Day Fifteen: Finally, Mooses. (Yeah, I know, I know)

Another busy day. Woke up in Soldotna, and before the day was done, I had spent time in Kenai, Anchor Point, and Homer. For me, Homer is the jewel of the western end of the Kenai Peninsula. It is exactly what most people think of when they think “Alaskan small town.”

Let’s start with Kenai, though, which is just a short hop to the north of Soldotna. It feels like I’ve been surrounded by either mountains, rivers, lakes, or oceans since I got to Alaska. Then, on the way up to Kenai today, I noticed this odd feeling of open space.

Maybe Kenai is the Kansas or Iowa of the Kenai Peninsula? I kid, I kid. Kenai is a lovely little town that sits right on the Cook Inlet. Like every other town I’ve visited on this trip, it’s changed a lot since I last saw it.

The last time I was in Kenai was in 1975, when I went camping with my brother and several of his friends. There were no Arby’s in Kenai in the mid-seventies.

My friend and cover artist Linda Boulanger grew up in the Kenai area, so I tried to scamper around and find places that she remembered from her childhood. As we chatted, she lamented that things just don’t look quite as cool as they do in the photos of our mind. That is a true statement.

While in Kenai, I visited another old Russian Orthodox church. I love their spires and classic designs. This one was built in 1894, and is called The Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Church. Which is quite a mouthful when people ask you where you go to church.

Just across the street from the church, I saw an old building that looks a lot like I feel when I first get out of bed in the morning.

“I felt fine when I went to bed, why do I feel like all my walls collapsed when I wake up?”

After an hour or two tooling around Kenai, I backtracked toward Soldotna and headed on to the south.

Ever since I got on the AlCan, almost two weeks ago, I’ve kept my eyes peeled for moose. I’ve passed dozens and dozens of “Moose crossing” signs. But, until today, I hadn’t seen so much as a retreating hindquarter of a moose. Then, a few miles north of Anchor Point, there they were.

Does that car make her butt look big? More importantly, please note that her derriere is taller than the roof of the car. She was impressively large. I know you can’t tell whether or not a moose is a bull or a cow by their antlers, because they shed them each winter, but there was just something about this one that made me think she was a cow. Each time I took a step toward her, she would look away.

Then, when I took a step away, she would cast a come-hither look in my direction.

Such a flirt. Or, more likely, she was thinking, “He looks old and slow. I could run him down if I wanted to and not even feel the bump.”

She had two calves with her, but they would never show me their faces so I could get a good shot of them.

My Wildlife Bingo card now only has one square not covered: a bear. I’ll keep my eyes peeled over the next few weeks to see if I can spot one.

I drove through the very small town of Anchor Point, and spotted this interesting sign:

Now I know I really have made a Lap Around America. Today, I was at the most westerly point you can reach. Last week, I was within 200 miles of the most northerly point in the US, when I was at Coldfoot, Alaska. Last September, I was in Key West, Florida, the most southerly point. And, in October, we were in Maine, just a few hundred miles from the most easterly point. No wonder I’m tired.

Driving into Homer, I had to pull over to the side of the road and take this shot:

Isn’t that a lovely shot? That’s Highway 1, heading into Homer, with the Homer Spit beyond, and mountains beyond that. Homer really is a jewel.

I wanted to drive the road as far as I could, so I drove out onto that spit, all the way to where the road ends.

That’s the view from the spit, with a couple of fishing boats out, enjoying the day.

In many ways, this feels like a turning point in the trip. I’ve followed the road that started in Tok as far north as I could, then worked my way through Southeast Alaska and all around the Kenai Peninsula. Tomorrow, I will head toward Valdez, although I don’t know if I will make it all the way there. I might lay up in Anchorage for the night. After Valdez, it’s back to Canada and home.

Cheers, and safe travels!

Shawn

 

 

 

9 comments

  1. Wow, it’s amazing how large moose are! And oh my goodness, that shot of Homer is gorgeous! Guess what? I saw a bear when I visited the Smoky Mountains this weekend. I hope you get as lucky. Continued safe travels.

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  2. Wow, you’ve put a lot of miles under your tires! I haven’t kept up in the last week and a half (wrapping up a job that I’ve been working at for 6 years) so finally had a chance to do a marathon reading this morning of your travels. Thanks so much for all the detail and pics – it really makes it seem real to me; I don’t think it’s likely I’ll ever travel those roads since home is Florida, but I’m so enjoying the commentary. Stay safe and get yourself home to Dawn!

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  3. Such lovely scenery, but it still seems desolate, at least to me. Moose are huge, glad she didn’t decide to roll over you! Still enjoying the trip with you. Drive safe! šŸ™‚

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  4. Wow, I didn’t think the photos could get any better but they did!… thanks again for sharing all of this, it makes my day, every day!

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  5. I was also afraid a moose would get me when I was six-yrs-old, when we were on our AK vacation. I remember my dad warning us about them. Especially if they had children with them. Or maybe it was the bull moose to be cautious about?? I also remember one of the clever “crafty” tourist trinkets Alaskans were selling: Moose turd earrings. They must have put shellac on them, or something? My mom didn’t buy a pair….but just think how environmentally friendly those were. Recycling at its best!! Anyway…glad you saw the moose and they didn’t decide to “charge”!

    A bear would be nice to see. Just remember…they are probably HUNGRY this time of year. Don’t ya think?? šŸ˜‰

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  6. Such fun to see a moose! That is on my bucket list. Been through Yellowstone several times but have not seen a moose yet in the wild. Hope your travels continue to be safe and fun.

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