A brief detour
Aboard the Sheltered Seas
Petersburg to Ketchikan
Tufted puffs at sealife center
The Kenai Peninsula & North of AnchorageWe drove the next day (Monday, June 6) to Seward, on the Kenai Peninsula, stopping along the way at Portage Glacier in the Chugach National Forest for our first glacier experience. Jean Sue was fascinated by one ridge and learned it was Bard Peak, next to the Shakespeare Glacier, over from the Byron Glacier, down the road from Whittier, named for John Greenleaf Whittier. She commented that it was like being in a library.
Rob and Sue led the way in their car and we had lunch in Alyeska after driving along the coastal highway, winding its way between the cliffs and Turnagain Arm, a fiord named by Captain Cook because the ever-changing currents and the bends in the waterway constantly caused him to “turn again.”
They joined us for dinner in Seward before heading back for work the next day. We stayed in Seward and spent the next morning at Alaska SeaLife Center (where the seals, sea lions and tufted puffins were up-close-and-personal), then drove across Kenai to Homer and a resort hotel located at the very end of the spit on Kachemak Bay. Homer itself is kind of honky-tonk and the food at the hotel was less than stellar. But our room had a large picture window overlooking the narrows where Kachemak Bay meets Cook Inlet. We had a delightful view of a sea otter as he floated past dining on clams and oysters although Bob enjoyed his Kachemak Bay oysters in the restaurant. (Bob previously enjoyed Kachemak Bay oysters at Philadelphia's Sansom Street Oyster House.)
Idiot tourist of the trip: the man behind me at dinner commented on the coastal view out the window, "I don't like the color of the rocks." Bob offered to get a can of spray paint.
Kenai Peninsula juts out into the Gulf of Alaska and the terrain varies greatly, from the mountains of the east and Exit Glacier to rolling hills and fairly flat land on the west. Across Cook’s Inlet are the volcanoes we saw flying into Anchorage.
We stopped in Kenai City to see its old Russian church. We passed Ninilchik on the way south to Homer and made it back there the next day enroute to Anchorage so Bob could taste deep-fried razor clams. Bald eagles on the sand were trying to get to the clams before the people did. JS had one recalcitrant bird that insisted on hiding his white head under his wing every time she tried to snap him. She now has six photos of an eagle with his head in his wingpit.
We returned to Anchorage on Wednesday, but the next morning we set out to the city's northern exurbs for Palmer and a musk ox farm. Musk oxen were native to Alaska but overhunted and locally extinct until a few years ago. They have since been rewintroduced from Siberia. This farm harvests their hair into extraordinarily soft yarn called oomingmak.
After leaving there, we headed to Hatcher's Pass and Independence Gold Mine; the highest points were still snowed in. Jean Sue put 750 miles on the rental car in three days but we saw such a variety of terrain, from the rugged, snow-capped ridges to the rounded, tree-covered smaller mountains, to the sea, the fjord and an interesting area where the land had sunk in the '65 earthquake, leaving the tree roots in salt water whereby they all slowly died, leaving only the lonely masts of their trunks and a few spare branches.
Russian Church at Kenai (left) and eagles at Nilnilchik
By Bard Peak in Chugach National Forest, southeast of Anchorage
© Robert and Jean Sue Libkind
Jean Sue at Independence Mine