We left Seward and the good weather behind us as we made our way west along the Kenai Peninsula to Soldotna. For one of the few times this trip, we found ourselves among a steady stream of traffic. However, our companions were mostly there for another purpose – the nearby Kenai and Russian Rivers were full of salmon running upriver, and these were fisherman who wanted to keep some of them from making it all the way home.
Around mid-day, we pulled into a Fred Meyer grocery store parking lot which would be our home for the next couple of days. This location had a free dump station and fresh water fill. They have space set aside for RV parking and allow 2 days of parking. They even have someone monitor the parking lot to ensure no one blocks access to the services. After picking up some ribs from the grill outside the store, we headed out to explore the area a bit.
Our southernmost stop was Homer, which extends a sandy spit into the inlet to separate Kachemak Bay from Cook Inlet. This is the jumping off point for Kodiak Island and the Aleutians. Given the distance behind us, we limited our time to a driving tour and headed back north, arriving back in Soldotna with enough time to check out Alaska Berries, a winery, plant nursery and source of jams from their fresh berries. We did a wine tasting and ended up leaving with some wine and jams between the four of us. One of the more unusual ones was from a haskap berry, which looks a little like an oval-shaped blueberry.
With our day’s touring completed, we called it a day and planned an early departure the next morning. Sunday's forecasted weather was for lots of rain, so we were going to make it a travel day, heading off the peninsula for Portage.
Sunday turned out to be worse than the forecasts, as the rain was blown by gale force winds up Turnagain Arm. Since we had visited this area before, we skipped the visit to the Portage Glacier Visitor Center and the trip to Whittier on Prince William Sound. By the next day, the weather had moderated, so we took some time to view the animals at the Alaska Conservation Center, which sits on the old Portage townsite by Turnagain Arm, vacated after the 1964 tsunami devastated the town
Our stay in Anchorage was a mixture of work and sightseeing. After being off the grid since leaving Seward, we were ready to plug in, so we stopped at Ship Creek RV Park in downtown Anchorage. In addition to being close to downtown, it was near some biking paths along Ship Creek. We took advantage of this on a few different days. Having discovered a broken gear cable on Cathy’s bike back in Seward, we took this opportunity to replace it.
With the rigs stuffed with food and supplies, we headed out north on the Parks Highway toward Denali.
The battery issues that were seemingly solved by our new Iota battery charger continued to plague us. With several days off the grid, the batteries were requiring more and more charging time. By the time we reached Portage, we were seeing disturbing voltages – as low as 11.6. Dave even had to get up and run the generator in the middle of the night. In trying to find the source of the drain, we suspected the water pump, and then the battery charger itself. Not much else was running for any length of time.
By the time we reached Ship Creek, we decided it was possibly the batteries themselves were the problem. Dave took them back to Sam’s to get them tested. They replaced them and we’ve had no problems since. although they have not really been put to the test. With almost 2 weeks of dry camping at Denali coming up, they will get a real test.
As these things go, the heat worked fine while the repairman was there and has since. Hmm . . . However, he did install a check valve in the water system that appears to have corrected the problem with city water. So far so good. We were very pleased with the service we received.
We’ll keep our fingers crossed that this is the worst of the problems we’ll encounter.