Week Camping in Alaska - 3 Week Stay - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-01-2011, 01:12 PM   #1
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Smile Week Camping in Alaska - 3 Week Stay

Wow! My wife & I had a blast! Enjoying our 3 granddaughters.....Seeing some extremely neat country, so unlike New Mexico or any where in the Lower 48. We Flew up....the trip mainly was to see our son & his family. But he was able to get some time off from work, so we got to go camping with him & his family. We flew from Tucson Arizona, 104 degees to 50s & 60s.

The Fights up were good. We got into Anchorage around 11 pm Alaska Time (an hour later than Pacific Time); They were waiting at the end of the gate for us. We had arrived in time to have birthday cupcakes with our number Two Granddaughter, age 3.

Our son had rented an Aliner hard sided folding camp trailer from the Air Force for us and had it set up at their camp site at the FamCamp at the AFB in Anchorage. A very nice campground with a very clean shower house with very hot showers and plenty of water. It was a little strange to be daylight at near mid-night, but it did get kind of dusk-like, but near really dark. It had rained recently but not when we were there. It was much cooler than the temps in Tucson and New Mexico. The Alaskans were in shorts and t-shirts, we were in long paints, long sleeves and jackets.

We slept well each night, the light at mid-night did not bother us at all, we were able to get to sleep quickly. Being tired may be the reason. After breakfast, we started our week's trek of the Kenai Peninsula by stopping at a Wal-Mart in Anchorage for some supplies. Of which, we bought two pillows and a 'egg-crate' mattress pad. After which we started down the Kenai Peninsula.

We drove First to Whittier, but to get to Whittier one must drive through a 2.5 mile railroad tunnel. We stopped to visit at the Portage Glacier/Lake Visitor Center. Very nice center, great views of Portage Lake and the Glacier. The lake had many icebergs in it as well as a tour boat.

After about a 45/50 minute wait for our turn to travel the one lane tunnel, we soon arrived at Whittier. After looking the small port town over, we found the only campground there. It was not the most appealing of a campground, with no amenities, but great scenery of mountains with ice packs and streams running down with waterfalls galore. Plus a view of the Prince William Sound (really a Fjord) and the port of Whittier.

After setting up camp, we drove to a Lodge on the waterfront and had a great supper of homemake claim chowder plus an order of fried halibut & fries and an order of pepper shrimp. All was very delicious. Then we did a dive around the area. We saw it was a pretty busy little port. Not only the tour boats, they had a ferry service, container ship service and many small fishing boats. We learned later, Whittier was developed and the rail tunnel build during WWII as a second secret port to Seward (in case it was attacked). There are two multi-storied (5-7) buildings from the army era, one a ghost standing, the other still in use as the main housing for those living there.

The next morning, while waiting for the cruise time to board, we watched some fishermen fish off the harbor area. Then we took our 5 hour cruise. It was not the largest of vessels, but proved to be a good one. It was not totally booked, so it was not crowded at all. We had expected a lot of rain, but for most of the trip it was dry and fairly sunny at times. Only on the way back was it a little rainy. The Food was very good, all you could eat. Prime Rib and Salmon. Plus Desserts. The lower deck was enclosed where the meals were severed, the upper deck was open, except for a small area in front. Also the stern was open as was the bow.

We got to see many rafts of Sea Otters as well as a few singles. We got to see a humped backed whale, and many harbor seals on ice floats and Bald Eagles and many sea birds. Plus several Glaciers. What proved so nice about this cruise boat, the captain would stop and maneuver the vessel so we could really see the animals. We got to see the whale several times, both on the way out and back. Same with the sea otters and seals. We got to hear and see some small calving at the glaciers, ice breaking off. He maneuvered the vessel close to the glaciers as well.

There was a forest ranger on board as well. She would give talks and answer questions on the animals as well as the landscape features, etc. She was very friendly as were the crew and the captain. He allowed the two older granddaughters to go up to the bridge and turn the wheel. He let our son actually steer the ship by pressing buttons. I believe he winters in Arizona.

