Yesterday we got ready to leave Williwaw Campground in the Portage Valley after
our bike ride on the Trail of Blue Ice and two other trails, described
in the last entry. It was still overcast in Portage.
The drive to Anchorage was a nice, short trip Ė only 64 miles from
Williwaw to the Black Spruce FamCamp on the Fort Richardson side of
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, located in the north metro area.
Clouds hung over the Kenai (L) and Chugach (R)
at the eastern end of Turnagain Arm in the early
Looking toward Twenty Glaciers valley in the
Chugach Mountains; I can see there is less snow
there now than three weeks ago. That's a good sign
for my planned hikes in that range.
Traffic was relatively heavy on the Seward Highway in both directions
along the north side of Turnagain Arm. I managed to get some pictures
without a lot of other vehicles in them.
We were happy to see an increasing amount of blue sky as we headed
other RVs on the road yesterday
I'm talkin' about!! Note the blue sky (and very low tide).
It was discouraging to have so much rain while we were on the Kenai
Peninsula. We'd really like to see and do more there when it's not so
It's supposed to be more sunny in Anchorage the next few days. Even if
it rains here, it seems like there are more things we enjoy doing on
rainy days in Anchorage than in more wilderness areas.
The weather has been warmer and drier in Fairbanks this summer than
Anchorage. We don't plan to go up there until late August or early
September. Maybe next time we visit Alaska we should go to
Fairbanks/Denali earlier and Anchorage/Kenai Peninsula later??
BLACK SPRUCE FAM CAMP
We arrived at the campground about 1:30 PM yesterday and lucked into one
of the last four spaces available. They were all taken within an hour
after our arrival so itís good we got there when we did.
This time weíre
in a site across from the campground hosts. Although there is more
traffic past this site than the one we were in before, this time we are
closer to the laundry room, we have more space for the truck in front of
or behind the camper, we have more sun on our doorside (south), and we
have some grass in the clearing where our picnic table and grill are
located (our other site was right next to the woods).
Cameo on the right, foreground.
Our windows and door still face toward the woods, as do all the sites.
Iím hoping some moose and bears visit us. <grin> There are
some fresh piles of moose poop in "our" woods so we know
they're still hanging out in the campground.
Itís nice to have full hook-ups again. Itís also nice to have warmer
temps (mid-60s) and sunshine! Yesterday we went from chilly mist in the
Portage Valley to warm sunshine in Anchorage in about one hour of
Another view of our site; we're 2nd on the left and the
CG hosts are on the right.
After we got set up we went to MWR to pay for our first week here. The
cost is still $21/night.
arenít sure if weíll stay past that. There is a large air show July
27-28 that we might enjoy. Staying until after the air show would still give us time to explore the
Mat-Su Valley (Palmer, Wasilla, Willow, Talkeetna) before going to
Denali on August 5, when our reservations begin at the national park.
AN OPPORTUNITY PRESENTS ITSELF
As we were first checking in with Don-the-campground-host we learned that
the primary host couple suddenly pulled out this morning
without any warning. They were supposed to take over hosting duties tonight at 6 PM for
the next week. Don and Alice had plans to go to Fairbanks this week but
until they get some relief, they will continue the job.
That's one of the downsides of being a campground host. We know. We've
been campground hosts twice before at Brazos Bend State Park in Texas.
Anything can happen to alter your plans.
Cody likes his new campsite. He hears something in the woods . . .
I was curious if there were any perks to doing the job but there arenít
enough to get me interested. Weíd have to pay $1/day for utilities (= $20/day saved in
campground fees), work 9 hours a day for 7 straight
days, then get a week off.
The hosts must keep the bathrooms and laundry
room clean, make sure various campground rules are followed, assign folks to
sites that are available, write receipts for payments (whether folks pay
cash or check to the ďiron rangerĒ or, like us, pay with a credit card
at MWR), answer endless questions, etc. They no longer handle money like
they did earlier in the summer.
It's very convenient to take Cody right out the door to this path at our
site. Note the
pretty lupines still blooming in the shade. The ones in sunny spots are
losing their flowers.
Even with time off for a week I figured weíd be working for a paltry
$2/hour. Weíd both effectively be working 9 hours a day, regardless
whether Jim says heíd do most of the work or not (he was more interested
than I was).
Iím sorry. Weíre on vacation.
I know, we travel two-thirds of the year. Our life is one big vacation.
