We left Seward on July 3rd and made our way to Soldotna, right on the Kenai River. Figured this would be a lower key place to spend the holiday and it was exactly that. Mostly very enthusiastic salmon fishermen and a few other travelers like us to round out the campground.
Klondike RV Park hosted a cook-out for the 4th and everyone was invited. We just had to bring a dish to share. I need to come up with a go-to potluck dish. This time I threw together a pasta salad with what we had on hand. Not my best work, but ok to share with people I’ll likely never see again.
The campground, like all the others, was nicely decorated with beautiful flowers. The hanging pot by the office had a red, white & blue theme that sent me back to the RV for the camera.
No idea what kind they are, but very patriotic.
We enjoyed pulled pork sandwiches, all the fixings and tons of side dishes from fellow campers. Next to me sat a gal from New Zealand and across from us an avid fishing couple from Chicago. They shared some funny travel stories and gave us some advice on places to see and stay. The lady from Chicago was in the same spot last year and said it was like a family gathering and I’d have to agree.
This place also had an herb garden and invited guests to help themselves. Best part here – NO fireworks, so no need to drug poor Jackson. Honestly it doesn’t get dark anyway, so I can see why they don’t shoot them off.
This stop provided us with a few things we needed including a haircut for me and Mexican food. Oh how we’ve missed good Mexican food – any Mexican food for that matter. Since leaving the lower 48, that is the one food option we’ve not seen very much of. In fact, our last great Mexican meal was in Salt Lake City. Seems you can get Asian cuisine and curry about anywhere, but no Mexican.
There was also a market day during the week and we enjoyed kettle corn, Girl Scout cookies and some shopping from local vendor booths. All right by the Kenai River so Jackson could come along and we could watch the fishing from the river bank.
Kenai River – supposedly lots of salmon, but we still have yet to see any.
Skilak Lake Drive
Back up the road we read about an 18 mile gravel road with spectacular views along Skilak Lake. Also supposed to have good opportunities to see wildlife. We’re still on the hunt for the elusive moose photo, so off we go. Good long car ride for Jackson, too.
Skilak Lake was pretty as were the overlook views…
In the distance is the Skilak glacier flood plain and the snow-capped mountains providing the promised stunning views.
We didn’t see that elusive moose, but we did see a beaver close to the road cutting down a tree. He had a very sleek, shiny brown coat. Good sized fellow, too, but headed into the woods when we stopped for a better look.
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
Dogs are not allowed on the wildlife refuge trails, so we took Jackson walking along part of the miles of ski trails on the edge of town. This spot would be awesome in the winter for snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing.
With Jackson worn out from his hike, we set off on the trails at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge visitor’s center. This is a huge nesting ground for quite a few birds. In fact, over a hundred species use the wetlands and tundra during spring and fall migrations according to the visitor’s center.
My picture shows a bunch swooping around and out on the water. Noisy bunch. Also, the trail through the wooded area is lined with a fern-like plants that we’ve just learned are called “horse tail”. They were everywhere and do live up to their name. On this part of the trail we saw an unidentified large bird that took flight as we approached. The ranger thinks it was likely an immature eagle. Finally a picture of the snow-capped mountains framed by the trees. Never get tired of this view!
I was narrating our drive from Soldotna to Homer and read about the Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Church. According to the Milepost, it is one of the most popular tourist sites on the Kenai Peninsula. Well, with a rousing endorsement like that I decided we had to see it. Unfortunately the Milepost also said that bigger vehicles couldn’t turn around on the road. But fortunately there is a Ninilchik River Scenic overlook just up the road, so we stopped, unhooked Bitsy and headed back for a look-see.
You can’t go inside, but the outside is very interesting with the characteristic onion-domes on top and the three-barred crosses. I read up on these crosses and the top bar is the title bar – “King of the Jews” or similar phrase, the second bar is where Jesus’ hands were nailed and the angled 3rd bar is for His feet.
Ninilchik was actually founded by a variety of cultures. Many were Russian immigrants who married local native Aleuts. The town was to be a retirement community since the Russian settlers could return to Russian, but their native Alaskan family members could not. Fishing and trapping was important as was the building of the Sterling Highway through the town.
The church yard
Looking across Cook Inlet to the Aleutian Mountain Range
Wildflowers in focus with Mt. Redoubt in view. This active volcano erupted as recently as 2009 and still steams today.
So I’ve been most recently sporting what I’m calling 4-layer fashion. By 4-layer, I mean 4 layers of clothing on most days & outings. This consists of a favorite long-sleeved t-shirt, (The B-Ham one is popping up most of all) covered by a favorite sweatshirt (the one from the Strataca Salt Mine in Kansas), then my Gator fleece jacket, and finally my very fine rain jacket. Paid handsomely for this jacket and waterproof pants in Denver and have not regretted the purchase a bit. I cannot believe that it’s mid-July and that is still the best combo. The outer two layers are visible in a few upcoming photo shoots.
Pat says that he would have sprung for something a little more interesting in the jacket department if he’d knows that ALL the pictures of him would be in said jacket. It’s a grey hoodie from Walmart. Yep, stylin’.
Next stop is Homer and boy is that packed with good stuff. I may have to split that into more than one post. See you on the way!