The last 400 miles of the Alaska Highway took us through some of the more remote areas of our trip so far. Towns and services were fewer and farther between. There were still some spectacular views and a few special sites. Unfortunately, the closer we got to the US border, the worse the road conditions became.
We made a couple of stops early on that first day – first at the Tetlin Wildlife Refuge and then at Tok, the first Alaskan town of any size. After getting some more information at the Visitor Center, we replaced the produce we lost at the border and headed south out of town on the Glenn Highway (aka Tok Cutoff) toward Valdez. With the skies still gray and rainy the next couple of days, we could read about amazing views of the Wrangell Mtns in the distance, but couldn’t see them through the clouds. By mid-day on Friday, we arrived at Blueberry Lake State Park, concerned that we needed an early arrival to ensure finding a space
Making our way north out of Valdez, the clear blue skies allowed us to see what we had missed on our way south. The tallest peaks of the Wrangell-St. Elias range soared in the distance. These mountains are part of the enormous National Park that encompasses the Alaska side of the US-Canadian border down to Glacier Bay NP. We had several days of good weather and got to enjoy these snow-covered peaks towering over us throughout our stay in the valley. We stopped for a few nights at Tonsina River Lodge. This was a lodge and RV park run by a Russian couple, who came here to escape the heat of Florida. Enjoying the Russian food in their restaurant the first night made our stay worthwhile by itself. The next day, the proprietress scolded us that we were working on chores and not getting out. So, at her direction, we took the Edgerton highway down to Chitina on the Copper River.
Staying at a town just north of Anchorage, we positioned ourselves to take care of some chores and visit with a cousin of Dave’s who lives in Anchorage’s northern suburb, Eagle River. Shortly after arriving, we visited a local festival, Colony Days in nearby Palmer. Later that evening, we got reacquainted with cousins Lois, Eric and Andy for dinner at their favorite restaurant, Turkey Red. We got to visit some more over dinner at their house Monday evening. Lois and Eric’s house is perched on the side of a mountain overlooking Knik Arm. In addition to a couple of Icelandic horses, they have over two dozen dogs and at least half a dozen dog sleds to enable them to race or just explore with their dogsled teams. Both of their kids have competed successfully since they were young. The dogs were energetic and, mostly, very friendly. But they were surprisingly slight. Not the big huskies that come to mind.
Our first stop on the Kenai was Seward, at the southeastern tip. We pulled into a coupled of spots right on the water at the city’s RV park. You couldn’t ask for a better view from our back window. We spent the afternoon at the Sea Life Center, which we had visited on our last trip. The close-up view of the sea birds, harbor seals and sea lions allowed more time to watch their behaviors, especially since the aquarium let you see them below the water as well. The most captivating view was of the puffins diving deep into the water to search for fish, before finally surfacing again.
With several days off the grid while staying at Blueberry Lake, Dave was becoming increasingly unhappy with the RV’s battery charger. He decided to order and install an Iota 30a battery charger. This wouldn’t replace the RV’s charger, but would allow the generator to predictably charge the batteries. The first use in Seward produced smiles, meaning that the voltage was being raised to a level sufficient to give a better charge in a shorter time.