Alaskan winters are unforgettable. There is nothing like them in the world. Most people have their own idea as to what winter is like, but really, Alaska is in a class all alone. Yes, they are cold. They are also very dry. They also are long! But on the upside are the amazing opportunities to play in the white winter wonderland that it creates. Nothing beats a cold winters night with a full moon shining on the snow and ice. Now that is a beauty! If you want to really know Alaska, you must visit in the winter. It is amazing!
Day 1 - We arrived in Anchorage
Our new adventure begins very, very early. Nothing less than at 4 in the morning. The car picks us up at home to accompany us to the airport, since our flight leaves at 6:50h. Once the bags are checked in and we are boarded, after ten hours, we arrive in Frankfurt. Here we stop for an hour and a half, before returning to our second flight to Anchorage in Alaska.
We have to pass another security checkpoint and this time it is much more exhaustive. In fact, we open the backpack of the photographic equipment and they carefully inspect us. But nothing, they immediately see that we are harmless! Once inside the plane, we were pleasantly surprised, because when flying with a low-cost company, we were a bit afraid of what we could find. Also, the criticisms of the forums were not very good, really.
Flying over Greenland has offered us some good images. What has fascinated us most of the journey, have been the views we have had at the time we fly over Greenland, near the North Pole. Spectacular! It seemed like we were watching a live documentary! The sea is absolutely calm and the sun reflected in the pieces and plates of ice scattered everywhere. It was very pretty! Only the polar bears were missing here!
We arrived tired by the flight but happy to start the route. Once in Anchorage and after doing the corresponding immigration procedures, we take a taxi and go to our Bed and Breakfast. It is simple but it is a small house, with 5 rooms, and a common area for tea and coffee at any time. We went for a walk and immediately we saw the city of Anchorage. It is not very big and neither has anything special to see or highlight.
It has typical wide American avenues, parking zones everywhere and a Downtown that is the only place where you can find a little activity. What we do like is the time it does. A bright sun accompanies us during our walk. And just a couple of days ago they were out of light because of storms and hurricane winds. What luck we have had! We went into a pub that the B&B boy recommended us to have something light since our stomachs accuse the food of the plane, the jetlag and the hours of sleep. It is better not to gamble!
Now we know where the inhabitants of Anchorage were. They enjoy in the bars and pubs! The temperature is low, and we can find steals inside to avoid cold. And we return to the hotel, which for us is already more than 6 in the morning and we cannot take it anymore! We have turned the clock! Tomorrow will be a very special day. We will meet our traveling companion: the caravan!
Day 2 - We pick up the caravan
And today, finally, we can say that our adventure truly begins. We have collected our house on wheels! And once we have the place to sleep, we wanted to fill the pantry. We approached the mega-supermarket in the town of Wasilla. Here they have everything! Of course, we have found that everything here is very expensive. It is normal if we think that almost all products should be brought from outside.
We take the opportunity to buy some salads and we eat them inside the new house, towards the tourist town of Talkeetna, where we sleep tonight. For a moment I am about to change the transport. Lake Willow looks like a real mirror! Everywhere, you see seaplanes. They use them as if they were taxis. The town is full of restaurants and bars. We take the opportunity to have dinner at the Restaurant.
This town is a meeting point for unique characters and the hippie community around the world. For what we have been able to know, in times of maximum affluence, the town is full of parties and the "flower power" atmosphere. We spend the night in the Talkeetna Camper Park where our caravan is one of the smallest. Here are real "mastodons" on wheels! The facilities are very simple and we pay $ 30 per night. It is cold and while we write these lines, the thermometer shows 5 degrees. We only have one day and the three of us have already been very friendly!
Day 3 - The spectacular Mount McKinley
We got up early in Talkeetna after spending our first night on the caravan. It has been quite cold. We realize that we will need heating more often than we thought! At 7:30 the crystals were frozen! And we also make our first breakfast. How we like that feeling of freedom.
We went to the Talkeetna Air Taxi company to request information about air flights to observe Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America, with 6,194 meters. There are different travel options and even offer a landing and a walk through a base camp between the peaks.
We take the simplest one, because although they give us a discount for the low season. But we are pleasantly surprised when on the verge of leaving. They make us put on special boots to walk on the snow. We look at the poor manager in the face of not understanding anything. Well, in fact, we had understood the opposite of what we had hired. We will enjoy a walk through the snows. Phew! Americans talk too fast and we do not get half the stuff!
In total, the excursion by plane takes just over 2 hours and is one of the most incredible experiences of our life. Hallucinatory! The flight is a pass, but we assume that the beautiful day we have is what has made it a special day. The plane is for 6 people and we are accompanied by 2 Japanese and 2 Americans.
The pilot tells us a lot of details but speaks very fast (we cannot stop thinking that we have to go back to English classes). We fly over the summits of Denali, which are very white. Finally, we landed in a flat snowy area, where we went down and enjoyed a half hour surrounded by peaks and virgin snow everywhere. Not with all the photos of the world can we describe what it is like to be up there.
The feeling of magnitude is brutal. We feel tiny and very lucky! Once on land, we face the route to Denali National Park, one of the most important in the country. We drive on Highway 3, always surrounded by trees and snowy mountains. What landscapes!
We often stop to take pictures and, as always, we get distracted by anything and we spend the most rapid time. The day is really spectacular. We had been told that it was very difficult to see the top of Mount McKinley since it is almost always covered. Well, today its vision has accompanied us throughout the journey! And people seem to have thanked it. At one of the scenic spots in the area, the Denali View South, there were a lot of people enjoying the image of the main peaks of this mountain range. What a vision!
It starts to get late, and although we tighten the rhythm a bit, we continue to stop from time to time to enjoy the views. And we spent more than 20 minutes putting gasoline. We have spent half a deposit and do not want to risk not finding gas stations in the area. What we did not know is that the "bug" has a larger deposit than the entire refinery. The bikers and their Harleys cannot miss any route through the USA!