We stayed a second night at the campground in Whittier. Our Son & his Family in their Truck Camper which is really nice. My wife and I in the Aliner. Our eldest granddaughter also was sleeping in the Aliner. We used the shower in his camper when none were around.

Our son was wanting to do some Salmon fishing in the Kenai, but when we got to the Russian River area by Cooper Landing, which can have good fishing, they were not running at this time. Last year he did very well there. He decided to not stop, but to go farther down to Soldotna, which has a city campground and a fishing area along the Kenai River. He tried his luck there, but they had not gotten there yet either. We stayed two nights there.

After the first night (he went fishing after mid-night <remember it is not really dark at that time up there>, without luck), he decided to do a drive down to Homer. They had their Dodge Durango as well as the pickup with them. He stopped along the way to check on the fishing a couple of times. But they were not running yet. We even drove out on the rocky beach at one area.

At Homer, we wanted to eat some seafood on the Split and we did. We got the seafood samplers and they were just great. Grilled Halibut, Salmon, Scallops and Shrimp......each was really good. I liked the shrimp the best, but all was great. Good Salad & Baked Potato as well.

Back at Soldotna, he tried his luck fishing as did as did the two older girls. While Daddy was getting his things ready, the eldest (5 yrs. old) caught and reeled in a small fish (maybe a trout). Later her 3 yr. old sister reeled in another small one as well. No one else was getting anything.

The Town of Kenai was a few miles down river from Soldotna, but we did not make it to it. We did a cut off going to Homer. Our son did go there last year. This was their first time to see Homer, however.

Next day, we went back to the Russian River area. Camped at a Forest Service Campground which was really a nice one.

They also had a really nice fishing 'board walk' along the river which was makeup of a combination of materials. It had 'pull-offs' at intervals with steps leading down to the river much like the fishing area at Soldotna.

Our son with us all trekked to the confluence of the Russian River with the Kenai River. But not much was happening in way of fishing. On the way back, we saw two black bears across the river. We followed one of them for a long ways up the river.

We had seen two men come back to the parking area before we went down with two pretty Red Salmon. After talking with a couple of fishermen, it was concluded they were having some luck up the Russian. After the Bear out distanced us going up the river, Daddy tried his luck at a spot. There were a few other fishermen working in the area as well. One had a large Trout on a stringer and we watched him get many strikes and finally he landed a second.

What got me was a big burly man and his early teen son came by and moved right in the same spot this man was fishing. Without any success. Ha! He caught his second Trout after they were trying his spot as well. Sadly, our son did not have any success up stream of him.

We all enjoyed seeing the bear, over and over again in fact.

So neat seeing it walk along logs alone the bank and how it would just disappear into tall grass without a trace of movement. It was neat to see large sea gulls patrolling the river in a wooded mountain setting. We got to see a Bald Eagle as we drove into the campground area. I saw another one fly in front the SUV while our son was cutting some fire wood out of the campground as well.

Back at camp later that evening, night really, but not dark, we had supper which Chef Daddy prepared for us over a campfire.

Moose steaks, beans and 'stewed' mushrooms which had as good a taste as the meals on the boat or at the sea food restaurant if not better. He had prepared on his small Webber some really delicious grilled chicken breasts earlier as well which matched or surpassed these as well. We had some really good meals. He is getting low on Moose, and will be needing to refill the larder soon.

They also did roasting of marshmallows on several of the nights.

The next day, we traveled back to Anchorage to the FamCamp on Elmo. On the way, we stopped at a Sportsman Wearhouse, Sam's Club & Wal-Mart and later went to the B-X and Commissary. The girls found some kids to play with at the campground (happen to be from Eilson AFB as well). We had the nice long hot showers again. Their small shower in the TC works nice as well, but can't have long ones in it.

Next morning, we cleaned the Aline and turned it in at RecServices. Then they met a man selling some 4Wheeler tires a friend wanted him to pick up for him in Eagle River.

We then traveled from Palmer on Hwy 1 to Glennallen on the Richardson Hwy which runs to Valdez. They had never driven this route which is about 40 miles longer than going by Denali. It had some really neat scenery along the way, some hugh rivers rolling, a large glacier off in the distance. All to hard to describe & give them justice.

