After spending a week in Denali National Park and still not being able to see the mountain thanks to the weather we headed south towards Anchorage. Along the way we stopped in Denali State Park which is adjacent to the national park for one last shot at seeing Denali. No such luck.
From Denali State Park we went to Talkeetna which is where mountain climbers are flown out from to go climb Denali. The national park also has a ranger station here to assist anyone planning the climb to the 20320 foot high summit. The weather up there even in the summer can get to 40 below with 100 mile per hour winds. We had lunch in a local pizza joint recommended to us by one of the Denali bus drivers and then left town.
Our next stop was Anchorage, Alaska’s biggest city. After driving all day the last thing you want to do is try and find a free place to stay in an unfamiliar city full of one-way streets. After some frustration we ended up at the local Fred Meyer store (smaller version of Wallymart) where we spotted a bunch of RVs parked. That’s usually a good sign that the store will let you park overnight. We didn’t do a whole lot in Anchorage other then grocery shop and check email. You have to come back through the city after visiting anything south of it anyway.
Driving south of Anchorage you hit the Kenai Peninsula and the towns of Homer and Seward. We didn’t know much about either place so we decided to visit Homer first. Homer is a good size fishing and tourist town at the tip of the peninsula. We didn’t know where we were staying so we decided to drive to the end of town where the road goes out onto a very long spit of land known as the Homer Spit. The Spit is an awesome place to camp albeit not for free but it’s worth it. It is a long narrow strip of land jutting out into the Alaska Sea and has a mix of fishing charters companies, commercial fishing operations, shops, pubs and campgrounds. We camped right on the beach with great views of the surrounding mountains.
The next morning I needed to get into the engine bay to check the coolant level and a few other things. The bikes have to be taken off the rack for this because the engine is in the back. That’s when I noticed our only set of keys for the bikes was missing (I lost the first set somewhere back in the beginning of Alaska, oops). After ripping the bus apart searching for them we decided to move to plan B, cut the lock and buy a new one. Luckily there was a fisherman working on his boat across the street. I went over and asked if he had something to cut a padlock. He had a grinder so we drove the bus across the street and I held the lock while he cut it off. After that we drove into town, bought a new lock for the bikes and a new headlight for the bus to replace the one that had burned out the day before, then grabbed a coffee at some little hippy coffee shop and headed out.
From Homer we drove to Seward which is on the other end of the Kenai Peninsula. Seward is a really nice town. It is in a narrow valley with a deep fjord coming from the Alaska Sea and lush green moss covered trees all around. It also lies next to Kenai Fjords National Park which protects the Harding Icefield and many glaciers one of which, the Exit Glacier, is 8 miles from town. We found a free place to camp along the road to the glacier just outside of town along a fast flowing glacial river. From here we explored the town and surrounding area including the Exit Glacier and a trail named Lost Lake which was recommended to us by the local bike shop as the it place to ride. This trail was so great that we decided it deserved it’s own blog so we will end here for now.