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"Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we  
stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else." 
~ Lawrence Block

We just love it when we wake up in the morning and it’s sunny!! We are so tired of rain.

This was a perfect-weather day with no clouds in the morning and only a few clouds building up over the Chugach, Talkeetna, and Alaska Ranges by afternoon.

To our delight it was clear enough to see 20,320-foot Denali today from the Coastal Trail for the first time. Prominent 17,395-foot Mt. Foraker, on the left in the picture below, was also visible:

The mountains were a long way away and we didn't have binoculars or a super-long camera lens to see the details but we were excited to have our very first view of Denali.

Temperatures reached about 70 F. in town. Our thermometer at the camper usually registers a few degrees cooler because the receiver is in the shade in the afternoon and evening. It’s usually in the mid to low 50s at night. This is our preferred temperature range all year long.

Another view of Denali from the Coastal Trail

It was a lovely day. We realize that no matter where we are, we much prefer the sun to rain or overcast conditions.

That preference is just magnified when we’re traveling and want to see what’s around us – especially the drop-dead gorgeous scenery in Alaska. I wish we could go back to Valdez and the Kenai Peninsula and have a couple weeks of sunshine. We missed a lot of beautiful territory on those journeys.


We went for a leisurely 22-mile bike ride on the Coastal Trail before/during lunch. The hills to Earthquake Park, Point Woronzof, and Kincaid Park were tough because we’re both tired from all the hiking/riding we’ve done this week. 

This was one of the flatter spots along Cook Inlet:


In that photo, Jim is riding ahead of me. Point Woronzof is in the distance, and we had clear (but even more distant) views of the snow-capped volcanic mountains to the southwest this morning. The tide in Cook Inlet is low; at high tide, the water is close to the trail here.

I like this humorous reminder for dog owners at one of the trailheads:

We haven't seen many dogs on the Coastal Trail during several rides in June or today. A bigger hazard for cyclists is oblivious clusters of moms with baby strollers . . .


I stopped for several pictures of scenery and flowers. I noticed some differences from when we were here several weeks ago.

There are more fireweeds blooming now, lots of pretty wild roses, a pink or blue long clustered flower I haven’t seen here previously (a type of vetch, I think), and graceful pinkish grasses blowing in the wind:

Fireweed blooms open from the bottom to the top of the spire.

Fireweed and yarrow bloom along the Inlet with the Anchorage skyline in the distance.

Yarrow and vetch bloom in a narrow strip of land
between Cook Inlet and the Coastal Trail.

Above and below:  wild roses

There are a couple kinds of large shrubs loaded with red berries along the trail. I bet the bears and/or birds are attracted to those.

This is one of the bushes with different stages of clustered berries:


This was a memorable bike ride in more ways than one.

Not only did we see Denali from Earthquake Park and Woronzof Point, we also saw a female moose outbound on the long hill going up the long bend in Kincaid Park. She was standing in the brush close to the trail, eating leaves:

She wasn’t the least bit concerned about folks riding and walking past. She didn't even look my way when I stopped to take her picture:

We were in Kincaid Park for several minutes. When we turned around and went back down the hill she was gone.

We kept our eyes open for other moose and bears but didn’t see any. There were plenty of people out enjoying the beautiful weather, though.


When we got done with our bike ride we went to the House of Bread at 8130 Old Seward Hwy. just north of Sam’s Club. We learned about his bakery at the downtown Anchorage Farmers' market last Saturday. The store had a booth and was offering free samples and loaves of bread, muffins, and other baked goods for sale.

The samples were delicious! We were hooked. (Stores like Sam's Club learned long ago that free samples help sell their products.)

I checked out the website and read about House of Bread's healthier-than-usual gourmet breads, muffins, sandwiches, soups, salads, and other edibles. We decided to have lunch there today.

This bakery/café has a nice, bright interior and excellent baked goods. I got a bowl of turkey and wild rice soup with two slices of Dakota bread. Jim got the daily special sandwich and chips. We took a loaf of Dakota bread home with us. Yum!