After reaching Glennallen, Daddy decided to check out an area by Chitina which could have salmon running. A 40 some mile detour. Along the way he spotted a Cinnamon colored Black Bear along the road. We got some good pics while it was eating berries. But the fishing at the Copper River was too rough for a line and reel. It was very wide, rough waters, gray cloudy water. Camping was in a large gravel pit-like area. There were many Native American fishermen using fishwheels and others in motor boats dip netting. The road into the Wrangell-St. Elis Nat'l Park was super rough gravel road.

It was neat to see. Chitina the town was a rail road stop on the line from a Kennicott copper mind to the port of Cordova. The road into the Nat'l Park follows the old rail bed. Just past Chitina, one goes through a cut in the small mountain, one lane road, which was cut for the train.

We went back out, stopping at a very neat waterfalls area. Just out of the village of Chitina, we saw a moose feeding at the edge of a lake in the water. After getting almost back to Glennallen, we stopped at a photo stop area; which was off the Hwy and spent the night there. This time all in the Truck Camper. It was a snug fit, but we got some sleep.

The next morning, we drove up the Richardson Hwy to Delta Junction. Another neat drive with some great vistas, great landscapes, mighty rivers and lakes. One section of the highway was under construction. But a nice drive. He pointed out some areas they have gone camping and 4wheeling in and where he plans on doing a float/hunting trip this fall.

We had lunch at the visitor center stop at Delta Jun't. This is the end or the start of the Al-Can Highway down to Dawson Creek in Canada. From there we drove up to Eilson AFB out from Fairbanks and their home. We had a great time camping and seeing the sights that week.

We had two more weeks to visit with the grandkids and enjoy getting to know them. The 10 month old was a little hard to win over, but on the second week to the day, she gave Grandma two kissed on her own. She also stopped crying if I looked at her.

On the whole we enjoyed extremely fine weather. More sunny times than any rainy times. Maybe four days with any rain, one for all day, but it was only one day. We were very blessed. We have gotten to be with our little granddaughters, which are a delight. The two older girls are just little love bugs with a lot of hugs for Papa & Grandma. We got to take the girls to the playgrounds almost each day, they enjoyed the sunny days playing outside.

We did a few trips into Fairbanks, celebrated our daughter in law's B-day & the eldest B-day, went to a street fair to watch a rubber duck race, and to Fairbanks Pioneer Park which was very neat.

Our son did go back to the Copper River by Chitina and tried dip netting from shore, but only got two. This week-end, he went with some friends and did the dip netting from a boat and they got 143. Not sure what his share was. Only Alaska residents can do the dip nets. The state had increased the limit from 30 per family to 40 per family on the Copper.

We flew from Tucson. Did a 6 1/2 hour layover at the Anchorage Air Port Thursday night/Friday morning....from mid-night to 6:30 am, without getting any sleep. But it wasn't bad. We got to spend an extra day with the grandkids by doing so. We did Fairbanks to Anchorage, Anchorage to Seattle, Seattle to Tucson. Got a nap at times flying, but not much. But so fast compared to driving.

After resting up and getting some sleep in Tucson with our daughter & grandson. We got home today. Ooops, make that yesterday evening.

The Aliner worked very well for us, gave us some space of our own and we did not have to take up their space. It was roomy, had a furnace, hot water and a fridge. The bed was wider than the one we have in the Scamp. Our granddaughter got to sleep on the other one as well. It was one that had been used a lot, but it was dry and work well for us. We had expected more rain but enjoyed not having to much of it.

He would have rented a 13' Scamp, but it was not available for the whole week, from the Army RecServices. We enjoyed the Aliner. Very easy to set up, take down. Comfy, too.

We saw several Casitas either traveling or at campgrounds. Two at ELMO FamCamp. At least one Scamp, many Truck Campers of all descriptions...several BigFoot TCs. Some rigs from Europe.

