Organ Pipe National Park

Organ Pipe National Park

About Me

I purchased "Sadie''s House On Wheels "in late 2007 and loved traveling in a motor home so much that I went on the road full time in late 2008. I started writing this blog to help me remember all the wonder places I have been and it allows me to share those places with my family and friends. Summer of 2013 I decided to hang up the keys for a while and moved back into my stick house. After nearly two years, I am on the road again.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

July 22, moving on to Kenai City

Before leaving this morning for Homer I walked down the Spit one last time.  This sun was just starting to poking through some of the clouds.

We headed out towards Kenai City.  On the way we saw a large black plume of smoke flowing straight up.  We learned a small private boat had caught on fire and and perhaps exploded.  Later we learned that five people were on board and with in minutes after sending out a distress signal all five people were picked up by the good samaritan fishing boat the "Happy Hooker".  Really!! All five were ok, but the boat is not.

The drive to Kenai was cloudy (what else is new) but we could see a lot more today than we did on the way down to Homer.

We arrived in Kenai in time to get settled for a few nights at the local Elks Club.  Liz didn't really like her view as much here as did in Seward and Homer.

Later we went down towards the water front to watch dip netting.  I have never seen such a specticle.  There were hundreds of fishermen on the shore dipping huge hand held nets in the surf and coming up with Salmon. I'm told  only the residents of Alaska can participate in net dipping and it is part of the subsistence program.  The dip netting is only allowed for a few weeks and there is a limit on the amount they can net.

Friday, July 23, 2010

July 21, More scenery of Homer

I think the weather man is a little mixed up.  He said yesterday was suppose to be the best day of the week and it rained and was yucky.  Well, today was much, much better, and it turned out to be sunny... very windy and cold .. but sunny.

After lunch I had noticed the clouds had cleared a little to the north and we jumped in the car to explore Skyline drive which was suppose to have eagle view of Homer and we also wanted to go back to the scenic overlook and see if we could see some of the volcanoes.  We weren't disappointed.

Mt. redoubt

Good view of the Spit from Skyline Drive

Later in the day I walked down the Spit and noticed a very elegant Class A rig

There was someone actually living in it.  Don't know what the story is, but it would be interesting I'm sure.

Here are a few shots of some of the business on the Spit.

We had water front views in Homer, but they weren't as stunning as Seward.  

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July 20, Side trip to Anchor Point and Ninilchik

More rain and clouds this morning. The weather forecast said this was suppose to be the best day of the week.  We hopped in Liz's car and headed towards Anchor Point, hoping that the weather would be a little kinder farther up the road.

The sign needs  a little work but says:  Anchor Point, AK, North America's Most Westerly Highway Point.

Anchor Point is a big launching area for small fishing boats.  What makes it unique is that the boats are launched into the water via tractors.  We just happened to be there during one of the boat launchings.

The tractor tows the boat to the water and then the boat floats off the trailer and away they go.  The tractor tows the trailer back up to the beach.  The beach was full of boat trailers, as far as one could see down the beach. There is a charge of $58 for the service, but this methods enables the boats  not have to depend on the tides.

Our next stop was to the small Russian village of Ninilchilk.  The main attraction here was an old Russian Orthodox church located a s short walking distance from the village. Twenty families support the church.  Although he interior is really beautiful, I didn't take any pictures.  It is very small and private inside.

The cemetery is lush with wild flowers.  What better place to be at rest then in a field of wild flowers on top of a hill overlooking the ocean.

The village of Ninilchick

On the way back to the village I saw this old building.  Note the two sea gulls on the roof. Yes, they are real.

Nothing like a few flowers to brighten up the day.

We stopped and had lunch at the Boardwalk Cafe, a quaint little place with beautiful views of the "ring of fire", which we couldn't see due to the clouds.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 19, Homer

Dense fog and rain greeted me this morning.  It is getting to be a bit of a drag. Nancy and  I walked down the Spit and did a little window shopping.  There are lots of trendy shops as well as fish processors and charter fishing businesses.