And on the last kilometers, the weather decides that it has already shown us too much sun for today. Very dark clouds appear very fast and a shower falls for 20 minutes. We finally arrived at the Riley Creek campsite, located inside the Denali Parc. It is huge and has no electricity or water in the camping area. We will spend two nights here with everything our caravan can offer us. We are in the middle of the forest and the tranquility is absolute. What a pleasure!
Day 4 - Excursion to Denali Park
We got up very early (06:15h) to be punctual to the excursion that we had organized for today. There is a tour of the Park Road, a road that goes into the Denali National Park, and that can only be done on buses from the same park. We had booked it online from home so as not to suffer since it is common for many people to be there and seats get sold out quickly. But before we leave let us explain the surrealist anecdote of the day and perhaps of the trip.
We left with the camping caravan with all the silence we could so as not to disturb the rest of the campers. And you know the ones that know us, that it costs us a lot to get up and running so early. Before arriving at the center from where the buses depart, we stopped at the campsite reception to go to the bathroom, but I found it closed. Completely asleep I went back to the caravan.
I open the door, I sit on the seat, I take the wheel when suddenly I hear a male voice that says: Sorry! I turn scared and I find a boy, his girlfriend and two grandparents looking at me with frightened faces. I'm slow to react. The hands are behind the wheel, and I do not understand what happens. I have confused my caravan and I have risen to another one! How I can, I apologize and I run. Shame kills me, but I cannot stop laughing!
We arrive punctually at the exit of the bus that will take us to almost the end of the route. We arrive at the Wonder Lake after more than 5 hours of road between mountains. But we are stunned when they tell us that it is snowing in the area and for the moment no bus leaves. The minutes, the hours' pass and each time more people arrive from the later turns.
We ask if they know how the situation is and the answer is always the same: "impossible to leave and we do not know when they will resume service". We waited 4 hours, and before the general uncertainty, we decided to change the excursion for the next day. It's 11 o'clock in the morning and we have to find how to fill the day. No problem.
We take the caravan and drive the 15 miles where you can drive with private vehicles inside the Denali Park. We understand right away why the excursions had been canceled. Snowflakes begin to fall, and the landscape becomes white quickly. The white forests have something special. We stop to eat with our caravan in a large parking lot with the mountains in the background. It's what you have to take the house on! We can stop almost where we want.
It starts to snow! We stop again to do a small trail of half a kilometer between the whitewashed forest. We also reached the Savage River, where we found that there is something cooler than the environment: the river water. It's cold! We decided to go back by the same (and only) way, and as if by magic, time changes radically. The sun rises and the colors of the woods take those typical tonalities of autumn. There are greens, yellows, and browns. Spectacular!
We stopped at the Visitor Center of the Denali National Park. It is very modern and functional. There we see many routes to go on foot excursions. We see a short, the Taiga Trail (1'5 km) and we plan to walk. We met very few people and a lot of tranquility.
We return with the caravan to the reception of our campsite. For $ 4 you have the right to a shower and a towel, which helps us recover. We also connect to the internet for a while, since it is the only point in the area where we can find a connection. We settle in our square and make a good dinner of sausages with mashed potatoes. Let's see if tomorrow we can do the planned trip.
Day 5 - We see bears and northern lights
At 07:00 o'clock in the morning we are back in the Wilderness Center (place of departure of the buses), to see if today it is possible to make the trip to Denali. It has snowed again during the night and they tell us that they cannot leave at the set time. We already think we'll have to cancel today's start again, but after 45 minutes the bus finally starts. We are very happy, and that the best is yet to come.
The snowfall has left a spectacular landscape and the sun comes out strongly. The day is expected magnificent. Our driver cum guide does not stop giving us advice and directions during the route. He tells us that if someone sees an animal, shout "stop!"
And this is what happens later. A bear walks peacefully through the forest and enters the path to guide us for a few minutes. In silence, we all get hooked on the windows and the shutters of the cameras begin to sound non-stop. What an impression An authentic bear in freedom!
The route is very well prepared. This is how the Americans are. They like to have a good functioning of their National Parks. They feel proud and they make it known. We would like to have the freedom to move wherever we want, but do not allow the entry of private vehicles. Only in certain places, where they let you camp, but as long as you stay a minimum of days and ask for the corresponding permit.
We make about 4 10-minute stops, each at different points. Some with good views. Our route goes to Eielson Visitor Center, a modern information point, with the powerful Mount McKinley in front. By the way, although they confirm that it is difficult to see it without clouds, we have been photographing it for two days! McKinley or Denali, as they like to call it here. And also The Great One.
We have taken 4 h 15min to get to the middle of the route. That is, we will make a total of just over 8 hours. You can also choose a shorter route of 6 hours (Tokla River) and an even longer one of 11 hours (Wonder Lake).
We still have the luck to see more bears (4 in total, one of them with their two offspring) and the truth is that they impress. Although we have come with a lot of photographic equipment, we miss a lot more powerful telephoto. Any compact camera goes further than ours!
We liked the Park so much that I've asked for a job as a Ranger! I already have a uniform! We are tired of the trip but very happy for the perfect day. We are about to stay one more night in the area, but we decided to continue our route. We arrived at the town of Nenana, where we settled in the Nenana RV Park Campground.
The night is very clear and it is cold. We are tired, but we wait for it to be totally at night. Never in life have we seen a sky with so many stars! We were amazed! We can see the Milky Way above us. I freeze, but I spent a lot of time taking photos outside.
I know another camper who spends long seasons here. And he is an expert in night photography. The man is super equipped (and warmer than me). It's a pleasure to meet another freak! I do not feel so alone. I ask him if maybe today we will see an aurora borealis. He tells me that he has photographed many. We spent a long time under the stars. At times trying to understand us, at times in long silences contemplating the sky.
The camera battery says enough, and it's late. I say goodbye to him and go to sleep. I was about to fall deeply asleep when we hear a knock at the door. What a scare! I open the door and I find our friend who tells us that an aurora is forming! He goes shooting. I put on the first clothes I find, and we went outside. We return to hallucinate with the spectacle that heaven offers us.
