Saturday, June 30, 2012
Thursday, June 28: Rainy and cool. Up and download photos by 8am. Ron decides to go back toward Wasila and tour an old mine site. I'll pick away at the photos, do my yoga and pack up. Ron's back about noon; Ron reports: "Armed with my raincoat, I left the cabin heading for the Independence Gold Mine in a drizzly downpour. My first adventure exposed itself as a detour. A bit of foul advice by a flagperson put me off track and back in town! A better piece of advice by a different flagperson and 45 minutes later I was winding my way up a 30-mile s-curve. The weather cleared a little, exposing lush green junglesque hillsides bordering a churning glacial-green creek. Road crew members were out fixing some rock slide areas. Passed through a public gold-panning area; no claim needed, just go and find it. Finally arrived at the site where time has stood still for about 80 years. This old gold mine site housed over 200 workers, mostly single. The mine created employment for over 20 years; in the early days the wives got to town only twice a year for personal shopping. Many of the old buildings were open to walk through. You could almost hear the echoes of laughing and cussing spewed forth by the hard-working young men of the day. Man's ability to create place to work and live in the most remote and difficult conditions rocks me every time I see it!" A quick bowl of soup and we're on the Seward Highway to Anchorage; we see the first mall in Anchorage--Sears, then it's 4-lanes with the Chugach Mountains on our left and the Cook Inlet on our right. We stop and read about the beluga whales which come up the Cook Inlet (yes, Captain Cook was here too!) to what's called the Turnagain Arm--a place of extremely high tides--33'! We remember this route from our bus ride to Seward to board for our inner passage cruise. We stop to take photos of a female Dall sheep and her lambs, then we see there are a lot of dead trees here because the 1964 earthquake caused this area to sink and the trees were immersed in salt water. There's a view of a big glacier ahead (Spencer) as we turn south for Kenai on the Kenai Penninsula, then a beautiful drive through the densely forested mountains with beautiful perched lakes. Things flatten out a bit as we get into the floodplain of the Kenai River and pass through Soldotna and finally Kenai; we arrive at the Beluga Lookout on the beach where the Kenai River meets the Cook Inlet about suppertime. Beautiful spot. Sue and Chuck suggest a great seafood spot for dinner--Louis'--and they are right! Then we take a long walk across the bluffs and down along the beach. We go to investigate a quaint old Russian Orthodox Church and "bookmark" a cute little coffeehouse for tomorrow! Pretty chilly by the time we get back. I'm ready for bed and a movie, but nothing's on so I play my computer game till lights out.