Epic Road Trip to Alaska - Week 6 - Anchorage to Kenai Peninsula and back
This is the 6th week of our Epic Road Trip to Alaska, I hope you have enjoyed following along with us. If you are just joining us, be sure to check out Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, and Week 5. We were talking last night about this trip and how there hasn't been one time that the drive was boring, some areas are more majestic and beautiful than others, but it has all been beautiful, there is something new to see around every turn. If you love to road trip, I would recommend this trip for you. It has truly been an epic adventure!
Wednesday, June 5th - Anchorage to Nikiski
Today we left our spot in Anchorage and drove south toward the Kenai Pennisula. There is only one way to drive from Anchorage to the Kenai and part of that route is a scenic byway called the Turnagain Arm. It was a fantastic drive, the road skirts the mountains, which are butted up against the inlet. There were plenty of turnouts and scenic spots to stop.
We stopped at Beluga Point. It was a really cool spot, the train ran in between the parking lot, the rock formations and the water where the Beluga whales can be spotted. We didn't see any whales, but it was still a nice spot to get out and look around.
We kept driving south for a bit and then turned onto the Sterling Highway and then the Kenai Spur Highway towards Nikiski. Matt will be preaching here Sunday, and it will be our landing pad for the next few days while we explore the Kenai Pennisula.
Once we got the RV settled, ate dinner, and stretched out a little bit, we decided to explore Nikiski. It is a small town and the last one going north on the Kenai Spur Highway. We decided to test it out and see how the highway ends. It took us to Captain Cook State Recreation Area. The highway turns into an access trail of some sort for the pipeline according to my phone navigator.
We drove back into Nikiski and took the beach access road. It took us to a rocky beach overshadowed by a ginormous oil rig setup. There were several people fishing and families enjoying the beach and so we figured it was safe and we wouldn't be eaten by a bear. We had a nice time beachcombing and found some cool rocks. On our way home we spotted a moose and her twin babies - so cute!
Thursday, June 6th - Nikiski to Kenai
After we did our school work in the RV today, we made the 15 minute trip back to the city of Kenai to run some errands and explore their city a bit. We were out of food at the RV so we ate fast food and then drove to the historic old town center of Kenai. There are amazing views from Kenai of the Kenai River and the Cook Inlet. There was also a Russian Orthodox Church from 1895 that has been kept in excellent condition.
After exploring the historic area, we went to an awesome park to let the kids run off some energy. We had been playing for a little while when, all of a sudden, a moose comes running out of the woods! We were hoping that he had just been startled by the airplane that had just flown overhead, and that he wasn't being chased by a bear. The moose didn't seem to care about all the people in the park, he just wandered over to a thick patch of grass and have a bite to eat.
After the park, we drove down to the beach and I was pleasantly surprised to find it sandy and beautiful. We even found some cute pink seashells. The view from the beach was perfect, there were several mountains and volcanoes across the inlet. I always love going to the beach, and while this one was much too cold for us to swim (not for the locals, there were some swimming) it was a lovely evening.
After the beach we made a trip to Walmart for groceries and such and we noticed that the prices are a bit higher down here on the Kenai pennisula. It ended up being a more active day than we had planned, but in a good way - so we head home tired and happy.
Friday, June 7th - Nikiski to Homer
We were excited today to make a day trip down to Homer Alaska. One of the unexpected benefits of these long hours of daylight in Alaska has been the ability to explore much later into the night. Sometimes when we are traveling south in the winter, it is difficult to get our school work done and explore because it will start to get dark at about 4:30pm!
Our first stop on the way to Homer is Ninilchik Village. The old town center is tucked along the base of some cliffs overlooking the Cook Inlet. We had a picnic lunch overlooking the water and the volcano in the distance. After lunch we stopped in a little gift shop and I bought a cute little necklace made by the artist who lived there.
Our next stop is Anchor Point. I read in the milepost that there is a sign that reads "The Most Westerly Highway in North America" so we decided to stop for this photo op. Little did we know that Anchor point is also a spot where bald eagles gather on the beach! We spotted about 10 of them, gathered around some sort of dead animal/sea creature turned eagle-feast. We unhooked our tow vehicle because you can also drive on the beach. This is great for us, another excuse to run around on a beach! We also spotted a tractor driving out into the water to pick up a boat on a trailer.
We arrive in Homer about 3 or 4 in the afternoon. This little gem of a town lives up to all the wonderful things the people in Alaska have been telling us. It is yet another beautiful spot where the water meets the mountains. There are amazing views in every possible direction.
