July 6th until July 15th 2017 – Alaska
Cabela’s parking lot in Anchorage filled up with RV’s yesterday, but when we wake up Thursday July 6th the first RV’s left already. We are early too and after a nice breakfast we drive to a laundromat (its urgent to do laundry), search a post office to buy stamps (very old fashioned), find a hair salon to get a haircut (no success, far too short and very expensive) and the rest of the afternoon we look around in Anchorage and of course at Cabela’s, we find suitable pants for Dick. Cabela’s is a world in itself. The most beautiful outdoor and sports articles can be found here in addition to fantastic outdoor clothes, actually, there is something for every sport, a great place to stay for hours and hours! We are frightened, walking around the hunting gear and Camo clothing, when above us, a bear roars loudly. Fortunately it’s a mounted specimen, one of many here, I think you can find any game up here.
Ofcourse we are too early at Trailers Craft shop on Friday morning. Nobody knows anything about our appointment but at 8 am Talon arrives (we made the appointment with him) and our RV goes inside. There is an airbag in stock in Anchorage that fits our RV so we are relieved. Unfortunately when both airbags are fixed something is wrong, according to the mechanic. He thinks that the torsion bar is broken and parts to fix that are not available in the USA. They even don’t know this system. We have to order a new torsion bar from Europe, so they can mount it.
When we leave Trailer Craft we drive to the library, but it’s closed for renovation. Next to it is a shop with coffee bar and good WiFi so that we can call the Dutch AAA and ask for help for our technical problem. It takes more than half an hour before we are connected but finally we can give them our assistance call. Now Dick can sent an email to our RV dealer and ask him also to take action as soon as possible. Now we have to wait what is going to happen, it is still night in the Netherlands so we will have to be patient. Saturday morning we drive back to Seward to our friends Dick and Kaye and leave there some stuff, we don’t need while driving around on the Kenai Peninsula. Meanwhile, there is a phone contact with our RV dealer in the Netherlands. Thinking about a new axle is not wise because that takes weeks to get one, but the torsion bar can be replaced and they will sent us a manual. Before sending new parts from the Netherlands, first we have to tell them the color code and length of the bar. To find that out, the bars of the torsion axl have to be disassembled. Dick and Dick, after studying the manual, think they are able to do that but that Dick like to know or the bars can be reinstalled, because without torsion bars driving is impossible.
While we wait for a reply from the Netherlands Dick and Kaye take us Saturday in the afternoon on a sightseeing tour around Town. Despite the fact that we have seen a lot here we still see new places where we haven’t been yet, for instance the Jesse Lee House where a little boy, Bennie Benson designed the Alaska Flag. And what is more fun than visiting the port of Seward where fisherman show and clean their catch (some big Halibut and Salmon) and after that visiting a little restaurant where we enjoy an excellent, freshly prepared, Pizza together. The company of Dick and Kaye distract us from the problems with our RV. As Dick and Kaye take us again on Sunday, now to Cooper River, we completely forget why we came back to Seward.
At first we drive to the Princess Lodge, built for the passengers of the cruise ships arriving in Seward. The lodge is located high on the mountain and far away from everything, passengers are brought in here directly from their cruise ship. The place is ideally suited for the passengers to spend their money in the lodge instead of a nice town. As a reward from the terrace of the restaurant of the lodge there is a magnificent view over the Kenai river. After a delicious lunch at Cooper Landing we drive a gravel road that leads us along various remote lakes and campgrounds. It’s wild and abandoned here. Unfortunately, we do not spot bears or salmon. But we enjoy the beautiful nature and have an incredibly cozy day together. When we are back home I prepare dinner. I ‘m a bit nervous because a fantastic Cook as Dick is unequalled, but my macaroni dish from the oven is not bad.
Monday morning July 10th , there is not really news from the Dutch AAA except that they ask us for a list of parts that need to be sent. But to know the necessary parts we first need to have the color code and length and so remove the torsion bars, but then we want to know or we can put those bars back again. It feels like we wait for each other. So again Dick send an email to our dealer and while waiting for an answer, we take our bikes to cycle around in Seward. It’s beautiful outside, around 60 degrees, the clouds are high up the mountains so the wildness and glaciers are well visible. It’s not really hot, no wonder if around us huge glaciers are visible.
End of the afternoon we gather at the wood fire in the garden. Also Shelley, the daughter of Kaye and Dick arrives with Shaun, a friend. We chitchat with each other, hear their experiences of a very strenuous climb up to one of the peaks and enjoy the delicious salmon Dick prepares on the barbecue. As I have no good feelings about the removal of the torsion bars, we get up in the middle of the night and call our Dutch dealer. He tells us how to remove the torsion bars (you need some apparel) and indicates that it is almost impossible that there is a breakdown of torsion-bars. He never heard of it. Again we tell him how the shop in Anchorage found that. After the call we go back to sleep, it’s 4 am.
I think about the comments of our dealer again and again and again, also Dick thinks about the call because when we have breakfast at 8 am and discuss the remarks with Dick and Kaye, we make a plan (A):
Search for a leveled spot on concrete, empty our airbags and measure or there’s any difference in high between the two wheels. Soon after breakfast all four of us drive to a nearby gas station, measure the distance and see practically no difference. After pressurizing the airbags the difference is still the same, of course higher up so that’s OK. When we are back home and Dick and Dick take the wheels off the RV, there is nothing visible or alarming, so we decide to leave tomorrow, looking around on the Kenai Peninsula and watch our RV.