  I wanted to find a fish market and buy some fresh fish and there didn't seem to be any fresh fish for sale.  Some of the stores had "fresh" frozen fish, but no fresh fish so I stopped and talked with a lady at a fish processor.  A fish processor cleans and cuts the fish from the charter boats as well as the commercial boats.  They supply the restaurants with fresh fish and ship frozen fish home for the fisherman from the charters.  Most fish processors don't sell fresh fish because "no one wants to deal with it". I guess the folks catching fish on the charter boats don't want to haul the fish around so they have it processed and flash frozen and shipped home.  However, the lady told me I could purchase some fresh fish at her establishment.  Mystery solved.  I haven't purchased any yet.  I want to make sure I can cook it the same day I purchased it.

If you have ever watched the television show "The Most Deadly Catch" then you are familiar with the Time Bandit.  There is a whole store devoted to Time Bandit souvenirs.

Later in the day we played tourist and drove out East End Road, noted as one of the scenic drives.  The day cleared up some, but most of the mountain tops were still obscured by the clouds.

Kachemak Bay

The end of the bay
This is one of the glaciers Kachemak Bay State Park

The Spit is the narrow strip of land.  We are parked about in the middle of the Spit.

On to Homer, July 18

After having sun for a few days, it was pretty disappointing to hear it raining when I woke up in the morning.  Before leaving the Hidden Lakes campground I walked Burney's Trail part of the way. (so much for getting an early start) The trail is dedicated to a young researcher who died at a very young age.  His research involved the relationship between lynx and snowshoe rabbits in the Kenai Wildlife Refuge, particularly in the Hidden Lakes area.  The snowshoe rabbits are pray to the lynx.

When I returned to camp the group had already left.  We previously agreed to meet at the Fred Meyers Store after filling the RV tanks with fresh water.  I found an advertisement in the Mile Post indicating fresh water at one of the gas stations so I decided to fill up there.  It was a good thing, because by the time I got to Fred Meyers there was a line for the dump and water and huge traffic jams.  So...if you are planning to visit  the Fred Meyer store in Soldotna be prepared.

The drive down to Homer was rainy and visibility was really poor.  (Where have you heard that before). The views of Cooks Inlet alluded us due to the foul weather.  We didn't pull off once to take pictures.  This has got to be a record for this group!

This is the view of the Spit as you come into Homer, taken the next day. The Spit is the very narrow strip of land going out to the bay.

We arrived in Homer and made a bee line for the Spit and find the city campground.  I think they have tried  (and failed) to model the campground after Seward.  It is not as nice nor is it as organized.  I grumbled about the $15.00 a night a Seward, for dry camping, but I really grumbled about the $15.00 a night here and threatened to go stay at the Elks.  We'll see.

The Spit is geared towards fishing and trendy shops.  Halibut fishing is the main draw here.  There are fish cleaning stations throughout the Spit and every other business is a charter fishing business.  Homer is much bigger than Seward and has some beautiful areas though. The views of Kachemak Bay and mountains are stunning...what we could see of them.

View of the mountains across the street from our camp site

The mountains on one side of the Spit are called the "ring of fire" because there is at least one active volcano.  The picture is part of that area.

The small boat harbor on the Spit, looking towards Kachemak Bay

The Spit is also the home of the Salty Dawg Saloon.  It's a building that has been pieced together and is a popular watering hole.  The inside is lined with autographed one dollar bills.  It was really smokey when I went in there so I didn't even bother to take a picture. People that have been to Homer alway say you should go to see the Salty Dawg I've been there and can check that off my list.

We are in halibut country, so after getting settled we went to dinner at Captain Patties for a halibut dinner.  For $25.00 I was served a huge piece of halibut that melted in my mouth, salad, and rice.  Tomorrow is another day I hope the rain lets up a little.

Sterling Highway, July 14-18


Before leaving Seward in morning, we had a short pow wow to decide if we could make it to Homer in one day.  You guessed it.  There is no way we would make it to Homer in one day and decided to try and get as far as Sterling. ...70 miles or so.  Our goal was to make it the Hidden Lakes Campground in the Kenai National Wildlife Reserve a few miles off of Skilak Road near Sterling.  Skilak Road is gravel, and Liz wasn't to thrilled to be driving on another dirt road.  We assured her she would only have to drive 3 1/2 miles on the gravel road.

The Hidden Lakes Campground is one of the most pleasant campgrounds we have stayed in.  Of course the fee of $5.00 (with the Golden Access Pass) made it even more pleasant.  The drive on the gravel road in was tolerable, but once in the campground all the roads were paved.