The aurora is not very powerful, but it looks like a long serpent of green colors that does not stop moving. We stayed a good while under its movement. We would not go to sleep all night, but when it's half past two and we decided to go to bed. Today has already offered us a lot of fun and, above all, a lot of emotion!
Day 6 - Relax on the road. Chena Hot Spring
Today we woke up a little later, and we took everything very calmly. We had breakfast, emptied the caravan's tanks. We take the route from the town of Nenana to the city of Fairbanks. We take advantage of the fact that at the entrance to the cities there are always shopping centers and gas stations to fill the deposit. We also entered a large supermarket to buy more provisions. But when we go to the center, our GPS takes us to the anecdote of the day.
Suddenly we found a military checkpoint and soldiers stopped the vehicle. We do not understand what happens! They tell us that we cannot go there without special permission. We explain that we only want to visit the city, but makes us turn around, without much explanation.
We do not give up, and we search several streets further to try to get there where the map tells us. But again another control! This soldier is kinder, and he tells us that there is no going to Fairbanks. This is a military base, and that we cannot pass. We appreciate the information, and we turn around until we find some signs that guide us to the center.
Like most cities in Alaska, Fairbanks is not very pretty. There are many wide streets and low buildings, without any charm. Where we find more life is always the Downtown. There we had a meal and snack at a cafe. We try to visit an ice museum recommended by the guide, but when we enter we are told that the cooling system has broken down the day before. It is better not to see the sculptures because they are falling apart!
We see this as a sign to continue our route. We head for the thermal town of Chena Hot Springs, where basically we only find a thermal water center. We take Highway 2 to the Chena Hot Spring Road detour. The road is very beautiful. As we approach our destination, the afternoon offers us wonderful colors. The green, brown and yellow trees accompany us during the 56 miles that the journey lasts. There are several campsites on the banks of the Chena River, where we can sail and enjoy fishing.
We stop at a small point to pause on the road at Red Squirrel State. It is a small lake surrounded by trees and with several tables to sit and picnic. When we arrive at Chena Hot Spring it is already 7 o'clock in the afternoon. We parked our caravan inside the forest, where we are completely alone.
We take a tour of the facilities. It is a spa with thermal waters, where we can bathe in warm waters until late (from 10am to midnight). We discovered that it is full of Japanese people and they even have many Japanese employees to serve the clientele well. We get a washing machine to keep everything clean.
We dined in his restaurant the first hamburger of the trip. Then we decided to have a hot bath. It has already become obscure, but we do not want to miss the opportunity. The facilities disappoint us a bit, as they are quite old. The hot bath outside under the stars is great. It leaves us like new!
And the best is yet to come. We return to the caravan, which we have left a little hidden among the trees. At night the place impresses much more! It was lonely and dark. We dare to leave despite the cold. It was awesome again! A new northern light begins to form. It is authentic as it is molded. We return at two thirty in the morning, and finally, we go to sleep, but again we close our eyes with incredible memories of the day.
Day 7 - North Pole
We begin to notice fatigue. During the day we do not stop, and we do not sleep much! After the visual spectacle of yesterday, and having slept less than 7 hours, we got up and started walking towards Fairbanks again. We begin to descend towards the south. On the way, we stopped in the bizarre town of North Pole (someone had the brilliant idea of baptizing a town with the name of North Pole).
And guess what is the great tourist attraction of the place. Well, here it represents that Santa Claus has his office and receives the letters of all the children of the world. We do not know how many of these offices he must have scattered around the planet. There is a superstore where we can find all kinds of items related to Christmas.
It seems that the magnificent landscapes do not leave us. After Denali National Park, we headed to Wrangell - St. Elias National Park Reserve. The road continues surrounded by mountains and trees of powerful colors.
We make more than one stop on the way to rest a bit and take pictures, and check what we read in more than one guide. Along the rivers and lakes, is full of small flies. And that in September they say there are not so many, but in summer it's much worse!
The day is still clear (we did not believe it) and we have been able to see with total clarity the 3 most important peaks of the Alaska Range: Mt. Deborah (3,761 meters), Hess Mountain(3,639 meters) and Mt. Hayes (4,216 meters) ). We are also impressed by the pipeline that carries the oil that is extracted from the north of Alaska and reaches Valdez, next to the sea. From there it is distributed in the rest of the country by boat.
We return to put gasoline and clean the crystals in the town of Delta Junction, where we are about to stay for the night. But since it's only 6:30 pm, we decided to continue a little longer and finally, we stopped at the Donnelly Creek State Recreation Site.
They are camping areas, where we only find a plot of land delimited by plots. They do not have electricity or showers or any type of service. The purpose is just a place to spend the night. The good thing is that they are in the middle of nature, and they are very cheap.
We had a good time trying to light the fire to make dinner. But we have to tell the truth, we are not able to keep the flame! Finally, we have to cook inside the caravan. Today we expected a very good night for the formation of auroras, but finally, the sky has been blocked. And to be honest, in the forest, at night, we hear a lot of noise that we do not know very well where they come from.
Day 8 - First week of travel
At 4 o'clock in the morning, we started to hear the rain falling on our caravan. At any other time, being in the middle of the forest, completely alone, absolutely in the dark, could seem like a horror story. But just the opposite! We were so happy. We took breakfast very calmly. It is a sacred time for us!
We start under a gray sky, although it does not rain. However, the temperature remains as in the last days: cool during the day and very cold at night. We take the Richardson Hwy to the south, crossing the Alaska Range Mountains. Pipeline accompanies us almost all the time, and we have skimmed the Summit Lake, before reaching the town of Paxson, and the Paxson Lake just after.
The sun peeks out and accompanies us for a while until we reach Glennallen. We found the nerve center of the town, which would become a gas station, a gift shop and the visitor center. Here we took the opportunity to collect information about the excursion we want to do tomorrow at the Wrangell - St. Elias National Park Reserve.
