Alaska … Roads, Rain and Rabbits
Recently retired and ready to spread their wings, Len and Faith Todd wanted to do more with their time than just wait for the grandkids to stack up. Avid travelers, they purchased a Toy Hauler with the expressed purpose of doing some snowmobiling in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula … but another motivation waited, unspoken. Tour Alaska. Trip of a lifetime. They waited. They researched. They prepared. In late June 2009, the trip of a lifetime began. During the trip, Faith and Len blogged about their adventure and kept a growing audience of friends and family rapt with attention and not a little bit jealous. This chapter covers July 27th – 28th, days 28 – 29 of their adventure.
Alaska! We made it We’re finally here! Nearly a month on the road, loving (nearly) every moment of it! What an adventure we have had already, and our real mission hasn’t even started yet. Another reason to love RVing. It makes the old adage true every day – “getting there” really is half the fun!
The drive on our last day in Canada was an experience to say the least. The road throughout the Yukon had been bumpy, but that last 30 miles was horrendous. It felt like our truck had suddenly been tossed out on the open sea. The locals blame it on the permafrost, and who am I to argue … I’m just the lady in the copilot seat reaching for the Dramamine.
After nearly 12 hours of harrowing travel through the spectacular Yukon wilderness, we stopped to camp around 7:00 p.m. near Tok (sounds like poke), Alaska at a small campground called Eagle State Recreation Area. We found it at mile 109.5 of the Tok Cut-Off, just a little spot catering mostly to folks traveling between Tok and Glennallen. Eagle State offers limited amenities – picnic tables, drinking water, latrines, not much else – and has only five sites that will accommodate RVs; but it was nice, clean, quiet and secluded. Perfect after a long day on the road. For those looking to stretch their legs, the park does offer some nicely kept hiking trails with a gorgeous overview of the Tok River Valley. Lookout Trail was especially worthwhile. The trail took us up about 600 feet above the campsite, and we were rewarded with a truly amazing view. Of course, that’s not the only reason for the Trail’s name. We were deep into bear country, so, believe me, we were definitely on the “lookout.”
The next morning we drove over to Anchorage and set up camp at the Eagle River Campground in Chugach State Park. The roads are much better now that we are in Alaska, but you still don’t get anywhere fast in this state. The drive from Tok to Anchorage took about 8 hours. The tradeoff is the view. Stunning, every last mile of it.
Just outside of Anchorage it began to rain, and we realized that, up to this point, our adventure had included an endless string of sunny skies. After arriving in Anchorage, we paid a visit to Len’s cousin, who was, unfortunately, down with the flu. We decided to detour over to Seward for a day or two until she could get back on her feet.
Seward, Alaska is everything a quaint, little coastal fishing town should be. Situated on the Kenai Peninsula, the horizon is dominated by the Gulf of Alaska and Resurrection Bay. The Bay has an interesting history. It was named by Captain Alexandr Baranov, who retreated into the Bay to escape one of the Gulf of Alaska’s infamous storms. When the storm finally settled, Captain Baranov noted that it was Easter Sunday. Thus the Bay, and the river that feeds into it, were aptly named.
Resurrection Bay remains ice-free, even in the deepest part of the Alaskan winter because, despite reputation to the contrary, Kenai is actually a temperate rain forest. Rain is the operative word here. Lots of rain. Think Seattle. When we arrived they were on their 12th straight day of the wet stuff with no end in sight. We briefly considered trading the Hauler in on an Ark, but were assured that, at some point, the rain would end. Not that the rain was the issue. Michigan has its own fair share of rainy, 50-degree days; but the cloud cover was blocking our view of what we knew were breathtaking glacial mountain ranges. So, our first day in Seward was defined by water. Surrounding us on the horizon and drizzling on us everywhere we went.
Of course, what do you want to do on a rainy day? Stay inside and have a nice, hot meal. Seward definitely fills the bill. Everywhere you go, the salmon is abundant, fresh and delicious! We had two amazing dinners while in Seward. The first was at Glacier Salmon Bake House in Exit Glacier, which is right on the outskirts of Seward. The second came with a view, but I won’t spoil the surprise – you can read about it in Chapter 10.
Because we didn’t mind the rain (not that it would have mattered, anyway) and because this was a relatively unscheduled trip, we decided to do a little exploring. We left the local library after doing some area research – and getting my WiFi fix – and were walking through the town when we began to notice something slightly amiss. There were rabbits everywhere. Not wild hares occasionally hopping across our path, these were HUGE domesticated bunnies literally on every street corner. When you go to Alaska, you expect elk, caribou and bears, maybe a beaver or three. But rabbits. Rabbits? It made me wonder if several people in Seward were late – very late – for something terribly important.
Maybe we’ll get to the bottom of it tomorrow. Either way, I hope this fog lifts so we can get a better view of just how deep this rabbit hole goes.