CampGrounds:
The ELMO FamCamp is a large one set in a wooded area, with nice sites, water & electric and two bath houses with laundry. At $15 a site, a very good buy. The City Campground/Fishing Park at Soldotna was very large in a wooded area, no showers which I know of, few toilets, but the sites are nice, level, some large, with picnic tables & fire pits. One area with electric, no trees, a parking lot. Extremely nice fishing area with walking area in woods and metal ramps and stairs down to the river at intervals. $17 a night per camping unit. The Russian River National Forest Campground had many loops and lots of sites, very nice ones in wooded settings and not crowded together, very nice campground. Nice clean Pit Toilets. Tables & Fire Pits. Paved level sites. $18 a site and half off with my Senior Pass. Very nice trails/stairs down to the Russian River, with a trail away from the bank, either a boardwalk affair or 'paved' walk with ramp and stairs out and down to the river. A very nice set up for fishing. The Whittier Campground was rough, getting to (potholes) and roads & sites with rocks; no tables, rock fire rings, but a beautiful setting. $15 a site. The FamCamp at Eilson AFB is smaller, but in a wooded area with nice sites in wooded area with water & electric, not sure of cost, just happened to drive by to empty at the dump site.

Mosquitos and Rain
We had expected a lot of each. Our expectations were not fulfilled. Thankfully. We missed both luckily. What few mosquitos we saw or heard were easily dispatched, being very slow flying. We took much to much rains gear and cool weather clothes. Too many wool socks for sure.
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Old 08-01-2011, 01:50 PM   #2
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That does it.

You pretty much described the trip we took two years ago. I had forgot how much we enjoyed it. Now I want to go back and summer is almost over (sob). We got as far as BC this year to pick up the Escape, but had to retreat back home due to work. Next year I want to go again. I will leave your post where Joanne can see it.

Thanks for the memories.
Dick
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Old 08-01-2011, 01:58 PM   #3
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Adrian, that was the most fascinating travel report I've read in a long time. Thanks so much for giving us a chance to vicariously share your adventures!
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Old 08-01-2011, 02:26 PM   #4
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Next time you go, plan to drive. It's a great trip. We went to most of the places you did. Since you were in Chitina you could have either driven or taken a van tour to McCarthy. Sounds like you had a great time.
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Old 08-01-2011, 06:34 PM   #5
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Adrian, that was the most fascinating travel report I've read in a long time. Thanks so much for giving us a chance to vicariously share your adventures!
I agree 100% with Sharon! Thanks for sharing!!
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Old 08-01-2011, 07:26 PM   #6
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Adrian, you said that Alaska is "so unlike anywhere in the lower 48." Can you compare and contrast it to any similar places down thisaway? Like maybe to Glacier or to Colorado?

I hope to get to Alaska someday, but it may take me a few years.
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:00 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mike Magee View Post
Adrian, you said that Alaska is "so unlike anywhere in the lower 48." Can you compare and contrast it to any similar places down this away? Like maybe to Glacier or to Colorado?
Scale for one....EXTREMELY LARGE and in any direction massive vistas with lots of snow covering the peaks in most places....water, lakes, rivers, massive rivers and so many of them, spongy-bouncy ground/tundra and trees like nothing in Colorado, nor Glacier, it appeared to me at any rate. No snakes, lizards, frogs, never saw a thorn, no ticks or chiggers. Extremes of landscapes, from seascape to tundra. Seems the flowers are different than those down in our area. Many of the trees, especially into the interior, just have a another world look to them. I believe they are:
Black Spruce, Picea mariana - A tree with open, irregular, conical crown, with short horizontal or dropping branches. A shrub at tree line. Not sure why they look so different at times, if it is amount of water in the "soil", they seem to be in low areas.

Do not get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the western forests of the Lower 48. I really love to get into them, see them and camp in them. We have camped in many in New Mexico & Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming and have gone to Glacier twice. Glacier is magnificent, extremely exciting and marvelous to see; so is Yellowstone. Same with the Canadian Rockies around Jasper & Banff. Colorado has some great vistas as does NM, but the ones in Alaska seem to be somewhat different while being somewhat like the down in the Lower 48. It may just be me. In someways, I prefer camping down here, the woods are not as thickly overgrown as what I noticed in Alaska. Same as I noticed with the southern forests in the Southeast. I like the wide spacing one fines in the Ponderosa Forest, even the Spruce and Fur Forest of the Southwest. Canada's Lodgepole Pine forest are different than what we have here. Some of the forests we observed in Alaska were rain forests.



