It is hard to explain the vastness of Alaska. Alaska has 663,268 square miles of land area and is nearly 2.5 times the size of Texas. Alaska is larger than the states of Texas, California, and Montana put together. We were fortunate to see a lot of Alaska via the main highways. Each turn on the road absolutely took our breath away with the amount of limitless land spread before us. Truly Alaska is the ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’ with over 20 hours of daylight in August.
We drove on the Parks Highway #1 from Denali (mile 235) to Anchorage (mile 0) in the rain, rain, and rain. It extends through some of Alaska’s most rugged terrain and parallels the Alaska Railroad and the Sustina River.
The Fireweed is a pink and purple flower that is one of the first plants to colonize the landscape and roadsides after a forest fire. Fireweed is a four-petal flower that grows from the bottom up on individual stalks. Summer is ending when the tip of the fireweed blooms and turns to white pollen.
Anchorage lies next to the Cook Inlet and the Chugach Mountains. Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city and was a welcome food supply stop for our empty refrigerator. We shopped for Ulu knives and cutting boards. Ulu knife has a flat fan shaped blade that is used for cutting and chopping vegetables. The Ulu knife handle can be made from wood, ivory, stone or bone.
Steve tried his luck fishing for silver salmon at Ship Creek right in the middle of town off of the Knik Arm of the Cook Inlet from the Gulf of Alaska. The 30 feet tide often comes into the Cook Inlet within 6 hours, so the fisherman start at the creek bottom and slowly hike up the creek bank to dry land. We celebrated our 7th year wedding anniversary at the Bridge Seafood Restaurant and watched the locals cast their lines for their own king, silver, or pink salmon dinner.
When we drove out of Anchorage on our way to Homer, the Wagon Master told us to be on the look out for a ‘Bore Tide’. A bore tide is a very rapid rise of tidal water just after low tide. It can surge into the Turnagain Arm at about 10 miles an hour. We were too early for the ‘surge’. Patty enjoyed photographing the low tide and the patterns in the bay mud.
It was a gorgeous drive on the Sterling Highway from Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula and Homer. The Kenai Peninsula is a large piece of land south of Anchorage. Surrounded by water on three sides the Kenai Peninsula has it all. There are beaches, fishing streams, ice fields, glaciers and mountains. Two major highways cross the Peninsula; the Seward Highway and the Sterling Highway. The scenic mountain pass road along Turnagain Arm is flanked by the 3,000-foot high Chugach Mountains and the 4-mile wide Cook Inlet. Alaska is so vast with a variety of dense forests of spruce, birch and aspen, mountains, rivers, taiga and tundra.
Homer is located on the southwestern Kenai Peninsula on the north shore of Kachemak Bay at the end of Sterling Highway. It was rainy and miserable in Homer. The town trucks in their water since the local coal mine has exposed coal seams which erosion drops fragments of lignite and bituminous coal on the beaches and into the wells. Oceanview RV Park on Sterling Highway overlooked the Kachemak Bay. There was a path to the beach. We found an entrance road to take the jeep four wheeling on the beach sands as well.
Steve tried his luck at “The Fishing Hole” on the Homer Spit Nick Dudiak Lagoon where silver salmon smolt were released. Hatchery raised smolt are transferred to pens in the lagoon, allowing the smolt to imprint to this lagoon. Then they’re released from their pens so they can gradually migrate into Kachemak Bay and the open ocean. Depending on the species, these fish will return as adults in one to four years.
Homer Spit is a 4.5 mile long, narrow bar of gravel that houses shops, restaurants, galleries, and a small boat harbor with a deep water dock into Kachemak Bay.
A group from the RV Caravan chartered a boat to go halibut fishing. We each were allowed to keep two fish. Patty caught one of the biggest halibut that day. Her 38” halibut weighed 22 pounds. It was tiring reeling the fish in with combined weight of fish, heavy-duty rods and reels, 80 pound test line, 2 pound weight and circle hooks.
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