Alaska - 2007

Fairbanks, AK -
Soldotna, AK

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 Fifth Stage:  Day 18 - Day 19 - Day 20 - Day 21 -
                     Day 22 - Day 23


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Day 18 - July 14: Fairbanks, AK - Healy, AK (Denali Nat'l Park)

Today's Mileage: 144  Total Mileage: 5,044  Start: 9 am Stop: 3 pm

Weather: Rain in the am, partially cloudy in the pm - in other words nice in the afternoon & evening, mid 60's

Via: Parks Highway (AK-3) to Healy

Hotel: Denali Suites - 3 bedroom apartment

Breakfast: Dale & Jo's Lunch: Two Choices (Nenana) Dinner: Black Diamond Resort

Comments: Started the day with a visit to the Fairbanks Visitor Center. Normally you would do this when first coming into the city, but this time we did it last. Since Healy is only 110 miles from Fairbanks we had time to look around in Fairbanks.

We discovered that the University of Alaska has a "Large Animal Research Center" which has tours.  So off we went in light rain to see musk ox, caribou and reindeer. Fortunately they had umbrellas for us. By the way, reindeer are domesticated caribou.

Then we were off to Healy. Had lunch in Nenana, a little town about 50 miles from Fairbanks.

Traffic was still very light. I thought it would pick up, but I guess most people come to Alaska on tours - we passed many buses.

Tonight we went on a Covered Wagon Adventure which included an all you can eat dinner (chicken, salmon, roast beef, ribs). This was also in our Great Alaska Tour Saver Coupon Book as a 2-4-1 coupon.

Tomorrow we conquer Denali.

Click to see a larger Picture


Fairbanks - Healy

- - - -  Musk Ox   - - - -  Caribou Reindeer Nenana
- - - - - - -  "Large Animal Research Center"  - - - - - - -
 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -   Covered Wagon Adventure  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -   Covered Wagon Adventure  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  

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Day 19 - July 15: Healy, AK (Denali Nat'l Park)

Happy Birthday,

Today's Mileage: 66  Total Mileage: 5,110  Start: 9 am Stop: 3:30 pm

Weather: Partly cloudy, in the 60's - nice day

Hotel: Denali Suites (second night)

Breakfast: Denali Suites Lunch: Alaska Fish & Chips Dinner: Denali Suites

Comments: Today we celebrated the second birthday on this trip - one more to go. After breakfast we were off to Denali National Park, about 12 miles south of Healy.

Probably the big thing to do is take a Tundra Wildlife Tour. We did this in 1988 when we were here on a Princess Cruise/Land Tour. I still have memories of sitting in a school bus for 8 hours, so we skipped it this time. Rose & Arnie were not keen on doing it either, so we headed for the Visitor Center.

We were just in time to take a bus to a Sled Dog Demo. We saw sled dogs at the Riverboat Discovery, but that was from the boat, this time it was close-up.

After that we split up: Arnie took a hike, Rose & Jeanne went to see a movie and I went down to the Railroad Station to see the train from Fairbanks, on it's way to Anchorage. We had taken this train in 1988 and I wanted to see what has changed.

Well, for one thing there is a new station. Then they are more private cars from the cruise lines (Princess, Holland America and Celebrity/Royal Caribbean. And the Alaska Railroad also has a new observation cars, similar to the cars from the cruise lines. Lots of people got off the train, and many more boarded the train for Anchorage.

Jeanne & Rose had joined me at the station and we found Arnie as the train was pulling out. Now it was time for lunch which we had outside the park.

After lunch back to the park to go as far as we can - which is only 15 miles. After that only tour buses are allowed. We didn't see any wildlife, but there were some nice mountain views - as you would expect. Then we headed for our apartment.

Speaking of the apartment - it's really nice. These were apartments at one time and are now used for short stays. There are 4 apartments, 3 have two bedrooms and one has three. While we really only need two bedrooms, we took the larger one since it's the only one with two bathrooms. Lots of room - very comfortable & we have wireless! We are on our own for breakfast, though.

Tomorrow we are off to Soldotna via Anchorage.

Click to see a larger Picture

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -   Sled Dog Demo  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Visitor Center
  - - - - - - - - - - - - -   At the Train Depot   - - - - - - - - - - - - -  
- - - - -  Our Apartment  - - - - -      

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Day 20 -  July 16: Healy, AK - Soldotna, AK

Today's Mileage: 444  Total Mileage: 5,554  Start: 7 am Stop: 6:15 pm

Weather: Sunny, some clouds, in the low 70's

Via: Parks Highway (AK-3) to Glenn Highway (AK-1)
       Glenn Highway (AK-1) to Seward Highway (AK-1)
       Seward Highway (AK-1) to Sterling Highway (AK-1)
       Sterling Highway (AK-1) to Soldotna

Hotel: Soldotna Inn (4 Nights) - on older hotel, but nice enough. We have a couch, refrigerator, microwave - but no a/c, not that we need it at night. And breakfast is included.

Breakfast: Denali Suites Lunch: Arby's Dinner: Froso's (Italian)

Comments: A long day, highlighted by getting perfect views of Mt. McKinley from the road. Many days Mt. McKinley can not be seen due to clouds, etc., and it is very hard to see from the park, unless you take one of the buses for an all-day tour, but we had a perfect view of it for many miles as we drove south toward Anchorage.

