After a four-day ferry ride from Bellingham, Washington to Haines, Alaska, we embark on the maiden camping voyage in my new Toyota Tacoma. The plan is to drive the Alaskan roadways with at least an equal amount of camping and motel stays. It’s early May, and it has been a late spring, so snow and road conditions may be a factor.
Brrr…, we wake up to snow in Beaver Creek, Canada off the Alcan Highway. It’s warm enough in sleeping bags under the truck cap, but those nighttime bathroom trips are brutal!
Gigantic mountain ranges in the distance resemble a winter wonderland Christmas card.
Moose and herds of caribou crossing the road remind us that being in pristine wilderness has no substitute.
Well, it often rains in pristine wilderness, so we decide to “motel it” in Anchorage for a few days. Ah, creature comforts abound. We make friends during Kentucky Derby day at Darwin’s, a local pub. We’re lucky to be here in the off season, before crowds of cruise shippers take over.
Burn off those guilty pleasures with a “snow hike” up Flattop Mountain, where icy wind will awaken all the senses.
This great walking town offers many mountain hiking trails, along with civilized walkways and bicycle paths at the water’s edge.
Combine friendly folks and endless outdoor activities with an excellent craft beer scene and the best food options Alaska has to offer, well, what’s not to like?
On the way to a seafood market to buy fresh halibut cheeks, we mingle with the biker crowd at the annual “blessing of the bikes” that kicks-off riding season. We could live in this city.
Time to hit the road for some more wilderness. We have the free, rustic campground in the historic town of Hope all to ourselves.
On the edge of one of the lowest tides on the North American continent, we find plenty of logs for our first “hillbilly fire” of the season. Good thing that we have left-over halibut cheeks for dinner tonight.
Rain pours again as we drive to the town of Homer, which has become quite the tourist carnival since we were there 20 years ago. However, the bars maintain a friendly feel and the fishing is still great.
We decide to get a room for off-season rates at the Land’s End Hotel on the end of the Homer spit. Heck, with a view like this let’s make it two nights instead of one. Hmm, the paper-thin walls allow us to hear all conversation and bodily function of the young couple next to us. When they have late night intimacy, repeatedly, we can’t get the Paul Simon song “Duncan” out of our head: “The couple in the next room are bound to win a prize…” Okay, we cancel reservations for the following night, so we can go camping in the cold rain and get a good night’s sleep!
Onward to Seward, where a short hike brings us to the edge of Exit Glacier. This hike gets longer each year, as the glacier melts more quickly than ever.
Scenically, Seward reminds us much of Haines, Alaska. However, it’s much bigger, and with more cruise ships, two of which just docked. Augh! Time to get out of this town.
Although we’re getting used to camping in cold rain with 30-degree F nights, it does not mean that we like it. Weather forecasts up north show temps in the 60’s, so it’s off towards Denali we go!
Thank you Abundant Universe!