Sunday, July 31, 2022

Seward to Homer

We woke to a beautiful day in Seward.  The sun was shining on the bay and we both had slept well. We sat and had coffee with our neighbors, some of whom were motorcyclists.  Perfect morning.  

We rode 35 miles up the Seward Highway to the Sterling Highway.  From there we rode 160 miles down the Kenai Peninsula. The sun was out and temps stayed in the low to mid 60’s. We passed by a few glaciers, some cool small towns—like Ninilchik and Soldotna—and some really nice mountains. 

Ah, but the view coming into Homer……the Kachemak Bay right off the Cook Inlet.  Truly stunning.  

We grabbed some chow at a local brewery then rode down to the Spit…

Cool Factoid: The Homer Spit is a geographical landmark located outside of Homer, on the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula. The spit is a 4.5-mile long piece of land jutting out into Kachemak Bay. Cool The Spit features the longest road into ocean waters in the entire world, taking up 10–15 minutes to cover by car.

We found a decent campsite, where I’d stayed in 2014, though now it was much different, much larger, much more crowded.  Though we couldn’t camp right on the beach, we were only a few yards away.  We walked on the beach and stepped into the frigid water…just an incredible experience.  Again, we chatted with fellow motorcyclists, who were also staying at the campground, about routes and roads.  

We walked up the coast to find some grub and skipped the famous Salty Dawg for Finn’s Pizza.  The view? Again, incredible.  

Sure, Homer, like the rest of Alaska—and the world, really—has become more touristy.  Still, it’s an amazing place chock full of natural beauty.  

Total mileage today was under 200 miles.  

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Standing by for the ferry to Whittier

We were awake  by 4am, packing up and riding to the ferry terminals.  Standing by—literally—for the ferry to Whittier.  

We paid for the tickets —$210 for bike and passenger, each—and got in line to board.  The ferry was fully booked but the guys at the counter told us we had a “good chance” of getting on. He wished us luck and sent us to the loading area.  

Rain was expected—and the grey skies looked like they wanted to drizzle—but it remained dry and 49 degrees.  

A ferry ride from Valdez to Whittier:

So we were allowed passage…

After waiting an hour, while other vehicles loaded, we were given the green light to board.  We pulled the bikes between cars and RVs and strapped the bikes to the floor using provided tie-down straps, even though we’d brought our own, and went upstairs for coffee and seating in the comfortable passenger lounge.  

Breakfast was being served and biscuits and gravy were on the menu.  Now this is the way to travel!

We found window seats with views of the many islands, glaciers and snowy mountains and settled in for the 5-hour ferry ride,

I napped on and off and stared out at Prince William Sound, surrounded by glaciated fjords and inlets.  While we didn’t see any whales, we did see an otter and lots of floating ice. The smallest pieces of glacial ice in the water are called "growlers” and the bigger pieces are called "berglets.”

Upon arrival to Whittier, we took part in the controlled chaos that is the unloading of cars, trucks, RVs…and just two motorcycles…ours.  We rode right over to the railway tunnel and waited about 30 minutes for all of the larger vehicles to pass, then they allowed motorcycles to ride through the 2 1/2 mile tunnel.  Because bikes ride between the rails, we had to be very careful. 

We then rode 85 miles down the Kenai Peninsula to the town of Seward.  We grabbed some seafood, including the chowder we’d been craving, then set up tents at a nearby campground, overlooking Derby Cove, off of Resurrection Bay.  The campers near us stated they watched whales passing by earlier in the day so I do hope we get to see some.  A light rain started falling just minutes after the tents went up.  

The rest of the day was spent cleaning up,  catching up on emails and chatting with our fellow campers.  

Total mileage for the day—excluding the ferry ride—was less than 90 miles.  

Photos to follow…poor cell service.  

Friday, July 29, 2022

(Another) Down Day in Valdez

Well, I messed this one up.  We went to check into tonight’s ferry ride to Whittier…and were promptly informed that the next sailing is tomorrow morning.  Doh!!

We did laundry, re-checked into a local hotel, re-washed these bikes (I seriously doubt they’ll ever look clean again) and went over to the Salmon Creek Hatchery to watch the salmon, birds and sea lions fighting for dinner…or their lives, depending.    There are often bears there feeding on the millions of Coho and Pink salmon, but none were there today. 

Earlier in the day we’d met fellow travelers, Travis and Ashley from Minnesota. Well, we met up again at a local brewery and had a great time swapping stories   They’re a very fun couple   

Hey, if you’ve gotta be stuck in a town for two days, Valdez isn’t too bad a place to be.

Let’s hope we get on the ferry early tomorrow as we’re on the standby list…

Chitina to McCarthy, Kennecott to Valdez

Today was a good day if a little tiring.  Mistakes were made, deals were struck, beers were downed, friends were met, adventures were had.  

We left Chitina (pronounced CHITnuh) at about 9 o’clock…and immediately came upon a big moose in the road.  After a few seconds it jumped into a nearby pond and watched us suspiciously. 

The 60 mile road to McCarthy that we’d been warned about wasn’t too bad at all.  It was an old rail line that was dug up and now vehicles use it as the only access to McCarthy.  It turned out that only 45 miles of the road was unpaved and it went pretty quickly.  And even better, we were riding through the Wrangell–St. Elias National Park—the biggest NP in the US, making up 15% of all national park land in the US.  

Upon arrival, those visitors in cars, trucks and RVs must park and walk across a long passenger bridge into town.  Those with bicycles and motorcycles can ride across, and we did.  There’s a big fat glacier (Kennicott Glacier, I dare you to challenge my spelling) off to the left and it’s pretty amazing to see.  

The town is small and rustic, maybe a tad touristy, but definitely dated.  There weren’t too many visitors there and we just walked Main Street and got back on our bikes.  We rode about a mile up to the Kennecott copper mine.  

The Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark includes the land and mining claims that formed the Kennecott Copper Corporation: the mines where ore was extracted from the mountains, and the mill town where the ore was processed. The mine and processing mill was active between 1911 and 1938.  Over its 30-year operation, $200 million in ore was extracted from the mine, making it the richest concentration of copper ore in the world.

On an unrelated side note, we spied a lone red Honda CRF 300 motorcycle that we immediately knew belonged to a certain world traveling Dutch gal named Noraly who goes by the moniker of Itchy Boots.  If you haven’t seen her YouTube videos, please check them out.  We didn’t meet her then as she was on a tour of the glacier. 

We rode up to the mining area and old town, currently in full restoration mode.  We spoke with other motorcyclists then headed out of Kennecott and McCarty and back toward Chitina with a final destination of Valdez.  

While stopping for fuel in Kenny Lake, Norally pulled up to the pumps and I snapped a quick photo with her.  Badass? Adventurer? Yes on both counts.  

Now, here are the day’s two minor glitches: Steve ran out of gas just 15 miles before Valdez.  I rode into town, got fuel and was back in no time.  Then, upon arriving to Valdez, we rode down to the ferry terminal where we were supposed to catch a 7am ferry to Whittier tomorrow morning.  Issue #2: The ferry leaves at 7pm.  Doh!!  So we get to explore Valdez tomorrow.   Not a bad deal, I suppose.  

We rode about 245 miles today.  

Enjoy the photos.  But do look into Itchy Boots.