10, 2003 - My first roadside overnighter
spending 2 nights in the city of Kenai, I was ready to be in "outside"
Alaska rather than "intown" Alaska. I enjoyed going out
to the end of the Kenai Spur into Captain Cook State Park and going
down to Agate Beach there. That was truly a rock lovers paradise
there - lots of really neat prettily colored stones sparkling in
the water. I picked the ones that wanted to come home with me and
planted my lucky bamboo shoot with them in a glass of water. A lady
at a shop I visited with gave it to me, but we'll see if I get to
take it across the border. Don said when he was crossing back into
America from Canada, the inspector asked what his plant was. When
he said it was lucky bamboo, the inspector picked it up and said
it wasn't lucky anymore and threw it away! I thought that a bit
rude, especially considering he hadn't bought it in Canada, but
last year when we were in Charleston.
reminds me of another of Chuck's amusing accounts of his border
seems to be something about a Texas license plate that arouses Canadian
curiosity about the number of guns you must be carrying. We had
a couple of the border Nazis tearing our motorhome apart for over
an hour in a vain attempt to locate our arsenal."
was sorry to hear they have already left the area I am on the way
to, so it looks like I won't be seeing them again this trip.
was just partly cloudy on the one day it took to sightsee Kenai,
but it's been raining ever since. There was nothing else I wanted
to see there, and I just couldn't see spending another $18 for a
night in that dismal parking lot that calls itself Kenai RV Park.
So I took off at noon planning to just drive about 35 miles down
the road and meet Woody and Genie at the state park at Clam Gulch.
By the time I got there, though, it was raining so hard that I couldn't
really see which side road went to the park or its condition, and
I just didn't feel comfortable going off the main road with the
possibility of getting stuck in mud, etc.
I pulled off on a nice wide scenic pulloff just off the main road
and will spend the night right here. I called Woody & Genie
and they said they'd done this several times and feel I will have
no problem. This is when roadside overnighters make the most sense
to me. Also when I am more thankful for my totally self contained
rolling home. The weather is totally dreary - you can't see anything
around you anyway, so why pay for a parking spot? Even at a state
park, the fee is $10 a night with no hookups, which is worth it
when you can see the beauty that surrounds you, but not when you're
stuck inside blinded to the view anyway.
confess to feeling a tiny sense of insecurity as opposed to being
in a campground, but also know that in reality I am safer now than
I was coming down the Alcan so early in the season. At least my
cell phone gets a signal here so I could call for help if necessary.
I don't know what I will do if it is still so dreary tomorrow, but
I will decide that then.
only about 56 miles from Homer, but am in no hurry to get there.
There are several state parks with campgrounds between here and
there that I will probably at least check out before heading down.
I've heard this particular drive - coming into Homer where you crest
a hill and see the city before you - is absolutely spectacular so
I hope to have clearer skies to enjoy that view.
it's noon and the color of the day is still monochromatic gray and
it's still raining, so I think I'm just staying put. I slept well
last night and I still believe there's no point in paying for a
campground when I have everything I need here for free. I watch
caravans of RVs pass by and a lady I spoke to about a campground
in Homer said everyone is pretty upset about the weather. I remember
reading that the peninsula is known for frequent rainfall in the
summer, so at least I'm not surprised. If the rain doesn't let up
tomorrow, I'll go on into Homer anyway and just explore the town
as much as possible until the skies clear and I can enjoy the outdoors
nice that I have so much time to explore here so that I don't feel
pressured to press on and sightsee despite the weather. I don't
mind spending a couple of days just vegging out and getting caught
up with journaling, etc. I'm also glad I have my web page to work
on - it's especially nice to relive the places I've enjoyed so much
along the way. Since I'm caught up on my Alaska pages, I'm working
on Washington now and it's interesting to read what I wrote when
Mt. Rainier was the biggest thing I'd ever seen. He is still a god
among mountains to me, but after seeing the Alaska ranges, I admit
he looks a bit tame and subdued now.
12, 2003 - Lifting and kissing clouds
the clouds literally lifted this morning - straight up like a set
of blinds opening up the view. When I looked outside it was a cosmic
sight to see a long, low, dark line of clouds slowly lifting and
revealing the majestic views they had been hiding. I knew I must
be in a scenic spot since the turnout had a camera icon on the sign
to it, but it really was breathtaking to see clearly what had been
behind the cloudcover for the past 2 days. The snow covered mountains
across the bay looked like lustrous ethereal creatures lying on
the horizon as the line of clouds formed a ceiling above them and
the water reflected the brightness of the line of sunshine it streaked
across the bay.
quickly got dressed and was on the road in record time - one of
the nice advantages to not having hookups is not having to unhook.
had been told to stop at the scenic pullout right before Homer,
and boy, was I ever glad I did. It offered a panoramic view of Kachemak
Bay and Cook Inlet which surrounds the tip of peninsula that the
Homer Spit juts from. It showcases the volcanoes St. Augustine,
Mt. Iliamna and Mt. Redoubt that look like wizards in white robes
reigning over the magic kingdom.
this altitude the cloud line formed offshoots of soft mist blowing
across the scenery. The local garden club had planted beautiful
little areas of indigenous wildflowers that were still wet with
dew. I sat on one of the benches and watched the show for a while
when a most miraculous thing happened. I could see the light mist
approaching and all of a sudden I was enveloped by it - I was kissed
by a cloud! It felt like it passed right through me as it gently
sprayed me and moved on. I felt blessed by it and remembered the
only other time in my life that happened - and I thought that was
surely a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Over 11 years ago, when I sat
on the slopes of Haleakala one morning for a sunrise visit, that
same thing happened. I've forgotten a lot of things in my life,
but I never forgot the sweetness of a cloud kiss and I'm eternally
grateful I got to experience it twice in one lifetime.
the time I got to Homer, it was mostly sunny and I easily found
the city campground Woody and Genie had pioneered and told me about.
