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A quick stop at Homer
We took a short side trip down to Homer. While we stayed for two nights, the weather was stormy. We pulled the plug and drove back to Anchorage. We will return later for a better visit. Homer is one of our favorite places to visit, so we will be back.
Back in Anchorage
Spring is finally here. While the weather continues to be rainy and chilly, the trees have greened up, and soon the lawns will need their first mowing. People are trading their snow removal equipment for the garden supplies. I saw a moose with her newborn twins, so winter is just a pleasant memory.
We are spending a bit more time in Anchorage with family while we work on fun and not so fun projects.
I wanted to see if sewing would be an option in our camper. It took up a bit of space to stash my machine and a few notions. I sell a few items that I make and I was hoping to continue on a smaller scale. While we are waiting for some better travel weather, I dug out my sewing stuff. Yes, I made a cluttered mess. The stove-top cover and counter made a great ironing area. The table is the perfect size for sewing. The down side is that everything needed to be put away for a meal or anything else to happen in the camper. It is definitely doable. Here is a picture of the bag I made.
Our toilet decided to break. Yup, there is nothing fun about a wobbly toilet. we took it apart and discovered that the nylon attachment that connects the toilet to the floor had shattered. We also discovered that the two gaskets in the toilet were cracked and one was completely shredded. So, off to the hardware store.
We found a metal bracket and two new gaskets. With some messy, stinky work, we had the toilet up and back in service way quicker than we anticipated. The image is a quick try with epoxy to at least stabilize the connector. We added the metal bracket to prevent future failures. The connector failed last year, so this will hopefully be our last fix on this minor headache.
Anchorage Camping Scene
Anchorage has several private campgrounds. They all have their pros and cons. They all have one thing in common - they are proud of their rates. Plan to spend a minimum of $45 a night. There are options. Most people use Anchorage as a base camp. They pick grocery up and plan their adventures.
Camping for just a few nights while completing these chores can be done for free at Walmart. Our favorite place to stay is at Cabela’s. They have a free dump station that is very convenient. Some visitors trashed these places.
The Anchorage Assembly has had two bills presented to end all free parking lot camping in the city. Both measures never passed because we worked hard to keep these measures in the hands of private property owners. This is a strong warning to all of us who frequent free, overnight parking. Please, PLEASE…. be respectful. Here is how you can help keep free overnight parking legal:
#1: Alaska SeaLife Center
Alaska SeaLife Center is Seward’s top destination for visitors and Alaskans from all over the state. I have mentioned the Sea Life Center in other posts because it is a perennial favorite for so many people including my family.
Every year there are new marine mammals and other aquatic species in the aquariums. Since the Sea Life Center mission is education and rehabilitation, the center is a critical point of rescue for animals in need from around the state. The Sea Life Center releases rescued animals back into the wild whenever possible. Those that cannot survive in the wild become residents of the center, or they are placed in an appropriate facility. Last year they rescued a beluga whale calf. The whale survived but was unable to return to the wild, so it was placed in a zoo elsewhere. The resident seals and sea lions are some of the most popular animals for visitors. The specially designed aquariums make it possible to view sea life from outside or underwater. While many people can see marine mammals in the wild, it is not often that people have an opportunity to watch their graceful antics underwater.
Educating people about sea life in Alaska is an essential part of the Alaska SeaLife Center. The displays appeal to people of all ages. Salmon are an integral part of life for most Alaskans. Aquariums with salmon show the life cycle of the fish in different stages of growth as well a display identifying the five species of Pacific salmon. Touch tanks are very popular with the children who visit the center. The octopus tank is also a favorite. Our visit in May was exciting because we were lucky to see the newly hatched octopi. They were the size of an emoji.
While many visitors enjoy the fish and marine mammals, The SeaLife Center has a seabird aviary. Rescued birds from around Alaska populate the aviary. This is my favorite part of the Sea Life Center. I love watching the birds both above and below the water as they dive and swim deep into the aquarium below. The aviary is loud with bird calls. Visitors may walk right out into the aviary to view the birds up close without glass or wire barriers.
For more information about the Alaska SeaLife Center visit their website.
We enjoy going to Seward in the early summer before the crowds arrive. Winter camping rates are much lower. With so few campers, it is easy to get the perfect beach-front spot, and with power. Heat is a necessity! While many of the seasonal activities are still closed, there are plenty of things for a person to get out and enjoy.
We love watching the birds. The annual bird migration is in full swing. Birds are arriving either to stay for the summer or to continue their journey north. Today, I sat in the camper and watched two crows busy with home and relationship building. They had some “discussions” over the perfect grass for the nest and were quick to let the rest of the neighborhood in on the squabble. I tried to capture it on video without disturbing them, but I only got in a couple of seconds before they were out of camera range. Meanwhile, two loons and a pair of harlequin ducks fished a few yards out from where we camped. Sipping coffee and watching the birds is a great way to start my morning!
While the weather was soggy, we still had plenty of dry weather to walk the docks. We enjoy looking at all the boats and stretching our legs. We wandered up and down the fingers admiring both the commercial and pleasure boats while also visiting with the fisherman. Soon, some will be selling seafood from their boats. While there are plenty of charter opportunities, the fishing is a bit early when we visit in May. Halibut is the first fisheries to open. The prices are usually quite dear at the beginning of the season. Everyone is happy to have fresh product!
I love wandering through the little gift shops along the main street. They are just getting started for the new summer season. There are no crowds, and the new seasonal products are fresh and not picked over. I love seeing all the creative things that many Alaskan artists are creating for visitors. Window shopping is also fun when the weather is, well, not so fun… pouring rain, mixed with snow, which is about par for early May! The coffee is always hot, and the shopkeepers are laid back and quick with tips about what’s happening in town.
We love driving around the Seward area, poking along the small side streets and just enjoying the community. We drove around to the other side and watched the guys working on the commercial boats that are hauled out getting work done. There are some boats that we recognized from Southeast, Alaska, where we used to fish. Seward has a vocational school that students from all over the state attend. Their focus includes marine technology as well as culinary skills. They have an excellent reputation with programs for people to get started along their chosen career paths.
Exit Glacier is just out of town and includes the visitor center for Kenai Fjords National Park. I love visiting here, but the visitor center is still closed for the winter. The short trails are accessible and open, but just I just returned from up north, I decided that even a short hike in the snow and ice was not for me this time. By June, the center will be open, and the last of the snow will be melted.
Our great Alaska road trip is about to begin, but we decided to drive down to Seward for a shakedown. The weather was supposed to be nice, and we were ready for a change of scenery. It may feel like spring and early summer, but that is just a date on a calendar... and a lot of wishful thinking on our part. You see, the sun was out, and suddenly we had summer ideas. The trees are budding out, and the grass is starting to green up, so it must be spring. Right?
We topped up the fuel, propane and water tanks, then stopped for a few grocery items. With empty holding tanks and sunshine, we hit the road. What could go wrong?
Seward is roughly 100 miles (about a three-hour drive) from Anchorage. We take our time and make a few stops along the way. Tern Lake is a favorite stop. We love watching the birds. Two swans nearby were building their nest.
writes for Iris Blume Publishing. She is an Alaskan who has a love for traveling and writing. Join her as she rediscovers and shares her home state.
Where are we now?