2012  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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   BACK IN ANCHORAGE @ BLACK SPRUCE FAM CAMP

TUESDAY, JULY 17

 
"One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." 
~ Henry Miller
 
 

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) mountain ranges
at the eastern end of Turnagain Arm in the early afternoon yesterday.


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 toward Anchorage:


Lots of other RVs on the road yesterday


THAT'S what 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 wet.

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).


That's our 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 driving.


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.

We 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 8-9 months 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.

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 afternoon.
This is the view to the east from our campground, looking out toward its entrance.

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 weather wimp!

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 campsite.

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 and how 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 this summer.

I 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 around Anchorage.

Next entry:  a more active day tomorrow on the Chester Creek and Coastal bike trails

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the ultra Lab

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© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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