We left the Homer Spit and Homer "a nice little drinking town with a small fishing problem" and drove back along the Sterling Highway. We stopped at one of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center and walked on one of their trails.
Then we continued to Soldatna and shopped at the Fred Meyers. For those of you who have never shopped at Fred Meyers it is a cross between a supermarket and a department store, once independently owned but now part of the Kroger chain. After buying fresh produce and gas for the truck we continued to Hidden Lake a campground in the Wildlife Refuge to spend the night. Once settled in the campground we took a short hike to a spot overlooking the lake after which we walked down to the lake and watched some boys swimming and riding their bikes into the lake. We had come to the Refuge in the hopes of seeing wildlife but all we saw was one squirrel.
After dinner we took another hike to a hidden creek. It was a nice hike through a burnt out area, while we saw no wildlife the scenery was breathtaking.
The next day we continued our trip to Seward. Upon arrival we booked a cruise with Kenai Fjord Tours and took a trip into Kenai Fjords National Park. We finally saw wildlife. We saw orcas, seals, sea lions, puffins and humpbacks.
We also saw the Aialik Glacier which didn't calve while we were there.
The tour boat manufacturer was very thoughtful. They provided an emergency number in case the life raft doesn't open."call 1-800-931-3221 for your nearest servicer center"
The next day we drove out of town to the land portion of the Kenai Fjords National Park and walked up to the overlook and foot of Exit glacier. Exit glacier was named because some hikers who had traversed the Harding Ice Field were able to exit it at this location.
I am not sure Debby should be standing there. After our walk we went on a Ranger led hike and revisited the overlook and foot of the glacier. While at the foot of the glacier the Ranger chased some people out from under that very spot.
From the city owned campground on the waterfront we walked to the the Alaskan Sea Life Center passing the original start of the Iditarod.
The Sea Life Center and Aquarium housing local sea life for research and animal rescue was built after the Exxon Valdez went aground .
Artist Myron Rosenberg
We had been advised by friends to take the behind the scenes tour which we did and found it quite interesting.
I even took pictures through the glass of Puffins swimming under water.
From Seward we returned to Anchorage for a few days before proceeding to Valdez. On our way to Anchorage we passed a popular fishing creek and the Salmon were running.
Actually unless you take the ferry there is no way to leave the Kenai without returning to Anchorage. On the way to Valdez we stopped at the Wrangell - St. Elias National Park visitors Center to see a film about the park and take a brief walk on the historic Valdez to Fairbanks road. The park itself is thirty miles into the wilderness and not often visited.
Once in Valdez we we booked a sightseeing cruise into Prince William sound again hoping to see more wildlife. We did see some wildlife but not as much as we had hoped. The scenery in the sound was spectacular with mountains rising as islands in the fjord.
Unfortunately the cloud covered often raining sky detracted from the sounds beauty. We saw eagles, stellar sea lions, puffins, porpoises and sea otters but no whales of any kind and no bears on the shores of the Islands. We cruised up to about a quarter mile from both the Mears and Columbia Glaciers but again neither cooperated so we did not see a glacier calf.
On our way back to the dock we passed the Valdez oil tanks which is the end of the Alaska Pipe line. I found it interesting that the tour boat captain encouraged people to take pictures of the terminal. This coupled with the fact that many parts of the pipeline and pump stations are visible from the roads in Alaska was perplexing. After 9/11 picture taking of many bridges and buildings in the Lower 48 is forbidden.
We left Valdez and returned to Tok, where we camped one night before heading for Chicken, Eagle and the "Over The World Highway" to Dawson City in Canada.