But Alaska is different. That would seriously restrict any activities we
want to do while weíre here. We donít need to worry about saving $20/day
and Iíll be doggoned if Iím cleaning up other peoplesí messes while Iím
in Alaska on this trip of a lifetime!
Our nice roomy site currently has very few of Alaska's notorious mosquitoes.
Itíll be interesting to see what happens with the campground host position.
I'm betting someone else whoís here the rest of the summer will be
willing to do the work. I'd consider it more seriously on future trips
to Alaska, after the newness wears off a little, because then we could
stay in this campground longer.
We recognized some of the RVs as ones that were here when we were here
several weeks ago. Despite the 14-day "rule" it appears that if you get here at the
right time you can extend your stay pretty much indefinitely. We can
stay another week if we want, even if there are folks waiting to get in.
And a few folks in another loop that are on active duty can stay as long
as they are stationed here.
I noticed that the fireweed flowers are starting to bloom in
this area; it was still too early for them in most of the Kenai
Peninsula where itís cooler. In the next picture you can see the tall
pink fireweeds that haven't fully opened yet, as well as two stages of
lupine growth below them:
In Anchorage the lupines are
starting to drop their bluish-purple flowers. In their place are these fuzzy
knobs, which I haven't seen before:
They are past their peak here but
still near peak in the Kenai. Itíll be interesting to see what other
differences I see in flowers and foliage in Anchorage compared to a few
weeks ago when we were here.
ONE OF US WAS LAZY TODAY
We were disappointed to wake up to fog and overcast skies this morning.
It was supposed to be sunny today, we thought!
Jim went out for a bike
ride around the base anyway. The sky mostly cleared up by lunchtime and was
perfectly beautiful the rest of the day and evening.
Jim said it was
even mostly clear over the mountains, which we can see better from other
parts of the base than we can from the campground (more trees here). Clouds
often hang over the Chugach Mountains. Like other mountain ranges, they
are cloud magnets:
Some puffy clouds hung over the Chugach Mountains this
This is the view to the east from our campground,
looking out toward its
Today was a pretty lazy day for me. Iím just plain tired and wasnít
motivated to go anywhere except walks with Cody around the campground.
I waited to get outside until the sun came out in the afternoon. What a
It was so nice outside that I should have been on a real trail up in those
mountains. Weíre supposed to have three or four days of sunshine so Iíll take
full advantage of the rest of them -- starting tomorrow.
One of the overflow areas at Black Spruce FamCamp
-- a nice place to park
for a day or two while waiting for a full-hookup
site to open up.
Jim cleaned about everything in sight this afternoon Ė our laundry, the truck,
Cody. Yesterday he washed the
outside of the camper pretty thoroughly and we cleaned the rugs and
carpet inside the Cameo. He plans to change the oil in the truck in a
couple days at the base auto hobby shop. It's very handy to have those
workshops on the military installations where we camp around the country
because there are just some tasks that are frowned upon doing at your
Today I mostly worked on editing photos, doing website entries, organizing our Alaska information
(we've got a bunch of it),
and reading more about things to do in Anchorage, Palmer, Wasilla,
Willow, Denali, and Fairbanks the rest of the summer.
Even though I didnít leave the campground and I
wasnít as physically active as Jim, the day seemed to go by quickly. I'm
afraid we'll look back on the months we spent in Alaska and wonder where
the time went so fast. I know there will be many things we simply won't
have time or energy to do on our first visit here. I've already got a
list started of Things to Do Next Time!
This is another nice overflow area near the entrance to the campground.
Temps peaked this evening in the mid-60s F. in the campground. I was able
to sit outside for about an hour.
Thatís unusual for us this summer because itís often been too wet, too
cold, or there were too many mosquitoes to sit outside our camper very
long. It helps that this campground has sprayed for them at least once
just donít think there are nearly as many mosquitoes this summer as
usual, however, because of the high snowpack during the winter and the
record cold temps this summer in Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula.
We havenít had to use our mosquito head nets yet. I haven't even used
any mosquito repellant yet -- and I'm a mosquito magnet.
We're glad to be back
at this campground and in the Anchorage area. We have lots of plans for
the one or two weeks we'll be here. Stay tuned for scenes from more
hikes, bike rides, parks, museums, and other things to do and see in and
Next entry: a more active day tomorrow on the Chester
Creek and Coastal bike trails
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil