Last whatever-day-it-was, I had the bike service done in Anchorage at The Motorcycle Shop. After all those days of having that one goal on my mind, finally it was done. They said the bike is in good shape. Here’s a photo:
Then I thought, “Where to from here? Hmmm…Seward sounds nice”. The following morning I got an early (for me) start for the 200km run down the Kenai Peninsula to Seward. The bloke at the Motorcycle Shop had suggested a “lovely campground, right on the water, beautiful views”. How could I not consider such a recommendation?
The ride to Seward was as I expected, mountainous and with a few twisties on a good road. It was a beautiful day too, as they have all been since my arrival up here. There were a few RVs, but not many. I maintained a fairly good speed, but it was hard to keep my eyes on the road and not look at the views at times. Didn’t stop until I got to Seward.
To give you an idea of the location and topography of the place, here’s this map:
The Motorcycle Shop bloke was right, too. The ever-present mountains seemed right at the front door, and were, right there off the water. This one was taken from the campground at dawn and the sun is just touching the mountains on the right:
However, this place is only reachable by a (you guessed it) 4 km gravel road. Now I don’t mind gravel, but my riding skills are not so wonderful that I can super-confidently traverse them in top gear and without knobby tyres. There was a lot of corrugation on this road, and in addition they often wet the road to keep the dust down, which of course means mud. [Note to Seward authorities, who I am sure are all following this blog with awe: After a youth spent working in sheepyards where you sometimes can’t see your hand in front of your face, I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE CONFOUNDED DUST!]
Here’s a photo of said road. It doesn’t look anything like the above rant, but hey, this is my blog and I have the right to exaggerate on occasion. Seriously though, non-knobby tyres + gravel, corrugation and patches of mud = Janette riding the 4 kms very gingerly and carefully.
Anyway, I finally get to this place and front up to the desk. It’s the Memorial Day long weekend here (roughly equivalent to Anzac Day) and the thing Americans most like to do on Memorial Day weekend is go camping. Fortunately, I got the last campsite in the place. Went and checked it out and it had four or five picnic tables and no space to set up the tent. I supposed I could sleep on one of the picnic tables, but they came to move some so all was good. Here’s my campsite:
Set up the tent, again with a minimum of fuss (note I haven’t said “no fuss”). Then I thought, “Hmmm, feeling on the grotty side. Wonder where the showers are?” Looked carefully, but they didn’t seem to be anywhere, or not anywhere close. Went to ask at the desk and she said vaguely, “Oh yah…the showers…we’re still building them”, then brightly, “But they’ll be ready next week. You can go into Seward to the public showers if you want”. No dramas, but the attitude seemed to be, “Meh, shower…minor, unimportant detail”.
The other thing which, along with the showers, was a work in progress was the toilet. I’m happy to go behind a tree, but the place was kind of public, so no to that. And forget about waiting till dark to go behind a tree, because there is no dark! However, whilst the showers were very much a minor detail, the campground had not forgotten that people occasionally like to use the toilet, so they provided one. One. An outhouse.
Now, again as a child, we had a septic system at home, flush toilet etc. But we also had an ancient outhouse some distance from the home, and this outhouse had character. It was a good place to get away from annoying siblings and parents who wanted me to do exciting, stimulating tasks such as sweep the floor. Alas, this outhouse is no more. My mother burnt it down. I still don’t know why. I miss that outhouse, and miss the pet redbacks who tragically perished in the blaze. Good on you, Mum.
What I’m trying to say here, but which quickly deteriorated into nonsense, is that I don’t mind an outhouse. But this one…oh dear. I don’t want to describe it in too much detail, because some of you might be eating, but suffice to say it was…unclean…and smelt of…boy wee. There were numerous cracks in the walls, quite wide ones, and a hook which hung tenuously from a rusty nail to fasten the door closed. It is not the place to go for an extra-long session with your newspaper, cigarettes, and a snack in case you get hungry. I used it, but with lightning-fast rapidity on each occasion.
I spent three nights here, lazing around enjoying the view, and walking the 4 kms into town each day for the shower. It was a good walk. Along the way, on the side of the road, was this waterfall; the photo does not reflect the incredible force with which it tumbled out from above. It’s all melting snow from the mountains up higher:
The water runs under a bridge (which often gets washed away due to the force of the water), and out to sea:
The most exciting thing, though, was this:
Now, just in case the more cynical among you think I bowled into someone else’s campsite, took a photo of their fire, and quickly ran away, here’s proof it was my fire:
I didn’t cook on it. Didn’t need to because I have that great little stove, but it was good to keep the hands warm. Breakfast every morning is this – my new favourite brekky until I get back to Canada and Tim’s:
When it’s made up:
Looks like chook food, doesn’t it. But it’s very nice, and filling too.
For dinner I try to have something like this, in keeping with my (often broken) no-carbs-after-lunch rule:
Okay, so it’s been a few days of slumming it down here on the Kenai Peninsula. There’s plenty to do, such as fishing, flightseeing, bear viewing etc. It’s also heavily tourist-oriented with the prices to match. I mean, $500 US for a quick flight? Please.
What do I think of Alaska and Alaskans thus far?
- They’re a hardy bunch. Right now it’s just coming into summer and around 15 degrees most days. The mornings and evenings are quite cold. Nevertheless, it only has to get over 15 degrees and Alaskans are stripping down to shorts and t-shirts. They get very excited when the thermometer hits 20.
- I thought people were conservative in western Queensland, but Alaskans beat them hands down. There’s a little town down here on the Kenai Peninsula called “Homer”. I was thinking of taking a trip there. “Well, I don’t really like Homer”, one lady told me. “I mean, each to his own and all, but there’s a lot of Homer-sexuals down there”. That’s what she fair dinkum said!
- It has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth, yet not commercialised by high-rise buildings and tourist traps. Alaska is quiet and peaceful. It has an overpowering serenity that allows the mountains, the views, and the wildlife to overshadow the incessant attempts of civilisation to dominate both our immediate and farther environment. I reckon Alaska is quite unique in this sense.
I still haven’t seen all of Alaska. The plan is to not spend too much more time down here, but to head north to Fairbanks over the next week or so, and from there to Canada. I am enjoying riding my bike amidst such a beautiful setting. I will enjoy riding north and seeing more of Alaska, but will particularly enjoy the day I pass through one of the world’s most remote border crossings, and back into Canada.