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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Day 17 Seward

Today is a travel day.  We will leave Homer and head for Seward.  We are excited about this part of the trip as in Seward we are taking a boat tour.  And, like we usually do, we do not make any reservations.  Today will be a relatively short travel day.  By road, Seward is about 170 miles from Homer.  140 of those miles is all backtracking to the Hwy 1 and Hwy 9 junction on the other side of Cooper Landing.


While we enjoyed our stay here in Homer, I don't know that I would come back.  My one regret is that we decided not to stay out on the spit.  That was probably more my decision than Sharon's.  I just thought we wouldn't be very comfortable out there with the crowds, wind and rain.  Hopefully, when the reader arrives in Homer, all will be well and you can stay out there.  Also, go charter fishing.  I hear that it is worth the time and money.  Unfortunately for us, all the reports are that the fishing is terrible right now.  I sure would like to hook into a huge Halibut!


We make preparations to leave, but first I have to return the bathhouse key to the office and retrieve my $5 key deposit.  I'm not leaving any more money here than necessary!  This is really a great place to stay.  Some of the spots might be a challenge for those with a trailer or larger RV.  With the Airstream Interstate, we can park just about anywhere.  We really enjoy this aspect of traveling in the Interstate.  Even though I have a lot of experience backing trailers, it is still stressful and you do have limitations.  With our last rig, we were pulling a 25' Airstream with a 2011 Chevrolet 2500HD diesel. We were just under 50' long.  Then, there is all the hooking and unhooking.  We got pretty good at it and could evacuate a campground in about 10 minutes.


There are trade-offs though.  While the Interstate is very easy to drive and you can park it just about anywhere in one parking spot, it is your only vehicle.  So, if you want to go somewhere from your camping spot that requires a vehicle...you have to take everything with you.  With a truck/trailer setup, you leave the house there and just take the truck.  We could carry a small motorcycle or tow a small enclosed trailer with our Goldwing inside and that would allow us to leave the Interstate in camp and tour on the Goldwing.  That would be sweet!


For us traveling full time, we found the 25' Airstream to be the ideal size.  Plenty of room for both of us without getting in each other's way, a separate bedroom with a real bed.  Dry bath, with a separate shower.  We used a composting toilet to reduce our water needs and had solar panels to recharge our batteries.  It was a boondocking machine.  As long as we managed our gray water and fresh water supply, we were good to go.  If it got too hot or cold, you simply pack up and move to a better climate.


So, after we left Homer, we passed through Sterling and into the road construction area.  Again, the signs telling you what is to be found on the side roads are missing.  There are a few side roads that look promising, but without knowing what's down there, we stay on the highway.  I was itching to go off the highway though and saw my last chance to do so before we got into the Cooper Landing area. I divert off the highway onto the last gravel road going south.  I have no idea which road we were on nor what we would find down this road.  I figure we would go as far as we wanted to and then turn around.  I'm hoping to find the river or a lake down here.   (Sikalak Lake Road)


The road is in pretty good shape and we can travel along at about 25 mph.  We are in no rush.  That's the nice thing about traveling with no reservations.  Go with the flow.  After a few miles, we pass by a sign that indicates a FWS (Fish and Wildlife) campground to the right called Hidden Lake Camoground.  We pass by there and keep going.  We see another vehicle heading north, so I know the road is OK.  You never know what you'll find with all the rain.  After awhile, we decide that we aren't going to find any water so we turn around.  At the turnoff to the campground, we go in to see what the campground looks like.


To our surprise, the road in to the campground is paved!  As we arrive to the registration booth, we take a look at the information/registration area and see that there are 3 loops with about 40 sites.  A few on Hidden Lake (we are at Hidden Lake Campground), and then two loops up off the lake.  The entire campground road is paved as are the campsites.  We check out all the camp sites.  There are a few people here, maybe a third of the sites are taken.  Nice place with good separation between sites and they look fairly level.  Now that we are home and I look up this place, I see that there a quite a few campgrounds on these roads and you can also boondock most anywhere along in here as well.  Check the website for the rules.  Campgrounds - Kenai - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

So, we decide to head back to the highway and head back out on to the gravel road.  Now, up to this point, we have seen some moose, caribou, bobcat, and eagles but no bears.  All the other Alaska blogs we read before leaving all seem to have no problems seeing bears in Alaska.  Us...zero...until today.  We spotted four bears right along this road after leaving the campground.  Two of them were actually grazing right next to a sign warning you about the bears.  We also saw a mama bear and her cub in a tree.  Can you spot the cub in the second photo above?

The pictures of the people fishing is on the Kenai River.  It is a huge flyfishing location.  On our trip in, they were lined up in the river spaced out evenly and there must have been at least 50 fisherman there.  It is so popular, they have a ferry to take the fisherman across the river to the prime locations.  We pull into the parking area, but find that you have to pay $12 just to park.  We know there are free spots right on the road so turn around and find a spot in one of the turnoff areas.  Not as many people out there today and we were a good ways from them, but we managed to get a few shots.

The rest of the trip into Seward was uneventful and not much to report.  We arrived in town and found the city campground right on the bay.  They have several campgrounds to choose from and are priced accordingly.  We choose one with power and water wince we will be here for two nights ($40 a night).  We are right on the bay and have a prime viewing area of the water and the mountains on the other side.


It is pretty crowded, but today we don't mind.  The views all around are spectacular.  We park and get everything setup before heading over to the dock area.  This is where the tour boat operators are found.  Seward is a very nice town and there is a lot of area to explore.  It's about a mile or so walk, but there is a pathway and it is an easy walk.  As we are walking to the docks, I spot a dog on a leash coming at us.  I recognize that dog and I look over to see the dog's human.  It is Jon and Eva!  We hadn't seen them since we left Liard Hot Springs.  We talk for a few minutes.  They aren't staying in town but are keeping with Jon's practice of visiting a place and then free camping back on the road somewhere.  They are doing the loop in the opposite direction from us and are heading to Homer next.

We say a fond farewell to our friends knowing we won't see them again.  It was fun catching up though.

As we approach the boat tour area, we see that there are several operators.  We choose the Kenai Fjord Tours.  I like the look of their boats better.  We go in and talk to a young lady as she explains all the options.  We let her know we are wanting to out out the next day and she says that all of the tours are available except for one.  We choose to do the 6 hour tour leaving at 11:30.  This is called the Kenai Fjords National Park Tour, https://www.alaskacollection.com/day-tours/kenai-fjords-tours/kenai-fjords-national-park-tour/.  You can book online and save some money, but you are at the mercy of the weather.  Given the bad weather we have had so far and our no reservations policy, we pay the extra money.  If you book online, be sure you have read the cancellation policy.  We sign up, pay and she tells us when to be there and that they will pick us up at the campground.

After that, we walk through town looking at the sites.  We see that the Iditarod Dog Sled Race starts here is Seward.  There is a monument to that race down on the bay.  There is also a race where you run up to the top of this mountain.  Runners leave town and run to the top of Marathon Mountain.  You can read all about that here:  http://mmr.seward.com.

We wind our way back to our campsite and site and take it easy for the rest of the day.  There are lots of walkers and bicyclists going up and down the path in front of our spot.  I am concerned about the noise and how we are going to be able to sleep.  But, as the sun goes down and it gets slightly less bright out, people drift back into their campers and it is all quiet.  

We are super excited about our trip the next day as the weather report looks very promising.


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