We make a stop at the free "Island's and Ocean's Visitor Center". It was a really cool place with interactive exhibits that the kids really enjoyed. We didn't stay very long because we knew we wanted to explore the Homer Spit.
The Homer Spit is a long stretch of land with beaches, restaurants, shops, the harbour, and all kinds of stuff. It sounds like it would be touristy, and although the prices were a bit higher, it didn't feel too touristy or crowded. While we walked around the board walk and shops, we spotted otter swimming out in the water - I love otters, I wish we could have gotten a closer look. We also saw some fisherman preparing their fish for a tasty meal.
We ate dinner at a little restaurant on the beach. It was super good, I had the halibut taco and a side salad. Homer is the Halibut fishing capital of the world, so we had to try halibut from here. I am glad we did - yum!
After dinner, we did some more beachcombing. I had read that you can find seaglass in this area. We did find some more cool rocks, Caleb found a fossil, but no seaglass.
It has been another wonderful day, and we drive back to the RV tired and happy again.
Saturday, June 8th - Nikiski
Today we slept in and relaxed with tv and super mario brothers for a while. A friendly and hospitable couple, elders at the church, invited us over to their house on Island Lake. We had fun kayaking and canoeing and I realized how out of shape I am after peddling the paddle boat around the lake for a bit with the kids. The family have 3 golden retrievers who quickly became Hannah and Sophia's new bffs. We then enjoyed pizza and our older girls made cookies for all of us.
Sunday, June 9th - Nikiski
Matt preached today at Aurora Heights Assembly of God. They are a friendly group and were in high spirits as they had just voted in a new pastor. There was another family there with lots of kids and our little ones enjoyed playing with them.
After church we went back to the couple's house on the lake and enjoyed lunch and a visit. We didn't do any boating today, instead we went back to the RV for our day of rest. We did see a mother moose and her baby wandering around the neighborhood tonight, she walked right past the RV.
Monday, June 10th - Nikiski to Seward to Whittier
Today we leave our Nikiski spot and decide to do a little sightseeing on our way back towards Anchorage. We make the trek down towards Exit Glacier and Seward. It is a detour south but we have heard that it is worth the drive. Exit Glacier is huge and there were signposts along the way that indicated how far the glacier had been in former years.
The town of Seward is lovely. It was a tad bit busy with people coming in off of tour boats and the RV parks were almost full as well. We found a place to park the RV for an hour or so while we explored. We walked the docks around the harbor, keeping our eyes peeled for sea lions and otters, but they remained elusive. We did see a couple huge halibuts being weighed on the docks - they were well over 60lbs. I think there was some sort of competition going on.
After exploring the harbor we drove over to a cool playground with views of Resurrection Bay. It was a beautiful spot and the kids enjoyed running around.
After we left Seward we decided to stop by the town of Whittier. This town is very unique. There is only one road in and out, part of this road goes through a mountain - a tunnel that is one lane about 3 miles long, that tunnel is shared with the train. So when you go through the tunnel, after they tell you it is your turn, you are driving on the railroad tracks! Crazy! I was feeling a little claustrophobic riding through this tunnel.
The population of Whittier is about 250 and more than half of the residents live in the 14-story high Begich Towers. This highrise is also home to a church, the post office, and an underground tunnel that leads to the school. At one point the town was a military base and the large building where the military lived is now abandoned.
We had an amazing dry camping spot for the night, we were surrounded by mountains and overlooking Prince William Sound. It was peaceful and majestic. I really enjoyed our stay in the fascinating town of Wittier.
Tuesday, June 11th - Whittier to Chickaloon
We left back through the crazy tunnel, but not before seeing the train come through, which was pretty cool. We drove back up along the scenic Turnagain Arm and into Anchorage. We stopped back at Cabelas to buy Matt an early Father's Day gift.
We drove up through Palmer (where we should have stopped for groceries because they were way more expensive in the smaller, isolated towns). We ended up staying at Pinnacle Mountain RV Park just south of the town of Chickaloon. The Camp owner also had a cafe and shop where Matt bought some homemade cookies for the kids.
We have had such a wonderful week, Alaska is such a beautiful place, I feel so blessed that we have been able to go on this adventure. If you are considering an Alaskan road trip, do it! You won't regret it.
Thank you for reading this weeks post in our Epic Road Trip to Alaska!
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