The rest of the afternoon we cycle around near Seward, it is a nice place to look around. We meet again in the garden late afternoon. We have to visit neighbor Kevin who bought a boat with (broken) trailer. On a bargain because the boat and two engines are certainly more valuable than the $ 1000 he paid. To find out how to put trailer and boat on the property is another thing but “Alaskans” are used to solve problems and with ropes and technical insight the men get the trailer on the ground.
After these efforts the on the grill prepared burgers tasted more than good. We’re lucky the weather improves because even on Wednesday, July 12th, there is abundance sunshine. After Dick and Dick order extra airbags online, at least we can go on when our air suspension should breakdown, and we have breakfast together, we try “baconjam”, an indefinable jam, but not distasteful, we say goodbye to Dick, Kaye and Carl and leave Seward. Not for long because if everything goes well, in about a week we hope to be back to pick up our stuff. As soon as we drive further inland all clouds disappear and the sun shines in the steel blue sky.
The way we have to drive today is not so far so at the end of the morning we arrive in Hope, Alaska. Although we want to sleep at Resurrection Creek, where it’s allowed to pan for gold that route is not recommended. Our RV is not really suitable for that road so we drive to the end of the bay in Mainstreet and put our RV on the campground here. A place is available until Friday. After drinking some coffee, we take our bikes and go around. There are some caches hidden we like to find. It brings us deep in the forests along fast-flowing streams and end of the afternoon we return to the library nearby where Dick checks his mail. Meanwhile I am sitting in a barn and sniff around the big collection for sale books. Then we sit outside our motorhome, eat something and watch the hustle and bustle of upcoming campers and fishermen, trying to catch salmon in the creek.
At half past 11 pm, the Sun is still shining, we go to bed. During the evening the cold breeze lied down and its great outside. Thursday July 13th we wake up at 8 am. We have breakfast but it’s boring, we miss the excellent Bacon and Eggs from Dick and Kaye and even more their company and the conversations with each other.
At 9 am we grab our bikes and drive to the end of the Bay where, on Porcupine campground, a trail starts along the waters of the Turnagain Arm. At some places the trail is very narrow and we have to get off our bikes because of the large roots and tree stumps on the path. But mostly we continue cycling. Halfway the trail we find our cache, hidden deep in the forest. We are the first living things here in months considering the attaques of the many, many, many mosquitos.
I have bearspray but no insect repellent! So we are not prepared for the animals we encounter now in the woods. After finding and logging the cache we drive back and leave those horrible biters alone.
We cycle to the museum of Hope, small but interesting. The Gold-panning next door we forget. Depending on what you pay, you get a small plastic bowl or larger bucket filled with sand, earth and stones for panning. Yes, there is some gold dust in it but it is less adventurous than when you search for the dirt yourself, pan it in the water and search for gold on the bottom of your pan. The rest of the afternoon we sit outside, chatting with fellow travelers and Dick helps an American guy to get his towbar of his RV, level the RV and connect it to electricity. The last one he never did before and then it’s difficult to know the difference between 15, 30 and 50 ampere?????
I cycle back to the Library and again have a look at the books for sale. It’s a pleasure to scavenge around books, you never get bored. Despite the fact that I still have some unread books in our RV, I buy some books. Although we like to eat out tonight the menu in Hope is not really alluring, so we have our 39th anniversary celebrated next to our RV with on the grill prepared sausages and fried potatoes as well as a glass of wine. Until late in the evening we can sit outside, the temperature (68 degrees) is agreeable.
Friday July 14th it is very cloudy but except from some rain in the night it’s dry and not really cold (59 degrees). We drive along the Turnagain Arm and at different places along this sea-arm we have a beautiful view. A lot of these spots are used for staying overnight. In Alaska it is allowed unless there is a “no overnight parking” sign. Around noon we arrive in Soldotna where we decide to stay on the parking lot of Fred Meijer, a huge shop, and it’s crowded here because everybody wants to stay here. The salmon has arrived on the Kenai Peninsula and everywhere are cars and RV’s with dip-nets, fishing rods and huge coolers.
The waders are on sale and people buy them with armloads. The “call of the salmon” and the “salmon fever” has struck in Alaska. Rivers are full of fishermen and campgrounds are full or tripled in price and if you can stay for free at a parking lot instead of paying a $95,- for a campground (at Fred Meyer there is even water available and a dump station) you understand that many choose to stay on the parking lot of Fred Meijer or Walmart. Of course we do some shopping and walk around in the area.
Again I forget my bear spray and insect repellent. That first one is not that bad because there is no bear to see, but forgetting our insect repellent is bad because when we walk around through the woods looking for geocaches, hundreds of starving mosquitoes dive upon us and within the shortest time we are under the blood stains of beaten to death mosquitos. Clearly those biters got us first. I assure you we quickly find our way out of the woods. Nevertheless, I cannot resist to make pictures of the beautiful flowers. End of the afternoon it’s starting raining so we return to our RV, have something to drink and to eat and read our books.