Journey to Alaska: On the Kenai Peninsula

We arrived at my friend Sherm Smith’s house a couple of days ago. He lives just outside of Kenai, AK. Sherm has a pretty big area where he cleared out the trees and put down gravel, so it’s a great place for us to park our LGs for a few days while we check out the rest of the peninsula. On our way here from Anchorage we made several stops along the way. One of them was at Costco. It gave us the opportunity to stock up in wine and beer. Along the Turnagain Arm, we stopped at the small town of Girdwood and found a very good bakery. After enjoying a raspberry fritter and a cup of coffee we headed over to the Alyeska Resort and spent a little time admiring the hotel as well as the grounds. If you decide to come this way I highly recommend taking the tram up to the top and enjoying the scenery. From Girdwood we drove a short distance to Portage Glacier. Although the glacier has recede tremendously over the years, this is still a great stop. The views are breathtaking and the lake is wonderful. The Information Center is not to be missed. If you have a National Park Pass (like the lifetime Senior Pass that we old geezers have) the museum and movie are free. Otherwise, it will cost you $5. Very informative. From there, we drove a couple more hours and eventually made it to Kenai where I introduced the guys to my friend Sherm.

Yesterday, we head out to Seward without having to pull the LGs behind us. A couple of miles outside of Seward is the turnoff to Exit Glacier. Don’t miss this! It’s about 8 miles back on a nicely paved road before entering the Kenai Fjords National Park. Along the way we spotted a moose and her two calfs grazing along the roadside. Once inside the park it’s only a short walk (.9 miles or 1.3 miles depending on your choice of paths) to the edge of Exit Glacier. I know I’ve used this term several times, but, again, it applies here; Breathtaking! Each day up here in Alaska seems to be better than the next when it comes to beauty and landscape. We drove in to town and decided it was time for lunch. Note: Once you drive in to Seward and drive on the road parallel to the harbor you’ll have a tendency to pull in to the paid parking lots to park. DON’T DO IT. The minimum cost is $10. If you continue to drive down the road into downtown Seward (past the harbor) there’s plenty of free parking. Plus, there’s a free shuttle to take you back and forth. There are really nice shops and less expensive restaurant downtown as well. We parked for free and had a great lunch at Thorn’s Showcase; a rustic bar reminiscent of something from the early 1970’s; dimly lit, red tuck and roll leather booths, black and silver tables, etc. They have a wonderful bar and bartender and a very reasonable menus. Their specialty is “a bucket of butt.” Halibut chunks lightly fried with french fries. You can substitute the fries with a cup of homemade chowder or pay a dollar extra and get seafood chowder. Both are great! There’s no shortage of the alcohol in their mixed drinks either.

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Standing in front of Thorn’s after a great lunch.

After lunch we visited a few of their gift shops and drove back to the harbor. Along the streets are free 30 minute parking spaces. After checking out a few more shops and walking along the harbor watching the boats and ships come in the fjord, we gassed up and headed back to Kenai. The price of gas in Seward is about 10 cents a gallon higher than in Kenai. When we got back to Sherm’s place we enjoyed some wine and talked about the trip to date. As Mike, Tom, and John went into to town to buy their fishing licenses I went ahead and prepared a spaghetti dinner complete with salad, and garlic bread. Oh yeah,…and more wine!