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  1. #51
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,169

    Default Alaska.

    Having had to abandon plan A, there was not much enthusiasm left in me for plan B. But when I got to see the forecasts for the various regions of Alaska, I came to the realisation that plan B would have to be abandoned as well. The places I had not been, and wanted to visit were all on unsealed roads. In such inclement weather it was not going to be enjoyable to venture out on any of them.

    I had not bothered about a plan C, but a visit to the visitor centre soon took care of that. There are two visitor centres in Anchorage, one being the Anchorage visitor centre and the other being the public lands office - in a government building across the road, complete with security and all. As it was it was the latter in which I found myself first.

    Discussing my disappointments and options with the very helpful amd knowledgable staff, I said, where I really would like to go is Dutch Harbour. Not sure what made me say this, as I had not considered it before. But I was surprised - nay, I was staggrered - to hear them say that that was possible and quite popular. In fact the cabins on the ferries were all booked up, some months ahead.

    I went back to the Sheep Creek RV in park in Anchorage, where I had made myuself comfortable, thought about it, did a little research and talked about it. Slowly it fell into place. The next ferry was not due for a couple of days, and the office to book in person and ask questions would not open until an hour before the ferry was due to come in. It would be five hours or more before it departed again.

    Meanwhile a visit to the Anchorage city visitor centre alerted me to other ideas, (as did the visit to the visitor centre in Homer). The drive down to Homer is in places an extremely scenic drive, especially if you take some of the diversions through the smaller towns, off the highway. But this time it was pouring rain the whole way, The volcanos were barely visible. The road was busier than I recall from last time, and wildlife was nowhere to be seen.

    Lifey

  2. #52

    Default

    I'll add my thanks that you weren't hurt. Another amazing trip, though. I agree with you. As long as the bumper isn't going to fall off, leave it as is.

  3. #53

    Default

    Oh, by the way, how many miles did you log this time?

  4. #54
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,169

    Default Seldovia

    The ferry ride to Seldovia, across the bay from Homer, is but a short trip, but ever so scenic and when you have a great commentator and driver of the ferry, it makes it a most enjoyable time. Whales and sea otters were the main wildlife. Not having seen a sea otter before, I was not aware how big they are. It was interesting seeing them anchored to the ocean floor by very large sea weed. This prevents them from floating away while they sleep. It is also how they secure their young while away gathering food. Small bundles wrapped up in sea weed, and achored to the ocean floor. Birdlife on the many rocky outcrops was proloific. Don't expect me to recall the names of all the birds, but I do recall being told that one in particular breeds on these rookeries, and when the young are old enough they fly off to sea, not to return for four years. During all that time, not having touched land at all.

    Before docking we had been told of the places where lunch would be available. I had a lovely hot lunch in the only ice cream shop in town. They also have a couple of rooms for rent, the only ones which are able to be rented for less than $150 per night. The owner joined me at lunch, sharing her experience of the previous week when she had Australians as her guests. After lunch I visited the visitor centre - which is only manned when a ferry comes to town. Here I learned about the best way to get around and places not to miss.

    Seldovia is not able to be accessed by road, and as a result, there were very few local vehicles. It is a very small place and easily covered on foot for the three or four hours we had there. The roads are paved and most places had ramps - seeing they were nearly all build on stilts or pylons - for easy access. It was a pity that I was not able to make it to the historic Russian Orthodox Church, access to which was via a very steep road. I did however go to the only residential street, where the street was actually a boardwalk, and where plants were grown in containers, including old hiking boot.

    Soon it was time to take the ferry back to Homer Spit, this time going directly there without sightseeing. There was a low tide when we returned to the Spit. The ramp, which I had easily navigated onto the ferry, was now too steep for my little scooter to manage. A couple of gentlemen pushed me all the way to the top. At a time like that you realise just how long those ramps are. My van was parked right by the ramp. All along the Spit parking is $5 per calendar day - i.e. $10 overnight!

    A great day!

    Lifey

  5. #55
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,169

    Default Kodiak.