Stopped in Talkeetna, the closest town to Denali. It's used as a staging area for expeditions, flightseeing, etc.

We also made a short stop at the Portage Glacier visitor center south of Anchorage.

By the time we got to Soldotna everybody was worn out from the long day. We will be here for 4 nights, so we should recover!

We have not been getting XM since before Fairbanks. This is not a surprise, of course, since XM is not offered in Alaska. However, now and then we do pick up a signal, so we should get it back once we leave the Anchorage area and head south.

The Mets lost yesterday, we were able to listen to some of the game on the computer.

Click to see a larger Picture


Healy -

- - Along Parks Highway - - - - - - -   Mt. McKinley  - - - - -
Mt. McKinley - - - - - -   At Portage Glacier  - - - - - - Soldotna Inn  

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Day 21 - July 17: Soldotna, AK

Today's Mileage: 49  Total Mileage: 5,603  Start: 9:30 am Stop: 3 pm

Weather: Sunny, mid 60's

Hotel: Soldotna Inn (2nd Night)

Breakfast: At Hotel Lunch: Sockeye's (Kenai Landing) Dinner: China Sea (Buffet)

Comments: We took it easy today. Went to Kenai (about 10 miles) to the Visitor Center and then a Russian Church. Found a fabric store and then went to Kenai Landing. This is a former cannery now converted to visitor services such as boutiques, restaurants and rooms for rent. There is still some fishing going on.

It's not quite as fancy as it sounds. They need more visitors, since they are in an out of the way place and there is little advertising - we found it almost by accident.

Lastly we went to Fred Meyers in Soldotna, the local K-Mart. I could call it the local Wal-Mart - but they are hoping Wal-Mart will open a store here.

For supper I petitioned the food committee for a buffet restaurant. At dinner last night we had to wait for a party of 50 to be served, and today at lunch they made a mistake with my order and had to do it again. This time I wanted be in charge of my order. As always, the committee was very open to suggestions.

Tomorrow to Homer and a cruise to Seldovia.

Click to see a larger Picture

Kenai  - - - - -   Russian Church  - - - - - - - -  At the Cannery  - - -

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Day 22 - July 18: Soldotna, AK

Today's Mileage: 220  Total Mileage: 5,823  Start: 7 am Stop: 3:30 pm

Weather: Rain most of the day, mid 50's

Hotel: Soldotna Inn (3rd Night)

Breakfast: At Hotel Lunch: Cosmic Kitchen (Homer) Dinner: Acapulco

Comments: The day started early with a run to the Kenai Airport to get a rental car for Arnie. He is going fishing tomorrow in Homer.

Then at 8:30 am all of us went to Homer (about 80 miles) to take a boat to Seldovia, a small community across Kachemak Bay. The only problem is that it started to rain shortly after we started and didn't stop. When we got Homer we checked in with the company and found we could cancel - which we did. It was cold, rainy and the clouds were low - it would not have been an enjoyable trip. The first time on this trip that the weather interfered with our plans - not a bad record.

Of course, we had a back-up plan. Since we saved the money for the boat trip Rose & Jeanne spent it all in a gift store in Homer. We could not, in good conscience, leave without spending this money in Homer! Now it was time for lunch - more money for Homer.

On the way back Jeanne had discovered that Anchor Point is "North America’s Most Westerly Highway Point" accessible by a continuous road system. So, of course, we had to check this out.

We then checked out the Russian community of Nikolaevsk. Even though Alaska was once owned by Russia, this town was only established in the 1960's. Most of the town seemed to be owned by one family (woman) - Nina. She has a Cafe/Gift Store among her possessions which we visited. Most things were expensive and she was overbearing. We soon got out of there.

There is also a Russian church in town - The Church of St. Nicholas.

Then back to the hotel and a nap. We had a Mexican dinner and then Arnie got supplies (food) he needs for his fishing trip tomorrow. Rose & Jeanne are going to get caught up with laundry and I'm going to wash the van - it's dirty again. Since this won't take all day, I'm sure there will be shopping opportunities, also.

Click to see a larger Picture

Kenai Map

Anchor Point

- - -  Nina's Cafe  - - -

 - - -  Russian Church  - - -

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Day 23 - July 19: Soldotna, AK

Arnie left

Today's Mileage: 37  Total Mileage: 5,860  Start: 9 am Stop: 8:30 pm

Weather: Sunny, in the 60's

Hotel: Soldotna Inn (4th Night)

Breakfast: At Hotel Lunch: "Moose is Loose" Bakery Dinner: Paradisio (Kenai)

Comments: Not too much to report today.  Arnie went fishing in Homer early in the morning. I dropped Rose & Jeanne off at the laundry and I washed the van.

Then I was the driver as Rose & Jeanne did some shopping, and they bought me lunch.

After a nap Arnie called - he was back from fishing and needed to return the car at the Kenai Airport. We took the opportunity to eat dinner in Kenai. Shopped at Safeway for some supplies and called it a night. Listening to the Mets on the Internet - they are winning so far.

Tomorrow we leave Soldotna for the Princess Lodge at Copper Center, AK. No pictures today!

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