Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Soldotna, Kenai,Eagle River,Palmer, Hatcher Pass and Wasilla

When we left Homer we stopped at the Alaska Island & Ocean Visitor Center. They have many nature programs, wildlife watching spots and rangers leading hikes.

We arrived in Soldotna, no RV spaces available so Fred Meyers was our only choice for the night. After parking we took off to Kenai City to watch Dip Net fishing. This is subsistence fishing for Alaskans only. The head of the household can keep 25 fish and plus 10 fish for each member of the family. The water is filled with fisherman standing pretty close to each other holding their huge nets (5 foot round) on edge waiting for the fish to swim into the nets. The fishermen clean the fish on the beach, and throw the skeletons etc into the water, the only problem is the high tide washes them onto shore, this is not a nice situation. There are 1000's of heads and skeletons on the beach.

We visited the Soldotna Historical Society Museum. Our guide was very informative when she found out we were from Pa., she said someday she wants to go to Bucks County in Pa.(this is about 30 miles from our hometown). She said some of her family settled there, and she wants to visit them. She was a daughter of one of the Homesteaders that settled Soldatna. Most of the Homesteaders in this area where veterans from WW2. They were given 40 acres and had to clear several acres and build a house and live there 5 months a year. She told us of life in the 50's and 60's with no electric, indoor plumbing and hitching a ride 8 miles along a dirt road to get into town to get a school bus to Kenai about 15 miles away. Just think of what life was like for us in the 50's & 60's. She did say many of the kids where home schooled.

When we got back to the RV we decided to head toward Anchorage. We decided we’d stop for the night at a large pull out near Portage and we did exactly that. A beautiful spot by the mountains and water. On the way a brown bear ran in front of our truck, he was so fast and close we didn’t get a good picture, but we did get one. Three other rv's joined us for the night.

In the morning we headed to Eagle River State Park, it is 10 miles outside of Anchorage. We were backed up to a ledge overlooking the Eagle River. Every night we could watch the rafters and kayak’s float down the river.

We decided it was time for new tires so of course now our truck has 6 new tires . We visited the Alaska Native Heritage Center. We got to see some native dancers and some of the sports they compete in. They also demonstrated some of the crafts from the different cultures and regions of Alaska. They had an authentic Native Village set up outside around a lake.

We also visited the Anchorage Museum at Rosmuson Center in the downtown. There were many art galleries,a discover center and a resource center. They also had a history gallery of Alaska starting 10,000 years ago to present. There was a traveling Gold exhibit on display. There must have been several million dollars in gold items on display. The exhibit is there only till the first of August. We where glad we got to see it.

We stayed at Eagle River for 4 days ( limit 4 days only) and then headed to Palmer and the Homestead RV Park. This was a long trip, a whole 26 miles. We set out for the Visitor Center to see what we shouldn't miss. We watched a movie, checked out the beautiful Agriculture Showcase Garden. You can,t believe the flowers and the size of the cabbages. They do have a farm trail to see all the vegetables that everyone looks forward to at the weekend farmers markets .

We then headed to the Musk Ox Farm. The oldest Must Ox is 14 years old and weighs about 1,000 lbs. The youngest is about 4 months old. A native co-op uses the fine wool (qiviut) to knit beautiful scarfs and hats. The Must Ox has make an amazing come by from near extinction.

We still had a few hours of daylight left so we headed to the Reindeer Farm. What fun(even for adults.) We were given food for the reindeer and boy do they know you have it. They run right up to you and get very anxious to eat. When you run out we were told to put the container under our arms and show you empty hands and say no more, they really knew what that meant, they’d go off to someone else. They also had a herd of Rocky Mountain Elk. There was a male and his Hiram, you could feed him grass and touch his nose but his girls were very nasty.

Today we took a ride on the Hatcher Pass and visited the Independence Mine State Historical Park. We took a tour and walked on our own also. This was a great trip and well worth it. We stopped at the Hatcher Pass Lodge and had delicious blueberry and strawberry pie then headed to the Hatcher Pass Summit (the highest point of the road) it is 3,886”. It was a gravel road but we’ve been on worse.

Next stop the city of Wasilla. We found out where Sara Palin lives but didn’t stop in, we don’t like to stop by unexpected. We didn't see Russia either. We visited the Dorothy Page Museum and Visitor Center and the Historical Townsite. We passed the 1917 Alaska Railroad Depot but didn’t stop , we were heading to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Headquarters, Knik museum and the Sled Dog Musher Hall of Fame. Saw a great film about the race and preparing for it. They had many trophies etc . from past races. You could take a ride on a 4 wheeler pulled by the dogs but it was time for the dogs to go back to the kennel. Linda did get to hold two puppies, she wanted to take a little gray and white puppy home but no such luck(at least she has a picture). We had a very full past couple of days. Tomorrow we plan on leaving for Valdez and who knows how long that will take. We have about 250 miles to go to get there.

We will get pictures out soon we just need a good signal and have to go thru all the photos and pick them out. Enjoy your summer. Keep in touch.

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