We’d like to go back again before leaving Anchorage. We don't eat out much and therefore have very few restaurant reviews on this website. We can highly recommend this place, though.

Photo of House of Bread from the store's website

We got a truckload of food and supplies at WalMart and Sam’s Club, then returned to the campground in the late afternoon.


After supper Jim changed the oil in the truck at the auto hobby shop on base and got some more ideas from a guy who works in the carpentry shop about how to repair one of our wooden cabinet doors over the sofa (shown below).

It popped open and slammed shut when we were driving over some rough roads in the Yukon or Alaska. It is cracked vertically and doesn’t shut properly. Fortunately it’s not cracked through and it doesn’t show unless you know it’s there and look closely.


Jim had some ideas about how to fix it but wanted advice from someone with more carpentry experience. One of the guys at the shop thought his ideas about gluing and reinforcing it were good so he got Gorilla Glue as advised and several pieces of metal and screws at Lowe’s and Home Depot.

While I was gone today he glued it, let it dry, and attached two L-shaped metal angles at the corners on the hinged side. He swapped one of the hinges he thought might have bent with a good one from another cabinet we don’t use much. The door is reinforced and fits better now but Jim plans to find a way to keep it closed permanently so it doesn’t get worse. We really don’t need the storage space behind it and we can reach what’s there from doors on either side, if necessary. He did a good job fixing it.

Hopefully it will stay fixed over all the bumpy roads in Alaska and Canada on our way back down to the Lower 48. We've already put door catches on several other cabinet doors to keep them closed in transit so this isn't a new problem. This is the first time a door has cracked, however.

Meanwhile, the Black Spruce Campground is overflowing – literally – with RVs for the huge Arctic Thunder Air Show this weekend.

There are half a dozen campers in various overflow spots at the entrance and farther back, such as the Class A with cargo trailer below. Overflow (dry) camping is $12/night compared to $21/night for full hookups. Dry campers AKA boondockers can still use the restrooms, laundry room, and other facilities in the campground.

If we aren’t able to extend our stay in our current site on Monday we’re fine with moving to an overflow site for several days. We just hope some of these people leave so we can stay put. We’ve gotten spoiled with full hook-ups at a reasonable cost and we'd prefer not to move. We really like our spot.


There was some sad news this week about a black bear and three cubs that were deliberately shot by the police because they were getting into the garbage cans in a neighborhood in Anchorage. They were no longer afraid of humans.

Because of the irresponsibility of the humans, they were the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth bears shot this summer.

I hope they weren’t the bear family we saw last month on the Coastal Trail:

Sure hope it wasn't this family that was killed.

Wildlife officials said the cubs that were captured had to be shot because “no one would take them.”

I just can’t believe that. There has to be a zoo or wildlife preserve somewhere that would like three healthy bear cubs. Here’s a link to one of the articles about this incident.  

I’ve got ambivalent feelings about several big issues in Alaska, including bears (the others are fishing/subsistence rights of Native Alaskans and mining/drilling for oil). There’s the “bears were here first” argument about creeping urbanization and irresponsible humans leaving garbage out versus obvious safety issues.

Young bear in our campsite at JBER in June

Jim says he’s become more afraid of bears since reading/hearing about several attacks this summer. He’s concerned that I’ll risk injury or worse if I encounter a bear with or without cubs on a trail because my first thought will be taking a picture of them, not protecting myself!

I think I’d have the sense to be nervous and wary at first, try to assess the bear’s behavior, then decide if it was safe to stand there and take a picture while talking gently to the bear. If I see a bear I’ll whip out the bear spray immediately but won't start spraying it right away unless it appears agitated or aggressive.

I wish we’d see more bears in the campground from the safety of our camper or when we’re driving around. Ironically, we’ve seen more bears and moose in the city of Anchorage and at JBER than we’ve seen out in the countryside!

Next entries:  Tour de Town, with an emphasis on the beautiful cultivated floral displays at the J.Z. Loussac Library, Alaska Botanical Gardens, and various city parks 

Happy trails,

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

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© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil