Monday, June 27, 2016

Life on the Kenai Peninsula

After 6 weeks in our new home I realized that I have not blogged, although I have posted lots of photos on Facebook. I will try to recap our adventures here in one of the most beautiful places I have been. The photos don’t always do it justice. Alaska is the one place I always recommend you visit to see it for yourself.

Our RV site next to the bunkhouse
We got set up in our RV site in Lowell Point State Recreation Area on May 17 after attending a meeting of all the Kenai state park volunteers on May 16. We are about 2 hours from the rest of the volunteer sites as they are all on or near the west side of the Kenai Peninsula and we are on the east side. We had not heard from our ranger after multiple phone calls but we were assured by the other rangers that he was around and we should just move into our site. We had scouted it out already so hauled our home out a 2 mile rutted dirt road with a solid rock wall on one side and a drop off to Resurrection Bay on the other. It was considered a 2 lane road but due to rock slides there were several places that 2 RVs could not have passed each other. It was very tricky backing the 5th wheel into the site with an S curve but Rollie did it after 3 tries. We realized we would not be making trips in and out with the RV. The hookups were primitive and a little difficult but we were lucky to have them as we had learned that some volunteers had none.

Latrines and parking for the trailhead to Caines Head State Park
With our general instructions from the volunteer meeting we started cleaning the latrines, stocking them with toilet paper, picking up trash and checking cars in the 2 lots to see that they had paid their $5 day-use fee. If not we placed a payment envelope on their windshield. The second day we met Andy, the Park Specialist, who was remodeling the bunkhouse and helping the ranger (who we still had not met) with large projects. He was very helpful, gave us some of his canned smoked salmon from last year, told us where to find things in town and generally made us feel welcome. We met Ranger Jack, our boss, 5 days later. He apologized, asked us if we needed anything and was on his way in 5 minutes. We have seen him twice since then.

Trail down to the beach

We are situated on a hill in a temperate rain forest which is very much like the terrain in Ketchikan; big old-growth spruce trees, lots of ferns and moss. I was excited to see salmonberry bushes blooming in open areas and later learned there are blueberries too. I am picking both now. There is a trail down to the lower parking area, the second set of latrines and the beach. There is also a road. We have access to the trail crew bunkhouse next to us which was empty until last week, and contains a washer and dryer, full kitchen and bathroom. 

New tree growing around an old stump

We also have a park truck but share it with the trail crew (3 young men who appear not to be very happy to be working this job). The woods is dense so we are sheltered from wind but not much light gets in except when the sun is directly overhead.

Very old stump covered in moss

It stays cool here in the woods but we have a fire ring and wood outside and heat inside. No TV, which is a problem for Rollie. He is a little bored. There is a nice variety of radio stations so I am happy. We do have ATT service so we have wifi with our hotspot.

Salmonberry bush in bloom

I had 2 weeks in Seward before I started work in Soldotna, 2 hours away. I got a nice furnished apartment and a rental car (a red Prius just like I used to have!) with my 3 month assignment at Central Peninsula Hospital. I negotiated four 10-hour shifts with 3 consecutive days off so I can travel to Seward for 3 days each week. I have finished my training and am working the evening shift with a great bunch of people. My first day they asked me to stay permanently! I will certainly stay through September when they are going live with a new hospital-wide computer system (Epic). We are thinking we will stay through the winter and most likely next summer so are looking for winter housing. The average low winter temperatures are a little higher than MN but too cold to live in the RV.

We have been asked to move to a busier park on the west side of the peninsula, Crooked Creek State Recreation Area near Kasilof. They have no park volunteer and the salmon are starting to run, meaning lots of folks coming to fish. Seward does not have a salmon river. The Resurrection River flows directly from Exit Glacier into Resurrection Bay with no lake for the baby salmon to mature. The big Seward Fourth of July celebration and Marathon Mountain Race are coming up so we will stay based in Lowell Point until the middle of July. Rollie will be coming over to “my side” of the peninsula on Thursdays to work at Crooked Creek. As my contract is up 8/20 I can renegotiate to extend it at least a month, give up the apartment, take the housing allowance and live with Rollie and the dogs full-time again. I will have a 20 minute drive to work through an area with a lot of moose so will have to be very careful late at night. As I discovered after my first late shift, moose do not show up in the semi-dark! I didn’t see the 2 standing on the shoulder until I was right next to them!

Speaking of dark, I took a couple photos to show what night in Alaska looks like. Rollie said he was up at 3 am one night and it was dark. Most of the night the sun is down below the horizon but it is not completely dark; shades of twilight.

11 pm June 20, my back yard in Soldotna

2 am June 26, leaving work in Soldotna

I really love Seward: the mountains, Resurrection Bay, sea otters, harbor seals, bald eagles. It is a beautiful setting with lots of wildlife. Rollie saw a black bear near our RV site, headed away from him. We have a bear bell on Mia’s leash and a little air horn because noise is a deterrent that works at a distance. Some folks carry bear spray but bears have to get close to use it. We are lucky to have a beach to watch for sea life and watch the tides, which are around 9 feet. The beach goes from about 6 feet wide at high tide to about 40 feet wide at low tide. Unfortunately there are not a lot of shells or other beach treasures, unless kelp is in that category. There are not many moose here but Moose Pass is about 30 miles up the highway so there must be some around. Our temperatures range from lows around 45 to highs around 65. We love it!
Our fire ring outside the RV

Bald eagle

Moose near Soldotna

Tern Lake between Seward and Soldotna

On Seward Highway north of Seward

Seward Small Boat Harbor

Sea Otter

Moose near Moose Pass



1 comment:

  1. looks so beautiful!! Thanks for the update!