Part 12: Kenai to Lake Eklutna, AK.


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The Trip

We spent 2 days at Captain Cook State Park and then we headed further out on to the Kenai Peninsula to Homer. From Homer, we went to Seward, Whittier and then set our sights on Palmer. But, we got a big surprise en route. A one-in-a-million failure nearly fried our engine and stranded us at the side of the road.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Near Ninilchik, we spotted these bald eagles.

I pulled over to get a better shot, but they never got that close.

There is an odd plant up here called Cow Parsnip. I was told that the juice is mildly toxic and the stuff was everywhere. It develops these odd heads as part of its growth cycle.

Power clamming at Clam Gulch. One fellow is up to his elbows, literally. The low tide allowed going after the large razor clams.

We headed down the road toward Homer and when we hit the scenic overlook, the view was awesome.

When we got to our camp site, we went to the beach to see what was happening. Looking south, we could see a small bay with tons of driftwood.

The Homer Spit is in the center of the photo. Homer has great views of the glaciers and claims to have the best halibut fishing in the world.

From the beach below our camp site, we could see Mt. Iliamna volcano across Cook Inlet. The volcano is 10,016 feet tall, so it can be seen from great distances across the water.

Next day, we decided to head into Homer and see what was there. On our way to the Spit, we passed the float plane landing lake.

The Spit had plenty of shops and restaurants and at the end of the gravel bar, there were plenty of folks trying there luck at fishing.

While the water was very cold, there were still a few folks kite surfing.

On the way out of Homer toward Soldotna, we got a reasonably clear view of the Mt. Redoubt volcano across Cook Inlet. Redoubt is still active and has an altitude of 10,197 feet.

We spent the night at the Centennial Park in Soldotna. The camp area was a city park and it was cheap and clean. And, as a plus, it was right on the Kenai River. Across the river from our camp were some nice homes.

From Soldontna, we headed south toward Seward. Near Moose Pass, we got some nice views of the nearby mountains.

At Seward, we checked out the view and then went into Ray's restaurant for oysters, fish and chips.

South of Seward, we spotted this nice waterfall coming down the cliffs right into the ocean.

Seward is a working city and has the ability to load ships with coal with the conveyer belt machine. Seward is also a port of call for some of the cruise ships that travel the Alaskan waters. One was in port when we arrived.

We went south of town to a place called Miller's Landing. The landing had a camp area, but they did not have their "stuff" together. They took our $36 for the site (which is pretty steep) and then came by 90 minutes later and told us that the site they gave us was reserved for somebody else. Since we had already set up and would have to tear down to move, we elected to just mosey on. The place was not that clean, so the decision was pretty easy. But, the view from their beach was pretty nice.

From our short stay camp site, we had a nice view of the bay north of Seward.

To the south we had a nice view of the mountains on the other side of the bay.

The port of Seward has a terminal for the Alaska Railroad and they carry plenty of cargo. Above, two cargo barges are towed by tugs toward the Gulf of Alaska.

We left Seward in a huff and traveled north back toward Soldotna. Near Moose Pass, we found a trail from the highway that lead to the banks of the Snow River. We did have to engage 4x4 to get to where we camped but it was not that hard. We set up on a gravel bar on the banks of the river. Kathleen made fried chicken and we watched a DVD and had a very pleasant evening, lack of beach camp notwithstanding.

Next morning, we headed north over Moose Pass and got a nice view of reflections in Kenai Lake in the morning light.

On a whim, based only on a sign post, we decided to go to Whittier. Along the way, we spotted this soft-ground dump truck.

The road to Whittier goes past Portage Glacier, and many others. Note the light blue color of the water due to the rock flour from the glacial runoff.

While waiting for the shared-use tunnel, we got to see many glaciers. Note the multiple waterfalls and the large crevices in the photo above.

Another glacier visible from the tunnel parking lot.

Whittier is on the other side of a large ridge and the only way to get there is through the 2.5 mile shared-use tunnel. Railroad tracks run through the center of the roadway. The train went first, then oncoming, then we went south. The wait was about 45 minutes.

Some of the glaciers were quite spectacular.

We went through the tunnel and exited right into the small town of Whittier. Whittier is also a port of call for a number of cruise ships, like this one from Princess.

Did I mention that Whittier is small? How small? So small that the coast guard office is this old railroad caboose.

A lot of fishing is done from Whittier and where there are fishermen, there are seagulls.

From the small jetty, you can see many waterfalls on the opposing cliffs. Kathleen enjoys the sun and mild temperature.

One of the tourist shops had a reindeer in a cage. He totally ignored us and was completely focused on eating the weeds.

Look at the hooves on this guy.

The small boat harbor at Whittier. The Island Princess is visible in the distance.

We took a side road out of Whittier and got this nice view of where a local creek hits the ocean.

The glaciers close to town were an imposing sight. Scary actually.

Back through the tunnel, we returned to the Portage Glacier area.

The lake at the bottom of Portage Glacier had some interesting ice flows.

Houston, we have a problem. We were climbing up Eklutna Lake road toward our camp for the night and I HAD to execute a bio-break. When I hopped from the cab I noticed that the engine oil was gushing onto the ground. I stopped the engine immediately and never heard the sound of the motor change. And since, plenty of oil flowed from the hole after the engine was stopped, there was probably no damage to the motor. That would have to be proven once we get the hole addressed and more oil in the engine. This hollow bolt was part of the pre-luber oil intake that was installed more than 10 years ago. It seems that the nut inside the oil pan decided to come loose.

We managed to get a ride from a fellow on Eklutna Lake road and he took us into town to get oil. But, the real issue was what to do about patching the hole. Two choices were apparent: reinstall the hollow bolt or remove it and patch the hole with some type of plug. Since the truck was basically level and we were in a safe location, we decided to sleep on it and decide tomorrow.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2009, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.