June 2019 – Off to the Kenai Peninsula

We left Anchorage on our way to Seward, but a stopover in Whittier, and gateway to the Prince William Sound sounded like a good plan

Whittier can only be reached by boat or via a tunnel through Maynard mountain. The engineer must have been holding his breath when they completed this in 1943. The workers were blasting and digging from both ends and met in the middle, and were successful to within a fraction.

The tunnel is 2.6 miles long and one lane. It’s used by cars, motorcycles, RV’s and of course, the train which terminates in Whittier. Cruise ships arrive here every couple of days and whisk their passengers off to other destinations by train as Whittier is too small to accommodate so many.

Entrance to the tunnel is well orchestrated, one way on the hour the other direction on the half hour, but the train always has the priority

Our campground was a large gravel parking lot with views of the Prince William Sound.

The town is know as “The town under one roof”, as most of its 213 residents live in the same building, the Hodge Building. In 1964 the area was hit by a tsunami which occurred after a 9.2 magnitude earthquake and the Hodge Building built for military use was transformed into a public building. At 14 stories it contains housing, 1,2 and 3 bedroom apartments, a hospital, school, post office, police station, grocery and so on, so the residents are completely self-contained

There’s a lovely old hotel in town

Whittier is a port of call for many cruise lines, we saw 3 in 3 days

And a packed marina, full of fishing boats that leave every morning and return loaded with  halibut, salmon, and shrimp in the late afternoon

Next morning we woke up to smoke, which got progressively worse during the day. The fire was 60,000 acres and 43 miles away, right in the center if the peninsula.

And then suddenly this…..

We realized that it would be no better in Seward and Steve had started to get sick, but we’d come this far and planned to stay in Seward and Homer for the month of July. We thought perhaps the fire would be under control by the time we reached Seward.

The town of Seward is located on the East side of the Kenai Peninsula and it’s local economy is largely driven by commercial fishing industry and tourism

The smoke wasn’t at all that bad when we arrived in Seward, and as luck would have it, we snagged one of the water front sites in the campground, 4th of July weekend to boot. On the 4th. they have races to the top of Marathon mountain, you can see the peak behind the coach (pic. above) so we were looking forward to that

They also have a big firework display on the 3rd. Don’t know why as it never gets dark here at this time of year. This picture could have been taken at 11am or 11pm there’s very little difference in light And the otters, who were out there every day in front of the coach. “As seen on TV” they were on their backs, arms folded in front and feet up, in little groups or alone, they’d lay there for ages

Resurrection Bay through the smoke.

It was disappointing for all those on cruise excursions to see the fjords. This was on a good day, but we met people who’d taken an excursion out and hadn’t seen a thing .

We’d hoped to be able to purchase fish in Seward, but no. It’s taken off the boats, processed and shipped out. We couldn’t buy a single filet, very disappointing. You either catch it yourself, having a boat, equipment and license, or go on a charter at $500¬† for 1/2 day. This is serious fishing out here, people with 90 lbs + get it processed and ship it home. What on earth would we do with 90 lbs of halibut.

After a couple of days Steve started to get sick, we went to the doctor and he was advised to get out of the smoky conditions as it was affecting his lungs.

We went to the Visitors Center to ask the latest on the fire and were told that they were allowing it to burn itself out as that area hadn’t burned since 1943, so they were just keeping it contained and closing the highway when necessary. The smoke would continue until end of August.

So, change of plan required, health is top priority, and our home is on wheels. Next stop, out of the smoke zone to……..


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