Alaska On A Motorcycle
After Denali I thought the most impressive things to see and do in Alaska were behind me. That clearly was not the case. In fact, I discovered that I had only scratched the surface.
The ride to my next stop was mostly uneventful except that I got lost getting to Keri’s home, my Couchsurfing hostess in Anchorage. When I entered the street address in Google Maps, I failed to select the city. As a result, I spent half an hour in the outskirts of Wasilla, Alaska looking for an address that didn’t exist. A call to Keri got me on my way to her home.
After introductions, Keri and I went to dinner at a nearby restaurant where she gave me an overview of Anchorage and how she made her way to Alaska. The move to Alaska happened during her childhood when her parents relocated from the lower 48 to Kodiak Island for work. On Kodiak she spent several years making friends with the inhabitants of the island and exploring her wilderness paradise. After leaving Kodiak she worked for a construction company that helped build Alaskan Pipeline. She and her husband lived in a remote settlement used as a staging area by pipeline construction crews. Later she mushed Alaskan huskies as a pastime.
While staying at her place, Keri suggested we take a hike on the trail that follows the Cook Inlet south. The trail was so beautiful that we turned our short walk along the inlet into an eight-mile adventure. All along the way the views across the water and the dense forest kept encouraging us to go just a little farther.
After saying goodbye to Keri, I headed down the road to Kenai Peninsula toward Seward, Alaska with hopes of eventually making it to Homer. The road to the Kenai Peninsula was absolutely beautiful. It follows a side channel off the Cook Inlet for 50 miles and then turns inland. Three sides of the channel were lined with mountains rising steeply up from the water’s edge. The water, mountains, lush green forests, and snowy white glaciers made for some stunning views. On the way, I stopped at the German bakery in Girdwood for an obscenely delicious cinnamon roll. I also took a short side trip to Portage, Alaska to view a couple of glaciers up close.
Once I got to Seward I looked for a campsite in Fjords National Park, but unfortunately all 12 tent-only sites had been taken. Nearer to town I found another campground and quickly set up my tent in one of the available spots.
Based upon recommendations I had received from several people, I decided to tour the Marine Mammal Recovery Center. The main attraction at the Center was a baby walrus they were nursing back to health and eventual release. Although just an infant, it was already larger than an adult human.
The next morning my goal was to go back to Fjords National Park and hike to a point overlooking Exit Glacier. But first, I needed to satisfy my coffee cravings so I headed to town for a hot cup and a breakfast sandwich. The coffee was good and the sandwich satisfying, but as I walked back to my motorcycle it looked to be oddly leaning. As I got closer, I realized that the rear tire was almost flat. I got my bike on the center stand and quickly identified the source of the problem. A sharp pointed rock had punctured a hole in my tire. Yep, it was a rock. Fortunately, I had a tire repair kit I used to plug the hole. Since the hole was large and oddly shaped, I couldn’t be sure the patch would hold. I was also over 100 miles from Anchorage and a ride to Homer would add another couple hundred miles. So, I decided to head back to the city rather than push my luck. Since I had previously scheduled to have my tires replaced at the BMW shop in Anchorage later that week the only real impact was spending a couple extra days in Anchorage and delaying my departure to Homer.
Back in Anchorage, I again hooked up with Omar who had completed his ride to Prudhoe Bay and had reserved an Airbnb in the city. With the extra time in Anchorage, we decided to tour a couple of museums. The Anchorage Museum in particular was exceptional with an extensive display of artifacts used by native peoples of Alaska.
I also had the good fortune to go on another hike with Keri. This time on the Winner Trail near the Alyeska Resort. The trail passed through a densely wooded area with tall trees that looked a lot like a magical forest from a Harry Potter movie. The main attraction on the hike was the hand tram we had to use to cross Winner Creek Gorge.
Later that week, with fresh tires on my BMW, Omar and I headed down the Kenai Peninsula to Homer. Because it was the weekend and the Kenai Salmon Fest was on, the traffic was heavy; however, it lightened up a bit the closer we got to Homer. Cresting a hill and rounding a bend we got our first view of Homer and the bay. It was nothing short of spectacular. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of assuming the skies would be just as clear the next morning, so I didn’t stop to take a few photos as we descended the hill into town. Instead, I assumed I would take photos the next morning. All I got that evening was a photo of the bay from the campgrounds. When morning came, I was disappointed to find that the fog had rolled in blocking much of the view of Homer and the bay.
After Homer, we headed to Wasilla, Valdez, and McCarty. Photos to come with my next post.