We have also found two trucks: one that serves as a stall to sell fruit and vegetables and another that sells Thai food to take away. We take the opportunity to spend a little on both. We bought apples and peaches, and Thai Food We stopped a few meters ahead, with magnificent views, and took the opportunity to eat.
Roads like the Edgerton Hwy seem to never run out! We continue along the same road, where we stop for a coffee in the only cafe in town, or at least, the only one that is open. We connect to the internet, check the mail. When we finish, we go to Kenney Lake, where there is a campsite to spend the night, with the same name of the town. It's nothing special but it will be good to settle today.
Even Alaska clouds have something special with the Sanford Mountain at the end. We have a small moment of crisis because we want to book the trip for tomorrow to McCarthy and Kennicott. But when we ask the girls who run the campsite, they tell us that they think there are no longer any buses that go to this area of the Wrangell - St. Elias Park. They tell us that they have a phone from where we can call the bus company and we do that.
For a day, we cannot fulfill our plans! Next, we try to call the company that organizes the trekking excursions on the Root Glacier, which is the important part of the excursion. We talk again with the girls and, luckily, they offer to call people. They explain that they no longer make this trip and they confirm that there are no buses and that McCarthy is already closed for being out of season. It is what has to travel in mid-September for these lands!
So, change plans. Tomorrow we will try to get to Valdez, one of the most important towns by the sea, and we will enjoy the tranquility we have when we know there is no hurry.
Day 9 - En route to Valdez
Today we have learned something new. In the morning it can become impossible to fill the water tank of the caravan. We have come across the frozen camping water pipe. We leave to Valdez, towards the south of Alaska, next to the sea. Today we can say that time has completely changed. The rain has accompanied us during the day. We already thought it was amazing that during the first week we had the sun that we now do so much less!
But we also have to say that the visual spectacle is worth it, with the air that the fog and the rain give. We stopped to eat at the foot of the Worthington Glacier and we faced the final straight towards Valdez. Before arriving, we stopped at a couple of waterfalls, the Bridal Veil Falls and the Horsetail Falls.
We cross by the Tsaina River and we stopped at the Horsetail waterfall like any tourist. In Valdez, we located the campsite. After having a snack in the caravan (there has been no way to find any decent cafeteria open throughout the town), we headed to the Dayville Road area. We had read in some forum that at the mouth of the river, in Solomon Gulch, you can see bears fishing and white-headed eagles. Let's see, right?
It is no longer a strong season, but we can still see salmon in the rivers and a white-headed eagle. We did not believe it but we went because we had nothing better to do. Our surprise has been to see a sign at the beginning of the road that alerted the presence of bears and warned not to leave the car. We have been driving along the road very slowly, watching both sides, but as the minutes went by and we did not find any sign of any bear, we were disappointed.
We have seen a pair of white-headed eagles, yes, but we were too far away to see it clearly. We have been stuck with the birds and thinking about going back to the campsite when suddenly, we have seen a huge black bear fishing in the middle of the river! We have spent more than an hour observing and admiring this beautiful animal as it ate salmon and scared the seagulls who wanted to steal his dinner. What a show!
And besides, we were the only spectators present! There are a lot of regulations explaining that you cannot get closer than 90 meters from a bear, but we did not dare to move the caravan, and it was getting closer. We've had it about 25 meters! When it gets dark, we go back to the campsite for dinner and go to bed with the background noise of the rain, which today has been with us all day.
Day 10 - Valdez
Another day that we suffer the consequences of traveling in the low season. We got up in the town of Valdez and decided to have breakfast outside the caravan. We chose the bakery. Only by the name, it sounds good. We want a good cake. And for being the only authentic cafe in town (the rest are restaurants or bars) they do not do anything wrong. We have a very good cinnamon roll and coffee with half a liter of milk.
As we said, we suffer the small inconvenience of traveling out of season. It rains during the whole morning, and we did not finish deciding if to do the route in cruise visiting the Columbia Glacier or not. Since the day is very covered, the excursion is a little expensive. Finally, we think that since we are here we must do it. Well when we enter the offices to reserve it, they tell us that due to the bad weather and that they are about to finish the season, they have decided to close the cruise service.
We are already seeing that many sites do not even meet the schedules that we had consulted online before coming. We assume that since there are no tourists, they close early. We will have to return to the mountain, where they do not have schedules.
Change of plans. We undo part of the road yesterday and left Valdez. Before, we drive again on Dayville Road, the road that runs along the coast (where yesterday we saw a bear). But apart from many seagulls and some sea lion, we do not see anything else.
It rains all morning, and until late afternoon does not stop. We take it with philosophy. It is better to be positive, and during our trips, that is enough for both of us. The meter is already over 1,000 miles! (about 1,500 km). We stop the caravan and eat before the breathtaking views of Lake Atna. What more can we ask? We can not do this at home. 80% of the meals are cooked and eaten inside the caravan. No sandwiches or anything. We eat hot every day. We have meat, pasta, soups with creams. While eating in front of Lake Atna we feel who needs a TV.
A family of ducks crosses the road. We have risked a bit with gasoline (well, in fact, it has been my thing). We have hurried a bit and here we do not find gas stations in each town. It is better to be proactive and not rush. Finally, we stopped at a little girl we saw when we were already lying on the road. And the same thing happened to us when choosing the place to stop for the night.
We had planned a campsite in the village of Glennallen, but we found it closed (yes, again the issue of traveling out of season). We did not suffer much because we can stop the caravan in any corner and sleep, but we like to do it to marked camping areas.
And when we say campsites, do not imagine the typical coast or mountain of our country. They are quite simple. The most complete offer current and water in the square where you park, and a small building with showers and toilets. The simplest, usually belong to the National Parks of the State and are simple plots. Nothing else. In fact, there is no one to oversee them. You place yourself in the place you like and deposit $ 10 in a metal mailbox.
We are lucky to see another Bald Eagle. Well, it was getting dark and we do not know where to stop to sleep. Looking at the guide, we read that by Lake Louise we would find the Lake Louise Recreation Area. It is a free camping position. It took us a long time to get there because the road was not very good. But despite being very lost, we were surprised to see many cars when we arrived (well, they were all SUVs, most of them with trailers).
