language color TV program to take Nick's money. They told another customer that business was slow but beginning to pick up with the summer travelers.


We moved on to Lake Creek campground, not far from the US border. This was an absolutely silent campground in the woods. The camper really shows its stuff at dry camps. We have abundant water, hot water, cooking heat, refrigeration, lights and a furnace to take the morning chill off.

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