Homer to Anchorage
After learning to like Homer a lot, we left and drove to Anchorage. Homer is at the tip of the Kenai Peninsula, and the body of water between this peninsula and the mainland is called the Cook Inlet (after Captain Cook, who was the first European to map it). Anchorage lies at the top of the inlet, so the drive runs along the side of the inlet.
There are volcanoes the far side of Cook Inlet and the views of them were fantastic - more snow capped peaks to keep me happy. We stopped at Ninilchik where there is a very pretty Russian Orthodox Church (locked so we couldn't confirm that the inside was as nice as the outside). The Russians had founded this village in the 19th Century - hence the church.
At Soldotna, we felt we had to do the 'drive in thing' and so got coffee and milk shakes from MacDonalds without getting out of the car. And very efficient it was too! Then came the funniest bit of the day. We stopped at Russian River Crossing to watch hundreds (yes, I mean hundreds) of fisherman standing in a line about 6 feet from the edge of the river fishing for salmon. They were standing about 2 metres away from the next person and the line just seemed to go on and on. It made me think of people panning for gold - but these people were panning for king salmon. The best thing was watching the salmon jumping out of the water as they passed by and escaped this barrage of fishing hooks. It seemed as if they were laughing at them too! But we did see some huge salmon that had been caught and were being cleaned and gutted by the river and put into freezer bags. Apparently, this will feed families for several weeks to come. Each fisherman/woman is limited to 3 fish and they have to catch them in the mouth. Any fish which has been snagged in the side has to be put back (anyone know why?).
Apparently, salmon return to the river of their birth after about 4 years of freedom, lay and fertilize eggs and then die. Every year, therefore, lots of salmon swim up the rivers (sometimes up incredible waterfalls and rapids that it doesn't seem possible that they can overcome) and the amount that are caught (whether by canneries or recreational fishermen and women) has to be regulated to ensure that there continue to be salmon born the next year. The sight at Russian River though was not quite the solitary affair that I think of when someone tells me they are going fishing.....
After this sight, we took in Portage Glacier but only looked at the small 'berghies' in the lake; the glacier itself has retreated round the corner of a valley. This is the most visited tourist attraction in Alaska which seems sad given all the other wonderful glaciers we had got to see properly. You do get to see ice worms in the visitors' centre which was one thing we hadn't seen so there was a small compensation (about half an inch).
Then the fun really started. We got to Beluga Point at about 7pm and walked out onto the rocks to get a view up Turnagain Arm (named by Captain Cook when he was looking for the NorthWest Passage and had to turn back yet again!). Then, someone, who will remain nameless, locked the keys in the car and there ensued a couple of hours of getting to know lots of people and borrowing their mobile phones. We encountered several failing techniques for breaking into cars: just when you need a car thief there never seems to be a good one around.
In case you ever need it though, there is an organization called Pop-a-Lock which will come out from Anchorage to within a reasonable limit and break into your car for you!. They arrived 5 minutes after David managed to open the car with the second coat hanger we had obtained (amazing what people have in their RVs). Beluga Point was in many ways a great place for this to happen - nice views, it wasn't raining and lots of people stop to look at the view! When we finally got to Anchorage we felt it necessary to have a few bevvies to celebrate...
Anchorage itself was a OK but I think all of us were remembering the glaciers, wildlife and scenery of other parts of Alaska and wanting to be back there. The art museum was good and there were many of the usual tutt shops. David and Billie had their hair cut - Billie looks great and David looks like a tough nut! But overall we were a bit sad as Billie was flying home and David and I would now have to survive without her - our wildlife spotting abilities are reduced to about a tenth of the previous level and there is no-one to help me persuade David that tea and cakes are definitely necessary at this particular point in the day! Bye Billie and thanks for the memories..
(click thumbnails for a larger picture) |
Russian River fisherman
Billie and David breaking into car
Turnagain arm and Beluga point