Suddenly, we found a couple of cars standing before us, and immediately we understood that there was an animal in sight. Of course! A group of deer has been planted on the road before our eyes. What an illusion. We are going to take pictures!
We prepare the camera and we are ready to get out of the car, just as the drivers in front of us do and another who has stopped behind. But the surprise has been when instead of cameras, they have opened the doors and have all left with rifles larger than our caravan. My God, they are all hunters. Now we understand everything! Pick-ups are for loading the hunted animals. Luckily, once we reached the camping area, a sign prohibited entry with firearms. We already saw ourselves sleeping surrounded by 20 uncles armed to the teeth.
Day 11 - On the Matanuska Glacier
Yesterday we did well to advance kilometers until we reached the place where we slept. The Lake Louise State Recreation Area has been a good choice. It is the typical camping place that we are meeting these days. Quiet, with lots of space and surrounded by nature. In this case next to the huge Lake Louise, where we have taken a walk before continuing the route. We make the 19 miles that separate us from the Glenn Highway and go to Palmer.
It's raining, and we stop to put gas at mile 128. There we found the restaurant cum lodge. As the universal flood begins to fall and it's been a long, windy day, we decided to start making a very hot coffee. We love the place. It's the typical American town cafe, with the tables and bar that we are used to seeing in the movies.
Only the place is full of hunters, all dressed the same in military clothing, and cap. They are bearded and pot-bellied. I think it shows quickly that we are not from Wisconsin, precisely. We decided to make a brunch and eat something. We order a hamburger and a cinnamon roll.
We continue forward with a full stomach. We are going to visit the Matanuska Glacier, one of the ones with the easiest access. At mile 102 we find the entrance to Glacier Park. It is an unpaved road and with all the rain that falls, it is turning into a bumpy mud. We go down very carefully. We even hesitate when crossing a narrow wooden bridge. We arrived at a kind of wooden building, half store-half park office. It turns out that the road to access the glacier is private, and we must pay $ 20 per person to pass.
We drive another 2 miles until we hit a huge glacier. What a feeling. In front of the caravan, we have one of the largest glaciers in the United States. The pity is that it does not stop raining, and the sky is very covered. What can we do! We decided to do a 1/4 mile walk until we reached the base of the glacier. The road is full of mud and water, and the rain begins to leave us well soaked, but we only look forward, towards the huge expanse of ice that seems gigantic.
There comes a point where it indicates that continuing is everyone's responsibility because it can be a bit dangerous. We walk a little on the ice until we see that it starts to slip too much. In fact, I am about to fall on my ass, and the truth is that the contact of ice on the skin is not very pleasant. We enjoy the views for a while, but we go back, soaked to the bone!
As always, we must have a photographic memory of our step. We make more road, with much attention, since the rain causes small rock slides on the road. Finally, around 6 pm, the clouds open and the sun appears. At last! We were waiting for it with so much desire that it seems like a magical vision.
We arrived in the city of Palmer. It's a little bigger than we were used to lately. As we see that there is a supermarket and they have a gas station, we take advantage of purchases and fill the deposit up. The first day of travel we took out a customer card and we have to take advantage of the discount they give us!
We searched the campsite Mountain View RV Park, which we had read was fine. We arrived just as it begins to get dark. They have electricity and wifi so we can load the pots. Very often we have to look for a library or a bar that has wifi to connect us.
Day 12 - In Palmer, with a little social life
We needed it! After so much nature and seeing very few people, it has been good to return to the city atmosphere. Well, the city is a saying. Palmer is small, but at the moment it is the city that we liked most of the trip. Typical wide streets and space everywhere, separate the buildings with huge tracts of land. As you can tell we have plenty. We ask for information at the Visitor Center. We look at gift shops, and we eat at the cafeteria cum restaurant that we love. Eating with other people from time to time is not so unpleasant.
How are these Americans? They even take money from ATMs without leaving the car. In Palmer we find a sculpture marking the distance in miles to many parts of the planet. Today it has not rained all day, and that has helped us a lot. We still have a lot of clothes drying from yesterday's flood.
We cover kilometers and go back to Anchorage, the city where we started the route. We do not stop. We will return to step on the last day. We continue along Highway 1 until we enter the Turnagain Arm, a long tongue of the sea inland.
There are plenty of viewpoints and places to stop for walks. At mile 111'9 we find the McHugh Creek Picnic Area. There we left the caravan and we went through the forest by one of the several treks. The trails are well marked and the forest is dense and full of vegetation. The posters that warn of the presence of bears create a strange sensation to us.
It is a mixture of wanting to meet one and at the same time not crossing any. Some hikers carry bells hanging to make a continuous noise. We will have to buy one! We circled a small river until we reached the starting point. It is a simple walk, but you can choose longer and more complicated trips.
Further on, in Birds Point Scenic Overlook, we stop to see the rise of the tide. It is pure mathematics. On the internet, we saw that at 17: 32h the sea level would rise, and we would match it to see it live. This is one of the best spots in the world where you can see the rapid change of the tide. It's amazing. At the time you see how a small wave goes into what was beach until a moment ago and gradually floods the entire length.
We enter the Kenai Peninsula. It was getting late and we do not know where to spend the night. We decided to do it in a free camping area, but due to some works on the road, we passed the point of entry. Every day we find some area of works. They do not stop to fix the roads and they have everything super well organized and signposted. Finally, we see a couple of moose, but we cannot stop and take pictures.
A little further on we find a campsite that looks good, and although it is already 8:00 pm and it starts to get dark. We find a friendly receptionist who tells us where to stand. The place is small, but we are among the mountains of the Kenai Peninsula.
Day 13 - Exit glacier
Today is the second day we visited a glacier, and again we enjoy seeing so close a huge mass of ice. After leaving the Renfro's Lakeside Retreat campsite (as these Yankees like the long names), we start the caravan towards the city of Seward (one of the most important on the Kenai Peninsula). Before, we deviated from Highway 9 (mile 3.7) in Exit glacier direction, located in Kenai Fjords National Park. A small road of just over 8 miles leads to a parking area from where different trekkings to approach the ice.
