Talkeetna, AK
I guess the name for our blog is not very original.
     Hello everybody!  Its been a long time since I last posted, but Alaska continues to be super cool. Of course, immediately upon Acacia and Adam departing from Alaska, the sun arrived.  So we decided to stay a few extra days to see what Homer looked like in the sun.  Homer was truly spectacular with mountains and glaciers surrounding Homer and the Homer Spit.
Homer in the sun!
Homer, AK
     After admiring the beauty of Homer we took a road trip up the coast.  Our first stop was Anchor Point, Alaska; the westernmost point in the United States which is drivable by car.
Thousands of Murres are floating on Kachemak Bay on our
trip over to Halibut Cove from Homer.
Halibut Cove, AK.
Halibut Cove can only be reached by boat from Homer.
It is a beautiful, tiny artist community at the base of Kachemak State Park.
Halibut Cove has 1 restaurant-"Saltry."  It is an expensive restaurant, but draws
tons of tourists over by ferry to dine on the shore of this lovely community. 
     Our next stop was Ninilchik, Alaska.  Ninilchik has a strong Russian heritage and is located directly on the Cook Inlet.  Our day was spent sitting at the outlet of the Ninilchik River watching the eagles fishing and watching tractors launching fishing boats.  First, we were treated to an eagle show of 20-30 bald eagles waiting for salmon to swim by before pouncing upon their prey.  When they got bored waiting for the fish the eagles took to the skies soaring above the river while engaging in in-flight skirmishes with other eagles.
A juvenile bald eagle waiting for fish on
the Ninilchik River.    
     Second, the Cook Inlet has such dramatic tides that fishing boats can't put-in or take-out without the help of tractors to tote them across the sand bars.  The procedure is fascinating as the incoming boats seem to come in at full speed before suddenly stopping to gently land on the tractor's trailer to be hauled out.  The day was warm and sunny and was highlighted by the outstanding volcanos across the Inlet.
A fishing boat is being hauled to shore
in Ninichik, AK.
Nancy always finds the best spots for lunch.
Ninilchik, AK. 
Redoubt Volcano across the Cook Inlet.
Ninilchik, AK-Last erupted in 2009.
A Russian church in Ninilchik.
    Next we moved on to Kenai, AK.  We were fortunate to have arrived at the start of the "dip-netting" season.  "Dip-netting" is a method of catching a lot salmon quickly without any prowess. Basically, the fishermen have a long pole with a 4' round net at the end.  The fishermen dip their nets into the water and wait for an unsuspecting salmon to swim into the net.  Although this fishing method was interesting to watch, it seemed a little unfair to the fish.
Combat dip-netting on the beach.
Kenai, AK
The sea gulls await the scraps left by fishermen
cleaning their salmon catch after dip-netting.
     While in Kenai we stayed at the Elks Lodge and had the best time.  The Lodge members gave us tickets to watch the Kenai Peninsula Oilers play the San Fransisco Seals in a college summer league baseball game.  We sat in the "beer garden" with the Elks members to cheer the local team to victory. They even asked me to sing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" for the 7th inning stretch.  No, I declined for fear of destroying the sound system with my crooning.  The game had a special interest for us as our nephew, Matt Finlayson, actually owns a similar team--the Rhode Island Waves in South Kingston, RI.  If you are ever in the South Kingston area, attend one of these games; you will have a great time while watching talented players prepare for college and MLB.
Kenai Peninsula Oilers
San Fransisco Seals
     After Kenai we travelled straight through Anchorage and headed north to Wasilla, Alaska for a stay on Finger Lake at the Elks Lodge.  The Lodge was directly on a beautiful lake and allowed us to kayak almost every day.  This was a very active Lodge with super friendly members buying us drinks.  They even got me to enter their Tuesday night dart competition.  Needless to say I didn't win, but I managed to mostly hit the dart board and not any of the Lodge members.  The only problem was that I was supposed to be back at the rig for dinner at 6:30 and Nancy had to come to collect me after 9:00-oops!
We visited the Iditarod Museum in Wasilla, AK.
The dogs were pulling 5 or 6 people around a dirt track on a wheeled sled
designed for summer training.  These dogs love to pull and when they are in their
harness they can't wait to start.  In the photo you can see one of the dogs trying to pull
well before the team is ready.  If the dogs are in their harness' to long they all start to howl
and try to get going.  These are amazing animals.
     One day while kayaking on Finger Lake I managed to have an altercation with a Red-Necked Grebe.  I was paddling along when I accidentally came within 3 feet of the nesting bird.  This thing remained sitting on her eggs, tufted-up the hairs around her ears, and screamed at me at the top of her lungs. She scared the heck out of me, so I apologized and got out of there as fast as possible.
Fireweed blooms all over Alaska in mid-summer and, after blooming, its leaves
turn a fiery red.  Hence, the name Fireweed.  It seems that every town in
Alaska has a street or building named after this beautiful flower.
     Wasilla is an unremarkable town, but is located near Independence Gold Mine State Park and Hatcher Pass.  Alaska is full of preserved mining operations and Independence was similar to other mines we visited.  The park featured a lot of old buildings, a lot of old mining debris, and a lot of old mining equipment.  However, Independence is located in an isolated, alpine area near the base of Hatcher Pass.  The surrounding mountains were stunning, creating an amazing backdrop for the gold mine.
Independence Gold Mine.
Hatcher Pass. 
Hatcher Pass.
The gold mine is visible in the valley below.
     Finally, we decided it was time to head north toward Denali.  Our first destination was Talkeetna; but on our way we stopped at Willow, Alaska to admire the top half of Denali.  (Willow is barely a town, but in 1976 Alaskans voted to have Willow become the state capitol instead of Juneau.  Despite the vote, Juneau remains the capitol city.)  It turned out that it was pouring rain in the national park, but Denali managed to stand out in all its glory high above the drenching clouds hanging off its shoulders.
Denali from Willow, AK.
The rain caused a lot of flooding in
the national park that day; but at 20,310 feet
Denali managed to poke its head through the rain clouds.
Denali Peak
     Talkeetna, AK was the town patterned after for the weird TV show from the early 90's entitled "Northern Exposure."  Talkeetna is a tourist town in a gorgeous setting and, yes, it came across as a perfect example of a stereotypical Alaskan town.  It was full of bars, restaurants and unique craft/gift shops.  Oh, it is also the jumping off point for almost all climbers before their assault on Denali.  So there was plenty of information and national park presentations about climbing the mountain.  This year there were almost 1,200 climbers attempting to summit and over 600 were successful.  However, since the climbing season ends in early July all climbers were off the mountain and gone when we arrived in town.

Maybe we need to create the "moose party"
and get rid of the elephants and donkeys.
Talkeetna, AK
Talkeetna, AK

     Next--The Great One--Denali!!!


  1. So that is what Hatcher Pass looks like! All we saw was mist and fog.

  2. Looks like you are having a great trip. Sure brings back memories.


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