It sits right at the beginning of the Homer Spit (a rather ignoble
name for such a glorious view). I am parked directly facing the
water with fantastic views of islands and mountains in the distance.
For $8.57 a night if you pay in advance for a week's stay, I'm again
so thankful I can drycamp with no hookups. I know I'll be happy
to stay here for a week, but will have a chance to check out some
of the nearby state parks to see if I want to stay there at some
drove the car out to the very end of the spit and saw where the
Alaska ferry comes in for transportation to seaside towns with no
road access. On Tuesday I'm going to take a short trip to Seldovia,
a quaint little town about an hour away by water. I'm taking the
bike since I've heard they have great trails you can explore during
the 5 hours allowed there.
then took a slow drive along one of the scenic roads, East End
Road. The views are stupendous and even though I'm getting a
little used to the massive mountains, the shapes that are made
by the glaciers and snow formations are always unique and interesting
to see. I'm getting a little more used to seeing eagles soaring
close by - at least I don't yell and point them out to the locals
anymore. Even though I've seen signs everywhere warning of them,
I still have seen no bears!
13, 2003 - Homer Spit
beautiful bay that is my front yard is fascinating to watch at different
points in the day. Yesterday afternoon I was able to walk out quite
far among huge tidepools and found some more pretty rocks that wanted
to come home with me to hold up my lucky bamboo. This morning that
entire area was covered with water once again and it was a gloriously
took off driving back up the main road to check out other campgrounds
and state parks I'd seen on the way in. I like exploring unknown
places much better in my little car than in my big motorhome. I
pulled off along many scenic spots I had missed on the way in and
I truly enjoyed this day. I drove quite a ways past Anchor Point,
but like where I'm staying now the best. You just can't beat the
combination of water and mountains for a view, in my opinion.
14, 2003 - Skyline Drive
after sending out email, I took one of the other scenic drives up
Skyline Drive. It winds through an upper scale residential area
where the homes are pretty far apart and look very expensive. Given
the narrow winding road, I'm willing to bet most of those people
don't live here during the winter. I've met quite a few people who
maintain homes and regularly spend the summers here, but winter
"outside" as they call the lower 48 states. As mesmerized
as I am by the beauty and majesty here, I still am convinced this
is one place I could never live - or at least would never choose
to. I've wondered why I feel so strongly about it and I think it's
because I believe I would never really feel at ease or as comfortable
and secure here as I want my home to be. It's a distinctly masculine
energy dominating here and it definitely feels like you'd do battle
with the elements in more ways than one. There's a hint of danger
or at least the possibility of it around every curve it seems and
while a measure of that during vacation is great, I don't think
I'd like a steady dose of it.
I really enjoyed another day around Homer and every time I go out,
I see other things I want to do another day. Today's drive gave
a different vantage point of the same mountains and glaciers I'd
seen from the lower East End Road and it is interesting how a changing
perspective changes everything.
one pulloff, I was taking a photo when a couple pulled in and we
exchanged taking each other's picture with the view. They are RVers
from California and from the first time I laid eyes on the man,
Gordon, I was almost in a trance. He looked so much like my father
that it was almost more than I could do to not just keep staring
at him. They say everyone has a twin somewhere and today I surely
met my dad's. He looked about the same age as my dad was when he
died - he had the same shape face and features, the same pale coloring,
the same big ears, and especially the same old-aged clouded but
still brilliant blue eyes. To cap it off, his wife even looked a
lot like my dad's wife, but thank God she wasn't as obnoxious. (God
forgive me for speaking ill of the dead, but it's the honest truth.)
both he and she were very kind and generous with tips as we talked
about places they had been in Denali National Park, where I'll be
heading once mom gets here. I just kept looking closely at him and
I swear it felt just like I was looking at my dad during the last
time I saw him just a few weeks before he died. It was truly a surreal
experience, as I just didn't want to blurt out, "I'm sorry
to stare, but you look just like my dad right before he croaked."
So we just kept talking and I kept trying to look like my heart
wasn't in my throat. When we were discussing our mutual traveling
lives, I almost passed out when he said, "Young lady, I'm a
lot older than you are and I'm here to tell you that you need to
follow your dreams while you can and not wait until it's too late."
That was almost exactly the words my dad had said to me during our
last discussion about my "unconventional" lifestyle. It
just hit me with such clarity that somehow my dad used this "chance"
meeting with this couple to reinforce his advice to me. Since tomorrow
is father's day, I consider that a present to me from my dad. I
usually hug people as we depart, but I didn't in this case because
I knew if I hugged that man I would just fall apart in a heap of
tears, and I've been a little teary and choked up ever since.
15, 2003 - Planting seeds
I decided to go introduce myself to some of the charter services
in town and see if I can barter office or even cleaning services
in exchange for one of the bear sighting tours. Those days cost
over $500, so I knew this would be my only chance of doing that.
I don't know if the seeds I planted in that soil will sprout, but
it was worth it anyway because I sure did meet some nice people.
At Kenai Fjords Charters, I met Clark, who is from New Orleans and
now lives here in Homer. We laughed and talked about the French
Quarter and Cajuns. Another man, Richard, is from Florida and is
here for the summer helping his friend run a float plane charter
service. They were both very entertaining company and Richard said
he would talk to his friend for me and if there's an extra seat
when they have a charter, he thinks something could be worked out.
At another company, I met Sheryl and we got along so well, she is
meeting me tomorrow for a trip to a local artist's studio in Anchor
Point. I ate my lunch today beside a babbling brook, so all in all,
it was a very good day.