The rain again accompanies us, and on the way along the road, we meet a hiker who made the route on foot towards the glacier. He looks at us with a sad face and lifts his finger hitchhiking. We stop to pick him up. The poor man is soaked and he has a huge backpack. But how do you want to do more than 12 kilometers walking? He's from Boston and he's making a route through Alaska alone. We share a caravan until we reach the parking lot.
He tells us he wants to do the longest trek, the Harding Icefield Trail, but we settle for a shorter walk. We want to reach the point called The Edge of the Glacier. It is a very beautiful route, with a slight slope that leads us to find you close to the huge piece of ice. We see some signs that mark the extent of the glacier in different years, and we quickly realize the retreat suffered by the ice.
The rain does not help much to make the journey, but we do not care! We had a good time in front of the huge mass of ice, which has such characteristic bluish colors. When we return to the caravan it has already been more than 2 and a half hours.
We take advantage that we have the caravan parked to visit the city. The main street with restaurants and shops and the port on one side. We went to eat something light in a mix of pastry and coffee shop.
We go in the motorhome to the campsite where we will sleep. We have it written down on our list, and it is on the outskirts of the city. Looks very good. When we arrived, we made a mistake and that allows us to see all the facilities. Hell, in addition to the camping area has cabins and wooden buildings, hotel type. We entered the reception decided to stay. The answer of an intriguing lady to our question of whether there is a place tonight is: "Are you from the military? It turns out that we have gone to a camping area and only military rooms.
We return to Seward, and camp just in front of the sea, in an area that the city has ready for campers. It's not bad at all. We move the caravan so that the window of the bed hits the water. It is very true what our friends told us, who visited Alaska a few years ago. The best views, if you visit this territory, are always from the campers!
Day 14 - Seward
Surely we exaggerated, but today it has not been raining precisely what has fallen in the city of Seward, but a good storm! In the middle of the night, we heard how a monumental storm was falling. And we were next to the sea. To be honest, more than once I wondered if I had put the handbrake well.
Already in the morning, we have seen that it would be impossible to go sailing through the Kenai Fjords, which was what we had planned to do. What do we do? Are we waiting for another day in case the weather changes? Do we continue the route?
It is best to decide while we make a good breakfast. We take a walk under the umbrella and go to the coffee shop in the center of the city. They have a nice atmosphere and wifi. The receptionist told us that a good storm is coming to the area, and when we explained that we wanted to go out by boat, she laughed and let go of the typical phrase: This is Alaska, guys!
A heavy rain begins to fall and a lot of wind is blowing. The storm is approaching. We decided to visit the Sealife Center, a kind of small oceanarium where they have several species of fish, birds and other animals in the area. But as I had the great idea of going to breakfast on foot, we have been soaked. The streets seemed like streams. The water came down hard and crossing the sidewalk was an impossible mission, apart from breaking the umbrellas! We have entered the Sealife thinking that they confused us with seals and closed us in the pool.
The place is not very big, but you can see several aquariums with many species of fish. The pity is that they are doing several renovations and have some exhibitions closed. But we must also say that, consequently, they have charged us half the price of the ticket.
The movement of the jellyfish hypnotizes the eyes. After extending the visit as much as we could, I had to go find the caravan, which was on the other side of Seward. We have been watching the street for a long time from the doors of the Sealife Center as if someone had to disconnect a switch and make the rain stop. I went out to look for the caravan. I have arrived at the campsite as if I had done a marathon, and it was soaked up and down. The gusts of wind were brutal, and it cost to drive the caravan.
We want to find a good restaurant to eat. We deserve it. The light of the city has gone. We surround in a caravan through the streets, but nobody has light. Does not matter! We have the house with wheels, and the fridge full of stocks. We stop between two streets to not notice the wind so much and prepare a good meal. In fact, now that we think about it, we even needed it. We are very tired, and we do not stop doing things every day. A little rest is fine.
The light returns, and we want to make a coffee, but many places have not reopened, and others close too soon for us. We go to a supermarket. We take advantage and buy meat to make dinner. We re-installed at the same campsite last night, the Waterfront Park, but this time we moved a little further from the water.
Day 15 - We left Seward
What a strange day. Normally the holidays have it where we do not have anything reserved nor do we know where we will stop. But this route through Alaska still accentuates it more. Having the motorhome to travel, allows us a freedom of movement so great that sometimes it is difficult to decide where we are going. And that's what happened to us today.
It was seen that our stay in the city of Seward must be through the water. We get up raining, and we will have breakfast again in the center, but this time with the caravan. We do not want to get soaked again. We synchronize the breakfast with a laundry (we wash and dry the clothes while we make a good breakfast!).
In the area where we camped, we found a white-headed eagle that flies through the fog. And we already thought that we could not leave Seward because the road was practically flooded, but it has been leaving the city behind, and the rain has stopped.
We take the Sterling Hwy, a very beautiful road. We return to enjoy the colors of trees, rivers, and lakes, such as the Tern Lake. We assume that it is time to finish the fishermen, as we see a lot of picking up on the banks of the Kenai River, with wonderful turquoise waters. We have a hard time deciding where to stop, where to go, where to turn. Not because we do not like what we see, but quite the opposite. We want to see everything and discover every corner.
We stop in a corner, next to the river and we eat some salads. In supermarkets, you can prepare it to your liking and buy them by weight. At night we arrive at the city of Soldotna. Like all of Alaska, when entering we find the gas stations and generic stores. We stopped in a very curious mixture of the pastry shop and gift shop. I enjoyed like crazy of shirts, pajamas, hats, stickers, pins, key rings. Everything with the face of these animals.
We fill the gasoline and again we doubt where to spend the night. Most of the campsites that we have in the guide are closed by the end of the season. But since many are not on the main road, we have entered the forest area of the town of Kasilof. There, we met a mother and a baby moose, and of course, we love a good time. We stop the engine and let them eat very close to us.