    By the time the ferry office opened, I had spent a few days on the Spit. I made good use of the time, asking as many as I could about all the options with the ferry. So when I fronted up to the window at 9pm that night to purchase a ticket, I had pretty well made up my mind that I would take my van with me, to Kodiak Island, and have a few days there to look around. I had been assured that there was plenty to fill in the time, and lots of bears to see. It is after all unofficially called Bear Island.

    The ferry was not due to leave till some time in the wee small hours of Sat morn - I think it was after three. I fell asleep...... with the car lights on. When the time came for me to board, a nice man with all the right tools came and started the car without a hassle. I suspected that I was not the first. Driving onto the ferry, meant driving onto a turn table, and then backing into place. I handed my keys over to the gentleman who was directing everything. There was no way I was going to attemp to back it into a given spot, whilst half asleep.

    The little scooter was able to come with me and I loaded a few things on it which I thought I may need during the trip. Book, jacket, water etc. Little did I know how cold it would be. The air conditioning was freezing, so much so that I ended up with a death of a cold. When at 6am someone came around, I told him, and said I had a sleeping bag in the van. He took me down to the van and I got my breakfast out while I was at it, then snoozed for much of the morning until we got to port.

    The town of Kodiak is a nice little town, with the emphasis on the little! A variety of shops, places to eat, etc., but no campground or RV facilities. That first day was spent in town, the visitor centre, checking out a few shops and the supermarket. There were a few large vehicles in the Safeway parking lot - I joined them that night, and the next.

    Just two roads take you out of town. One heads south through American River, the other heads North. Mostly paved, but not all. On the Sunday I had a lovely day driving as far as the southern road would take me. Then I took another fork of the southern road, which I had not been told was there. After a while the pavement ran out. Still lots of poople seemed to live down that way, so it could not be all that bad. I continued, and when the road all but disappeared, turned around and headed back.

    Back on the ashphalt, I stopped at by the bridge over American River, just to look around, when a car pulled up behind me, and allerted me to a flat rear tyre. I was well out of town late on a Sunday, without phone coverage. This is the way it always used to be. How did people cope before modern technology? I set about doing just that. I tried stopping the ocasional car which passed, but none did. The flat tyre was not on the road side - not visible.

    Eventually a pickup stopped, and a young man came and asked me if I needed anything. Oh! No problem, he said. I am a mechanic, I'll fix that for you. He called over a mate to come and help. Two young ladies joined them. tThey were lovely young women, one was still at school. Turned out these young folk all live in Kodiak town, and were on their way to American River to hang out for the evening. In less than 10 mins my van was mobile again, and those lovely young folk would not accept any reward. I did however give Wayne the mechanic a hundred dollar note and told him to go have a good time with his friends. He deserved it. The thought which went through my mind was, that if this is an example of the character of the next generation, the world is in good hands.

    After a few days on the island, and not having seen any bears, nor seeing any possibility of seeing any, as all tours - air and road -required a significant distance to walk over terrain which my little scooter is unable to handle, I caught the next ferry back to the Homer Spit. As mostly happens, the ferry arrives in the wee small hours of the morning. This time I brought my sleeping bag and pillow with me. On the forward deck I joined the dozens who were already camped on the floor and seats. Just as on the forward journey, we had calm seas.

    I met a German couple, who did what, on reflection, I should have done. They took the ferry all the way from Homer to Dutch Harbor. Did not have a vehicle, and since cabins are booked out up to a year in advance, camped on the deck. One either side of the table in one of the booths. Used the facilities which were marked for occupiers of cabins only, and ate all meals in the dinning room. When they arrived at any of the islands during the daytime, went ashore and took the opportunity to look around. In one case, when they had more than five hours, rented a car on that island and went for a trip. Their stories and photos were fantastic.

    Next morning a great breakfast was served in the dinning room, and some hours later we docked. It was raining. It rained all the way back to Anchorage, where I once again settled into the Sheepcreek RV park.

    Lifey

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