The forests of the Pacific Northwest are similar to those in the Kenai, but some of the ones in Alaska are just different somehow. Looking for a picture, I do not believe I took one of the type of trees I am remembering. These are from near Mt Rainier:



This one was from over by the Denali Nat'l Park area last Sept:

Tetons of Wyoming:


It could also be said, "Alaska does not have anything like the Forest of the Lower 48". They sure do not have anything like the very neat deserts of the Southwest and the wide open skies of the Southwest. My wife and I mentioned not seeing such blue skies as were see driving from Tucson to Cruces Sunday when in Alaska. Nor seeing such beautiful starry night skies as we have here. But we will not see the Northern Lights as they do. Each have neat individual glorious things to see and marvel at.

So when I wrote, "so unlike anywhere in the lower 48," I admit I was not being completely accurate. But it is very different there.

"Next time you go, plan to drive. It's a great trip. We went to most of the places you did. Since you were in Chitina you could have either driven or taken a van tour to McCarthy. Sounds like you had a great time. RGRugg"

Time to do so, the bravery to try.....for both to drive. When in Chitina, my son had to be back to work on Monday...we were there Sat. The Road to McCarthy started out as a tooth loosener and from what others told us it never got much better. Not sure if I am ready to chance shaking the Scamp up on the AlCan or chancing broken windshield and things on the pickup. Ha!

Sharon & Donna, Thanks for the kind words. You are much too kind.
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Old 08-02-2011, 12:55 AM   #8
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From Lincoln Nat'l Forest Southern New Mexico at about 9,000 plus feet:

Notice the space between the trees.
In Alaska or Canada it would be above tree line.

You will not find vistas like this in Alaska:



But it would be hard to find a scene like these Fishwheels on the Copper River in the Lower 48.
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Old 08-02-2011, 01:47 PM   #9
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We didn't drive to McCarthy for just the reasons you mentioned. We took a van tour. Happened to be in McCarthy on July 4, 2000. Most unusual parade we ever saw. Anybody and everybody who wanted to march were welcome to do so. Funny costumes and "floats". Then took the taxi to Kennicott. Very interesting. Also took a bus tour from Fairbanks to the Arctic Circle so as to not shake our truck & camper apart. The tour provided snacks, drinks, two meals, and a celebration as we walked across the Circle. Left on the tour at about 6 or 7 am and were dropped back off at the RV park the following morning at around 1 am. Super.
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Old 08-02-2011, 11:01 PM   #10
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Thanks very much for the explanation. I understand much better now what you mean. It sounds like a wonderful place.

I took the liberty of playing with one of your pics a bit in Photoshop, see what you think. A great view, I bet it was spectacular in person.
Click image for larger version

Name:	Alaska mtn peak.jpg
Views:	6
Size:	354.1 KB
ID:	38638
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Old 08-02-2011, 11:26 PM   #11
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That looks good Mike...it was very impressive. But after taking first picture in the ones I posted, clouds moved over the Mountain....didn't see it again until we were almost back to my cousin's home which is the one you worked over. This photo:

Was taken at Paradise Visitor Center & Mt Rainier is being hidden by clouds behind the tree line or so they told me.

Yep, there are loads of impressive places to see in the Good Ole' USofA, even in the Lower 48. There are a lot to see in the 48th State for that matter.

Here's one which would be hard to find an equal in the Lower 48:

Glacier Across from Whittier
or this one:

Portage Glacier
Or

View of Portage Glacier Across Portage Lake
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Old 08-04-2011, 10:08 AM   #12
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Absolutely Georgeous!!! Thanks so much for sharing! It is on our "Bucket List" too.

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Old 08-04-2011, 12:23 PM   #13
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Old 08-04-2011, 06:39 PM   #14
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Another GREAT report. Too cool Adrian!
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