Finally, and almost without knowing how, we arrived at a free camping area, but it seems closed. Still, it's very late and it's almost night. We decided to camp, although we are not entirely sure. The place is too far apart, and at night, it seems more disturbing than it surely is. And above we found another moose, eating by the campsite. And the colors of the sky take a force.
The light goes away, and the forests have a ghostly air. Alone, totally at night, and the typical sounds of the forest.
Day 16 - From Kasilof to Homer
It was not the lion as fierce as he painted. We have spent the night without knowing where we had gone, and with the feeling of being lost. But this morning the day has started splendidly, and we have seen that we had camped at Crooked Creek State Recreation Site, next to the Kasilof River. We took the opportunity to stretch our legs and go for a walk. And we have also found out that all these camping areas seem deserted and closed. This week the official fishing season has ended!
Every day it is harder for us to get up. The batteries are no longer charged. The next stop, continuing on Sterling Road, has been at Clam Gulch. From a camping area we can go down to the beach. The vision is fantastic. A small river reaches the sea. The low tide has allowed us a long walk, and all the time we have been accompanied by the perfect view of the Redoubt and Iliamna volcanoes as a background.
Today's route promises. Another picturesque spot: the Russian Orthodox Church and the cemetery next to it, next to the small town of Ninilchik. We approach the Old Village (the old part) of this town, a unique enclave, where the Russian community was established when Alaska belonged to Russia. They knew what they were doing. Surely they were very cold, but what views they had.
Precisely we continued a little more but decided to stop to eat at the restaurant with Michelin stars, with the volcanoes in the background. The day is so clear that the peaks are perfectly visible. Ah! We already missed days like these!
We want a photo of the 3 with Redoubt volcano in the background! The clear day allows us to see the top of the Iliamna volcano. We continue along the road until we reach the tourist city of Homer. Well, let's say it again, tourist should be in summer. But we found different restaurants, shops, and open services. We started by entering the information office.
There they explain to us what to do and see in the city. We try to burn a last cartridge of excursion. We hire a plane flight to reach the Katmai National Park since there are no roads. We want to see more bears. But most companies (and there are many) have already closed, and those that do not want to fly because the weather forecast is not clear.
To compensate, we will have a snack at the magnificent Bakery. We settled in the Driftwood Park campground, overlooking the sea. It is one of the most complete services, but also the most expensive. The average price during our route goes from $ 10 in the simplest camping areas, to the 35 in the most complete, passing by not paying anything in different free zones. But it's still early and we cannot stop.
We drive through all the streets of the town to see what it offers us. We pass by the beautiful Lake Beluga, where are the different companies that organize excursions. It is full of seaplanes. The town has another area of activity, full of restaurants and shops, the Homer Spit. It is a land language that juts out over Kachemak Bay. Pretty. A narrow road with water on both sides (more or less high, depending on the tide), and where we can see some marine animals. They tell us that it is a good place to see eagles, but we did not find any.
Since we are there, we reserve a table for tomorrow, what they tell us is the best restaurant in town. We decided that tonight we will only eat something light but in the village. It's time to dine out of the caravan. We take a walk and we are attracted by the cafe, where we see people waiting. It must be good! We have no reservation, but they offer us a good table right away.
We want some sandwich and salad, but when we see the letter it has nothing to do with this. The dishes that we see in the rest of the tables are huge. Everything seems magnificent. Fresh fish, good meat, great dessert menu. They forced us to eat like gluttons! A few salads of first, and ribs and fresh fish of the area. And we finished it off with a cake that we did not understand what it was made of,
We arrived with the bellies too full in the campsite. What a feast. Now we do not know whether to cancel the restaurant tomorrow night. We were behaving well in our caravan and now we will eat all the stocks of the town of Homer!
Day 17 - Homer
We woke up at Homer's Driftwood Park campsite. We began to intuit the end of our route, and today we have had that feeling more than any other day. Homer will be our last town to visit on the route through Alaska. Then we will make our way back to Anchorage, from where our flight departs. But to celebrate, we went to have a brunch, this meal that Americans have "invented" for the weekends. It is a mixture of breakfast and lunch.
What they do not know is that we already did this when we woke up on Sundays after the Saturday night party. But hey, we repeated at our favorite bakery of Homer. I have eaten a fantastic Moroccan soup with chicken and vegetables and a Sticky Ban. You can imagine what it was like!
After the brunch and since it was a great day we have walked everywhere. We have visited the Farmer's Market that they do every Saturday morning in Homer. They set up stalls where they sell local products and craftsmen. It is tiny but quite authentic.
We are approaching the Split of Homer, a tongue of land that enters the sea, and today we have been able to see eagles! As the tide was low, we have been able to get close enough to one of them, who has been photographed for a long time. Although we have not dared to go further offshore for fear of getting stuck in the mud! And I have once again missed missing a more powerful telephoto lens.
We also take a walk around the port of Homer. It is full of moorings and boats. Many bars and restaurants are also concentrated here.
In Homer Spit there are bars decorated with one dollar bills. After the wildlife session, we climbed up a mountain of about 300 meters, which is next to Homer on the East Hill Road. From here there are great views of the whole town, the mountains on the other side of the bay and even the Dixon, Portlock and Grewingk glaciers.
And to finish off, we have taken a walk around the shops of the town. We've hung out until dinner time and we've finally decided to dine at the restaurant we had booked. Yesterday we ended up with full bellies, but today it also promises.
We almost arrived late at the restaurant. We sit at a table overlooking the sea, and the girl who attends us is super-friendly. We decided on a small starter, salads, and fish. It was the salmon, a kind of cod and the Rockfish. We have riddled the girl with questions. They have many kinds of everything, fish, sauces, accompaniments. She asks us what sauce we want for the salad, and we want her to explain each one. She has brought us a sample of all with the name pointed.
For us, it is very early (we have just had dinner at 9:30 p.m.), but we are the last to leave the restaurant. Although we understand that it is better for everything. We will miss the town of Homer.
