Journey to Alaska: 19 Days and longer…

It’s been almost 3 weeks that we started this journey. It’s now Monday, August 10th, and we left Sherm’s house on the Kenai Peninsula. Tom and Mike continued driving to the Palmer/Wasilla area to spend the night while John and I decided to stay at an RV Park in Anchorage. That way, it will only take me 15 minutes to drive him to the airport tomorrow instead of 45 to an hour if I continued up the road. John’s part of the Journey to Alaska is coming to an end. After I drop him off I’ll continue my way toward Valdez, meeting up with Mike and Tom once again in Palmer. We’ll continue on the Glenn Hwy (#1) until we get to Glenallen, then head south on the Richardson Hwy (#4). We’ll spend 2 days there and plan to meet up with my friend, Phil from Spokane. I’m looking forward to the drive and stay in Valdez since it’s supposed to be so beautiful.

A few days later…
I dropped John off at the Anchorage airport and continued on my way to meet up with Mike and Tom. We hooked up in the parking lot of a Fred Meyer store in Palmer, then headed south to Valdez. We thought that we had already experienced mthe book, ost of the beauty of Alaska in the Kenai Peninsula and the Turnagain Arm, but we were wrong. We had read that the next portion of our trip to Valdez was known as “the Switzerland of Alaska,” but we had no idea how true that would be. About an hour along the Glenn Hwy. (Alaska 1) we turned the corner and saw the Matanuska Glacier across the way. Naturally, we stopped several times to take pictures of this beautiful sight, and eventually split up because Mike and Tom wanted to go back to some better vantage points. I went ahead and continued on to Glennallen where I stopped to make a sandwich for lunch and rest from the long drive. During that time, and between bites of my ham and cheese sandwich, I gave 3 tours of my Little Guy. People seemed to be interested in my 6-Wide Sport because of the “front porch” and its ability to haul a “quad.” Evidently, it was opening day for moose and caribou and everyone was out on their quads in the thick of the brush hunting them down. Had I mentioned earlier that there isn’t a Little Guy dealership anywhere in Alaska? The interest seems to be very high up here!

I continued to Valdez on the Richardson Hwy. heading south. Mike and Tom and still not hooked up with me so I was on my own. For about the first hour I was more impressed with the Glenn Hwy; until I turned a corner and saw the start of the Wrangell-Nutzotin Mtns. Breathtaking! (Since the internet is quite sporadic out here, I’ll have to post the pictures at a later date; before finishing my blog.) During this stretch of the highway each turn brings a surprise; glaciers, ice fields, the Alaska pipeline, and wildlife. Closer to Valdez I turned a bend and became part of the picture on the cover of the book, Guide To The Alaska Highway by Ron Dalby. There was the Worthington Glacier in all its splendor! I took a moment or two to stop, get out, and admire what was before my eyes. Later on I’ll post my pictures as well as shots from within a glacial ice cave at its base.

About an hour and a half after I settled in the campground in Valdez, Mike and Tom showed up. They had spent the afternoon driving and stopping and taking pictures. It was here that I met up with my friend from Spokane, Phil. He started out on his Alaska adventures about a week and a half after me, so this was our opportunity to meet up. Luckily, we were all next to one another in the campground. Needless to say, our LG’s were a big here there too. People came over wanting to see how we can live out of “such a little thing.” Mike and I continued to hand out LG brochures and explain how we all met. The next thing we knew, we had people coming over with beers and smoked salmon, acting like we’ve been friends for years.

The next day was interesting. Phil and I took an morning walk around the harbor and watched as people started preparing for their day of fishing an/or charter rides. It took about 30 minutes to check out the entire “downtown.” We wanted to get the layout of the land, so we headed out in separate cars in different directions. Phil and I in one and Mike and Tom in another. We went to Valdez Glacier and then over to the salmon ladders where hatchery salmon are released. This was a sad experience because thousands of hatchery salmon had returned “home” to spawn (as salmon do after 3-5 years), but couldn’t make it up the ladder and had nowhere to go even if they did. So, they just gathered in big groups and flopped around in the water until they died or the bear come over and eat them. guess it’s a regular ritual for people to gather in the parking lot and stay behind the barricades as bear come down from the hills and dine on the salmon. (As stated earlier, pictures to follow.)

We left Valdez on Thursday morning. Mike and I hiked up to the base of Worthington Glacier and took pictures inside an ice cave. The rest of the day was spent driving to get beyond the “highway from hell.” The 48.5 miles section of road from Beaver Creek to Destruction Bay. It wasn’t as bad this time because they had 3 weeks to patch up and put gravel in the potholes we had previously became familiar with. It was bad, but NOT AS BAD! We drove for close to 12 hours that day (495 miles) and found nice campsites at Congdon Campgrounds (a Provincial Campground) for $12.

Today is Friday, the 14th. We started out later in the morning, but still ended up driving 350+ miles until we found another Provincial Park called Big Creek; about 30 miles north of Watson Lake. Still only $12 a night. In the morning we’ll drive into Watson Lake to gas up, then get on the Cassar Hwy. (Highway 37) until it meets up with Hwy. 16 to Prince George.