Our next stop was Fairbanks where we spent 6 days. Carol flew in to join us for most of our stay, but I don’t have pictures of her. Most of my pictures from this stop were lost with my camera when I slipped into the water while fishing. It was a great place, a nice RV park, and I would love to get back to Chena River State Recreation Area to fish more with the salmon around my legs.
On to Mt. McKinley, or as the locals call it, Denali. We had only one day here and the on-line reservation system for the bus into the park was down. So I got up to the ticket window at 6:30 to find it opens at 7:00. The first bus I could get on was at 9:00, so I chilled in the car with my coffee and music. By the time I could get on the bus, I was relaxed and ready to see some stuff. I was lucky in that it was a clear day, so we could see Denali most of the day. We also saw lots of grizzlies, caribou, and even moose at the very end of the day. Maxine did not make it to the bus, so I took her back as far as the public can drive in, 15 miles, in the evening. It was raining by then, and we saw some beautiful rainbows. At the end of the paved road, we saw a big male caribou with a huge rack.
We drove to Talkeetna, a popular small town with an historic background and a tourist-trap present. I found Christiansen Lake in my Alaska fishing book, and we went fishing and boating there. Lizzie, Niall, and Maxine went to a local sled dog kennel, while I snoozed in the RV. They saw a moose while out with the sled dogs. It was cloudy for the first 3 days, but finally cleared so we all got our first glimpse of Mt. Whitney. The train depot is walking distance from the RV park we were in, and there is a train to Anchorage at 5:00 PM. Lizzie and Niall took that train, saving me the car trip back and forth.
After dropping off the boys for their flight home early in the morning, we picked up Elizabeth and Niall late in the evening at the Anchorage Airport. We went to the zoo one day, then went on a train-rafting trip to the Placer River and Spencer glacier.
On our last day with Jonathan and Matthew, we drove to Anchorage. Along the way we stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center where they have many rescued Alaskan animals. We also stopped at the Indian Mine where we panned for gold. These are along the Turnagain Arm, which is a long shallow bay where the tide comes in as a wave.
We crossed the Kenai Peninsula and spent a few days on the west coast, in Ninilchik. This does not face the open Pacific, but the Cook Inlet. On a clear day, you can see tall volcanoes on the far side. We did more fishing here, including a guided trip to the Anchor Point River where we all caught Dolly Varden on fly rods.
From Whittier, we drove to Cooper Landing on the east side of the Kenai Peninsula. The Russian River joins the Kenai River here, and the fishing is “world famous.” What I saw was people, many people, standing 20 feet apart, casting a weight and big hook with feathers on it (a fly) out 15 feet, then dragging it across the river bottom, hoping to catch a fish in the mouth. As the salmon do not feed while coming up river to spawn, this technique “flossing” has been developed to capture them. I moved up river a bit and tried throwing a fly and caught a beautiful rainbow trout. Maxine tried her hand a gold panning, and really likes it. The boys flew in to Anchorage where I picked them up. We all went to Seward and visited the kennels of an Iditarod champion.
More pictures from the drive and a few from Valdez. The fourth of July in Valdez is a very busy time. Several RV parks like drive-in theaters, full of vehicles and people. There is a fish hatchery with a weir that closes off the stream that the salmon home in on. The hatchery was closed when we were there, so the fish just backed up in the stream. At high tide, the seals have a feast. At low tide, the fish fill the stream bed, an amazing sight that is hard to capture.