Wednesday morning we decided we would drive back towards Copper Landing and check out some of the rafting companies.  The Kenai River looks spectacular and rafting would be a good way to see some of it.  The whole area is teeming with fisherman.  We found a trip that we all thought would be fun and booked it for Friday evening.

There are lots of hikes in the area and we hiked  2.8 miles one way up to Russian Falls.  The "falls" are not falls but more like cascades.  The river runs really fast and the salmon were jumping up the river.  It is hard to get pictures of the salmon jumping but watching is really interesting.  It is amazing to see them jump high to get over a rapid and then wiggle up the river a a few yards to rest.

                                                         Russian River Falls
 This was one of the areas where we could see the salmon jumping.

While we were watching the salmon someone yelled "bear".  I thought they were referring to a bear in the woods and for me to hold on to Sadie but the bear was in the water.

He was a young grizzly looking for lunch and not being very successful.  He paced back and forth in the river looking for salmon.  He would duck his head under water and come up empty and then walk around some more.  He was completely oblivious to his audience.  He entertained us for a long while, and I think he finally went away hungry.  We never saw him catch a fish.  This was quite a thrill for me to actually see a grizzly in the wild hunting.  It is going to be hard to top this experience.

Later in the afternoon we took another short hike on the Hidden Lake Trail  to Skilak Lake .

It looks like the ocean, but the blue color is caused by the fine "glacier powder" in the water.
The lake is windy a majority of the time which is why we didn't see many boats.  Maybe a surf board would be more appropriate.
Hidden Lake creek where it flows into the lake.

Friday we drove towards Soldotna to see the chainsaw festival.  Artists from all over the country gather to make huge logs into works of art.

The detail is amazing.  The artists use smaller bars on their saws but it is amazing that everything is carved using chain saws.  Some of the artists pencil out the log before they start sawing and other visualize what they want to do before they start sawing and just "go for it".

All the animals on the carousel are carved.

There was even a resting spot to view the event.

We headed up to Morgan's Landing and talked with some fishermen.  They confirmed what the biologist at the fish weir had told us:  the salmon run has been really poor this year.

The Kenai Rive at Morgan's Landing.

We met friends for lunch in Soldotna and then headed back to camp to get ready for our raft trip.  We also checked out Fred Meyers Store because they have a RV dump and water.  What a zoo! they allow RVers to park overnight and it was obvious many take advantage of the free parking.  The line to the dump was pretty long.

That evening we headed out for our rafting trip.  Bill, Liz, and Nancy are modeling all of the equipment the guide handed out: Rubber boots, rubber rain coat, rubber coveralls, and PFD.  He assured us no one has ever gone overboard and that the gear was just a precaution.

Cody, our guide.  He had to work pretty hard the first part of the trip because the wind was against us.

We saw lots of bald eagles.  Cody told us that Alaska had the most bald eagle population in the US.  They are everywhere.  Also saw some ducklings.

They are hard to see, but we counted one mom and 17 babies.  I couldn't get them all in the picture.

The scenery was gorgeous.

We even encountered a few riffles. 

This is known as the combat zone.  When the salmon are running heavy, the fishermen are only arm's length apart.  The salmon run has not been good so there aren't as many fishermen this year competing for a space.

Some of the beautiful scenery along our route

This guy was lucky.  He caught his limit and so did his wife. He was really quick in cleaning and preparing the salmon.

Saturday, we hiked a few more trails.  The first was Bear Mountain trail which climbed several hundred feet in less than a mile but provided some great views of Skilat Lake .

We also hiked the Kenai River trail which was suppose to follow the river through the canyon and beyond. The trail followed the canyon but then dropped down and went away from the river.

Kenai River

                                         Views from the vista point .

After a busy day of hiking we drove into Cooper Landing and stopped at Gwen's Roadhouse for chowder and pie.  Gwen's is one of the original roadhouses dating back to the 1950's. It is an old log building with a floor that slants slightly.   The salmon chowder and apple walnut pie were delicious.

Tomorrow (Sunday) we will head for Homer.  There aren't any threaded faucets in the campground so we will have to go to Fred Meyers for water.  I hope our theory that traveling early on Sunday morning will yield less traffic and short lines at the dump. The Sterling Highway is the only road to Homer so it gets very busy going both ways.