Day 18 - Homer
We recognize it today we have broken one of the unofficial rules to try not to repeat restaurants, cafeterias, and services, to see the maximum possible number. But we have returned to breakfast at the Bakery in Homer. We liked it so much that we could not choose another one. We have passed in front of a pair that looked good, but they treat us so well. We have even bought provisions for the snack we will make during the route.
This route has consisted of undoing much of the road already made before to get closer to Wasilla, the place where we will return tomorrow our beloved motorhome. By the way, maybe we have not said it, but everywhere we see caravans like ours. It seems enormous to us, but you have to travel in authentic transatlantic with wheels. For much of today's journey, we have remembered times and places where we had stopped to make the road for the first time. We realized that we were talking as if we had been in Alaska for 3 months, and today is the 18th!
We put gasoline back into the bug (when we finish the route we will count expenses). For the first time we filled the propane tank (we must return the caravan with all the tanks full). It is the gas that has served us to cook, operate the refrigerator and heating. The truth is that we thought we would spend more, but it has not been bad. We have eaten, like most days, in a very nice area. We have calculated quite well the stocks that we had.
In the area of Russian Lake, we have seen a huge bear on the road and fleeing into the forest. We have not had time to open the mouth that has already shot, but this has excited us. We have entered the secondary roads of the area, hoping to see some more animals. We see monkeys! But apart from getting lost, we have not seen anything (well, only beautiful landscapes, that as they are the daily bread and we think it is the most normal thing in the world, as we have become so spoiled).
The waters of the Anchor River came down with red tones. We see another of Alaska's many lakes, the Arc Lake. Later we stop again to also make the last snack in the caravan. How we like these moments. The day ends and we stop at the only campsite we have found open. We have preferred not to make camping area to have internet and look at things that we need to book to continue the route.
But we have gone to a pretty place, without any service or wifi. We will not be able to dismiss our caravan with the place it deserved. But we suppose that it will not take it into account, after sleeping, like us, in places that have seemed spectacular to us. We started to collect things, which we have distributed throughout all the cabinets and we ordered a good part of the luggage. Last night with our beloved motorhome. We will miss her very much.
Day 19 - Goodbye to our caravan
Today has been a sad day. We must say goodbye to our traveling companion during this entire route through Alaska. The day comes to return the motorhome. How difficult it was to collect all the things that we had scattered through drawers and put them back in the suitcase. And that we try to travel with the minimum possible! In addition, we have left it super-clean!
We drive to the city of Wasilla, where is the caravan rental company (well, in fact, it is the owner's house), and we are already on time. As we love everything, we have hours left. In addition, we need to look for a Dump Station (the place where to empty the water tanks of the caravans), since the camping where we have slept did not have, and that has annoyed us the plans. Finally, we found one at the entrance to the city of Anchorage.
The Milepost guide is great to find everything we need during the route. We are unable to make a trip. We continue stopping in forests and lakes to take a photo. It is very difficult to say goodbye to so much nature.It is understood why it is called Mirror Lake.
Finally, we meet the girl in charge of the caravan business. She returns us with her car to Anchorage, the most important city of Alaska, and where we will spend one last night. The trip lasts almost an hour, but we fill it out explaining our anecdotes of the trip.
We arrived at our Bed and Breakfast, and after leaving the suitcases we visited, as we did the first day of the route, downtown Anchorage. The city seems another! We see it bigger and more full of life, but we know that it is due to the route we have taken for the rest of the State. Now to see 5 people together and we think it is a crowd (we have been so alone). We even entered a shopping center, and visited shops of all kinds. Among them the Apple Store, where we love to play with the latest iPhone model.
We eat in a Chinese restaurant and have a snack in the cafe. We approach the sea and visit a gift shop. If we got to know that this store existed, we would have traveled with less luggage and a good part we would have bought it here!
We go back to our B&B, and we put on a washing machine. But we do not calculate that we want to go to dinner and we only have the sweatpants clean (the rest is still washing). It may seem silly, but we dare not enter the restaurant where we had planned to dine and say goodbye to Alaska. It is a little "elegant". So we entered F Street, more "bar" type, where they watch a football game on TV, and the atmosphere is great.
Filled full, we found a couple of places in the bar just in front of the cook. It's quite a spectacle to see him prepare a lot of different dishes. We chose good American cheeseburgers to end the day, a glass of wine and beer from Alaska. And how easy it is to establish a conversation with these people!
Let's sleep with our typical knot in the stomach before catching a flight. Tomorrow at noon we fly, but not home yet. We will visit the other American state that is also separated from the other states: Hawaii.
Day 20 - Goodbye Alaska, Aloha Hawaii
And today comes the day to finally say goodbye to Alaska. Our plane leaves at 2pm. So we decided that it is not worth leaving the B&B. We got up a little later than normal (we went to sleep very late) and we make a good breakfast. The owner of the house, already said goodbye yesterday (today had to leave early), but has left us a good banquet prepared. We take it very calmly. Too much maybe! A little more and the taxi driver to take us to the airport catches us preparing the bags.
It has been 20 days of a great experience, visiting the so-called Last Frontier, and we perfectly understand this definition.
We have plenty of time to avoid suffering (something strange in us), and this time we have no problem when passing security checks. We carry the minimum possible luggage, and in the same queue, there are people with a lot of bags and packages. Some with boxes and boxes of frozen fish that they take home after fishing days. Here they seem to have everything under control.
When we arrive at our boarding gate we lower the average age of the flight by about 40 years! Of course, Hawaii is one of the preferred destinations for American retirees to spend a few days relaxing. The flight lasts about 6 hours, and we landed without any problem in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu. We are already in another dream destination.
We have already reached Waikiki Beach in Honolulu! But this will be another story. It has been many sleepless hours to explain our trip through Alaska, but we are very happy with the result. In fact, our initial idea was to complete the route with maps, routes and more information, but we did not have more time. In short, we continue with the good life, and soon we will add more detailed information about our route through Hawaii.